Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Birthday Post 2018

Hakeem Olajuwan, Geena Davis, Grigori Rasputin, Jam Master Jay, Billy Ocean, Jack Nicklaus, Chritian Dior, Telly Sevales, Benny Hill, Steve Reeves, Wolfman Jack, Placido Domingo, Ritchie Havens, Robby Benson, Cat Power, Emma Bunton, Cristobal Balenciaga, Ethan Allen, and me!

What could I possibly have in common with any of these talented, famous people? Well, seeing as how this is my 'birthday month' post, I'm guessing you can figure it out. That's right, we all share a birthday! I wanted to talk about how I was able to celebrate this year, because it was kind of a big deal to me – it's always a big deal to me, really, as I don't generally go out of my way to be seen or even heard, for that matter, but one day out of the year, I do like to be the star. For someone who makes a habit of staying in the background, hiding in the shadows, and silencing my voice so that others (who may or may not have anything useful to say, but seem to need to shout over each other anyway) may be heard, it's not always easy to jump out in front of everyone and yell, “let's have a party for ME!” but I do it every year, with varying levels of success.

Last year, a bunch of people suggested I 'go to the local Women's March', which happened on the same day, but I have a love/hate relationship with that march, so there was no way I was doing that. I mean, it would have been nice to feel like I could join in the march, but there were too many issues that spat in the face of intersectional feminism for me to feel good about being a part of it, so I wasn't. I felt much the same this year, but even worse – the local organizers started an online group, to which I was added by an activist friend, and I was able to ask some questions about what would be taking place during the march, such as if there was going to be space made for people such as myself to feel safe and included. The answer was a resounding 'NO', even though their mission statement (which has since been changed) read thus: “Our mission is to provide a safe and accepting platform for supporters of equality to rally and march in promotion of civil rights for every human regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, religion or creed.” Now, I know that's what they ­believe they're supporting, but the truth is, they are too entrenched in their own privilege to see that they're not, and they staunchly refuse to hear anything telling them so. So? They kicked me out of their group – way to promote equality, people – and I'm done dealing with local activists on that particular 'pink' parade of proprietary pretense. I went dancing with some girlfriends, and had a blast, instead.

This year, after several online calls for celebrants to come join me for a fancy dinner or some-such, it became apparent that none of my most intimate friends could actually negotiate a fancy dinner due to finances, kids, and other random but important factors. So I set a date and time, and invited whoever was able to come out on a Friday evening for pizza, and alerted the closest pizza place that I would be arriving around 7pm, with a contingent of anywhere between 2 and 20 people. I was completely overwhelmed with love and appreciation that 20 people really and truly Showed Up. They even brought cake and brownies! And gifts! It blew me away. I sat at that table (we took over all but one in the small dining area) looking around at these dear people, some of whom hadn't spoken to each other for awhile due to some of the interpersonal issues we all face as parents, and felt Home with my Family. I had worked all day, rushed home to pick up my son, and didn't bother to change my clothes, brush my hair, put on make-up or jewelry, because I wanted to go straight there to get the pizzas ordered so food would be ready when guests arrived, and it didn't matter to anyone. We're not a fancy crowd like that, and it doesn't matter to any of us if you're in a ball gown or your pajamas when you come to the table, as long as you come to the table.

I felt truly and utterly blessed to be sitting in the middle of this group of folks – one grandpa, five mamas, four dads, four teens, five kids, and one toddler (and a fetus, even!). It moved me. It's a feeling that is going to sustain me all year long, if not throughout the rest of my life. My Tribe, my community, my group of intimates, my cronies, the parents of my son's besties, our homeschoolies...the people I hope I know for the rest of my life, that I get to grow old with, and see our children bring us the next generation. Will it be so? I hope against hope, because these are all people I've only known for four years or less, as all the rest of my 'friends' have fallen away (a few who would come are simply too far). Even still, these are our people, and I hold them oh so dear, like family. Better than family, in fact, because aside from my mom (with whom I have a rocky relationship that happens to be in an upswing right now), my 'family' has thrown me away. But this is not about them, it's about me – celebrating myself, and having people in my life who are willing to do that with me. It's amazing, and I haven't had it in a long time. I feel renewed by their being present for me, and I hope I can do the same for them.

