Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Free Writing About Free Writing

GBE 2 - week 32 is a 15 minute free write.  Check it out on the site, it gives the details.   But this is what I do all the time, free writing I mean.  I may have an idea to work from,  but often I just start writing and something meaningful tends to come out.  I think it just comes with practice.  Writing is soothing, energizing, and everything in between for people who have to write.  I do my best writing in the morning.  When words just seem to slide onto the page without effort and in a coherent fashion almost like the experience writers sometimes describe as "it just came to me."  I have poems descend upon me at all times of the day and night, but when essays, articles or the like flow from me as though someone inside by head is dictating the piece to me, it is usually in the morning.  It is not necessarily the very first thing I do but I think I do my best writing when I starting putting words on the page before 9 a.m.  So it is 6:30 in the evening now as I write this for the Tuesday post.  Probably won't be my best effort ever.  I just love writing and I'm trying to be more disciplined and using different types of motivations to develop the discipline needed for serious blogging and other types of writing.  Blogging gimmicks are doing the trick to some degree.  That isn't to say that the gimmicks are bad.  They aren't.  Nablopomo.  GBE 2.  These are just a couple of the blogging tools I'm employing to get me writing.  I need a voice recorder too.  I have to find an app for that for my Blackberry.  Writing ideas down isn't always practical.  And sometimes when ideas strike, I need to record them, somehow.  Discipline is good, but so are ideas.  Develop one and don't let the others get away. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Somewhere They Call It Boxing Day

Change on the home front is a constant but some time periods are more like rapids with swirls, eddies, and water rushing over submerged objects rather than the bucolic progress of a gently meandering stream.

The Holiday rush has ended, sort of, but just like this day that has the name of medieval, or possibly older, origins a sense of confusion about this next period aka the last 10 days of Christmas exists.  That is how it is with our family life over the next few days and weeks:  a bunch of eddies, swirls, and steady progress toward who knows what or where. 

It's been a hectic few weeks.  Zilla moved back in with us for the last few months of her university days, with her 110 lb. puppy. Hubby decided in July to take a short semester-long sabbatical this Fall. I frantically tried to get as much of a book written as I could but became overloaded in October and haven't gotten much done for about six weeks.

All this fal-der-al, and fiddle-dee-dee is a way to say I do not have as many neato keen discoveries for you today as I might have wished for a Must Know Monday or a Friday Finds and Facts.

I'm looking forward to being able to focus and follow-through on projects big and small beginning mid-January after my hubby is back teaching and researching everyday at the U.,  and I've  helped Zilla safely move across the country to begin her life as half of a couple.  Guess I better start saving up for a wedding in a year or two.  She won't live with someone without some sort of promissory portable wealth (a phrase from my anthropology days) of some sort.  She's my daughter and she learned her lessons well;  you know, cows and milk and such.

I have to admit I'm looking forward to a road trip, even in the middle of Winter.  I discovered,  only a few years ago,  that I love solitary road trips.  There is something about the call of the open road that I just can't resist given half a reason to venture out on one.

A bit of a digression here:   I haven't been on the road since driving back from my Mom's place for the last time after caring for her as she passed away in 2007.  That last trip wasn't fun.  There was another trip that was hard too,  it was the one where I stopped to see my brother on my way to the Counter-Inaugural in January of 2005.  It was the last time I saw him and was only a few weeks before he passed away from cancer.  I suppose this may seem a bit morose but this Christmas Day was the 25th anniversary of my Dad's passing.  Some anniversaries just can't be forgotten.

But it is time for some perspective that only the road seems to be able to give to me.  Some of my less than wonderful life experiences taught me that I was only safe when I was by myself.  In a car in the middle of the country, hundreds of miles from home where people know to look for me, and hundreds of miles from a destination where people expect me to be at some point in the future seems safe to me.  There is a section of the book on this:  "Inversion of the Expected."  It is, I believe,  a sort of protective semiotic strategy but that is too heady and abstract a concept to take up head or thought space during the holidays.  I want to think about this more and in relation to a couple other ways people create rather intricate behaviors supported by belief systems that may be based on total logically created poppycock.

But you will just have to wait to find out more about all that,  because it is a time for conversation with family and friends over jigsaw puzzles and board games while sipping mimosas or hot chocolate and nibbling on gingerbread and chocolate truffles, and have one of each for me will you, please, as I can't for many reasons.  The Time of the Longest Nights, the days around the Winter Solstice, the 12 days of Christmas, the 8 days of Hanukkah, the 7 days of Kwanzaa, call it what you will  is a time for hot drinks, rich food, and leisurely getting together with friends and family over a longer period of time than other times of year seem to allow these days.

Hope your holidays are continuing and you are with those you love!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Crepes for Two

Hubby is over at the turtle tank picking out dried shrimp from the canister of turtle food and Randy the Turtle is gobbling them up as fast as they are dropped in the tank.  Merry Christmas Randy! 

The doggies are chowing down on braided doggie chews made of raw hide.  The cats have been brushed with their new brush.

Our tummies are full too!  Our traditional Christmas breakfast of coffee, mimosas, and Christmas Crepes. The recipe will follow a bit further down.  They make great New Years Day Crepes too!

It has been a relaxed Christmas morning thus far.  This is our first Christmas on our own since 1989.  While we were expecting Zilla to be here with us this Christmas, her Honey Bunny's older brother sent her a ticket to surprise the HB in Minneapolis for Christmas.  She left yesterday morning, and when her HB arrived at his brother's house to open gifts before Christmas Eve Dinner he thought he was opening a "coffee table" over which Zilla had been obsessing and was supposed to be for their new home (and life) together that will start in January.   HB's older bro. told him Zill had something shipped to him and he had assembled it.  So HB was none the wiser when there was a huge box among the presents.  He was dumbfounded when Zilla popped out of the top of the box.   What a wonderful present for them, and what a wonderfully calm Christmas for us!  The East Coast contingent of the family are down at the winter home of  Poet Boy's parents South of here, close to the border, and we will see them later today or tomorrow morning to watch the twins dressed in new clothes play explore new kinds of play with new toys. 

I'm happy and content.  I'm writing and Hubby is sketching.

Here is the most decadent recipe ever, it is Hubby's own, perfected this year after over twenty years of testing.  Yum!  We've drastically cut the usual amount of sugar this year and it is not only something that might be appropriate for a celebratory breakfast even for a diabetic like myself by cutting the sugar or substitution of a stevia-based sweetener for the sugar.  The fat content is sinful, and absolutely delicious.  It is probably safe to eat this once a year.  More often would not be healthy; delicious, but not healthy.  


Robin's Christmas Crepes

Strawberry Topping (for 4 crepes)

4 very large strawberries (or as many as you want!) sliced into very thin slices
juice of 1/2 large lemon
1 Tbs. sugar

toss all ingredients together and let stand while you make the filling and crepe batter

Crepe filling (for many!) 

1   15 oz. container (which is  425 gr.) ricotta cheese
1 stick of butter (1/4 c. is 113 gr. which is also 4 oz.)
1 pkg. of cream cheese (8 oz. which is 227 gr.)
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbs. sugar
lemon zest

beat all ingredients together (we used a mixer) beat until mixture is a consistently thick, smooth and creamy

makes far more filling than is needed for four crepes,
cover and refrigerate unused filling,
use in crepes when you whip up new batches of crepe batter and fruit topping for others as they drop by throughout the day or week of festivities  --  topping keeps for up to three days when properly sealed and refrigerated 

Crepe batter (for 4 crepes)

beat together
3 eggs
1/3 c. heavy whipping cream        
1/4 tsp. of vanilla
lemon zest

slowly sift
1/2 c. flour
into mixture

pour 1/4 batter on preheated and oiled griddle, or pan, to make a nice round crepe,
flip crepe over when top of crepe begins to appear rubbery and non-liquid,
cook until done and lightly golden brown on both sides

repeat 3 more times until you have four crepes


We usually have the person eating the crepes do their own assembly.

place crepe on plate
spoon filling to taste into the center of crepe and spread to desired thickness
roll up the crepe
top with strawberry topping

Eat and enjoy!


