Pioneer Woman

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It is hot here. I mean so F***ing hot that you could cook an egg on the side walk. Like 110 degrees hot and I am complaining like there is no hell for me in sight. Why? My air conditioner went out. Yes, while it is 110 outside, it is a balmy 101 inside and there is no relief in site. Meanwhile I am sweating like a dog trying to install a ceiling fan. That is not going so well either. It has been three hours and it still isn’t up but my blood pressure certainly is! I’ll probably die of my head exploding rather than heat stroke any minute. All of this begs the question….how did those women do it 120 years ago in the Southwest? I mean seriously…how?

Now I consider myself to be somewhat of a tough old broad. I can do a little plumbing, drive a nail or two and can give an evil eye to someone to raise the hair on the back of their neck. I can survive an “almost divorce” and come out of it almost sane. But when I think of doing laundry on a washboard in the sun, tending to a huge garden big enough to feed a family for a year, canning all that food, beating the rugs, sweeping the floors and making dinner in an oven that raised the raised the temperature of the house 30 degrees, well, sometimes I think I truly don’t know the meaning of tough.

Once upon a time women really were tough. They came overland by covered wagon with all their worldly possessions on board; unsure of just exactly where in the world  they would end up. My GGG grandmother’s dresser sits as a testament to her wagon travels in my daughter’s room.  Clarissa was a smart one, I’ve been told. When she married she received a cow for a present which she promptly exchanged for a handsome wood dresser. It was probably a good exchange for any woman during that time. For Clarissa knew if she kept that cow, she would be the one put out of the wagon, walking along beside the beast while prodding it along to lands unknown.

We now live in a world where we no longer know how to grow our own food, grind our own grains, make our own furniture, or have the stomach to butcher our own meat. Which makes me wonder what would happen if the world as we know it ceased to exist. Would it be dog eat dog or would people band together to act as a community in a land that really hasn’t known what one is for a very long time? I would like to think that community would prevail but with all the violence in a world where people tend to look out for #1 to the detriment of neighbors and friends; I cannot be too sure.

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And so this not-so-tough old broad worries sometimes. I worry for my children and my grandchildren making it an a world that gets more confusing everyday. I fear the madmen of the world who would just as soon blow us up as take the time to do what is ethical and just. I an concerned that companies are willing to destroy our environment in the quest for the almighty dollar. I am uneasy that antibiotics are fast becoming resistant and that coral reefs are bleaching out and dying. But most of all I worry that I haven’t done a good enough job making my kids tough enough to survive with less material things and more experienced in the arts of carpentry, making their own soap and butchering a cow should hard times fall upon us.

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Yes, I am a tough old broad…but is my family tough enough to live off the land should they have to?  Could they survive on the six months of dehydrated food that I keep for just this occasion? Could they do the back-breaking work that so many women are forced to do to eek out a living in these times? Dirty, hard work that I have watched women do while I sit in the back of an air conditioned car during my travels. Work the likes of which I most likely will never experience.  And would the few books I have on making your own chicken coop and creating a below ground garden help? I hope I will never have to find out the answer to that question.

 

 

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Fixing Things

Usually when I talk of fixing things it is about myself or my relationship. Today there is a new subject at hand.

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The repair man is here. He is fixing my refrigerator which decided a couple of weeks ago that water flowing all over the floor would be a good thing. A button decided to stick creating a flood that was biblical in porportion. We waited three weeks for the part which came and no one at the repair place knew it. Shipped from Japan and slid into the country… quietly ignoring Sears computer tracking system.

He will be there between 8-12. This I am told by a robot on the phone. I put a note on the door. “Be back at 9” knowing the robot cannot relay this information that I might want to give.

I blow through numerous yellow lights determined to make it back home before the service man arrives and then leaves because I am not there. I shoo the kids out the car door getting dirty looks from them as I skid my tires and drive away.

I arrive home… and… he is waiting. Bless his heart. Surprise hugs my face like a water balloon ready to explode. I look as astonished as he does.

