Short Thought 235 (“happy” memories)

The other week I was flipping channels and watched a bit of Daniel Amen’s program on preserving your memory. He was talking about the importance of keeping a positive attitude and said that to elevate your mood you should attach your happiest memories to specific objects or places in your home so that, every time you looked at them, you’d get an emotional boost. I wouldn’t want to do that. My happiest memories make me sad.

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writerinsoul

April 5, 2019

Five years ago today I put up my first post. The gist of that post is still true; namely, that I think of myself as a writer above all else. So long as I am cognizant, I don’t ever expect that to change. Somewhere in the last five years, I started to think, “I will not die without having written.” Not that I’m planning on going anywhere, but I wanted to be sure I wrote something substantial – something of substance – before I’m too old or too dead to do it.  I think I’ve done that. As a body of work, WriterInSoul makes me proud.

Coming in, I didn’t know what to expect and I was leery of trolls, stalkers, and other weird ilk. My concerns were largely unfounded. Still, blogging is exposing yourself and I felt a bit of trepidation about that but it didn’t stop me. This blog is not a diary. It is not a journal. I only write what I want to write. And — I have never deleted anything I’ve written. I’ve done minor edits on posts, when I saw a typo or something like that but I’ve never “taken anything back” or hidden it. Once it was up, it stayed up. My philosophy was not to post anything I wouldn’t be comfortable with anyone – anyone at all – reading. That said, I was ready – ready in my life – to say a lot here.

The blog doesn’t generate as many comments as it did in early times. This post on relationships from 2015 had the most comments. Several of those commenting are no longer around on WordPress. (Kate of Views and Mews by Coffee Kat,, who has been blogging longer than I have, once said that no one who was around when she first started on WordPress, is still here.) People drop away. It doesn’t pay to get too attached and yet I do feel connected to other bloggers. You hope the people you like stick around but you have no say over it.

This post from 2015 on promoting my blog had the second most comments.

The most viewed post is my “About” page and the second most read is the post I wrote three years ago about a man I knew who killed himself. I put up a link to the post on a community yahoo group and many people came to the blog by way of that link. (While I have “advertised” the blog in my community on bulletin boards and once or twice in the small local paper, it is not particularly well known or read. I could promote it on Facebook but I haven’t, in part because I keep my presence on Facebook limited.)

It occurs to me that blogs may start for one reason and continue – if they do – for another. I planned to blog for at least one year. I knew I could do that. Five years never occurred to me (although, that being said, an ability to plan/see into the future has never been my strong suit). I’ve said it before but I often remind myself this is not a job. That is, BLOGGING is not a job; it’s not my job. It has to be something I want, a reward unto itself. If it feels like work I shouldn’t be doing it. I try to find that sweet spot and over these five years, have routinely thought about and evaluated the blog: Is it worth it? What am I doing here? What do I consider a success? Am I getting back what I put in? How much time & effort should I spend? Stuff like that.

Due to not having consistent, decent internet, for some time now I haven’t been able to read other blogs as much as I would like. Reading other bloggers is important to me. There truly is a sense of community and connection and while I haven’t talked to or met any bloggers “in real life” I value the nature of the relationships that exist here on WordPress. Other bloggers are a large factor in why I continue to blog. Which isn’t to say I don’t have readers who are not bloggers – I do and I appreciate them very much as well, both those I know in life and those who I do not.
 
The blog is like a living entity. It frustrates, disappoints, pleases, and delights. Having had it five years, I think in terms of it; it doesn’t go far from my mind. I have not lost the recurring urge to blog, a feeling which makes me think of appetite. I write something (eat something) and I feel satisfied (sated). But sooner or later the “hunger” returns. While the posts have dropped off at times, I’ve never let a month go by without blogging. I dunno – I think it would be strange to stop blogging. I imagine if you stopped after having one a long time as I have, you’d have to remind yourself it no longer existed. What would take its place? That’s a bit of a rhetorical thought.

