Monthly Archives: February 2017

A Year Later (A bad day in March)

It’s almost  a year since the man I knew shot himself dead. I first wrote about it two months after it happened and again, at six months later.

I need to be clear. This man was not my friend. In fact, there was a point, quite a few years back, where I said as much to him, namely “I have been a friend to you, but you are not a friend to me.” I don’t repeat those words now out of any kind of regret. It was true. It’s still true.

I was drawn to his energy, his smarts, his talent, and his charisma. I was turned off by his selfishness (including self-destructive habits), his mean-spiritedness, and his willful blindness to other people’s feelings.

After I met him in person (he was well known in the community through an online group he started) we danced around having a friendship. There came a day when I had to call him out on his behavior. I already knew he wouldn’t like that. I was right. Instead of attempting to compromise, he said a unilateral “Let’s forget everything then.” That was okay by me; I had already severely restricted my interactions with him and his access to me; in fact, it was that boundary setting that brought things to a head between us. Appropriate boundaries, at least from me, seemed to incense him and I couldn’t so much as know him without them. It wasn’t like there was going to be any big upheaval in my day-to-day existence. It was disappointing though; I had hoped I could reach him.

There was a conversation between me, him, and a third friend where he revealed that he owned guns. By then I was already not involved with him in any fashion (he had invited himself to join a conversation already in progress in the local coffee shop) so although I was surprised, the information had no personal impact on me. Only after, when my friend and I were speaking privately did I say what a bad idea I thought it was for an angry man to own guns. Honestly, at the time my thought was that he might shoot somebody (a perceived intruder maybe?). It never occurred to me he’d use one on himself.

He shot himself in the head not quite a year ago in what amounts to our “town square.” This location is an emotionally-loaded one in the community. Some thought he’d chosen it in order not to upset his neighbors in the row house, in that they had shared walls. Or that he wanted it to be a “cleaner” death by doing it outdoors, as opposed to in his home. (I doubt I’d want to be the one who moved into the house where the previous owner had shot himself.) Another faction was incredibly angry that he’d chosen the spot he did, next to a big central statue, believing that in choosing that spot he’d desecrated a beloved landmark and had done so deliberately.

On an unusually warm early March day he went to the “town square” in the pre-dawn hours when no one was around. He fired off a couple shots. Nearby residents called the police. When the police arrived and an officer entered the area on foot to approach him, he then shot himself in the head. I hadn’t understood this series of events until it was pointed out to me that he had essentially summoned a witness so that there’d be no ambiguity over how he’d died.

The following morning the news broke online, in bits and pieces, in a community Facebook group (one that had been started years earlier as an alternative to his heavy-handed behavior on his own community group). It wasn’t clear at first WHO was dead. I was horrified when I realized who it was and that I knew him. So many locals knew him, if only by name. The comments were fast and extensive, as people came to grips with what had happened.

I felt lost and distraught and I took a walk that morning. It led me by his house with its overgrown, scrambled yard and ultimately to the spot, already cleaned with no trace of the previous night’s events, where he’d shot himself. I didn’t know where else to go. As I sat there on a bench, quietly, sadly, trying to feel his presence, I gazed up at the statue. That’s when I noticed something odd. A bullet-shaped indentation in the statue’s head. He’d shot the statue. I was almost certain of it. I had to snort: You shot the statue??!?

I knew what it was. He was sticking it to the community. One last raspberry before he went. I really didn’t care personally. I don’t love the statue but A LOT of people do so I kept my observation to myself, entrusting it only to one other person (who was able to later confirm via other sources yes, indeed, that’s what he’d done). I didn’t write about it last May because I knew many people in my community might read my blog post (I had offered up its link on the very group he owned/ruled) and I didn’t want people more pissed off with him than they already were. I don’t think it matters now.

Grief and I are old comrades. But I didn’t really know how to grieve this. My feelings about him were convoluted. I’d avoided him and his online public ranting for some time already by then. I thought he was angry and getting angrier. Years back a friend had commented, because of the wit in some of his online posts, that he should be a “stand-up comedian.” No way, I said, he’s too angry. I had no respect for how he treated people online. He was often vicious and ugly. And bizarrely tenacious. Oh my god, he couldn’t let anything go. Typety, typety, typety.

The whole thing about grief is it isn’t about the dead person. It’s about YOU. How you feel about it. How crappy you feel about it. How sad. How bereft. And how badly you feel for others left behind, family and friends, who are often destroyed. I kept most of what I felt to myself because I could not legitimately say we were friends. I spoke to a few people about him but by and large I muddled along, thinking most of my thoughts about him privately, as I had done for years.

