Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Nephew's House Has Walls

This has taken a long time to reach this point - but the nephew's house is underway, finally. I know he needs to move in as quickly as possible with a new little baby boy and a precocious two-year-old in the four-room house he lives in now.

I hope he and his family are always happy when they move into their new home.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Orange Harvest Moon

10-19-2021 Moonset, Taken with Nikon Coolpix B700

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Sunday Stealing

Sunday Stealing

1. What's something you've recently accomplished solo?

A. I quit biting my nails. I actually accomplished this around April 2020, and of course I had to do it by myself. They still look somewhat bad because I pick at them sometimes, but I don't bite them anymore. I also keep them cut short. Also I wrote another song. You can hear it here.

2.  What's one product you use that never ever fails?

A. Jiffy cornbread mix. So long as you have the milk and egg, it makes great corn muffins.

3. Have you found your place in the world? Where is it?

A. I'm where I'm supposed to be.

4.  Worst movie you ever saw?

A. Something with Adam Sandler in it.

5. What's the last fun thing you did?

A. I went outside this morning and shot photographs. I enjoy doing that.

6. What's your favorite Italian dish?

A. Is spaghetti Italian?

7. Have you ever been to France? Do you have any desire to visit there, and if so what would site or city would you most want to see?

A. I went to France when I was still in high school. I went to Paris and I wouldn't mind a return trip, now that I am older and (hopefully) wiser. I would love to go back to the Louvre Museum.

8. Have you ever been to Disney, any of the parks at all? Are you a Disney superfan or something less than that? They're open right now so tell us, would you go if you had the time/money/a free trip?

A. I have been to Disney in Orlando, in 1993. I would go back if I had a free trip. It is expensive.

9. Your favorite place to go when you want to be quiet as a church mouse? Would those who know you well describe you as more church mouse or perhaps more like mighty mouse?

A. I assume I am a church mouse, being an introvert and all. I don't need to go anywhere as I am home most of the time.

10. Do you bake your own bread? Last time you had hot out-of-the-oven homemade bread? What's your favorite kind of bread?

A. I do not bake my own bread and I do not recall when I last had homemade bread. Nor do I have a favorite bread.

11. What's something you might say is 'the greatest thing since sliced bread'?

A. Computers and cellphones.

12. Share with us five little things you're grateful for today. Small blessings. One catch-they all must start with the letter T.

A. Tasty salad for lunch, Time with husband, Time to read the newspaper, Turkeys in the wild that I photographed this morning, Tender kisses.

13. Tell us where you were and something about what life was like when you were 20- 21.

A. I married when I was 20. I lived at home until I wed, and then we moved into a tiny little four-bedroom rental house that is about 1/2 mile from where I am now. It was cold and we only stayed there until the following summer. I was working at a law firm and my husband was a firefighter. I started going to classes at the community college to obtain my associates degree. 

14. What's on the menu at your house this week?

A. Salad and soup. Maybe pork chops.

15. Something you recently purchased where a coupon was involved? Do you regularly shop with coupons?

A. I bought some Christmas gifts online yesterday and there was a coupon applied at the checkout. I put the digital coupons on my cards for the grocery stores and use coupons at CVS.


I encourage you to visit other participants in Sunday Stealing posts and leave a comment. Cheers to all us thieves who love memes, however we come by them.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Saturday 9: Livin' La Vida Loca

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

This song always makes me think of Shrek.

1) Ricky Martin sings that he and the girl dance in the rain. Do you feel like dancing this morning?

A. If I can get the music on, eventually my foot will tap and some body part will sway. But mornings are not really my time of day.

2) The lyrics tell us the girl prefers champagne. When did you last enjoy a glass of the bubbly?

A. I do not drink and cannot remember the last time I had champagne. Maybe in 1989 when my sister-in-law married.
3) When Ricky first heard "Livin' La Vida Loca," he imagined  the subject of the song was a "Bond girl," the glamorous love interest of James Bond in the movies. Since 1962, there have been more than 20 Bond films. Have you seen any/many of them? Do you have a favorite Bond?

A. Not really. I don't know that I've watched a Bond movie in its entirety.
4) Ricky tells interviewers that when he was very young, he'd sing in the family kitchen, pretending a wooden spoon was his microphone. Crazy Sam admits to lip synching into a black Magic Marker. When you gave imaginary concerts, what did you use as a microphone?

A. Whatever's handy. A soda bottle. A comb. Hairbrush. Oh, wait, said when you "gave" imaginary concerts. I still do that. Doesn't everyone?

5) Ricky began working at the tender age of 9, performing in commercials. How old were you when you received your first paycheck?

