Tag Archives: mylife

manual override

I love coffee. I love it so much I make a pot of it every morning. But, I’m at war with coffee machines. I hate most electric drip coffee makers because they are big, bulky and expensive. They never get the coffee hot enough and no matter how much money you spend on them, after two years they all either start leaking or stop working all together. Having to replace an appliance, especially an expensive appliance, every two years makes me very angry because I really dislike shopping and spending money. I hate shopping more than I hate being ripped off.  
wait. same thing.

a little historical interlude…
Growing up, my family mostly made coffee on the stove with a percolator-type coffee pot. Somehow, my mother, aunts, and grandmothers were able to make really good coffee out of these always boiling over pots and cans of stale ground supermarket coffee. Also, since I’m from an Italian family, we all had those little stovetop espresso pots that made tiny amounts of espresso, but that’s a different story and anyway, we only made espresso when important company came over.

Since we’ve lived in this house, I’ve gone through three or four coffee machines. The first expensive one was a Cuisinart, which after two years just stopped working for no reason. Got up, ground the coffee, filled the machine, turned it on and nada. Just sat there, staring at me as if I were invisible and not in great need. I cursed the machine, broke out mom’s old percolator, made coffee no where near as good as my mom’s, drank it, cursed some more, and went out and bought another coffee maker of the same brand but better (we’re talking around $200). Since the reviews for this machine were good, and it did make a good tasting cup of joe, I figured the first machine was a lemon.

Two years, almost to the day, with no warning that things were not going well, the 200 dollar machine turned it’s back on me and quit making coffee. This time I break out the french press and say, “Fuck you machine, I will not buy you again.” But then my sister came to live with us and brought her even bigger, better, and more expensive coffee machine, which was not yet two years old. Shortly afterwards, her bigger, better, more expensive, now definitely two year old machine started leaking. A lot. My sister hates french press coffee, so I went to K-Mart and bought a cheapo Mr. Coffee drip coffeemaker. Not the most cheapo one, but the middish cheapo one for just under $50.  It’s been about three or four years (cheaper lives longer) of drinking not so great coffee out of a leaky pot, but I’m too cheap to buy a better pot every two years.

But, the leakage is now so bad that I spend half the morning mopping up after the damned thing. So, that’s it — I’m done with these stupid machines that just want to suck the money and life out of me. Instead, I have decided to resurrect my mother’s old “dripolator” style coffee pot that is actually kinda retro-cool looking.  I think she got it when I was about 3 or 4 years old (hardly ever used it because, well, the percolator) so that definitely qualifies as retro. Maybe even antique. Anyway, here’s a pic:

coffee pot

My mom’s “American Stainless Kitchen Thermalloy” drip coffee pot from mid-1950s

The pot has two chambers. The top has a compartment to hold the grounds. It has a fine mesh screen and also an inner lid to keep the grounds in the chamber. You pour the water in the top which then slowly drips through the ground’s chamber and into the bottom. Because it’s all steel, it can be set on a burner set to low to keep the coffee hot.

Pictures of the innards:
drip coffee pot



This pot makes the best tasting coffee I’ve had in quite a while. And the coffee is HOT. I forgot how good HOT coffee is since the stupid drip machines can never get the coffee hot enough. The only down side to this pot is that it only can make six cups at a time. Considering the size of mugs (does anyone drink coffee in the old little coffee cups anymore?), that’s not enough for three people who habitually drink 2 mugs each in the morning.  So I’m going to need to figure out some way to make more than that without dumping and regrinding more coffee beans. Maybe just topping off the old ones after pouring a couple cups and running a bit more water through? An experiment will commence tomorrow morning.

Right now, I’m drinking tea.


suddenly, the world moved over here

well, not the whole world, just the small part of my world that was on livejournal.

There was no real reason for this move except that I haven’t bothered posting publicly on Livejournal for quite a while. No real reason for that either. I just lost the habit I suppose. And then I got notification of the yearly fee for my journal and well, since I’m hardly ever using it anymore, it seemed reasonable to do something else. So this is something else. WordPress seems like a decent blogging atmosphere and somehow more “grown up” than LJ. Plus it has a nice import feature that enabled me to get my stuff from LJ copied here. Nice feature!

I’m hoping to talk more about art, wildlife and nature in general and maybe not so much about the personal stuff that seemed to makeup the bulk of what’s over at Livejournal (but, ya never know, at least I don’t).

A few things happening now that I’d like to share….

My husband, his friend A.C. Wise and I have put together a new online magazine called The Journal of Unlikely Entomology of which the first issue has garnered some rather nice comments.

