The Best Person for the Job is the One Who’s Good At It

Photo by cottonbro studio on

When Hubby and I were dating, we discovered that we had a couple of unusual things in common. One thing was that we both are allergic to penicillin. The other thing was that we both lost our same-sex parents when we were very young.

For Hubby, the ramifications of growing up without a father were mitigated by his uncles and older cousins. He grew up in Lebanon where traditional gender roles and tasks are still the norm. He did have to work in a bookstore run by one of his uncles; otherwise, his mom, grandma, and three sisters took care of everything else. As one of my friends put it, “Oh, he had staff.”

Couple that with the expectation that he would marry a nice Lebanese girl who would take over for the woman folk and you have someone launched into his post-college years who didn’t see the problem with throwing red polo shirts in with his white work shirts until it was too late and ate fast food every day.

Contrast that with me. I had the experience of a father whose heart disease pushed him into disability. And he had asthma and arthritis in his knees that was so bad that I could hear them grinding as he walked around the house or tried to get comfortable in his recliner. He did the cooking while sitting on a swiveling bar stool between the kitchen table and the stove. That worked, but anything involving stairs or getting down on the floor was out of the question. That’s why I ended up doing laundry, heavy lifting, and how I learned more about plumbing and electrical repairs than many other late elementary through high school girls did, ’70s Third Wave feminism or no.

This came in handy one night when a rubber union joint on the sump pump decided to rupture during a post-tornado power failure. Of course Hubby was in Michigan for another round of work on his mom’s house. I called. He told me to get the neighbor. As if I am going to wake said neighbor up when he has to be up at 4:30 AM. No. Tell me what to do. Turned on the flashlight, found the screwdriver and another union joint. Put him on speaker and he talked me through how to replace it. Once done we both went to sleep. I felt better knowing that the repair was done. Hubby was relieved but felt horrible about not being here to do it himself. It took a lot of reassuring that it just was what it was and it just needed to be done. Many things have nothing to do with a person’s gender, and that repair was one of them.

Ongoing negotiations of dividing domestic chores have lead to many colorful and interesting discussions, needless to say. However, somewhere along the line we split up the tasks of daily living according to who does it best. It might look a little more traditional than expected on the surface, but it’s just assigned by skill set. I cook because I’m better at it. Hubby deals with the cars because he’s better at it. I do laundry because I’m better at it. The yard work is kind of cooperative. He’s better at mowing and uses it as his moment of zen. I plant things. I am very good at making sure that the green side is above ground. So is Hubby, but he’s better at the maintenance side of things. And while I’m good at picking up on odd noises and smells while driving, he’s better at dealing with the care of the cars.

The big bone of contention is cleaning. He’s a lot better at it than I am but he doesn’t have time. I have time, but am not only bad at it but I hate it. I like the end product, but the journey I don’t need. His mother set impossibly high standards. We settle on me running the vacuum once a week or so and cleaning the common bathroom as needed. And wiping down counters in the kitchen. He mops the ceramic floors. Not frequently, but when he can. When we need to do a take apart cleaning such as when guests are expected, I step out of his way so he can practice his vocation and cook plenty of tasty food for him as a thank you. Once a month or so I run the vacuum upstairs. Otherwise, we’re each responsible for our personal spaces.

We have among our friends several couples where the woman does small house repairs and the man does the cooking. There is no problem whatsoever as long as it gets done.

Chills and Equality in the 21st Century

I had to turn on the heat when I came downstairs this morning. Yesterday brought a chilly rain that caused the residual warmth gathered by the house last week to dissipate quickly.

The best part of the day was finding a curry recipe that didn’t contain anything that could trigger my current crop of sensitivities: . I used boneless skinless thighs and threw in a hit of garlic powder and some peas, carrots and green beans. Did our souls good by warming us from the inside out.

Feeling nourished at a soul level, I cozied up with a cup of tea to see if there were any new Gordon Lightfoot related videos on YouTube. Nope, but while I was there I decided to check out the shorts column. Those are videos that are about two minutes long, many of which are crossposted from TikTok. I will admit that I like the videos from Clarence, the Lab who’s desperately posting in hopes of intervention from PETA and the ASPCA to stop his humans from engaging in acts of cruelty such as cutting down on his snacks because the vet said that he needed to lose a couple of pounds. And there’s the sheep and alpaca shearing ones from Right Choice Shearing. And hospice nurses Julie and Penny sharing information about the death and dying process to help viewers with their fears for themselves and their loved ones. And dog videos. And cat videos.