A. I think I was 15 when I first spent a summer working for my father.

6) Ricky does yoga to stay in shape. Have you ever tried yoga?

A. I watched a tape once. The woman went through the routine so fast and turned herself inside out so quickly that I knew I'd never, ever be able to do that. Does that count?

7) Ricky is of primarily Spanish descent, with a little French mixed in. When you think of French cuisine, what comes to mind?

A. Escargot.
8) Ricky once had his own restaurant, Casa Salsa, in Miami Beach. Have you ever worked in food service?

A. No. Oh no, wait. That's wrong. When I was about 14, I worked over at Camp Fincastle in the kitchen, washing dishes. Camp Fincastle was a church camp. It's since been bought up by a corporation and is some glitzy wedding and meeting venue.
9) Random question: What is your best quality?

A. I will have to ask someone else as I do not know. Alexa just compared me to an AA battery when I asked her. I don't know what that means. My friend says I am very compassionate, very empathetic, and curious.

I encourage you to visit other participants in Saturday 9 posts and leave a comment. Because there are no rules, it is your choice. Saturday 9 players hate rules. We love memes, however. 

Friday, October 15, 2021

Family Gravestones

While my father was on vacation in California, I asked him to take photos of the headstones of relatives as he said he was going to be visiting cemeteries.

These are the photos he texted me, and I'm putting them here to keep track of them.

Notice anything odd?

I was first struck by the lack of grass, then realized this is quite the indicator of the drought
and fire conditions in the western USA.

My father's oldest brother.

My grandfather.

My father's sister. I never met her in person and only ever talked with her on the phone.

My grandmother.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Thursday Thirteen

1. Yesterday I went for a dental cleaning. I was greeted with a new hygienist, who informed me the one I'd been seeing for the last 10 years had passed away in August. She was only 46. She had a vivid personality, and was good at her job. I sat stunned through the entire cleaning, I'm afraid.

2. It reminded me that we have no guarantees, not even of the next second. An asteroid could fall from the sky. The roof of my home could give way. My heart could explode. (My doctor says I will die of heart failure long before I get dementia. This is supposed to bring me comfort.)

3. Death has chased me in my nightmares for as long as I can remember. Dead logs, dead bodies, dead animals, dead scarecrows (not that they are ever alive, of course). Decay and decomposing things. No wonder I wake up weary and seldom ready to face another day.

4. Each death diminishes me, said John Donne, or something similar, at any rate. Never ask for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

5. I used to read and watch dystopian stories ravenously, to see how humanity might fare in various disasters. As we are now living in dystopian times, I find that I have no interest in the walking dead, the zombies who are following in a cult of fascism, the destroyers who would make what I thought a great nation into a slime pit of haves and have-nots.

6. Nor do I have any interest in vampires, who live forever, or vampire slayers, although reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer while I'm on the treadmill might change my mind on that point.

7. We have not yet reached Hunger Games status here, but we're close. We are eating our young and our old, leaving the old to shuffle to their inglorious deaths while the young, left to fend for themselves, may grow up to one day lop off the heads of their parents. I daresay I won't be around to see how that turns out, but the flies may come to my grave site and tell me.

8. The store shelves are bare; I see spaces where I used to see goods. The school buses cannot run as they have no drivers. The local daily paper, which once boasted a circulation of nearly 100,000, now lists its circulation as a little over 24,000. They too are understaffed, the news goes unreported, the remains of the day are left unwritten. The whispers fly along the social media paths, the lies repeated and reported as if truths, when a truth would bite and kill were one to actually find its way into the hearts and minds of these vampiric souls who feed on distrust and dismay.

9. We are closer, perhaps, to Alas, Babylon, that fateful day when a nuclear strike would wipe out Washington D.C., and most of Virginia, along with California, Charleston, SC, and other strategic points of interest. When we reach that day, then the paper we are so fixated upon would have no value; we would instead want for simple things such as salt and fresh water. When it comes down to the basics, there will be a time when the George Washingtons are merely something to use for wallpaper.

10. Or perhaps we are nearer to Mordor, with the almighty Sauron, the evil and all-knowing eye, looking down upon the lands, eager to take them with force and place anyone not under his immediate command beneath the whip and into the mines. Not that we've much left to mine, really, but it's a good visual.

11. Goodness and mercy does not follow us all the days of our lives; perhaps it follows some charmed someone somewhere, but I don't know anyone like that. Nor do I see anyone like that in the politicians, in the entertainment industry moguls, in our sports legends. Instead I see suffering and crosses to bear, all beaten down by the paths we've chosen, or the ones society has chosen for us. Even presidents fold beneath the weight of the office, especially the golden boys.