We created the journal to be “a new literary market for fiction that delves into the world of things that creep and crawl and explores the limits of what it means to be human” (from the about page). The Journal will be published biannually in May and November, with the possibility of an additional “roving mini-issue” some time during the year. There’s also a blog associated with it, Grump’s Journal, if you are interested in finding out more about the contributing authors and artists. The blog will include announcements, calls for submissions as well as guest bloggers.


Today is the opening of The Wayne Art Center’s student show, in which I have one small sculpture. I’ve included a picture of it below…but if you are local to the area, please drop by the center and take a look at all the works. There are a lot of very talented people working at the center, and the gallery space at the center is really quite nice.

anyone care to venture an interpretation?

of this spread…My question was how will this thing end with my dad — I’m facing going to court with the landlord who wants to hold me to an entire year’s lease.

cards from 1-10 are:

Ten of Wands-reversed
King of Wands
The Tower
Six of Wands
Queen of Wands-reversed
Eight of Cups
The Emperor
The Fool
Eight of Coins-reversed
Ten of Cups

So, have fun with my life!

eta: westlinwind asked me to pull another card to cover/clarify the eight of cups. The card was the Five of Swords.

the best year ever

I’m happy this year is almost over. To end the year less than auspiciously, the following has occurred in the past couple weeks:

i lost my good glasses. the expensive ones that actually looked ok on me and were so light they felt like a kiss on my nose.

i broke my camera lens. the automagic one that worked for most everything. it no longer zooms.

my back is even more broken than it was before the cortisone shots. my advice: don’t get cortisone shots in your spine. they make you older.

i found out that no matter how well you think you know someone, they can always surprise you, and not necessarily in good ways.

So, I end my year unable to read without a yard long arm, unable to record the big picture, bent over, and with fewer friends. There are lessons here, I just don’t feel like sorting them. I do know that this has not been my best year. In fact, it’s hovering down at the bottom of the heap with 1989 when my mom died and 1977 when my world broke into bits and I lost it all.

Recently, someone told me that I need to declare next year, “the best year of my life.” She read this in a book, I think by the same name. I’m dubious about this sort of declaring of things. It’s possible that to declare something to be the best or the most beautiful or the *est of anything, you could be limiting all the rest to a lesser place. You may end up having a terrible year and that year, being declared the best, will be the benchmark for all the rest–past and present. So, if something wonderful were to happen, since you’ve already had the best, it would be doomed to dim to something less. Or that perfectly poignant thing that happened long ago would be tarnished, not by age, but by a misapplied word.

I find this sort of thing disconcerting and dangerous and I don’t think I’ll be declaring anything in advance. In fact, I won’t be declaring anything after the fact either. I think I’ll just let it be what it is and let the future unfold as it will, maybe even with a surprise or two.

At any rate, I’m not hoping for the best or fearing the worst. I’d kinda like things to just end up even.


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spelling, time, travel and the meaning of life

spelling is one of those things i have managed to get compulsive about…spelling, grammar, punctuation. i kid myself that my obsession comes from the fact that i work in the field of higher education but the real reason is that i’m insecure, have an alarming lack of self-esteem and i am incredibly adept in the art of worry.

you wouldn’t think this with the lack of capitalization and the overuse of ellipses wouldja? well, i do this on purpose. it has, in a way, become my convention (one that i’m slowly abandoning, but i’ll leave that for another time). years ago, when i first got online, i found the politics list on a “board” at work. after posting awhile, i decided to dispense with caps. i have trouble with shyness and for some reason, typing in lower case made me feel less conspicuous. sure, i could pretend to be doing it out of some strange cosmic connection with ee cummings, but that would be a lie. i quickly realized there were others who did the same thing, but their reasons were different. one man did it because he was a programmer and he wanted everyone to know that. another woman did it because it was for her a sort of artistic expression of defiance. and brni typed in lower case also. after all these years, i admit i don’t know why he typed this way, but it was our first discernible link to each other. maybe he’ll tell me why after he reads this.

i also decided to type as i speak because i was (and still am) very self-conscious of my writing ability. i don’t feel i have a natural talent for it. i agonize over words, sentence structure, spelling mistakes, commas, semi-colons, parenthesis, nested parenthesis, and just exactly when the question mark falls inside or outside the quotation mark. typing as you speak is a great excuse to misspell on purpose…didja, owell, ack, argh, ya’all, whodathunkit, etc. it’s better than artistic license and it makes people think you are savvy in the ways of the internet….one of the “ins” of the internet.


i still have trouble. it’s ok when i misspell on purpose, but only when it’s OBVIOUS that it’s on purpose. when it just happens…when it’s a mistake, i feel like crawling into a hole and not even peeking out to see who noticed. it’s not so bad when there’s an editing function as with livejournal, but omygod, if i send off an email and there’s a spelling mistake, or godforbid a mistake in grammar, i feel that i should send off an apology… an errata…and in fact, i’m sorry to say, i have done so.


