When “My Turn” Isn’t a Good Thing

First, it was managing Oakley and his meds for his autoimmune problems. That took a chunk out of me. Right now, it looks as if he’ll officially be done in about two weeks. For that I am truly grateful.

Second, it was Hubby’s UTI. The one that drove him through the snow during the last bad storm to the nearest doc-in-the-box. That got to me on a couple of different levels: he was miserable to the point where it hurt me as well. I have had those, too, and know they are no fun. The other level was the reminder that we are not getting younger. He is some years older than me, and while in good health otherwise, still needs to be reminded to take basic self care  measures including  drinking enough water and taking supplements.

And then it was my turn (she says with sarcasm). Or turns. In the middle of the above, I had a flare-up of stress related IBS. That took time and white carbs to get under control. That end is fine now.

Problems on the other end started earlier this week. Monday was dry and windy, filled with the promise of spring and allergens taking flight. My nose started running uncontrollably. I wrote it off as allergies. Then Tuesday I woke up at 4 AM feeling as if my sinuses and skull were on fire.

I drank a lot of healing herb tea, used a sinus oil that my acupuncture dude had given me some years ago, and rested as much as I could. I can’t take OTC cold or allergy meds (except Claritin) because they render me stupid or wired. I grabbed naps, ate soup, and amped up the spice content of food with hot sauce and chili where I could. I slept decently last night. Still tired, but better.

On we go. This is not a space where I want to be stuck.  We drink our water, take our supplements, and go on with the day.



Safe Passage, Dr. Hawking

We interrupt today’s planned social issue entry to bring you this breaking story:

Stephen Hawking: Visionary physicist dies age 76

We still have his words, his thoughts preserved for future generations in his writings, videos, and the memories of those who personally knew him.

Dr. Hawking was 76. He contributed to the understanding of the mechanics of the universe, made science cool, and brought a sense of wonder about the workings of the world to the not-so-scientifically oriented.

Not only did he make physics accessible to the lay person (Amazon’s posting that A Brief History of Time had a huge spike in sales after the word came out early this morning in North America. As if selling ten million copies in various languages hadn’t been enough), but he showed that humor, passion, and academia are not incompatible. Stephen (I think he would have preferred that over Dr. Hawking) appeared on “Big Bang Theory,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and many talk shows, including David Letterman.

He’s already missed.

Peaceful journey, Dr. Hawking.




The Great Meal Planning Experiment


Image courtesy The Graphics Fairy

The good news is that our errand routes take us past a good, inexpensive ($5 and change) Chinese takeout place as well as several Subways (the only fast food I like).

The bad news is that we started relying on them a little too much. In addition to a lot of leftovers going to waste (boo), I started feeling bloated from the sodium and Mystery know what else. Not good. Hubby’s blood pressure started creeping up the dial. Even worse, considering that his mom had chronic headaches and kidney problems from hers.

On top of that, the takeout containers and sauce packets collecting in the fridge doors were getting out of hand.

We talked it over and decided that advance prep and planning would be a good thing.  I don’t think it will be that difficult to plan out what we’re going to eat this week. Saturday I made a Crock-Pot full of chicken caccitore (ok, you caught me–a couple pounds of thighs, drumsticks, and wings braised in a high quality jarred pasta sauce. Sunday I tried a new-to-us recipe involving tofu whipped into a creamy sauce, pasta, and veggies. The author called it a “quiche.” I called it a “casserole.” If one were to make the sauce, change up the seasonings and veggies, and pour it into a pie crust, you would have a respectable vegan quiche. I’ll try that next time.  I’ll invest some time today in prepping hummus and a bowl of fruit salad to go with what I made.

With those two meals, we have plenty to get us through at lunch and dinner until I run errands further east later this week. Before I go, we’ll look at recipes and plan things from there.

Breakfast is not included. We get up at different times because, well, we do. Hubby needs to be out of the house by 6:15 on school days or face a 45 minute commute more than doubling. He sleeps in until the call of nature rouses him on other days. Except for eggs, hummus, and the occasional batch of muffins, we both have our individual preferences in the morning. He likes his plain bagels. I like oatmeal or yogurt.