And then there were a couple of creators who caused chills and raised the hair on the back of my neck. The first was from a young woman who was covered in tattoos and wore skimpy tops in most of her videos. That’s her choice. Fine. However, she described herself as a “men’s rights advocate.” She made just enough salient points to sound rational (i.e. jokes involving hitting or kicking men in the crotch are not funny) but then quickly went off the rails with her opinions about sexual activity as a way to help men feel better about themselves and domestic violence being acceptable in some situations.

Had I an official account on my laptop I would have reported her. But it’s not worth the hassle of creating one. I simply will not name the channel and scroll past next time she comes up.

Even more frightening were the ones from a pretty blonde who looked like she’d fallen out of a postwar era woman’s magazine. If that’s your fashion jam, go for it. They were living according to traditional gender roles as laid out in the Bible and that she loves submitting to and serving him since he was serving her by being the breadwinner. She spoke of how fulfilling being a stay at home wife was as she cleaned the kitchen sink, and how she liked to dress to make her husband happy.

O-K. It’s always nice to do something to make your partner happy. You do you, Boo.

But then she talked about how she won’t go to the gym without her husband because so many men do not respect the boundary of marriage. Understandable, but why not do us all a favor and tell management about the creeps who do that? And then the kicker: not going anywhere after dark without her husband’s permission.


As if that wasn’t bad enough, she didn’t think a wife having a separate bank account was a good idea. Don’t you trust your husband? He’s the breadwinner. isn’t he?

Um, honeys….can we talk?

About the statistics showing that in heteronormative relationships it’s much more likely to be the man who instigates and engages in violence? About date and marital rape being real things? About how many women lied to themselves about being happy homemakers and ended up strung out on tranquilizers and alcohol? About women staying in toxic relationships because they had no resources to call their own? And about the ones who laughed off black eyes and broken limbs as minor accidents when their husbands had laid hands on them? And who died or bear the scars of injuries suffered in struggling for the right to bodily autonomy?

When you get ready to listen, please go read some back issues of “Ms.” You are young. You have no experience with the world before Third Wave feminism. It’s become somewhat better since the ’70s, but the threats to women’s progress to be accepted as full humans in their own right still loom large and dark. If last summer’s overturn of Roe v. Wade didn’t get your attention, nothing will.

I don’t know if those two young (both under thirty) women were coming from a place of inexperience, or acting on their familial frameworks. But I hope that they can open their minds and see that’s not how the world works anymore.

And for the one in the traditional Biblical marriage, I do hope she someday realizes that she’s worth more than goats and camels.

The Coronation Wrap-up

Yesterday marked another event on the thousand-plus year timeline of UK history. King Charles III and Queen Camilla I were crowned with all the pomp and pageantry that no one does better than the British Monarchy. And I was so grateful to be able to watch it.

Yes, I was up at five. A rainy morning making a person think that the soybean field was in solidarity with London. I rolled out of bed, pulled on my exercise clothes, then quietly slipped downstairs and turned on the tube.

I missed the procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abby, That would have required getting up at four. Even I have limits when it comes to historical events, even ones involving the Monarchy. According to my brother, also an ardent royal watcher, and owner of two small dogs, one of whom had to potty at 4:30 yesterday morning. Since he was up, he decided to watch. He called after the ceremony had finished and reassured me that I hadn’t missed much by sleeping until five. Ends up that the US networks stuffed as many commercials into that first hour of coverage as they could.

The procession is on YouTube, anyway. Not as thrilling as seeing it live, but it’s still watchable. And viewers can skip the commercials.

Which is what I reminded myself as I settled in with my first cup of tea just in time to see Their Majesties make their way to their seats. Both of them looked regal, Camilla especially so in that white dress with all the embroidery.