May this Holiday and the coming New Year be Merry, Bright and Prosperous for all of you my dear readers!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Graduate Growing Pains

I didn't succeed with Nablopomo this month, but I did succeed with doing an absolute ton of stuff.  But it has not been enough for everyone around me.  Expectations placed on mothers are sometimes huge and unrealistic ones. Sometimes mothers do not live up to expectations both realistic and unrealistic.  Moms are humans. 

Daughters are human too, but sometimes they are scary monsters.  Zilla got her nickname with good reason.  This past week has been a roller coaster of ups and downs.  Her last semester of college was this past week.  She attended the more intimate School of Science Graduation where the graduates actually walk across the stage while a saying they have chosen is projected on the stage's backdrop and hands are shaken and recognition given.  It was good.  She had a bit of a melt down when we were where we were told to go after the ceremony and not where she thought we would be, but we all survived, met up, and her sister, father and I are all very proud. 

Did I mention her sister who lives in NYC along with hubby and twin 1 year old daughters are all in Southern Arizona for the Holidays? 

Zilla has always easily been wound up and at times has difficulty disengaging and the stress of finals, the details and expenses of graduation, coupled with her understandable anxiety about completing applications for graduate school in in the next few weeks, and about moving across the country and away from nearby family shortly after the New Year is taking its toll on her.  The graduation party at our house was a success... both the early part with our friends and those folks with small children, and the later part that was more raucous and composed mainly of her friends were pleasant and appropriately celebratory for the people to whom they were tailored.  

Still I am the target of my baby's scorn more often than not in the past week as not everything is unfolding as smoothly nor exactly in the manner she envisioned and she feels the need to affix as much blame as possible to me.  I actually understand this.  It doesn't mean that I accept the blame nor tolerate the scorn, but I understand why we are so touchy about everything.  My therapist once reminded me that often it is easier to leave a place or person when there is some anger reinforcing the necessity of the separation. 

I'm proud of my baby.  This is a difficult time because we are close, stress is high, and it makes us both sad to think of being so far away from each other.  We will get through it and it is instructional to learn that being close can make for more stress at times of transition than families that are not as close and just going through the motions required of a formal occasion. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Rain Again, an observation and poem

I woke up this morning to more rain.  It usually doesn't bother me, but today it does.  It is a cold sad rain.  An unopened package from Ypsilanti was on the kitchen table.  A friend, now dust and perhaps  a memory at any given time  - his words were in there.  Parkinson's was killing him when I knew him.  His eyes, pale and piercing, could see through people.  For some reason, he liked what he saw in me.  Those Monday nights at the Unitarian Universalist Church were a treasure.  Rest in peace my friend. 

rain again

Tucson was once lush
diorama of spears hefted
by little brown men
and a dying mammoth
told me so

this wet lack of sun
sends me back
the world of chill childhood 
lives in such damp days

is different

some of his last poems
are in that book
on the coffee table

words from when I knew him

"you, you can come back"
after hearing me read
and i did

all the way from
For Neruda, For Chile
to surfings

nfh, 13 dec 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

Not the Best of Days

Stressing out big time, too much to do over the next three days.

The graduation party is Friday. I'm hopelessly behind. Zilla has her finals this week. One today, one tomorrow and one Weds. I guess I will just do what I can and say heck to the rest.

I wish I really could be that non-plussed by this sort of thing but after living with renovation for the last 5 years (my husband bless his heart wants to do most major projects himself) I am so tired of not having the house together.

I'm sort of in a bleak mood today. At times I wish I had it together a bit more than I do. I guess I will just tell myself that I have 10 years of backlog and I've only been regaining my health for the last 6 months of that time and it will get better.

Back to scrubbing, sorting and baby-proofing!

This is officially the lamest blog post I've ever done.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Empty Nesters Done Nesting

Are you what is now referred to as an empty nester?  I prefer to say I am done nesting.  Empty nest syndrome is a maladjustment to children leaving home and heading out on their own.  I prefer to frame the experience as a success.  You reared your children and now you are done nesting.  Seems perfectly logical to me.  I know I am not alone in viewing this life transition this way.

So if you are also done nesting, feel free to grab the following image and scale it to your needs to post as a widget (badge of honor for being a successful parent) on your blog.  I made it today.

I will turn this into a badge with code when it is a bit less hectic around the home front.  I think I will host a Done Nesting Blog Carnival next month too.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Photos and Family History

Spent the day sorting through stuff in order to have a garage sale within a few days, and helping my husband organize the content of some boxes he brought back from being in storage in the state where he grew up.  He passed through there when he came back from sabbatical on the East Coast. 

My family is weird, but his family background is truly unusual.  The snapshots we found today included baby and childhood photographs that I hadn't ever seen, and that he thought no longer existed. I was so glad that my daughter and her step-sister will have a more complete history of his family.  Portrait photos to go with names, and houses and cars give a context that really fills out understanding of a time and place.   There were semi risque pics of his mom taken by his father.  They were very free-thinking people when it came to sexuality but they were arch conservatives when it came to politics and social issues.   His dad was an extremely fine gunsmith.   There were letters and documents in the boxes too. National Rifle Association memberships and awards, shooting club patches, and hints at Hubby's Dad's first marriage provided links that tied the photos and documents together.  There are more dates to help us fill out a timeline that has always been fuzzy.

I went online and re-upped for ancestry.com and began searching.  My husband always thought that he was a bastard... but that isn't really true.  His parents did marry, a bit late perhaps by societal standards, but I found out when and where they married.  I haven't found out much about his dad's first marriage.  If there had been children I think I would have found the records from birth announcements in the newspapers.

When I was growing up my family always recited lineages as though they were litanies.  It is odd to now be able to build those same sort of lineages for my husband's family even though both parents had been gone for ages by the time we married.

Personal history, family history, and the flavor of community are so difficult to capture after the fact.  I'm glad we can write it down for the kids now while we still have control of most of our faculties. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Bucket List or Dream List

Been playing around with graphics today... one of my favorite things you might have deduced by now.  I was playing with the title of this blog when I began thinking about the things I want to accomplish during this next phase of my life.  A bucket list if you will.  GBE2 had it as a weekly writing prompt last week.  And while I didn't get the post written then, I'm doing it now.  Day late and a dollar short as usual.  But what the hey, this is about fun, motivation, and peer response.  Deadlines be damned!

Ok, here goes:
  • Number one on the list is definitely to get the book on healing MSbP abuse done and spend a while on marketing it.  
  • The Gene Stratton-Porter biography is high priority too after MSbP book.
  • A month of wearing wool sweaters, eating oatmeal, and writing in a stone cottage on an island (Hebrides - maybe Skye) just off the Scottish coast has always been a dream.  
  • Touring through the desolate wilderness of Patagonia in South America.
  • Spending a week in Paris with time spent between the Musée du Louvre  and the Museo de Orsay. 
  • Redeveloping my relationship with my husband so that we are best friends again.    
  • Having a garden again.
  • Making bread again.
  • Getting up to 400 plus as my regular score in Scrabble®.  
This is fun because I'm making it fun.  It isn't a list of things I've failed to do as yet, it is a list of things I still dream about doing.  I'm glad I'm still dreaming!  What do you dream about doing now that you are done nesting?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Holiday Juggling Squared Feeds A Writing Experiment

Oh I wish I had time to write the way I would like to write. The coming Holidays, my 21 year old's graduation from university, her birthday, my husband's 35 year old daughter, her husband who is adapting to have a prosthetic lower leg, and their twin 1 year old daughters, and her birthday all arrive within a few days of each other.