I've had some amazing birthday parties in my life...I remember: a bunch of school-friends in sleeping bags on my parents' living room floor (my 10th?); my Sweet Sixteen; Mom taking my bestie and me to see Cats for my 17th; I spent my 19th throwing up in my dorm after an off-campus college party; a few friends and I went out to my favorite restaurant for my 21st, where I grandly ordered my first legal beer, which they wouldn't serve to me because I had forgotten my ID, though one of the local crack dealers generously offered me some free cocaine during my overnight shift at the local 24/7 store; seeing a favorite band for my 23rd; my boyfriend choosing to work a double shift, then party at the bar rather than come home for my 30th; getting my first Barbie for my 32nd, who happened to be wearing the same outfit as me when she came out of the box (that bitch!); finally getting an apartment after spending my entire pregnancy homeless for my 35th, as well as being taken out for Indian food; throwing a 'masquerade ball' for my 40th; the homemade chicken mole cooked by a friend for my 42nd; and this - my 49th, for which there was the pizza party, a 5-course Israeli dinner with my mother and son, a movie with my son and a dear friend of ours, and a Greek dinner with a new friend, which turned out to be the 'fancy' dinner I had originally envisioned, just much more intimate, which was perfect!

49 is the square of 7 (an auspicious number by many counts, times two!); the number of days of the Counting of the Omer in Judaism, which is the spiritual preparation and anticipation for the remembrance of the giving of the Torah between Passover and Shavuot; the number of days and nights Siddhartha Gautama spent meditating before attaining enlightenment and becoming Buddha. Some Indian Buddhists believe in the notion of the 'intermediate state' (between death and rebirth) as lasting "seven times seven days" at most; the name 'forty-niner' was applied to 'Gold Rushers', being derived from when they showed up, in 1849; In blues music lore, Robert Johnson 'sold his soul to the devil' at the junction of US Highway 49 and 61 in Clarksdale, Mississippi; Howlin' Wolf immortalized the road in the song “Highway 49,” by Big Joe Williams, with the lines “Long tall momma / She don’t pay me no mind / All she wanna do / Walk the Highway 49.”

It's going to be a Great trip around the Sun, and I look forward to sharing the journey!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Thomas O'Malvin

We adopted our Thomas cat in May of 2015, having lost our previous cat to a car in April, and we were sad and missing him, so we randomly stopped by the animal shelter to pet the kitties.  there was a young orange tomcat there, not a kitten, but not fully grown, either.  my teen took one look at that cat, and looked back at me with those big, pleading, eyes...and we just had to go back for him the next day.  the name on the cage said 'Alvin', but we couldn't have that, so we changed it to Thomas O'Malvin in a nod to both the Thomas O'Malley character in The Aristocats movie, and the Primus song 'Tommy the Cat' (which I believe is based on the Aristocats character as well).

Thomas O'Malley in The Aristocats

'Tommy the Cat' by Primus

Thomas - like most of the shelter cats I've adopted and brought 'home' for the first time - spent about three days hiding under my bed before he decided to give in to our soft calls of encouragement to come out, and be our friend.  he was rather skittish, and we had no idea where he had come from, or where he had been, but judging by the way he kept his butt so close to the ground while sniffing out all the new things, I figured he may well have been a feral kitten, rescued off the streets, or from outside.  no matter.  we did our best to make him feel welcome.  when he finally became comfortable with us, and used to his new home, we decided to let him explore the outdoors.  it's been awhile, so I don't remember how that went, but suffice it to say that he loved being able to roam the large property we are lucky to be living on, and to hunt.  he liked hunting, and while he was very well fed, he still enjoyed killing and eating the small mice and voles that are abundant in our woods.  and that baby squirrel...eww.

he wasn't a particularly cuddly cat, but every now and then he would jump tentatively up into our laps, freeze as if we might do something to shoo him, then step ever so gingerly over us until he found just the right spot to settle into.  sometimes he liked to lie along my legs when I had them stretched out, other times he would lay himself up along my body and drape his head over my shoulder, and sometimes he'd settle into a furry pile on my chest and neck.  he was (still is, I hope) a big, tough guy...he could also be mean, and I would warn small children that he'd rip your hand open if you pissed him off, but he would usually make damn sure to give you a warning with his ferocious growl, first.  he was our sweet boy, and could be friendly and loving, but he was not to be trifled with.

