The Involuntary Unintended Social Media Detox

 

glass cup with raspberry inside and outside
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I’d been spending too much time on FaceBook and Twitter lately. I’ll be honest about it. Even with using my cell phone’s timer to avoid social media becoming a time sink, animal videos, tag team trolling my current congress rep about his support of the current administration’s abhorrent policies and so on started taking too much time.

I needed at least a day off. A detox. But there was this cat video and that dog pic and another video about wombats and….

The intervention came Tuesday afternoon when the internet cut out with no warning. At first I thought nothing of it since our service runs on the hiccupy side, especially in summer. Usually it comes back by itself in a few moments. This time it didn’t.

Hubby called the service provider. After twenty minutes on hold, a cheerful person asked if he’d unplugged the modem and plugged it back in. Little did said rep know that s/he spoke with a retired telecom engineer who had designed some of the software for one of the first versions of the Net back in the mid ’80s. Finally after a lot of questions about the hardware on this end and trying to sell Hubby a $99 upgrade for email service, the tech finally backed off and ran the tests. No, we were not getting a signal. No, couldn’t tell why from that end. Someone would be sent out in the next two or three days to see what was going on, and if they have to come inside, there will be a charge. Oh, we may not be able to get to you until next week. Or maybe even the week after that.

This is on the heels of our downstairs air conditioning unit conking out on Monday thanks to some rodent chewing the insulation off the wires that hook the unit to the thermostat. (That was a relief since Hubby thought the compressor had breathed its last cooling breath. If anyone asks, peace of mind costs $139. The compressor costs more than some cars we’ve both driven.)

The air. Now this. And the next Mercury retrograde doesn’t happen until the 25th of this month.

In the spirit of preparedness, Hubby went up to the local brick and mortar store for our cellular service to find out what we’d have to do to get going with wireless internet. As he  drove up the main road by our house, he saw several repair trucks setting up to get busy. He stopped and asked the foreman what had happened.

Well, Tuesday was mowing day along the main road. One of the mowers had taken out not just a junction box (the green boxes that hold wiring for phone and internet lines), but pulled up almost a mile of cable along with it. The mower blades had chopped the cable into tiny pieces. The severed end was so badly damaged that the repair crew had to dig up another considerable length before they found wires that would hold the splicing with the new cable. Then they had to attach that to a new junction box, verify that all of the accounts were getting service, then bury the cable. And then we and the other 599 impacted households would be back in business.

That was if they could get one of the crews specializing in disaster recovery on site.

Well, so be it. I still could have used my phone or taken my laptop to my favorite tea room, but I didn’t. I read a book that I had purchased at Ren Faire last weekend about Vikings. Watched more TV than I want to admit. Ran some errands. Read. Cooked. Brought the boom box downstairs (we use a Sonos device to route streaming radio stations through our stereo). Communed with real life.

Hubby was ready to rock and roll today with setting up the completely wireless net access, but his fun was interrupted last night by service resuming as if nothing had happened.

Today I checked in for about fifteen minutes on each of my social media platforms. I wrote this. I will work on a writing project this afternoon.

But wait…shouldn’t the pics from Oakley’s day care session on Tuesday be posted? And I need to see how this friend’s dog is doing after surgery, and there’s the T-Rex videos, and…

Maybe I need another detox.

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Gross

photo of crocodile in water
Photo by Aldo Picaso on Pexels.com

If we’d stumbled across a gator on our walk this morning, I would not have been the least surprised. Startled as hell, yes, but not surprised. I don’t know what the numbers were, but they must have been decidedly tropical. You know, the ones that make a person wonder why “gross” isn’t a widely used meteorological term.

Walking this morning was akin to wrestling with a blanked washed in hot water. Once we were five steps from the car, the beads of sweat formed rivulets that converged into rivers flowing south from my torso.

This was sweat. Not the sexy little trickle nestled in a fitness model’s cleavage. Not the sheen of an athlete. This was stinky, dirty, wait-thirty minutes-until-it-stops-or-you’ll- start-again sweat. My shirt stuck to my back and my hair stuck to my head by the time we completed the half-hour trail. I wondered if moss grew anywhere on my body.