I am challenging myself to write through the frenzy of the next month. Writing provides comfort, entertainment, solace, political engagement, and occasionally income for me. I have always written on a keyboard. My first big purchase in life was when I was 16 and I purchased a professional office model Royal electric typewriter. Crisp, tidy, inviting words that I put on a page have been a near daily occurrence for decades of my life. I like to revise, edit, and hone each piece. Many, many times my creative thoughts and fingers are racing so very much faster than my internal editor can run.

Feel free to click and copy this graphic for your non-commercial blog!

Blogging, especially on a daily basis, requires a spontaneous, yet rigorous, process of writing to create a product. At least it does in my world where I don't have hour upon hour to spend crafting a final Blog product every day. Writing poetry, and writing, and rewriting papers and research reports were the mainstays of my "keyboarded" writing for ages, letter writing and journaling were the purview of pen-in-hand. Blogging combines these modes of writing that, for those of us who learned to compose on paper and then transcribe via a typewriter, come into being through different brain to hand, neural pathways and processes.

A further difference, for old fogey types' such as "Done Nesters," is that we would also nearly always do a complete rewrite as we retyped from penultimate draft to final copy. This is how we learned to create coherent pieces of writing. This differs from how the bloggers who learned to write on personal computers and laptops create their product. Most blogs also require a personality-infused style of writing that is somewhat at odds with the multiple edits and more formal style of writing that lots of 40-plus writers have as their default.

So, I am giving myself permission, in this coming month of tightly scheduled events and impromptu family activities, to write for two hours every morning. This will keep me sane. This also will require getting up at an absolutely ungodly hour and going to the gym, then writing from 7 until 9 a.m., and letting my family know that joint enterprise breakfasts will begin to be made by us as a group endeavor at 9 a.m. What this will also promote, at least that is my plan, is the honing of my quick write skills when time is crunched but there is a wealth of material from which to draw upon in those limited moments of writing time.

This wealth truly is a wealth that is made up of many rich blessings: my darling baby all grown up and moving away to go to grad school, twin one year old grand baby girls visiting our home for the first time, a son-in-law who is a wonderful writer and is adjusting amazingly well to a changed body after life-altering boating accident, and my wonderful step daughter who works in the New York publishing industry and has said she might be able to shop around my memoir about growing up in rural, bucolic isolation on one of the last truly old fashioned farms while surviving the rearing of a mother who today would be classified as suffering from the factitious disorder, Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.  These are all very exciting elements in and pf themselves, let alone together!

I know my limiting and enabling constraints; I can churn out acceptable copy the first thing in the morning. Without fail this is when my best writing is done. While there is the occasional instance to prove my generalization wrong, the quality of my writing decreases with every passing hour of the day.  With so much that I want to capture there should not be any lack of subject or motivation, so I just have to stick to the schedule and work on what I guess I will think of as flow for lack of a better word.  Flow for me means combining the personal creativity of what I think of as journal and letter writing energy with the final draft polish and editing vibes that keyboarding provides for me. 

I will have an overflowing basket of observations, rituals, and discoveries to provide prompts and topics aplenty to feed my urges to communicate in writing, and I have the schedule in place to facilitate my best effort; so,  there is actually method to my seeming madness. Sometimes the busiest time is the best time to blend in a new ingredient, this time the combining of types of writing into my own style of blogging that captures the best features of both types.

Do you agree, or am I taking on too much?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Discovering the Truth About Christmas Treats

I miss the taste of the sweet treats of the season.  I was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes in May of this year, so this is the first Christmas season without sugar.    Sigh.

I'm lucky though, I can control the disease with diet and exercise and Metformin.  I don't have to do the daily blood tests.

I've learned to stop and appreciate the beauty of the treats under glass in bakeries, to breathe in and delight in the memories and emotions that rich scents of cinnamon, almond, clove, fruit evokes.  This lack has made me appreciate the real treats when I find them.  It is almost like a game.  I ask myself,  " If I could freely eat a few, select sweet treats, would this be one of them?" 

To my surprise, I find myself usually answering,  "No." 

If the tempting item is in a bag, I remind myself it is not fresh.  And fresh, straight from the oven, still gooey and steaming is the only way to eat most treats such as cookies.  I walked down the isle in overstock and remainder grocery I go to at least once a month, a store that saves my budget and me from despair, with all the baking goods to get a great deal on cans of evaporated milk, and walked right past the boxes of brownie and cake mixes with their ingredient lists of over 15 items including preservatives and fillers and multiple forms of second class sweeteners. No problem.  If I were to indulge, it would and indulgence with something homemade with love and real true ingredients.  In the grocery near my home, I walk in and the sweet smell is overpowering.  It is cloying in its overabundance, and there is something missing.  The scent of spices, butter, nutmeats and simmering fruit is absent.  There is just the smell of white flour and sugar.  This, too, I can forgo.

The piles of candy everywhere brighten with red, white, and gold wrappings.  But I can decorate with strings of popcorn and cranberries and shiny baubles;  I don't need gold boxes of chocolates,  and bowls of red and green candies.

I am pretty sure I can figure out how to make a fruit cake that is filled with the heady richness of freshly ground spices, healthy fruit and nuts and a tiny bit of honey and just enough Stevia to add some sweetness without bitterness so as delight guests and allow my own indulgence once or twice.  I am sorting through my recipes and looking for recipes I can modify so as to be able to make plates of treats to give away without exposing myself to dangerous temptation.  Many recipes I remember from my childhood were simple ones that I can adapt to use a sweetener that is natural, and with a lower glycemic index than the "white death" soaked cookies we too often think of as "Christmas cookies."  Chocolate (dyed green) and white (dyed red) cookie doughs rolled into flat sheets then layered and rolled and sliced to make pinwheel cookies were always on my mother's Christmas sideboard.  She also made almond flavored butter cookies shaped into tiny crescents with a clove stuck in each one.  Regular plain and simple cookies can be decorated with chopped fruits, nuts such as almonds that can be tinted into festive colors.   I will include clementines on the trays, and nuts, just like they did in the days of the Nutcracker. 

I will make Christmas trays of goodies for family and friends, and if so moved to do so, I may sample one bite from each type on different days, and I will allow myself to roll the tastes around, over my tongue, savor the real, true sweetness of home made delicacies without artificial anything while sharing the Holidays with the real, true sweet things in life: my family and friends.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My rough notes from Captain Mark Kelly's Talk Tonight.

Waiting for the talk by Cpt. Mark Kelly to start on the U of A campus.

The talk is sponsored by the Tucson Festival of Books. My husband is p.o.ed that the Arizona Daily Star had the first 12 rows reserved for "VIPs."

The event was to start at 7:30 p.m. with everyone in their seats by 7:15 but there was security theater getting inane everyone was outside waiting in line in the cold as the very slow progression to get in finally started.

Someone is at the podium speaking about the Festival's good works.

New mayor and some council members in attendance.

M.K. will sign.

Message from Gabby. Month ago.

Kid in a space suit.

Physical, occupational, an hour each and a couple hours in speech therapy.

Injury: leg improves - right arm doesn't.
Stamina is very good.

Why the book? Telling the story to remember it. "Seemed like the right thing to do." They aged to tell all personally. Jeff Laslo collaborated with them. Couple hours a day driving and talking to him.

Grew up in neighborhood where the Sopranos was set as the son of two cops. 


1st date in prison. China/young leaders. Long distance.

Still haven't taken honeymoon. "Need to work that in."

Exactly the same personality. Right brain wounds alter personality.

He'd rate comprehension at 100 percent. Maybe 98.

Not like a stroke.

Caregiver of crew or Gabby. Prior skills in complex decision, planning, organizing. Advocate.marriage - that is what he signed up for.

She is positive, determined... Does not want to miss therapy, even for President Obama.

Gave her cane she walked to garage and threw it out.

Healthcare: we've made poor choices.
Limited amount of therapy. 10 yrs. With one month of therapy. A few months in a row would have fixed everything.

"Try not to mess up."

