That can’t be good

 

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Hidden privileges

Back in January I observed in a post on food that I easily make 700+ meals a year for myself. That number was so daunting! I wrote that “It’s work to put together wholesome, non-toxic, nutrient-rich meals from scratch on a daily basis.”

As I was thinking about the role food and cooking occupy in my life (a big one) and how the whole business of feeding one’s self can feel like a chore, I also started to think about the people I’ve met over the years, mainly older women, who would have loved an opportunity to be back in their own kitchen cooking. These are people who can no longer cook for themselves or who no longer live in their own home, but in nursing or other elder facilities. The days of preparing a meal for themselves and others are behind them.

I thought also about how many people in the world don’t get enough food, who would find the idea of complaining about, or just feeling tired or bored of fixing meals, unfathomable.

These thoughts led me to write a little index card that I put on the refrigerator which has been there ever since.  It’s a reminder I need.

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Faking long hair without extensions

In the last two years I posted an annual blog on the hairstyles I’d created that year, 2016 and 2017. I just came up with a new style too fun not to share now. My hair is fairly long although I cut a few layers into it over winter. To do this you’d need enough hair to pull into a ponytail high on the back of your head. My photos, taken in the mirror, aren’t great quality, but you’ll get the idea.

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Wow! What long hair!

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So, here’s the “trick” to this illusion. When hair looks like it’s all pulled up in a high ponytail, it suggests there’s enough of it that even when pulled up, it is still very long. But this is a deception because what I did was separate my hair in 3 sections as if to make a simple braid. Instead of braiding I took the two outside pieces and pulled only them into a high ponytail, leaving the middle section untouched. You could put a band around the middle section or let it hang freely.
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NOTE: Folks, I have ponied up – although it kills my frugal “geez will you look at these prices?!!” self – for a month of decent internet. This means I’ll be around WordPress more, both posting and reading other blogs. I miss both more than you might know!

My Dracena “Corn” Plant had a baby, er, flower!

I don’t have children or pets. I have plants. I bought a Dracena plant back in the ’80’s from a home store. It cost $4.  These are the plants that look like the ones seen in a corn field, hence the name. It grew & grew and I hauled it with me, over the course of many moves, even after it was taller than I was (and I’m 5’8″ ). It shocked me once when it grew a flower. I didn’t know they did that! I remember thinking it was kind of like when your dog Rex up and has puppies. Who knew?!

The flower was peculiar; it grew out from the side of the plant rapidly on a long “stalk”. And it had a potent scent. I was renting a room on the second floor in someone’s home at the time and could smell that bloom when I entered the front door of the house.

Years passed. The plant, now in another home with me, reached the ceiling. I cut off and rooted no less than three offshoots. Two survived. In time tbe original plant died. I was very sad to see it go but I still had its “children.” Two years ago one of those plants also grew a bloom. I had the blog then and took photos with the thought of sharing them here. I never got around to it and lost all the photos when my tablet took ill.

Which brings us to now. The other plant has a bloom! I am quite excited. Once the bloom stalk mysteriously begins to emerge from  the plant, which it did about 10 days ago,  it grows fast. Every day there was visible growth till the stalk was about 15″ or more (I forgot to measure but it’s seriously long). The process is really quite something to watch – I’m fascinated and I bet a kid would love it.  The bloom was literally reaching for a nearby tall lamp which it got to and proceeded to hook itself over the edge. I hadn’t realized until I moved the plant a bit to take photos and the bloom wouldn’t let go! The bloom was so tenacious in its desire to reach the lamp that it pulled the upper part of tbe plant crooked (I’ll correct this after it’s done blooming by turning that side of the plant away from the light source).

I took these photos on Saturday.IMG_20180428_200407

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It’s strange and beautiful

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The other plant occasionally turns up in my blog photos. Here’s a photo including it.

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I took this today to show you how it’s touching the ceiling. It may soon be time to cut that off but I’m reluctant and a bit nervous to do it! That sure was $4 well spent I must say.

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Colette, Somewhat Improved

At the start of the year I set a few concrete, albeit simple goals for 2018, nothing too whacky, involving essentially: cooking, reading, and being in nature. I visited my progress already in March.

I’m back again to talk about it some more. I have read 15 books. Because I am horribly prone to being exacting and forthcoming, I have to say three of them were short. Two were what you’d call novellas and the other was Roz Chast’s “graphic novel” tribute to New York city, easily read in a sitting. Still…. am I proud of this accomplishment? Oh hell yes I am proud!

As I wrote back in January my ability to read had pretty much gone to shit. It was worse than I realized. I still thought of myself as a “reader” as I’d been throughout my life.  But how much was I really reading, that is, books? Not as many as I thought. I couldn’t tell you how many books I read in 2017 or 2016 or 2015 for that matter, but it damn sure was not 15 in a year, let alone four months

I’ve been thinking about how this happened. When I was preschool age I could not WAIT to get to start first grade because I knew it meant I’d learn to read (these were days long ago when, for me at least, kindergarten was mainly for playing and having stories read to you not learning to read). In gradeschool my class once had a contest for who could write the most book reports. Not only did I win, I blew the rest of the kids away. (Sadly the prize was some  kind of religious  trinket, a holy medal or such, I’ve forgotten what exactly but as you see, several decades later, I haven’t forgot I won.) Reading always excited me. In the years I went to college, it bothered me that my personal reading, as in nontext books, had to be cut back. When I did office work and spent long days staring at computer screens, my eyes were too red and tired after to read much at  home. This too disturbed me.

