Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My ass, it's July...

I'm really blown away by this "summer." It's as though nature's continuing to bless me with gifts, to make up for my 25+ year purgatory in Florida. I step outside in the morning and it's entirely pleasant. You can't break a sweat in the shade, and you have to stand out in the sun for a bit before it happens. We went traipsing around town on Sunday and it was hot at times, but then the breeze would cut through...I just can't get over the difference. Really mild summer here in WNC. I know it may not always be this way...just enjoying the hell out of it while it's here.

Posts are less frequent lately just cuz of life...I get up and work during the week, worry about money a bit, dream of the trip in September...I'm still not managing my time well enough, and we're not saving well enough. I pray the car continues to run fine. Certainly helps that it doesn't have a daily commute yet.

Garden is doing well, some successes, some failures. The beans gave up the ghost, but I'm not discouraged. Tomatoes are ripening, and peppers are proving to be really late bloomers. I need to think about how I'm going to cultivate stuff inside once frost season hits, as I have several pepper and tomato plants that will only be hitting fruit stage around late harvest.

I'm getting back into cooking and baking, just a bit, which isn't doing a damn thing for my waistline, but is helping me feel more like me.

Living around all this nature has reawakened some allergies. It's a pretty mild nuisance, as nuisances go, so I'm trying different allergy meds to squelch the sneezies...and realizing I should be checking Boiron to see if they've got an allergy version of ColdCalm, since I'd prefer going a more homeopathic route. It's so easy to grab for the Advil when you've used it your entire adult life, but that doesn't make it the best option.

I can't believe it's almost August. I'm an autumn girl at heart, so I'm starting to look forward to that time of year, while simultaneously marveling at how quickly this year is flying. I'm house hunting for dream purposes, and to get an idea of what's out there in this area, but we're still easily at least a year and a half away from buying, so it's mainly for self-torture and motivational purposes that I'm trolling sites for houses with land right now. Hey, whatever gets me moving in that direction...

Image from here.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Last week was hard. No two ways around it. I haven't had a week that hard in quite a while. My brain was in two modes: either the high-flying verbal diarrhea that was evident in my last 2 or 3 posts, or else total brain fog, staring at the laptop screen, unable to work.

The hardest thing about depression is that it doesn't have to have a root cause other than "my brain chemistry is apparently having a suck day/week/month". I can blame it on my emotions coming back into my own after the MIL visiting for a week, but it's probably not just that. The bigger reason is likely "because Melanie's brain felt like smacking her around a bit." Whatever. I didn't make my site quota for the week, and I'm just now feeling like myself again.

I'm trying to concentrate on work, so I can make up the shortage from last week, but I know there are other things I need to do to adjust myself back to me. A long walk or two. Stepping outside daily to tend the garden and breathe deeply. I have the slightest cold, almost not even worthy of complaint, just like someone turned on a faucet in one nostril. So I'm listening to my body, and getting back to eating healthier.

I itch to visit the local libraries, but will wait until next paycheck, when I can invest in a library card at UNC of Asheville too. Besides, there are magazines grappling for my attention in the evenings, and books right here at home. I started reading one of our Norton anthologies and realized I'd understand Greek literature better if I broke down and reread The Iliad and The Odyssey again. I read them in high school, if you can even count that as reading. Reading required lit for me back then meant reading just enough to pull Cs on the tests and then giving up.

I also want to read Oliver Twist again. I watched a TV version of Slumdog Millionaire the other day, and was struck by how Dickensian the story was, and it dawned on me that I should actually understand the meaning of that phrase if I'm going to use it to describe something. Imagine if everyone did that before speaking.

Image from here.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

More Mental Dribblings

It's interesting to me how maddening television can be ... it's gotten so that I only watch a select amount of shows actually. Yes, I watch too much TV, but mainly I do what lots of others do, which is have it on in the background while they do other things, because gods forbid we turn the damn thing off.

I'm enjoying getting to know a mid-season replacement right now called "Crossing Lines" on NBC. It's well-written, contains storylines with international intrigue, and character development is decent...and I'm finding it impossible to fully invest in it because I feel in my bones that there's no chance NBC will take a chance and renew it. Because they've obviously put money into it, but NBC in particular has been notorious in the last decade for cancelling shows fast and shooting themselves in the foot in other ways that have allowed them to own their "last place" status amongst the half-dozen major networks. Which makes me think it's only "Crossing Lines" summer placement that has saved it from not being cancelled already.

