Sunday, September 17, 2017

Time to Cut the Head Off the Snake

So I haven't been writing as much lately.....I like to write, clear the air, chase out the cobwebs.  But it feels like I've mostly been complaining a lot and that's not something I generally approve of. 

We've all got trials and troubles.  We've all got losses and crosses to bear.  The current trend seems to be that we should all blare our agony across the wide world.  But I don't like that trend.  And I most certainly don't care for it when I do it.  The fact of the matter is that I only vent here because there's nowhere else to do so and because no one in the real world is listening (which can be really much more painful than you need to know).

There comes a time to cut the head off the proverbial snake, and I've been trying to make decisions about a variety of those matters in my life.  It's hard to know what to do.  So I make no promises, and I'm still trusting God.

For now I'll keep writing here because some folks appear to be reading (heaven only knows why).  Maybe I'll try to be more organized.  Maybe I'll even follow some sort of theme, although it's very unlike me.  It's my nature to be persistent rather than consistent but, hey, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made"  (Psalm 139:14)  so I'm just fine the way I am even though my health doesn't work so very well.

This past week has been tough (pneumonia hit me as I thought it might).  This past week I've received a little good news but also more bad.  This past week I haven't felt remotely motivated or capable of anything. 

But I refuse to give in.

Here's what I think:  Even if you can only do one single thing, then that's the place to start.  Find a place and take a stand.  It's okay to fail; but try anyway--at least you learn in the attempt.  Keep walking forward; don't look back (or at least don't look back too much).

I said this elsewhere this week and, unfortunately, no one took account of it (although there are many in that place who are in need of the thought).  It's an old saying but I believe it's worthwhile:
It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

So, it's time to cut the head off the snake. 
That snake is called Complaining. 

We draw energy to ourselves through our beliefs and our actions and our words.  I need more sweetness in my life.  I need more light.  I need hope.  While there's not a lot I can do about what others do and say, I am in charge of what I produce.  And I want my works to speak well of me. It all starts with my own heart.

Looking forward.
I hope you will to.
Life is good.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Mindfulness and the Minimal Effort of Avoidance

A few months back, a short bypass road opened up in my little town.  (Actually I live outside of town but that's beside the point.)  That bypass takes a mile off my journey to the PO, so I use it more often than not.  And I use it because I save a mile.  Now that might not seem like much but this is the math that goes on in my head:

1 mile X 5 days (average number of PO trips per week) =
5 miles X 4 weeks in a month =
20 miles = 1 gallon of gas

Thus, over the course of a year, that means that I earn the equivalent of a full tank of gas (mine only holds 12 gallons) with the minimal effort of avoidance (i.e. I don't drive through town the way I used to).

It's good to review to see where you can save on small stuff that adds up.  It's a simple matter of choosing to be conscious and conscientious about your actions--like not leaving the lights on in a room where no eye needs to see (besides the cost of the electricity, there's also bulb life to be considered--wear it out faster, and you have to replace it sooner).

Waste worries me.  I try not to fuss about what other folks do but I can't help seeing it. 

Once I watched a woman toss a pretty red calculator in the garbage because it wasn't working.  I asked her if she minded if I reclaimed it.  She was surprised but said she didn't care.  There were batteries at home that I was pretty sure would fit.  They did.  Ten years on, I'm still using the calculator she threw in the trash for the want of a ten cent battery. 

Last week I watched someone throw two pretty red (red again, that color captures attention) apples in the trash because each had a thumbprint-sized bruise.  I was aghast but held my tongue.  She saw me looking.  Although I hope she was embarrassed by her action, I figure that she probably was not.  What could you do with bruised apples?  Cut the bruise away and make applesauce (less than five minutes, max, including microwave cooking time).  Make a couple of apple turnovers.  Make apple muffins.  Or, if the bruises were bad indeed, rough chop the apple and put it in the undergrowth for wild creatures to feast upon or to compost gently.  I would do nearly anything other than toss it in the trash but in this case, I decided it was best to mind my own business.

There's much I want to do that I cannot because I am just one person.  There's much I wish that I could say but I hold my tongue--that's avoidance, too, for maintaining the energy for living.  All any person can do is to try to the best of her own power and to be aware of what is going on around her.  One person cannot save the world but each of us can improve upon our corner of it.

I'm gonna keep trying.
Life is good. the way, the view of the sky from the access road was so spectacularly beautiful (kinda reminded me of the skies in that famous El Greco painting of Toledo) when I went to the PO this morning, that I pulled into a turning lane to snap a picture.