12. I do see what appears to be a massive corporate coup; the lies that no one wants to work are revealed as such by my social media feed, where friends I trust tell me they've applied for jobs, only to be told they're over qualified. If a company needs workers, what difference does that make? When the ships aren't unloading, and the goods aren't flowing, the corporations are free to raise prices, to continue its murderous befoulment of the middle class, which it has been trying to starve out of existence for generations. Though I wonder, when we are all poor and holding out our bowls for porridge, with sad expressions of, "More, please," who will buy their pretty things? Will they then be only producing for one another, spreading their wealth from rich pocket to rich pocket? Would they perhaps then begin to eat one another, zombies of a different kind?

13. The Grim Reaper walks the world today; he's sowing seeds for his harvest of tomorrow. Whether that be by civil war or from nuclear holocaust, who can say? Whether I will die from inhaling nuclear fumes or from the sting of an insect, who can say? No one knows. Many think they know, but in the end, they know nothing. They rely only on faith, and faith is like vaporous water, a morphism that vanishes into dust in the end.

Thursday Thirteen is played by lots of people; there is a list here if you want to read other Thursday Thirteens and/or play along. I've been playing for a while and this is my 726th time to do a list of 13 on a Thursday. Or so sayth the Blogger counter, anyway.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Loopy for Luffa

My father decided this year to plant luffas. He said the seeds were $1 apiece. He bought six.

He gave me one of the luffas last week. He said to let it dry out a little more and then we'd have seeds and could make a loofa for the shower.

This is the luffa fruit (?) from which a loofa is made.

First one must chop the end off.

The other shell is quite hard and crusty.

Then dump the seeds into something (to save for next year). There were lots of seeds.

Cut off the other end.

Cut the luffa.

That's what it looks like on the inside, with seeds still attached.

Peel the outer crust.

Remove more seeds

After the seeds have been removed, soak in a mild bleach water.

We made three loofas from that one husk. (Pocket knife for size)

Here they are, all ready for use.

They are a little browner than some in the store. Maybe more bleach?

Finished product.

We saved the seeds and next year we'll plant some and see what happens.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

On the Porch, Not the Rooftop

Last night as I fixed dinner, I had something in the microwave that would take five minutes, so I told Alexa to play Uptown Funk and I went to dancing. My husband was in the shower. 

I danced by the front door, and saw deer. They kept coming closer, despite the music and my gyrations. I grabbed my camera. One of them came right up to the porch. Yes, they get that close. 

I left the door frame in the photos to give an idea of how close they really are sometimes.


Monday, October 11, 2021

I Tried to Teach

I could not be a teacher. Not today, not ever. 

Not that I didn't try. Back in 1994, I decided to apply to substitute teach. I was having migraines and had quit my job as a legal secretary, because so many headaches in a month lead to an inability to think properly. 

Why I thought substituting would be a good idea I do not recall. Perhaps it was the promise that I could say "no" on the days I didn't feel like working. Perhaps I thought to see if I enjoyed teaching, and thus then would pursue a teaching degree and find a place amongst the English teachers at the high school.

Whatever the reason, the school board approved my application. There was no training, aside from an admonishment that I could not discipline. If I had a problem, I was to send the student to the principal's office. The fact that I had a BA apparently meant I would know how to handle any situation thrown at me.

I did not.

I recall a class of 4th or 5th graders at Eagle Rock Elementary who simply paid no attention to me at all. The teacher had left no syllabus, and I had no clue where they were in any subject. Finally, I read to them. And when I finished that book, I told them local history stories. I told them about George Washington and Thomas Jefferson being in Botetourt County. I told them about the author Mary Johnston, who grew up in Buchanan and became rich and famous. Most were bored but it did quiet them. I was happier than they were when the bell rang.

Then there was a class of 7th grade special education students that I was expected to teach for an extended period as the teacher had had surgery. That did not go well. I had no training with special education students. They basically ran wild and I simply let them because I had been told I couldn't discipline them. I believe I sent every single one of those students to the principal at one point or another, and he simply sent them back. I finally told someone I could not do that class anymore, and they found someone else.

A math class, also in the middle school, stymied me completely. I administered the quiz the real teacher had left, but when asked for assistance, I could offer none. Despite passing algebra and trigonometry in high school with straight As, I had no clue what this "new math" was about. When one student asked me why I didn't know, I simply replied, "I majored in English."

