Wednesday, May 15, 2019

S is for...

Suicide

I must have been around 15 or so when I first thought about killing myself, and I know I've thought about it off and on since then, but haven't really ever talked about it with anyone...except maybe some random strangers on a hotline, or something, but...not really.  it's come back around again due to 'circumstances beyond my control', and I spent most of the morning crying, and googling articles about suicide, single mother suicide, reading tool kits that led to broken links, calling/messaging hotlines, calling my insurance company for referrals to therapists, calling therapists to see if they take my insurance/are accepting new patients/have time for me, and yelling at the people who are triggering me into feeling like death is the only way out.

for starters, the property I live on has been seized by the New York State Department of Transportation through eminent domain, and I have been informed that my son and I must vacate the premises that has been our home for the past 5 years - the longest we have been able to make any place our home in the 15 short years that he's been alive, and it's been a real donkey kick to the gut for many reasons.  first and foremost, there are no apartments available for rent in my son's school district in our price range.  he is in 9th grade, and I REFUSE to move him out of the school district, as it would be a devastating blow to him at this point in his life, and as a 'responsible parent' (what a laugh), I Will Not Do That to him - even if we have to live under a bridge to keep him here.  this is simply the latest in a line of incidents that have made it clear to me that this town, this community, these people, and the institutions that run them Don't Want Us Here - well, they may not mind my son, but I'm obviously The Plague, and need to be destroyed...

we moved here because our former friends Karin and Ian encouraged me to, then dumped me as a friend when it became apparent that my abject poverty was obviously the product of a personal failing on my part, rather than the systemic power structures people like them work to keep in place.  then my landlord tried to evict us (after I had already told him I was moving out), and our next landlady raised the rent out of our price range after a year, forcing us to move into the Woodstock Commons - a subsidized housing complex we lived in for a year - where families who are the products of generational poverty simply couldn't abide my high standards of living, and made several attempts to gang up on and intimidate my child and me - and since it was easier to get rid of us than deal with all of them, the property managers kicked us out of there, too.  we were happy to leave, at that point, as my son could not walk outside unattended, and even when he was with me, he had to endure the neighbors yelling epithets at me/us whenever we stuck out noses outside our front door (not that the door stopped them, they made sure we knew we were hated by banging on the walls from the apartment next door, and yelling at us through them).  then the 'coven' I used to belong to - Lake Circle - excommunicated me for calling Ian and Karin out on facebook.  a few years later, while my son was studying for his Bar Mitzvah, I was thrown out of the Woodstock Jewish Congregation after their 'education coordinator' Dee offered to be my support system if ever I needed a break from single parenting, and after having dinner with her and her family once a week for a most of a year (holidays included), I took her up on that and dropped my son off with her, and she called CPS (child protective services) and sent the state troopers to my house to find me.  so we found another Rabbi who was willing to complete his study at her synagogue, and never looked back.

things settled down a bit after that, but since then, I was also asked to leave our homeschooling co-op, dumped by all my friends, and asked to step away from my role as toilet-scrubber from The Rock Academy because I had the nerve to get uppity when the other parents harassed me, and the other students harassed my son.  and no, the perpetrators of the harassment were never addressed, to the best of my knowledge.  on a side note, The Rock Academy did offer for my son to stay on with a full scholarship, but I see that as their way to get rid of me while continuing to honor the agreement I made with the original founders, and the fact that it would make them look like assholes to kick the kid out after he worked his ass off cleaning up after the rich kids for 5 years straight (he earned it, he deserves it, and to deny him that would make them look like serious douchebags, since they claim to care so much about him, though I doubt they spare him a thought, even if he's standing right in front of them).  

so now, after being dumped by long term friends, being kicked out of three apartments and ending up homeless for months, being kicked out of the Jewish community, and my long-time spiritual group, being dumped by my newer friends, not having had a date in well over 15 years (and recent attempts to date have yielded either losers I don't even want, or being dumped by even more people who have deemed me unacceptable, continued emotional abuse by my so-called 'best friend', and the overreaching implications of the fact that my own mother has made it clear that she never wanted me and hates me with every fiber of her being - adding in that time she tried to Sue Me For Custody Of My Own Child - what the ever loving fuck do I have to live for in this world?!  my kid?  sure - he'll need me for a few more years, but let me tell you - holding on to life when everything in it has told you you're not worth it, are nothing and no one, because your waiting for your teenager to grow up and make his place in the world is a HARD way to go.  there's nothing I want to do anymore.  I feel no passion, no excitement, no connection to anything, no love, no support, no meaning, no nothing.  it's done.  I'm done.  I'm over it.  there's nothing left.  there is nothing but an empty shell going through the motions of 'being here', biding my time until I can safely leave this plane of existence when my kid has proven himself capable of carrying on without me.  that is all.  I hope it's soon.

R is for...

Ridiculous

what I must be to think this was a good idea in the first place.  this game, this blog, this life in general.  I'm just biding my time until it's over, at this point.

Q is for...

Quit

I'm sick of this game.  it's uninspiring, and hasn't yielded any new connections for me.  and even though I make it a point to go and visit Every other blog that participates, and leave a nice comment on each (even if I don't like what's posted), less than half of the participants visit me back, or leave nice comments for me.  so - waste of time and energy.  I'm out.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

P is for...