Behind them were the Prince and Princess of Wales, not looking too shabby themselves in their Knights of the Garter regalia. Their kids were there, too. George was one of the King’s pages. He looked quite solemn as he lifted his corner of the robe, as if he understood that some day he might be in his grandfather’s place. Charlotte looked like, well, a princess in her white dress. I hope she was able to go out and play in the mud today. And Louie did a great job behaving himself. He had help from some unknown party who took him out for a break and let him run around a little bit before the actual crowning of his grandpa and step-grandma.

Well, I had to get up and run around myself during the two hour service, so I understand. Scones and tea water don’t heat themselves, you know.

Prayers, vows, readings, anointing. Solemn, perhaps stogy in some parts, but all the rituals act as small links crafted into a chain to connect the present with the mists of the past. From the Saxons to the Windsors the British Monarchy has provided a sense of continuity in an ever-changing world. Lines were tossed to the future with the inclusion of diverse clergy and lay participants as well as William’s support. That in and of itself is a cause for celebration.

Not the seedier aspects such as the colonization and oppression, certainly. Charles has offered documents to researchers investigating those unsavory affairs and publicly acknowledged them, It’s a start and more than his ancestors have done.

Charles also started slimming down the ceremony to roughly two hours from the three-plus hours coronations took in the past. Was it still expensive? Yes, especially in light of Britain’s current economic crisis. However, if it wasn’t for the tradition of spectacles like that, would the greater world still pay attention to the UK? I don’t know. Well, there would still be draws like the performing arts, and cultural attractions, but maybe not as much interest as sparked by the Monarchy’s influence.

So we see how this Carolinian age unfolds. My hope is that he will implement some needed updates. Cutting the time on the coronation was a good start. He’s also choosing to make one of the smaller (term loosely used) royal homes for his and Camilla’s primary residence to save energy.

I feel like he’s off to a good start. I’m glad that I’m here to see his reign unfold.

May All Your Highways Be Carefree

Some mornings get off to more interesting starts than others. This was one of them.

Gordon Lightfoot made his crossing last night. Expected, yet unexpected as are passages to the great beyond after certain points in one’s life. He’d canceled an upcoming tour due to vaguely stated health problems per his office. One of my friends had seen him in concert last year. Gordon had put on a good show as usual, but he’d had to pause and use oxygen on stage between songs.

Sigh. I had expected, hoped, that he’d give his last concert on his 100th birthday and then go home to bed and just kind of forget to wake up in the morning. After coming back from an aortic aneurism, a stroke on stage, a tumble that resulted in a broken wrist, and recovery from alcoholism, it seemed as if nothing would stop him and that would be a feasible end. Not so much in this case.

I didn’t know about Gordon’s passing until Hubby told me this morning. Unless there’s something brewing in the news, I stop checking my phone after 7 PM except to look up tidbits related to our international mystery shows. Not a pleasant start to the day.


Gordon wrote the soundtrack for a good portion of my life. Was it late elementary/junior high? High school? I don’t recall; it just seemed as if he was always there in the background until now. When I need to remember walking by Lake Superior in my college days I cue up “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” When I need to remember returning to school from vacation and some how getting a late start to the trip and driving into the sunset on US 2 I play “Carefree Highway.” And when I just want to escape back to the ’70s, I plug in his greatest hits CD and let it open the portals to the good parts of the past.

Today I will likely do the last of that list. I will remember concerts at Pine Knob (a venue in the Detroit suburbs) and at the Paramount (really cool old restored movie palace. I will remember jogging on the beach in the headwinds coming from Canada. I will remember the balm for my heartbreaks, and friends performing covers of Gordon’s works.

With that, I give deep thanks that Gordon’s tunes were an integral part of my life. Gord, thanks, and may all your highways be carefree….

A Beginner’s Guide to International TV

We’ve been in this wonky weather pattern where the weeks for the most part are fine, but Fridays have ushered in cooler temps and rain. A lot of rain.

On those days when you can only occupy yourself with so many household chores or errands but you need an escape, how about a little international TV? Oh, there are dramas from BBC and ITV on PBS as well as a smattering of selections from Germany and Denmark, but if you’re ready to step into the great wide open, let’s go.

First, you’ll need a Roku box or the ability to hook your laptop to your TV for streaming. That’s it. No passports, no badly behaved passengers, no flight delays. Just get plugged in. That’s all.

