About willowvanwess

My life partner, Dave, and I just moved to Byron City from Seattle. I teach creative writing at Byron High School and Dave is a free lance artist. We're lovers of the outdoors and have two labs named Jace and Janet.

How to Talk to Your Kids About the Dangers of Shopping at Wal-Mart

You think you’re doing everything right as a parent.  Your kid gets good grades, made the swim team (or would have if the high school had a pool), is making new friends, and is vocally judgmental enough of others’ food-choices that they might just reconsider eating processed meat. So, you give yourself a pat on the back…no, a HUG all the way around to feel the love your child has for you, the love that you know they will someday acknowledge when they grow up to become a pro-bono animal rights lawyer. It feels good. Then, without warning, it all comes crashing down

I was spraying down the kitchen counter with our homemade organic vinegar vegan cleaner when I noticed my daughter Juniper’s hemp backpack had fallen open on the floor.  I reached down to pick it up and put it in her room, but my eyes fell on something just poking out one of the flaps.  I gasped.  It couldn’t be!  Not my daughter!  I’ve taught her better than this! Who gave it to her? How often is she doing it? And for how long? Could she be addicted? I thought I raised her right!!! Of course I blamed myself. My confidence as a mother was crushed.  I had to confront Juniper about what I’d found.  It wouldn’t be easy.  These things are never easy for a mother and daughter to talk about.  But eventually, you have to talk to your kids about the dangers of shopping at Wal-Mart.

I found Juniper in her room reading Women Who Run With the Wolves.  Well, at least I haven’t failed completely as a parent.  Hesitantly I held up the plastic Wal-Mart bag I found.

“Uh, June…we need to talk.  I found this-“

“You went through my stuff?!”

“No, you see, it was just open and I-“

“It’s not mine!”

“I’m just very concerned, Honey. Why?! Don’t you know Wal-Mart represents everything that’s wrong with the world?  And that this plastic bag will kill 100 baby dolphins before it finally clogs the water pump of a poor African Village!?”

“Well…you see it was after school-I wasn’t planning on it-this group of people…We were all hanging out and someone wanted to go there so-“

“So you went with them?  You gave into peer pressure to go to Wal-Mart?!  If you’re going to give into peer pressure, why not choose something decent like smoking a joint or skipping school to go to Lilith Fair?”

“What decade are you from?

“That’s not the point!  I thought I raised you better than this!”

“Mom, it was my choice, and you’re the one who always talks about respecting and honoring the choices of our lives.  Well, I honor this choice.  I love this choice!  This choice makes me feel attractive.  I feel closer to my inner-Aphrodite than-“

“I always thought you were more of an Athena, but…wait, feel attractive?”

She looked down guiltily. I knew I hadn’t heard the worst of it. “I bought mascara.”

I couldn’t breath. “Mascara?! What are you planning to do with it?  Do you even know how to use this?  Wait, don’t answer that.  I think-”

”Whatever-you don’t want me to be Aphrodite. You’d be happy if I was a Hestia for the rest of my life.”

“You know that’s not true!  I want you to experience things, live your divinity, and explore the world, just…”

“…just not where you can see it?  Mom, I’m old enough to buy mascara, and yes I do know how to use it!  I watched a tutorial on-line!  I’m not a kid anymore.”

I looked at my Juniper.  It was true.  Her menses party was several years ago.

“I can almost accept that you’re wearing make-up, even though I don’t like it and think you’ll later regret trying to conform your outer appearance to a myriad of external, fractured and impossible standards.  But to accept that a child of mine would purchase this at Wal-Mart…I…I just don’t know.  I just….don’t know.”

“Look, we’ll just have to see differently on this, mom.  You love Kale chips, and I prefer banana chips.  You order anything we can’t grow from The Loving Gypsy, and I get mine in-person at Wal-mart.”

I sighed and sat down on her bed, ready to be more accepting of a different path when she dropped another bomb.

“Mom…there’s something else I didn’t tell you.”

“I don’t think I can take any-“

”While we were there, I checked out their groceries.  They sell Kashi, mom.  I was so excited that I told my friends.  They’d never heard of it before.  They thought organic meant someone had to poop in the dirt.  When I told them what organic really was, some of them actually bought 7-grain cereal.  They said it was ‘cool’ and they want to see our vegetable garden.  See?  I can still stand up for what we believe in.  I can work in our garden and wear mascara.  I can teach people about organic food in a Wal-Mart.  I’m forging my own path, mom.  Just like you always taught me.”

I looked again at my Juniper.  Maybe I hadn’t done so bad after all. We embraced, and over her shoulder I noticed a copy of COSMO magazine wedged in between Women Who Run With the Wolves. I don’t remember exactly what happened next, but thank Gaia for my anti-anxiety herb garden.