Passover

as per my cultural norm, I'm not really choosing to get into the religious aspects of the holiday, more at the tradition, and passing it on, in my way.  I thought I'd put together a Seder plate (because we do actually own one, though it looks like something that belongs in a Hebrew school kindergarten class), and what I think of as a Seder:  the preparation & planning, the ritual story, the meal, the day to day of the actual 'holiday', & the switch back to 'regular' foods.  I'm on the prep & plan stage at the moment, but I'm going to do an abridged ritual, and 'my kind' of meal:  matzah balls & soup, soup nuts (couldn't find any), gefilte fish (we skipped it because he won't eat it, and I didn't need a whole jar just for me), salad, chicken skewers, roasted veggies, some kind of chocolaty dessert, and baglach.  I have my great-grandma's baglach, and my Sapta's (grandmother's) matzah ball recipes.  gonna marinate the chicken, and make tzadziki for dipping - which is mixing dairy and meat, and breaking the number one rule in kosher food practice...but I suppose I could think of something else before the meal needs to take place.

see?  doesn't this look like the kiddie version of a Seder plate?  one day I'll get a real grown-up one.


so the prep/plan wasn't really all that much, to be honest, because in my head, I see my mother beginning her preparations two weeks out, as we used to switch out the whole kitchen for a entirely different set of dishes/cookware/utensils, and have 40 people at the table, which is A LOT of work!  since in my house, it's just the two of us (the teen and I), and I had no intentions (no ability, really) to go 'full on' the way my mom did, we just pulled everything we would need from the cabinets - a pitcher for hand washing, the Seder plate, the recipes, my trusty Haggadah (that had to be stolen from my family's coffers of Passover items several years ago, because I am not allowed access to my ancestral heirlooms), candles and holders, kiddish cups for the wine.  as far as the meal/foods, I needed a horseradish root, fresh parsley, matzah meal, matzah, a cucumber for the tzadziki, a bottle of Manishevitz (the Kosher wine I grew up with), a shank bone, some soup nuts, and some kind of dessert, which simply required me to make a list, and go to the store.  easy.


I had leftover chicken soup in the freezer from the week before (technically Not kosher for Passover, but I work within my parameters) which I thawed; and made matzah balls in some of my veggie scrap soup so they were both delicious AND nutritious!  made a salad, marinated the chicken before skewering it and broiling in the oven, made the tzadziki (I couldn't come up with anything else.  I would normally do a satay/peanut sauce but peanuts are not kosher for Passover, and I didn't have sunflower/almond/cashew butter with which to substitute...I also considered making a pseudo-pesto, since I Did have parsley and walnuts and could substitute nutritional yeast for parmesan, But...also Not kosher for Passover, so unkosher yogurt dip for the chicken it was).  I even found my once-beloved chocolate 'lollycones' (and a few other dark chocolate/coconut delights) for dessert, and got the teen the horrible 'fruit slices' which are pure sugar, that I won't eat, but he enjoys.

'baglach' - which I like to call 'the dinner rolls of affliction', even though they taste like good memories to me.

so - with everything cooking, cooked, prepared, the table set and us as ready as we would ever be to 'do this thing', we began.  we did not do a 'chametz hunt' the night before, because I didn't even bother to remove all the bread and 'leavened' food items from my house, mostly because we'd be needing it after the two nights of Seders I planned on conducting, and there's simply no way I'm prepared to do the full week of the holiday the way my family did when I was a kid, carrying matzah sandwiches to school in my Star Wars lunchbox (there's a story I wrote about it once, maybe I'll post it here eventually).  we went through the Haggadah pretty quickly, skipping over the more verbose and less relevant parts, stopping for the prayers, to sing the songs, and enact the rituals.  then we ate our delicious foods, finished the Seder, had dessert, and sang some more!  as always, we made it fun.

matzah balls!  yum...

in the midst of preparing for all this good Jewishness, I suddenly remembered that my father died right before Passover, and that this year was the 20th anniversary of that sad occasion.  in our tradition, when a person dies, we sit 'shiva', which is a mourning practice where we all come together at the home of the bereaved, and say prayers for and remember the deceased over the course of 7 days.  since my pops died right before a major holiday, this ritual is not observed, which I found very...'like' my dad, as he wasn't fond of sitting shiva in general, and would have laughed at the idea of the rest of us doing so for him.  but we didn't have to, and that seemed fitting.  his death kind of ruined the holiday for me for awhile, as it was always one of my favorites, and for years I couldn't sit through a Seder without becoming seriously emotional.  I think it was just about 5 years ago that I re-engaged with it, when my son decided he wanted a Bar Mitzvah, and started attending Hebrew school.  so - here we are.  full circle.  I truly enjoyed the Passover Seder we made together as a family - just the two of us, as we are.  it felt good and right, and I'm looking forward to doing it again next year!

the only thing I couldn't find in the stores for my table were these 'soup nuts' or 'mandlen' that I LOVED as a kid - sometimes eating a whole box of them for a snack!  ah, well...next year I'll just order them online in advance.  ; )

I found I needed some guidance in remembering what was Kosher for Passover, and what wasn't.  this is the resource I used for help:

https://toriavey.com/what-foods-are-kosher-for-passover/




click here to see all the shares!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

O is for...

Organic

I have one brief memory of being in a health food co-op way far in my childhood, that my mom was thinking about joining or something, but sensing her seething hatred of the woman behind the counter, I knew it wouldn't happen.  so I knew there was such a thing as 'healthier food', but not what it was or how to access it, and that it smelled weird.  I discovered the local health food store in that brief period between my going away to college, and moving out on my own - it was a few towns over, as were the other cool stores and the reason I was shopping there to begin with, while visiting a friend who lived nearby.  I think I went in there because my mother's dog had bitten me, and I was on antibiotics, and looking to get...something, I can't remember, and came out with yogurt, acidophilus pills, and an American version of a falafel.  

random internet image of a 1970's food co-op - I think this one was in Belfast.