Second, you will need to create an account. We have Netflix (plans run from $6.99 to $19.99, but free with our cell/internet account) and MHz Choice ($7.99 monthly or $89.99 a year). Amazon Prime has some selections but not many unless you want to pay for additional accounts.

And now, gather your snacks and drinks and escape for a couple of hours. Oh, you’ll need your glasses, too, for distance vision so you can read the subtitles.


“Call My Agent” is the English title for “Dix Par Cent.” Want to escape to Paris? Want to see movie stars including Monica Belucci and Sigourney Weaver as well as ones better known in Europe while getting a glimpse of the inner workings of an agency? This is your show. Sophisticated, witty, and romantic. Oh, and there’s a Jack Russell terrier who adds to the hilarity. I won’t tell you how because it would spoil one of the plot lines.

“Servant of the People” stars Volodymyr Zelinskyy, now real life president of Ukraine, as Vasily (I’m not going to try to spell his last name), a high school history teacher who ends up as president after a student videos his break room rant about corruption and posts it on YouTube. Oh, and his students funded the campaign via crowdfunding.

Other titles I’ve heard good things but haven’t watched include “Borgen,” a political drama from Denmark about a woman who becomes the first female president through several twists of fate; and several K- and J-dramas like “Midnight Cafe” where ghosts hang out with mortal customers.

MHz Choice

This is my home platform. MHz Choice started as a cable station in Washington, DC with international news shows during the day and entertainment consisting of mostly mysteries at night. It was picked up as a substation of PBS outlets somewhere along the line. We discovered it by chance when TV went digital in 2009, requiring converter boxes for reception. Unfortunately, the substation was dropped by the PBS outlets, but was reborn as a streaming service.

Content comes from all over Europe, occasionally Japan, South America, Africa, and Australia on occasion. Where to get started on this trip?

“Inspector Montalbano”was our gateway into the world beyond BBC on that fateful night in 2009 when we turned on the tube and were transported to the fictional Sicilian town of Vigata. Salvo Montalbano starts his days with a swim followed by an espresso and a call from Catarella, the front desk officer with an unparalleled talent for botching names (such as telling Salvo that they’d had a call from a Mr. Piratore or Mr. Piratone, one of which means Mr. Big Fart ). In between deciphering Catarella’s messages, visits with informants, eating luscious meals, and fights with his girlfriend Livia that frequently end in throwing the phone, he and his crew solve a lot of crimes with sympathy and humor.

Second in terms of favorite Italian shows would be “Imma Tatarrani.” Imma is a hard-driving deputy prosecutor juggling her job with trying to have a life. Not as predictable as it sounds, and if I say anymore I’ll be spoiling a couple of plot lines.

As I write, there are two versions of “Maigret” available. One is the BBC version from 1960 with Rupert Davies. That’s OK. Not bad. But for real deep dish 1950s-early ’60s Paris, go for the France Televisions version with Bruno Cremer. The French version was more, well, French thanks to it being filmed in the ’90s and the early ’00s. It’s gritty but refined and only shows enough blood so viewers know that there’s been a murder. Even though I’m not a fashion maven I love the costuming. And the cars. He is tough, but compassionate such as when a suspect only had six weeks to live so he pinned the murder on an unknown culprit.

You also need to watch the gloriously eccentric “Capitaine Marleau.” She goes counter to all the stereotypes of French women to great comical effect while keeping her bomber hat on and braids intact.

Also check out the Agatha Christie adaptations. Pure fun with sexy little twists here and there. (The operative word is French.)

And then there’s German selections. “Tatort,” like “CSI” here in the states, has teams of detectives serving up justice in different cities in Germany. The one we like best is “Tatort: Cologne” with Freddy and Max. After a rocky start they form a solid team. Much of the work gets done at a wurst and fries place in the shadow of the Cologne Cathedral, a UN Heritage site. “Tatort” touches on issues of the day such as elder care, immigration, and disability rights. In fact, there’s a news show on afterwards that uses the plots as a springboard for discussion. A little clumsy in some places, but worth it.

