Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Neuroses of the Cat, Part 3

Eden is emotionally dependent on tunneling. I think it goes back to when she was a tiny kitten, and I had just brought her home. Calypso was very aggressive toward her, so I would carry her to bed with me, being too high up for her to jump off of at just 8 weeks old. My headboard is open, and while I slept, she would crawl in it, behind my pillow, and sleep there. The first time she did it I freaked out because I couldn't find her, until I heard her tiny kitten brrt.

So now, she will occasionally go around the house (usually my bedroom) and nose into stuff and brr brr brr brr brrt all over the place and generally drive me crazy, until I notice she's tunneled completely in the leg of my shorts on the floor. But this offers her no succor, so she will move from box to box in the living room, curl up on her paper plate in the dining room (don't ask), bat at the blankie I'm curled up in on the couch, then she'll go exploring back in the bedroom. Then I hear the brrt brrrr brr brr brrrt  and maybe a whiny meow and the rattle of a plastic shopping bag and I grumpily get up off the couch to remove her from it before that becomes an issue. And the cycle continues. Then I realize her favorite reusable cloth Walmart bag is crumpled up under the computer desk, because Calypso is kind of a jerk about the bag (she's a box cat; every time  she gets in a bag I end up having to cut her out of it), so I straighten it out and flip the handles back and sure enough, Eden comes running from wherever she has been looking for a place to tunnel and happily runs into the bag and usually falls promptly to sleep.

I don't have a problem

Monday, September 24, 2012

When did Republican Become Synonymous with Hate?

I swore I wouldn't get political. I've been biting my tongue for weeks, holding back, but I just can't any more. Some things have to be said. I am a registered Democrat and very liberal. For those of you who have been following along, I am one of millions of unemployed persons, and on food stamps (a very small amount, because I did not lie to get more). Because I don't have a job, I spend a lot of time online looking for a job but also on various social media. I, for some reason, have a lot of friends and acquaintances that are Republican, and I have noticed a disturbing trend not only in them but the candidates they support.

Hate and intolerance. Poor shaming. Attacking women. As I hold myself back from picking fights online, I am baffled how this happened. What good is it, in a political campaign, to attack to contingency that would vote for you, to attempt to strip them of their rights because you think they're "mooches?" Or, perhaps, you think they're too stupid? The poor shaming really gets me, and it's counterproductive to improving the country. Instead of making people feel bad for being poor, for needing assistance, why not try to help by, oh, creating jobs? It's been done before, in the Great Depression-- oh wait, outsourcing is cheaper,  I forgot.

Curious, enraged by all the hate and intolerance I was seeing, I wanted to see what the actual ideals of Republicanism were. Surprisingly, hating people, shaming, and denying people their basic rights are nowhere to be found:
I BELIEVE the strength of our nation lies with the individual and that each person's dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be honored.
I BELIEVE in equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, creed, sex, age or disability.
I BELIEVE free enterprise and encouraging individual initiative have brought this nation opportunity, economic growth and prosperity.
I BELIEVE government must practice fiscal responsibility and allow individuals to keep more of the money they earn.
I BELIEVE the proper role of government is to provide for the people only those critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private organizations, and that the best government is that which governs least.
I BELIEVE the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people.
I BELIEVE Americans must retain the principles that have made us strong while developing new and innovative ideas to meet the challenges of changing times.
I BELIEVE Americans value and should preserve our national strength and pride while working to extend peace, freedom and human rights throughout the world.
So where the hell is all the hate and incivility coming from? Why are we suddenly creating a caste system where the poor people are suddenly evil and Untouchable, a race to be eradicated, along with the Educated Liberal Female? I'm not saying Democrats are innocent, but understand, from my point of view, there is a lot of hate coming my way, toward my demographic, and it's really alarming. Frightening, when I look at my basic rights as a human. When our politicians show such intolerance to humankind, it trickles down to their constituents, and becomes an ugly, insidious thing that festers and destroys friendships, families, and lives. I'm not being dramatic here, I picked a fight with John and out the Susan G. Kommen pull out of Planned Parenthood a year ago. It was not pretty. Politics is becoming more of a hate crime than a genuine concern for the future of the nation.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