I don't remember paying too much attention to local organics unless I was around other hippies who did - certainly not through my shoestring traveling days that were punctuated by Ramen noodle meals and rice and vegetable feasts after visits to the food bank, and celebratory pizza delivery when there was ready money to spend, and an address.  it must have been when I got to Vermont, really, that the choice to pay more attention to the quality of my food took hold.  there was that guy who lived across the hall from me who was following a macrobiotic diet, and wanted rides into town to visit the tiny little Montpelier co-op that quickly grew into the local grocery store, where I ended up shopping for years, worked at several times, and got spoiled on the fresh local produce and quality ingredients at fair prices.  also, I settled down more; I still moved around, but Vermont is a small community, and I started getting things like dishes, and proper pots and pans in place of my camping gear.


when I got pregnant, I didn't have access to a lot of things, like good healthy food on a regular basis (though I took care of myself the best I could), and even after the baby was born, it took me awhile to get it together with cooking and eating better than I had been.  there are things I insist on buying organic, or bio-degradable, or in bulk to save on packaging waste - I prefer non-GMO products, and non-high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, palm oil, soy anything, now.  glyphosates, endocrine disruptors, whatever unholy concoction of chemical compounds can be sprayed on our life giving foods these days, there's so much to avoid!  so growing things to eat has also been an ongoing goal in my life - to get closer and closer to my food sources, and pay attention to my relationship with the planet in that specific a way.  I can't always afford the luxury of that dream these days, but as always, I do the best I can.  when I am able, I will do more, and figure out a way to share the abundance I create.


how much do you think about your food and body care sources?  is it of major or minor concern to you?  why do you think that is?




link to shares


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

N is for...

Nutrition

I've posted plenty of times about my weight and food issues, but this week it's on my mind again in a big way, as my 'doctor' suggested I begin what's called a 'very low calorie diet', which is to say she wants me eating no more than 850 calories a day.  did you just think, "only 850 calories a day?!"?  if you did, you would be among the group of Every Single Person I mentioned this to, including my 15 year old, who said they learned in 7th grade health class that anything under 1000 was Not recommended, as you'd be depriving your body of the necessary nutrients to function properly.  I spoke with two other health professionals this week (I don't usually spend that much time around health professionals, it was just that kind of week) who were both shocked to hear I had been given what they considered Very Bad advice, and suggested I not only Don't stick to the plan, but that I find a new doctor.


here's what I'm going to do, though...I'm Not going to fire her. I'm going to explain to her that I struggled with anorexia a way long time ago, and that her choice of 'treatment' for my 'obesity' has been extremely triggering and problematic. I'm going to tell her that everyone else I talked to thinks her choice is misguided. I'm still eating under 1000 calories a day, and for sure I'm probably losing some weight, but I don't like where my head is at. frankly, I'm also concerned about having loose and hanging skin if I lose a lot of weight too quickly, after having been so fat for so long. I've been doing what I can in terms of strength training (not much, really) to rebuild some of the muscle I've lost over the years as a way to counteract that, but my back and my knees are having a bit of a hard time with it. yoga has been helping me get moving in a gentle way, and I have definitely regained some flexibility and balance (though flexibility was never my problem). my blood sugar hasn't seemed to change much, but I'm still over 200 lbs., so...we'll see. in any case, I'm going to give my doctor the chance to hear my concerns, and see how she chooses to move forward. she's young. she deserves a chance to hear open and honest feedback, and work with it accordingly.

time passing...

well, I went to the doctor today, only to find that I've been starving and depriving myself for two weeks now, against the better judgement of everyone including my own kid, and while I lost 9 pounds last week, I didn't lose Any weight this week, even though I'm running at a 3500 calorie deficit (approx. 850 calories in, 4500 calories out).  now I have to wonder how much damage listening to my stupid doctor has done to my metabolism, and how I'm going to fix it.  she didn't even seem to care - even tried to take my list of questions and complaints out of my hand while I was reading them to her!  looking at my food journal, she asked, "is this all you've been eating?"  like, YES...that's what you said to do!  then she said 'thanks for trying' and walked out of the room!  now I just want to eat everything in the house, but I also never want to eat again, since 'anorexia brain' took over (thanks a lot, doc), and I am ONCE AGAIN out to sea, without a life raft, and I just want to cry and scream, and give up.  I'm so angry and upset - just when I thought I was doing so much better with taking proper care of myself...I'm So Hungry right now, and I don't even want to deal with eating.  in fact, it's 4pm, and I haven't eaten today at all!  because that's so good for me, right?!  ugh.  I feel totally lost and alone in this.  I don't even know why I bother.

blah blah link


Tuesday, April 2, 2019

M is for...

Martha...
Marvelous Martha!


anyone who grew up in the 70's and watched an American tv show called Sesame Street will recognize this one!  for some reason, my mom used to say it all the time, ostensibly because My name starts with an M, and she would substitute my name for Martha's so I was the one who was marvelous...though it's been quite some time since she held that sentiment for me, or anything I've done, or do.

while looking for a link to the Sesame Street video on youtube, I came across this shocking little ditty of the same title, by a band called The Accused, featuring a sample of the Sesame Street version before slamming into a death-metal frenzy that Blogger must consider abhorrent as it won't even pull it up for me to share with you - but I'm sharing the link, in case any of you are into that (or the freedom to make your own decisions, regardless of what your blog site decides for you).  😉

https://youtu.be/o-JkqMUp5N4


check out all the other M's here!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

L is for...