Love ‘em Hug ‘em Robots

As a devoted life-partner and mother, I find the amount of violence in this world disturbing. Which is why I only let my kids play with toys and games that encourage love, acceptance, openness, progressive values, and herbal remedies.

In that spirit, I’ve altered popular games and toys to be more uplifting and educational: Love ‘em Hug ‘em Robots, Sharing Sharing Hippos, Humanitarian Aid Battleship, Childhood Obesity Barbie, Black Power Rangers, and Don’t Tickle Me There Elmo are just a few of the great things I’ve done to make my kids’ childhood a little brighter.

Natural Childbirth Operation, Loving Touch Twister (Left hand, hug!!!), Free Range Pokemon, Fair-Trade Cabbage Patch Kids, Peak Oil Play-Doh,  Gay Settlers of Catan—there are no limits! My kids will be much better adjusted and caring adults thanks to a few simple tweaks to these everyday toys and games.

I’ve sold more than a dozen copies on eBay of my more caring version of Monopoly, “Shareopoly,” where properties are distributed evenly at the beginning, and if you lose all your money the President gives you a stimulus. Everyone wins when no one loses!

The game ends when climate change destroys the game board.

For my next project, I’ve gotten together with a programmer to alter “Angry Birds” to “Habitat for Humanity Birds,” where the birds help the pigs rebuild their homes destroyed by their angry counterparts!

If you’re interested in buying or helping me with my crusade to make the world a more loving place, call or email me! I’ll welcome you with open arms. And hummus.

Mayor Chuck is an idiot

Peggy here! I’m in front of City Hall and I took Willow’s computer while she went to the bathroom, so I don’t have much time.

I just have to say that Mayor Chuck is stupider than a headless chicken, and I’ve seen many headless chickens. He gets out of his fancy car every morning and stands in front of City Hall and laughs at all of us. Well SCREW YOU, MAYOR CHUCK! Let’s rally together and boycott Mayor Chuck. Boycott the internet!




Everyone who wants to save the Gazette, come t

Occupy Byron–Day Two

The citizens of Byron have been here for two days, protesting the bureaucracy that is Bryon City. I’m so proud of Dave, he got thrown in jail for disturbing the peace when he threw his bluetooth at a police officer. He’ll be back tomorrow, rallying with the rest of us!

In the meantime, I’ve documented our gathering. It’s getting so big. We’ve almost got 25 people here today!

A couple of my friends from Seattle stopped by yesterday on their way to Wall Street. Thanks, Jem and Sunshine!

Some of the ladies from Byron Women Now got in on the protest too.

Dr. Frederick’s been causing a lot of uproar as well.

And Bill Grue even stopped by to protest the beer ban at the Autumn Enjoyable Trot.

So come downtown right now! Leave your jobs and protest the poverty!


Willow here AND PEGGY!

We’re here to rally.  We’re part of the 99% struggling against the corporate greed AND THE DAMN GAZETTE IS GOING DOWN THE TOILET THANKS TO THIS STUPID BLOB!!!1

Hi, this is Willow. I’m going to be the only one writing from now on.

At any rate, we’ve put together a rally downtown to Occupy Byron. Any and all who are fed up with the bureaucratic nonsense of Byron and federal government in general should rally with us! No matter what your cause, come downtown! We’ve got Enya playing all day long and we’re blocking off the streets. I haven’t showered in three weeks (even though we just started occupying today) and I’m ready to stand up to the government until they answer to our demands!

Here’s our rally group! That’s my life partner, Dave holding the big sign. He’s been really supportive.



I’ve studied creative writing and worked hard selling homemade jewelry on Etsy while my husband found his calling in life– photographing street signs. We’ve only bought organic food that’s sold on the side of the road, supporting the farmers’ market, but we still don’t have enough money to fly to Africa. My husband might have to give in to the MAN and work as a photographer at SEARS. They’re begging him to give up his dream for a “stable job” with the BOURGEOISIE. We just want to live our dreams and get paid for it.



Down with Wall Street! Come on, everyone! Let’s rise up and fight bureaucracy while they’re down!

Autumn Haikus

In honor of the changing seasons, I’ve written several haikus while sitting outside in the middle of my street. And to the SUV monstrosity that almost ran me over–You are the reason for all that’s awful in the world.

Laughs skate on the air
like two figurines dancing–
there’s spring in my step.

The sun’s balmy gaze
pours into my skin and smiles
as the grass looks up.

Tingling twigs that twist
around each other slyly
awaiting the snap.

Wilted yellow grass
crumples from beneath the shade
of broken taillights.

Cold brushes my cheek
as the branches do the sky:
in long, sinful strokes.

(vote Ron Paul 2012)