I have mellowed out a bit about the blog. What long-term relationship doesn’t mellow out a bit?! And when I say “mellowed” I mean in terms of what goes on in my own head about it. I don’t angst about it quite the way I might have earlier on. Yes, I still want readers and comments but I expect the blog is more or less what is going to be. I’m not expecting – shy of any highly unlikely circumstance – any big surprises or a whopping change in anything related to the blog. Unless WordPress starts charging (I SWEAR I WON’T PAY TO BLOG, grrr. Writing for free is one thing; paying to write would be entirely another!)

Sometimes I worry that the whole blog could disappear and all my writing – and all the comments – with it. I mean, that COULD happen. I don’t own the blog and it exists in the never-never land that is the internet. Although WordPress has my trust to a large extent, I have no control. If it goes away, it goes away. I have to have that attitude. Blogs exist in space; they aren’t books. (Unless you pony up a whole bunch of money to people who will turn it into one: I’ve seen such ads!).

After five years of being here and thinking about it, I think blogs create connection and curb isolation, for their writers and for their readers. They can make you laugh and think, as either writer or reader. When I write, I make myself laugh and I often figure things out by writing about them. I am compelled to share my life – many aspects of it – and WriterInSoul has let me do that. Thanks for coming along.

Colette
April 5, 2019

The return of the spiral curl

In 2014 I put up a post about doing the “curly girl” method, a way of taking care of anything from wavy to super curly hair. I haven’t been hard-core about wearing my hair curly and in fact, was under the impression that shorter, layered hair was better for bringing out waves and curls. Since I’ve let my hair grow long and focused on doing various hairstyles (with posts showing photos in 2016, 2017, and 2018) I didn’t think I could achieve the same “curly girl” results (as I did with shorter, layered hair). Nonetheless I started fooling around with it again this winter and was surprised that I could still get natural curls (curls, particularly wavy ones, are typically harder to achieve in dry, cold winter).  I was delighted to see the “return” of my token Scarlett O’Hara spiral curl. It doesn’t show up all the time but I’ve been seeing it more often recently.

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The very spiral-y curl is underneath other, less curly hair but I tried another photo a different day with the rest of my hair in place to show context. All the colors you see are my own; the hair underneath is MUCH darker than the top layers which grow from the crown and are, as you can see, very light.

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Curly hair is dry hair and the key to bringing out nice curls is conditioning the holy hell out of it. Middle-aged hair is dry hair too so you’ve got to double down on conditioner, especially when it’s long, if you want it to look nice. In fact, some “curly girls” wash their hair with conditioner (they call it co-washing; cute no?😊) I’ve tried washing my hair with conditioner a few times and it actually seemed to produce good results. I was afraid it would just make my hair wimpy.

Lorraine Massey, author of Curly Girl: The Handbook, has a product line, DevaCurl. The products are pricey so I don’t use them exclusively but I have to put in a word for One Condition,  a rich, creamy conditioner that has made a big difference in my hair. I’m not washing my hair with the expensive conditioner; I just mean it’s good stuff as a conditioner – one I often treat as a leave-in.

4/14/19 I’m editing this post to add another, recent photo of my spiral curl, in its spiral-y glory. It just dries like that. I’m a little obsessed – how unusual for it to show up in middle age.
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I’ve noticed before how animals like squirrels, chipmunks, deer, etc. get lighter coats in spring but this squirrel’s tail seemed unusually light. His tail is kinda my hair color too. He/she probably thought I was going to offer a treat when I stopped, not just take a photo, and I might have since I often carry a little snack of peanuts, raisins, and sunflower seeds for myself but unfortunately I had none on me. What a great color!

Free & cheap things that have come my way recently

It’s time to for a little show-and-tell of interesting things I’ve gotten for free or cheap.