Adding to the hilarity was my daily round of hot flashes, the bane of women in their middle years. (For younger readers and those not of a persuasion to flashes, it can be anything from feeling like you’re going to spontaneously combust for about thirty seconds to long, sweaty affairs that feel like you’re running a fever lasting up to fifteen minutes. Mine are in the former category and for some weird reason I get them in the morning, mostly. A lot of ladies get them at night. Now you know what they’re like. You’re welcome.) And we were inundated with bugs that mistook the herbal repellant for a condiment.

Oakley and I still put in our thirty minutes. He panted, but was otherwise unscathed. I jacked up the air conditioning in the car for our comfort and safety on the way home.  When we came through the door, he drank a half bowl of water and flopped in front of the fan.

I felt the same after a shower and a glass of iced tea. Once again, life became a bearable proposition.

At this writing, we have the first in a series of thunderstorms slated for this afternoon moving through the area. They herald a break in this heat that’s hung around since last Friday.

We welcome it, indeed.

The Keeping of Hope and Faith in Strange Times

 

Image courtesy Old Design Shop

 

 

Just when it looks like rock bottom’s been hit, the current administration digs a hole and goes even lower. I’m not going to post the picture of Melania-Antoinette in her jacket with the graphic on the back proclaiming “I don’t really care” as she left her photo op  at one of the children’s concentration camps in Texas. Please Google it. I will not post her picture or say anything further  in this space to curtail the spread of evil.

I will tell you that yesterday’s act of casual cruelty shook me to my core. With a heavy heart and aching head, I shut off the computer.

Unfortunately, we live in times where we can’t go into lassis-faire mode about the news. The challenge is to stay as well informed as possible without events numbing us into apathy. How, then, do we pay attention without losing our minds?

  • Find a reliable news source, but limit checking it. I go to the CBC website a couple of times a day unless something such as a perp walk  or indictment breaks. I also like BBC and DW for their calmness and refusal to normalize the BS coming out of DC.
  • Read history books and articles. I find impermanence comforting, and I find the stories of how everyday people survived craziness inspiring. On my to-read list is The Fourth Turning (sorry, don’t have author info at hand). The authors stipulate that modern history runs in cycles of approximately eighty years of ascension and decline, but with each cycle, we end up closer to a just and equal society. The US Civil War (the declared one, not the one going on right now through bad behavior and social media) and World War II were about eighty years apart. We are about eighty years on from the beginning of World War II starting in Europe. The decline is happening, but there are signs that the ascension is on the way (look at how many young ones are getting involved, registering to vote, speaking out).
  • Keep an eyewitness journal. What’s changed in the last eighteen months? How has it impacted your personal world? Think about Ken Burns’ films and how the letters and diaries featured gave names and faces to the people alive at those times, and making it more real than a list of dates and events ever could.
  • Kindness. Look for kindness. Journal on that as well. I’ve quoted her before and will do so again: Mr. Rogers’ mom reminded him to look for the helpers in troubled times. Be kind any way you can.
  • Anti-toxins for the spirit include nature (if you can play in the woods or a garden, great; if not, YouTube has a plethora of videos); art that you create or appreciate; uplifting music; and handing out with friends.
  • Let your voice be heard. The rep for my district or whoever runs his social media put a person I know in Twitter jail earlier this week for tweets about detained children. Very well, then. I started tweeting my senators and letting them know about the lack of response from the erstwhile representative. I tweeted to the Democratic candidate,  I also tweeted to other possibly interested parties like the UN Human Rights Commission and the International Criminal Justice Court. You know, the one in The Hague? Yes, that one.
  • If you have a spiritual practice, do it with the intention to stay sane and grounded during these turbulent days. If you don’t, just set an intention to do so.

We will get through this. I don’t know how, but somehow, we will.

 

 

 

Life in an Oddly Shaped District

Welcome to my congressional district, baby. It’s a mishmash of two old money cities (St. Charles and Geneva); three rustbelt cities in the process of getting gentrified (Aurora, Batavia, Geneva); small farming communities, and towns swept up in the never-ending sprawl of the suburbs. I’m in the southern third in a community that exemplifies the rural white mentality.