My year became hued in death. I thought about death a lot last year. His, deaths of other people I’ve known, and death in general. Suicide in particular. He wasn’t the first person I’d known to kill himself, but he was the person I’d known the best. He was someone whose car I’d been in, whose doorstep I’d been on (and declined the invite in), who I’d sat next to in the coffee shop. I could not abide that a MAN WITH SO MUCH TO SAY WASN’T GOING TO SAY ANYTHING EVER AGAIN. I couldn’t believe he’d willingly deprive himself of his voice, be it written or spoken. I couldn’t believe a man who hunkered down on life like the Ghost of Christmas Present I’d envisioned him as when I first knew him – sitting on a throne holding forth, a large goblet of mead in one hand and a big chicken drumstick in the other – WILLINGLY gave it up. Willingly. Actively.

No more beer. No more food. No more sex. No more talking. No more writing. No more photography. No more tennis. No more composing dreadful puns. No more manifestos on crime or politics. No more Letters to the Editor. No more bike rides. No more grandstanding. No more taunting. No more laughing.

He didn’t live quietly. And he didn’t die quietly. Maybe it has to be that way.

I miss him.

But I get it. He’s gone. And he’s never coming back.

I am still here. I think of him often. In the last year especially when I did anything pleasurable. When I felt the sun on my face. As Spring came on. When I sat down to enjoy a good meal. When I embraced anything good about life. And thought about what he was missing. But of course he isn’t missing them.

If I could, I would ask him if he had the power to undo it, would he? Is he sorry? Was it a horrible mistake? If he could still regret, would he regret it? I know there is no answer to these questions, but they have stayed with me for a year nonetheless.

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Outfit for a warm Feb day (bargain style)

I haven’t shown you one of my bargain outfits in awhile. I wore this on an unusually mild late February day.

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The 3/4 length Fragile brand jeans were a thrift store find. The length at half-calf is flattering and the cuff adds an interesting accent. The Heart & Hips brand  top I got last month at Ross for.99!

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It may have started at higher than the listed $5.99 since there is another sticker below the first. However, my efforts to peel it back to see were unsuccessful

 

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It has a subtle stripe

I’m going to break blog tradition here because the virtues of this great top can’t be appreciated without seeing it worn. I have always thought off-shoulder tops were very cute but I have none. Frankly, when you predominantly rely on thrift stores for your clothes, you can’t be very particular – and I can say I’ve never seen a top like this in one.

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Chic no?

 

I got the Teva shoes for $3 in the Fall from a local church thrift store. To be honest, years ago I’d seen a friend in shoes like these and didn’t think they were very attractive. I’d never had shoes like them – in fact, my footwear in general was very limited till about 10 years ago when I started branching out and accumulating more shoes (in no small part because I had gotten rid of my car and now considered shoes the equivalent of tires).  Anyway, these shoes are outrageously comfortable. They feel like tennis shoes. I work them with black footie-type socks that don’t show.

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I don’t know what color that is exactly but it’s a great match for the top

 

 

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The quarter is for size reference (not what anything cost!)

 

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How cool are these?!

A word on the accessories. I just treated myself to the cat’s eye sunglasses which I found on Amazon for $5, which is honestly the most I’ve ever paid! I made the earrings; they were initially just the triangular pieces and I added the other parts. I also just got the watch from Amazon for $6. The watch face is huge! I love it.  (I haven’t had a proper watch in years – instead I have a couple old watch faces, one of which I attached on a key ring to a zipper on my “everyday”purse).

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Short Thought 181 (Family Dinner part 2)

When I was growing up, one of my father’s regular pastimes, when he and my mother weren’t arguing, was haranguing and verbally accosting his children at the dinner table. We were all trapped. As my older brothers & sisters moved out, there were less of us at that table which considerably upped the chance of being targeted. I remember literally keeping my head down and focusing on my plate so as to not attract attention. This had limited success; your number always came up. Only having a job was an acceptable excuse for missing dinner. The summer I was 16 and had my first seasonal lifeguarding job I was so happy to work evening shifts.

Pullover conundrum

When I’m watching a TV show or movie and a character is putting a shirt on they first sort of roll up the shirt and stick their arms through the sleeves and then pull the neck opening over their head. Once I started noticing this, it seemed the predominant method for donning any kind of pullover UNLESS the scene was being played for comic effect (whereupon the character gets the shirt stuck on his or her head and proceeds to stagger around crashing into walls and knocking over lamps). Usually it’s a smooth two-step move though, and the character hardly breaks rhythm. They make it look cool.