when an elderly friend's caregiver's cat had kittens, my son could not resist petting and playing with them (who could?), when we were there for our weekly visit, and so he became enamored of one of them, going so far as to start calling it by a pet name.  I warned him that those kittens would be given away when they were old enough, and not to get too close, because he would eventually have to say goodbye, so he decided to preempt that inevitability by asking if he could adopt the one he liked himself.  I weighed the decision and gave him the go-ahead, he asked the care-giver, and she gave him a non-committal response which changed from week to week - sometimes more towards yes, sometimes more towards no.  in any case, the week came when she said the kittens were ready for their new homes, and when my son stated that he was prepared to take his little friend home, she told him, "I never said you could have him."  well...I was furious, and so was my son, who was also hurt and upset.  I reacted by remembering another friend with a litter of kittens to give away, so we regrouped, asked if any were left, and went to visit with them.

they were incredibly adorable - and there went those big eyes again, pleading with me to take this one home Right Now, even though we didn't have any kitten food, a separate litter box, or whatever else we might need in order to welcome a new little fuzzball home.  didn't matter, we could get all that later, we Needed her!  but...what about Thomas?  "he'll kill her and eat her," I said, in no uncertain terms.  "she'll live in My room," countered the boy who would not be deterred.  so we drove the baby home in a box, made up a make-shift litter box, and fed her adult cat food softened with water until we went to the store.  when we got home with her, we took her straight into my son's room and closed the door.  within the first few hours of her being there, Thomas was at the inch-high space beneath my son's door making the most adorable cooing and chirping sounds at the tiny little paw that was extending out to grab at and play with him.  it was too cute, and so we decided to let him in...

while the kitten (Nahiri) seemed to have no fear of him, Thomas was a bit scared of her!  it didn't stop him from dropping to the carpet and rolling on his back, though, purring at her, and making sweet little love-noises at her.  we couldn't believe it - we'd never seen him behave like that, so we decided to let the little one have the run of the house when we were home, but kept them separated when we went out, for safety's sake.  eventually, we found there was no need for that, and they were allowed to co-exist:

Thomas & Nahiri

while Thomas loved his new baby kitten, he made it very clear he was the Boss of this house, and there were a few times we scolded him and made him stop chasing her around, or pulled him off of her if she cried out.  mostly they were good siblings, and Nahiri adored her big brother, sitting on him every chance she got, and letting him help her groom her fabulous, long, grey fur.  we didn't let Nahiri outside until she was over a year old, so Thomas would use 'outside' as his escape hatch if she got overbearing, which she sometimes does...because he knew she wasn't allowed to follow him.  she'd watch him, jealously intent, from the windowsill, leaping towards the door every time it opened, in hopes of escaping her confinement to engage with all the wonderful things Thomas smelled of when he returned.  eventually, Nahiri grew big enough (and smart enough) to go outside as well, and we lived our happy life as a two-cat/two-human household. 

Best of friends

this past summer, the property we live on was sold to new owners, and renovations of the buildings and land began in earnest.  while the general construction noise wasn't so bothersome to us particularly, one of the workmen sometimes brought his large, aggressive, German Shepherd to the property, and she would chase the cats if they were outside, so I tended to try and keep them in if there was work going on around the house and cabins.  it didn't always work, because my cats are used to having the run of the land, and they would often choose to be in the woods for the day rather than locked in the house, no matter how I felt about it.  but if they got out, they'd stay out until things quieted down, then come back in the evenings.  I always bring them in for the night - we have black bears, bobcats, coyotes, fishers, and owls in our valley, which can all make a meal of a housecat - even a bruiser like Thomas.  then the new landlords started taking down trees, and Thomas in particular had a Big problem with the sound of the chainsaws.

again - I did my best to keep my cats in the house, because the anxiety of having them out in the woods while workmen were dropping trees made me crazy.  although Nahiri didn't seem particularly bothered by the noise, she did seem to choose to spend those days on my son's desk, basking in the sunshine, while Thomas would make a break for the door, because he'd rather take his chances outside than be trapped inside with nowhere to run when he felt threatened.  one day, after having managed to lock him in, I couldn't find him when I came home.  I located him a few hours later under the couch, refusing to come out, because they had cut down the dead tree closest to the house, and he must have been terrified by the noise.  I felt so guilty, I let him make his own choices as to where he felt safest, which was - outside.