We ended up in the soybean field when Hubby had his midlife crisis. He decided that he wanted to build a house. Any lots near his place of work were astronomical. We found the land just before the building boom took off in the mid-’90s when the county of our residence was declared one of the hottest places to live. The influx of residents who moved out here from suburbs closer to the city did so to get some space from their fellows. Or in some cases, to get away from “bad influences” (read: diversifying populations), sycophants with the rural white voter base already out here.

Currently, we are represented by Randy Hultgren, poster boy for the guns and Jesus crowd. He’s taken NRA money. He promotes himself as a pipeline to the federal government. However, that only applies if you agree with him. The rest of us contacting his office get canned emails; rude or clueless staffers who have told constituents to check Google or the website for his position on issues; and conference call town halls inconveniently scheduled at times when most people are carpooling, eating dinner, or attending their children’s school activities. He’s also made appearances with no notice at big box home improvement stores to shake hands et. al. Oh, and let’s not forget the day when a group of peaceful protesters with questions about changes to the Affordable Care Act were greeted by a locked office door. Very well, then. They returned to the parking lot to hold up their signs. Once out there, they saw eyes and fingers parting the blinds in the office windows.

Personally, I gave up calling Rep. Hultgren’s office a long time ago after a staffer named Brian hung up on me when I expressed concern about health care issues. However, I have been retweeting items on Twitter with little reminders that this is how history will remember him and does he really want to be on the wrong side of it?

Evidently, apathy rules his day. This week has been especially frustrating concerning the children being separated from their parents at the border between Mexico and Texas. One of my local friends who’s more active than I am in politics called his office to ask about his position.

She was told that he hadn’t said anything about it and didn’t know if he had an opinion on it one way or another.

I should also mention that Rep. Hultgren is co-chair of this the human rights commission.

The last few days I’ve tweeted him relentlessly about the children’s concentration camps. Not just him, but the International Court of Justice at the Hague, the UN, Amnesty International…you get the picture.

Where the hell is Obi-Wan Kenobi when you need him?

Or maybe we don’t. Maybe we need to take a deep breath and regroup, then start working for a candidate who really cares about her constituents. Should statistics and chance favor us, we should be under the leadership of Lauren Underwood  in November. She’s an RN with political experience as a senior advisor at the Department of Health and Human Services appointed by President Obama. She helped implement the Affordable Care Act as well as working on disaster management and prevention programs.

Somehow, after the last eighteen months, Ms. Underwood’s disaster management skills seem especially applicable.

Sunday Notes of the Random Sort

 

Image courtesy Old Design Shop

 

(No, not quite like that.)

Late this week, the weather settled into a pattern conforming with the norms and standards of late spring/early summer. Metrological summer, not astronomical summer, that is. I spent five or ten minutes here and there pulling weeds and what had been labeled as mesclun mix on the seed packet from the raised bed this week. Finally, yesterday under a blue and grey ombre sky, I evicted the last of the rogue salad blend, dug out six inches around the burrow created by the critter this last winter, and planted the garden.

Since weather conducive to planting without risk of hypothermia or heat stroke came late this year, I decided to get some already started plants at our local ag store. Oakley and I walked at a nearby prairie restoration, then we stopped and selected the plants. We have three kinds of tomatoes (large heirloom varieties called Brandywine and Cherokee Purple for Hubby; yellow pear for me); yellow squash; lavender and basil (their aromas please the senses while warding off insects); cucumbers; and cilantro. From seed I planted rainbow carrots, parsley, green beans, and radishes. Water and wait.

Afterwards, I took a hot shower and coated my back with an analgesic roll-on to prevent my muscles from freezing into an unintended backbend. It worked.

Hubby’s next class started yesterday. It’s an internship where he gets to work on projects for his instructor’s clients. He was happy and geeked up and then…

Then came the text. His brother-in-law  (BIL)  had been in remission for a couple of months, but started having problems breathing recently. During the workup, they found out that the chemo and radiation f–ed up his lungs. Technically speaking, it’s called pulmonary pneumenosis. The treatments for the cancer caused damage and inflammation leading to the bronchial sacs becoming stiffened, making it hard to fully inhale or exhale. To add to the hilarity (she says, dripping with sarcasm), the cancer came back and took up camp in his liver. He’s in the hospital. We don’t know how long he has. Not much else can be done at this time except wait the interminable wait for the call we don’t want.