Finally, I remember a high school English class. This I could do, except high schoolers were about as well behaved as the fourth graders. I had to take some kind of gizmo from some boy, who pouted that the real teacher let him play with it. I gave it back to him after class. Fortunately, at this level, the classes rotated in and out and so I could give the same quiz over again and I had some idea what they were doing in an English class. It was the only time I felt like I could do it, but the teacher has also left me detailed notes. I had but to follow them, and I did.

Were there other classes? Yes, but those I've written about stand out as my big failures and the one I felt I was most successful at. They all felt more like babysitting than teaching. I did not substitute a second year. I may not have substituted a second semester. Maybe that all happened in the space of a 1/4 of a year. I don't recall.

After I obtained my masters degree, I had thought to teach at the college level. Maybe I could manage people who were almost adults. I started out teaching non-credit classes through the community college, expecting to mostly bring in older adults. I wanted to see if I could make it work, figure out this new world of education. My plan worked well. I taught two courses on how to keep a journal. They were well received. Then the college asked me to teach a summer course on "writing."

Four weeks into that class, my gallbladder went bad. I remember going into class a few days before I had surgery, and one of my students, who was a nurse, took one look at me and said, "You are sick." By that time I'd quickly dropped about 10 pounds because I could eat nothing. I took two weeks off to recover from surgery, and then had to return to finish the final two weeks of class. While the students gave me good marks for the course, I did not feel it was my best work. How could it have been, when I was so sick in the midst of it? And the two weeks I went back? I was still recovering and who knows how much that early return (insisted upon by the college) cost me? Is that why I have chronic abdominal pain today? Because I went back to work too soon? I don't know.

So standing in front of a class and teaching is not my forte. I know the schools are hurting for substitutes, but unless they offer a training course in substituting, I would never attempt that again. I wouldn't do it during a pandemic anyway.

However, I tried to teach in another way, and that was through my writing. Every story I wrote I considered a lesson of some kind. This is how government works. This is why it works as it does. This is where tax dollars are spent. This is why they are spent that way. This community is not a town, this is a town but not a community. These funds may be spent on this project but not on that. This person is noteworthy because he or she showed extraordinary courage. This person is a historical reference because he or she did thus and such. This land is being rezoned because of this reason. A hotel is going up across the street from where you live; be aware.

Today I see now that none of my efforts, my 35 years of writing, taught anyone anything at all. I see angry people accosting school board members about things over which they have no control. I see angry people not understanding that the county simply cannot take money from the state that's slated for roads and use it to build a building. Mostly I see angry people who do not understand the framework of their government, and who believe they understand the US Constitution without having a clue about it, much as Christians spout off chapter and verse of some Biblical passage when they really have no idea what they are saying. I see things taken out of context and put in places where it was never meant to be.

I wasted my life trying to teach through my words, to make people understand that Eagle Rock is a community, not a town, and therefore has no taxing authority. I tried to help them see that the school board can't raise taxes, they have to ask the county for money and accept what the state gives them. And the county can only tax what the Virginia legislators allow them to tax, because we're a Dillon Rule State, and I tried to explain what this means, too. (It means that localities only have the powers vested to them by the legislature, they can't simply decide to tax green beans, for example, if the state hasn't said they could.)

Looking at the things I see going on locally, and looking at the people who are behind most of the craziness - people who I know read those articles, because they're about my husband's age, and they read the paper and talked to me about it, and they should know better now, but they are people who are bigots and fascists and can't see who they are because they're too busy calling "the other side" bigots and fascists and socialists because they don't know what the words mean - I see only that I failed. Nothing I wrote sunk into their tiny brains. They did not get it then, and they don't get it now.

What is the point of trying to teach, if no one is listening or reading with comprehension?

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Sunday Stealing

1. Who is your favorite singer?  What do you like about him or her?

A. Melissa Etheridge (which surprises no one) because she's hung in there and can play the guitar really well. She's also incredibly business savvy yet makes herself available to her fans. She played for 30 minutes a day for free for about five months when the pandemic began. Nobody else did that that I am aware of. Plus her music resonates with me. I could have been her, well, if I were two years older and a lesbian.

2. Write about your first memory of going to the doctor.

A. I remember a surgery when I was about 5 years old. I had a huge mole on my chest that the doctors had determined was pre-cancerous and it needed to be removed. I recall being wheeled away from my parents and screaming for them as the big doors shut. When I woke up, my mother was not there. I remember pain and I remember that sometime later my aunt visited me, and she passed out from the smell of the ether they'd put me to sleep with, which lingered still in the room.

3. Write a poem about writing poems.

There once was a poet named Jeanne
Who sometimes could be very mean.
Then she wrote a good rhyme
That brought fame in time
And now she's no longer a fiend.

(That's a limerick)

4. Write a poem about vacations.

Going on a trip
The pandemic has scared me
I will stay at home.

