Sturm und drang. So throw me a donut.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Hiatus is over

It wasn't a conscious decision...more of a roll-with-the-punches kind of vacation. So, it's time to start blogging on a regular basis, which means getting off my ass and writing with a purpose. Ready?!

Friday, August 2, 2013

More subliminal musings...

Another great list of words from lunanina.  If you haven't tried this word game, do it!


I say ... and you think ... ?
  1. Packing :: I will never pack and move again...I will however have a fire and "lose" all but my most important belongings.
  2. Rent :: That's what I do. I'm not owning a house for a good, long while.
  3. Inspire :: Those things I want to do, read, see, hear and experience over and over again.
  4. Anti-social :: Me.
  5. Common :: All sorts of "common" flowers are really beautiful if you give them a chance.
  6. Repeats :: When I forget what I just said.
  7. Dracula :: An apt name for the some of the people in business and politics who believe that most of us have too much and really don't need what we have so just have us pay more taxes to make up for all the tax loopholes and tax breaks.
  8. Cross :: Criss
  9. Short sighted :: Either an idiot or someone who needs glasses. You choose.
  10. Corrupt :: A great way to describe someone who isn't doing what you *think* they should do. /sarcasm.

How Many Days?

School starts in 24 days. God help me. I can't wait to get my youngest kid out of the house and back to school...but it means *I* start back to work, too. Sigh. I'm glad I have a job, but I really love being at home. I get to sleep in (sometimes...when no one needs a ride to work because they didn't get up early enough to WALK to work which is why they got a job close by), I get to stay up late watching movies, I can go swimming in the pool at midnight (as long as security hasn't locked the gates which seems to happen only on weekends - thank you college students in the apartment complex), and I can drink enough coffee to stay up until 4 a.m. to listen to Coast to Coast with George Noory and laugh myself silly.

We have visitors until Thursday. They are here to see my kids...friends of theirs from the last town we lived in. Five days too long, IMHO. I'm not a good house guest and I'm an even worse hostess. They are staying in a hotel, but that means I get to look forward to people knocking on my door every damn morning. See?! I keep having this dream that I go to a retreat of some sort for six months and no one talks to me. And then I wake up. South Texas is a long way from my imaginary retreat in the mountains somewhere up north. And by north, I mean Rocky Mountains-British Columbia north.

My in-laws are supposed to planning a trip to see us next March for our spring break. They are trying to decide a) how to travel down here and b) where to stay. I think they should a) take the train down and fly home because that's what my mother-in-law wants and they aren't getting any younger and b) they need to stay in a nice hotel right downtown to see the River Walk and all the touristy stuff without having to wait for someone to drive them around. If only it was this easy. After three months, they still can't make decisions because a) my father-in-law doesn't want to spend FOUR DAYS on a train with NOTHING TO DO and b) he doesn't want to spend more than $60 a night on a hotel. Trust me, they can easily afford this trip. I've sent them links and information and pamphlets and stuff to help...but oh my lord there is too much to be mulled over until it feels like they are beating a dead horse. So. Here's to seeing them next spring :)

And, I can't seem to remember to TILT. I'll have to get that on my calendar. It's good for me. I tend to be broody and bitchy and all that happy shit so I need to focus on the good things, too. But you won't catch me being all happy and shit. But this picture does make me happy...


Thursday, July 25, 2013

TILT for the first time in a loooong time!

Things I Love Thursday - TILT - is a way to give thanks for the good things in life. And a way to ferret out those positive things that get lost in all the angst. It's simple.


I Love:

My pool. I live in an apartment complex, so someone else takes care of the pool. There are trees around it so it's private and cool in the evenings.

The breeze. There was a breeze for a little while today. I really miss the wind. I love the sound of it in the trees, rushing around the corner of the house, and messing up my hair.

One year of peace. Although we are struggling through state tests to keep our jobs (which I'm sure we'll pass...but still...TESTS) this past year has been pretty nice. No one calls our phones unless they know us and want to talk to us. Weekends are free of obligations. We rarely bring home any work because it all gets done at work.

We met a new couple at the pool. She was an arborist, now retired, and her partner is still working. They are nice, intelligent, and hate the state governor as much as we do. Well, hate might be too strong of a word...Loathe? Dislike? Oh, what the hell; hate it is. The cool thing is, we could talk with them for hours. We'll have to have them over for dinner.

I can apply for jobs. For realz. I have skillz and a degree and shit. Getting a new job is another story, but OPTIONS are a new and wonderful thing.

Breaking Bad is starting again soon. Just thought I'd throw that out there. I am d.y.i.n.g. to see what happens. I really want Walt to win. Deep down, I think I could make choices like that, too. I have a secret list of things to do if I ever find out I'm terminally ill and I have decades of rage to fuel me. I love stories that give people the chance to break out of the ordinary and do something extraordinary.

Anthony Weiner. The gift that keeps on giving to comedians. And such an unfortunate last name. Or maybe it's appropriate. Let's see if he gets the votes for mayor of NYC.

And, it's payday. Who doesn't love payday?!



Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Junk Food for Dinner

Take in the simple beauty that was my dinner yesterday:
 
 
 

 
 
 


This is my dinner today in celebration of National Hotdog Day. Notice the artistic presentation of food and tableware, perched on my cheap stove, so that I can continue to cook tasty tidbits for my family. I chose a lower-carb combination of classic American food by eating the haute dogs without the customary buns (plus, it's 150 degrees outside, with the humidity hovering somewhere around "instantly drown if you take a deep breath" so I'm not going to the grocery store to buy the damn buns). The mystery meat cost me $.88 for the package, breaking down to $.11 per haute dog. The potato salad was specially made in a factory somewhere in Texas, no doubt by migrant labor that Republicans tell us are taking jobs away from law abiding citizens, but the price was GREAT. That little blob of mustard-y, potato-y goodness cost me about $.15. I anticipate that if I eat this kind of food once per day for the rest of my life, I will live to be 120 years old as I preserve myself from the inside out with all the additives and chemicals. Better health through better chemistry!

Sometimes, I just want to eat junk.


 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July!




No matter how tattered or worn, this flag represents the idea of a place where people can work toward a better future for themselves and their families. Remember all those who made a gift of this place to us and let's pay it forward.
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Monday, July 1, 2013

I love this game...

I've missed this game for several weeks now...so I'm catching up. You can catch up at LunaNina and play this game too!


I say ... and you think ... ?

1.  Pillow :: What I should have under my head as I'm sleeping...but instead I'm sitting straight up in bed because my husband is awake and mad at me. Well, not awake in the normal sense, but rather "awake" as in his eyes were open but no one was home.

He woke me up by grabbing my arm and said "I just had the weirdest dream. You left me because I decided to go into politics and run for office cuz someone has to beat Rick Perry."
I said, "Couldn't you just beat him with a stick?"
He said, "You were mad at me because I needed $1,000 to run for office."
I said, "I'm mad at you for NOT. BEING. ASLEEP." 


 He takes sleep meds for his insomnia, and the little blue pill kicked in HARD last night. After I rolled over and stopped talking to him, he started mumbling about how we needed to start raising money because someone has to get that s.o.b. out of office and we need to form an action committee and I need to have a platform...

 God almighty. I couldn't get back to sleep until Mr. Mumbles stopped making evil plans to take over the world.


2.  Calendar :: That thing I hang up on my wall every January and then promptly forget to turn at the end of each month. I really love winter, so maybe I'm subliminally willing winter to stay until June.


3.  Melissa ::  Third grade. I think that's the last time I knew a Melissa.


4.  Notebook ::  The. Nicholas Sparks movies are my guilty pleasure! I only watch them when no one is at home.


 5.  Circumstance :: That thing which, although invisible and subject to interpretation, foils some of my best laid plans. Like today: It was supposed to be 94 degrees, but just as we were leaving to go swimming in the river, the clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped to 82 degrees. I have acclimated surprisingly well to hot weather, so I was chilly at 82 degrees as soon as the slightest breeze began to blow. Jesus, take me now. I have it written into my living will that if I involuntarily turn into a Southerner and cannot tolerate temperatures below 75 degrees (because I'm certainly NOT doing it on purpose) the plug must be pulled forthwith.


6.  Technical :: That part of my degree which makes it practical: English - Technical Writing.


7.  Bracket :: I have four wind chimes hanging from old plant brackets on my deck. It's the only thing I've done to decorate outside.


8.  Horror :: Movies. Are there any other kind?! The Chiller Channel is a work of art. I remember, somewhere around 1980, when my sister and I were camped out in the living room after midnight to watch Salem's Lot on TV. We were living in an apartment with wasp paper for walls and our neighbor heard the movie from our tv loud and clear. During a really scary part, he snuck up to our front door and pounded on it just as Mr. Barlow bared his fangs and pounced on some poor sucker and killed him. I've never been the same since.


9.  Pink :: My least favorite color.


10. Polish :: Sausage. My mother went through a phase where we had to have polish sausage and sauerkraut for dinner once a week. I hated it. I hated everything about it. I ate one bite to keep her happy and then glowered at my dinner plate for the rest of the meal. One night, mom got mad and lectured me about eating the sausage, while at the same time she was trying to squeeze some mustard out of the French's Mustard bottle onto her dinner plate. There must have been a chunk of dried mustard stuck in the spout because no matter how hard she shook that bottle and squeezed it, nothing came out. Mom gave the bottle one last mighty shake and squeeze, which popped off the entire lid, and a good half cup of mustard splashed down on her plate and spattered all over her chest and face like a Pollock painting.

Friday, June 28, 2013

More subliminal messages...


Go here to play this game...