i am actively trying to remove this anal aspect from my personality, and not just about spelling. years ago it was all about time. i was always worried about being on-time and with the advent of digital clocks, things got totally out of hand. i was making myself and my family insane with worries of being late, not just by mere hours or minutes, but by seconds!


this couldn’t go on. i had to find a way to stop this. so, i devised a way to ween myself off of time. i began by removing my wristwatch on the weekends. no time-checking while not at work. this was MY time and it was important to just let time flow naturally without the artificial segmentation of it into hours, minutes, seconds, nanoseconds. and when the battery went dead i didn’t replace it. instead, i dug out my old wind-up watch and wore that at work. the watch was old-fashioned with roman numerals instead of arabic numbers and there was no second hand. i liked hearing the tick tock and knowing that when it was first wound up, it would count time faster, slowing down throughout the day until it stopped counting time altogether. for some reason, that was comforting. soon, i began saying things like, o, it’s about half past 8 instead of it’s 8:28 pm.

later, i started forgetting to wind the watch on mondays. then i started actively forgetting it on other days until i stopped wearing the watch altogether. ahhh…this was nice. time was free to move on it’s own without help from me.


even though i’m not wearing a watch on my body anymore, i still obsess about being late. i plan and plot out all sorts of things when i’m getting ready to take a trip…what time to get up, how much stuff to have packed and ready the night before, the day before, the week before. it goes on until i have to mentally bitch-slap myself out of it. to overcome this problem, i have instituted a method of inaction. i do not physically pack anything until the last minute (granted, my last minute is probably 12 hours before anyone else’s last minute, but hey, this is a process!). so, all the planning is going on behind the cranium, but the actual physical manifestation of getting ready just sort of floats out there in front of my third eye, palpable but untouched until compulsion loosens its death-grip around my throat. oyeah, this is all really really visceral for me. we are not talking philosophy here.

and then there is the problem of getting lost. planning must always factor in getting lost time. multiple maps and directions from various sources (mapquest, yahoo, AAA, better world club) are imperative to minimize getting lost time. still, a system must be in place to compute lost minutes-to-distance ratio. this usually results in showing up early which can be just as problematic, but much easier to deal with than being late. if you’re early you can simply pull over and sit for however many minutes it takes until you are on time.

but it really is getting better and i really am beginning to relax about time and being prepared for every little thing that could possibly happen on the way to wherever.

(and btw, i’m not at all convinced that time is linear, so obsessing over the minute by minute management of it might well be a a colossal waste of time, which makes this whole thing rather silly, no?)

so, back to spelling…

new rule: unless it’s for publication, i refuse to use spell checkers and i’m trying extremely hard to stay away from online dictionaries. it’s hard, but…spelling is not the measure of the quality of a thought, idea or opinion. a misplaced, dropped or transposed letter does not change the meaning of the thing. typos do not define the worth of a human being.

o, but even this is a problem. i hate rules and here i am making them so that i can live without them. heh. i’m sick of rules ruling my life, my actions, my very thoughts. why do we have so many rules? what are we afraid of? spontaneity? creativity? originality? mistakes? oyeah, baby! mistakes! not fitting in! BEING OUT THERE FOR ALL TO SEE AND DOING IT WRONG!


turns out, this is the easiest of all my obsessions to get rid of. i hate rules so much that i find a sweet, subversive delight in ignoring them. not breaking them so much, just paying them no-nevermind.

it might just be the fact that i’m getting older. i just don’t see the point in all the structure anymore. as gravity is breaking down my physical structure…bringing me literally (at least parts of me) closer to the earth, the source…grounding me…i find i have little time to indulge in these pointless obsessions. they are becoming mere annoyances and i’m becoming a bit more casual about many things. my interests are turning to broader things in nature, fluid things, invisible things, things with no straight edges or right angles. i’m hoping that one day all the lines will bend, angles will soften and i will become so careless about the everyday stuff in my everyday life that time will stretch forever and the meaning of life will reveal itself freely, without boundaries or rules to inhibit the joy of it all.

or maybe not.
who needs meaning anyway?
just let it be…

refreshing bits

Every three years Villanova “refreshes our pc’s.” Refresh, as you may have guessed is their euphemism for replace. Why they have to rename replace refresh is something that only a true alliterist can figure out. I think maybe it makes people running departments feel special.


It’s a rather daunting undertaking considering how many faculty and staff are employed here. UNIT (UNiversity Information Technologies) started coordinating with departments many months ago, sending out broadcasts over email, voice-mail and even paper charts and such for us to indicate what we had and what we needed. This month they started the actual replacement procedures and have been conducting 2 classes a day on all the new software, applications and features. They even have a FAQ page on the web where they post glitches, bugs and work-arounds. One lovely woman updates this FAQ every evening as refreshing new problems and fixes are reported.