to add to this chaos, there was, until very recently, an abandoned property with its own house and cabins right next door (I suspect that lot and ours used to be one big property).  at some point over the summer and fall, during the dead-tree-removal frenzy, a bunch of large trucks and a bulldozer showed up next door and took the buildings all the way down to the ground, as if they had never been there.  that was another reason I wanted the cats in - I know Nahiri liked to play over there, so I expect Thomas did as well, though I never caught him at it.  as soon as I saw those trucks roll in, it added a level of panic to my 'protect the cats' campaign, and I redoubled my efforts to keep them locked safely In The House, with varying levels of success (see previous paragraph stating Thomas' preference in feeling safe when threatened).  the day after the trucks finished demolishing the neighboring property, my kitchen cabinet happened to fall off the wall, smashing a good portion of my dishes and glasses, as well as cooking oils and spices - it made an extremely unholy racket that scared the kid so bad he screamed long and loud...  again, hardly a wink from Nahiri, but Thomas had just come inside from his day hiding in the woods, and turned right back around and went out.

I did manage to get him in that night, and he even slept inside the downed cabinet, which I stood upright and left in the middle of the kitchen floor, but he was back out again the next morning.  that evening, I called and called him, but he didn't come.  I went out to check for him every hour.  "Thooomaaaaas!!!  Thomas O'Maaaalviiiin!!!" I yelled desperately in all directions, shining my flashlight around the yard...where could he be?  well, he could be anywhere, really.  he could be under my car, watching my pulse quicken, amused at my distress...but wherever he was, he didn't come.  at some point, around 2 or 3 in the morning, I just went and stood on the porch, willing him to Be There, when I heard an owl hoot so close - in the lilac bush next to the house, about 10 feet from where I was standing.  that was weird - I'd never seen or heard an owl in the lilacs, what was he doing there?  it gave me a bad feeling, like it was telling me something, though I didn't know what.  I found myself wondering if it had fought with Thomas, and he was out in the woods injured, but it was still dark out, so I went in to bed.  he was a big boy - he'd spent the night out before and still come home, I was just going to relax about it, and be positive.  he would come back when he was ready...he would come home tomorrow.

we haven't seen Thomas since early October, and it's now mid-January.  we've both seen him in our dreams.  we've both decided to believe that he got freaked out by all the tree-cutting, house demolition, and cabinet-falling, and went on walkabout.  we want to believe he went yowling at a neighbor's door, and got let in somewhere.  we pray that's what happened, in light of the recent sub-zero temperatures.  more than wanting him back, we want him safe.  people have regaled us with stories of cats returning years later, and I'm not sure if that's supposed to make me feel better, given how often we end up moving, but it does give us some hope, and keeps us from getting another cat to assuage the sadness of missing Thomas.  but how do we explain it to Nahiri?  she's been super-sad, and was needing to cling to us more than usual for awhile, and now she's sort of lost all her previous playfulness.  she sits in the window listlessly for hours, for whole days, moving only to eat, or visit the litter box.  I feel so badly for her, and talk to her about Thomas, not sure if the sounds I make to identify him are familiar to her, and if they are something she recognizes in association with him.  does it help or hurt her?  I can't tell, but maybe she can understand that we miss him, too, and that we are all grieving his loss together as a family.

we also know that if we choose to let our pets be 'outdoor' animals, that we have to deal with the consequences of that decision - they could get hit by a car, they could be eaten by a larger animal, they could get hurt and not make it home, who knows what could happen.  but I don't think it's fair to keep them in, and they definitely Love being out, so...I wouldn't choose to lock my kid in all day every day, so I don't.  the cats go where the cats want, and we let them.  period.  we just love the hell out of them while we share our lives together, and do the best we can for them.  we hope it's enough.  if Thomas is with a neighbor, we hope he's ok, and that he chooses to come back one day (soon!).  if he's...gone, we hope it was quick and painless, and that he forgives us for not being able to find him and help him, that we loved him dearly, and miss his purrs and companionship.

with love and remembrance of other kitties I/we have known:  Delia, my traveling companion for 5 years,who was killed by a wild dog (she's buried in a pet cemetery, with a headstone and everything).  Potato, a feral rescue who didn't want to be rescued, and took off out an open window the first chance she got, and never came back.  Little Bear, who disappeared in the woods one night, never to be seen again, about a year after the same thing happened to his sister, Beaner.  Molson, who I took in for a friend's brother for a period of time, who now lives with another friend.  Sphinx, who didn't come in one night, and may have chosen to take up residence in the nearby mouse-infested barn, but we were never sure.  Mr. Spats, who we lost to a car in the road.  Petey, who we suspect got into it with a nesting wild turkey mama, and died at home from what appeared to be multiple puncture wounds (we buried him under his favorite bush).  Taco, who we lost to a car in the road (he is buried out back of our current residence, by a patch of daylilies).  we loved them all ~ may they rest in peace.