Remember that Michelle Obama is very tall.

Neonatal room with bed . No sleep 8th  or 9th then decided decisions required sleep.

2nd opinion group think equal stupid. Ask a junior person's opinion. None of us is as dumb as all of us. In group Conf room at mission control. Told that to surgeons in care mtgs. Demanded a second opinion.

Gabby forced him to get 7 second opinions when he had prostate cancer.   No way brain surgery with out.

Google effect. Gabby's mushrooming "presence."  Bothered him at first.  He got over that.

Daughters. Distant and strained relation teens.
Even worst things have good things come out.

On Bono, "Gabby is in love with both of us."
he had met gabby before. Same picture on her desk.

Danger of space flight. Courage learned from Gabby. 2007. 39 flights and 2 space flights and he didn't have the dangerous profession.

Patience. Learned to be patient.

She is a compassionate person.

Learned a lot from writing.

At Mesa verde school earlier today.  Yearbook from school taken into space. the most impact from all of this year, Ron Barber, Gabriel's death?  No - 9 yr old girl. Tragic. Christina Taylor Green.

Compartmentalization. Helped. Training for care giving and space flight. It helped. Focus you learn to - to fly.  For moments in time to be able to forget about every thing else.

GG coming back to Tucson? Decision still to bemade. Eventually spend all of time in Tucson.

Continuing service is probably a motivator.

She wants to continue - time will tell.

Her office is still functioning. Everything but voting. Shooting on sat. Office open Monday.

Marches out the door every morning.

Will decide on anniversary events.

Next for him?  "My job is to make sure she can run for office."

Audience questions.

Sarah Palin... Not yet, I 'm waiting.

Wash your bananas.

Destruction of rain forest seen from space. 2001 2011 clearly see the destruction. Atmosphere isn't that big.

Brain injury Iraq -- therapy early and for a long enough time. Treat early and enough.

E.T. - Paused???? Small sharp teeth and live under bed.

Book signing line outside (again) in the COLD. We didn't stay for the signing.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Buying a Certified Used Vehicle - Part 2

The saga of the car purchase by my darlin' little daughter continued over the last few days and reached a new resolution today. And you thought it ended last Thursday when she signed the papers.  Wrong.  Much to our surprise on Friday when we picked up the car from our trusted mechanic after he had done a thorough inspection of the car, he let us know that it had been involved in some minor repairs and had probably been in a fender bender of some sort.

How did he know this?  Well in bright sun light you could see that the front right bumper had been repainted.  It was an excellent paint job, but the color/texture was just slightly different from the rest of the vehicle.  You could see that the hood had been removed and reinstalled by the slight impression of where the nuts were initially tightened down on all the bolts that secured the hood to the body.  Some of the non-structural screws (pretty much redundant ones) were missing as seen from when the car was up on the rack.  The computer initially showed an error on electrical system of power steering column on the initial computer scan.  Another error showed on the power to the window controls in the drivers door.  Follow up more detailed computer readings showed nothing wrong, but the initial report showed something was potentially problematic.  There were several minor chips in the windshield.  A cup holder in the back seat was broken.

All in all these are relatively minor problems, but still, the car was not in the condition it was presented as being in at the time of purchase.  This meant that although we got it for a good price the initial starting point at which it was priced was $1500 to $2000 higher than standard price (per Edmunds or Kelly blue book) should have been priced.

I apparently raised my daughter to be one tough cookie when it comes to negotiation skills.  In fact I remember using the phrase, "This is not negotiable!" fairly often in discussions when she was still in the lower grades of elementary school.  Saturday a.m. we took the car back to the dealer and said we were returning it because of the condition.  No ifs, ands or buts.  We did not accept a loaner.  We thought they might lower the price then and there, but they asked for time until this morning, Monday, to find other options for us.  We agreed.    They had our trade in, the down payment, and the purchased car over the weekend, so the ball was firmly in our court.  We were being reasonable and we were the ones being inconvenienced.

Today, after a tiny bit of my daughter staying firm on her expectations and rejecting cars similar to the one returned, that were not what she wanted, the dealer offered a model that was a year newer, the next model up that has many upgraded features as standard features, and had a sticker price that was $5,000 higher than the sticker of the model she had returned, and had half as many miles as the returned vehicle.  They agreed to have the paperwork for the new car done later in the afternoon when she could return for the same price so she could come in, sign, and be out the door in 10 minutes.

The dealer was pleased that my daughter was pleasant and allowed them to right the mistake.  What could have been bad PR for them turned out to be an opportunity for them to get some very good PR from a satisfied customer.

She picked the car up this afternoon.  

The first car was a 2008 Jetta SE with a few upgrades.   The car she came away with today is a 2009 Jetta, Wolfsburg edition.  The $80 inspection fee we paid the mechanic to check out the car was the best investment we have every made. The moral of the story?  Have a mechanic inspect your vehicle as soon as possible after purchase (before if possible,) and do not hesitate to continue the negotiation after the day of purchase if something is discovered.  You do have three days to return almost any major purchase. 

"The squeaky wheel gets the grease," as the old adage says. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Baking with Stevia

Today I began experimenting with how to bake with stevia.  Unfortunately I am out of eggs and butter.  The Stevia in the Raw that I used had printed instructions saying that I could use it like sugar 1 to 1.  I just make a no egg cakey sweet bread with whole wheat flour, a bit of baking powder and stevia instead of sugar and oil instead of eggs.  I also used kiefer yogurt, a banana, and vanilla.  It turned out edible but with an aftertaste of stevia.

This is a good start for learning to bake without sugar, using whole grains, and yogurt, but I have a long way to go.

Next experiment will be with unbleached white flour, eggs, and butter and about half as much stevia with apples rather than banana.

I baked this version in a 9 inch lined cake pan with the oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.  I also need to lower the temperature a little or decrease the cooking time a bit.

Eating it with butter and a glass of milk made it more palatable.   I'm thinking that using it like bread and eating it with peanut butter smeared on it might be good.  

An almond and cinnamon crumb topping might also be good. 

I enjoy baking but I need to do it in a healthy way and sugar and fake sugars are not good for humans so I'm trying some alternatives.  I used to use honey but I'm trying to use low glycemic ingredients.

The best page I've found on Stevia

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Empty Nester? I Don't Feel Empty.

Weekends are free writing times which means there are no official themed prompts published for those of us participating in NaBloPoMo.

So I have decided to rework something written ages ago when I fist thought of starting this blog.

I have not felt empty since I gave birth to my lovely little bird who, in this blog, I shall call Phoebe.
I did miss her kicking me at first after she was born, even though I held her in my arms as the flutter, thump, kick, was a constant from the “quickening” when I first consciously felt my little babe’s jab to my kidney until her birth.  Okay, okay, actually it was just fluttering at first… but eventually I became convinced I had a world champion pugilist inside me.

Anyway, this post is just a bit of explanation about the blog title.  I will never be done parenting or grand-parenting, Goddess willing (more on the use of the word Goddess another time) but I am done nesting.

When I studied for one short but memorable semester with in Dr. Earl Count (I am NOT making this up!) in college  who was an octogenarian when he taught the course on The Biogram I learned a great deal.  Not enough for Dr. Count,  though, who gave me a B for the course much to my dismay.  (I, me, moi only received grades of A, or so I thought up until that time.)  One of the things I learned about in his course was nesting behavior and something called the broody phase.  All female vertebrates when they are pregnant, if I remember correctly, experience a broody phase where normal behavior is replaced by behavior that is directed toward creating an environment that accommodates the successful rearing of offspring.

I think I am done with the broody phase and the following nesting phase where offspring are raised.    I’m off to focus, for the most part and to some degree for the very first time, on my own life. So while I will always be a mother, I have exited the broody phase and am exiting the nesting phase.  This blog will chronicle this transition and perhaps the next phase of my life. 