I must say, they’ve come a long way over the years. I lobbied for two years before I was given my first computer in 1990. I was extremely excited when Greg showed up with my beige 8088 IBM with a 20MB hard drive and a 2400 baud modem which I had to plug into the phone jack to check my email. I had a 12″ monitor with an amber display, a keyboard and a dot matrix printer. Greg from UCIS (which is what UNIT used to be called before they refreshed their name) came over, set up the computer, gave me my new email address (saboe@vuvaxcom.bitnet) and told me to have at it. “Where’s the manual?” I naively asked. “Manual? There’s no manual.” “How do I learn how to use the computer?” I asked, feeling dumber than I look. “You play,” Greg laughed and then left. This was the extent of Villanova’s user support at the time.

I doggedly poked at the keyboard until things happened. I asked people how they did whatever it was they did, learned how to use Dos, figured out that the black screen was where you actually started typing in WordPerfect and learned how to use Kermit to get into my email. I wrote the first unofficial email user’s manual for anyone on campus who was interested. The guys from UCIS asked me for copies to give out to people. I think I still have a copy of that manual somewhere in my desk. I learned much by typing the word “send” over bitnet to “talk” to distant friends and even participated in a remote internet demonstration without my prior knowledge or consent or that of the presenter….but that’s another story.

So today, I have been given a shiny new Dell computer. Because I do a lot of graphics for the library, I was given Option 2. Option 2 has a faster processor, 74 gig hard drive and 512 mb of ram. I connect to the network over a 100Mbps connection and my 19″ monitor has millions of colors besides amber. Option 2 is a tad faster opening Photoshop, but not by a lot. A few of us are going to lobby for more ram as soon as the virtual dust clears.

I’m old enough to be astounded by the changes and the fact that all the speed, space and memory available now never seems to be enough. Every now and then I google “bit.listserv.politics” just to poke around and read the posts from the old politics list I used to run. When I’m feeling really old, I just pull the book, The Internet Starter Kit for MacIntosh that Adam and Bill wrote, off the shelf and read the contributions my friends and I wrote for the first edition. Our pieces were on the order of “how has the internet changed my life?” It really did change our lives in many ways. We grew, exchanged information and ideas, formed friendships and even married people we never would have had occasion to meet if it wasn’t for those connecting bits and packets that I used to love to watch hop from Villanova to Princeton to Towson to…

ahhh…how I miss the old days of bitnet…when the internet and life itself was a bit more refreshing.

unremarkably normal

so, i’m almost finished with the doctors.

doctors do very little for you nowadays. they have a nurse fetch your vitals for them; outside clinics, centers and/or hospitals take the tests and lab technicians read and analyze them. the doctor then has a nurse call you to read off the reports to you and then browbeat you into making another appointment with the doctor. ‘scuse me? what doctor? where? o, you mean that guy who walked in, read to me what you wrote in my chart (and already told me)? ah. that doctor.

anyway, almost two weeks before the echocardiogram and less than a week after the library turned the heat off in the building, all my symptoms disappeared. hmmm.

now i have a theory. the library has the most ridiculous hvac system this side of the mississippi. the heat is turned on in october and turned off in april. during that period of time it pumps out super heated air through the vents around the flourescent light fixtures in the ceiling. along with that comes all sorts of debris that is trapped up in that ceiling too. there are no thermostats. well, there are but they don’t work. they aren’t connected to anything. they are vestigal thermostats from the old system that they replaced in 89. last summer, my department was moved from a spacious room with lots of windows to a small corner blocked off by 3 brick walls, shelving and no windows. it’s a dead zone with no air circulation at all. i’ve been running a fan all winter so as not to pass out from the heat. so, my theory is that my symptoms were a combination of environmental stress along with the emotional crap that we all deal with everyday.

the doctor’s nurse called me and said, your labs are back. no lyme disease. all the stuff in my blood is normal. my cholesterol is a tad high. the hdl is whooping 103 (extremely good) but the ldl is a bit high (177). my thyroid is what this particular lab calls “normal.” apparently, the labs are the ones who decide what is normal, so normal varies from lab to lab. hmmm. from what i’ve read up on, my thyroid is sluggish. but, since this particular lab says it’s normal, it will be ignored for now. sigh.

and the xray tech said my chest is unremarkable.

so i tell the nurse my theory. she doesn’t listen. she says to go get the echocardiogram anyway. i ask why since my symptoms are gone and she asks, “how old are you? well, you’re due for one.” huh? since when are people DUE for echocardiograms? everybody wants a friggin baseline.