For the Girls

When I was a little girl, I did not ask for Barbie dolls to play with, but I had a slew of She-Ra action figures that I mounted up on my My Little Ponies and sent off to war (against whom, I don't know) on a regular basis. In fact, looking back at my childhood, I had no time for the "girly" things, instead, I wanted to watch shows with strong female leads (She-Ra), loved action and adventure, books (Reading Rainbow, anyone?), and I watched professional wrestling. While I'm sure female wrestlers were present, I don't remember them. I remember the awesome male wrestlers who even now in my adulthood I can think fondly on. But what are little girls to do, with only male role models for physical strength?

Okay, so there are legitimate sports, but let's face it, women's sports don't get that much play on TV, and female athletes soon fade into the morass of photoshopped models and movie stars on the magazine covers. That, to me, is less than effective. And for the girls that don't like sports, you're not going to reach them. The draw of wrestling to little me was that it was exciting, stuff was always happening, people were beating the shit out of each other, ripping their shirts open, screaming with crazy eyes (I'm looking at you, Hulk Hogan) and the costumes were extravagant. It was two hours of constant stimulation and excitement. And as a kid, you don't really know it's fake.

As an adult, I'm a little dismayed that female wrestling is so downplayed. There is maybe one match a night, and it's usually little more than a gratuitous lot of crotch shots and booty-popping (I'm looking at you, Eve) in a glorified  cat fight. Of the WWE Divas, few are, in my estimation, true role models for strength that little girls should look up to, and the apex of that list is Beth Phoenix. Sure, she's kind of a heel (bad guy) but she is very vocally anti-Barbie body and very pro-fitness and strength. And she's the real deal too, being the first female member of her high school's wrestling team, according to her Wikipedia page. In this society where thin waifs are idolized, we need more Beth Phoenix fans, more little girls who idolize someone who is strong, powerful, and confident. I know, if I had a daughter, I'd rather she look up to someone who promotes strength and health and performs in a fake sport than appears photoshopped on the cover of a magazine and gets arrested for drunk driving and drugs, wouldn't you?

Friday, September 21, 2012

And Now a Saccharine Moment...

Enjoy this photograph of an orchid I took at Busch Gardens
I know I often show a darker side of myself on here, when my life isn't going so well, and that can be scary. I get vitriolic and bitter and angry and sometimes I am damn near inconsolate, and yet you all keep coming back to read. I even have international readers that I like to think actually read and aren't driven here by weird adbots or spambots. I appreciate all my hits, comments, concern, and love. Feedback keeps me writing.

This blog truly has been helpful in many ways, from the small, seemingly inconsequential cure for a chronic 6-day headache just through verbal vomit of my stressers, through the longer, more complex examining of physical environment, emotional connection to my world, to people and to culture, to work my way through this Stygian morass known as bipolar disorder. In a time when I can not afford my therapist, I have turned to writing for therapy, as I did long ago when I was a teenager and I knew something was Not Quite Right, but this time my writing is not private.  And it truly helps. Now, as far as physical symptoms go, my headache isn't completely gone, it's still there, a small dull throb, but so much improved over the last six days that I can ignore it.

Not just for funerals any more!
Anyway, every hit I see in my stats, every redirect from Facebook or Twitter, lets me know you care enough to read. And for some of the things I write about, I would hope you read and share; I would hope I have some things that are important enough to share, have lived through and experienced things that others are struggling with as we speak. Even if it is to bring levity, to inspire thought or to introduce new music (and hold on, because I have a music post bouncing around in my head) I hope   that I've touched someone, in some way, with my words and experiences. If nothing else, I hope you enjoyed the pretty pictures it sometimes takes me longer to find than it takes me to write the damn post. (All images in this post are my own photography). And if I die tomorrow, someone, please, find out how to publish this into a book. Not for my own narcissism, but because life isn't a movie, and maybe it will help people to see that. I'm a real person, and I've let my life play out here, for the most part. Some things, always, must remain private.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Money is Detrimental to your Health

I have had a headache going on for 6 days now. Sometimes it is just a dull ache, sometimes it is a stabbing pain behind my eyes. Napping, Excedrin, and even my prescription naratriptan haven't seemed to help much, as I mash my face into pillows in agony. During the duller pain moments I've been able to read larger-print books or ebooks where I can increase the size of the font. During the worst of it, I try to sleep. This isn't a migraine, though, it's a stress headache, and no matter how many times I go over my finances and tell myself everything will work, it doesn't go away. My brain keeps thinking, and panicking, and calling me stupid for wanting to go out and do stuff like have a life and go to the Freyburg Fair and roller derby next month.