I found this dress/tunic at Ross earlier in the month for $2! I’d seen the style earlier in the season at regular price and thought it was cute. It isn’t all that well-made but for $2?! Why not! I love the colors and they are good on me; this works well with tights or leggings and a pair of boots. The necklace is kinda cheap; I have better options.

 

 

Someone gave me this Croton plant last fall. I re-potted it and kept a light on it all winter. If you want colors, like the red, on this particular plant, it needs good light. I am glad it likes life with me which is evident because it just started producing new leaves! (I am proud.)

 

 

I found this sturdy step stool abandoned.

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Just before Christmas I found this wreath abandoned on the curb. I was happy to have it and before the holiday season no less. (Christmas stuff is usually dumped AFTER.)

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This little shelf was left on the curb. I snapped it up and added it to my closet shelves for just a bit more shoe/purse/miscellaneous storage. As noted in previous posts, I store my boots above my clothes which is a bit unorthodox but it all fits better that way and I can SEE what I have. (Why are some of the hangers backwards? I tried a little experiment this winter where if I wore a top once, maybe for just a few hours and if  it was fresh & clean, I turned it around on the rod so that I’d be sure to put in the laundry hamper the next time I wore it. This worked out rather well.)

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Earlier this month the local yoga studio held a clothing swap. You didn’t need to be a member (I’m not) but only needed to bring one article of women’s clothing to participate. I filled a plastic grocery bag with offerings and went to the studio on a Friday evening. I knew in advance that there’d be a “place to try things on” and a “mirror” but the way that was phrased gave me the idea the two might not be in the same place (which was the case). To go prepared, I wore boy shorts and a sports bra under my clothes so I could easily try things on, figuring chances were I’d be surrounded by other people. I realize not all women would be comfortable with that – undressing in front of other people, strangers no less – but I didn’t mind. It made things a lot easier.

Since it was held at a yoga center I was hoping/figuring that the women donating clothes might be smaller sizes and my guess paid off – I found LOTS of stuff for me. Look at all this!! Among the finds were several pullover sweaters, three Old Navy “go-dry” long-sleeve athletic tops that say “semi-fitted” yet fit snugly like they were made for me, a pair of Levis, two dresses, a pair of “Smart Wool” ankle socks (a good, pricey brand), yoga pants (of course), a delicate scarf, and several other tops. Maybe at some point I’ll get a post up to share all my booty in detail. Going to the swap was well worth my time and it was fun too.

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I just got these for free! We have a community “yard sale” group on Facebook and someone offered them. I pounced.

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About two weeks ago I saw this planter box on the curb and thought I could use it. When I got closer, in addition to finding it full of weeds, I discovered a small hydrangea in the middle. Who throws out a hydrangea?? I got the weeds out and put it in my yard. I decided to leave it in the planter for now and am curious what the blooms will look like. (I have several hydrangeas and they have wonderful colors.)

 

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I’ve needed apron for awhile but I didn’t want to pay much. And I wanted it to be cute. I landed this apron on Amazon for $3! I love it. It’s “currently unavailable” so don’t get your hopes up, sorry, if you’re in the apron market. The trick to finding bargains like this on Amazon is to do a search with a really low maximum price, such as “aprons $3 and under.” If you don’t find anything, bump the figure to $4. It may take awhile – I look for a list of things at any given time – but eventually I land many good deals.

 

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Short Thought 234

I never heard my mother use the words “good years” in relation to her marriage to my father until after he was dead. “When exactly,” I asked, “were those?” After all, I’d lived with the happy couple for twenty years and had plenty of opportunity to witness them beyond that, and I hadn’t seen anything that could be described in those words.

What Does Colette Eat?

This post might seem a little strange, coming out of left field, but what the hell. Food is very, very important to me. I am one of those people that definitely lives to eat. You might not think it to look at me because I stay fit and lean but if you knew me in real life and asked, “Are you hungry?” or “Do you want to eat?” at any given point of the day, the answer is usually “YES.” (It’s a safe bet.)