I say ... and you think ... ?
  1. Tears :: of a clown. Seriously. I just had a vivid picture of a velvet painting of clowns sitting around a poker table smoking cigars and swigging beer...and the one clown with the upside down smile is losing.
  2. Press :: Freedom of. Unbiased. Just the facts. Human stories. Oh, wait. Do we have this anymore?
  3. Rowboat :: I'm going swimming today because it is 100 degrees and I'm on vacation!
  4. Society :: I'd like to find my own niche in society.
  5. Magazine :: I used to have 2 or 3 subscriptions at any one time. Now I can't remember the last time I even picked one up to read from the grocery store. I'd like to know how some of them get away with the headlines they write on the covers...
  6. Mars :: If there was a spot for me, I'd go tomorrow.
  7. Gone bad :: Starting to turn.
  8. Celebrity :: When all it takes is a sex tape, I don't think this word can be taken seriously anymore.
  9. Umbrella :: I don't use one anymore. In south Texas, if it is raining, it is a downpour.
  10. Core :: Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

God's Country Say What?

It's supposed to be 100 degrees in south Texas today. I melted into my couch just a little bit as I typed that sentence. My $155 electric bill from last month is already laughing at the new power bill that will arrive in my mailbox in a few weeks. I might have to start selling off extra body parts to pay for my air conditioning. Anyone need some fat to make soap? A kidney? In the meantime, it's 74 degrees and raining gently in western Washington. Their biggest worry is some million-dollar mansion sliding down a saturated hillside. But I guess it's all about perspective.

We went to a barbeque last week and sat outside around the fire pit with friends from work and their family. It was in the 90's but - yes - we sat around a fire. Someone said something about this being God's country and I politely nodded in agreement...but on the inside I was not convinced. What, exactly, makes a place God's country?





I love to read the newspapers of places where I've lived. I feel like I'm keeping up on people and events that I cared about...until too much time has passed. I was just reading the newspaper for Port Townsend, Washington. I barely feel a connection to PT anymore. When I read the captions below the pictures, I look for surnames that I recognize and then wonder if these are the children of people I went to high school with decades ago. At one point, I might have called that place God's country, but now it feels like I'm looking into a stranger's home through their kitchen window. I don't know anyone and I don't recognize the faces in the room. If I lived there, what would I be doing for a living? Who would I be married to? Where would I live? At one point in time, I wanted to stay there, but once I left to go to college there never seemed to be a way to go back. Life moved on like a swift river.





My family and I have moved around quite a bit over the last 20 years. The two places we lived the longest are in Washington and Oregon; yet they are places we can't go back to because of the lack of employment. One of the things this recession has done - along with the rise of the $10 an hour job and fall of unionized manufacturing and family wage jobs - is create a class of rootless people. I used to think our roots were in the Pacific Northwest, but no longer. Along with countless others, we have moved for the jobs. Texas is one place where there are a lot of jobs, but not an over-abundance of high paying jobs. It takes a lot of work to find a good job. I have no problem with that, so here we are in Texas - the antithesis of the PNW tree hugging hippies - where good Republicans have hunkered down and are determined to keep fighting the good fight. Is this God's country? Maybe it depends on what you think God is saying...

So, as we were sitting around the fire at the barbeque, eating steak and beans, throwing scraps to the lurking dogs and getting to know each other, I looked at the fields surrounding the house. The live oak trees were magnificent, the grass was tall from all the rain and a breeze kept the flies away. Maybe this is all we need. I used to love the lack of roots for my family, thinking that our life together was an adventure; and it has been an adventure.




But eventually, we all run out of road, slow down and have to settle wherever that road has taken us. Never in a million years would I have guessed south Texas. No ocean beaches (don't get me started on the Gulf), no 120-foot fir trees, no mountains with snow on them all summer, and just two seasons: Hot and cool.

What we do have are paychecks, a place to live, an abundance of schools and an abundance of jobs for our children. Perhaps it's dependability, that what we need is going to be here for as long as we want it, that makes a place God's country. Owning 60 acres, planning out where the cattle will graze, building a fire pit at the edge of the lawn for barbeques, and watching the sun rise, pass over and set on your own land is enough to make someone feel like this is a place unlike any other.




Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Finding the Things I Want

You know that feeling of possibility when you turn in an application for a job that is meant to be yours? Yeah. That's how I feel. But then the rational part of my mind says odds are you won't even get a phone call.

I was talking to someone last night who applied for the same job and my fantasy of more money and a better job evaporated. That person has way more to offer; more degrees, more experience, more answers to the questions that will be asked in an interview.

I hate it when I feel like this.

So, I wrote a couple of story pitches and felt a little bit better. And next week I start my volunteer work with a local animal shelter where I will not only play with dogs and cats but have the opportunity to write copy for animals up for adoption. This makes me feel happier than any other job I've applied for lately. I guess I know where my heart wants to be, while my brain just wants to make more money.

Since the end of April, when I last posted, I've been doing a lot of soul searching. May was a month of insanity at work; too much to do and not enough people to get it all done. But did I really love what I was doing? Not really. I felt like I was just treading water and not really contributing anything of worth. June didn't improve, until now that I'm on vacation. One of the traps I fall into easily is making the mistake of thinking that just because I can do a job well that this is the job I have to keep. I'm lucky I have a job, but there has to be something more waiting for me...somewhere...