and then, after the echo, make an appt with the doctor for a complete physical exam. um, thought i just had one. apparently not. what more can there be? he’s looked at my heart, my lungs, my blood, he’s dosed me with xrays and soundwaves. he’s left me with 5 horrible sores on my chest and sides from the adhesive of the electrodes that they stuck to me for the 24 monitor.


they think they’ll do more tests.
no, they won’t.
they think they’ll put me on statins for a slightly elevated ldl reading when my hdl is off the charts.
no, they won’t.
they won’t treat my sluggish thyroid.
i guess i’ll have to figure that one out myself….kelp anyone? daily shoulder stands?

whatever happened to doctors who could examine you and figure out if you were sick or well?
brni says lawyers happened.

i think i’ll boil some dried nettles and oatstraw and go stand on my head for awhile.

i feel so symptomatic

symptoms: heart pounding in throat when lying down to sleep. started several weeks ago. since last week the pounding is almost non-stop. i am only unaware of it when i’m concentrating on something. as soon as i broaden my focus and take in other stuff, i notice it again. i’ve never been prone to “feeling” my heartbeat…it’s just not something i was into. now, i’m aware of my whole circulatory system, i can feel my blood pulsing through my entire body. it’s extremely distracting.

when i take my pulse, the range is between 63-64. my bp last take was 110/68. my ekg was normal (cept for when i moved my head and scrambled the printout–nurse was annoyed). went for the chest xray yesterday and tomorrow morning i’ll get the full blood workup. they are checking all my levels of every single thing. they are checking for lyme and thyroid too.

i think it’s thyroid.

i’ve been “aware” of my thyroid for sometime now. i know it’s there and i can sense it’s larger. i’ve requested my gyn to check it, but she only will do the one test that is known to miss the more subtle changes in function. hopefully, this new guy (i can’t find a dr i like…they all suck) will be a bit more thorough.

in the meantime, i wait and worry and wish my heart would stay out of my throat.

confused old women

i don’t know if i can relay this in anyway that will make sense, but i will try my best.

Last night, my cousin Donna called and asked if I was sitting down.
not a good opening
Donna proceeded to tell me that her brother (also my cousin, tho’ I won’t always admit to the blood connection), Andy called and told her that an old family friend’s husband called him to tell him of an odd phone call he had just received.
got it so far? it get’s worse
Mag’s husband (the old family friend) told Andy that some woman called asking for my mother, Lillian. Now, my mom died suddenly badk in 1989 and none of us have ever fully accepted this basic fact of life. Mag’s husband told the woman that the only Lillian he knew died many years ago. The woman claimed that this was not possible because she saw her in Las Vegas and she looked just fine.
ok then…we have a mystery here
So Andy asks Donna if she still speaks to me. ‘scuse me? Donna says, “Of course I still talk to Linda” whereupon Andy says, “Good, then you call her.”
so she did
My first thought was that someone had stolen my mother’s identity. I was also worried that someone might call my dad asking for my mom…maybe as part of some sort of scam on poor, confused old men.
The Mag factor made no sense. Mom was never really associated with Mag. They knew each other mostly through my aunt and uncle. They didn’t travel in the same circles. In fact, the only thing they had in common was that they were both tiny, black-haired Italian women. So, why would anyone call Mag to find mom? So, a few days later, I called Mag to find out first hand what had occurred, since, well, my cousin Andy isn’t known for his listening skills.
so, here’s what happened
Mag was visiting her 89 year old aunt at Bryn Mawr Rehab at the same time a woman from Las Vegas was visiting her friend. This woman apparently used to live here and either knew mom or was a customer of her’s back in the 60s. After Mag left, they went over to Mag’s aunt and asked after the woman who was visiting her. They may or may not have asked if the woman was my mom, but Mag’s aunt has alzheimer’s so she just looked at the list of phone numbers she had and gave them Mag’s. So, it appears that this was a case of mistaken identity, not a stolen one.

I wonder why my cousin, Andy isn’t speaking to me anymore?

somebody poke me

so, i seem to be in a total funk. not a whiff of inspiration, creativity or motivation to get anything going.
things i haven’t the gumption to start: new web page, drawing, painting, next project on my correspondence course, cook, clean, sex, write, read, watch tv, drum, yoga, karate.

god, i hope i don’t develop an itch.

high definition woes

our living room isn’t done up in the typical, matching, department store decor. it’s an ecclectic (i like that word much better than junky) mix of handed down (not antique, just old), rummaged, thrift shop stuff. the colors are warm earthy greens, beiges, browns of wood and brass with splashes of bright color from paintings and funky stuff (like brni’s purple, red, blue, green painted rabbit).
the whole room really worked for me. i felt comfortable and at ease.