Little Bear



Mr. Spats



Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Memory Jar 2017

well, here we are again!  another New Year, another Memory Jar post (my teen and I started this tradition in 2014, and posted our first list in February of 2015).  it was a rough year - for many people, not just us - and as a result, I feel like our jar was a bit lacking in fun memories this time around, but we made the effort to recognize, and that's what matters.  of course, the teen (being a teen) was much less enthused with both filling the jar, and reading the memories out loud to each other, as has become our yearly tradition, but I made him take part anyway.  maybe he'll thank me someday, maybe he won't.  either way, I like the idea of it, so it will be continued as long as he lives here with me, so there.  every now and then, it's good to be the Queen, even though having jurisdiction over the household traditions really counts for very little in the grander scheme.  whatever, I'll take it where I get it!

Our Good Memories of 2017

Teen Wolf:
Magic the Gathering Draft Tournament
trip to Mystic Seaport, CT with best friend's family
13th birthday party
Bar Mitzvah & after-party
defeating the Zelda video game
getting a (toy) drone
FUNSPOT! (largest arcade in the world)
Magic the Gathering workshop @ Olive Library
going to New Hampshire (to visit Funspot)
Jethro Tull gig
getting a refurbished laptop from a friend
sleepovers with G
Robot 'camp'
heavy metal rehearsal!
that time we picked a point on the map to explore and ended up at a post office
the alphabet (?)
W's New Year's party (2017)

picnic w/the W's
Teen Wolf's Bar Mitzvah!
Teen Wolf's 13th sleepover
Jethro Tull gigs
Wonder Woman movie w/W & R
48th birthday henna, & going dancing w/friends (who bought me drinks)
Summer Solstice bald eagle by the river with L in the morning, fox on the ride home at night
Ike Willis show @ BSP
NYE ('17) w/W's
taking the teen on a mini-vacation to Weir's Beach, NH
my new-to-me bed
new dress and skirt
joking around and being goofy with the teen
Haunted House/Nosferatu/Rocky Horror Halloween show
being in a place where we can help others
laughing over sound effects: “it's like a whooo-ooo-oo” “you mean like this - kaRAKAKAKAKAKAA!” “uh...no.”
complimentary dinner at a local restaurant, decorated by a local artist we like
finally inheriting my grandmother's Bedouin collection
tying balloons on the cats for the teen for his birthday - hilarity ensued
laughing really hard at ridiculous things we make up when we're in a silly mood
Rosendale Street Fair

things that didn't make the jar, but should have:
Teen Wolf:  Magic the Gathering Ixalan Draft 1 & 2, joining the wrestling team, Big 4 of American Metal shows, Star Wars The Last Jedi, new-to-him iphone, hanging w/A
me:  both 'Big 4 of American Metal' gigs (SO much fun!), Star Wars!, Hannukah and winter Solstice gatherings, NYE ('18) w/N family.

Happy New Year, all ~ here's to a wonderful 2018!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

mostly meatballs, some Garlic Soup, and a bit of spice.

the dentist sent me home with painkillers, and instructions to wait until the insurance company allows him to please do a root canal, because he doesn't want to have to pull my tooth.  this should be a fun story to tell as it unfolds...

I'm staying tuned to that 'inner work', my writing, my being all of who I am, which requires my remembering who I am.  who am I?  my random tellings of parts of that story are both interesting and funny, I've heard.

I had a lovely Hannukah!  I keep repeating this like it's some kind of weird occurrence, but it just seems to have been extra-bright this year, and I find myself wondering if it's the first time since we moved here (7 years) that we managed to have friends over for latkes & suvganiot?  I don't feel like looking through my journals to figure it out, but I have a sneaking suspicion it's true.  well, then, that's why it was lovely, and I'm happy to have that be the reason - sharing special food ceremonies and seasonal rituals with friends!  next up is Solstice, and I'm looking forward to seeing who comes for that night of magical connection, and what we'll manage to share through our gathering.  what foods to make?  what decorations?  what gifts to give?

in my quest for winter nourishment, I made up a simple weekly menu to follow, made up of the few things I know how to cook - chili, tacos, spaghetti & meatballs, stir-fry, roasted veggies, broiled chicken...  the spicy black beans and rice I made last Monday were pretty good, and the spaghetti & meatballs on Tuesday were So delicious!  I told myself to write about that because my meatballs are something that I'm kind of proud of, I guess.  I mean, I won't be entering any cooking contests or anything, but I think it's a mark of accomplishment on some scale or other to be able to make a serviceable meatball.