In the midst of this headache, I told a friend "you should send me money, for no reason." Yes, those were my words. I give absolutely no incentive and in fact, usually ignore this person's calls, but just suggested blithely that they just give me money.

I was doing okay with my unemployment, until I got a letter from the IRS about my 2010 income tax return. It seemed they wanted some of it back. You see, back then I had a friend (the same friend that was a wrestler-- I'd link but Blogger changed shit and now I can't easily get to those entries) who promised me she could get me a huge return, so I let her do my taxes. She  got me about $4400 back and outlined what she got me credits for, not mentioning to me that she gave me her education credit, which is what the IRS is now questioning. So when I got the letter asking for $2500 back, I didn't question it, I sent in the paperwork for a payment arrangement. This person had disappeared last year, without word to me and without a trace, even deleting her email and Facebook accounts but as serendipity would have it, I am extremely good at tracking people down online, and not only found her new Facebook account, but her physical address in a different state (where I suspected she was, after all). I've been toying with selling this information to her ex-husband for a cool $3500. I see no problem with making some profit.

In the mean time, I'm going to try to calm my mind down and take more meds. There has got to be some end to this headache.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Finding the Perfect Hole in the Wall

$3 Dewey's in Portland's Old Port
I'm done with chain restaurants. When I look at the menus of Applebee's, Ruby Tuesday, TGI Fridays and every other place that has loud music, TVs with sports on mute and too much kitsch on the walls, I see the same thing. And I see a lot of calories, a lot of salt, and not a whole lot of quality. In fact, my last visit to a chain restaurant was to the Olive Garden, and while the food was okay, the wait was so incredibly long and people who didn't call ahead but came after me were seated ahead of me. That just makes me angry. Before that, it was Longhorns and the salty, over-spiced tenderloin and watery margaritas served by a dead-in-the-eyes waitress who really sucked at her job, and didn't get much of a tip as a result. So fuck it. I'm done with corporate restaurants. I'm going local.

I have set myself the challenge of only eating at local places, privately owned diners, pubs, and restaurants throughout the state. I've been pleasantly surprised. I don't have much of a budget to do this, so it's slow going, sampling what's available. This weekend was a bit of an anomaly, as I got down into the Old Port, which has a ton of places to eat. My choice was Three Dollar Dewey's, a pub that has the largest selection of beers (36 on tap!) in the Old Port and some fucking amazing eats. Based on my lamb burger alone, they got 5 stars on Yelp from me. I wasn't expecting food of that caliber from a bar. Oh, and the beer was good too. Also local.

I also visited Lisa's Restaurant in Augusta on Sunday. That was not as good. When I reviewed it I gave them 3 stars but I'm willing to give them a second chance because I hear their breakfasts are excellent. Some places have a niche, you know? But I gave it an honest chance, and in a town dominated by big chain restaurants, I kept my money local. Supporting a local place is important to me too, given the economy. A restaurant is an expensive venture in any economy, and a lot get pushed out by the big chains.

One thing I look forward to when I have a job again is being able to eat out more. There are several places relatively close to my home that I've really wanted to try, including one that makes homemade doughnuts. I would go just for that, especially if they taste like my Nana's used to. Eventually, I would like to travel around the state more, and find some more hole in the wall places to try. There's some good stuff out there, I just know it!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

What is Going ON With Adult Halloween Costumes?

Like I mentioned in yesterday's post, Halloween is kind of a big deal to me. I know it's only September but I'm excited already, so when one of the many shopping websites emailed me this morning and said they had Halloween costumes, I had to look. Growing up, we never bought our costumes, and we had the best costumes around because of it. But I still like to look a the ones you can buy. Sometimes, if they're cheap enough, you can buy one and break it down to use parts of it for different costumes; it's probably what I'll have to do for the overall shaman look.