then we decide we need a new tv.

the new tv doesn’t fit in the tv cabinet. we need a different stand for it, so my nice (focal pointy) cabinet has been banished from the room. it is replaced by a black metal and glass topped tv stand that is too low and very modern. with the gray metal of the tv (they don’t make black ones anymore it seems), the wall is stark and hurts my soul.

what to do? we can’t afford a different cabinet that will hide the tv.

poor brni doesn’t understand my problem with this. i guess it’s hard for most people to understand that i can be physically pained (not just a psychological wince) from visual stimuli. but it’s a real physical sensation not just a “yuk, that’s ugly” and forget it sort of thing. clutter does this to me. piles of stuff all over is a constant threat to my wellbeing.

looks like i have a very big important project to make a silk purse.

greatest fears addition

so, yesterday i went to the doctor when it became evident even to me that i was dealing with a sinus infection. i thought it might be worth asking if there was any treatment besides antibiotics. i hate taking antibiotics because them bother my stomach, destroy all the good as well as bad bacteria leaving me (everyone) open to other nasty infections and because they are over prescribed creating monster-bacteria able to leap tall buildings, dodge bullets and destroy mankind in a swell foop.
so i ask, “is there anything besides antibiotics that will help?” a simple enough question. his answer was, “well…you could do nothing (a fine start, thinks i) and maybe it will go away in a few weeks or months, meanwhile you run the risk of developing abscesses in your brain.”
was that really necessary??
then the nurse says, “everybody comes in here demanding antibiotics whether they need them or not, and you need them and don’t want them.” and she left.

so i’ve added brain abscess to my greatest fears list.

greatest fears list

ok…i’ve been threatening to actually commit my greatest fears to a written list. so this is the start of it, and i guess i will update it as necessary.

Greatest Fears List (in no particular order)

house fires in the middle of the night
electrical fires
electricity in general
exploding appliances (could be anything)
falling rocks
airplane crashes
airplanes crashing into the house
losing my right arm
projectiles (could be anything, especially coming off the back of large trucks)
scorpions (i saw this movie when i was little…)
men looming over me in my sleep
poisoning people when i feed them dinner (which is why you clean the kitchen before preparing food, brni)
being stabbed
recent additions
brain abscess

stream of effluence

well, i’m limping back to some semblance of health. sorta. still experiencing drainage issues, but the cough is mostly breaking up and although there’s little in the way of energy, i am able to get through the workday.

but that’s not what i want to type about. problem is, i keep drawing blanks. everything is mundane. work is work. home is home. rut is rut and that’s where i seem to be…so firmly entrenched in this rut, i’m starting to think of design options.

i am now one of the moderators on susun weed’s forums. moderators do very little really, just sorta make sure no spam or porn or vicious arguments break out and disrupt the flow of wisdom. so, i’m co-moderating the announcements and herbal medicine chest forums. it’s such an easy and nice change from my experiences as the owner of the politics list. i thought when i passed on the ownership of that list to others that i’d be happy to participate as a member, but i found i couldn’t stand even that. such a negative and damaged place…i never went back. i’m so much happier and healthier at susun weed’s site.

some thoughts on tinctures:
* homemade tinctures are definitely better than store-bought
*lemon balm tincture is simply beautiful stuff
*elderflowers gently soothe flu-abused lungs
*cleavers may stick to your pants but the tincture unsticks the gunk
*skullcap keeps the lid on (promotes sanity) and eases headache, muscle tension/spasms
*motherwort calms and nurtures


wish i could gather up my children, turn our clocks back and heal the past of hurts and trauma caused by my poor judgment.
if only…
i don’t know what to do to ease it all; smooth it out; kiss it better. brni says write it down. but that scares me. can i put it out there in black & white? can i live with myself? and do i share it with them, so that they see what i know? what i did? what i didn’t do? how i failed them both?
so, if i start, i have to start with michael’s birth. a long way back…hardly a blink of my eye. i should start soon, because if i blink again, it might be too late.

the turkey’s revenge

we moved the birds out and most of the bits of clutter and clustered the plants (2 large bananas, and other way too big plants for our tiny house) into the corners, pulled out the table and used the longish plant table to extend it lengthwise. there’s no lighting in the room, so i scrounged every candle i owned and placed them around so we could see our food.

i had everything set and ready so that all i needed to do was cook and put the food out for our thanksgiving feast.

then people started showing up. my sister criticized everything. my dad kept sticking his face into mine and grabbing stuff out of my hands while i was trying to cook all the last minute crunch time dishes…you know all the stuff that gets done all at once. my son, michael finally had to ban dad from the kitchen. brni tried to squeeze in 2 more place settings when his brother and girlfriend unexpectedly arrived, upping the body count to twelve. lori began helping him and started rearranging chairs and generally confused the issue. jesse went in and used his magic to bring order back to the room.