(That's haiku)

5. What is something interesting that no one knows about you?

A. I would think after all of these years of blogging there is very little left unsaid. However, let's try this: I once fell into a brush pile and it was full of baby snakes. My father came home and burned it.

6. Why is it so important to help other people in need?

A. Because we're human beings and we should connect with one another in nice ways. Also, one never knows when one may need help.   

7. Would you rather finish a project early or do it at the last minute? Why?

A. I tended to do things on a deadline for most of my life, but I also preferred to finish them early enough that I could do revisions if necessary. I don't know why.  

8. If you had three months left to live, what would you do?

A. Probably the same thing I am doing now, except maybe I'd make more of an effort to rid the house of some junk so my husband wouldn't have to do it. I'd also have to ensure he knew how to pay the bills online and do the tasks that I normally take care of.

9. If you could be a flavor of ice cream, what flavor would you be? Why?

A. I would be Count Dracula's Daughter flavor, because I want to be different and I don't think that even exists, although it might somewhere.

10. What is the hardest thing about being a kid?

A. Growing up.

11. Would you rather be tall or short?  Why?

A. I'm already short. I wouldn't mind a couple of inches so I could reach things without a stool.

12. What is the greatest challenge facing people in our world today?

A. Stupidity.

13. What is the scariest experience you’ve ever had?

A. Some things are better left in the dark.

14. Write a poem about music.

A.  Sing song
      Listen to sounds.
      Hear the rhythm and beat.
      Shuffle your feet until they dance.

(That's a Cinquain)

15. Write about a favorite memory of something you did with your best friend.

A. In high school, my friend and I went to a haunted house in Vinton. Two werewolves tried to take us out on dates after we went through the haunted house. It was the last haunted house I ever went through.


I encourage you to visit other participants in Sunday Stealing posts and leave a comment. Cheers to all us thieves who love memes, however we come by them.

Saturday, October 09, 2021

Saturday 9: She's Not There

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) This song is about a young man who is upset his friends didn't warn him against a girl who turned out to be untrue. Have you ever involved yourself in a friend's love life with advice about a relationship?

A. Only if I'm asked. Offering advice unless asked is simply not a good idea.

2) According to legend, this song was inspired by a girl who called off her wedding just weeks before the ceremony, humiliating her fiancé and breaking his heart. Do you know anyone who was similarly left at the altar?

A. No one comes to mind.

3) The Zombies first played together as a bar band, popular at an English pub called The Blacksmiths Arms. What's the name of your favorite local restaurant or bar?

A. We obtain take-out from Bellacino's, which is a pizza and grinder place. We ate there a lot pre-Covid.

4) The Zombies broke up after a few years but put all acrimony behind them in 2019 when they reunited to perform at their induction into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Have you ever been to Ohio?

A. No. My nephew lives there and he is marrying on October 30. I wanted to go but chose not to because of Covid. They required a response back in May and I didn't want to agree to go then only to find that we were having Covid outbreaks. And since that is in fact what has been happening, I am ok with the decision, though sorry I will miss it. I gave them a nice gift.
5) While 1964 is remembered as the first year of the British Invasion, when rock bands from the UK dominated the airwaves, it was also the year Barbra Streisand became a major star, featured on the covers of both Time and Life. Are there any magazines in your home right now? If so, who is on the cover?

A. There are farmers and ranchers on the covers of our magazines, which include things like Farm Journal and Drover.

6) Also in 1964, actress Ena Hartman became one of the first African American actresses to have a speaking part on the country's top TV Western, Bonanza. Is your TV on right now, as you answer these 9 questions?

A. No, it is not. My TV is never on unless my husband is at home. The first biracial kiss occurred on Star Trek in 1968, when Captain Kirk kissed Lt. Uhura in the episode Plato's Children, although this is disputed in some circles. It's not disputed by the science fiction/nerd fandom.

7) The "It's a Small World" ride was introduced at the 1964 New York World's Fair. It's now at Disneyland, Disney World, Disneyland Paris and Disneyland Hong Kong. Have you ever taken one of these Small World rides?

A. We rode this when we went to Disney in Orlando in 1993.

8) General Douglas MacArthur's memoir was published shortly before his death in 1964. It became a best seller. Was the last book you finished fiction or non-fiction?

A. A non-fiction book.

9) Random question: You find yourself calling the local garage often to get updates on your car repair. Every time you call, the person who answers the phone is abrupt to the point of rude. Do you: (1) let the person know you'd appreciate a change in tone; (2) ignore it; (3) complain to the boss?

