Thursday, April 19, 2018

Alphabetically Speaking

So April is the month that many brave bloggers are doing the A-Z challenge, which involves writing a post every day, one for each letter of the alphabet (with Sundays off.)

I tried it once, but honestly, it sorta wore me out. Nevertheless, I do like the idea, and I'm having great fun reading Live & Learn's posts.

Anyhow, her post on poetry got me to thinking about words... there are some words that I just like. Some I like for the meaning, some for the things they conjure up in my brain, and others are just fun to say.

So... for no particular reason, here are some words that came to mind when contemplating the alphabet.

A is for alabaster
B is for beckon
C is for calamity
D is for dromedary
E is for epiphany
F is for fanciful
G is for grace
H is for hullabaloo
I is for idiosyncratic
J is for judicious
K is for kleptomania
L is for lapidary
M is for mystic
N is for nefarious
O is for opulent
P is for persimmon
Q is for quintessential
R is for rhapsody
S is for sumptuous
T is for tapioca
U is for utopia
V is for voluptuous
W is for whippoorwill
X is for xenophobic
Y is for yearning
Z is for zealous

I'm sure on a different day I'd choose different words, but those are the ones that struck my fancy today.

What words are you liking today?

Sunday, April 1, 2018


A week or so ago, I started a post entitled "The Mysteries of Motivation." I wrote about 3 sentences and then... well... I got distracted and somehow lost my motivation to finish it.

I know it's been forever since I've written, and I'm not exactly sure why. I keep forming posts in my head, but I just don't seem to be able to put into words the things I've been feeling lately.

For some reason, the Parkland shooting and its aftermath really hit me hard. I spent several days sobbing my eyes out. In a funny and sad way, it's wasn't so much the horror of what happened, because it's almost become commonplace these days to turn on the news and hear that some crazy person with a semi-automatic rifle has murdered a pack of innocent people. No... it was more the reaction of the kids that got to me.

Much has been made and written about the eloquence and articulateness of the kids who have been spearheading the #neveragain movement. And listening to them speak does fill me with hope. But the images that really got to me were the videos taken the morning after the shooting, of kids in the streets holding signs and screaming.

There was just something about the raw emotion they were expressing that really tore me up. I mean, on some level, the protests are wonderful... and I'm so very heartened to see these kids channeling their grief into action... but the very fact that they should have to do it in the first place... it's all just so very, very wrong.

And then there was the very distressing news coming out of the Arctic. Not sure if this made it into the consciousness of people who aren't as obsessed with the topic as I am, but back in February, some very strange and unsettling things happened up north. Basically, a surge of warm air burst through into the upper layers of the atmosphere (called a "sudden stratospheric warming event") and split the polar vortex into several pieces. This caused freakishly cold weather to descend into Europe and the eastern half of the US, but it also caused freakishly warm air to surge into the arctic.

There was a general freakout in the scientific community as places that should have been frozen solid and still gaining ice for the season were instead melting in the dead of winter.
I realize this is just one weather event, and one can't necessarily draw deep conclusions from one event, but it certainly felt ominous, and I just don't think it portends well for the future.

You know, waaaaay back in my early 20's I had an experience that sort of altered the course of my life. I was still living with my Ex. It was the weekend, so we had his young daughter staying with us, and for some reason it was just me and her home together. She was about 3 years old at the time, and some event (which I can no longer remember) caused her to melt down into a complete and total temper tantrum.

Then suddenly, out of the blue, I heard my mother's voice come out of my mouth.

I'm sure this is a fairly common experience among young parents, but given the fact that I had recently become an "insta-parent" ... or "insta-step-parent" well, it totally threw me. It wasn't fear of becoming my mother, it was more that it brought up a whole pile of emotions from my own childhood, which, until that moment, I had pretty successfully shoved into submission.

Part of me wanted to have my own little meltdown, but, of course, I couldn't. I mean, really... what was I gonna do? "Sorry sweetie, I know you're screaming at the top of your lungs, but this episode has triggered some unresolved feelings from my childhood and I really need to go deal with them."

Anyhow, in that instant a whole bunch of things became crystal clear to me. Both of my parents came from abusive alcoholic families, and both had vowed that they would never do to their children what had been done to them.

And to their credit, they didn't... sort of.

While neither of them drank or was physically abusive, they both became masters of psychological torture. The thing is... they weren't bad people, they were both just hopelessly trying to outrun their own personal demons... as were their parents, and their parents before them.

The whole experience didn't last longer than a few minutes, but it was like I could suddenly see generation after generation vowing to "not be like them" but never being willing to do the difficult work of dealing with their own shit... and thus dooming themselves to pass along some new and different version of the same old shit to their own children. Because, you know, will power is simply not enough.

So that was the moment in which I decided that unless and until I could be damned sure that I'd dealt with my own demons, I wasn't gonna have children of my own. I just couldn't face the possibility of creating another incarnation of the family bullshit.

So what does any of this have to do with school shootings or climate change? Honestly, for the past 6 weeks or so, I just haven't been able to shake the feeling that we, as a society, have collectively failed our children. It's like we're all part of one giant dysfunctional family, and we're all just, as a society, doing the same things that my own personal dysfunctional family did.

We see the problems, but we can't bring ourselves to face the reality behind them. So we simply dress them up in different clothing and pass them along for future generations to deal with.