So we begin. Say tuned for updates.



Singing to the Moon and Wind

Image courtesy The Graphics Fairy

Finally, March is here. If the old adage of “in like a lion and out like a lamb” has any truth to it, we’ll be in capris and shorts by the end of the month.

I just took Oakley out for a quick jaunt. The winds that tumble from the north carries the scent of green buds, damp earth, and grass with it. Oakley turned and faced into the wind, nose all a-quiver. Dogs have something like 44 million scent receptors as opposed to the paltry seven million that we humans have. If it was heady for me, it would be downright intoxicating for him.

In addition to the liminal winds, today also features a moon at her fullest. She’s hiding behind the clouds right now and on the other side of the world. At night when the sky is clear and dark and her polished face looks down on us, we sing to her.

To common ears, our music sounds as if a mildly insane woman and her dog howl loudly enough to wake neighbors and start their dogs and the resident coyote pack.

To the moon, our songs mean so much more.

We sing the primal songs of Oakley’s ancestors and contemporary cousins. The songs of reassurance, of community fill the air.

We sing the songs of the wise women, the craftswomen, and musicians who proceed me in my mother line. The playful, the joyful, the spontaneous  voices coming through me harmonize with his.

Wherever she is right now, the winds carried our songs to her, even though we sang beneath a daytime sky covered in thick grey clouds. We have sung in daylight before. We will again.

We have sung to her beneath star dappled velvet skies. On those nights I swear I have seen her look down at us and smile.



It Could Have Been Worse: The Weekend Edition

When I was in grad school lo these many years ago, I studied rational emotive therapy, a way of talking yourself through your personal sticking points. One of the questions used to examine the thought process: how can this event be worse?

The case in point involved a gut-wrenching news story that involved a parachutist who had landed in an alligator-infested swamp. The parachute’s straps and bindings had tangled around him in a way that left him tied to a tree, unable to free his hands. Needless to say, the gators found him quite tasty. When the recovery team found him, they estimated that it had taken him three days to die. What could be worse?

Being eaten by alligators over four days.

It was kind of like that here in the soybean field this weekend. At least it was only two days.

Friday was OK. Oakley had a good time at day care, but was pretty sore. Did I mention that he had to start taking a prescription painkiller rather than aspirin because of interaction with the Pred?  I’d given him a full prescribed dose on Tuesday at bed time. When he woke up Wednesday, he ate breakfast, then laid on the floor and stared at the wall for an hour. I cut the dose in half Friday night. He managed to sit on the sofa with me while staring at the fireplace Saturday morning. I need to call the vets’ and see if I can cut the tabs in half.

Once he sobered up, we went for a ride. The roads were in great shape, and no other drivers were on the road. Left, right, straight through the midwinter starkness of grey skies, of still muddy fields reminiscent of Andrew Wyeth paintings.

Nothing like the open road to shake away the dust and cobwebs. My head cleared, I plotted a course that would take us a little further west than usual as a few flakes drifted from the sky. Then the flurry became a shower, and the shower turned into a wall of white.

I turned as quickly and safely drove home as fast as the laws of Illinois and physics allowed with the storm on my tail. I was caught in one storm this year and don’t fancy that happening again.

Hubby returned from school not long after Oakley and I shared a post-ride treat. The traffic on his route is notoriously awful on a good day. He’s wrapping up the course of antibiotics for his health issue. The only problem with them was that they impacted his mood. I’d been patient, I hope; but finally had to say something after another chanting of the traffic litany that he’d recapped every day for the last week or so.

We didn’t talk to each other much Saturday night.

And then, Sunday morning was my turn, she wrote sarcastically. Emotionally, I did myself no favors by looking at social media. One friend moving on with her life; two women in a circle I distanced myself from getting all kinds of help and support without having to ask (unlike when I had some problems and was met with platitudes about prayers and holding space).  I will spare you the details of the physical end. I fell into a cesspool of self-pity and questioning my worth to other people.  Luckily, Hubby and I were back in each others’ better graces. Joked about taking the good stuff I give Oakley when his guts act up.  I drank tea prepared by Hubby, slept, watched the Olympics.