Additional Info:
If you are into ethology, the book we used for the course on the biogram was called, Being and Becoming Human: Essays on the Biogram by Earl Count.  I found it to be a very good text that rounded out my reading of Lorenz, and Eibl-Eibesfeldt when it came to basic ethology. 
(Wanna make something of my love of bibliography? Let’s step outside.*)
* see:  Notes page.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Gifts We Give to Our Children

I am so happy that my husband and I were able to help our daughter get a nice car -- today!  She will be graduated from university very soon and will head off across country on her own.  I'm not a 1 percenter, no where close, not even in the same universe.  So the car is not brand new.  But it is a nice car, an import, has all the bells and whistles, is a couple years old, and as a certified used vehicle has a two year or 25,000 miles warranty.  We were able to give her a sizable down payment so that she could afford payments on a car that will last through grad school and beyond with any fortune at all.

The gift is more than we can afford, but that is okay.  The Hubby and I are both products of totally dysfunctional families that did as much to hurt us as to help us.  I swore when I married and had a baby that I would raise my daughter to know that she is loved and that she would never doubt that she is entitled to have her needs met.  We've done better than our parents did in raising children, but we were far, far, far from perfect parents.  But we've always tried to meet her needs and prepare her to launch herself from our nest into an independent life from the best footing possible. 

So if I am posting a response to the Day 2 NaBloPoMo prompt: "What was the most disappointing gift you received as a child?"  and I am not sure that the above stuff relates, but anyway... I guess that the most disappointing gift I received was during third grade when my Christmas gifts were an ugly hat, a Bible, and some bath salts.  I was really sad that I didn't get anything fun.  But now that I'm older, this does not seem as bad as it did then.  We were very poor.  I still have the Bible.  The gift I was most disappointed by was the most precious gift a parent can give to a child, it was what I wasn't given as a child.  That was the gift of self esteem and self-worth that comes from knowledge of unconditional love.

We gave my daughter a gift today that helped her get a car, but the most important thing we've given her isn't related to physical objects or money and while that is good, it isn't good that we understand this from getting not so good things in childhood.  It can and does get better though with acceptance and understanding that healing takes place not only within individuals but over generations. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Happy December!

I really want to get back to FUN posting, so I'm doing NaBloPoMo this month, December 2011.  I hope to fill the month with lots of photos and fun posts about family, milestones, grandbabies, baking, and traditions. 

As an early Holiday gift, I'm posting this texture (above) that I created for use in Second Life® back a couple of Decembers ago.  Feel free to use it if you like in a craft project or other non-commercial use.

 Similarly, feel free to use this folk-craft texture made at the same time by me with the same restriction, non-commercial use.

 Same story for this one. 
And this one.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Birthday Grand Daughters!

Sharing something from my amazingly adept at poetic endeavors son-in-law to the Grandbabies on their first birthday, which always and forever happens to be today.
- on yr first birthday
by Aaron Balkan

One of you lives for red meat.
One of you favors cheese of the goat.
I know who.

I remember the football hold. I remember the little
sour faces you made when the bottle was too cold.
Sorry about that. I remember three out of five of the S’s:
Swaddling, Shushing and Swinging. I remember how we used to
swing each of you, pendulum-like, toward each other, and how,
instead of slamming into your sis in mid air,
you both cackled: G with her chuckle gone berserk,
J, who certainly doesn’t require aviating the air via her father’s arms to go berserk,
going bezerk.

Let me tell you something about Michigan. Yes it’s where
so and so happened. The record shall reflect. But it’s also
where you first took to water. Josie, you were running wind sprints across the shallow;
Georgia, you liked to saddle up a floating sugar maple branch
and stare at it, pick it up, hold it to the light, chew. You both appreciated
the taste of pond water, the fetid-
er the better!
I have a picture of that summer. There’s a thunderstorm going on outside
a picture window. Georgia you’re standing on a couch, your hands
pressed to the glass. You are smiling, but your mouth is wide open,
so it’s like you’re both smiling and trying to swallow the landscape. Josie,
you are sitting on the floor staring at Georgia. You, too, have your mouth agape.
It appears you want to swallow your sister.

Here’s what happened:
I went to see Dylan.
He played This Wheel’s on Fire
for his opening number. The next night
you were born.
Here they are trough diving. Bean is stealing Josie's fallen fruit from the bib trough. 
  Happy Birthday Darlings!  I love you.

Friday, November 4, 2011

I Love My Writing Technology!

Day 4... of Nablopomo, and I'm going to use the prompt for today about writing instruments and what I like to use.  This seems to be a personal post so I'm putting it here in my more personal blog.  I'm writing every day this month, as per National Blog Posting Month guidelines, in order to increase my output, improve my technique, and just generally become a better blogger.  So the prompt is: 
When you are writing, do you prefer to use a pen or a computer?
I wrote a tiny bit about this a few days ago on another of my blogs, coincidentally and mentioned that I prefer to use a .07 lead mechanical pencil when using a pencil, and that I prefer an ultra fine point archival ink when I chose to use a pen. When I want to write with a keyboard I also have to choose between my desktop computer, my laptop, my iPad 2, and my smart phone.  

So how do I choose between the tools I have available to me when I want to put words to the page?  Well, the first consideration I evaluate in my choice of writing utensil is the type of writing I want to do.  Am I writing a grocery list, letter,  journal entry, blog post, short or long manuscript,  or a poem? This will influence the type of tool I choose to use.  Intensely personal recollections, musings and such are likely to be written by hand with a pencil or high quality pen.

Lead pencils and a Rapidograph®-like pen were the tools of the trade I was instructed to use when making field  notes / behavioral observations as an undergrad and in graduate school.  I also always used a high rag or cotton content paper on which to take notes.  This practice has stayed with me over the years to a great extent, although I love all sorts of paper, notebooks, notepads, and loose leaf papers so what I write on is not always bond paper.  I try to use only ink that will not bleed, is permanent, and pencils as they also have these characteristics.  

I usually write on a keyboard of some sort.  I purchased my first electric typewriter when I was 16 in 1973.  I loved to see my work in typed print - especially my poetry - and the "translation" of thought into words seemed to flow more smoothly and rapidly when I used the direct brain to fingertip neural/physical actions involved in typing.  Writing script by hand takes much,  much longer for me and seems more likely to capture stream of conscience musings.  Using a keyboard seems to create a  copy with more precise language usage that is closer to penultimate or final copy.

Another factor is where the writing will be done.  At home, sitting, reclining, while watching T.V., in my office, at my desk, on a plane or train, in an automobile, at a coffee shop, at a conference, at a press conference all place different limiting and enabling constraints on which technology I use. 

I nearly at all times have a small notebook and my phone with me when I carry a shoulder bag.  Theoretically, I could use either one of these for note taking, but I like to write notes by hand.  Phone key pads, even on the iPhone, are just too small.   I do not like to send text messages for this reason.   I guess I have old, fat fingers. 

I like to write neatly if I am writing by hand and using a mechanical pencil allows me to write in a fairly uniform manner because the lead is always the same diameter and this size of mechanical pencil creates a thin line that for some reason helps me write in a neat small script.  Archival quality ink pens, either felt tip or roller ball, with an ultra fine nib also seem to promote better handwriting for me than a ball point.  I seem to produce larger and more sloppy script when I write with a ballpoint pen or wooden pencil.

I do my best blogging on a laptop when sitting in a comfy chair or even in bed with the TV on at night.  I tend to  use my iPad for social media communication, for texting and posting short social media entries.  My desktop computer with the large screen in my office is used for graphics, web design layout, and for some reason which I have not figured out entirely, for manuscript or book length projects.  

I love paper, pens, notebooks, and in fact all writing tools and technologies, but more than these things, and far beyond the simple preference expressed in answer to the question, "Pen or computer?" are my love of writing and words, my graphophilia and logophilia.  And almost as intense as these loves is my fascination with the different limiting and enabling constraints placed on the creative process by the use of digital and analog tools and methods.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Cautionary Tale :: Blogs, Lies, and Screen Captures.