Love

it seems like such a trite subject because I'm a jaded and grumpy person, but it really is the most beautiful and fundamental of emotions.  so I started going through my old posts, looking for an image that represents 'love' to me - I had one specific image in mind, but I didn't know where amongst my many photos it was, and I ran across it so yay - and found a few other 'L' things along the way.


this right here.  this is love.  I love this photo of the love of my life.  


again, is it trite to talk about your progeny as 'the love of your life'?  no, never.  when I was the age my son is now, I would have audibly, sarcastically, gagged at my own proclamation of love towards a child, let alone love for a child I had chosen to Have!  but having loved his father more than I've loved any of my lovers for the brief 5 years (give or take) that we were 'together', and thinking I had never felt such love towards another human being in my life, and how big it was, that kind of 'romantic' love was very different than the way I love our (my) son.  other kinds of love in my life are the love I feel towards my family (whether or not it's returned, because they are my people for better or worse); the love I've felt/feel for my pets, (who are also members of the family); and my love for longtime friends (my chosen family).

I wonder if my kitties have loved each other?

I love this pain in my behind -
we've been friends for 30 years, and are currently mad at each other.

other 'L' images:

I love the LIGHT in this shot

LIBRARY!

LABYRINTH
(not one I built, but a cool image I snagged from the interwebs)

oh look -  hearts made of wood chips.  ok, not an 'L', but it works with the theme...



come see what everyone else is posting!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

K is for...

Kindness

"the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate; a kind act."

typing the word "kindness" into your internet browser will bring approximately 160 million results; from definitions to videos, scholarly articles from professional perspectives to personal opinion pieces from self-help gurus, ongoing non-profit projects to year-long personal experiments, books, movies, and more.


finding kindness in the world may be a bit harder, because everyone seems so bent on hate and anger lately, but it's there.  the best way that I've found to connect with it in my life is to Be Kind To Others for the simple reason that it uplifts both you, and the person/people you show kindness to.  and what better reason do you need?


think of a time when you were kind to someone, and a time when someone was kind to you.  personally, I welcome homeless friends stay with me; send my friends unsigned, art-covered postcards affirming my love for them; give rides to friends and strangers; encourage people who are struggling; regularly donate clothing and household items to the local community; smile at, and make conversation with, strangers; LISTEN to people; tell people when they've done a good job; let people in front of me in line; helped countless people move; and regularly visit an elderly friend, among other things...I don't keep a score card.  acts of kindness that I have received include people letting me stay in their homes when I've been homeless; getting picked up while hitchhiking, or being given rides by friends; been the recipient of clothing and household items from my local community; had a meal paid for by a random stranger; had a community group pay for a new windshield for my car; and had friends help me move (many times), among other things.  I do my best to pay these actions forward, in whatever ways I can.


can you think of ways to do more?  I know I certainly can.  there's always someone in your life or community struggling with something, and there's always a way to help them through.  we live in a time when horrific acts of violence are taking place in many areas around the world on a daily basis, and even relatively safe communities get caught up in random terrorist actions, and incidents like these give us even more opportunity to show up with our absolute best self, and be agents of kindness and understanding.  we rise by lifting others up - this reminds me of the concept of 'Ubuntu', which I will leave the explanation of to the venerable Nelson Mandela:




see what everyone else is posting this week here

Thursday, March 14, 2019

J is for...

Jewish

I was born Jewish.  that's...kind of the way it works for Jews.  if your mom was Jewish, so are you.  end of story.  you might not want to be Jewish, and that's ok - you don't have to be.  if you weren't born Jewish, and you do want to be, you can convert, which is easier said than done I suppose, but it's an option that exists.  I don't think Jewish people go out and actively recruit new members, but I certainly don't know everything there is to know about Judaism - more at barely knowing anything when it comes to organized religion, past being a neutral observer of a spiritual nature while feeling connected to the traditions as they are preserved through the different temples I have visited throughout my life, without much regularity.  religion is a touchy subject, and all kinds of people have all kinds of feelings about it - sometimes, rather strong ones.  sometimes, those 'rather strong feelings' can turn into violent behavior, and that's where my not caring ends.  I have some rather strong feelings when it comes to violence against people on the basis their religion - it's Not ok.  everyone has a right to worship how they see fit - as long as they're not hurting anyone against their will - and they should be left to their particular practices in peace.  unfortunately, that's still not the case in many places around the world, in our supposedly 'advanced' society/civilization, and while it was the discussion on the rise of anti-semitism under our current political regime that brought me to the page, I decided I needed to do a little research before I addressed that topic.

mixed media collage "Chag Purim Sameach - Purim Happiness" by Debbie Gorin

here's what I learned:  there are three main 'branches' of Judaism, otherwise known as 'movements, streams, flavors, or denominations', and subsets of each.  they consist of Orthodox (Haredi, Hasidic, Modern), Conservative, and Reform (Liberal or Progressive).  there are also Reconstructionists, Renewal and Humanistic branches, Karaites, and more.

In Israel, these groups are referred to a bit differently than they are in the US, with the completely religious people being the Haredim, the 'basically religious' people as Datiim, traditional or conservative people known as Masoratim, and the secular folks as Hilonim.

modern Jews are descended from many ancient sects, such as Samaritans, Pharisees, Saducees, Essenes, and Zealots, with many ethnic and cultural divisions as well, which include being of Ashkenazi, Sephardic, or Mizrachi descent, depending on where your ancestors hailed from.  there are also Ethiopian Jews, the Abayudaya in Uganda, and other sects, all over the world.

some of our ancient groups had special duties in the daily life of the religion, such as the Kohanim, who are the descendants of the sons of Aaron, and serve as 'priests' in the temples, and the Levites - descendants of the tribe of Levi - who worked as musicians, singers, guards, and gatekeepers in the temples as well.  the rest of us are just known as Israelites - members of the other 10 tribes of Israel.