Monday, April 29, 2013

Doodles

What passes for spring in south Texas is a real learning experience. I could whine about how it's not like Washington and how much I miss having four seasons and low humidity; not to mention real mountains and the Pacific ocean just a few hours away from my old home...but I won't. I was told recently that to really appreciate Texas, I have to look at the ground.



Flower name unknown. I will have to get a wildflower book.

Right now, it is mild and there has been enough rain for the grass to turn green and the wildflowers to bloom. When I moved here last August, it was HOT, dry and brown. Only the trees had green leaves outside of the irrigated landscapes. Just a few weeks ago, the edges of the highways were just sprouting green and then boom! the wildflowers bloomed. 




Wildflowers are hopeless optimists. Every year they bloom and spread their seeds.
 
I used to live in a house on a hillside overlooking a tulip bulb farm in Washington. The first year I lived there, I was mesmerized with gazing over the explosion of yellows, reds and oranges from my deck. Sitting on the deck with a cup of coffee and my dogs on a Saturday morning, as the sun rose over the mountains to the east and flooded the tulip fields with soft, spring sun, was like a living vision of Monet. The heavy green of the woods, the purple and white foxgloves springing up on tall stalks and bursting with conical blooms, blooming blackberry vines, wild rose bushes, buttercups, daisies...and then on the valley floor row after row of vibrant colors. Doesn't everyone live like this?

 
 
 
 
I like to take blurry pictures with good form and play with them. Holding flowers up against the sky can show different details.  


I will have to look down, take my time and learn to appreciate subtler things. And learn to appreciate different things, like cotton fields and live oak trees. Trees that don't shed their leaves in the fall are disorienting...




 
 ...as is looking down and seeing a cactus in bloom. The cactuses are fat and colorful from all the rain and cool weather. I can imagine them all thinking what a good deal this is as they store up water against the long, hot summer; like I have stored up my memories of a cooler, gentler place.
 
 
 


Sunday, April 21, 2013

LunaNina!


I say ... and you think ... ?  This is a game from LunaNina that uses free association with words to have a little fun. Try it!
  1. Pork :: Bacon bacon bacon! Is there anything better than bacon?! I know, it's almost a cliche to love bacon...but I LOVE BACON.
  2. Work :: The necessary evil that pays the bills. I'm still looking for a job that doesn't feel like a job, that doesn't degenerate into a five-days-a-week obligation where I watch the clock sit at     2 p.m. for an eternity every afternoon. Don't get me wrong; I'm grateful and happy to have a job...I'd just like something better eventually.
  1. International :: If only I had a current passport.
  2. Board :: of directors? silly? Oh, no, that would be bored. Diving board, running board, skate board...
  3. Idea :: Yes. I have one. I'm saving it for tomorrow.
  4. Spinning :: In circles. Life is like that sometimes.
  5. Relations :: People I don't live near anymore. Maybe a few of them will visit...but Texas is a looong way from just about everywhere else in the U.S.
  6. Dresser :: I regret buying oak dressers for my bedroom. Beautiful but so heavy when we move.
  7. Poster :: Girl for inappropriate language today. Shit. I forgot to throw in another load of laundry...
  8. Inappropriate :: Saying shit. Or saying "shit."

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A little something

My father passed away on March 3rd, twenty six days before my 44th birthday. We were not close and we had not had a meaningful conversation in at least a decade. All sorts of stupid things got in the way and now all those things are completely meaningless. Now I have a mother who is trying to figure out what to do with the rest of her life since she no  longer has someone to take care of and share a home with. Will she finally reach out to me and salvage something of our relationship?

I should have demanded that my parents put aside all the junk and just be parents and grandparents. Regardless of what happened in the past, I was willing to just let things be and at least pretend things were okay enough to have a relationship with me, my husband and our children.

I think by saying that it was nothing personal to myself is a lie. I think by saying get over it is useless. And I think continuing to feel like I, as an adult, should just let the past be the past is both mature and insensitive...to myself.

I once had a professor in a writing class tell me that my mother was emotionally abusive. No one has ever said that to me. Is it true? That's the real question now that I'm left with the parent around whom all the mess of my feelings revolve.

*********************************************************************************

In June of 2012, my father went to his doctor because of a sharp and unrelenting pain in his back. My father had a large aortic aneurysm that just happened to be pressing on a bundle of nerves. Surgery was scheduled for that afternoon and the aneurysm was fixed. However, my father caught a strep infection in the hospital. Before the infections was detected and treated, it attacked his heart and lungs and caused congestive heart failure. Well, that's the short explanation; throw in 30 years of smoking, too. This was a chain of horrible events that came out of nowhere. It would have been much kinder to just die of a burst aneurysm.

My husband and I went to visit my father in the hospital. It had been over ten years since I'd seen my parents, and it was awful, painful and awkward. What I saw was a stranger who sounded like my father but didn't look like the man I remembered. When I saw him make familiar gestures and use familiar phrases, it was both comforting and unreal. What I saw was a skeleton and a ghost of what my father had been. He had lost so much weight and looked so fragile and afraid in that hospital bed that it was hard for me to connect that physical person with my memories of my father.