Today is Monday. It’s better so far. Hubby left early for school, circumventing the worst of the traffic problems. Oakley cuddled with me. I didn’t give him the pain killer last night; he slept pretty well. The world is a kinder place for me today. Things are not back to normal in the digestive department but they will get there.

If there’s one lesson in the last couple of days, it’s that this, too, shall pass.

Forgive me for that.



This Much I Can Do

Antique poster–no ownership in any way claimed–found on internet.

We have primaries on March 20th for governor, congressional rep, and an assortment of state and local offices.

I am more excited about election day this year than I am about holidays in general. While I’m not active in the IL-14 Indivisible group,  I do follow them on Facebook along with a couple of other local Democratic groups. Several members have contacted Rep. Randy Hultgren’s office since yesterday’s school shooting to express concern about assault weapons and mental health.

The responses from the office have been less than helpful: no, we don’t know when or if he’ll be releasing a statement. Um, I don’t know; let me refer you to our DC office on that question. Have you tried Googling your question?

He’s also been silent about the harassment and abuse so-called allegations against Cadet Bone Spurs (copyright Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-IL). I don’t think he understands that silence indicates tacit approval.

I stopped calling his office a long time ago because of conversations like these. I have enough headaches on this end without him adding to the list. I would rather put my energy towards getting Lauren Underwood or Jim Walz elected.

We will be choosing a Democratic gubernatorial candidate as well. We are spoiled for choice in that slate. I will be at peace with any of them. I never liked Bruce Rauner. I like his opponent, Jeanne Ives, even less. If you have to use cartoonish stereotypes of minorities, feminists, and LGBTQ people in your cheaply produced ads to illustrate your points, please get off of my TV and my ballot. The ad is so offensive that I’m not going to try to find a link for it.

I took a couple of small actions today. I donated to Common Dreams, my favorite progressive news site these days. NPR is getting too corporate for my taste. I did a lot of re-tweeting today as well. I avoided telling some elected officials where to stash their thoughts and prayers.  I can’t think of what else to do at the moment. If I hit the lottery, I’ll see about setting up a local Pacifica network station. But not this week.

In the meantime in the nonpolitical world, Hubby continues to improve post-crud. I had to run Oakley to the vet on Tuesday. He’d started rubbing his eyes and looking for dark places again, plus there was a bit of discharge from one eye.  The eye vet had me take him to one of our regular vets to get his eye checked. It looked good to her. After a quick call between Doc A and Doc V, the  current game plan consists of keeping him on a half-tab of Pred twice a week and reevaluate around the end of the month; in the meantime, work on his weight. He chunked up from the Pred. It will come off with a bit of portion restructuring and some walking. We changed him to a prescription pain killer instead of aspirin–it had interacted with the Pred and caused the explosive tummy upset last week. The prescription worked a little too well and made Oakley kind of stoned. He slept it off and seems OK now.  We’ll try a half dose tomorrow night.

Life goes on for the next thirty three days. On March 20, I’m voting.

And because I like it so much, I’ll be doing it again on November 6.


Winter: The Condensed Version

Image courtesy of Old Design Shop

This picture pretty much sums it up. A series of storms that began last Thursday night and ended Sunday afternoon dropped some 18.5 inches on us, the vast majority of precipitation for the season.

Thursday morning, Oakley and I went shopping for his food, then I made the last minute run to the store for milk, eggs, and so on. We had bread. Hubby had just purchased a fresh bale of toilet paper. After running the gauntlet, I grabbed a pizza for lunch, and went home to batten down the hatches. Called the guy who does the driveway? Check. Supplies in place? Check? Reading material and dog treats? Check. Settle in and enjoy the storm.

The first flakes drifted across the window as we ate dinner. Peace, coziness, and gratitude descended.

Until the next morning when everything went off the rails, making me wonder momentarily when the walls and floors would emit flames and sulphur.