I myself am an Israelite, as I have no idea what tribe of Israel I'm descended from, but I know I'm not a Kohan or a Levy, because one knows such things.  I was raised in the Ashkenazi tradition, though one line of my ancestry boasts Sephardic heritage, and while my grandparents were more Conservative, my parents tried out being Reform though they weren't big into temple life at all, and I for my small part got closest to Reconstructionist, but only at a glance.  I go here and there, as the need arises, which it does on occasion during a holiday, or following a death in the family.  in Israeli life, I'd be Hilonim.

check out Anita Rodriguez' 'Crypto Jew' series - I love them!

there is religious violence happening all over the world, and I was going to link 15 different sources of information on the various conflicts and where they're taking place, which I may still do, but I don't have the energy at the moment because there's been too much anti-semitic rhetoric in the news lately, and it makes me want to say So much to So many people, that I get exhausted just thinking about engaging in all that talk with many who don't even understand the issues, so I just back up and close my mouth, and watch the incompetent debate the uninformed, and feel I don't even have a say in a discussion that concerns me personally, and how hurtful that is, especially given my own issues...

in any case, be nice to each other.  especially to people who are different from you.  enough war over insignificant things.  even if it's just an excuse for war, or conflict of any kind, it needs to stop.  tolerance is the order of the day, and we need to actively participate in seeing that goal achieved, to the point of making ourselves uncomfortable for as long as it takes for the playing field to even out for everyone.  I want to link this post to ABC Wednesday (now that it's Thursday) and move on, because 'real- life' threw me a curve, and I need to deal with it.  see you next week~

link to the blog, link to the links

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

I is for...

Inspiration

or in my case, lack thereof...

as a kid, I liked twisting hangers into elaborate shapes and suspending them from the ceiling of my bedroom.  in school, I was more of a 'doodler' than a painter or illustrator, and working on a flat plane didn't really excite me all that much.  bas relief was...well, a relief, and I took to macrame in a way that suggested I innately understood how to tie knots.  while I disliked woodcuts/linocuts/intaglio/relief printing in general, I enjoyed embossing and screen printing, and loved sculpting; wheel-thrown pottery made me so happy, I tried to major in it during my first college go-round.  during my second run at higher education, I discovered darkroom photography, and jewelry making - silver, not beadwork...I learned beadwork on my own.  I made my own polymer beads as well as using seed beads for earrings and necklaces, and I employed fabric paints to liven up thrift store clothing to sell at flea markets.  I sewed and crocheted pouches, painted runes onto smooth rocks, and sold them as sets.  and always, through it all, writing writing writing...poems, essays, manifestos, dreams, and prayers.  maybe even a love letter or two.

where did I get the energy?  where did I find my reasons why?  it was just...my life.  how I lived it.  it was what was.  when did it stop?  I built labyrinths - from sticks, from stones, dancing the patterns out with my feet in the snow.  it came through me because I invited it to; left space for it to manifest; made myself a vessel for art to fill.  at some point, I started giving that energy away to others, for their own use, and that (I think) is when the conduit began to close up on me.  for sure, it never went away completely, as we are ultimately who we are.  while I was pregnant, I knitted for the baby, but mostly to keep my hands busy to prevent myself from smoking cigarettes.

once the baby came, all my art went into stories and songs, puppet shows, and spontaneous games of imagination and wonder.  these cardboard boxes are now a kitchen set, complete with refrigerator, cabinets, and a stove with a working oven door!  this metal tray is now a 'dinosaur beach', with sand, a lake, and Lego trees for the herbivores to graze on!  these cotton balls and pipe cleaners are now painted bugs!  this old sheet is now a canvas, and this spray bottle filled with watered-down paint is an airbrush!  crayons, clay, leaves, and rocks, we could make anything out of everything!  markers, colored pencils, feathers, fabric, jars, cigar boxes, tissue paper, safety goggles, paints, driftwood, and small found metal bits are to be found in abundance in our supply closet - there is always a project or three waiting to be finished these days, and more keep piling up.

so where is my inspiration these days?  did it fight my increasing fat for space in my body and lose?  did it get blown out my eardrums with each subsequent rock concert?  did I miss seeing it slip out the back door with my diminishing sight?  or did it simply get fed up and leave, with the last vestiges of my patience, and a certain amount of my sanity to boot?  how rude...look, I'm tired, and I don't have the fire to work on a project for 14 hours straight anymore, or three days in a row without the need for nourishment or sleep.  gone are the days and nights of locking myself in the darkroom until the work was done.  gone are the days and nights on the road, chasing markets and dreams.  gone are the poems that hit the page just so ~

I make myself write something every week to share, just to practice - use it or lose it, as the saying goes - but there's nothing inspiring about the things I say.  not like 'back in the day', when all the cool kids drank my rhymes like they were reason; not like when I was a walking inferno that you couldn't help but notice, because I glowed with the molten heat of my own possibility.  now I'm just tired and overwhelmed, and most people are compelled to look away, if they even see me at all.  do I remind them of their own forgotten dreams?  is my skin a map of their failures, too?  since you can't draw from a dry well, it's important to nourish the well so that it may fill - how do You feed it?  what brings You inspiration, and fills you with the need to create?


click here for the ABC Wednesday site, here for participating blogs!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

H is for...

happiness is the obvious choice, but why go for the obvious choice?  I do want to talk about my health, though, so I'll do:   Health & Happiness!  less obvious, and more ambiguous...

literally my 8th post on this blog, all the way back in 2009, was about my weight!  I'm not going to search through 10 years worth of posts, though...wait.  I can just search them by labels, if I labelled them in such a way as to be able to find them...

under the label 'diet':  there are only post from 2018, when I did the Whole30 challenge this past summer.

under the label 'food journal':  the same

and under 'healthy lifestyle':  starting in May, just before I started the Whole30.

I know, I'm not being very body positive, but it's My journey, and I get to talk about it how I like!