Congestive heart failure is a terrible thing to endure. Slowly drowning is an unfathomably cruel fate. My father's death took nine months. Sorting out my regrets, my memories, and where I go from here will take much longer.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Winter...

The season I don't have:
 
 
I miss the cold wind
the chilblains and frostbite,
snot frozen on my scarf and
scratching my face as I walk,
frisky dogs panting steam and
begging me to hurry up and stop taking pictures already!
 
 
 
And then there's the snow and ice
wiping out visible landmarks and creating
new vistas,
ephemeral and magical,
once seen and then gone,
and I never know how to make others understand
how much life there is when everything contracts and
waits for spring.
 
 
 
The deeper the cold,
the bluer the sky,
the deeper the snow and
the thicker the ice,
the more alive I feel.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

This week, from the bowels of my mind...

To play, just click to go to Lunanina.


Week 524

I say ... and you think ... ?
  1. Massage :: What? Strangers touching me?! The horror, the HORROR!
  2. Financial advice :: You. Are. Screwed. Prepare to work until the day you die. Doesn't exactly make me want to live to 100...What if death-by-chocolate really is a viable way to end it all?
  3. Guide :: Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: Would it really matter if the planet was blown up?
  4. Packing :: UHaul. The bane of my existence.
  5. Trombone :: I started playing it in 5th grade. Continued through high school. I just donated it to Goodwill a year ago. What I loved about it was the deep, mellow tones. But I hated the spit valve.
  6. Water cooler :: Office Space. Pieces of Flair. Swingline Staplers in Red. Horrible Bosses.
  7. Delivery :: It's all about the delivery. Don't let them smell your fear.
  8. Smoke :: I just watched "Thank You for Smoking" and I still dearly love that movie.  
  9. Cane :: When I'm 80 years old, I will have a cane and I will use it on people who piss me off.
  10. Suitcase :: That story about the rocket man, by Ray Bradbury, where he longs for home when he's gone, but longs for space when he's there. And his son sneaks his dad's uniform out of the suitcase to touch it and smell it to try to understand where his father has been.

Shot down in flames...

The arthritis doctor totally shot down the "leaky gut syndrome" theory. I half way expected that. I respect this doctor and moved this theory even farther down on my list of things to do. Is it worth the time, energy and money to change our diets this radically? Probably not. Realistic, small changes and small choices made day by day will probably be just as effective. Why someone's immune system gets so out of whack that it attacks him or her is still a mystery.

What this really reveals is my momentary wishful thinking that there's solution to my question: Why him? Why this disease? That's the danger of publishing articles about one person's supposed - and maybe accidental - solution to his or her problem. I realized when I was reading the article that one or two people finding a cure to a disease that plagues millions is not representative of a real solution. It was an accident, a coincidence, or maybe a real solution specific to only one person. That's not a cure. But there's always that tiny voice that says, "It might work."

As I perused websites on gluten-free and refined-sugar-free foods and recipes, the marketing of this lifestyle was pretty slick. Beat cancer! Lose weight! Cure arthritis! Look younger! Live longer! Feel younger! There is a grain of truth in all of this...but a whole lotta wishful thinking, too. It's marketing. Play up to the current, trendy fears. Show pictures of people who achieve the ideal along with slogans and quotes that make this achievable and relatable...It is so easy to get sucked into a dream, isn't it?

But here's something that really hit home while I was perusing recipes online...there are plenty of articles on "the end of the era of cheap food." What?! No more walmart prices on food shipped from the other side of the planet so I can have whatever I want whenever I want? The continued drought conditions in Texas - where more cattle are raised for slaughter than anywhere else in the country - have caused cattle ranchers to cull herds or go out of business. Smaller herds destined for market equals higher beef prices. And that's just one example. 

So while I'm still contemplating making small, weekly changes to our diets, the reality is that I might not be able to afford some of the foods that promise to boost our health. The luxury of adding berries and fresh vegetables in place of cheaper starches could become a luxury I can't afford.

But ironically, I can afford arthritis medication thanks to insurance and a co-pay program from the makers of humira. Twelve hundred dollars a month on their part, five dollars on mine and to hell with worrying about what we eat, right?

My favorite line from the movie "Cloud Atlas" keeps reverberating through my head:

Soylent Green is made of People!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Subliminal messages waiting to be found...

Lunanina, as always click the link to see the game for yourself!

Week 523

I say ... and you think ... ?
  1. Baked :: The Dude abides.
  2. Excited :: Can't sleep!
  3. Print :: My favorite book store and the library.
  4. Obstruct :: That jerk who won't let me do what I want to do.
  5. Bladder :: What gets me up at 4 a.m.
  6. Matrimony :: Twenty-two years!
  7. Car :: I want a new one but I won't get one until I get a better job.
  8. Reconstruct :: tummy tuck: I want one.
  9. Lenses :: Dark sunglasses are the best. I wear them all the time.
  10. Best for last :: Really, why wait? Why not have the best all the time?

Leaky Guts and Arthritis

In between grocery shopping and getting ready for the work week, I've been ignoring all the football crap and trolling online newspapers for interesting articles. I found one article, here in the New York Times, about a young boy who developed idiopathic arthritis and went through some pretty rough medical treatments before his parents found a better way to help him.