For dark laughs, there’s “Crime Scene Cleaner.” It’s just what it sounds like. Schotty cleans up after murders and unattended deaths. Yes, there’s blood and yes, there’s some gore. But for his conversations with the ghost of a therapist murdered by a client (“My feelings about my death are not relevant. She released ten years of pent-up rage!”) and getting tangled up in often embarrassing personal aspects of a victim’s life (such as the dominatrix showing up for an appointment with the dead guy) it’s worth it.

Personally, I don’t really care for the Nordic mysteries that much. Hubby is very fond of “Beck,” but caveats abound for dark and disturbing themes. He also like “Wallander,” but the rights expired and there you go.

This should be enough to get you started.

Overall, the emphasis in European mysteries is on procedure and relationships of the characters rather than on car chases and gun fights, reflecting the training of law enforcement officers in different localities. By and large, they’re trained to shoot to incapacitate instead of kill and that’s only as a last resort.

As a whole, European TV just seems a little more grown up, a little more sophisticated. And that’s not a bad thing to aspire to, is it?

Rage Eating

I ate a slice of banana bread at a lithe blonde celebrity nutrition and fitness expert on TV yesterday. She looks like she’s maybe 40 but is actually 60, which is my age. She was in a little filler feature on the early morning news that I catch on weekends before “CBS Sunday Morning” begins. Her idea for anti-aging: eat 30 grams of protein at each meal to preserve muscle tone that one is likely to lose as time goes on in one’s life. OK, that’s nice, but who can eat that much at one time? I can’t.

The book that had propelled her to fame theorized that inflammation caused by food allergies made people hang on to weight. The plan cut out gluten, sugar and artificial sweeteners, dairy, legumes (including peanuts), eggs, soy, and corn.

In other words, what I’ve cut out to counter the allergies sprung by whatever triggered them plus chocolate, black tea, coffee, and nightshade (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant) vegetables. For some weird reason I can handle soy products without an issue, but everything else on the list makes my left eye swell and look bruised. No other part of my body reacts; just the left side of my face.

Have I lost weight? I have no idea. I haven’t been weighed since my last visit to Doc Primary when his assistants corralled me on to the scale in the hall before ushering me back to the exam room. That was October. The crappy weather this winter and days when the weight of grief over Oakley’s passing nailed me to the sofa haven’t helped.

Have I gained resentments? Yes. I can’t eat cheese; I can’t have an occasional croissant; the treats at the small cafe where I meet a friend on Sundays for tea are completely out of the question. And I am limited as to where I can go to eat out. Chipotle is out of the question, much as I love it, because of one of the peppers in the seasoning mix. The last time I ate at our favorite Indian place it took two days for my face to calm its t*ts and return to its normal color. On the upside, there’s a Chinese takeout place up the road that’s always an option if I avoid the spicer entrees. The salad bar at Whole Foods (don’t judge me) is another place that I can rely on since they list the ingredients on the ID tags. We’ve been getting rotisserie chickens and kebabs from the market that fits Hubby’s religious dietary requirements since that doesn’t cause me to spike reactions. If I can look at a restaurant’s menu in advance I can determine which ingredients can be deleted from my salad.

All well and good, but I am getting exhausted from the constant struggle to work around potential allergens. When I was little we had to deal with an assortment of allergies, weight, and my dad’s heart issues. Drove my mom to tears on more than one occasion. I wish that I could hug her and thank her for her efforts.

I have found alternative treats, but they just aren’t the same. Except for the banana bread. And I did find a recipe for gluten free brownies that took kindly to carob that is not bad at all. However, the constant need to search the web for answers, the exhortations to stay positive, and all the chirpy-happy health bloggers out there drag me down sometimes.

As they did yesterday. I’d already had two gluten free waffles one with with alt-butter, one with almond butter, both with syrup for breakfast and didn’t really need the slice of banana bread, but I ate it anyway as I stared daggers at the TV with the middle finger on my free hand deployed.

Somehow, despite the lack of class and maturity on my part, I felt a lot better.

Treasure Hunting

After several days of above average temperatures and bright skies, the weather pendulum swung back to precipitation and wind chills more suitable to early March.