Hubby hadn’t been feeling well for a couple of days. We had chalked it up to one of the variations of the crud going around and treated it with standard home remedies of soup, tea, NSAIDS, and Vernor’s (you can take the kids out of Michigan, but you can’t take the Michigan out of the kids) ginger ale. His symptoms intensified to the point where he went to the local walk in clinic.

By himself.

Fine. I didn’t ask if I should go with him. He’s driven himself to the emergency room twice with gout in his right foot and once for stitches in his left knee after a mishap with a grinder while restoring a pickup truck. Should he ask me to accompany him, I’ll take it as a sign that he really needs an ambulance.

In this case, his solo journey was not a bad thing, even with my mumbles of “fine, be that way.” Just after he left to pick his way down the slippery sloppy road, Oakley frantically ran in circles around his crate and the dinette table. I snapped on the leash and lead him outside just before he had an attack of colitis. That was for the first time in over two months. That was when we started him on the Prednisone for his eyes. His digestive system calming down has been a bonus. We–the vets and I–had been weaning him off of it. I will spare the details, but will say that Stephen King could have used the incident in a novel. Luckily,  I had the herbs for calming his colon and the preferred antidiarrheal here at home.  Both were administered before I took my coat off. He paced around a little like he does when he’s crampy, gave himself a good shake, then joined me on the sofa with his tush pushed up against my hip before the snoring started.

Hubby had picked his way home again, pharmacy bag in his hand. Only two other patients were there. One was on the way out with a bandage enveloping one hand; the other was signing in as Hubby left. The doctor called in the prescription to the pharmacy across the street. His whole adventure had only taken an hour and a half, even with the abysmal roads and the obligatory moron going the usual speed limit of 55 and honking at Hubby for not doing same. He ate lunch, drank tea, then took his meds and went for an afternoon-long nap.

Little else could be done. The driveway guy came and went several times. Hubby rested. I tried some new recipes based on research on food choices to reduce blood pressure since his was high on Friday. Not bad, pretty tasty.

Finally, the roads cleared and we were all able to get out yesterday. Hubby went to school. I went to the local big city for a long overdue lunch with a friend before a self-care appointment.

Today starts the February thaw. No precipitation until this weekend, but that seems up in the air at this time.

We welcome the thaw. Even with a condensed winter, it is a welcome friend.


The Discontent Part of the Winter Gig




I have grown weary of the snow. We had to have the driveway plowed yesterday. Luckily the roads were in decent shape so I could get Oakley to day care, run errands, and so on.

Today began with about two fresh inches, enough to fill in foot- and paw prints in the back yard. We can still get out if need be. Tomorrow night starting at 6 PM we will be under a winter weather watch with another possible nine  inches en route.

All the basic needs are met, so we don’t have to worry too much. It’s just aggravating when I have to reschedule my whole life due to storms. One self care appointment; one long hoped-for lunch; one making myself available to run an errand for a friend who’s her husband’s primary caregiver. I don’t just mind it; I resent the hell out of it.

It wasn’t always this way. There’s a not so soft voice in my head that reminds me about my love for winter. She sounds like a college-aged me. Back then, even the four spent on the shore of Lake Superior were easier because I could walk almost everywhere.

Now, not so much. A walk to the corner grocery two miles from me is doable in theory, but in practice a really bad idea. The road provides an alternative to the major east-west US route that bisects the town proper.  Except for the T-junctions at the railroad tracks and the river, there are no stop signs between here and town. Some misinterpret that as a sign to leave traffic laws and common courtesy in the dust. Many of them see bike riders, horses, and walkers as targets for some perverse game of pedestrian bingo. Once I tried to walk to the farm stand around the corner from my house, but because of inconsiderate drivers, I bailed mid-trip. Almost getting flattened by someone going 75 miles per hour in a vehicle teetering on the edge between domestic and military use will do that to a person.

Even the pleasures of the hearth wear a bit thin on days like this. I really am in no mood to cook. I give thanks for the leftovers in the fridge. Oakley had day care yesterday. He spent the whole afternoon wrestling with his buddy Willy and chasing Sam, so he’s pretty tuckered out. Hubby is nursing the crud, but diligently studying anyway.