 I don't remember the first time I decided to give them a try...surely not in my first apartment, that kitchen sparse with Ramen noodles, Why Pay More brand mac & cheese, bargain basement pb & j fixin's.  surely never over my camp stove, or any of the kitchens I passed through as a roaming wanderer.  I have no recollections of meatball-making on the West Coast, or while cohabiting with one boyfriend or another, though I do believe it commenced before the birth of my teen.  let's say, at some point in the last 20 years, I said to myself "Self, I'm hungry for some of Mom's meatballs".  because that's the root of it, you know - I didn't just want 'meatballs'...I could have gotten those at any sub shop or Italian restaurant - I wanted MOM's meatballs.

I loved my mom's meatballs!  they were so good, I'd eat the leftovers cold out of the fridge the next day as an after-school snack.  delicious...that taste of home, safety, security.  the flavor of everything being right in the world.  I am so incredibly grateful for my childhood and adolescence - even with the relatively normal level of bullshit that went on in my life, I had things like my mom's meatballs to sustain me through the 'hard' times.  so at some point in my life, when I felt like I needed a good dose of Mom's meatballs, I closed my eyes, and conjured a memory of myself helping her make them in the kitchen of the last house we lived in together.  I generally tended to avoid the kitchen, as it was Her domain, and she was my arch-enemy when I was a teen, but for meatballs, I enjoyed opening the spice jars, and didn't mind turning on the hot water for her, so I was called upon to assist.  and so I witnessed.  and so I learned:

one hand squishes the beef in the bowl while the other pours in seasoned bread crumbs, ketchup, mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, oregano, parsley, and an egg.  she would turn the pan on low before she started the squishing-together process so it was warm when she started rolling the balls, and lining them up around the inside edge of the pan, then another row inside the first, and another, until the pan was full, and the last few meatballs would have to be placed on top of the wider spaces between the ones in the first layer.  when they were mostly cooked, she'd pour a jar of marinara sauce over them, and simmer it for awhile, maybe until my dad walked through the door from work, stirring occasionally.

whatever kitchen of mine I originally made them in, I'm sure they didn't taste as good as Mom's, but I'm willing to bet they were a good approximation.  over the years, I believe I've gotten better at judging the texture, or the 'feel' of the meat that produces a meatball that will hold up in the pan (some of my earlier attempts weren't firm enough).  my spice blend remains true to Mom's, minus the mustard, because I don't care for it, and don't tend to ever have any in my fridge.  the last time I made spaghetti & meatballs (a week ago), my teen went for a third serving, and emptied what was left in the pan, nearly challenging me to Dare stop him - they were His!  he Must have them!  no worries.  my meatballs are now 'Mom's meatballs' to someone who will one day decide he needs to taste that feeling of home, and hopefully feel grateful for a childhood and adolescence free from all but the relatively normal amount of bullshit one might expect.

it seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to hope for, to me.  last night (getting back to my quest for winter nourishment), I made garlic soup!  I saw the recipe somewhere, it was all stuff I had in the house, and it looked relatively non-intimidating to the eternal kitchen novice I tend to be.  it tasted kind of blah (needed more garlic), but it was a quick, healthy meal, and it passed the 'teen test' in that he drained a bowl, though didn't go back for seconds (I did).  tonight is supposed to be broiled chicken (possibly on skewers) with peanut sauce - I LOVE my peanut sauce!  I got the recipe when the teen was a baby, and with the few healthy tweaks I made to it, I could drink it like water!  the teen doesn't much care for it, so I'll have to think of some other sauce for him...maybe pesto?

in other news, I recently realized that my estranged brother will be having his 50th birthday in a few days, and I feel a need to acknowledge it in some way, but I don't think I can communicate with him without making sure he knows exactly how much of an asshole I think he is, birthday or no birthday.  would a handmade 'happy 50th, you prick' card serve, maybe?  or do I need to say more, like 'I wanted to acknowledge your special day, which in no way makes up for all the shitty things you've done and said (or didn't do or say) over the years, to me (your sister), and my son (your nephew).  way to treat family, you bigoted misogynist fascist'.  that's a tough one that I've been wrestling with, along with the loss of our beloved Thomas O'Malvin the Alley Cat in the context of the wintry weather, but he deserves his own post, so I'll save it for another time.

thoughts?  feelings?  criticism?