i came within a breath of losing control of the dinner. brni’s mother and my sister had dumped a bunch of debris on the kitchen counters (fried bread (why?), purses, paper bags with nothing in them). michael (along with everyone else, i fear) realized what was happening. he held me by the shoulders, somehow centering me so that i could go on. he even managed to clear off enough space to carve the free range, freshly sacrificed bird.

finally, we sat down and the food was very good despite everyone’s efforts at sabotage.

after pie, freshly whipped cream and coffee, they all cleared out rather quickly. hate to eat and run, thanks for feeding me. among brni’s mom’s too many parting words were, “i don’t mind if we do this at my house next time. it is much bigger and if everyone else brings the food…”

my cousin and jesse’s girlfriend dropped by on their way back from their respective family feasts. we all had a wonderful time chatting and drinking slivovitz. then, in a feeling of love and warmth, i gave michael a big bear-hug and destroyed his back. his pain was intense and his left arm was rendered useless. love hurts.

i had to literally carry him, walking backwards over to the chair. after many horrible minutes (or was it hours?), jesse helped him up and outside to try and keep him mobile. they did a lot of talking and it came out that jesse’s father had thrown michael against a wall when he was eight, which michael believes was the start of his back problems. this was news to jesse (i hadn’t related details of all the violence his father subjected us to). jesse’s anger and hatred of his father rekindled in the flame of his brother’s pain. bless me father, for you have sinned.

when michael got to the point where he could walk on his own (more or less), i had brni set up the massage table. i put michael on it and gave him reiki. the only way i can describe his face, mind, body and breathing is clenched. after i started the reiki, he slowly began to breath normally. his face softened and he began to snore. by the time i was done, his breathing was completely normal and his snoring quieted. i managed to get him up to bed and tucked him in. his dogs snuggled in around him and i went back downstairs to find jess and brni doing the last of the cleanup.

it was now 3am. completely spent, i went to bed.

yesterday, we decided that the 2 1/2 hr drive home would be too much for michael. so i loaded his dogs into the back of my forester, placed michael in the front seat and drove them to baltimore. brni and loki followed in michael’s car. luckily, traffic on 95 was lighter than the usual friday afternoon/evening stop n’crawl because the gods, in their infinite wisdom, created black friday and everyone was worshiping at the malls.

today, i plan to keep my feet up and read something totally inane and entertaining. i may break out the epsom salts and settle into a tub full of lavender oil.

i also plan on canceling all future thanksgiving celebrations.

a proper sit down

thanksgiving will be here soon and i need to prepare. aside from cooking, i need to find table space for 10 people. my table can seat six, but the room is so narrow that one side of the table is shoved up to the wall, so in actuality, it serves only four. so what i need to do is somehow make an L or T shaped table using my plant table. of course this means rearranging the animal cages. looks like the birds will have to be moved out…to the bedroom? and the plants piled decorative (i hope) on the floor in the corner.

then there’s the problem of chairs. of the four old thrift shop maple chairs, one was hopelessly broken. the seat was split right down the middle, one half had the back still attached, the other piece looked like a deformed stool. brni managed to glue and brace it together again. i just put the last coat of tung oil on the repair job. brni had four chairs from his small dining set that loki decided were chew toys when she was a pup. the seats were basically devoid of stuffing, which really was no great loss because the vinyl covers were a lovely puke green and had been long praying for and end to it all. so, i took them apart and have almost finished recovering them. they should be done in less than 2 hours, but that will have to wait til morning.

i’ve learned a lot about chairs and sewing today. first off, when in doubt, use a staple gun. second, where fabric is concerned, you can’t eyeball your cuts. third, bottom of the line, 24 year old singer sewing machines never die. my poor old machine has not been out of its case since 1989. when i realized i had no choice but to sew the backs of these chairs, i didn’t think it possible that the sewing machine would even turn on let alone sew. i should try to figure out how to make clothes, just to pay homage to this tough little machine.

so…i have 4 maple chairs, 4 fake wrought iron chairs with lovely new cotton floral covers in rusty fall colors, 2 very old black hitchcock chairs and just in case anyone else shows up unexpectedly, i have stained white plastic deck chairs.
i think i’m ready to plan the meal after i move the birds, lizard and plants.
this just might work out.

so, now, all we need is the food.

cornucopia of confusion

i need to focus…narrow things down a bit. while investigating herbalism i’ve come across all sorts of healing modalities and alternative philosophies of health, healing and just being in the world. some of it is way out there and curiously appealing. the ideas of magic, spirit medicine, shamanism, quantum physics (big word for magic) are all interesting and i’ve noticed that they all seem to rely on ‘common’ knowledge, intuition, and awareness of the way nature works. even stuff that sounds totally irrational seems to have, at its core, what i’m starting to see in my head as ‘anima-truth.’ it feels like this because i sense more of the cyclic, spiralling feminine design rather than a direct, linear, cause/effect (masculine) one.

