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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Bunch Of Stuff Off The Top Of My Head

Obviously, I'm in a Writing Slough Of Sloth. If I wait until I have Something Valuable To Say, this spot will collect cyber-cobwebs and digital dustbunnies. So! I'm going to just reach into my head, grab whatever I find, and see what we think.

Here we go.

Wake Me Up When: 1. Winter is really over. 2. republicans knock it the hell off/are extinct. 3. He's arrested and frog-marched out of the White House with his staff. 4. Wine is the cure for migraine. 5. Joe Biden is President*.
*Since we can't have Hillary, because Woman. (And actual Fake News. Thanks, Facebook.)

Either No One Ever Told Me Or I Was Young And Therefore Stupid: Holy Crap, what is the deal with suddenly becoming as dry as those bleached bones in the desert? I used to have oily skin, oily hair, plenty of spit, and the ability to wear contacts and grow my nails long, longer, longest. I had to wash my hair every day--hell, when I was a teenager, I would sometimes use dishwashing liquid! Now that I am technically Too Old to be termed even Of A Certain Age, I can go two or three days before my hair becomes oily or flat. My contacts are a misery; my skin is taut and painful this winter. My hands are strangers to me, with their ragged cuticles and peely nails kept short by necessity. Did anyone ever foretell this Sadness? Probably I laughed merrily, tossed my brilliant locks, and waved them off with my long-nailed hand. What a heartless bitch I was, surely.

When Your Husband Is A Carpenter And You Are A Knitter: As you, Dear Readers, well know, I accompany Rick on many of his Outings to stores For Him, such as Home Depot and Harbor Freight and the like. It's not always All Bad, as there are more than a few things there which are Multipurpose and Handy for other things, and some of the stores, like Rural King, even have baby ducks, which are the most charming animals in the world (possibly). After seeing me linger over one Handy Item, my husband bought me one as a gift, so it could become my Knitting Caddy. Here it is, and I love it:



It has a place for everything! Eight side pockets hold my stitch markers, spare glasses, lotion, stitch counter, tapestry needles, scissors, you name it. Deep end pockets hold a small tablet and pen, pattern, and circ needle packet. A loop on the end even holds a large safety pin, used to hold stitches when I make my charity bears. And, as a bonus, when I hold it on my lap and prop my elbows on it, it keeps my knitting at eye level and my shoulders squared, just what the physical therapist ordered to combat my cervical myofasciitis. (Bonus: it is, apparently, an Excellent Cat-Chin-Scratching-Edifice.)

Everyone Stop:  1. Quoting Twitter as a News Source. 2. Overusing the word amazing (still!). 3. Telling me that Spring Officially Starts Next Week. 4. Saying Daylight SavingS Time (THERE IS NO 'S').  5. Putting up holiday decorations if you cannot take them down in a timely manner.

Okay.  Your turn.  I can't wait for you to peel off a little brain banana or two in Comments or chat about mine.



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Monday, February 27, 2017

The Contents Of Our Character

At first I didn't notice anything different as I pulled my car into a parking spot at the grocery store. The forecast was calling for rain, and the skies were already threatening. I wanted to get what I needed in pretty good time and get out--a daunting task at Marc's, which has a large closeouts section that bogs me down. In it, I can find anything from garden rakes to wall clocks, room-sized rugs to purses. But I was resolute as I grabbed my bags and started towards the door.

Suddenly, I saw the police car. It was pulled up parallel to the front of the store. Its lights weren't flashing or anything, so I figured they were probably grabbing a few things themselves. But as I came closer, I saw the back door open, and an officer had a young woman by the arm. Neither one looked particularly distressed, but it was clear that he was going to put her in the squad car. Another young woman, who looked nearly identical to the first one, was standing there calmly asking, "Do you want me to drop off the car? Do you want--?" and I stopped listening and looking.

That sort of thing bothers me, and I don't like to gawk. It's clearly None Of My Business, and no one needed my help, obviously. It wasn't Entertainment.

I'd like to say that everyone else had the same philosophy, but of course, you all know that's not the case. There was almost a traffic jam of people and their shopping carts trying to come out of the store, caused by the two or three Elderlies with full carts, standing stock-still, watching this unfortunate drama unfold. I had to almost thread myself through a few more just to get through the IN door.

Once I did, however, I was soon stopped in my tracks by a monologue spoken loudly enough for everyone at the front of the store to hear. A woman's voice, speaking conversationally but assertively, said, "Just cut their hand off, that's what I say. If they want to steal, cut off a hand. For a first offense, maybe a finger, but if they do it again, then cut off the whole hand. Maybe then they'd think twice."