The industry standards are obviously shifting a little. USA and TNT in particular, have had decent success at creating their own dramatic series', and while the shorter seasons can be maddening (usually 10 eps first, then a break, then the last 6 or so), I don't mind it because in the meantime, I'm getting intelligent, well-acted-and-written shows.

Yea, I've put too much thought into this, huh? But my point (and I do have one!) is the fact that TV isn't a total evil incarnation. I absolutely abhor that my niece has been raised by Nick Jr. and Sprout, and I wholeheartedly believe that for children, moderation and intelligent choices are key. But putting it entirely in a closet or throwing it out means missing out on excellent writing and acting that speaks to us and allows a healthy escape.

The above butter dish is an example of one we purchased today, in a gorgeous dark walnut, at the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands. My freelance article at the Laurel resulted in a surprise in the mail - two free tickets to the fair! I'm glad we went, because now I know it's the type of thing that's worth the $8 and then some. Such an incredible amount of talent! Les found a beautiful leather wallet, and we splurged on the butter dish; and I came away with ideas for art and things we both want to learn to do.

Got our tickets in the mail today to the Mother Earth News Fair in September. Time to start really planning that trip!

Image from here.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mental dribbling...well, more like flood

Seriously folks, what did we DO before Google? I guess, bought books or went ignorant. We didn't grow up with a lot of books in my house, beyond the Collier's Encyclopedia; so it's interesting the sheer number that grace my house now. But I guess my folks weren't inquisitive sorts, or they let public school get the job done, because I don't remember a whole lot of "what flower is this?" or "what's the name of that tree?" It simply wasn't an engaging process back then, your kids' education. Let the pros handle it. Not faulting my folks for their choices at all, as the only choice back then was public school (they couldn't afford private, and were NOT going to subject us to parochial school, as they'd both had their hands whacked by ruler-wielding nuns in their childhoods)...and their generation was just getting over the concept of children being seen and not heard, so how in the world do you answer a child's questions, when you've been geared to not hear them in the first place? Our persistent individuality as small humans must've been a cacophony in my Dad's ears initially, being a "leave me alone to do my own thing" kind of guy. Plus his mercurial temperament made us afraid of him when we were kids, so we were less likely to ask questions. Both our losses. I see that now.
I may as well be 4 years old for the way the world is opening itself to me now. I see a new flower on my walks and I'm on the web as soon as I get home, sussing out what the heck it is. Running into our first woodchuck required a memory refresher on those overgrown rats, after years of sharing space with only the ugly nutria in Florida.

Outside the 2nd bedroom window is a steep embankment of foliage, pines straining to get past sapling stage, long grasses, and all manner of overgrowth. We have wild blackberries out there right now, and the purple flowers I found above, along with some scant Queen Anne's lace. I've wanted to pick the Queen Anne's on my walks, but have refrained, because they grow so tall and leggy that I find I can't pick them...they worked too hard to get that big only to be snipped for looks. But I'm not sure Les is familiar with that particular flower, so I look forward to having a nearby place to point it out to him.

I didn't like much about school, once I got past elementary age. There just wasn't enough to hold my interest. I was a rural female tween of the '80s, so I was expected to not like math, history, and science anyway, and my schooling was pretty straight lecture-style, so I dozed a lot and very little made it into the ole brainpan and stayed past the tests. Pretty sure Meara's schooling was more Socratic from the beginning, and I'm betting that it helped shape her learning style and personality. But you HAVE to start shaking things up early, for it to affect the kids in a positive way...teaching kids by droning on from the front of the room and then occasionally putting them in groups for a project or something just bewilders them. Well, it did for me, anyway, and I grew to hate working in groups, period. Another shame, because it's only now that I'm seeing that there may be points of view or knowledge bits that I wouldn't come across on my own...that working with others isn't a bad thing...

But something dawned on me the other day, while plowing yet again through The Poisonwood Bible. If I'd engaged in history more, I'd be a better storyteller. Because where, of course, do the best stories originate from? From the minds and tales of our past.

It's hilarious and maddening coming to conclusions like these in my 40s. This ties into my whining about how sparse my education was. The Poisonwood Bible is a fictional tale, but its backstory is the liberation of the Congo from the Belgians in the 1960s, the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, and the aftermath from a fairly African point of view. It's slanted, quite illuminating, and I learned zero about it in high school and college. I'd never even heard of Patrice Lumumba until I picked up Kingsolver's book!