Monday, December 11, 2017

making space for what matters


      there's simply no space for me to free myself on the page.

for instance, I'm at 'work' right now.  I'm at the home of an elderly friend of mine, getting in a minute of internet usage while she sits on the porch, and I wait for the dryer to - there it goes - finish so I can make her bed (her blanket is in there).  I already did all the dishes, ran the wash, folded the dry laundry, cooked brunch, cleaned up around the house, yada yada...and I'm taking a minute to sit down and get some of this swirling Mess OUT of my head, and see if that doesn't help things a bit.  gotta go check the dryer --- fold and put away laundry --- cook dinner ---

*a week passes...*

 here I am again.  in the exact same place.  I let my friend sleep in so I could 'internet', though now that the teen has set us up at the house, it's more like a 24/7 addiction I need to get away from, which is the subject of today's attempted post.  social media...don't even get me started!  this, of course, is a stupid thing to say, because it's sometimes all I talk about, or what fuels my disjointed conversations, or the very thing I said I was going to post about, duh...where?  On Social Media.  today (everyday) I want something different.  something other than the media-frenzy of facebook, the mollification of youtube, or the 'omg, so cute!' of etsy.  I want to see something beautiful, and I'm trying to remember how to use the internet to find it.  I saw this great video yesterday:

it was important to me for so many reasons...I love the cultural stuff, and exploring your own people's history to find answers about what you need to be doing with your own life.  I love the connection to nature.  I love bringing in the youth to inform the future of community.  I love the 'real world application', financially, and philosophically.  I'm hungry for so many of the same things.  and with what do I feed that hunger?  junk.  facebook and youtube, and pizza and ice cream.  there was a time when life was vibrant, and these addictions get in the way of my ability to hold on to the colors these days.  remember astonishment?  remember awe?

I'm once again listening to the dryer spin, sitting in a quiet kitchen (I feel lucky that this is my day, honestly, and I usually go home with cash in my pocket), with laundry waiting to be folded, and dishes waiting to be done.  a meal or two and some conversation to be made.  it's peaceful, which is all I really want out of life.  peace.  to sit in quiet places, and be at peace.  I often forget how much of a blessing it is, with 'our crazy work-a-day lives' - mine being decidedly less crazy than most - how often I get to do just that.  and it never quite seems like enough.

somehow, this leads into my rant on food, exercise, meditation, blah blah...bored now.

so earlier this summer, back when my feet were still swollen and itchy, red and raw, even oozing at times, and I was going through untold numbers of little glass jars of herbal salve, I decided finally to go to the doctor, which is something I try and avoid doing for several reasons.  in any case, I told her that it is my belief that the red, itchy patches of skin on my ankles and feet were due to my body having a reaction to something I was ingesting, and I just didn't know what it was, or how to figure it out.  she suggested a detoxification, which I agreed with, though she gave me no guidelines to follow, past no dairy, no wheat, no sugar.  I did a bit of online research (yay internet), which for me, means looking at about 5 relevant websites (and when I say relevant, I mean I may have to look at more than 5 sites to get 5 credible sources of information), and cross-referencing the information I find into a workable system for myself.  this I did, and I share with you below:

*just to keep abreast of the situation, my elderly friend finally came out of her room, and I made her breakfast, and got her dressed so I could get another load of laundry started.*

for 3 weeks, I ate nothing but brown rice, and vegetables - mostly sweet potatoes and yams, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower -and drank 80-100oz. of water a day.  after about a week, I was Really starting to think I needed Some form of protein in my diet, and after consulting the doc, I added turkey to the menu (it was already there, but I don't ordinarily eat it, so I hadn't been), which made a world of difference in my ability to feel like I had enough energy to get through my days.  the things I noticed happening were that I was sleeping better, I had more energy, my joints hurt less, the swelling in my feet went down and the rashes cleared a bit, I felt generally better, and I lost 15 pounds. wow, is all I can say.  not a thing wrong with any of that!  the thing is, after a detox, you're supposed to do a 'reintroduction' process when you start eating other foods again one group at a time, to see where your sensitivities stem from.  unfortunately, I went on vacation, and skipped the reintroduction process, going straight back to eating crap for the convenience and affordability, justifying it to myself by saying I would do another detox - a particular 'system' the doc had mentioned to me at my follow-up appointment just before I went away - when I got home.  well, that was back in July, so...3 months ago, yeah.