I’m typing now while he is banging away at my 5 yo fridge that is suppose to last a lifetime. In the past 20 years I have noted that the lifespan of appliances has now diminished to a period of time that is equivilant of birth to kindergarten. I think he will be done with his work before I finish this sentence. How does that work?

He is gone. I am not…staring at a screen…. which does not self type.

Tomorrow I will be doing the same song and dance. I will be waiting for the repair man to fix my dryer for the fourth time this year. He’ll be here between 10-2. I have to pick up the kids at 3. Which makes me wonder….why is it that people can no longer do more than one thing? Both repairs done through the same company.Why couldn’t this dude have fixed my dryer too?  It appears that these days one repair guy does clothes washers, one refrigerators, one garbage disposals, one dishwashers…and so it goes.

Can’t anyone do more than one thing anymore?

And then it dawns on me…the reason they can’t do more than one thing any more is this…they are men…they aren’t moms…end of story!

Contemplation

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This morning I went to Pilate class in hopes that someday I will be able to bend down and touch my toes with my knees straight. I tell you this with some embarrassment, my face a hazy red even as I write this confession which when spoken aloud might sound something like, “Dear Father. Forgive me for I have sinned. I am guilty of gluttony. Of sloth too. Oh, I forgot to mention acedia. Definitely acedia. Maybe, I should thrown in a little wrath at my lack of impulse control too. Help me!”

Unfortunately, these vices are just the ones that come to mind within 5.2 seconds of the thought. Yes, paying someone to exercise with me feels somewhat tawdry and on the edge of something shameful; like eating a pint of ice cream all by yourself  or having sex in a public place and getting caught with your pants down. In a world dominated by inequity it is the definition of gross irony.

In many other countries I would not have this problem of trying to stay in shape. I could easily be starving. Or walking down to the river to carry water up to my hut for cooking numerous times per day. Maybe I would be journeying five long miles each way to school so I could get an education. Or perhaps I would be picking through trash in a giant garbage heap in an effort to survive. There is no doubt I would be in shape because I would be working from sun up to sun down in ways that tax all your muscles as well as your spirit in order to get the job of survival done. Skinny in these parts of the world is more than just a desire to satisfy cultural “ideals.” Instead, it is a mandatory state that naturally occurs due to too little food and too much work. A choice concerning body image is not found anywhere in the life equation for so many women.

No, this is not the LIBERAL WHITE GUILT that so many speak of. It is witnessing firsthand the back breaking work that is required of so many of millions of people throughout the world on a daily basis. It is trying my hand washing hundred of dirty diapers used in an orphanage in Ethiopia. It is laying brick in a hamlet in Mexico.  It is trying to teach students without the necessary materials. Or laying pipe for fresh water in a remote village. These are the things that have shown me how little I know about hard work, suffering, and how much a dollar means to so many. More importantly, they remind me about the privilege of choice which I possess and I rarely think of as I go about my busy day. A choice that vast numbers of people do not have about what their day brings. Suffering instead of starvation, bombs, vicious gang rapes, and of having to beg in the street for pennies. These are the things of which I know nothing and of which too many know too much about.

So I hop into my car and drive the four miles to my pilates class contemplating the size of my butt and the state of the world, both of which are loose and somewhat saggy. And as I do, I find I have mixed feelings about this life I lead in which I have the luxury of contemplation and not the burden of shoeless feet. And I  begin to wonder about the travels of “the other/my sister/ my fellow human being” as we both make our way down these two very different roads that we both call life and what I can do to help.

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Fibromyalgia

I am a very lucky person. I have fibromyalgia but it is not as debilitating for me as it is for many. It used to be that I had tremendous pain on a fairly regular basis for days at a time but since I started following R. Paul St. Amand, M.D.’s protocols, I have found that for the most part I can live a fairly pain free life. That is why when I woke up in excruciating pain the other morning I was more than a little surprised and very disappointed.