I perked up, sat up straight in my chair and read it carefully...my husband has psoriatic arthritis with no known cause. He has no genetic markers, no physical changes in the spine, and his sudden and severe onset was far from normal. We think that stress brought it on, although what could have been leading his body toward this arthritis is unknown...but maybe we have a partial answer now.

The article I read was about Leaky Gut Syndrome. Basically, the intestinal walls become "leaky" through repeated bouts of inflammation and start allowing toxins, undigested fats, bacteria, etc. to get into the body. The inflammation may be caused by gluten intolerance, or eating lots of refined foods and refined sugar. This "leakiness" eventually leads to the immune system getting out of control and attacking various parts of the body. The gut is the largest immune system organ, so if things are going wrong it seems to lead to serious illnesses. You can read more about it here. I am using this website as a base from which to compare other sources of information because there's nothing wacky on it. Just a few minutes with google, and I found all sorts of sites trying to sell me something. WebMD doesn't have much to say, since this is a "gray area."

Well, okay. Gray area it is. I'm going to move forward with the premise that gluten and sugar might be a problem for my husband. In the NYT article, when gluten, dairy, refined sugar and refined foods were removed from each child's diet, the arthritis went into remission or became controllable through diet alone.

My question is: Will a change in diet targeting possible allergy-causing foods help after having had arthritis for over a decade? We decided to take a measured approach and start cutting out the obvious sources of refined sugar and begin replacing gluten in our diets (it'll be a joint project because I'm not cooking special meals just for one person!). I bought probiotics and digestive enzymes at the store today. And he will chart his pain and inflammation as we make progress on changing what we eat.

Arthritis is such a bitch to deal with: Expensive medication, insurance companies digging in their heels and trying to find a way to get out of paying for it, and the anxiety over what activities will bring on too much pain are just a few things arthritis sufferers have to live with. Maybe using this theory of illness as our guide will help my husband change the way his immune system is attacking his body.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

What I did over the weekend...

I'm eyeball deep in the third season of 24. There's nothing like hours and hours and hours of Keifer Sutherland's deep, gritty voice saying things like:

Do you understand?
 
Put the cuffs on!
 
Trust me!
 
I don't have time to explain!
 
Yes, sir, Mr. President (as he gets ready to shoot his own boss in the head).

And then there's Downton Abbey. Holy Cats! Lady Sybil, Edith, Ethel! I love a good costume drama. Imagine if Downton Abbey was more like 24...

Anna would be threatening people with a knife to their throats to make them tell the truth about how Bates' ex-wife died.

Mary would be planning a covert operation to murder and replace key members of Parliament in order to change the law and allow her to un-entail DA and inherit it lock, stock, barrel and squirrely valet who is not-so-secretly gay.

And speaking of Thomas, he would be using unlimited amounts of chloroform to knock out the new footman so he can ravish him under the stairway.

Lady Cora would finally have a reason for rolling her eyes and pointing her chin at the floor every time she stops to say something profound: She is also listening to a live feed of Matthew in the basement beating and interrogating one of the servants over the disappearance of a bottle of expensive wine...

Tell me where the wine is! (Screams of agony) I know you know where the wine is! (More screams and the sound of handcuffs grinding against a metal pipe as the unlucky servant tries to get away) I know you know who knows where the wine is! The Bishop dines with us in an hour! I need that wine! (A scream and then a gurgle of words)
Lady Cora, I have located the wine.

Edith would be collecting intel on all available bachelors in the area whilst Lady Violet would be busy making sure everyone is following protocol and getting their assignments.

Daisy would be a mole for a shady terrorist organization and Ethel would be using prostitution as a cover for hunting the mole...

Ah well. I can't have everything...

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I say, you think

As always, go to subliminal lunanina if you want to see more, or to participate in this word association game.

I say ... and you think ... ?
  1. Offered :: Do you offer without expectations? Or is it all about what you'll get in return?
  2. Center :: The middle, able to change course, flexible, keeping options open.
  3. Benefit :: What I pay for.
  4. Yay! :: Momentary happiness.
  5. Wonderful :: When I don't know what else to say, I pull out a word like this.
  6. Currently :: Captain Literal says: Currently (as if not everyone is aware we exist in the present) it is raining outside.
  7. Resignation :: A painful admission that not everything is working out.
  8. Testing :: Life is a test.
  9. Strangely :: Truth is stranger than fiction - a cliche I use.
  10. Clinic :: Dog clinic for behavior problems. That's what I'd like to do for a living.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

I say, you think...

"Rules are, there are no rules. There are no right or wrong answers. Don't limit yourself to one word responses; just say everything that pops into your head."  To play this word association game, go to lunanina.com  and have fun!