things are just plain rounder than i thought.

so…i’ve been reading 3 or 4 books at a time on all different things, herbs, aromatherapy, tarot, shamanism, reiki, etc. etc. i think i’m spreading my brains a bit too thin. i need to focus on one modality at a time and read the more esoteric stuff on the side.

susun weed says to study one plant at a time. this system probably will work better than my helter-skelter approach.

so…now, which do i study first? where do i start?

‘Begin at the beginning,’ the King said gravely, ‘and go on till you come to the end: then stop.’

thank you Alice.

Protected: coming to terms

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i’ve been bumping into this word almost daily for a few months now. i started hearing it long ago in a kripalu yoga class, but lately i hear it everywhere. not giving much stock to coincidence anymore, but thinking more about synchronicity, i guess i better pay closer attention to intention. i admit i haven’t been dealing with things in a mindful way, but rather have just been reacting. maybe the universe is annoyed with me and has decided to start nagging?

Truckin’, like the do-dah man…

lovely night last night. i highly recommend tarot/reiki shares.

it seems everything in my life is pointing to shifting my perspective and direction…or possibly reclaiming my original purpose. for most of my life, i’ve turned away from what truly interests me; from what i love; from what i was designed to do. i’ve suppressed the stuff of my gut for the responsible, rational, linear road.

and now it seems, the world is working hard to point me somewhere else. animals have come into the picture to show me a better way. the tarot last night laid this out on my coffee table, cushioned by a silk scarf. it came to me in our talk that abandoning my creative core, my art, is some sort of self-inflicted punishment. an old punishment started by my father, who would take away my paper and pencil when i didn’t conform to his idea of who i should be. now, instead of the ache in my hands, the ache is systemic and i don’t know who i am at all.

so, what to do? i don’t know. drop it all now? move cautiously or with wild abandon? learn to accept the mundane and eek out a private reality? i can get stuck in the planning phase and never move on. that would by typical. but i don’t have that kind of time at this stage of my life. if i don’t move now, i could miss a *real* opportunity. this too, would be typical.

i don’t want to be typical. i’d rather be a wild and crazy crone.

liz’s yoga

liz teaches yoga out of her home. i attend her thursday night class, which is a very yin style of yoga in the kripalu tradition. her class isn’t physically challenging to me since i’m used to doing ashtanga and power yoga, but i go more for the meditative aspect that is the core of her teaching style. it’s really more therapy than exercise. liz emotionally massages away the troubles of the day to bring you into the present moment. past regrets, future worries are set aside, exchanging stress for breath.

i started dabbling with yoga when i was about 15 or 16. i bought this little hatha yoga booklet (i still have it) and practiced the asanas in the living room, trying to get my mother to do it with me (that never happened). i had no idea what i was doing, but i remember the exhilaration i felt when i did dhanurasana (bow pose). the practice was fleeting, but the interest persisted.

all these years later, yoga is now everywhere and there’s no lack for schools, studios, teachers, and ashrams. dhanurasana is no longer easy but lately, some of that old feeling is making it’s way (slowly) back into my poor, old body.

so what i need now is to be mindful of this practice of letting go. letting go of the harsh, negative, and psychologically destructive aspects of my environment and focusing on the now. i have to ram das my life and be here now.

there’s no telling how much now is left and i don’t want to waste any more of it.

the future is now

went over to charlie & kim’s for peach cobbler after sushi on saturday. conversation wound around to tarot cards and the i ching. kim retrieved her book of i ching and since i’d never done it before, i threw the pennies to find out about my life. things did not go as i’d hoped.

i have never indulged in getting my palm read, going to an astrologer or fortune teller. there was a reason for this.

so i toss the pennies down six times while kim records them to build my hexagram.

she said, hmmmm. you’re stuck.
i’m stuck?
you’re stuck.
charlie said, that’s the present. what’s her future?
kim said, she doesn’t have a future. she’s stuck.

which is precisely why i’ve never gone to a fortune teller.


more on my unlovely wrist braces….so i tried to modify them by cutting off excess strap material. they have 5 straps on each (velcroed) to adjust the fit. of course, i cut too much off. so…after wearing them for a bit, having my hands swell some, i realized that i had to sew the cut off bits back on. i knew that was going to happen. i mean it always does and yet, i cut the damned things off too short anyway.
when brni came home and saw what i’d done, he said, “this is why i love you.”
i am not sure what to make of that.

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