It started with that deep ache throughout my legs as if a truck was laying across them. Moving didn’t help. Shaking my legs didn’t either. Massage didn’t work and beating on them to relieve the pain was for naught.

“Crap,” I thought with a sigh reaching for the aspirin before climbing out of bed. “I am getting old.This sucks.”

It was when I stood up that I realized what was happening. I could barely walk and when I did I looked like a 90 year old lady doing the Downtown Shuffle. I knew that the fibromyalgia had returned with a vengeance and I was pissed. Actually, I was pissed at myself because there are some things I can do to myself that trigger the pain. Yet, the day prior I  had ignored those triggers and ate myself into a sweet oblivion. Yes, sugar is one of my culprits and yet I dive into it like its a cool pool on a hot summers day.

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Usually, I don’t share the pain that I am in. Family members don’t understand why I can feel great one day and a week later be in so much pain. So I usually hide it…until I can’t. The pain makes me grumpy and I either can’t sleep or sleep to avoid the pain. I have serious brain fog (constantly) but I am thankful that with Dr. St. Amand’s help my days in pain are kept at a minimum.

I keep thinking that someday I will “get” it. That I will get tired of feeling crappy. That someday I will care enough about being pain free that I will actually “THINK” about what I am doing BEFORE I put things into my mouth that are going to hurt me later on. That I will care enough about myself to be mindful of what is going in and on my body. And it also occurs to me that perhaps this is some form of self punishment. I mean after all who would knowingly do something when they know they will severely pay for it later?

For now I will do what I can. Drink a lot of water and get out there and force myself to walk…miles. While it used to be I avoided movement when I felt this way, I have come to understand that for me, exercise, even if forced, seems to help alleviate the pain. And tomorrow I will try to stop crucifying myself once again.

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Food And Men

Finding the perfect watermelon is a little like trying to find the perfect guy. In a hoard of either, they are both extremely elusive. While they may both look beautiful on the outside they both are often lacking the sweetness that is needed to be considered “fit for a queen.” And while you may test their ripeness with a slight thump to their sides there is no guarantee that the sound you hear will be pleasant to the ear.

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A good ear of corn is another food that can be as difficult to find as a good man.  When shucking and stripping you often find that there is way more of that impossible to remove tassel hair than you imagined before the sweet treat shed its “clothes”. Often you shuck thinking the niblets will be perfect and round only to find they have shriveled or not developed at all.  And sometimes you find worms embedded deep within the cob that only a psychiatrist can safely remove.

Finding the perfect wine/man is also a challenge. A major problem with both is that one day you might have a craving for a robust red, and the next, a less dense white may fit the bill. Unfortunately, wine and men cannot not be both and plural marriage is frowned upon. But if you are extremely lucky every once in a while you will happen upon a perfectly crafted Rose’ which is a combination of the best of both. Yet, a high-quality Rose’, like a man whose traits span the red/white conundrum, is difficult to find and while a taste test gives you an inkling of what’s inside, how they will hold up over time is anyone’s guess. And of course there is always the issue of corking.

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As we all know few things can bring you as close to heaven as a chocolate bar or a good man. Yet, unsweetened cocoa is bitter and unrefined until it is processed.Same with men.And I can say with total confidence that neither man nor chocolate are good if they are bitter and until you taste the final product you never know whether you have heaven or hell on your hands.

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Finding a good man and finding the “perfect” food are difficult tasks. But if you sample enough, travel far and wide in pursuit, and strip enough of them; there is a chance you will end up with something really easy on both your eyes and your palate. Let the taste test begin!!!

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Food …The Children Should Not Suffer

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I live in one of the poorest most economically depressed counties in the entire United States. It’s a place where English is most often the “second” language and where individuals follow the fruit and vegetables, often picking in 100+ degree heat. It is a place where poverty is rampant but food in the fields is abundant, illegal drug use is prevalent and the gulf between “haves” and “have nots” is wider than the Grand Canyon. Frankly, there is no bridge big enough to traverse this giant chasm.