I talked myself out of making a cake. It wouldn’t help BIL, and with the mood that news triggered last night it likely may not have made it into the oven.

We’ve spent the day keeping ourselves distracted. Hubby is working on cabinets for his mom’s house. It’s keeping him busy.

Oakley and I are staying busy as well. We had our usual weekend morning walk with our friends early today. I took Oakley shopping at his favorite store. They finally had the bunny burgers in stock, making both of us very happy. Better yet, they had put a couple of bags of the burgers aside with a note to check with us to see if we wanted them. That made the day a lot better.

After lunch I put Oakley in the car for a ride. I needed to clear my head. We drove aimlessly, and stopped at a forest preserve. Usually this one is relatively desolate, but today a family reunion took place. A huge one. I smiled, waved, picked the way out of the creatively parked cars back to the main road and brought us home.

Hubby continues with building cabinets. I write. I need to clear out the dishwasher while contemplating one of the great mysteries of life: how two adults and a dog can create that many dirty dishes in a 24-hour cycle.

Maybe that’s not such a mystery, after all. Maybe the small tasks of everyday life are gifts, are the things that give us structure as we navigate the winds of change.

The Memorial Day Entry

Or as we call it around these parts of the soybean field, “Monday.”

A very hot one at that with temps reaching well over 80 before 8 AM. Despite all good intentions to get in a 45 minute walk this morning, it grew too hot for both Oakley and me. We bailed at the 20 minute mark. We made one run outside for the most personal of personal reasons since then. He’s taken up camp in front of the fan used to augment the air conditioning and seems uninterested in moving again until dinner.

Hubby is building something in the garage. I have no idea what he’s working on, but as long as he’s happy, it’s all good.

I haven’t done very much today. I’ve played on line; read new-to-me books; watched a repeat of a Swedish spy thriller. The extreme heat precluded work on the garden. Again. It is what it is. The weather should break on Wednesday. Maybe then.

Both weekend days’ highs climbed well into the 90s, too.  Last night, we decided to go to our favorite used book store (20% off everything+selling a bunch of books=a lot of fun for both of us), then out to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants across the street in lieu of trying to cook out.

When we turned onto the north-south state route where said attractions lie, we noticed several police cars and IDOT trucks parked at intervals. A bad accident? A sinkhole? Road blocks to check for registration and seat belt usage (and a discreet check for alcohol use)? Nope. The pavement had buckled and shattered in several locations from the heat, necessitating navigation by the officers so all could drive around them in an orderly, safe manner. Tricky on a Sunday night, but had this happened on that stretch of road on a workday, traffic would have been backed up to Kentucky and Wisconsin.

To my best of my recollections,  this kind of weather never happened when I was younger, much younger. There were warmer than average Memorial Day weekends, certainly, but with highs reaching into the low 80s, not pushing 100. Usually, we could go on a picnic with our grandparents and a couple of other stray relatives. Or have everyone over for a cook-out.

Memorial Day is a much quieter affair now. Distance, logistics, and so on have bumped it to the wayside, save for a picnic when the weather is half-decent.  Personally, I don’t care driving on this day, or July 4, or Labor Day. Parades and observations of the two former with no good escape routes in our little town  snarl traffic into dreadlocks. Labor Day just involves keeping a sharp eye out for cops who want to pad municipal coffers at the expense of careless drivers.

I just would rather stay home, thank you. We have left overs from last night for dinner; we have air conditioning; our basic needs are met. WFMT played selections from Gershwin, Porter, and Sousa. We don’t need to be anywhere, so we will simply celebrate the comfort of the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Royal Wedding Entry That You Knew I Was Going to Write

Image courtesy The Graphics Fairy. Not Harry and Meghan, but you get the idea.