Me? I’m writing, obviously. This entry. Emails to both senators supporting their efforts to prevent 45’s latest nationalistic antics. Starting to think about the garden.

And dreaming of greener days ahead.




No, I’m Not Watching the SuperBowl.

It’s Superbowl Sunday. Or as we call it here, just plain old Sunday. It’s snowy and cold, but we have other ways to distract ourselves than to watch endless hours of TV concerning the history of the event and highlights of the last season. I might feel differently if the Bears or Lions (you may recall that I grew up in Michigan) took on an opponent in the big game, but not this year.

Hubby’s upstairs diligently working on his homework for tomorrow. Oakley and I have claimed our territories on opposite ends of the sofa. I’m listening to WFMT. I will likely plug in a DVD later on and end the day with “Victoria” and “Queen Elizabeth’s Spies.”

Once upon a time, I would have eschewed even those shows for the Super Bowl, any sporting event. Once upon a time, I, too, would have had no qualms about watching SuperBowl coverage from the minute my feet touched the floor in the morning until I put them back under the covers that night.  Once upon a time, I had to watch every sporting event on any network. I even seriously considered going into sports journalism.

Until I went to college and lived in the same housing complex as the men’s hockey team. Until I went to college and played women’s intramural ice hockey and realized that despite my best efforts to be a jock, I was not one.  And that with one exception, I didn’t really like any of my teammates.

The toxic brew of vain attempts to please my father (who wanted an athlete in the family–my sister wasn’t one, either; my brother had no interest in sports except for managing the high school football team) who felt that history, science fiction, and books were a total waste of time; to attract a high school boyfriend ( I was the girl boys developed friendships with in attempts to get my princess-like then best friend’s phone number) and realizing that many of the men and women in the sports circles used athletic prowess as an excuse for pretty bad behavior away from the playing field corroded the fragile metal of my external warrior self.

Once the holes appeared and the armor fell away my freshman year, I was back, sort of, to sci-fi, history, and discovering nature through walks in forests and along the beach at times when I would have been watching humans smash into each other. Much better for the spirit and psyche.

With detachment comes perspective. Since my breakup with sports in college and the subsequent years, I found the clannishness fostered by sports culture rather disturbing. There’s an old Latin expression that translates as “divide and conquer.” The scent of that has grown more intense in the last few years with the Department of Defense using taxpayer funding for “tributes” to the military   

Other issues include what amounts to early indoctrination of children into the cult of sports fandom and the impacts on social issues such as homelessness, human trafficking, and racial inequality.

It is not OK to support a faction of the entertainment industry that pays salaries that could support NFPs to people engaging in deliberate self-harm or harming others for amusement. Too many players such as Dave Duerson (suicide due to chronic depression caused by repeated concussions) and Alex Karras (concussion related dementia) paid dearly in their later years with concussion related issues.  Especially if coupled with the message that it may be the only way out of marginalization for minorities. It is not OK to pay for shiny celebrations of  military service without paying for treatment for returning members shattered in body and mind in combat. It is not OK to disrupt encampments of homeless people to polish the veneer of your city. It is not OK to pimp underage people to the rich and powerful attending the event.

It is OK to watch something fun played for the love of the game. Time was when college sports were played that way, but then ad revenue and funds from the NCAA became a source of income for too many colleges, distracting from academics.

With all these negatives, why have we allowed sports to take over our culture?

Some psychosocial theories postulate that humans get into sports in response to the hunter-gatherers residing in the deepest corners of our psyches. It’s a way of feeling part of a tribe, a clan.

Once upon an epoch, that mindset served the purpose of solidifying against another tribe competing for basic resources such as food.

We don’t need it today. We have more efficient delivery mechanisms for the procurement of food, shelter, clothing, and so on than chasing mastodons with spears as well as the means to deliver it to our fellows living in compromised circumstances.

We need to evolve to the next level where we can acknowledge our basic connections with one another and watch out, even in small ways, for our mutual well being.