I'm sure I've talked about my health & happiness on this blog before, I'm just not searching in a way that's yielding results.  in any case, I weighed in at 245.2 yesterday!  the teen and I discussed what wrestling weight class that would put me in, and if we thought I could beat the guy who wrestles at that weight class in their school.  I've been drinking lemon water in the mornings, taking 10 minutes to be grateful, and doing as many sun salutations as I can - which has literally - pathetically - been one, but I think I'm going to try and push it to two soon.  I'm behind schedule because the full moon and other facts are simultaneously lighting a fire under me/holding me back, and I wanted to get to the page.  I also hadn't checked my blood in ages, so I did that, too, and it was 130 yesterday, and this morning was at 195!  so even though I don't Feel sick, or in any way affected by diabetes, it would behoove me to go back to paying more attention.  this journey on/to/through/about 50 is more than just a birthday, or 'lose 50 before 50' (which I obviously failed miserably), it's about Here I Am.  This Is Where I Find Myself - and not in the *waves hands around* like some animated hippie talking about 'finding himself, man...' way - like my physical location, in a human body, on this timeline.  I've lived by the seat of my pants; the skin of my teeth; flying by night; where the day took me; by my wit, will, and wiles.  time to...do what?  fix it?  I don't know...

I feel really positive right now - it's probably the vitamin D from the sun.  but I have been, once again, taking steps to merge the immensity of my knowledge with the smallness of my mind, and remember to take care of the simple things that can be ever so beneficial to my aging body.  my newest thing is I've been drinking hot lemon water in the morning along with taking the time to be grateful and set my intentions, doing a few (okay, one) sun salutations, taking better care of my teeth, and eating breakfast.

on one recent 'lemon water morning', I was feeling good, so I spontaneously threw in a small shot of apple cider vinegar, and a dropper-full of iodine (supports healthy thyroid function), which I assumed wouldn't taste all that grand, so I added a teaspoon of honey as well.  but Wow, it sure was a kick in the tonic!


so here's the recipe for my newly invented 'morning tonic' gleaned by searching 'best morning tonics', cross-referencing 10 different recipes, and making up one for my own.  they all included lemon and ginger, most had turmeric, some called for honey, less for syrup, some for cayenne or black pepper.  one included apple cider vinegar, one a pinch of cinnamon.  while using coconut water does sound appealing, the addition of parsley does not:

  • coconut water (optional)
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp. fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tsp. fresh grated turmeric
  • spoonful of honey (or maple syrup)
  • pinch of cayenne or black pepper
  • 1Tbs. apple cider vinegar
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • dropper of iodine (optional)

put all the ingredients in a mug, and pour almost-boiling water over it to halfway full, then add room temperature filtered water to fill the cup.  it makes a great juice with the addition of a beet, a cucumber, and a pear:  https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/the-brain-boosting-tonic-this-neurologist-drinks-every-morning

I just got my teeth cleaned, too, which is great because I'm starting to take my periodontal health more seriously, now that it's so irreversibly advanced.  so I spend about 20 minutes 'pulling' coconut oil (which is sloshing it around my mouth) before brushing and flossing regularly.  that's approximately 30 minutes to take care of my teeth each day.  I hope it helps!

I don't know what that Periodontitis tooth is so happy about...

cooking Friday dinner kicked my back out this week, so I skipped everything on Saturday (it was the teen's birthday, and we had plans that weren't going to wait for me to do my full 2 hour routine) but got right back to it the next day.  I did 2 sun salutations, even though my back is still all messed up...whatever.  I weigh a lot.  it makes me unhappy, and I believe it makes me hurt.  like my hips, after a whole day of cooking.  and then I have to be easy until I feel better so I can do it again.  I've got to get this weight off.  the yoga - I run out of breath.  I pushed myself to do the two sun salutations today because I felt it was time.  two weeks of doing one, and then my back and hips were hurting, but I pushed it, because I really didn't want to do it at all, but I didn't want to push it, but I also did want to push it, so I just did it, and that's the important part.  I've been at it for three weeks, now, and I can remember a time in the recent past when I did three, so it's time to step it up.  I proved I could drop 30 pounds in a month by simply changing my diet - if I can get my big butt moving, and on a regular basis, I can do so much more.

we did celebrate the teen's birthday - nothing elaborate, just a friend, some favorite snacks, and video games.  a moment in time.  this is happiness, to me - joy in simple pleasures.


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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

G is for...

Gratitude: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness

there's so much to be thankful for, and one of them - for me - is gardens and gardening.  I haven't had much success with fruits or veggies at my current residence, as there isn't enough sunlight that hits my porch for long enough periods of time to grow anything edible, but that doesn't mean I haven't tried, or that I don't continue to try, every spring.  posted below is an image of one of my porch gardens from several years back - it was my first try with cucumbers, and they did so well, we had wonderful homegrown cucumbers all season long.  that garden also yielded radishes, lettuce, broccoli, and one tiny green pepper.  there was tomato blight that year, so I didn't get any, though I do think I tried anyway.  that porch got great light, so it was a pretty successful garden, overall.

cucumbers growing in my porch garden

seed starts from another garden

I grew up with an appreciation for glassblowing because it was something my mother was into, and when I was in my 30's, I worked at several different glassblowing studios and galleries as a 'tour guide', sales person, and packer and shipper, though I did have opportunities to help out in the studio (stretching cane and mixing frit, mostly), and try my hand at blowing, which is much harder than it looks.

three different artists represented by some of my collection

I'm thankful for my dad - for having known someone with such a diverse and interesting history, and being related by blood to his experiences in this world.  I'm thankful for his love and guidance, his discipline and kindness, his largesse and generosity of spirit that are so much a part of who I am.  he could be a hard man, and terrifying at times, but understanding where those reactions came from helped temper his anger, and in the end, we had deep, meaningful conversations around his recognition of what he considered his failings as a parent, which came about as he watched those patterns begin to repeat in the lives of his grandchildren.  while he never met my son outside of my own dreams, or what one might consider to be psychic experiences, I use those later conversations as a way to inform my own parenting so as not to perpetuate cycles of violence in my own family.  sometimes I get it right - sometimes, I have to ask for forgiveness.  I always forgave my dad, and my teen always forgives me, too.  I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity to build on that legacy.