Once upon a time, books were the main thing and movies, another big love, were the occasional treat. This was when it wasn’t so easy to watch movies, when they weren’t so available. I read more books than watched movies. But in recent years that flip-flopped. I love movies but realizing I was doing more passive watching than engaging (more) of my mind by reading didn’t sit right. I also couldn’t tell you how many movies I typically view in a year, no idea. (I also don’t know how I’d quantify whole series like The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones; every two hours equals one movie??)

More than movies, the internet screwed up my ability to read. I am certain internet use has changed my wiring and not for the best. Your brain gets some sort of endorphin payoff every so often while being on online. The payoff is inconsistent and unpredictable so gaining it necessitates perpetual activity and vigilance. You go online and basically wait for something good to happen. Trouble is there is a whole lot of crap and wasted time inbetween those “payoff” moments, at least for me and I  imagine for many people. There are times when I’m bored or tired and just fool around online hoping magic strikes, or at least something interesting catches my attention.  It was easier to get online & read various (quick) stuff than to read a book.

I wanted to change, I wanted to recapture something I’d lost. And I have. It feels REALLY GOOD to have found my way back to books. My rule is I don’t have to read anything I don’t want to, even if it means quitting a book halfway through. This isn’t supposed to be punishment. I didn’t plan it this way but of the 15 books, only four have been fiction. The funniest was You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein, a woman I’d never heard of. The page-turner was Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan, which I knocked out in two days. I was back!

 

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I’m also doing crossword puzzles; I got a little book of them from Dollar Tree and a second volume for when the first is done. Doing the puzzles has made me sharper (I now can say with conviction there were nine Muses and “Clio” was one. This has come up a few times, despite t the puzzles being written by various makers.) I find myself saying  repeatedly, “I know this” or “I should know this” when trying to figure out clues. I know things I don’t realize I know; it’s often an issue of retrieval. I find real satisfaction in realizing what an answer is, particularly when it doesn’t come to me immediately. However, I  doubt myself because a voice inside me often says at the start of a puzzle when there are too many open spaces, “I’ll never finish this.”  I’ve done 40 (of 88) puzzles so you’d think I’d be a little more trusting by now.

The puzzles show me where my knowledge is decent and where there’s weakness; I don’t know sports or the Bible, and world geography isn’t too promising either. Greek mythology is iffy but improving!  The puzzles force me to consider things from different angles (like when an answer I filled in confidently subsequently messes up other answers and I’m compelled to rethink it). I’ve noticed that this skill is carrying over into other areas of my life; it’s as if my brain is deviating from overworn paths and checking out new trails.  It’s subtle but I can tell.

One of my goals was to make 10 new recipes. I’ve made 14. Also, my diet, already good, is a bit better. I’m eating less cheese and more vegetables for one. And I’m enjoying it. Food is pleasure to me. Tweaking my diet and nutrition makes me pay more attention,  be more conscious, which is a good thing. I really think my little goals this year are doing exactly that:  making me more conscious of how I spend my time, how I relax, how I eat, how I live. Solidly in middle age, I find it is entirely up to me not to become mired in ruts, or lazy and if not full-on lazy, maybe just complacent. I must challenge myself. I don’t want to be coasting along, I want to be alert.

 

 

 

 

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Painting a roadside find in bright colors

When it was still cold I spied this piece of wood (no pressboard crap) furniture  by the road. It’s half cabinet and half drawers. A true find! I was on foot so I had to abandon the drawers in order to haul the main piece home. Fortunately it wasn’t too heavy. More fortunately the drawers were still there upon my return. Not that I thought they’d make a break for it once set free… I just hoped no other passerby would find 3 smallish drawers all that is interesting.

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It’s 33″ long, 29″ tall, 13″ deep (a great size for many options)

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Only once I had it home did I notice the front left leg was a bit chewed up. What the hell??  I guessed a dog might have done the damage (or a big cat?) but I couldn’t think why a pet would gnaw on just the one leg.

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I decided to do a quick-n-dirty repair with spackle. I know that’s unorthodox and remembered about wood filler after the fact. Oh well.

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Somebody had stained the piece dark brown. Nothing wrong with that but I wanted color. First a coat of prime.

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I decided to get brave/experimental with the colors. I am more inclined to do this on a roadside freebee. As always I just selected from what I already have. Even these paints, except the white, were free, abandoned. This is with one coat of color. I could add another if the spirit moves me. I am super happy with how it turned out.  (By the by, now that I think about it, everything on top also was free –  from past finds and giveaways, except the actual plant and the lamp shade.)

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It only looks bad up close. Good enough!

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