Week 520

I say ... and you think ... ?
  1. Lizard ::  My little buddies who live in my garage, eating ants and bugs.
  2. Swimming pool ::  That thing I've never had, that thing I don't want, that thing my kids want more than anything in the world so their friends can come over every. single. day.
  3. Tank ::   Cattle tank out in the field, with water pumped into it by an old windmill that squeaks as it turns in the hot, summer breeze.
  4. Horrible ::  Eighty percent of the free books for Kindle.
  5. Cabbage ::  Stuffed cabbage leaves, kimchee, coleslaw, stir fry...I'm the only one in my family who eats it. Jerks.
  6. Pet ::  Sasha, Erin, Skipper, Emma, Tucker...
  7. Photography ::  Only the only thing I'd love to do for a living.
  8. 1970 ::  Bad clothes, until they became retro, Bad hair, until those styles became retro, and Bad cars with bad gas mileage until they rusted out and went to the junk yard.
  9. Ornate ::  Too busy for my eyes.
  10. Turkey ::  I forgot to take it out of the freezer to thaw out for the big day...so we had it for New Year's Day instead.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Caution! Excessive Reading Causes Stys!

Well, at least for me it does. I have a nice, big sty building up under my right eye. That word never looks right...

Sty

      Sti

           Sties?

                Stys!

Over my two-week break for the holidays, I made good use of the public library. I am a HUGE advocate of public libraries. When we move to a new town, the first thing I do is make everyone in the house get a library card. Just think, I tell my boys as they slouch out to the car and act all cool and offended that they have to go to the library, free books, free dvds, free books on cd...you name it! And then they get their cards, find some cool movies and go home happy.

I decided to read for my two-week vacation and this is what I chose:

The Memoir Project by Marion Roach Smith -

This is a very non-standard and practical approach to writing. I loved it! The last page is a punch list, which I copied and added my own notes to for future reference. The best bit from this book: This is what my piece is about (general theme)___________________,  and this story of mine (focused illustration)_______________________ is how I'll illustrate it. It helps to keep a story focused and to cut out all the extraneous junk.


Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier -

The story of frontier America when the frontier was just west of the Appalachian Mountains. It's historical fiction and revolves around the character of Will Cooper, who is sold into indentured servitude to run a trading post in the wilderness of western North Carolina. Through Will, we get a fascinating picture of what it was like to see this country grow and move west. 
(This is the author of Cold Mountain)


Nightwoods by Charles Frazier -

A single woman finds herself raising her murdered sister's young children...children who are badly damaged by what they've seen. It is small-town North Carolina in the 1960's. One of the beauties of this book is what it doesn't say. There's no long, involved discussions of the children or what she's going to do with them, which makes it all feel very real and immediate.


Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell -

Written in the 1860's, this is a novel about people and their lives in early 1800's England. I've never been a fan of books written in this time period because I often found myself bogged down with the endless descriptions and even more endless discussions between characters. But either I've matured or else this book strikes just the right balance between description, discussion and brevity. More likely, I've just grown up! It's also fascinating to learn about the rigid social rules young ladies of a certain class had to live by. I would've been run out of town on a rail or burned at the stake as a witch! Anyway, at 652 pages, it's not a quick read, but I was enthralled with the lives of Cynthia and Molly from beginning to end. And thank dog I don't have to change my clothes six times a day!


The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury -

I first read a giant doorstop of a book called "The Short Stories of Ray Bradbury" when I was in high school. A good deal of the stories from "The Martian Chronicles" are in that book. However, not all of them and it's not arranged the same way. "The Martian Chronicles" is arranged chronologically, and some of the stories are short bridges to the next story...making it read more like a journal; if Mars kept a journal. No one can touch Bradbury in creating a nostalgic, magical and golden world in his work. I also read part of "Dandelion Wine," but I didn't finish it because someone else wanted to read it.

Plus, I threw in a few trashy novels (mostly ★ just for effort) on Kindle. I got the Kindle for PC app and it's great. There's a lot of free stuff to download and read, it you're willing to troll through all the really bad romance novels. Hint: If a book is offered for FREE, there's probably a good reason!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Escape

 

 
 
Really, it's the little things that keep me amused. If I owned the fields behind this sign, I'd put up scarecrows in orange jumpsuits. Scarecrows with pitchforks and chainsaws (made out of cardboard, of course) just to keep people on their toes.
 
In other news, I ended my vacation from unpacking, repacking and rearranging boxes in my apartment and the garage. Our apartment has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a kitchen/dining/living room. We don't have a lot of extra space with four people living here. So, we rented a garage in the complex. A few days ago, my husband and I finished repacking all our stuff into plastic bins and moved in the last large piece of furniture: our second bedroom dresser. According to my sons, who helped carry it up to our second floor apartment, the dresser weighs 10,000 pounds. Every time we move, I have fresh regrets over buying any furniture made out of real wood. But since the garage isn't sealed off from bugs or humidity, everything worth more than a few dollars has to be in the apartment. Such is life. I'm going to bug bomb the garage and hope for the best...after I catch and remove the geckos of course!
 