How is that possible? I had a standard (read: no AP classes, no special projects beyond curriculum) public schooling, which meant World History in 9th, more of the same in 10th (with the delightfully generic name of Social Studies), US History in 11th, and no real requirement in 12th. I moved around so much in high school, I ended up taking a beginner Civics course and Economics in 12th grade to fulfill requirements. It may as well have been study hall, for all I paid attention. The damn Civics course was all freshmen and me, a precursor to American Government, taught by a woman who was fluent in Ebonics. Probably my first lesson in going to school and being taught exactly nothing I didn't already know. I only wish I'd had the wherewithal to do something about it then.

So with this realization about how telescopically the public schools look at history, I find myself wanting to find out moremoremore about what's going on in the world and what went on in the world at one time, that I haven't a clue about. And that's not the easiest thing, even in this mind-numbingly technological age we live in. We liberals balk about how biased Fox News is, but I fear the story is more of the same where CNN and the main US networks are concerned too. If it's not about the US, doesn't directly affect the US, or doesn't make headlines, it gets buried, or worse, not reported on at all. I learned the bulk of what's going on in Egypt this month from Al-Jazeera and Reuters.

I won't wax paranoid about how looking up the difference between Sunni and Shiite Muslims on the web or watching Al-Jazeera could potentially put me on a government watch list. But that concern is present, when all I'm trying to do is learn history and become a better writer in the process. Besides, Kingsolver's still writing, and she basically came right out and said that the US Government participated in the assassination of Lumumba because Mobutu had no problem continuing to take the US's money to fund the diamond mines and rubber plantations that claimed tens of thousands of African lives...

But man, the issues that statement brings up...like how I shouldn't be learning my history from novelists! Shouldn't I have learned these things, oh, I don't know...IN SCHOOL??? One of her first books, Animal Dreams, has as its backstory the Nicaraguan civil wars of the 1980s. Kingsolver lived in Arizona at the time of its writing, and so probably saw firsthand, the refugees from those wars. But I know almost nothing about the unrest between the Sandinistas and the Contras, and the Americans in the middle of it, gumming up the works by funding arms and drugs back and forth between the two. I was in college and into politics at the time, and still didn't know enough to have a conversation, let alone a debate. Besides, I was a blind sheep, knee-deep in Republican politics because that's where my friends were, so all I knew was Ollie North was getting the Nixon treatment. Takes my breath away, the naivete of that statement!

Granted, when you get to college, it's totally up to you to figure out what you want to learn about; but I've established here previously just how mentally and emotionally screwed up I was back then, as to have zero clue about what my brain wanted or needed.

So I need to accept my late bloomer status and move on, but it does make me gnash my teeth that I'm getting such a late start at.....learning? I spent a couple of hours the other night, poring over the World Atlas, reacquainting myself with nations and capitals, because I realized quite a bit has changed since I was in school. Like Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia no longer exist. OK, I'm joking there, but I was surprised by some things...like how Iceland is its own independent nation, but Greenland is part of Denmark (further proof that size doesn't matter, winkwink). I've barely scratched the surface, and there's more I intend to study, so much I didn't know. The US likes to report how democracy is the end-all-be-all of government structures, but I want to see how the other guys run their houses, and how screwed up they are in comparison. I'm betting it's illuminating as hell.

An amusing side effect of learning more about the world...I'm immersing myself in Buddhism once again. It's as though learning about all the unrest in the world leaves me aching for something to DO about it, and since I can't actually do anything about it, am not in a position to go traveling the world attending protest rallies, at least I can pray for peace within myself and for others.

And find my voice.


So I've had a bit going on in my head the past couple of days obviously. How about you?

Realization: pretty sure the lightbulb for this post came from two sources. Reading Kingsolver's works was the first, but a close second is the fact that there have been protests and vigils staged all over the world this week, in support of Trayvon Martin and against the Zimmerman ruling. But what we haven't heard about is violence in its name. I really expected there to be injuries and deaths on the streets of Miami, Sanford, someplace...particularly in Florida. Instead we're seeing speeches, prayers, and solidarity of a type that you wouldn't expect the ignorant masses to have the maturity to possess. Times Square filled up the other night like it was New Years Eve, and none of the networks had arrest stories. It really blew my mind, in this age where the news is a headline rather than a story, that "the people" were able to meet without "the man" bringing out the rubber bullets. I pray this levelheadedness continues. But I'm not naïve. And I'm betting there were skirmishes that just managed to get buried. Really gotta dig these days to find the news within the news...

Godspeed Cory Monteith. Praying for Lea.

Image from here.