I don't know where any of that leaves me. As the title of this post would imply, I'm still processing...

In the meantime, life goes on. CatMan and I have been enjoying long bike rides. The scenery is amazing as usual.

And I even got up early this morning to open the curtain on the front window so Jasper and I could enjoy "Easter Sunbeam Services."

So it's all good. I can only hope that this new generation will be willing to tackle things in a way that previous ones have not.

Happy Easter everybody. May the season of rebirth fill us all with hope for a better future.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Fun with Food Storage

So it's been about a year since I went totally off my rocker and decided to start stockpiling food.

Honestly, when you walk down the aisles of the grocery store - brimming with more food than one can really comprehend, well, I do think I'm a bit crazy. Like, why would people living in the land of plenty possibly need to worry about running out of food?

Perhaps I am just nuts, and that would be the best possible scenario, but on the off chance that I'm not, it does give me some level of comfort knowing that food is one thing I won't have to immediately worry about should something bad happen - whether it's economic, environmental, political, or who knows what.

Plus (and now you'll know that I'm REALLY crazy) I am having tons of fun with my food stockpile! First of all, it's soooo nice not to run out of things. Like if I'm cooking and I run out of olive oil, I don't have to panic - I just run downstairs, grab another bottle, and add it to the shopping list to replace the one I took out of storage.

And then there's the system. This is the part that I was really missing in my previous attempts to stockpile food - you can't just buy stuff willy-nilly and shove it in a closet somewhere. You have to have a system for rotating and using up your stock.

Soooo... when I buy stuff now, the first thing I do is mark the expiration date on the can or jar. I know the date is already on there, but making it clearly visible at a glance makes the whole process WAY easier.

Then when I'm putting it away, I take that opportunity to do a bit of rearranging. I put the new stuff in the back, and check for anything with an approaching expiration date. I bring anything that needs to be used soon (or that I'm planning on using soon) upstairs, and put in in the kitchen cabinet where it can get used quickly.

It's a bit like a never ending pantry challenge - which I consider to be great fun. I currently have some cream of mushroom soup and frozen peas that need to be eaten... so I see some tuna noodle casserole in my future!

My original plan was to try to stockpile a year's worth of food. Honestly, figuring out how much that is... well, let's just say that was a challenge. There are prepper sites online that offer guidelines, but they varied wildly, and some of it was downright comical. One said you needed 5000 calories per person per day. Seriously?!? I guess they're planning to burn a lot of calories during the apocalypse.

Well anyhow, my general approach is to just try to store enough short term food (like stuff that keeps for 1-5 years) so that I can eat it before it goes bad and continue rotating. With the longer term stuff (stuff meant to be stored for 20-30 years) - well, I bought some of that too, and honestly I haven't really figured out the best plan for making sure I use it before it goes bad - but hey, I've got a while before I really have to worry about that one.

So... here's what you've been waiting for. The crazy lady pictures - ordered by descending craziness level.

1) The canned food shelf.

This bookshelf worked nicely as a place for storing canned goods. There's a little screen door of sorts that covers it up so that the cats can't knock something on the floor and injure themselves with a falling can. I'm not a huge fan of canned food, but canned beans really are convenient, plus it's nice to have some occasional convenience food and treats (like canned pineapple - yum!)

2. Pantry Cabinet number One.

This cabinet stores the canned cat food as well as other short term stuff - especially things that needed more sheltering from light than the canned stuff, or stuff that wouldn't fit easily on those shelves.

3. The Kitty Bin.

And while we're talking kitties - I used an airtight plastic bin for storing bags of dry cat food. I figured it would keep out any mice or bugs, as well as any kitties who decided they wanted to open a fresh bag for themselves - which isn't really as out of the question as it might sound... ask me how I know!

4. Pantry Cabinet Two

And then we have this cabinet, which stores mostly dry goods. Only one of those shelves is actually full of protein powder, the other one is old protein powder containers filled with oatmeal. There's also pasta and dried beans and some random grains like millet and quinoa in there. Note the empty shelf on top! Always room for more!

5. Pantry Cabinet Three

Now we're getting to more long term stuff. The white rice (there's Jasmine, Basmati, Parboiled & regular) will theoretically store for 10+ years in glass jars, and there's also sugar & Gatorade, and then stuff that I bought both from the Mormon church and various prepper sites - there's some beans & rice as well as freeze dried fruits, veggies, cheese, butter, milk, and even some chicken.

6. The Crazy Lady Closet

And then we have the deep storage. This is all stuff that I ordered from the Mormons. It's all 30 year long term storage stuff including dried onions, potatoes, beans, apples, rolled oats, and milk.

And that's about it... except for... the freezer!

Oy! This is one area where I really need a better system. It's the shape of the darned thing that makes it so hard to keep it organized. My current system is to try to have a bag for each category of food - breads & flours, meats & meat alternatives, cheese & butter, and fruit & veggies. But as you can see... I'm not doing a very good job keeping up with it - it's just such a pain to pull everything out when you need to get something or put something away. So if anybody's got any suggestions for better freezer organization - I'm all ears!

So that's the news from the crazy lady. I'm curious if anybody else out there has dabbled in food stockpiling. I'd love to hear about your systems if you have!