But man, the slutty costumes. Maybe I'm getting jaded in my old age, but really? Do women think they aren't sexy all the other 364 days of the year that they have to wear something that is so far from resembling what the costume is supposed to be because there is no actual cloth to the thing? Looking back, the only time I did "sexy" costumes was when I dressed as a prostitute (and I think even then I wore shorts) and last year I did wear an indecently short skirt with my crow costume. All those costumes were home made. As I browsed through the costumes there was slutty nurse, slutty school girl, slutty vampire, slutty mummy (that if it didn't say mummy you wouldn't have guessed, I thought it was a bride), slutty dog walker (seriously), slutty lady bug, slutty cop, slutty pirate, slutty matador, and slutty wood chipper... what??
Yes, that's a beaver over her crotch. I wish I was making it up.

People, what happened to creativity? It's sad enough that kids go around in plastic, store-bought costumes, but you'd think adults with the manual dexterity and income would have some iota of creativity to make really cool costumes. I guess I was spoiled as a kid, because my Mom was awesome at costumes (so what if I wanted to be a black cat every year? Don't judge) but I look forward to creating sometime awesome and unique each year.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Shaman Shaman

I take Halloween pretty seriously. It's a Pagan holiday, and while I haven't been much on ceremony, as I have discussed before, the process of costuming for Halloween is a Big Deal. As it becomes a more mature holiday for me, so my costumes reflect a little more of my spirituality. This year I'm going to take advantage of a very generous gift John gave me at Christmas-- a Venetian mask he got while in Italy-- and dress as a plague doctor, because, well, it's awesome. But next year?

I always loved the shaman costume from Adventures in the Sin Trade from season 4 of Xena. But how to make it? I looked at buying loose antlers and pieces of antlers, but they were heavy and then I was faced with the problem of affixing them to a hood so that they didn't flop over. So for years, I've wanted this shaman costume, and could never make it. Then the other night, it came to me. I couldn't believe I had never thought of it before: papier mache. I could make a seat for the antlers and base for the fabric, and the antlers, instead of being real, could be made with a wire armature to support. It would be lightweight and the faux leather and fur could be hot glued on. What little stitching needed to be done, I can easily do by hand. I got very excited and wanted to start immediately, but first, I need materials. Materials will be cheap, yes, but even with their relative cheapness, I'm still pretty poor. I am so excited though! I can finally have Xena's shaman hood without having to kill and skin an elk, like she did in the episode! Oh, and if anyone loves me, season 4 is my absolute favorite and I don't own it...

So with that in mind, the other night when I was reading, an image popped in my head, as they do, when you're artistic. And it was a mask. One that will be infinitesimally more difficult and will require some sketching first to even figure out how to set up the armature. Can you guess what it will be?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Keeping with the Old Ways

The other night John invited me over to have a turkey dinner cooked by his roommate, Kevin (yes, I am back in John, no we are not a couple). After ensuring safe food handling had been observed (long story) I accepted, being hungry with no money to buy groceries. It was a well-cooked turkey, but the gravy was from a jar. I asked "what are you going to do with the bones?" Kevin shrugged and said "some people know how to make soup out of 'em, I don't." I looked up from under my hair, I'm sure my eyes were green as they are when I am passionate and said, almost in a movie-witch whisper "I do." My price for taking the bones was that I had to pick the carcass, which wasn't hard. I enjoy picking chicken carcasses so this was no different, and got me a gallon bag full of bones. But there was another problem: the pan drippings, which had not been made into gravy, sat a half inch deep in the roasting pan. I wanted them. All night, I would hover in the kitchen over the pan, which had not been taken care of, longing for them. And finally, when the turkey and the bag it had been cooked in had been cleared away and all the other food, that pan and the tantalizing drippings, now semi-congealed with the richness of the collagen in the bones and cartilage, sat there still. I deemed it mine for the taking, and John said if I could find a container with a lid, I could have it. I poured that golden goodness off and happily pranced with it and my bag of bones to my car, to stash them in my freezer when I got home later on.