A. I might mention it when I pick the car up, but honestly, how often is "often?" Garages here give an estimate as to when a vehicle will be fixed and usually call if there is some issue, like parts not being available. Busy people shouldn't be rude, but then again, customers shouldn't be calling every day when they were told something would take a week to fix.

I encourage you to visit other participants in Saturday 9 posts and leave a comment. Because there are no rules, it is your choice. Saturday 9 players hate rules. We love memes, however. 

Friday, October 08, 2021

How to Change

How to Change: The Science of Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be
Katy Milkman
Copyright 2021
Audiobook (6 hours)

I recommend this book because it was interesting, but if you're looking for techniques for changing a behavior, you'll get ideas here, but not much in the way of actual implementation. Maybe it needs a workbook to go with it.

The book was very well presented and interesting to listen to. The author read it herself.

The book consisted of 8 chapters: Getting Started; Impulsivity; Procrastination; Forgetfulness; Laziness; Confidence; Conformity; and a Conclusion.

I liked the "Chapter Takeaways" at the end of each chapter that summarizing key ideas.

Here are the things I took from this book:
1) Try a "fresh start." This is sort of like New Year's Resolutions, but you can do it on any Monday. Or your birthday.
2) Make your work fun.
3) Restrict choices so you don't procrastinate. Use a self-imposed deadline or a cash commitment app. (If you have trouble with self-imposed deadlines, which I do, I don't know what you're supposed to do here.)
4) Mentor someone else in the thing you're trying to do.
5) Use cues to keep from forgetting. Like, every time I put my toothbrush in its holder, I floss immediately afterwards.
6) Put "emergency breaks" into routines so that if you mess up, say you don't exercise one day, you can consider that your emergency and get back to your routine the next day. Sometimes when we mess up once it quickly slides into a cycle of not-doing.

I knew all of this. You know it too. It was nice to have it spelled out, I guess.

One thing I did not like about the book: the author labeled people as "naives" and "sophisticates." The first are the people who don't use these techniques, or try and fail at them, and the second are the ones who are successful in changing habits and being perfect people.

In a world where we are already so divided, this further division seemed unnecessary and indeed it felt beneath the book.

As one of the "naives" I suppose - or else why read the book - it felt belittling. Most people do not lead charmed lives, and yet the multitudes of life events that may contribute to procrastination issues, for example, are dismissed or not mentioned. 

It was as if the bad world doesn't exist. No mentions of the hill climbing people in certain social classes must do simply to survive. This book was written for people who are already winners or nearly there.

PTSD? Depression? Chronic pain suffer? Some issue other than laziness? Sorry, figure out how to manage it and move on with better multi-tasking. 

The book offered good advice, but perhaps it was missing a bit in empathy. Maybe it needed another chapter to better address the poor naives who cannot climb over the mountains in their way to reach the betterment on the other side. 

The labeling really stood out and it bothered me. I've tried to put it out of my mind for several days and cannot. And so I decided to write about it, for perhaps in listening (and not reading), I missed something that makes this labeling necessary.

But then again, I can't think of any reason to create such labels, other than to point out that some people got it, and the rest of us do not.

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Thursday Thirteen #725

1. I'm a great aunt again! I don't have pictures to share because I don't do that unless I have permission, but my nephew's wife had a new baby boy, 7 lbs, 8 ozs. I don't know how long he was. He had a full head of dark brown hair.

2. My husband gets along well with children. My great-niece loves our cows and him by extension. She sees him more than I do because they live near the barn, and he's down at the barn a lot. I seldom go to the barn because I'm allergic to hay.

3. When the neighbor calls to talk to my husband about hunting or whatever, his daughter, who is about 7, gets on the phone and chats with my hubby, too. They talk about what she learned at school. It is cute to hear them.

4. My great niece wasn't overly thrilled with her new baby brother. She told her mom to put the baby back in her tummy. It is a big adjustment for a little toddler to suddenly have a new baby in the house.

5. We had a busy Tuesday. My husband had his physical for his CDL license, we both had our flu shots, we went by the bank to take care of paperwork where the bank is being sold out to somebody, we went to the grocery store, we went to vote, and we went by the post office. Nothing like piling all of the little must-dos into a single day.

6. I am listening to a book called How to Change, by Katy Milkman. I have procrastination issues and I am hoping to find a tip that might move me along. So far I have learned that I am already doing many of the things she suggests - multi-tasking, for example, and trying to use the start of the week or a birthday or January 1 as the clean slate for a new beginning. Maybe there will be more suggestions near the end. I do recommend the book.

7. Mostly, change requires making better choices. Do I eat this potato chip or not? Do I exercise or watch TV? Do I watch TV AND exercise? Do I write this blog post or go do the dishes? 