*she's now on the porch, and I've folded the dry stuff, and moved the wash over to the dryer.  also, heard from the teen, who is home from school.  no homework, asked him to do a sink-full of dishes, pick up his room - especially his desk, and help me carry in his laundry when I get home.*

*made a snack, washed all dishes, made the bed, cleaned the mop and bucket, mopped, emailed my teen's besties' moms to make plans for the dance this weekend, and for Halloween weekend.*

I also decided to go see a dermatologist.  I'd seen an allergist once, the last time I broke out in some weird rash, but he surprisingly told me I'm not allergic to anything, which I think is kind of cool.  I've gotten these rashes on and off for like...25 years, now.  and I've had hives, too.  my issues show on my skin, I guess.  anyway, he called it psoriasis, and wanted to prescribe a pill, which I nixed, so he gave me a cream, instead.  I was hoping the detox would clear up the issue, but at this point, I figured 'why not just use the horrid pharmaceutical until it clears up, then stop?'  I mean, I'm not gonna smear this crap on my feet twice a day, Every day, forever...  which is mostly where I'm at, now.  the rashes are gone, but my skin still looks scarred...and I haven't been using the gross petroleum cream for awhile, now.  so the other day, my feet felt itchy.  then they felt Really itchy...

*guess what?  another week passed.  dishes done, laundry spinning, food cooking, she's on the porch while I type...*

and where I'm at now?  home, on a Monday, which is a day I like to take off in general, but it would have been nice to have been working, too.  oh well.  none of my recent employers has need of me, today, which suggests I should be working on my own thing.  which is how I ended up over here, catching up on an old post.  what Was the point of it all?  that I used the horrid petroleum pharmaceutical, and forgot about the detox, and now my feet are itchy again, and my right elbow is all chewed up as well?  I can't even begin to talk about what's going on in my mouth, because that would be admitting to a daily pain that is on the verge of being a serious problem, but I have a dentist appointment this month, so I can stick it out...I'm falling apart, physically, and it's not at all necessary.  it's always possible to put the brakes on, pull in the reins, and pause for a moment to regroup.  on this particular Monday, it's two months later than the last time I wrote here, and I have a decidedly more 'December' feeling about these issues at the moment - it's almost winter.

do whatever about the feet, talk to the dentist about the teeth (and yes, just hurt in the meantime, and say nothing), and turn my attention to my inner work.  inside my head, my heart, my soul, my house, my body, my life.  the cycles of the seasons, what gets us through.  it's Hannukah tomorrow night, and I'm having people over for fried holiday food, and festivities.  there will be more guests for Solstice, but then we'll be celebrating New Year's with friends.  Next comes my birthday, then my teen has a birthday, and at that point, it's almost spring!  I need soups and stews this winter, good hearty meals to keep the energy up for shoveling, staying nourished through the cold, and enjoying the growing daylight.  tonight, it's spicy black beans & rice - recipe taken from my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook.  I just need to get the 14.5 oz. can of some kind of tomatoes, and I'm good.  tomorrow is spaghetti & meatballs...maybe I should write about that. 

in any case, I'm always striving to 'get back on track', or pick up where I left off, and I think this post is a bit all over the place because of it.  there's So Much I've been needing to get down, and simply not making the space for it, so it gets all jumbled up in my head.  I feel just like I did last year at this time - like I needed to get something down, quick, before the year was out, and it feels like it was just yesterday.  more on Everything in a bit ~

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Wild Matryoshka, May 2014

her body was rounded

              like the Earth,

her belly

          larger than any planet

she'd ever seen.

            her arms and legs

dangled out behind her

         like distant galaxies,

traveling along in the wake

          of the belly's gravitational pull.

Her head functioned merely

              as a steering mechanism,

the brain within long having given

  what attention it had to the

      transfer of information to

       the library opening in her


she must fill it with wisdom

           before it vesicated her piscus

breaking the seal of her inner knowledge.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Solstice 2017

I carried Grandmother
          up the trail with me,
to dance around the eight-pointed fire.

Threw my silhouette
          up to the starry
Solstice sky.

Watching my shadow
          shake out its weary bones,
I swirled through the constellations
          up and out, around and down.

My shoulder-wings flexing
          while my hands lay like dead birds
buried in my pockets.

Shake it out,
shake it out,
          let the drums move me into the rhythm
that brings Grandmother back
          where she belongs.