Make no mistake about it, I am a “have.” I have a roof over my head, money in the bank, and clothes on my back. My life is plentiful. But all around me are reminders that this just isn’t the case for so many. I do what I can…carry McDonalds cards in my car and hand them out to folks who need a meal. But that is just a miniscule drop in the bucket with what is truly needed in the area.

Today on the short drive from downtown I saw three different adults searching trash bins for bottles and cans that can be turned in for change. And while it is shameful that any human being is forced, for whatever reasons to live this way, I am not as worried (though I am concerned) about them because they are resourceful. It is the children that I worry about especially during the summer, for it is the children who suffer.

During the school year kids from low income homes have the opportunity to have free breakfast and lunch at school yet President Trumps budget calls for an elimination of this program. Continue reading

The Christmas Party

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The company Christmas party was last night. I usually dread these affairs because I do not do “president’s wife” well. While most people would probably not guess, I am fairly socially inept. I spend the night trying not to put my foot in my mouth or wanting to kick someone’s ass if they get a little too drunk at the party. A fine line I walk trying to remember names, number of kids and spousal occupations; then I go home and start counting the days until the next one.

This year it was different. Many of the employees could not find babysitters for their children so B told them to bring them along. This meant I got to spend a lot of time at the table coloring with them and looking like a saint when in all actuality they were saving me from myself. Afterwards, B said that was great maybe we should have kids next year…ya think!?

One of the things I love about B’s office is it represents a side of the USA that I love…diversity. There are professionals from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and South America all working for this fairly small company. It is a true melting pot of people, ideas, and understandings. And that is the thing I do love about the party…hearing about their cultures, their families, and the way they celebrate their particular and unique holidays. Talk of grilling a goat at a company function, going on Safari and having family arriving for extended stays were just a few of the tidbits I enjoyed hearing about. I just reinforces to me how similar people are, and while they may go about things differently, they all want to be heard/seen for their  unique perspective on things that matter to them and their adopted country.

And so this morning I bask in the glow of a beautiful evening as I begin the countdown until next year…only 364 days to go!

 

The Perfect Study

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Several years ago I read a study that found that overweight women were consistently judged as younger than they actually were. In addition, and even more important, overweight women were rated younger than their skinny same-age counter parts. Seems that the fat in the face fills in those age fissures that often become as wide as the Grand Canyon when you reach my age.

This study was of interest to me because I am overweight. I am not obese but I have 40 pounds to lose to reach my optimum weight, improve my chances of avoiding knee replacement and probably prolong my life. Yet, as I read this study I realized there was a major flaw contained within it so I want a new study to be done. The perfect study. A study that every woman would pay good money for the results. And it is this:

I want to know exactly how much weight to lose to reach the perfect balance of enough fat to fill in those fine lines while still improving my health. At what point do those lines become caverns when the fat decreases. Is it 24.3 pounds? 18.2? 35.8? What is the optimum fat to filler ratio? Surely there is a way to measure this! I mean if you can invent Viagra certainly this should be a piece of cake. (Of course, we all know that the penis always has precedence over anything else known to man)

In this vein, my girlfriend contends that as women age they become either cows (fat, happy and always have something good to eat on the stove) or goats (skinny, carry carrots in a baggie along with a cup of double expresso at all times, and have a mmmmmmad and hungry look about them 24/7). Somehow, I think if I could learn this mathematical formula I could avoid both and look like a llama (perfect balance of fat to lean, great long distance spitter, soft and cuddly).

So all you scientists out there, I’ve just given you the perfect study that will make you a mint. At just a $1 a pop those huge students loans will be a thing of your past while this llama will be strutting her stuff in front of the pen.

Christmas This Year..Think Heifer International

Yeah, I know, this post is going to sound like one of those poor-oh-so-whiny and  spoiled American blogs and today that is what is truly is. I know. I get it. But today I will put myself out there and hang my head in shame if it gets just one of you over to the Heifer site to make a donation to this worthwhile organization. Thanks.