Aghast, I turned around and was astonished to see that the speaker was one of my favourite cashiers, a woman about my age, maybe a little younger. She was always so pleasant and kind to me, making sure to pack my groceries so that the bags were light. She was unfailingly chipper and chatty, talking about weekend activities and even inquiring about my health when I hadn't come in for a while. To hear her speak so easily about such brutality was jarring.

This happened a week ago, and I'm still struggling with it. So much is so wrong about it.

With everything in me, I wanted to challenge that cashier. I wanted to ask her if that is truly what she believes, that maiming a young twenty-something woman for what may well be the one mistake of her life is really what she considers to be Justice. I wanted to ask her if she knew that she was advocating for Sharia Law when she invoked these penalties for theft. I wanted to know how she could find such bitterness and hatred in her heart for a stranger, and for someone who had done nothing to her personally. And I wanted to ask her if she had ever stolen anything--anything--in her life; and if not her, what about her kids? What about her friends or co-workers? Did she really want something ugly and primitive to be Justice In America?

But I didn't do that. I didn't confront her then and there. I decided to wait and go through her line, speak to her civilly and calmly, but then she wasn't there. And now I know my chance is gone; I won't go through her line anymore.

I feel lousy. I feel as if I didn't Stand Up For What's Right. Like I let her get away with a big load of crap and spread it around, unchecked.

These days, any little Inch becomes a Mile pretty damn fast. I hope that, by my silence, I didn't help start a superhighway.

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Friday, February 10, 2017

They're Out There And They Voted: I Can't Go To Home Depot Anymore

I'm sorry. Massive, cavernous stores already have a strike against them by being dauntingly huge and tiresome. At least Costco, for instance, has an endless and ever-changing variety of goods--including food--to keep me interested. I once rested against a gigantic cuddly teddy bear there that was larger than me whilst Rick pored (eternally) over a selection of work gloves. Then we went to visit the food and wine, found some truly excellent olive oil and asiago cheese, and went home without any Untoward Incident.

Not so, however, at Home Depot, where there is almost nothing Interesting to me. While Rick can happily spend an hour or two there, I become restless and fidgety after about ten minutes. And that is without signs like this one:



Groan.

(I'm having flashbacks from my teaparty sign days. Remember those?)

How could things go so wrong on such a simple sign?

Now, stipulating that Idems means Items, as in "pieces, things, goods, gadgets", how can such entities be Selective as in "choosy, judicious, discriminating, or discerning"?

And do not even get me started on that asterisk.

Goodbye, Home Depot.  I've decided to become more Selective in where I spend my time.  You and I are no longer an Item*.

*But Rick will never quit you.


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Friday, February 03, 2017

Snakes Are Not The Boss Of Me

That I have a debilitating fear of snakes is not news. I've mentioned it in almost a dozen posts, most notably in this one about Irrational Fears and this one, a little playlet starring everyone's favourite, my mother, St. Patsy. (Speaking of which, let me take a moment to remind her: Hey, Mom, whenever you see the little words in a different colour, you can touch them and go to read or look at whatever it is I'm talking about.)

Thanks, everyone. Onward.

I'm happy to report that I've made considerable progress with regard to my phobia of snakes. Much of this progress has to do with the following:

1. My need for control
2. Actually, there really is no Number Two, as it all really boils down to my Need For Absolute Control, come to think about it.

Here's the thing: I really do not like Being Afraid. Of anything. And I also do not appreciate snakes being around where I am, making me feel scared and generally Being The Boss Of Me, which is another Thing I Do Not Like. Just ask my husband, who will readily answer the question, "Who is the boss of Nance?" with an emphatic and vociferous "No one!" Truth be told, my mother will answer the same question in the same way. And, that is precisely how I want snakes to answer it as well.

Seeing a snake on the shoreline of the lakehouse is still not something I'm happy about, but it no longer makes me rooted to the spot. Yes, I'm forbidden from using the ax on it after a few ill-fated forays into that practice of snake killing, but I have my methods.

I've come a long way from the little girl on East 38th Street who cried and cried one day, eventually calling out for her mother. Desperate to use the bathroom, I was too afraid to go in. I called my mom, who came to me, probably harried from hanging laundry outside or taking care of my then baby sister. One of four children, I was not usually a problem, so my mother was probably surprised by my distress. "Mom! Come quick! Call for help! Call the fire department or something. There's a rattlesnake in the toilet. I can hear it in there." My mother ran to the hallway and stopped to listen. There was absolutely no doubt about it--a rattling noise was coming from the bathroom. "Mom! Do you hear it? You heard it, right?" I knew she heard it. I was crying by then, so hard. My mother turned to face me, her eyes wide and her mouth desperately trying to hold back her smile. Then she just couldn't help herself; she started laughing. "Oh, honey," she said. "That's just the wind coming through the Venetian blinds."