my father's gravestone, in the Lower Galilee of Israel

for good measure, I'm throwing in these grapes that are growing at the Israeli archeological site called Tzippori, in what had been the garden area of what is known as the Dionysus House, because they've been growing there for hundreds of years, and I have a special connection to the mythology of Dionysus, Ariadne, the Minotaur, and the Labyrinth.  I really wanted to eat one, but I was reluctant to violate the barriers of an archaeological site to satisfy my own greedy desire, so this image will have to do.  I'm simply grateful to know they are growing there, and that I not only got to see them, but share them.

grapes from a foregone era


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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

F is for...

freeze frame, Fernando Poo, Ferdinand, furby's, fungi, fur, fresh hell, figures, faithlessness, Fargo fascist, forlorn, figuratively, father, Frodo, feathers, fig, flenser, fruit, fandom, furniture, frappe, fling, feisty, familiar, flowers, falafel, frabjous, flipping flapjacks, far and away, fathom, feminine, fez, fentanyl, Fandango, fix, finish, first, fib, fire, finger, frigid, fish, for/fore/four, fop, fob, fashion, foot, forget, forge, Fosse, fumble, frisk, freestyle, footloose & fancy-free...

so I've just been brainstorming and throwing out words to play with, and I found a few images I could use for several of them, but...meh.  so I think I'm going to have to go with:

FALSEHOOD

defined as "the state of being untrue".  fully fitting, given two of the comments I received on my last ABC post that I found problematic, which one participant chose to take further, and leave a hateful comment on another post I wrote, that speaks directly and specifically to the struggles people who share my ethnicity continue to face daily (while I don't think the commenter meant to be hateful, their comment was certainly uninformed, and rude).  maybe that's why I never finished a round?  I was already finding it a bit annoying that I make the time to go around and not only read, but comment on, All the links posted - because I thought that was the point of the group share...to build community, and forge connections.  but isn't that just the story of my life?  giving my energy away for free to those who don't return it?  the nature of those comments supposes a rather narrow world-view coupled with prejudice...the misinformation, and the smugness with which they get shared makes doing the work exhausting, but proves the necessity of continuing to tell The Truth.


in any case, not that's it's my job to educate people who don't seem to take the time to educate themselves, I thought I'd use this space to respond to those comments.

  1. not knowing G*psy is a racial slur - IT IS.  period.  google "G*psy is a racial slur".  I've written about this on here before, and I suspect I will write about it again.  I have posted multiple links, multiple times.  there is no further excuse for Anyone to come on this blog and comment otherwise.  and now you know.
  2. most Romani people are settled, and have been for generations.  the hurtful/hateful negatively stereotypical myth of 'the wandering, nomadic G*psy' is a romanticized version of an entire group of people being forced to flee for their lives, over and over again, to avoid slavery, persecution, and genocide.  this falsehood also negatively affects those known as Travellers (a different ethnic group entirely, though we are frequently lumped together), who do tend to lead a nomadic lifestyle due to the nature of their work, and who suffer from laws that criminalize their traditions.
  3. claiming 'color-blindness' or an aversion to 'labels' does not relieve one of the social responsibility to recognize systemic racism, or privilege, within one's world/country/state/town/community/home/personal thoughts and practices.  we have come a long way with women's rights, civil rights, equal rights, human rights, LGBTQ and Trans rights, immigrants' rights, and the rights of those I've unintentionally left out...too far to go backwards, now.  such statements reinforce the fact that one group enjoys a certain privilege over many others - it's time for all good people to rectify that situation in every way, and that work starts at home.
  4. no one gets brownie points for pointing out how 'nice' they are - that should be the baseline across the board, not something to wave as a flag of token ally-ship.  sure, 'treat others as you would like to be treated', but in today's day and age, that means acting to tear down the systems that hold millions in a cycle of poverty and oppression.  pretending otherwise is tantamount to being complicit in these practices.
  5. insisting that there will always be prejudice in the world, and that there's no way to change it simply means, "I enjoy the benefits of a racist system, and I'm not going to do a thing to change that because my life is suitably comfortable."  humans are fully capable of making change, as we have proven time and again, and we will continue to do so, even in the face of violent attacks, and in many cases, death.  history speaks for itself.
  6. 'Classical music' is defined as a European musical tradition lasting from approximately 1750-1830.  a broader definition can reach as far back as the 1400's, but still completely negates the ancient musical traditions of Mesopotamia, India, Persia, Egypt, China, Greece, Rome, and all 54 (+2) countries on the African Continent.  to assert that classical music is the root of ALL music is an incredibly narrow view through which to be seeing, and suggests a deep lack of historical knowledge of more subjects than just music. 

I hope I've managed to let a few nuggets of information into a dark room, here, though experience teaches me it's more likely to have made some people very angry.  good.  the dominant paradigm needs to get used to both being challenged on their outdated presumptions, and feeling somewhat uncomfortable as their positions of privilege in a decaying system begin to crumble and fall.  it wasn't all fun and games for me, either, when I realized how much I benefitted from those same systems that held my friends down, but I've learned a lot, and will continue to learn more as we come together and move forward as an extended global family.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

E is for...