I just lost a long, long post that was supposed to have a few draft versions saved.  I guess I will have to chalk it up to the Goddess wanting me to write a slightly different post than the one I was writing. 

Mothers are people.  Are bad mothers bad people? There are bad mothers out there.  There are bad people out there too, but many people confuse people who do bad things with the much smaller set of that group of people who are bad people. That is how I began thinking about this issue this morning.  I don't believe that doing bad things makes you a bad person, necessarily.  My questions and thoughts on the following topic that were spinning about in my brain initially included:
  1.  I wonder which person in this mess is more disturbed?
  2. Why would anyone think that she could remain anonymous on the internet?
  3. Why would anyone be so happy that another person, even an adversary, was arrested? (I reserve that kind of glee for war criminal arrests, and those don't seem to be forthcoming.)
  4. Are the support sites that take one person or the others' side in this mess actually by one of the primary women waging this war.  
  5.  Boy-oh-boy the world is full of wackos!
  6. This is a classic example of why you have to be careful on the "internets machine."
  7. I love a good investigation, and this could be good.  (Comes from being a science librarian for a while.)
  8. This is sort of like what Liz talked about at BlogHer: false identities, pseudonyms, and such.  It is so: Blogs, Lies, and Screen Captures.  
  9. Sometimes I think social media black holes exist and suck people into them.
Okay, okay, I will give you some details:

It all started this morning when I went into my office to get away from 9/11 coverage.  I already wrote my piece on that and I didn't want to be sad today.  But then on TweetDeck, my all time favorite tool for non-phone tweeting, I saw these tweets which I captured in this image:
I don't know anything about the person behind @BreakingMomNews because her account was suspended shortly after I viewed these tweets.  The picture used for the account that I captured is the same one that @military_mom uses.  The snarky almost celebratory nature of these tweets reflects the tone of the blog post to which the tweet refers. Is it Laura Freed?  I don't know. ( IDK in twitter-speak.)

I did enough checking to confirm that the person arrested, henceforth Person A, probably is the same person who received a lots of media attention a while back when she tweeted immediately after her son's death and was possible/probably tweeting as her son drowned nearby.  According to a verification of identity site that I have wanted to check out, and which this gave me the rather prurient impetus/opportunity to do so, the name and alias, and places match the tweeting mother.

But then I began to wonder why this other tweeter, @BreakingMomNews (henceforth Person B), had her panties in such a bunch.  She purports to be Madison McGraw.  Something did not smell right. Being gleeful about other people's tragedies just isn't right.  It probably is not as bad as tweeting instead of watching your children, if that is indeed what happened, but it is creepy too. And am I to presume that the tweeter is the same person as the blogger.  This makes my head hurt. 

I've been thinking about identity and online privacy and Facebook | Twitter | Blog wars for a long time.

I am a writer, Semiotic Analyst, an activist who probably has an FBI file, and a long time blogger.  These are things with which many people in these aforementioned roles are concerned.   But I'm not a person who does too much self-revelation, with a couple learning moment exceptions, nor who has  close friends who I would accidentally slip privileged info to in an online, and thus public and published, conversation.  I do not tend to gossip, but I love a good story. 

This episode in a continuing, and tragically real, saga is part of a much longer story that I know about because of wanting to attend a discussion panel at BlogHer 2011 at which a blogging friend was a speaker on the topic of having your blog go viral.  Person A was listed as a speaker on that panel the first time I checked out the info on the panel discussants.  This totally sucked as I knew from my monkey watching days on Cayo Santiago Island that maternal groups will draw blood when they fight with each other.  Human mommy groups share much with monkey maternal groups although there are obvious differences... one group shares mitochondrial DNA and the other does not, for example.  (I'm gonna hear about this.  I just know it.)  By the time of the conference Person A was no longer listed as a panel participant.  Don't know why.  Didn't want to know why.  I was just pleased. 

As a survivor of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy child abuse I have radar that is always on for deception.  Man there were blips all over the screen on this one this morning.  And my general life experience has been interesting enough to have my Crazy Detector go off about the whole situation.  Losing a child is the worst thing I can think of that could happen, and to want to talk about it and have to defend yourself in public about the means of death just isn't something I can grasp.  But neither can I figure out why a personally unconnected blogger would immerse herself in posts, tweets, blogs, and media interviews about her take on Person A.  Both women here seem to have cultivated the attention that a death of a child could bring them.  That is sick.  Both women's handling of the situation share some common ground with MSBP,  which is why it caught my attention. But there is another level of bizarreness to this twitterversy: the comments on blogs and actual blogs created just to call Person B a scumbag.  But that still doesn't answer my question of whether Person B has an imposter.  Person B(1) and Person B(2).  With this latest blip in the saga, it should become a textbook case of some sort. 

I'm sure this isn't making all that much sense, so maybe a HuffPo article would help.  Here is one about Person A as most of the blogs and Twitter accounts are no longer online, although if you are so inclined the wayback machine might take you to previous captures of the sites from the web. There are tons, and I mean thousands of references to the hate-machine that raged against Madison McGraw/Laura Freed.  This is a fairly simple and good account of the mess.

But now there is this whole other level of an unverified person tweeting as though they are Madison McGraw/Laura Freed.  I can't imagine that this person wants more bad p.r.  But maybe I am naive.  

You should never trust anything, absolutely nothing, without verification. Check your facts.   I've always been like that.    A guy I really cared about in college got mad at me cause I checked out his father in Who's Who in Politics to see if he really was who he said he was or if he was trying to impress me.  He was legit.  Sometimes I still wish I would not have done that and p.o.ed that boy.  Oh, well... water under the bridge and I still check out facts.  Facts are just data points.  Information is when you have enough data points to draw distinctions and infer meaning.

I have no new information or insight about this whole bizarre chain of events other than to present it as a cautionary tale.  I think Laura should stick with being Moxie.  This Moxie persona doesn't seem vengeful, and has a good schtick - a blog about food based on food from novels she writes.  Maybe she learned her lesson.  Of course if Laura is connected to @breakingmomnews, and that is a big if, then she hasn't learned much.... unless she really just wants the publicity saying any publicity is good publicity.

The Jumpers onto Bandwagons on both sides give me the creeps.  Having read all the comments I could stomach from 2009 I am sadly disappointed in most people and how willing they are to draw conclusions, and negative ones at that, with little or no real information about a situation.  I think most bloggers and nearly all BlogHers are better people than those that vilified, hurled insults at, and acted as though they knew either of the adult women centered in this controversy and tragedy. 

Oh, it is not just online that you have to be careful.  Remember that. As I learned on the X Files: "Trust No One!"  This does not mean rag on them, as a folk singer friend says/sings:  We are all born with a bit of God/Good in our hearts. 

SCORE CARD:  (You can't tell the players without one.)

Person A  (verified using one of those online identity verification sites to which you subscribe)

Real Name:Shellie D. Schnell
Pseudonyms:  Shellie D. Ross
Twitter Accounts:  @Military_Mom 
Blogs & Blogonyms: http://about.me/ShellieDRoss
Other:  She really was arrested in FL at the end of August for outstanding warrants in OH.  Something to do with child support, I think.   Or maybe skipping out on debt, I'm not sure. 

Person B (1)
Real Name: 
Twitter Accounts:  @BreakingMomNews (Twitter account has been suspended.)

Blogs & Blogonyms:

Person B (2) 

Real Name: Laura Freed
Pseudonyms: Madison McGraw, Moxie Baker
Twitter Accounts:  (I think the @MadisonMcGraw currently up on Twitter is a fake account.)
Blogs & Blogonyms: http://thespellboundcafe.blogspot.com, http://www.facebook.com/thespellboundcafe

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Finds #1

Dog Days of August are over and I'm back at it, whatever it is.