Friday, July 12, 2013

With Friday brings decompression...

Mom J. spent a week with us. It was lovely, to be sure, but also punctuated how we have our own lives and she needs to work a little harder to find hers. That sounds mean, and I don't mean it so; but her living situation right now is rather abominable, and she's the only one with the power to change it, and that fact hasn't reached her yet, no matter how much we tell her so, and so she's miserable.

So she's headed back to SC and the house is quiet; and I'm dashed as to where my focus is for work. I have article and essay ideas, a site quota to reach, a history project taking shape in my head, and other tasks to wrangle, and all I want to do is escape the house for a latte and some me time. Hubs will decompress by napping the rest of the day; he didn't sleep well last night. He's entitled; we both are.

Worked my ass off this week, and it feels good. Definitely going to try and keep a handle on my daily quotas of sites, because the relief it provides is exquisite.

The garden is doing well. I'm letting the basil bolt. The marjoram and mint are spreading out nicely. Holy basil doing well. Sweet potatoes have leaf eaters in them, but they're still spreading out beyond the pots, so I'm not worried. I should thin the chives. Peppers are being stubborn, they're quite tall but not bearing fruit yet. Transplanted the daisies and put them next to the peppers in the hopes of attracting bees. Tomatoes are bearing, about half a dozen little green guys so far; it's delightful to watch. Beans have stalled, but I moved them and hope for a rally...there's still time. It's only July!

I never let myself believe I could be a sandals person, but my body is adapting nicely to the change in footwear. My back hasn't been bothering me at all, which is strange given I walked twice this week without my orthotics. I'm watching my posture and moving more. I'm even wearing flip-flops! Will wonders never cease!

Camera still on fritz. Reset everything back to default, and it's still making the pics too bright...very uncool! So I may head back to Tumblr for a while for my images.

Have a great weekend, y'all!

Monday, July 08, 2013

Another week

Delightfully appropriate image...you step outside at night and just look up, and there they are...one light, then another and another...so excellent!
Nothing like a light paycheck to motivate your ass...

Nailed quota last week and then some, and I'm on track to do the same this week. We need dough, whether for sandals for Les, saving for the PA trip...there's always a little something. We've gotten very good at shopping carefully, but there's always the need for more.

Mom J visiting. We hit Farmburger yesterday and then The Big Crafty. I really need to hit craft fairs by myself...it was nice enough, but I crave being able to wander those at my own pace.

We hit Lexington Park Antiques on the way back to the car and scored nicely...a pair of circa 1940s (we think) Dartmouth Ski poles in great condition, that will do me nicely as walking sticks when we hike the bigger hills. They're so tall, I really only need one probably. Much better quality than the crap they sell at the sporting goods stores, and only $15.

Those antique places are so dangerous. This one was huge, booth after booth of treasures. Thankfully we don't have much mad money to work with lately, which is why I've stayed away from Screen Door or Antique Tobacco Barn so far.

Weather's incredible here. Barely gets above 80, maybe 85 on a good day. I went walking midday and had trouble breaking a sweat. Unreal.

Image from here.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Zero Relevance to Anything

I just get twitchy when I don't post regularly.

Nothing but life going on here. Les officially has a new pain management doc (YAY!), a situation that has him so damn relieved he keeps announcing it. It's a really nice outfit actually, a medical residency program with pain clinic attached, so he's dealing with youngsters who know all the newest stuff, at least.

With that past him, he's talking about looking for work, so once his Mom goes home after 4th weekend, we'll get cracking on that. I really haven't a clue how we're going to get him back into the workforce after 10 years out, but I know he has it in him and at least his medical sitch is stable now.

I slept like crap last night, so napped significantly after a shower this morning and am finally feeling more human. I get a syndrome where I experience midsection discomfort that wakes me up at night. Its frequency is rare, it's not sharp, not heart-related, and feels more like pressure than pain, just enough to keep me from sleeping comfortably because I find the only comfortable position is standing. Doing better now, but man, leaves you feeling drained and grumpy. And wishing I could work outside...it's freakin' gorgeous here today.

How do I know it's not heart-related, you ask? Because my cardio never found a damn thing. So I check things off the list like female heart attack, angina, ulcers, pancreatitis or gall bladder issues, and instead re-examine my food intake, both content and timing. I think it's inflammation + adipose organ fat =ing body rebellion. Stay tuned to Melanie's Gym...I think this girl is finally going Paleo.

Gotta hit the sites. Have a great week, y'all!

Image from here.