Proof We Still Exist

It’s been a while since we moon-dwellers gave an update, so let’s pick up where we left off:

Our planned extension is looking to have run about 10 months past its best-by, but we’re still pushing it through. We’ve faced delays from an evasive builder, as well as due to the head-scratching case of Schrödinger’s manhole & sewer pipe combo (the exact locations of which have evaded confirmation, almost as well as our initial builder), which caused us to draw and re-draw our plans ad infinitum.

But we have a new builder lined up now, the plans and permission-granting are nearly done, the structural engineer’s been paid, and physical space is being cleared for the works, somewhat glacially: the shed was flattened back in spring (by an alleged meteor), and the garage is soon (!) to follow.

Before that happens, we’re in a mad scramble to redistribute its contents; the Trash Nothing/Freecycle network has drip-fed a steady trickle of folks to our door, to collect this and that (“Some may call this junk – me, I call it treasure”), and new shelving is going up everywhere even as I type.

On the subject of re-drawing plans, we recently consulted WECIL (West of England Centre for Inclusive Living) about how to build in accessibility. Space limits us somewhat, as does trying to allow for possibly conflicting needs (we’re future-proofing for hypothetical wheelchair-using co-op members whose existence we don’t yet know), but we’ve already settled on some early plans, including door-widening, ramps, ceiling hoists, wheelchair turning circles, and wetroom.

In other news, we’ve been worrying about base rate rises, and staring with muzzy horror at the crashing economy. Speaking of horror, we’ve also been trying to straddle the balance between taking advantage of the warming weather, and escaping from the horror show that is the modern world.

On the one hand, collectively, we’ve been gardening, taking fitness classes, swimming in rivers and pools, getting out to gigs, and attempting to ruck-carry a baby along the entire West Highland Way – which we almost completed! And then on the other – somewhat less sun-tanned – hand, we’ve been penning fantasy fanfic, working our way through a succession of sci-fi franchises, and fantasising about the perfect video game. Oh, and we’ve also been working on our van-to-camper project.

On the baby/parenting front, the queer parents’ group is still ongoing (though is largely taking a summer breather), and we’re wrestling with the jetsam of a seemingly endless sea of free baby tat.

We’re also exploring the wonderful world of advanced baby-proofing, now that the little one is on their feet, and babbling out what might be either a stream of verbal filth, or a running commentary-style diary: time will no doubt tell us which. Oh, and spring saw us celebrating both baby’s and the co-op’s first birthday – with our first BBQ of the year. We’re glad to report that it wasn’t a wash-out.

In terms of membership, winter saw us recruit our latest housemate. Also in terms of membership, we’re beyond sad to report that Poppy Dog will almost definitely be leaving us before summer is up; a tumour the size of a grapefruit has already stolen much of her muscle mass and mobility, though she’s still putting on a brave face.

We’ve been steadily visiting a bucket list of what we think are her favourite places, and favourite people. And – though we’re somewhat biased – recent research has confirmed that she is objectively the best doggo that has ever been. We will deeply miss our loveable – though occasionally canicidal – fluffball, who is current title-holder of the co-op’s hairiest member.

Heroforge figure design including Poppy the collie-cross grabbing her flag.

Stuff: just to break it up a little, here’s some recommendations:

  • A is for Activist and Together: a pair of small kids’ board books, written as if “social justice” isn’t a slur. Both illustrated by Innosanto Nagara, the first is an A to Z book (also written by him), and the second is written by Mona Damluji. They’re both beautifully drawn and finished.
  • Don’t Call Me Princess!: a feminist re-work of six Disneyfied fairy tales, by Kate Evans (Cartoon Kate). Our toddler can’t follow the words yet, but that don’t stop them from re-reading it all day long, and jabbering loudly and pointedly towards it.
  • My First Pride: alongside It’s Snot a Problem and The Three Goats United by Aida H. Dee, a trio of queer-friendly kids’ books intended for slightly older children, presented by the Drag Queen Story Hour tour.
  • They, He, She… Words for you and me!: a board book by Andy Passchier all about pronouns and identity, intended for toddlers and little folk. Our one likes it at the moment, especially as they like smudging their face against the mirror on its penultimate page.
  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, I Know Exactly What You Are: a scientifically-accurate book for children, countering the celebration of ignorance implicit in the original nursery rhyme. Words by Julia Kregenow PhD, and pictures by Carmen Saldaña.
  • We Move Together: a large children’s book published by our friends at AK Press, and “a joyful exploration of disability community and culture,” collaborated on by Anne McGuire, Eduardo Trejos, and Kelly Fritsch.

More stuff (this time, recommendations by our youngest member): blueberries, cardboard boxes, dinosaurs, ducks, milk, other children, songs, strawberries, unicorns, and water.

3 images of Poppy the collie-cross. One on a swing, another with a lolling tongue, and a third when younger and carrying a flag.

Post-script: Poppy fell asleep for the last time in the afternoon of Wednesday 26 July, in the garden that her daily shrill barking at us had so constantly celebrated. Despite how her upcoming death had overshadowed much of our last two months, this last day (and those that came before it) was beautiful, even with the standard July rain. She was limpingly playing with balloons and bubbles almost right up to her injection, and her last moments were filled with tearful love and cuddles. All that remains now is her funeral, and then the consigning of her ashes to the wilderness that she so loved.

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