Yes, I was up at 5:30 AM with my tea. (I’m usually up by 6 give or take, so no big deal.) And tissues. I get a little weepy at weddings. (Sometimes a lot weepy, like at my brother’s. Slamming back three apricot sours to numb the agony of a recent breakup while suiting up for bridesmaid duty didn’t help. But that’s a story for another time.)  I dabbed my eyes quietly (neither Hubby or Oakley were up) as I watched the magic, the romance unfold.

After a week of the ongoing constitutional crisis here in the US highlighted with threats to the social safety net and ending with two school shootings on the same day, we needed Bishop Michael Curry to remind everyone of the healing power of love to change the world for the better through his words and the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.

We needed the quiet dignity of a mother who moved mountains by fiercely loving her daughter into a woman of strength, intelligence, elegance, and grace. Meghan’s second major at Northwestern University was international studies. Remember that.

We needed the living timeline of the British royals to see how far the world has come, yet has along way to go.

We needed to see a warrior duchess* and her brave, bold, handsome prince join hearts and hands to advance humanitarian efforts around the world. Their selection of “Stand By Me” took on an added layer of meaning in that light.

Of course there were critics castigating them for spending that much on a wedding in the face of today’s plagues on society. The wedding and receptions were paid for by the Windsors. Meghan paid for her own dress. The balance of the cost was for security, and that came in at around $43 million. That’s rather staggering in total, but if you divide it by  the population of the UK (66,529,896), it comes out to less than a dollar a person. Considering that the Queen and company are a huge attraction, the tourists will get it paid for shortly.

Two days later, I’m back in the groove of tweeting on social issues, doing what I can to promote Lauren Underwood for my next congress rep (I gave up on Randy Hultgren. His apathy towards constituents and rude staffers is legion. I’d rather put my energies on Ms. Underwood). I turn over Bishop Curry’s words in my mind, hoping that love coupled with a healthy dose of action will somehow pull us out of this mess.

I wish Meghan and Harry all the best and then some, but if I had one piece of advice to give them as they go about their lives, I would remind them that they are two fantastic humans, not pizza, not tacos. Not everyone is going to like or approve of their causes. Not everyone is going to support their efforts.

May they stand by one another on this journey, and may all that is good go with them.

*Meghan will be known as HRH the Duchess of Sussex, not Princess, due to not being a royal or noble by birth and her US citizenship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friendly Reminder: Tomorrow (5/12) Is the Postal Carriers’ Food Drive

Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive Logo

Get your canned goods bagged up and by the mail box tomorrow. It’s the 26th annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive sponsored by the USPS. You provide the food. Your carrier and colleagues will do the rest.

On a daily basis, 42 million Americans (12 million of them children, for Mystery’s sake–how sick is that?) face food insecurity (the fancy way of saying that they don’t know where their next meal will come from) on any given day. Proposed cuts to SNAP will make it even worse if passed.

In addition to contacting your elected officials both at the state and federal level to prevent this abomination, please take a little time today to go through your pantry or stop at the store for nonperishables. Food pantries need:

  • Canned tuna, salmon, and chicken
  • Nut butters.
  • Shelf-stable plant based or dairy milk
  • Canned vegetables, fruit, and soup, preferably low sodium
  • Cereals such as oatmeal
  • Beans and pasta
  • Cooking oil
  • Pet food
  • Cleaning and hygiene products (not covered by SNAP)

For more information and statistics, please visit Feeding America‘s website. And remember what Mr. Roger’s mother told him about coping in scary times: look for the helpers. Tomorrow you’ll not only have the chance to see them in action, but you get to be one as well.

 

An Atypical Fondness for Monday

Yeah, I kind of felt like that this weekend:

It wasn’t a bad weekend, not really, but dodging of flying objects needed to be done.

The festivities began on Thursday. For some reason during the first part of May, Oakley gets a colitis flare-up. Right on time, it arrived.  The urgent 2 AM potty run request pulled me out of a sound sleep. I called the vets’ office, explained what was going on, asked if Doc R. wanted me to bring him in or of we could just fill a prescription for antibiotic and so when could I pick it up? They called back, saying I could pick it up before closing. We quickly ran over to pick it up. I checked Oakley’s weight–he’s lost six pounds of the weight brought on by the Prednisone. We slept better that night.