This two weeks off for the holidays has been nice, but I'm getting bored. Bored because I'm stuck in a vortex of inertia (not a real scientific term!)  and I can't make myself do  much of anything. Family drama to the left, family drama to the right and I sure am glad I live far away from all of them. Maybe the lack of direction or ambition is really just my brain taking a break. I received my diploma a few weeks ago - I'm a bonafied college graduate with a degree in English - and so now I can look for a different job. Only, I don't want to look for another job my inner three-year-old whines. Try plugging in "Writing," "Technical Writing," "Editing," "Proof reading," " Public Relations," and "Copy Writing" into a search engine and most of the jobs are either writing handbooks for engineers or administrative assistants. I would love to be a technical writer for engineers or doctors but WOW do they want credentials and experience. This is going to take a while.  And probably help from a professional. And a wine bottle.
 
In the meantime, I am reorganizing the apartment, making the most of our limited space and dreaming of the day we can move into something as grand as a three or four bedroom apartment.  
 
 The other big news is that there's an infinitesimal chance that there will be falling snow in south Texas. When pigs fly outta my ass. Pictures to follow...maybe.
 
 
 
 
 



Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Christmas Letter I Never Sent :)


Dear Friends and Family,                                                                    Dec. 24, 2012

 

Nothing new happened this year. No adventure, no unexpected happenings and no fun. It was a boring year; so boring that there’s hardly anything worth mentioning.

 

In this year of our Lord, 2012, the most pressing First World Problem my family had to deal with was whether or not to join a gym and lose weight. Well, some of us need to lose weight, but not me. Our youngest son was the biggest whiner and insisted on a strict training regimen of five mile runs and weight lifting in between meal breaks consisting of meat sandwiches and Dr. Pepper. I told him to stop drinking all that pop or his bones would melt and he’d be three feet tall for the rest of his life and the only employment he’d be able to find would be in a circus sideshow as the World’s Smallest Long Distance Runner. He’d just slam his bedroom door shut and text all his friends about what a cranky old woman I am.


My husband insisted on long walks every evening, so I grudgingly complied. Because he is feeling so much better this year, with enjoyable employment and the absence of the urge to punch his boss, my husband loves to drag me outside and force me to talk to him and take pictures of birds and sunsets. This year, my husband decided to grow a beard. He’s tired of The Man gouging him with the ridiculous prices for razor blades. I think he really just wants to have a beard like the guys in ZZ Top, now that we’re living in Texas. Or else he wants an extra place to store his lunch. Either way, the love of my life now has a white beard and the kids call him Santa Claus.


Our oldest son graduated from high school! After four excruciating years of ignoring his teachers and teaching himself how to build and program computers, our son is a high school graduate. I don't know who is more relieved...our son or his parents. He is now working at a grocery store and spends his days bagging groceries, pushing carts and saying “Yes Ma’am!”   is biding his time until he can go to college. The nearby college campus has another First World Problem: Two-thirds of the students are women. If nothing else, my son could spend a few years taking home economics classes and earning his MRS degree.

And what about me? Eh, not much happened. I paid out a boat load of cash to get an English degree and all I got was a piece of paper with a bunch of letters on it. Although I am working at a job that generally doesn’t require me to write much beyond office referrals and detention slips, I still manage to write a few things here and there. There’s always the possibility that I will get a Texas license and teach English here…but then again H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks might freeze over first.


Did I tell you that we moved? We’ve been living out of suitcases like hobos for the last decade, so it was easy. My husband and oldest son moved to Texas first and found a nice apartment. The younger son and I stayed in Washington so I could finish my classes over summer quarter…and it turns out so my son could spend three more months with his girlfriend. The teenage angst was thick enough to cut with a knife. But everyone has survived the separation, more or less intact. My husband and son drove a UHaul 2,300 miles in three days. Then, they hauled all the furniture and boxes up to our new, second floor apartment. It was the best anniversary gift anyone has ever given me: On June 14, 2012, in temperatures normally only seen on the surface of the sun, I did not have to lift a finger to move into our new abode. My sister, who lives here in town, was kind enough to help…she opened and closed the front door as the guys trudged in and out.


In August, the other son and I moved from Washington State to Texas. We packed the truck with the rest of our junk and loaded up a cooler with bottled coffee and Monster to keep us awake. We decided to drive down the West Coast and stick to one major highway to reduce the chances of getting lost. On the orders of my husband, the boy who was with me was to drive no more than two hours a day because he is only 16 years old and not used to long distance driving. My spouse did not take into account my love of sleeping in moving vehicles to fend off motion sickness. During the two hours a day I was awake in the truck, the kid drove just fine. Let’s just say that New Mexico passed in a flash. And my son developed an interesting new vocabulary for talking to our GPS unit, which we lovingly named La Fonda. It turns out that even La Fonda gets lost sometimes. But after five days of hilarity and mother-son bonding (that would be yelling at me to stop snoring), we arrived in Texas and reunited the family.
 
The best part of being here is that we've escaped the lingering recession in the Pacific Northwest...but the hard part about being here is that we're not in the Pacific Northwest. For the first time in my life, I'm homesick. Or maybe it's just that we won't have any money to travel for a while and I'm feeling stuck. Either way, it's going to be a new year in a new place, we all have jobs and we are all together.
 
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!