With a sigh, I made a cup of tea and spent a good part of the morning making the rounds of Facebook, my preferred news sites, and YouTube for dog videos while Hubby ran over to the ag store in the next town over to get a cap or two to wear while doing yard work. His impressive stash of caps became decimated through wearing out and leaving some at his mom’s house in Michigan. Despite a lack of head coverings he’d worked under the bright sun this past weekend and had turned quite pink as a result. Not quite burned, but close enough to serve as a reminder that he needed to protect himself.

So shopping he went. Ends up the caps at the ag store were all in the neighborhood of $20. That’s a lot to spend on something that will be subjected to sweat, rain, mud, and worse. An associate told him in low and confidential tones that the thrift store sold them for around $3.

Hubby called from the ag store’s parking lot to relay the information. Want to make a run to the thrift store in our town?

Yes, please. The dog-related videos hadn’t quite cleansed my palate of the stories of the latest shootings and attacks on civil liberties. Time for a change of scenery. Anyway, I wanted to get pots for a couple of aloe plants I’d been gifted (been keeping them in a vase with water) as well. I hadn’t made time to stop there to see what they had.

The ag store associate was correct. Hubby found three caps that were in reasonable shape. Based on the logos, they were likely part of corporate promotion give aways. They fit well, and will do the job of protecting him from the sun for very reasonable prices. I found two pots for the plants that will do for now (they were a gift from my acupuncture doc whose office aloe plant had propagated like no one’s business. If these take after their parent I should be able to pass on the blessings in short order).

That being done….want to go to the secondhand store in the nearest big city? The huge one?

Why not? Either that or get depressed over the news.

We kept the jazz station on as we drove the half hour through the spitting snow to the north side of the big city. It had been years since we’d shopped there. The last thing that I remember buying there was a bowl for Oakley when he was attending day long sessions at his first day care. It’s off white ceramic with CHIEN in blue letters on the side.

Anyway, time for some new memories. This store is more selective with accepted donations than the one in my town and organizes their merchandise displays better, plus they have antiques in a discreet room in the back. Were I starting out I would have no hesitation equipping my home with purchases from this place, right down to the good china carefully stashed in plastic storage tubs.

We wandered the aisles until we reached the books. Hubby wisely went off on his own so I could browse, drool, and shake from the sheer volume of volumes. I found a book of daily meditations, a copy of Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes (I’d loaned my first copy to someone I’m no longer in touch with), a biography of Mozart, and just in time for the coronation of Charles III next month, the memoirs of Sarah Ferguson, his ex-sister in law. Oh, and one other book I don’t recall but was happy to find it.

Between the two stores, we spent about the same as the price of a cap from the ag store. That made us both happy. Knowing that we’d done our part to keep stuff out of the landfill made me as thrilled as scoring a hardcover edition of a juicy book by a former member of the Windsor clan had.

And we’d had a little fun in the process.


I wound the leashes around my hand, folded the harness, then laid them on top of the bandannas from the groomer and the sympathy cards that had poured in after Oakley’s Rainbow Bridge crossing lining the bottom of the box. Placed my hand on them, then lowered the box’s angel-embossed lid. It went into the closet with a sack of his report cards from day care.

I’d donated his downstairs bed and toys to a local shelter. One of the front desk ladies at the vets’ volunteers there, so it was just a matter of dropping all of that off at the clinic. Gave one of his special toys to a youngster from his day care pack he’d been apparently close to.

With those tasks completed, I made a cup of tea and sat on the sofa wondering now what? After a winter of grief and recovery from the shingles complications and realizing that I didn’t have to chop the day into four to six hour chunks to accommodate feeding and potty schedules, the doors of possibility had opened wide.

Now what, indeed? Which doors should I walk through?

What would help me feel really alive and not just like I was breathing after that protracted pause? I did some journaling about what had made me feel useful in the past. Or, as a wise woman once asked me when I struggled with some sense of meaning and purpose, “What pisses you off the most?”

Gawds,,,there’s so much. Narrowed it down to hunger and poverty; environmental degradation; what LGBTQ+ plus people face on a daily basis….and don’t forget supporting rescues for companion animals.

Small steps. What felt right to do next in that moment?

I made a donation to the food pantry. That felt good.