Now before you all--and YOU, MOM--get too smug and superior, take a look at this:

courtesy Big Country Snake Removal

Trust me; I'm not happy about it in the least. I want stories like this to be Urban Legends. And I'm sure that the little boy in Texas who found it wasn't real thrilled either, nor was his family, who found a whole basement full of rattlers, as well as a nest under the house. After the initial shock, they called a snake removal system (the fact that this is a real thing makes me doubly sure I do not ever want to live in Texas) to get rid of them all and prevent further infestation. A spokesperson for Big Country Snake Removal said, "People have an irrational fear about" rattlesnakes. Herpetologist Sara Viernum reminds us that, while a rattlesnake bite can cause "temporary and/or permanent tissue and muscle damage, loss of an extremity depending on the location of the bite, internal bleeding, and extreme pain around the injection area", fatalities from rattlesnake bites are rare if treated with antivenin in a timely manner.

I really don't think Big Country Snake Removal and Herpetologist Sara Viernum are helping rattlesnakes a whole helluva lot with their PR .

Not that I care.

Let me just say that I am putting All Snakes On Notice.  If I have to put an ax next to every single toilet in the house, I will.  I have already eliminated all Venetian blinds.

I am In Control.

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Friday, January 27, 2017

One Marcher's Message: A Guest Post From The Women's March On Washington

It's with great pleasure and many thanks that I turn over the Dept. today to a Guest Writer. Jill Meyer, a Dearest Reader and Subscriber travelled to Washington, DC, and attended the 2017 Women's March. She kindly agreed to write her thoughts and share them here with us. Jill wrote these immediately after the 21 January March, so keep that timeline in mind while reading.

Without any further preamble, here's Jill's account:


Many of you have asked me to write something about the Women's March in Washington, DC; my friend Elise and I attended on January 21, 2017. We went with her daughter, Sarah, and two of Sarah's friends who all live in West Orange, New Jersey.

Elise and I flew from Chicago to Newark on Friday, overnighted at the Marriott, and joined in on the West Orange group going to the March in DC. We left at 5 AM on one of the 14 buses organised for the group, and reached RFK Stadium parking lot at 9:30AM. The route down I-95 was jammed with buses, most of which we assumed were headed for DC. At that point in the day, I guess we assumed we would be among the 200,000 who were expected for the rally/March. That number went up and up as the day went on and people flooded the streets of DC around the Capitol. We heard that thousands of people were trapped in the Metro stations, trying to get up to the March, but the sheer number of people made getting out of the stations take up to 30 minutes.

When our bus - #14 - arrived at RFK, we quickly found Sarah and her friends. We couldn't decide how to get to the site; walking the 2 miles would take up to an hour and 15 minutes we thought, and we were by now hearing stories of people being trapped on the Metro. And this is when we caught a real break. We were directed to a nearby bus stop and told about a bus - free - that would take us directly to Union Station. We didn't have to walk or try the Metro and we jumped on the bus, amazed at our luck! We arrived at Union Station and walked the mile or so to the rally site.

By this time, the streets were filled with festive people of all ages and races. There were many men, both by themselves or accompanying the women in their lives. There were old people in wheelchairs and babies in strollers or carried by their parents, strapped to their chests or riding on their backs. Signs carried by many groups of families or friends identified them as rather varied; I saw one family group that proclaimed themselves "trans and gay, black and white". There were many multi-generational families, too.

And the signs! They were everywhere and were mostly handmade. Most were anti-Trump (along with a few anti-Pence) and ranged from fairly polite to downright scatological. I took pictures of a few signs; one was a drawing of Putin, naked and riding a horse with Trump's head. My fav, though, was a sign that read "Keep your tiny orange hands off my pussy", with a picture of a very cute looking...cat. Elise and I wore red baseball caps which read "Make America Great Again" -- in Russian. (We did verify the translation with a Russian speaker).

Our group of five managed to keep together for most of the afternoon, but at 2:30PM Elise and I walked back to Union Station and picked up our rental car. We had decided to rent a car to drive back to Newark because the bus we had come down on wasn't leaving til 7:30PM. We managed to pick up our Rav 4 before the Hertz office closed at 3:30PM and then - almost impossibly - managed to pick up Sarah and her friends! We made it back to West Orange at about 8PM, exhausted and happy to have survived the March - in all its glorious disorganisation and free-for-all fun. Elise and I flew back to Chicago this morning.

Here are my takeaways from the experience:

1. VOTING.  How many young women (and others) in the crowd either hadn't voted because "both parties are the same?", or had voted for a third party candidate? There's some statistic which states that in the three important states Clinton lost, the vote difference was 60,000 between Trump and Clinton (in Trump's favor) and an astounding 250,000 votes for third party candidates. What if those third-party voters had voted for Clinton?