On Friday, I confirmed that my nephew was in town for his birthday. Oakley and I would make the drive up to see him at his parents’. I decided to make one of my grandma’s carrot cakes to take with, not a formal birthday cake, but just a little something to contribute to whatever festivities there were. Sounds good; see you tomorrow.

Saturday began with a clogged toilet. With not a little cursing and not a few petitions to any deities concerned with plumbing, I unclogged it. With a sigh of relief, I returned to my native land of the kitchen to put the cake together.

Eggs, flour, sugar, cinnamon, carrots, baking soda, carrots, and butter were introduced to one another in the medium sized pink bowl. Oh, don’t forget the dash of salt. Just a dash. A bit of stirring, then into the 9″x13″ glass pan. Set oven to 325F. Puttered, wiped counters, wondered why the oven was taking so long to heat.

Because it wasn’t. Hubby troubleshot. The igniter went bad, most likely. He launched into a mumbled rant concerning everything breaking at once. Well, the stove is the one we’ve had since he build the house 18 years ago, and the plumbing is plumbing, and the VW is 15 years old and the lock cylinder on the driver’s side needs replacing and…

Alrighty, then. When he gets rant-y like that, nothing can be done. Just let it draw to its natural conclusion while making sympathetic noises. Scoop batter into two separate pans that can fit into the toaster oven. So it just took a little longer.

This was all before 8 AM. This was all before my second cup of tea. As I started the slide into a pool of self pity, I reminded myself that I had coped well, and should be pleased with myself for staying centered,  and for that a second cup had been earned. Especially since I make a point of not opening the wine before 4PM, antioxidants and iron aside.

After breakfast, the day leveled out, or so we thought. I loaded Oakley and the cake into the car and headed off to my brother’s and sister-in-law’s. The visit itself was pleasant, if a bit tricky. Nephew had brought his cat home. Oakley loves cats, and believes all cats, like Sonny at his day care and boarding place, want to be friends with him. I kept him on his leash since Nephew’s kitty seemed ambivalent at best. Kitty hid in Nephew’s room or under the sofa table. If I were a 10-pound cat, I would be intimidated by an 85-pound dancing, squealing, play bowing dog as well.

Due vigilance prevented any incidents. We had a good visit, and parted ways. As I drove off, I adjusted the car’s air conditioning. It hadn’t responded well on the way up, and now  the air blowing from the vents was the same temperature as the air in the car. I opened windows, stopped at a drive through for iced coffee (me) and ice water (Oakley). The high for the day topped out at 85.  I sprinkled Oakley with the water at each stoplight to cool him down. He set a personal best for number of stink eyes shot in my direction in an hour.

Hubby was cleaning the garage when we pulled up. The sorting, stacking, and sweeping had proven therapeutic for him. When I let him know about the A/C, he shrugged. “Well, it is 15 years old,” he observed.

I concurred. Not much else to do, especially since I had neglected to grab a bottle of rose or Shiraz. We watched a goofy sci-fi movie on TV followed by an international mystery, then went to sleep.

Sunday began with a bit of rain. It cleared in time for us to walk with friends. The chaos dissipated, and the day unfolded in a most pleasant manner.

Still, it was good to start a fresh week this morning.

 

 

 

 

Beltane Eve

 

spring-trees-1403394.jpg

 

Finally, the weather picked a lane. The grass turned green; flowers unfurl their petals. This calls for a dance. 

In some quarters, Beltane, a/k/a May 1 or May Day, gets celebrated as the ancients intended it to be: a welcoming of warmer weather marked with bonfires, music, dancing, and, um, fertility rituals.

In others, it’s a rather watered down acknowledgement of the turning wheel of the year. May poles and teas abound in tamer circles.

Personally, I’ll land in the middle, dancing in the back yard with Oakley as we enjoy tea, cake, and biskies respectively. The soil is still a little cool, so I shall be twirling about in my boots.

Not for much longer, though. With a sigh of relief, I checked the weather. We have a potentially rough couple of days of storms looming ahead, but it’s just rain. This last weekend we had what was our last (please, Mystery) frost. I might have to wait a couple of days for things to dry out, but maybe I’ll be able to get the garden going this weekend.

Maybe.

I hope.