If we can do that, we might create the greatest prize of all: a clean, green, peace-centered planet.












Awakening in the Nuclear Era


Image from Today


Yesterday morning, I went to yoga. Afterwards, I stopped at Wal-Mart to grab a couple of pairs of new jeans, then went home and had a bowl of clam chowder for lunch. Afterwards, Oakley and I went shopping for his food for the week or so, then we took a ride on the back roads winding through the currently bare farmland under the crystal blue sky. We tried to walk, but there was just enough wind to make the elements uncomfortable. On the way home, Oakley and I made a stop at a drive through for coffee (me) and an ice water (for him).

A gloriously ordinary Saturday.

As we drove around, I bounced back and forth between WCPT (progressive talk) running the highlights of the past week and a couple of music stations. Once home, we tuned into “America’s Test Kitchen” as we usually do on Saturday. I didn’t hear about this false alarm until fairly late in the day.

My stomach lurched in a way it hadn’t since I was in high school and college. I came of age during the Reagan years with the whisper of the siren lurking in the back ground, wondering daily if today would be the day that the final war started. The better part of those years were spent wondering if I was going to live long enough to graduate and why bother with school work if in the end we were going to to be vaporized into oblivion.

At the time, an insidious group called Young Life, one aimed at “saving” teenagers (it’s Campus Crusade for Christ Junior) began infiltrating my high school with messages about the end of days and the Rapture and Aramgeddon.

Between their interpretations of a book I had little use for and living with an alcoholic WWII veteran parent long steeped in USA right or wrong, my anxiety ratcheted up to a level where I was frozen in real time. I stopped doing anything of real substance, mostly spent as much time in my room as I could dreaming of better days, if possible.

Somehow I still pulled off a high enough GPA to get accepted into college and enough financial aid to do so.

Maybe I was supposed to live.

I started planning; I started dreaming of a future for myself. Granted it was the one that young women in the 1980s were supposed to have, but it was a dream, anyway. I wanted a stable home, a family, and all the rest of the things that I was brainwashed into thinking would make me happy.

Things between the US and the then USSR sort of relaxed until my junior year in college.  Events included a passenger airliner shot down for crossing into USSR air space. That was followed by a lot of saber rattling between Washington and Moscow.

Maybe not.

I shut down again. Would I not live to get out of college? What was the point?

In desperation I ended up engaged to an Air Force NCO who ended up being a dumpster fire of a partner.* He didn’t help at all by going into details on what would happen if we did get nuked ; he subscribe to end of the world cult thinking; he played head and heart games on a daily basis including the ever popular “if you loved me you would______” (insert soul destroying action here) while I searched for jobs near the bases he was likely to be transferred to for his last posting.

Suddenly, the tensions relaxed again between Ron and Yuri. Sergeant Dumpster Fire dumped me after demanding that I marry him within 48 hours  or our love was going to die (thanks to the Mystery that it did). Eventually the job, the home, et al  fell into place of their own accord.

For a long time, the threat of nuclear war was a non-issue, but now with the Dotard in Chief playing “mine is bigger than yours” with the not-the-most-stable-meal-on-the-shelf Dear Leader coupled with a vice president who subscribes to the zombie death cult interpretation of Christianity and would love to have himself and his fellows raptured away before the bombs drop, it’s been thrust to the forefront.


My prayer is that the “football,” the briefcase with the codes, gets kept very far away from the Oval Office until we can get someone more stable and wise in there. My hope is that Congress gets overturned this fall–if we live that long.

In the meantime in addition to letting Senators Duckworth and Durbin know my thoughts while working to get Rep. Hultgren out of office, I will get involved with peace groups as best I can from here in the hinterlands.

As all this shakes out, I will do yoga, enjoy my new jeans, and walk Oakley.


*To my family and friends who read this: I lack the words to convey the regret that I feel for the pain and grief I caused you by letting myself get manipulated into this relationship. “I’m sorry” doesn’t begin to cover the regret and remorse. I don’t know if I can ever really forgive myself, either, for the part of my life wasted on this person or for the damage done to other relationships.