And then I re-upped for the Sierra Club. The local group is pretty active with work days and walks and social events like picnics. One of the members is a commissioner for the county board north of me. PM-ed her about a day meeting this past Monday concerning emission reductions in her county. Yes, please; we’d be delighted to have you.

So I went. The consultant who developed the plan gave an optimistic presentation about ways that emissions (the majority of which are caused by transportation and utilities) could be reduced by 25% by 2030 while saving a significant chunk o’change in the process. How? Trees to cool things off and solar power installations on public buildings to reduce dependence on the grid are involved. Throw in a few tweaks to public transportation and we’ll be able to prevent having a climate resembling Alabama’s.

Nope, nope, nope. I’ll keep my seasons, thank you, and no alligators or huge snakes dropping from trees, either, while we’re on the subject.

I introduced myself to a couple of group members, made small talk, then excused myself.

On the drive home (in Glamorous Gaia the Pretty Princess Prius, of course) the question became what else? What else do I need to do?

That was easy.

April 4 is Election Day for county and municipal issues. For my precinct that means fire protection district board trustees and school board members. Yesterday I stopped by the county building to vote early.

Even though the ballot questions are about as local as they can be, it doesn’t mean that they’re unimportant or won’t have long reaching consequences. In this case, several science and vaccine deniers were on the slate for the fire protection district. I don’t relish the thought of being worked on by EMTs to begin with, and relish being worked on by an unvaccinated or unmasked EMT even less. As far as the school board is concerned, there were two seats that need to be filled by people who are rational, fact-based, and won’t impose their religious beliefs or views on civil rights through book banning.

I was in and out of the elections office in less than five minutes.

That’s all it took to do my part to lesson the odds that anyone would be exposed to anything nasty should the need for EMT intervention arise and reduce the chances that students in the local school district will receive an education that won’t be clouded by censorship.

Afterwards I went to the state park and took a long walk through the woods and along the river. Yes, this.

Yes to small steps.

Yes to holding on to optimism.

And yes to what may come my way in terms of restructuring life.

Calling the Kraken: Enhanced SNAP Benefits Are About to Expire. Practice Your Art.

This is not good.

Inflation is keeping food prices sky high and the enhancements to SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance) intended to alleviate pandemic related issues are about to expire.

This is not good at all.

Depending on the website, between 20-25% per cent of US households are food insecure. Households with adults only run on the low side of that stat; ones with children on the higher side. Seniors on fixed incomes will get hit hard, too.

It means people are going to get sick and not have the energy to function. It means kids won’t be able to concentrate in school because they have empty stomachs. If they can’t function at school, how can they possibly get ahead in the world?

How obscene is that–here we are in one of the richest countries in the world and 25% of the children may go to bed hungry at any time? What can we do?

We have to go back to individual actions. So far today, I have:


–calmed myself down with a cup of tea and contacted my federal elected representatives including President Biden. The ones at the state level believe that hunger and poverty are family values. Hashtag feeling cute; might call or email Governor Pritzker later.

–looked at the Northern Illinois Food Bank’s website for ideas on how to get further involved.

Can you shoot your senators and representative a line? Or call? OK. Great. Only takes about five minutes.

Now, on a more immediate and local basis, let’s review ways to support our local community pantries and food banks:

–Donate cash. Through their brand of magic these agencies can make eight meals from $1. At least they were able to a few years ago. I don’t know what the ratio of meals to a dollar is now, but they can stretch it out.

–If you prefer to donate actual food, please, please, please give canned proteins like tuna, salmon, chicken, turkey. Nut butters are good. Canned fruits (packed in juice, not syrup) and veggies are always welcomed. Plant based milks in tetra packs would be a good thing, too. So would cooking oil, spices, salt and pepper, flour, sugar, baking mixes. Not everyone can handle a steady diet of beans, rice, jarred tomato sauce, and pasta. If you do donate pasta, spare a thought for the gluten impaired and give some made with rice, quinoa, or corn flours.

–Cleaning and personal hygiene are always welcomed. SNAP benefits don’t cover non-food items like spray cleaners, paper towels, toilet paper, napkins, diapers (did you know that babies go through at least eight a day?), and supplies for people who menstruate.