I am, like the crow that is my animal guide, a scavenger by nature, I always have been, but it was my mother who taught me the value of bones. I grew up watching her after Thanksgiving and Christmas, once the bird was divest of its flesh, take the bones and roast them for hours in the oven and come away with a small amount of very concentrated, flavorful stock. After the Easter ham was done, she would boil the bone for pea soup (yuck). Short ribs, with their long, flat bones, were excellent for beef and barley. So having learned this, I always saved my chicken carcasses in the freezer. When buying cuts of meat, I look at the whole package and say "can these bones be of use to me?" (I've recently discovered a use for pork bones, which pleases me).

Yesterday, I took the bones from my freezer, as well as some my mother had given me from Thanksgiving, and a turkey leg I had bought in a package of three and then bagged separately  to boost quick chicken soups with flavor, and placed them in a roasting pan with onion, carrots, and a head of garlic and some water. In a slow oven, they roasted all day as I gradually added water and the broth got richer and more flavorful with each passing hour. My house smelled incredible, as if I was roasting a turkey for myself (I wish! I ordered pizza) and a few hours before I stopped the whole operation, I pulled the meaty drumstick out, cut the meat from it, and threw the bone back in the become brown with the rest. The cats and I enjoyed a tasty morsel, for even I can enjoy dark meat cooked in that broth. All in all it only yielded a quart and a half of stock, but this is valuable stuff, because a little goes a long way. One quart of it will flavor several quarts of soup. I can't wait to make some.

Yes, as I made this bone soup and thought forward to today's baking (banana bread) the thought "we keep the old ways here" kept running through my head. And it's true, as I think on my spiritual reawakening this summer and reconnection to the forest. But it's also true, cooking down bones to make stock, that these are the old ways and the youth of today (even a 40 year old man) don't know these things. It is one of those infinitesimally comforting things to know that should I truly hit rock bottom, and I'm at the butcher or the grocery store, I can ask for bones, which in today's society is throw-away trash, and make something nourishing out of it. And as I think on it, probably the best recipes have evolved from poverty, when you had to make something from nothing. So, gentle readers, if you have a chicken or turkey carcass, I will happily take your bones. If you have a prime rib, I will take the ribs. If you remove the bones from bone-in pork chops, I will take those too. This crow shall make a mighty feast on your bones.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

It's Time to Let Go of the Past

I understand that President Bush's Patriot Act gives the government free reign to come knocking at my door if they find this blog not to their liking. You know what? I don't care. I'll happily pull up the Bill of Rights, as an American, and throw free speech in their face. Today is September 11th and already, I have gotten pissed off at all the victim pandering and "never forgets!" online that it's given me a toothache from the very saccharine insincerity of it all.

Let's back up, shall we? Yes, I remember where I was when it all happened. Most people, unless they have neurological trauma, remember big events like that. I was in my fourth year at college, and had just paid another $80-something to re-take the PRAXIS test (math section only)  for state teacher certification and it was a beautiful day. One of my off days where I had no classes and was going to be a bum and watch TV all day. So when I got back to my room and turned on my TV I saw the towers, and the second plane hit, I was in awe. It was surreal, but I didn't feel sad. I sent an email to my dear friend in the city to make sure he was okay, but I knew he wouldn't be anywhere near there; he lived in Queens. So I watched the news with fascination. By day two it got old. Real old. Nothing was on TV but footage, not even late night TV. At this point apathy was turning into anger.

I wasn't angry at the people who had done the deed; they had an agenda. People have agendas. No, I was mad at the people who dwelled on it. Who mooed an cried and dragged the who thing out for 5 days of broadcast over all the channels on cable. Signs professing "GOD BLESS AMERICA" in bold letters, cause ribbons (why do we have ribbons for every damn thing now?)  sprouted on breast and backpack. Flags were constantly flown at half-mast. Cheesy artwork started popping up, and the conspiracy theorists found the face of the devil in the smoke of the fires and hidden messages in, of all things, the webdings font. It all seemed ludicrous.