This is not how I put on a pullover. First I pull the shirt over my head and then I wrestle into the sleeves. I’d have never given it a thought but for noticing how actors do it onscreen. It made me think there are two distinct schools on the proper way to get into a pullover – and maybe an adult just does what they were taught as a child. (I know my mother had me put the shirt over my head first).

It further occurs to me as I write this that the onscreen method is probably deliberate so that the actor’s head is visible most of the time and he or she can go right on talking. In any event whenever I see someone do the arms-then-head method I think to myself “I should try that” but invariably I forget to and I remember only as I am contorting into the sleeves. And no, I am not so demented as to take the shirt off so I can start over doing it the other way.

So. How you YOU put on a pullover? If you’re not sure feel free to get back to me on this after the next time you put one on. I’ll be here.

Chinese lions get a paint job

The Chinese lions have appeared in the blog before, most recently last summer. They also turned up herethere, and here too. The story is I found the pair chucked out by the road and rescued them. This was several years back and they’d since started to look like they’d been taking in a bit too much sun.

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It was time for a little sprucing with gold paint.

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Although they weren’t painted differently originally, I thought the eyes should be red.

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You can sort of see the newly red eyes. And look at those teeth! (Somebody hasn’t been brushing.) Gotta love the intricate detail.

 

Don’t answer

Thinking it might be the person I’d just spoken to, I made the mistake of answering the phone. No Caller ID here and while the supposed National Do Not Call list initially worked for awhile, it stopped being helpful years ago when the phone peddlers realized there’d be no repercussions.

Me: Hello?

(Nothing)

I was about to hang up when I thought I heard something.

Me: Hello?

Girl: You are so hard to reach!! And I have short arms!

Me: [         ] Not recognizing the voice and thinking who the hell this is saying stupid things in such an overly familiar way.

Girl: This is Anna with the Children’s Fund…

Then I reached through the phone and cracked Anna across the head. That felt good so I beat her with the receiver. She stopped making bad jokes and trying to trick me into thinking I knew her.

 

 

Easy Bean Soup with Vegetables

I didn’t grow up eating beans. The most I remember were baked beans that were served when we had hot dogs for dinner, the latter of which was an infrequent treat. Those beans were nasty and kind of creamed but they were non negotiable.

Many years back I started educating myself on nutrition and beans became a staple in my diet. Beans are filling, nutritious, fiber powerhouses. I love chickpeas/garbanzo beans above all others but also like black beans, black-eyed peas, pinto beans, white beans, and lentils. Some people don’t like beans because of the gas but one thing I read early on was that the more you eat beans the less that is a problem and it’s true (not just something they say to talk you into eating more beans).

The other day I saw a bean soup mix on sale for $2 so I bought two packs. Generally I don’t pay more than a dollar a pound for beans as one of their attributes is their low price. However, a mix of bean types is always priced higher. One time I made my own bean soup mix by combining a variety of beans I had on-hand but I assure you I got nowhere near 15.

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The first thing I did/do is toss out the little chemical packet of flavoring that comes with the soup. Dry beans need to soak overnight so I put these in a big jar covered with water in the refrigerator so they’d be ready to cook the following day.

This winter I treated myself to a wonderful purchase, a deep stock pot. I love it! In it I sautéed a smallish chopped up onion in a little canola oil, stirring occasionally. After the onion had cooked, I filled the pot half way with water and added the now-drained beans. I don’t always add vegetables but I had some ready to use, so I added half a pound of fresh green beans cut in half, and a little over half a pound of sliced carrots, all of which I brought to a boil. If you don’t bother adding vegetables it’s still a healthy, filling soup.

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I turned the pot down to a simmer and added fresh ground pepper and some fresh Rosemary from my herbs. (You can add whatever you like.) After about an hour I tasted the largest bean to make sure it was cooked as well as a green bean and carrot slice. Near the end of cooking I added a 28oz can of rinsed, diced tomatoes and a generous splash of balsamic vinegar. Vinegars are a great way to add flavor without salt or more fat (the only fat in this is the canola oil for sautéing; you can even saute with just water for no fat). I add the vinegar toward the end of cooking so the flavor doesn’t all cook off.

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With the canned tomatoes added near the end of cooking since they are already cooked

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