Christmas has become a fiasco in this house. Every year the pile of presents seems to get bigger while the actual needs get smaller. The holiday had become grand that no one can remember exactly what they received because there was just too much to process and catalog at one time.

I confess this is all my fault. Unlike my ex-brother-in-law who takes his kids shopping for a new toy every Friday (ugh); I am one of those parents who rarely buys something for my kids unless it is their birthday or Christmas. The rest of the year…forget it.  Yet, I have discovered that this parenting philosophy of mine also works to my disadvantage because I guilt myself into believing I have to make up for all those “NO’S” during the rest of the year and so at Christmas I am like Santa on steroids…disgusting…especially when there are so many children in the world just wanting to have a meal to fill their empty stomachs. Over the years my travels have pressed into my psyche the enormous needs throughout the world and in this country too.Buying toys or providing food…the seriousness of this weighs heavily on my mind during the holiday season and throughout the year. Really a child going hungry should not be happening anywhere in this day and age. But it does all too often and we all suffer because of it because who is to say what that child could have grown up to achieve? Perhaps they would have been the one to provide the missing “ingredient” to make sustainable cold fusion a reality? Or maybe they would have become a person who promotes unity and healing throughout the world? Maybe someone like Gandhi? Or maybe they would have practiced the art of a local healer whose ability to diagnose keeps her community alive? So much potential talent snuffed out and wasted due to weather, politics, poor infrastructure, greedy middlemen or assholes who intentionally starve their citizens while their pockets and bellies grow fat.

While I cannot change all the problems in the world I can change them in my little corner. So after much decision and debate this year we are trying something new. Each child will get four presents; one in each category: SOMETHING I WANT; SOMETHING I NEED, SOMETHING TO WEAR and SOMETHING TO READ. They will also pick out a animal to donate through Heifer International to a family whose life will be changed because they now have a way to sustain themselves and make money as their animals procreate and grow. And if you are interested you can contribute too. Visit Heifer International and learn more about this worthwhile charity. Or do something for your neighbors in need. Whatever we each do we will be making the change that we all want to see and that is the best gift we can give ourselves in a world gone mad.

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ARE YOU KIDDING ME… NEVER TAKE FOOD FROM MY KIDS

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YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME…

Sometimes I just shake my head and surrender.  I mean sometimes there is just nothing else to do but that. Today was one of those days

So I am downstairs with Paul when he says to me, “Mom, Andre dropped his pack of gum in the toilet.”

“That’s too bad,” I said.

“But Mom, he dropped his pack of gum in the toilet.”

“Did he flush it?” I ask.

“No”

“So where is it?”

“Andre has it”

“Andre,” I yell at the top of my lungs, “Come down here please.”

“Okay Mom”

“Andre, did you drop your pack of gum in the toilet?”

“Yes, Mom, I did”

“So where is it?”

“Right here,” he says pulling it out of his pocket.

Then it dawns on me….

“Andre, is the gum you are chewing, the gum you dropped in the toilet?”

“Yes, Mom”

ABA therapist T and I just stare at each other incredulous. Then T recovers and says “Andre gum that has been in the toilet has germs. Go spit it out right now!”

Andre runs to spit it out….then Paul follows right behind him and spits his out!!!

ARE YOU KIDDING ME??????? REALLY????? After that lollipop incident in the pit toilet? Didn’t you learn anything then?????????? Granted you were only five but PLEASSSSSSE that is one of the lessons that should never be repeated.

“Andre, why did you think it was okay to fish your pack of gum out of the toilet?”

“Well, I let it dry out first!”

And there you have it! Hopefully now you will remember my rule. NEVER, EVER, EVER take any food products from my children. NEVER!!!!!!!! Taking food from my kids can be hazardous to your health!!!!! Consider this to be a warning and some sort of legal publication!!!!