Now fast-forward to today. I wake up, and my first though isn't "it's 9/11, never forget" it's "ooh, it's the 11th, my copy of Snow White should have shipped today! Why isn't there a fucking shipping email?" And I log into Facebook and there is all the useless glurge and it just makes me mad. Really? Did you know anyone that died? Or does it make you feel better to jump on a bandwagon of bandaid sympathy? Who really thinks about this day outside of today? As Americans, we sure do like our bandwagon causes. If there was a "like" button to go back in time to stop 9/11, most of my friend's list would be all over that shit. It's all so meaningless. Never forgetting, praying, lighting candles, what good is it all? The only thing it does is it makes you feel good. You know what I never forget? How Americans turned to hate in a time of tragedy and misdirected that hate toward an entire ethnicity when the attacks were done by a small extremist sect. Americans sure do love their hate.

As people throw colorful macros of the towers enrobed in flags and proclaim "NEVER FORGET!" I can't help but wonder if the families of those who died do want to forget. If they want to move on and just be left alone, but they're endlessly dragged to one more dedication, one more memorial, one more visit from the governor, the President. And I ask, do you consider that, with your flag-waving and your ribbon-wearing? I'd imagine having a building fall on your brother/sister/husband/wife/other significant person would be some significant mental trauma. I know I'd want to escape it all and remember and mourn privately.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Awesomeness of Discovering New Art

Today I went on an impromptu sailing trip with my mother and sister in our favorite place, Rockland Maine. I've told you all about that before. Needless to say, it was an amazing day to sail. Everyone should sail during hurricane season; the north gets all the good wind. Anyway, after the sail, Mom and I went into town because she wanted to purchase some gifts, and walking toward a local cafe for a drink, I saw them. They were there during my last visit, but because of Lobsterfest they had been removed. But they were back.

Dark, like an illustration out of a European fairy tale book, these amazing metal ravens are the work of Nina Scott Hansen.  It took, in my opinion, way too long to find out who the sculptor was. Her page on the Harbor Square Gallery (based out of Camden ME, another sentimental town for my family)  displays more birds, an amazing horse with rider, a troll. It is art like this that makes me wish I was not so miserably poor. I look at these and I see inspiration from those old stories from Europe, from movies like the Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. I wait for the adult raven to bob it's head and start talking. I want one of these sculptures so. bad.

I find it so amazing, the art you can find locally. Rockland itself has at least 3 or 4 art galleries downtown alone, one of which had two watercolors of ravens that I long for (and one of a horse that does amazing things with negative space). It's always a good day when you discover something new and beautiful and inspiring.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sleepless Night

It is going to be a Very Bad Day for anyone who crosses my path. I already have it out for the asshole neighbor's son whose car alarm went off at 6:30 this morning. I lay in bed, drafting the perfect passive-aggressive note to leave under the windshield. We live in a small town. No one is going to steal your precious Volkswagen. Stop arming the alarm because the fucking thing always goes off. I have it in for this kids parents too, and their useless yappy poodle-mutt. That was at about 8am as I fantasized about throwing every rotten tomato from my plants at its curly white fur until it shut the fuck up. This is after I had hurled every verbally abusive insult and threat to my cats. Why am I in such a foul mood? Because as I write this, it is 9:37am and I still have not been to sleep.

Granted, since I have nothing to tire me out and give me a "normal" bed time, I sleep a third-shifter schedule: bed around 4, awake around 1. It works out reasonably well for me at present, and I get a lot of reading  done. But last night I tossed and turned and even Pandora pissed me off with the music it was giving me (Loreena McKinnet? Really? Useless pseudo-Celtic wailing that all sounds the same. I thought I told you never to play her again, Pandora. We're fighting.). It was too warm, so I did the one leg covered thing. Then I was too cold. Then the fucking cats wouldn't stop their running bullshit. Even when the crows woke up it didn't ease me to sleep. So I pulled out a book, a bodice-ripper, but that made me mad, because it had to be the stereotypical Scottish Highland setting and the author just had to write in dialect. Jesus fucking Christ, I just wanted to sleep!