I won’t say I hoard food so much as stockpile.  I think of hoarders as people who have no clue what they have and who won’t ever get to all of it (i.e., if it’s food, a lot of it will expire or go bad) – that is not me.  I eat what I buy, keep track of expirations, write the date on foods in the freezer and so on. I do tend to deliberately load up on  supplies pre-winter because I like the comfort of knowing that even if there’s a 3-foot snow storm and I can’t get anywhere, I’ll still have food to eat. And even shy of that, since I don’t have a car, I just like knowing that I have stuff, and won’t necessarily have to trudge out in the sub-freezing temps or ride the bus to get groceries (which I seem to be doing like clockwork anyway, but…).

Last year I was what I considered a bit indulgent in my grocery shopping. I treated myself to foods I wouldn’t otherwise buy. It was nice and I enjoyed it. I did also keep track of what I spent on food and come the end of the year, it was about $2,000. As a lump sum, that kind of jumped out at me. I had no sense if that’s about par or what (anytime I’ve seen food cost charts, they usually are calculated for a “family of four” or something). Anyway, I decided I’d like to bring that figure back down this year, more in line with previous years.

These thoughts about cost are somewhat extraneous so far as this post – the post is just a list of the foods I have on hand right now. I thought it would be helpful to me to make it and it was.  I don’t know if it’ll be helpful to anyone else but maybe it might. (I like to know what other people eat and to get new ideas, especially from people who are fit and health-conscious.) I don’t follow any “diet” that has a name but I try to eat well and I really, really enjoy food.

FREEZER

2018 Farmers market Yams = 3 jars

2018 Farmers market Turnips = 2 small bags

2018 Farmers Market Butternut Squash = 2 small bags

Mixed Berries = ½ bag, about 1.5lbs

Blueberries = 3lb bag

Strawberries = 2 or 3lbs

Blackberries = ½ bag, about 1.5lbs

Red & Green Peppers = 2 1lb bags

Okra = 1 old bag

Spinach = ½ 1lb bag

Peas = 2 1lb bags

Green Beans = 1 1lb bag

Homemade Refried Beans = 3 small jars

Whole Wheat bread = 1 open bag, 1 unopened bag

Whole Wheat Pita Bread = 1 open bag, 1 unopened 12oz bag

Homemade Whole Wheat Tortillas = 4 small bags

Homemade Pasta  dish = 7 portions

Homemade Egg Sandwiches = 4

Homemade Spinach & Artichoke Heart Quiche = 2 portions

Homemade Pie = 2 slices

Homemade healthy cookies = 6 small bags

Mozzarella Cheese Sticks = 34 1oz sticks

Colby & Montery Jack cheese = 14 1oz cubes

Feta = half a jar

Cheddar Slices = 3

Brown Rice = 1 5lb bag

Wild Rice = 1lb

Arborio Rice = little left in container

White Rice = 1lb

Whole Wheat Flour = 3.5 5lb bags

White Flour = 1 5lb bag

Walnuts = 2 16oz bags plus small 4oz bag

Brown Sesame Seeds = 2 1lb bags

Almonds = 2.5lbs

Raw Sunflower seeds = a lot

Pitted Dates = a lot

Homemade Soup = 3 jars

 

CANS

Green Beans = 4

Peas = 1

Corn = 4

Pickles = 1

Salmon = 6 15oz cans

Tuna = 10 cans

Crushed Tomatoes = 8 28oz cans

Diced Tomatoes = 11 28oz cans

Whole Peeled Tomatoes = 2 28oz cans

Evaporated Milk = 1 can

Pineapple = 2 24oz cans

Peaches = 2 15oz cans

Pears = 2 15oz cans

Tomato Paste – 2 6oz cans

 