Posterous use is up and running.  Signed up ages ago, but did not make use of it.  Now I will try to use it wisely.

Apple Apps added this week: Opus Domini Why?  Because an iPad 2 version is forthcoming.  It looks like a planner and I like that.  It incorporates goals, tasks, notes, appointments and everything I like to use and nothing I don't.

iPad Apps added this week: foursquare.  Still need to get it functioning on my Blackberry Torch!

Also signed up (actually reactivated) at  Quora a question and answer site.

Set up accounts at ifttt and at GetGlue.  ifttt seems like it may be seriously useful.  GetGlue not so much, although for businesses in the entertainment industry it looks like a good thing.

Now if I can just get all my blogs updated and then set up feeds from them to my business blog.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I'm Going To Do It - Again!

This is scary.  Really scary.

I haven't had my hair colored in years.  I have so much white hair in the front, and it grows so fast, that I just could not keep up with it.  Roots always showed within a few days.   But this time I am going Bonnie Raitt and leaving the white in front.  I'm only 54 and I think my hair is making me look older than I am.  I have wrinkles and such but I have light fairly good skin that with continued weight loss (down 15 lbs from May) and slightly younger looking hair should take at least 5 years off my apparent age.  Or, that is what I'm telling myself!

Here I am now:

And another pic will be forthcoming tomorrow.

I am so not a Fashionista, but I have some vain tendencies that I have had to squelch in order to live according to my ecological and economic principles.   So this is disconcerting for me.  If you read this, tell me it is okay.  I'm serious, I have moral qualms about doing these kinds of things. 

The first hurdle I had to vault, many years ago, in my early 40s was even going to a hair salon or spa. I managed to get myself through the front door of a nice salon a little over ten years ago. 

Up until that time I had only been in a salon on a few occasions.  The first was when I got a pixie cut that was hideous.  It was way to short and sharp for someone with as long and sharp of features as I had, even in 5th grade.  The second was when I had my hair "set" for my eighth grade picture. Here is the picture - for the ages of me with the rest of my class - circa 1971.

Second row Second from right, the one with long dark hair.
The third was when a girlfriend in high school convinced me to get my hair cut for my senior picture at a mall salon in which her sister worked.   It turned out okay. Although my stoic midwestern ancestory is a bit too evident in the pic for me to want to track it down.  It was just between chin and shoulder length tapered a bit longer in the back than front and brushed under just a bit.  It was a long Page Boy.  No bangs. 

I have had problems whenever I strayed from my basic Cher Hair as I referred to the long, lustrous dark hair that I loved having most of my life. 

The next times were the last two hair professional hair cuts I had for the next two decades. 
Dorothy Hammill and her original Hamill Wedge. 

The first time, when I tried to have the cut from the senior pic  recreated and I ended up with a Dorothy Hamill haircut, aka the Hamill Wedge, that was almost as tragic on me as the pixie cut from 5th grade.  Thank heavens no images from that time remain.  That was the summer after high school graduation. 

Honey Huan from Doonesbury. 

The straw that broke the camel's back was when I was a sophomore at Purdue and some psycho stylist made me look like Honey Huan. My now Hubby still laughs and loves to recall the time went through my Vietnamese militant period as he calls it and I wore black work boots, denim overalls and had a hair cut that did look like Honey's.  However,  Honey is Chinese. 

I so hope tomorrow goes well.  I don't think I can stand another travesty of hairdom.  And after not going into a salon for decades, I had more than a bit of awkwardness at not knowing salon culture.  I felt like I was a foreigner in a strange land who speaks not a word of the language. 

This time I am more prepared for the culture immersion.  I am an anthropologist by training, I can do this.  I will never be able to replicate the favorite time and hair of my life when joy was everywhere and I really did not care how I looked -- but I think Momma and child both looked pretty happy.  

We will see if I can't find a new favorite for my I'm Done Nesting phase of my life. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Thoughts on Hurt and Healing

Geesh, where to start? 

Sometimes try as we might to live a good life, think good thoughts, to love, and to be positive forces in the world, things in our lives become difficult and it seems like our path in life is stagnating or straying from the way we would like it to proceed.  I know this happens to everyone on occasion, but those of who live with depression or ongoing situations of illness or injury often have to work more diligently to stay on the track or path down which we would like our lives to proceed. 

Hubby was out of town last week which usually gives me time to catch up on things.  But this time I was grumbly because Hubby got to see the grand babies via a slight detour on the trip route, and I didn't.  It was sort of scary as a tree fell during a storm and broke through the roof of their cottage.   I was busy putting together a new website for a friend but the close call made me want to see the babies all the more. I was watching the grand puppy a lot as Zilla was prepping to take the GRE.  But the pup isn't allowed in the part of the house where my kitties reside and my office is in that part of the house.  The pup chewed up the top of an antique rocker of mine.   Grrrr.   I'm a bit obsessive about my "things."  Then my trainer wasn't at the gym when I went for my personal training session. Double Grrrr.  And to top it all off I was having a really difficult time posting every day to my political blog which is the blog I was trying the Nablopomo challenge to post everyday.  I missed a day last week. Then my dear Zilla had our truck and got a $175 parking ticket which because she is a student and not making much money, I had to pay.    I'm just not a happy camper. Bitch. Gripe. Whine. Moan.  A couple little things I can handle.  Many I start to feel overwhelmed.  When I'm overwhelmed I tend toward inaction.

I know I'm fortunate, but at times I lose track of that.  Then yesterday, I, along with all of my famil,y got a wake up call.  My beautiful step daughter and her talented husband and the remarkably gifted twin babies were still at the lake cottage in Michigan that Hubby had just visited.    Son-in-law was out on the lake in a kayak getting a few moments of quiet alone time in the late afternoon calm before sunset.  His kayak was run over by a motor boat piloted by a 17 year old boy.  His right leg and foot were severely injured.  Mangled would be a better word. I think there are parts of his leg and foot missing.  He was in surgery for hours and hours at a level one trauma center in Kalamazoo.  They were not very optimistic about being able to save the foot.  Today though, they are getting good pulses in the foot.  He can feel most of it and I guess some movement.  No toe wiggling yet.   They will be doing more surgeries to remove bone fragments and unhealthy tissue.   He is a University Lecturer and a poet of some notariety, and a wonderful addition to our family (after Hubby got over calling him Poet Boy which is how scientist Hubby referred to the father of his grandbabies until the wedding) but it isn't clear that he will be able to teach in just a few weeks, he will probably be undergoing reconstructive surgeries for a while.  He is alive and the babies have their daddy even though they can't come in to the ICU to see him now.

I have felt so damn fortunate all year, and am still trying to be positive... and I feel like an absolute whiner when I zip over to The Burrow and read the daily ups and downs of a Tucson blogger who has had more challenges and adversity this year than anyone should ever have to experience.   Last week she mentioned me and a phrase I'd posted on her blog in a comment and apparently I had grasped, somehow, how she was feeling after the 6 month anniversary of the Tucson shootings, in which she was injured and in which she lost a dear young friend.  All of Tucson aches, but no one can know how she feels.  I take it as a good sign that she is saying, "No" to some invitations to events.  Sometimes it is okay to just pull the covers over your head, sleep in, then sit in your garden and drink tea all afternoon; or to work in your backyard garden rather than to greet the world.  I have denied obvious things in my life, and I've wallowed in self pity, but as always, knee jerk reactionary responses were not healthy ones.  After experiencing a wound, emotional or physical, it takes time to get rid of the adrenaline and respond to life as a whole human being again without responding to the wound. Sometimes you have to heal physically before you can begin to heal your heart and soul.  It is different for everyone and varies through time for the same individual. 

Healing never ends.  Each day we wake we are slightly different than the way we were when we awakened the previous day.  That different person might approach healing from a different perspective and need to act or react in a different way than the person we were yesterday did. 