8. The two things I consistently put off are doing the bookkeeping for our various enterprises, and working on personal writing for myself, aside from this blog. I have started several poems and not finished them. I did finish that song last week and that took a while. But these two items in particular I have much trouble with. I guess I am lazy. I never considered myself a lazy person but maybe I am with regards to these two areas.

9. I do better when I have deadlines or someone else pushing me. Nobody really cares if I write a poem, after all. If I stopped writing on my blog, some folks would miss me, they'd visit two or three times, then write me off as somebody else who has stopped blogging. Maybe they'd think of me in passing occasionally. Whatever happened to that woman who wrote about living on a farm and took deer pictures?

10.  This morning my arm is sore from the flu shot I received on Tuesday, and there's swelling in the area about the size of a silver dollar. I've never had such a delayed reaction to a flu shot before. I don't feel bad or anything. My arm is simply aches.

11.  The baby deer have lost their spots, and now the only way I know they're the little ones is by their size. They're not full grown. The older deer are changing color; their coats are browning and greying as they prepare for the winter ahead. I hear it's going to be a cold one. Mother Nature isn't done with us yet, I guess.

12. We've been having thunderstorms, which is a little abnormal for our area for October. I remember when it snowed one year on October 10. I was in high school still. Thunder clapped and then the snow began pouring. The weather folks called it thunder snow. That is the earliest I remember it ever snowing here. It was rather amazing to see.

13. The leaves are turning, and autumn is here. Soon the trees will be bedecked in their colored finery, and then they will be skeletons against the skyline until Spring. Some won't make it through the winter. It seems every year we lose more and more trees. The beetles killed all the ash trees. Something else killed red oaks. How much more can the deciduous trees take, I wonder, before they are all simply rotten wood?


Thursday Thirteen is played by lots of people; there is a list here if you want to read other Thursday Thirteens and/or play along. I've been playing for a while and this is my 725th time to do a list of 13 on a Thursday. Or so sayth the Blogger counter, anyway.

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

On Being Obese

I've been wanting to write this post for months now, but I continually put it off because I wasn't sure where I was going with it. I'm still not sure but today I'm writing it.

The idea of writing about how life is when you're obese came to me after catching an episode of Real Time with Bill Maher. He went off on fat people, as he has done multiple times because he is another old rich white dude who is really a racist but can't admit it so he instead proclaims his misogynistic tendencies in sly ways and goes off on those who can't control their weight every chance he can.

In the episode I saw, he went off on the overweight because 40% of people dying from Covid are obese. I didn't check his statistics, but the CDC website considers obesity an endemic problem, and even calls it a national security issue because so many people would be unable to defend the nation, apparently because they can't fit into tanks and submarine openings.

I call it a societal problem, an obvious illustration that we live in a sickly nation. Any place that values money, power, and prestige over health and happiness is going to be a sick nation. Obesity is only one of the results of this gross societal imbalance.

Why are people obese? Most people consider those are overweight to be weak-willed and lazy. I do not think that an estimated 160 million Americans who are either obese or overweight are all weak-willed or lazy. (Nearly three-quarters of American men and more than 60% of women are obese or overweight. These are also major challenges for America’s children – nearly 30% of boys and girls under age 20 are either obese or overweight, up from 19% in 1980.)

I think obesity comes from multiple issues, including but not limited to hormonal changes caused by the crap processed food we consume, air and water pollution, stress from today's societal expectations, and other sources I haven't even considered.

I'm not one of those people who weigh 450 pounds, but I am obese. I'm not quite two of me when I should be one, let's put it that way. I can still see my feet when I look down. However, I'm short, so the weight I do have looks like a lot more than it is. I would love to lose the weight.

What I want to write about it is something I don't read about much, and that is what it feels like to be obese and not be able to get the damn weight off.

I did not chose to be overweight. I don't know of anyone aside from a sumo wrestler who would choose to be overweight.

Twenty pounds fell off of me in the last year - the result of an ulcer. Now the ulcer has healed and I'm still eating about like I was with the ulcer, but I keep losing the same two pounds. I have done this for months now. I see the scale slip up, I try to not eat. Unlike an alcoholic, I can't not eat. An alcoholic can not drink and still live. I have to eat. It makes me sick not to eat plus with my health issues I'm supposed to eat multiple small meals. I lose the two pounds, then I look at a cookie in the grocery store the scale goes back up. (Note I said look, not eat.)

But that still isn't what I want to write about. I want to write about the things I have to deal with because I am overweight. I want to write about how it feels.