PANTRY FOODS

Panko Bread crumbs = ½ box

Peanuts = 5 jars

Date Paste = 1 2lb bag

Raisins = ½ carton

Brown Sugar = 1 peanut jar full

White Sugar = ½ 4lb bag (plenty)

Cocoa Powder = about 34oz (1 23oz unopened container plus 2 open containers)

Dark Chocolate Chips = 1 open bag, 1 unopened bag

Unsweetened Coconut = 1 10oz bag

Taco Shells = 2 boxes

Tofu = 12 boxes (Amazon sells it by the 12-pack)

Pumpkin = 2 boxes

Boxed Milk = 2qt boxes

Dry Milk = 2 envelopes plus 2 unopened boxes

Baking powder

Baking Soda

 

 

PASTA & NOODLES

Rotini = 1.5lbs

Penne = 3 1lb boxes

Farfalle = 3 1lb boxes

Orzo = 1 1lb box

Linguine = 3.5 lbs

Angel Hair Spaghetti = 2.5lbs

Spaghetti = 4lbs

Whole Wheat Spaghetti = 1 open box (not excited about this)

Rice Noodles = little bit left

Long Udon noodles = ½ bag

Whole Wheat Egg noodles = 12oz bag (ok, I might not eat this😐)

 

BEANS & GRAINS

Red Kidney = 1 1lb bag dried

Pinto = 1.5lbs dried

Lentils = 2 1lb bags

Great Northern = 2 1lb bags dried

Chick Peas = 4 1lb bags dried

Black Beans = 3 1lb bags dried

Old Fashioned Oats = 1 open 42oz box, 1 unopened 42oz box

1 Minute Oats = 1 open 42oz box, 1 unopened 42oz box

Oat Bran = 1 18oz bag

Bob’s Red Mill Five Grain Hot Cereal = 1 16oz bag

Bob’s Seven Grain Hot Cereal = ½ 1lb bag

White Cornmeal = most of a bag

Chia Seeds = 1 bag

Wheat Bran = 1 8oz bag

Barley = 2 open bags (oops)

Popcorn = 3 2lb bags unpopped

 

OILS, VINEGARS, CONDIMENTS, ETC

Canola Oil = 4 48oz bottles

Sesame Oil = 1 16oz bottle

Coconut Oil = little bit

Extra Virgin Olive Oil = about 95oz (I REALLY like olive oil 😊)

Balsamic Vinegar = 1 open bottle

Red Wine Vinegar = 1 open bottle

Rice Vinegar = 1 open bottle, 2 unopen

Liquid Aminos = 1 open bottle

Lemon Juice

Lime Juice

Blackstrap Molasses = 1 16oz bottle

Molasses = 1 11oz bottle

Honey = 1 24oz jar

Tabasco sauce = 2 2oz bottles

Garlic = 1 open jar

Peanut Butter (no salt, no sugar) = 1 open jar

Peanut Butter Powder = a lot

Nutritional Yeast

Yeast = a lot

Pure Vanilla = 2 2oz jars

Mustard = 1 12oz bottle

Catsup, no sugar added  = 1 open bottle

Pesto = 2 jars

Marinated Artichoke Hearts – 1 large jar

Capers = 2 2oz jars

Peppercorns = 2 2oz jars

Kalamata Olives = 1 open jar

Green olives = 2 open jars, 4 unopened

 

FRESH FRUITS & VEGETABLES

Onions

Kiwis

Bananas

Cabbage

Lettuce

Oranges

Broccoli

Green Onions

Red Onion

Carrots

Although I have canned salmon & tuna, you may have noticed the absence of any meats, chops, chicken etc. I am a mostly vegetarian. I’m not hard core but rarely buy meat or poultry. I don’t buy frozen dinners or much that’s ready-made.  What’s missing and I need to buy are:

Non-fat, Plain Yogurt

Raisins (why has the price jumped so much lately?!)

Salsa

Flax seed

Black Olives

Black-eye Peas

Frozen fish fillets

Potatoes, any kind