2. SOCIAL MEDIA.  News of this March was mainly spread by social media. Supposedly, 500,000 attended the March. (The number may turn out to be higher, but for now, that's the number I'm seeing). How many of you remember seeing or reading about the Martin Luther King rally and march in August 1963? And seeing the pictures of what seemed to be hundreds of thousands of people? Well, according to Wikipedia and other sources, the attendance that day was between 200-250,000. That is half of what the numbers were from (The Women's March) yesterday. What a difference social media makes. I first became aware of this during the Arab Spring in 2011. And, of course, social media was responsible for the marches and rallies held all over the world. (A hat tip to Emily and Andy who took my grandgals to the Chicago March! Can't get started too early!)

3. NEWS REPORTING. I read several reports where the acts of violence done in DC on Friday night (20 January) were somehow included in the reports about the peaceful marching on Saturday. The Women's March had no violence whatsoever and at no point did I ever feel in any sort of danger. Why the disingenuous reporting?

4. THE NEXT STEPS.  What to do going forward? I don't have an answer to that, but I do think the world-wide marching and rallying makes it clear that people don't like the Donald Trump presidency and the working of the Republican Congress. All I know is that we can't stay silent and disengaged any longer. Maybe we borrow tactics from the Tea Party? They certainly went after what they wanted.

Let's try to make a difference in the days and months ahead. Organise, organise, ORGANISE.

--Jill Meyer

Note from Nance:  The Women's March website is active and moving ahead with some answers to Jill's question in #4.  And Activism remains what it has always been--getting involved, being heard, and making a difference on whatever level you can.  Don't let Them get comfortable.  This is Not Normal.  RESIST.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

They're Out There And They Voted: Making America Say "Huh?" Again

Imagine me having to drive past this in all its Bountiful Sad Wrongness at least one hundred times a year.


Heavy Sigh.

I. Know.

Just an FYI--this sign has been there for years and years and years in this teensy rural town where everyone knows everyone and the only restaurant is an ice cream stand.  Unless you count the Fried Chiken.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

In Which We Discuss All Manners Of Distress And Patrick Henry

credit:  Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office
who rescued her; she's perfectly OK

I know how this cat feels, don't you?  Everything was pretty much okay, then suddenly, it's like your entire brain is held hostage and you have no idea what in the hell is happening.   Your world is suddenly a dangerous and unknown place to you, capable of great harm and terrible uncertainty.  And all you can do is wait.  Wait and hope that someone will come along and make it all okay.

Sigh.  Boy, do I ever get it.

In the meantime, we have to try to make our own lives more comfortable until Help Arrives. If you are a Chrome user--which I am--you can download the extension Make America Kittens Again. It, in its developer's own words, replaces images of the republican outrage "with kittens because, seriously, f*** that guy".  This extension works on lots of sites, with more and more being added. Instead of looking at the TIC*, I can instead see photos of sweetly cute kittens on news sites and on Yahoo when I check my mailboxes.  (*Toddler In Chief)

And speaking of Cats, there is a movement afoot with regard to the Women's March on Washington, being held on 21 January, the day after the Great Sadness inauguration. Dubbed The Pussyhat Project, this separate movement's goal is to amass enough pink hand-knitted hats (with cat-like ears) so that marchers can wear them in Washington. I'm extremely conflicted about a couple of aspects of this movement, which I first learned of over at Meredith's blog, and I'd like to hear what you think.

Firstly, the name is a problem for me.  I actively dislike it.  I find that using it in this way, and for this purpose destigmatizes the vulgar and demeaning way the republican candidate used it to degrade women.  I disagree that co-opting it takes away the negative connotation and in some way empowers women.  It doesn't.  It merely says, "It's okay after all.  Even they use it."  And knowing his mentality, that's exactly what he'll say.

Secondly, a multitude of women will be marching on the nation's capital to remind the new administration that We Are Here and that We Matter.  Our concerns are serious ones.  We want to protect our rights to equal pay, to reproductive choice, to equal employment opportunity and advancement, to marry and love whom we wish.  We want to remind the administration that we have voices to be heard in matters of education, immigration, economic representation, and medical research funding.  Women are fighting for their equality, even now in the year 2017.  Is the gravity of these issues best served by juvenilizing and infantilizing women marchers in a hat with kitty cat ears?

I am proud to be a strong American woman.  Proud to "Use My Words"--my best and most erudite ones whenever possible.  Proud that I did not fall for the carcass of hate and fear and bigotry that the republican candidate dragged in.  One of the brave patriots of this country seems like a mystic now when he said to Congress back in 1775:

"...it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it."

Oh, Patrick Henry!  What you must think of us now.  Just like that cat in the garage door, I'll bet.
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