Clothing is a big issue. Clothing manufacturers seem to think the answer to making plus size clothing is simply to add more cloth to the clothing they make for little bitty people. However, weight comes on in strange ways. It gathers on the buttocks, on the thighs, and the area above the knee. Sometimes it doesn't gather around the waist. Or it gathers in the breasts and back area. People come in millions of shapes and being overweight is definitely not a one-size-fits-all sort of situation. Plus-size clothing also costs more than say, a size two, and I've never complained about this. More material, more cost. I get that.

But when clothing binds or doesn't fit well, it makes for an uncomfortable day. If it doesn't look good - and most of it doesn't - then it can make me feel even worse about myself than I already do. If there is decent clothing out there for large women, I've not found it. I make do. I suspect a good portion of those 160 million people who are overweight make do. And making do doesn't lead to being the best one can be.

I realized that people who are not overweight, including doctors and health care providers, have no clue about the challenges we are presented with when a physical therapist told me to go home and take a bath in Epsom salts. The idea was to get the Epsom salts over my stomach area where I have a chronically cramped muscle.

That is all well and good, except that if I fill a bathtub and get in it, the water doesn't go over my stomach area. I have so much ass and thighs and other body parts to fill in the water, that if I want to cover my belly area, I'm going to need a sauna, not a bathtub. My tummy is simply going to sit above the water, and splashing some water with Epsom salt on it isn't going to do what the therapist wants. I can only imagine how it would be for someone who is even more overweight than I. Thank heavens for showers.

Other challenges include chairs with arms. These cut into the sides of my hips and it hurts. This is especially true of older furniture that was made for the size people used to be - tinier folks all around, both in height and girth. I've never broken a piece of furniture nor do I weigh so much that I would, but some furniture is incredibly uncomfortable because of my weight distribution.

The other thing I have trouble doing is getting up off the floor. Here again, my doctors and physical therapists did not realize this was an issue. "Do these exercises" is a great thing to tell someone - except that they require a solid flat surface, such as the floor. If I can't get off the floor without a pain, I'm not going to voluntarily get on the floor in the first place. Some of this is age and lack of strength, but it is also weight related.

Car seats can also be a problem. My car has a bucket seat and it works ok for me, but my 2014 vehicle is not as roomy as my 2003. I'm short and I'm not supposed to be so close to the steering wheel, plus getting in and out of the vehicle with the steering wheel would be impossible if my front seat wasn't electric and easily moveable.

These are a few of the impositions that overweight people deal with on a daily basis. I don't expect the world to accommodate me, but it would be nice if I could find some decent clothes, or if chairs didn't have arms, or if the bucket seat in my car was just 1/2 inch wider.

To be overweight is to feel everyday that you are wrong. You, as a person, are solidly misplaced and an affront to society in general. This is reinforced on TV, social media, and with goods and services every single day. I can try to be happy with my body, try to feel like I'm ok with where I am, but at every turn, every movie, every newspaper, every car ride, there is something to remind me that I should be less fat to be more of a person. Because I am obese, I don't count. I certainly don't count in Bill Maher's eyes, that's for damn sure, and I feel like he represents another 100 million people or so who feel the same way.

To be obese is to be counted out. It is to be ignored when you're walking down the aisle at the store. It means learning to walk with eyes cast down because I know that I'm repulsive to you. I know that you think, "There goes a weak-willed lazy lard ass."  What you don't know is how many diets I've tried, how much I've exercised in spite of chronic pain, how much I and millions of others deal with on a daily basis because of societal expectations and a world that is run by bitchy old white men like Bill Maher, who want everything to reflect their virtues and values, and to hell with the rest of us.

I cannot apologize enough to the world for my body. I cannot say, "I'm sorry" often enough, or never stop thinking about how horrible it is for someone to have to see my fat self wander through the grocery store. I feel like I shouldn't even be in a grocery store - that all eyes are on my cart. Is she going to fill it up with Oreos? No, I eat healthy foods, generally speaking, except for Baked Lays Potato Chips which for some reason settle my stomach better than anything. Is that why I can't lose weight? I don't think so. I think it's a hormonal problem caused by a hysterectomy when I was 29 years old and a thyroid issue that hormone imbalances complicate. 

The reasons, of course, don't matter to the thin people who are walking the aisles in the grocery store and glancing at my cart, which has salad and a roasted chicken in it. They don't see the healthy food, I'm sure. They do see the box of Ritz crackers I buy for my husband.

To be obese is to be objectified, and then to be an object of disdain. To be obese is to feel like you are worthless, and not worthwhile.

Obesity sucks, and I don't need Bill Maher or anyone else to remind me of it.