I gave up. I screamed at the cats one more time and felt bad so I brushed them and told them they were good girls but they just need to stop already. Hopefully soon I  can pass out here on the couch but man, if I don't get some sleep, violence will probably happen. Either that or a long drive to loud music to calm me down.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Memento Mori

I've been thinking about mortality a lot lately, and not in the way that should cause anyone any worry. No, I've been thinking about the people in my life that have died, how death has affected me, and will affect me. Those of you who have been reading regularly know that my ex and I have been on tenuous footing but lately we've been talking a bit more, since his work has him in my town. He has been dealing with his own emotional issues and part of it, I think, is unresolved grief. I've told him this. He's a man who has known death. At fourteen, he found his father's body. He lost his grandfather early, then his uncle to cancer. This past December, he lost his sweet Oma. On occasion, he would play songs that his father used to play on the guitar. Recently, we listened to "House of the Rising Sun" by the Animals, and when the song was over, I said to him "when you play me your father's music, I feel like I know him."

Recently I wrote about my mother and I going to the fair together. While we walked through the huge exhibit hall, we stopped to admire the quilts. But looking at the quits just made me sad, and I felt tears sting in my eyes as I realized that the two women in my life that quilted-- my Nana and Grammie-- are gone and I will not receive a wedding quilt when I get married, like my sister did. And when it comes to thoughts of marriage, I'm 32 years old. I am the youngest of four by a large margin: my sister is 10 years older than me, my oldest brother is 15 years older than me. My father is in his seventies. One of the fears I have when I think on my own mortality is that I and everyone else is getting older and what if I don't get married in time to have my father walk me down the aisle? I know these are silly things to dwell on, but they hit me suddenly. Both sides of my family are blessed with a sort of agelessness. You'd never know my father was in his seventies and my mother in her late sixties, unless I told you. Most people can't guess my age accurately. But sometimes it just hits me, you know, when I look at Dad and think "Dad's getting old" and I hate the train of thought that comes after. Thinking about mortality is a horrible burden. Time is a burden. It freaks me the fuck out. Even my oldest brother David mentioned on his Facebook one day that he's not far from fifty and that kind of hit me. My brother can't be that old. I can't be this old. When the hell did my twenties end?

I try not to think on it too much, but really, the wedding thing gets me more than it should.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

So I Have This Awesome Sister...

As previously mentioned, I'm a bit old timey in my ways, and I'm okay with that. While my skills lie with cooking and predicting the weather and throwing out old yarns, there are some things I'm not particularly good at. I'm not crafty. I tried crocheting and got frustrated that my stitches weren't perfect. I can sew okay enough to mend something. But the person I admire for her old timey skills really, is my sister. Wanna know why? That bitch makes her own soap and it is awesome.

And she has the pretties molds for her soap too!
She started making soap when my niece Rachel was younger and had developed eczema. Commercially-produced soaps have harsh detergents and foaming agents (sodium laureth sulfate is found in pretty much anything that foams, including toothpaste, and is considered an irritant. Also being someone who has eczema (and in a rather inconvenient place) I can attest that putting an irritant on already sensitive skin is not fun times. So Tracy, my sister, got the recipe for the soap from a friend or daycare parent and started making her own soaps. She makes probably a dozen different fragrances now and sells them in the winter for $3 a bar, which is a steal, because most people sell smaller bars for more. I've recently been having a vicious acne flare-up so I whipped out a bar of Turkish Mocha instead of the harsher acne cleansers because I need something different that won't make me look like a great peeling, pustule laden leper after I wash my face. The only side effect is that I smell delicious and want to eat my face.

Oh, another awesome thing my sister does that's totally old-timey and which I have no space or patience to do? She cans stuff. Which means I have homemade pickles and jelly in my kitchen which I hoard until the next batch. I can make pickles. I have an awesome pickle recipe that I developed, but it's a refrigerator pickle recipe, never intended for the high heat of canning, so my pickles are a little perishable. But my sister's... I could go pop a jar open now if I wanted to. Yum!

Back on the subject of soap now, as a little closer because I love my sister and think she should make a business out of it: if any local (read: Maine) people that I know would like to purchase her soaps, let me know. I can get you a list of fragrances. She usually doesn't have them ready until Novemberish because they can only be made in the cooler weather or they won't set up. And Tracy? You're welcome. I love you.