Not all wounds are the same.  I won't ever say they are.  I have experienced wounds to my heart and soul, and senseless injuries to my body, some of which were orchestrated by those closest to me who were supposed to love me and protect me. I've been thinking and writing a lot about this topic as I'm working on a book about healing from medical child abuse and healing the series of misfortunes that followed further down the path the abuse readied for me.

I wish I could make people feel better, but only people themselves can make adjustments that change feelings and perceptions. If I can somehow help someone by letting him or her know that they are not the first person to walk the lonely path of healing, and that there are others who, even though they have never met, are with them in spirit.  I believe that we can make a difference, and that we make differences to people all the time, most of which we won't ever know about. Holding on to that belief is difficult, but essential for those of us who have been wounded.  There is no reason for the injury happening, but there can be reason created from our reaction to the injury.  

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Planned Parenthood Blog Carnival. I'm telling my story.

This post  is cross-posted from my blog,  Build Peace,  which is participating in a blog carnival today organized by two Hoosier-based blogs, What Tami Said and Shakesville in support of Planned Parenthood which  as you know is under siege from Right Wing extremists.  Check out the Blog Carnival here.  

My story of interaction with Planned Parenthood is not all that special.  Every woman's life story is unique.  Planned Parenthood allows women to have unique, self-guided lives.   That is a very good thing.

I live in a city in Arizona where Margaret Sanger spent much of the later part of her life.  I grew up a few miles from a country town in Indiana where good but poor girls died from septicemia or blood loss from botched back alley abortions and wealthy girls traveled to "see an Auntie" who lived somewhere that a skilled physician performed abortions for a hefty fee and silence in a clean medical office after hours.  It was a very big deal.  I grew up hearing my Mom's stories of good women who died young from back alley abortions.  Her take.  Nasty business, but sometime necessary, and it should be legal.  Apparently at least one of her friends died because of lack of access to medical care and the butchery of an illegal abortion.

"The pill" was developed around the time I was born, with persistence it could be obtained in the 1960s when I was a child, and by the time I was a teenager it was widely prescribed to mature adult women, but teenagers needed to have their parents permission and that was a rarity.  I knew one girl who had a mother who actually helped her get on the pill.

It was not easy to get access to the services Planned Parenthood now offers.  The Fort Wayne branch, founded in 1977,  did not exist the first time I went to a women's clinic in Fort Wayne.  The county of my official residence at that time had no dedicated women's services.  You had to lie to say you lived in Allen County and give the address of a friend or relative if you wanted to get birth control. If you did not want to take your chances and go to a male physician who might or might not lecture you, refuse to help you, or who simply was so old school that he (physicians back then seemed to all be male) didn't understand the basics of the types and risks of different contraceptive options.

Then I began to attend Purdue University and had some not so good experiences with the campus Medical Center, again largely because at that time you did not know what type of person the physician you might see was and whether you would get a lecture, good information, or help.  That is when I began to use Planned Parenthood for annual check-ups.  The Lafayette branch opened in 1975. 

For the next ten years all my annual check ups were done there.  I paid the highest price on the sliding scale after I was out of college and continued to use PP because I felt it was important to support the only facility within an hour and a half drive where women without support systems could turn for information about contraception, annual check ups, and referrals to more specialized services.  I remember interns rotating through the clinic getting experience that was not easy to arrange in Indiana back then.

I am fortunate to have faced no unwanted pregnancies and to have had no abortions.  Until I was with my husband (in my thirties) I never faced an unplanned pregnancy.  In my twenties when I was unmarried and living with a man with whom I knew I did not want to have children, I was the birth control Goddess.  It was a bad situation and I didn't realize the gravity of it until I tried to leave him and experienced "spousal" rape, stalking, and threats of violence.   I could not safely use the pill but had a couple different models of IUD,  and used a diaphragm religiously.  I had made the decision that if I became pregnant I would immediately go to Planned Parenthood and seek a referral for terminating the pregnancy.  I now understand that this determination to never have a child with this guy signaled the problems in the relationship long before I consciously admitted them to myself.   Prevention, prevention, prevention was also my mantra because growing up as an unwanted and unplanned child myself, I swore I would never expose a child to the resentment I had experienced because I was not wanted.  I am still haunted by the memory of my mother, when I was no more than 9, when in an angry outburst she voiced, with utter contempt of having to deal with a preteen, that she had not planned for nor wanted me to be.  It stays with me to this day. 

My daughter was unplanned but dearly wanted and born in another state than Indiana.   I will never tell another woman what she should do in a given situation. I just want all the options within our current human tool kit to be available to that woman.   I dearly and passionately want every child born to be a wanted and loved child.  That is the bottom line for me.  I will never forget stopping at a Planned Parenthood booth during a street fair when I was very preggers just about 3 weeks before I had my daughter to sign a petition to keep abortion safe and legal and the wonderment that even the women working the booth showed that a pregnant woman would support abortion.  It was then that I realized that I would be fighting this fight to keep all our options open for the rest of my life because ingrained attitudes and stereotypes do not go away easily or in one generation.

I ventured to Washington, D.C. in April of 2004 to participate in the March for Women's Lives. That was one of the largest marches, some say the largest ever marches on D.C. The official count was 1.4 million in attendance.  I volunteered to help direct people arriving in 1000 buses that parked at RFK Stadium to transportation to the National Mall. It was amazing.  I will never forget the school bus filled with Junior High girls from Pennsylvania,  a Quaker School I believe, that had raised funds to attend. After the bus parking, I "rushed" to the mall as fast as the packed metro would take me.  I marched with Arizona Planned Parenthood.   I wanted to march with my friends in CODEPINK, but I felt it was far more important to show that even "conservative" states such as AZ have large numbers of people willing to spend time, money, and effort to be a part of a national statement by women, and men, about our commitment to the preservation of women as agents of control over their own lives.

My hope is that one day Planned Parenthood will no longer be the needed, vital service it is today.  Good top notch healthcare needs to be available to everyone. Someday it will be. Perhaps then we will stop segregating, and thus stigmatizing health care for women, and we will be able to offer all services under the same roof as immunizations, back to school check ups, and routine visits with your physician,  and with that all surgical procedures will then done in multi-specialty clinics or hospitals without the stigma of separation of services, and the denial of privacy from which specialized clinics suffer and to which their clients are unconstitutionally subjected. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Doctors, Gyms, and Computer Programs

In May they told me that I had diabetes because my blood tests showed a 7.5 on a scale that measures long term "sugar."  I haven't wanted to dive into figuring out all the jargon though I should.  I'm not measuring short term "sugar."  I am convinced that by next year I will be in a totally normal range, not taking Metformin, and eating normally in a veggie, whole foods sort of way.  You see yesterday I went to the Doctor.  This time my M.D. was the cutest, youngest looking physician I have seen to date.  She looked to be the same age as my daughter who is 21.  Argh.  They all look like babies!

Anyway she shared some good news with me.  On top of losing 10 lbs.,  I have also brought whatever it is that was 7.5 down to 6.8.  My other short term blood-sugar score was 108 which is apparently good.  By the next medical visit in 3 to 4 months I plan to be in good enough shape to have them let me officially go off the oral medication and control everything through diet and exercise.  The glycemic index seems to be the central good thing I've found out about. 

Now that I'm sleeping well and awakening rested after having my septum fixed, I plan to reintroduce the gym to my life.  I will beat this crap.  I will be GREAT again. 

If I'd have had the surgery a couple years ago and began breathing and sleeping better before these problems fully presented themselves, I am convinced I wouldn't have gained weight so readily and then developed the non-alcoholic fatty liver and diabetes. 

Anyway, things are moving in the right direction.  I've also found something called Perfect Diet Tracker that seems to be a great food monitoring program that calculates everything for you, is well rated, contains information for almost 90,000 foods, and is easy to use.  While it isn't for diabetes monitoring as such, it does help see sugars and carbohydrates, fats, proteins, calories, percentages, and totals.