–Some pantries have programs for feeding pets. Check to see if your local one does.

Until there’s a massive change in the cultural messages about toxic levels of self sufficiency, about poverty being a moral defect, and greed being good, we have to return to grass roots compassion.

Now, make yourself a cup of tea, pick out an action, and get busy, Gentle Readers.

WIEAD: The WolfMama Edition

One of the frequently memed scenes in “Downton Abbey” occurs during a dinner when one of the characters uses the term “weekend” in conversation. Unfamiliar with the term, the Dowager Countess asks, “What–what is a weekend?”

And as she inquired about this phrase, you, Gentle Reader, may be wondering what–what is a WIEAD?

It’s an abbreviation for “what I eat in a day.” YouTube is bursting at the seams with videos created by models, actors, and fitness influencers detailing their food consumption on a typical day. Some of them are fairly sensible with reasonable amounts of protein, fats, and carbs; some involve celery juice and Evian water as the day’s main sustenance. Others can make your hair stand on end, such as one vlogger who claims that an all-fruit diet meets every nutritional need and that she intended to feed her baby nothing but what the South Pacific island she lived on had to offer in terms of pineapples, bananas, and so on.

I shuddered when I read that. It was a couple of years ago. I hope the kid is OK, or that there was some kind of intervention. Granted that no one food plan fits all, but last time I checked, not feeding a kid healthy fats and protein in some form and complex carbs is a recipe for disaster in terms of physical growth and cognitive development.

No, I will not say her name or repost videos because I don’t want to give her any more attention.

I digress. (steps down from soapbox)

So, with all these sensitivities that I’ve sprung because of the reactions and gut biome issues, what do I eat these days? A typical day goes like this:

Breakfast: 1. oatmeal with nuts, oat milk, and fruit or 2. eggs with avocado and fruit or 3. toast and nut butter with fruit. This morning I had gluten free toast with banana and mixed nut butter.

Lunch: 1. hunk o’protein* on a salad or 2. soup or 3. leftovers from the night before. Today I had a huge salad with tuna on top and romaine, cucumber. carrot, and red cabbage with homemade ranch dressing.

Dinner: 1. hunk o’protein* and roasted veg or 2. soup or 3. salad. Once or twice a week I’ll have pasta with broccoli and either tuna or salmon. Later I will bake some chicken and have it with roasted veggies like cauliflower, broccoli, or maybe asparagus. I intend to cook extra for tomorrow’s salad.

Carbs are mostly from rice these days. I’m going to have some butternut squash tonight. That should be good. Hubby doesn’t like it so I don’t eat it very often, but I will tonight.

Olive oil and nuts are my main sources of fats. Olive oil counts as a food group for Hubby and me. I do use some coconut oil and an occasional slather of vegan butter on my toast.

For snacks, I munch gluten-free crackers, fruit, nuts, or whatever baking I’ve experimented with on a given day. And cashew or almond yogurt.

Oh, what do I use as a sweetener? I’ve been using liquid monk fruit extract. A few drops makes oatmeal quite yummy with no weird aftertaste. I’ve had good luck with it in baking as well. Sugar free baking is a new frontier for me, so stay tuned for results.

It’s been just about two months since I started eating this way. This food plan and acupuncture have returned me to my normal skin tone for the most part. There’s an occasional small flare when I eat something that annoys my insides, such as some seasonings and some foods. It’s hard to determine exactly what because there’s a 36-48 hour delay between when I eat something offending and when my eyelids swell or red patches show up. When that happens, I take an antihistamine tablet, drink extra water and take extra fiber, and go on with my day.

My hope is that my autoimmune system will calm its t*ts and I will eventually be able to eat like I did a year ago. I miss tomatoes a lot. I look at pictures of cheese, butter, and baguette the way I usually look at Kevin Costner in “Dances With Wolves.” Weirdly enough, I don’t really crave chocolate that much. A sign of the Apocalypse? Perhaps.

Perhaps not.

But even with all the eliminations, I can always find something to eat and enjoy.

*The term “hunk o’protein” was first used by someone I knew on Twitter before the algorithms decided that I was a bot and kicked me off. The term isn’t my invention, so I give them credit for it.