ELVIS!


well, he IS 'the King', after all!  my mom, like many American women her age, was/is Mad for Elvis, so I grew up listening to his music, and have seen several of his movies.  I even remember having a poster of him in my room when I was little, because my mom put it up on my wall (I guess my dad wouldn't have wanted it in their bedroom?) but I don't remember the particular image that was on it, or I'd find it to share.  once again, pulling images from my recent trip to Israel, here are the free Elvis mugs we got while enjoying lunch at the Elvis Inn in Jerusalem, the bag one of them came in, and the paper placemat that I have no idea why I saved, but I guess it was so that I could share it here for ABC Wednesday!


one side of the mugs...
...and the other!

there are some people who say that Elvis was Romani (G*psy [this word is a racial slur, but that's a different post]) - one of them is a facebook friend of mine who claims family ties - but since he's not around to confirm or deny, I don't get involved in that discussion.  there's a Whole Bunch of source material, though, in case You want to...I'll post them below.  please note that some of these articles are filled with misinformation, insensitive slurs, and outright lies.  if you're interested in learning fact from fiction, this is a good place to start.

English detail of placemat - 15 Things You Should Know About Elvis Presley

my mother and my teen hangin' with the King!


search results for 'was Elvis Romani'?

https://journeyofthegypsy.wordpress.com/2012/11/02/elvis-was-a-gypsy-or-not/

https://www.spiked-online.com/2008/07/01/elvis-in-the-ghetto-but-not-a-gypsy/

http://www.djangobooks.com/forum/discussion/7530/was-elvis-presley-roma

https://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/celebrating-indian-roots-of-charlie-chaplin-elvis-presley-116021001348_1.html


links to wikipedia entries with reliable source material:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Romani_people

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romani_people

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Romani_people


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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

D is for...


Dogs

we are dog people from way back.  I grew up hearing stories about my great grandfather's dogs - the best of which was a German Shepard by the name of Duchess, mother to my grandparents' dog Lady, with whom my mother grew up.  my father worked as a shepherd as a young teen, and while I didn't hear any stories of those dogs, I remember an old picture of my father out in the fields, with his rifle, and his German Shepard.  when my dad came to the U.S. with my mother, who was in her final month of pregnancy with me, they moved in with her parents, and that first night, settling into bed next to my mom, Ayesha - the German Shepard who was part of the family at that time - got up on the bed and stood over my dad, staring him down.  apparently, that was Her spot on the bed, and as nothing about him smelled at all recognizable, she was Not in any way ready to permit him to sleep in the bed next to her humans' adult pregnant child.  my father, understanding innately, took the hint and slept on the floor.  after that, he won Ayesha's respect, and was allowed to sleep in the bed next to his wife.

Ayesha

Ayesha was the first dog I knew and loved.  according to family 'legend', she was my self-appointed protector, and when they brought me home from the hospital, she stationed herself under my crib and let no one enter the room unless they were accompanied by my mother.  she also taught me how to walk by standing slowly while I had my tiny baby hands in her long, beautiful hair, and supporting me while I took one tentative step after another.  her long hair was considered some kind of genetic 'flaw' to the breeders my grandparents adopted her from (distant cousins), and they only let her be adopted under the condition that they would never 'show' her in any dog competitions, which they of course promised not to do.  none of their dogs were ever 'shown', and it always hurt to think that if my grandparents hadn't given her a home, she may well have been 'destroyed' for her 'flaw'.  she was an angel, and it broke my heart when she died, when I was still a kid in grade school.  it was the first death of anyone I loved that I experienced, and to this day, I clearly remember being at dinner at my grandparents' house, and suddenly realizing that I hadn't seen her, and asking, "where's Ayesha?", to be answered by that uncomfortable silence, and somehow knowing she was gone in that moment before they told me.

Dumbo Barley

we got our own puppy when I was very little - two or three - whom we named Dumbo for his big ears.  he was a mutt from somewhere in the neighborhood, but he was the Best dog!  sweet and gentle, loyal to a fault.  he was trained by my dad to protect us, and I 'pitied the fool' who tried to mess with any of us unaware (no one did).  there were two people Dumbo didn't like, and they were not invited back to our home as a result - one was a little girl in my class, who ended up getting into serious trouble as we grew up, and we insensitively joked that "Dumbo knew, even back then".  the other was a land developer that was trying to sell my parents some land to build a house on - and our well-trained dog could hardly be controlled to keep from attacking that man.  needless to say...my parents chose not to deal with him, and the house that was eventually built on that land sank into the swamp hiding beneath it.  by the time I was in high school, Dumbo - who had dutifully waited at the door for us kids to get off the school bus, jumping with joy each afternoon - couldn't get up off his rug to come see us as we came rushing in to pet him where he lay whining and wagging his tail, ears flat against his head, eyes full of love, to welcome his teenagers home.  he was our fuzzy brother, and his passing left us all with a hole in our hearts.

Sheba & Yaffa

after Ayesha, my grandparents brought home sister-puppies Sheba & Yaffa.  Yaffa died quite young (I don't remember why), but Sheba was with us for years, though she was always a bit melancholy after her sister died.  she was the last dog my grandparents had.  and even though we decided we didn't want a puppy after Dumbo died, my dad came home from shopping with my mom one weekend with big, baby eyes, saying he'd seen a puppy, and wanted us kids to come see it with him while my mom stomped angrily around the house saying she didn't want another dog.  she did eventually, she just wasn't ready for one that day, but my dad got his way, and brought home Misty.  I moved out of my parents house a few years after that, so though they had another dog - Kushi - after Misty was gone, I didn't really know him past being my buddy when I went to visit.  I found out while living alone in my first apartment how much I missed having a pet, but knew I couldn't keep a dog in a third-floor walk-up when I was out working most of the day, and partying half the night, so I started to have cats as pets, instead.  I wrote a post for the cats I have known, and I considered sharing them last week for 'C', but it seemed like a cop-out to just repost an older essay, so I figured I'd share it here as a footnote.

Misty


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