Illustration: James Orndorf.

Part 2 of EVERYTHING We Know and Do about Agriculture, Death, and Eating is Wrong

(And while we’re at it, how about 3 million new jobs in sustainable farming, fishing, infrastructure, logistics, supplies, and soil in an even Greener New Deal to fix this and make our country more secure?)

To combat climate change and be a more secure nation, we need a MORE perfect union. Renewable energy and sustainable agriculture need to be married in our minds when we conceptualize and implement combating climate change.

In Part One of this two part article, I lay out many…


Getting into an “elite college” is at best, half the story. Ask me how I know.

Every morning I read the news, and today I was struck by the promise of the National Education Equity Lab to “prove” that students from any walk of life can excel in Harvard and other “elite” college classes. The group seems out to prove more of a point to elite schools rather than to take on the full spectrum issues of being from what people mean when they euphemize “every walk of life.”

How do I know? Back in the dark ages, I learned…


Photo courtesy of: “16 cosas de mí…” by El mundo de Laura licensed under CC BY 2.0

written together with Atlas Charles

Social media is awash right now with calls for White women to get other White women in check after the majority of them did not vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. We understand this call for action not to be tongue-in-cheek and offer some practical next steps.

First, generally, White people do not show strong solidarity with one another, unless it is potentially about religion or ethnicity, and then, those are not the White people who voted for Joe and Kamala. Marginalized or intersectionally oppressed White people also rarely talk about their Whiteness, because in the United States, Whiteness…


My questions for the doctors on the hospital room board the day before I am good copped by a surgeon and a doctor to send my mother to hospice.

Cirrhosis Diaries, Post 8 —

Originally, I started writing this while sitting in a hospital room in late January 2020 with my rapidly dying mother. I felt torn about writing down what was spinning in me then. And then odd about sharing it. It would be too soon. Too raw. Too much. But here I am two months later, and now we are all expecting someone we know and love may die soon. I am certainly unprepared for more grief. I am still in several adult caretaker groups, and the posts have started: family members dying of what seemed to…


Picture of two hands clasped, one hand is purple from the affects of cirrhosis.
Picture of two hands clasped, one hand is purple from the affects of cirrhosis.
My mother’s hands at rest, still in a pose of pleading.

Cirrhosis Diaries, Post 7.

For five days straight, any time my mother has been awake, she has begged non-stop to, “Please give me some water.” …


A “bear hugger” or “Bair Hugger” — used to bring up body temperature once it drops too low. Here, it warms up my mother who is feeling frozen due to her cirrhosis and other infections.

Cirrhosis Diaries, Post 6.

In the seventh ring of hell, you sit in a hospital emergency intake room and listen to your mother beg, in an ever fainter voice, for more blankets to “cover her up,” and she mumbles nonstop for hours in a twilight.

If you leave the room to escape this sound, you worry that you won’t be there in case she takes a turn even further down.

If you stay, you have to find that place inside yourself to manufacture your own internal anesthesia.

This time in the emergency room, I have come with an exercise mat…


Two muddies shoes, one dug up from two feet of mud.
Two muddies shoes, one dug up from two feet of mud.
Tracking for missing dogs Smokey and Keme, my guide sinks down into two feet of mud and I pull her out. We have walked out into where a pond used to be. Our tracking brings no results.

Cirrhosis Diaries. Post 5.

It’s 6:00 AM Monday morning, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and I scan the sides of the road from our 1994 diesel Suburban. Fern, our rescue Black and Tan coonhound mix, peeks up now and again from the back seat. In the trailers, doublewides, and small houses along these back roads, lights flip on with people getting ready for work despite it being a federal holiday.

The morning before, Fern and I had trampled the woods behind a church where Keme, our missing livestock guardian dog, had last been spotted. Our guide was out searching for…


The photo shows a swirl of leaves, grass, a stick, all blurred by the phone moving as the photo was being taken.
The photo shows a swirl of leaves, grass, a stick, all blurred by the phone moving as the photo was being taken.
Our son moves the phone as he takes pictures while I attend to goats that just kidded. Life does not stop when is someone is sick.

Cirrhosis Diaries, Post 4.

Since the out-of-nowhere diagnosis of my 84 year-old mother with end stage cirrhosis from undiagnosed fatty liver disease, until today, every day of the last five weeks I have spent time at the nursing home where she is supposedly “rehabbing” enough to go to an assisted living facility.

Today’s post was supposed to be about how the assisted living facility called me Friday refusing to accept her due to wounds on her legs caused by massive swelling when she did not get given her diuretic four weekends ago. …


Picture of my mother’s bruised hands. She is using a plastic spoon to eat some peaches in their own juices out of a cup.
Picture of my mother’s bruised hands. She is using a plastic spoon to eat some peaches in their own juices out of a cup.
My mother’s bruised from cirrhosis hands. She is using a plastic spoon to eat some peaches in their own juices out of a cup.

Cirrhosis Diaries, Post 3

This summer our dog Charlie kept bothering my mother when she would come out of her room to eat a meal with us in the main room.

Many months later, after her diagnosis of untreated fatty liver disease morphing already into late stage cirrhosis, did we figure out that she had been sneaking and feeding him her food. The undiagnosed cirrhosis had caused a severe reduction in appetite, so Charlie benefitted at her loss.

At home, she and I went back and forth about her need to eat. How did I know it was a symptom…


My mom’s re-swollen belly, after it had been drained only a few days before, and the facility did not giver her the requisite diuretic. Her leaking legs can be seen in this post.

Cirrhosis Diaries. Post 2.

Two Sundays before Christmas, my 84 year old mother, who lives with us, does not feel well. She is sick to her stomach, but well enough to walk with her walker through our house, down two steps, and, with assistance, get into my Mommy van.

I stay at the ER from 8:00 PM — 1:30 AM when she is admitted. Yes, she has a UTI. Good, I think. We are on our way to healing. She will be home before Christmas, which she always really loves.

I walk into her hospital room the next day, and…

Crystal Cook Marshall

Farmer, writer, STS researcher, social entrepreneur, systems rethinker

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