Look at the wonder all around you and rejoice.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Even Though It May Seem That Way.....

Beg pardon:  I am about to vent; if you don't care to read, just move along.

If you saw a person in a wheelchair, you wouldn't insist that they run up a flight of steps, would you?  If you saw a person wearing dark glasses and carrying a white cane, you wouldn't ask them to paint your portrait, would you?

It's understandable that if a person has a disability that you can see, you will automatically make an adjustment of your expectations.  Sometimes those adjustments may be a bit off the mark but still you'd mean it kindly, wouldn't you?  And you'd be trying to do the right thing.

But what if a person looks perfectly normal but has a disability that is not immediately apparent?   You might ask them to do something that they can't and you'd undoubtedly be told that it was impossible.  That's fine; the disabled person would be requesting respect.  And you'd give them that, wouldn't you?

See, you're being perfectly reasonable all down the line. 

Now, what if an able person who is fully aware of a disabled person's inabilities coerces (or even forces) that disabled person into doing something that will aggravate the disabling condition?  That is cruel.

That's the position I was in recently.  
And, for the record, I'm NOT the able person; I'm the other.

My family always taught me to step up and do what had to be done, no matter how hard it was.  I was expected to put forth more effort than anyone else.  It was, in fact, demanded of me.  I can hear my parents yet in the back of my mind, snapping their fingers and telling me tersely to "pony up!"  To this day, it is my knee jerk reaction to do what cannot be done, never to give up, never to give in, to destroy myself if necessary in getting the job done whenever someone else expresses a need.  I pony up until it kills me.

Yeah, life isn't fair.  I'm sick right now with a fever and suffering the nasty symptoms of MyalgicEncephalomyleitis.  And this is due, in part, to my inability to say no or to give into my own exhaustion (yes, I'm owning that).  And it is due in large part to someone else's failure to recall that I cannot merely find a lever to move the planet all by myself.  These are people who have known for years that the stability of my health wobbles on a very thin thread indeed.  But I don't think they've ever believed it because I look like I'm perfectly healthy when I'm really very much not.

Atypically, I am furious--absolutely incandescent at the unkindness, the thoughtlessness, the lack of respect that put me in a position that made me unable to say "no, I cannot help you."  I'm not a person who gets angry often (and almost never on my own behalf) but I am enraged.  To be fair, I am as angry at myself as I am at others.  So, I am venting here.

I'll get over it.  But I'll have to spend rather a lot of time resting until I do.  This is time I cannot afford to lose because I have much to do and the Christmas listing season is in full swing, plus I need to have another yard sale to make money to pay the bills.  Hopefully I can get past the pneumonia that is threatening to erupt.  In any case, I feel utterly helly.

It's hard, so hard, to do everything alone.  But it's much, much harder to be misunderstood.  I'm not lazy.  I'm ill.  I wish I were not.  I wish I could be like other folks.  I can't.   This condition is genetic.  I do what I can to keep things under control.  And I don't remind people all the time that I can't do things (although maybe sometimes I should).  I'm tired of being brave and toughing stuff out.

I'm just tired.
Life is still good.
.....but not so very nice right now.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

A New Feline Friend?

When my folks bought this property years ago, the previous owners had abandoned two cats that we took responsibility for because it would have been unkind to do otherwise.  There was one we called Dash (because that's what he did best:  run away) and the other we called TUC (The Unknown Cat:  we knew we were feeding a second cat but it was years before we ever actually saw what he looked like because he avoided us so).  Dash eventually disappeared but TUC, after a decade on the run, finally became a much-loved kitty and we were devastated when he died of old age. 

But, before TUC went to his eternal reward, he bought us his wife and her kittens:  Gracie (a Russian Blue; ie Gray C[at]) and her three sons, Tiger (Maine Coon mix), Boris (in need of a tough name as the runt of the litter), and Bubba (dumb as a rock, poor dear, but a very good brother).  We cared for them all of their lives, too.

And there have been many, many, many others because people have had the awful habit of dumping unwanted animals in this neighborhood and many of them (mainly cats but also dogs, a rooster, geese, ducks, fowl, even a horse) have found their way to my door.  But it is most often the cats I've been able to care for:  Ebenezer and Moon and three following generations of their family.  Then there were Tinker, Winnie Esmeralda, Genevieve, Tom Good and Tuppence Dear, Peck, Ira Haze, Texas.....many, many, many.  I quit counting but I didn't quit naming.  Every cat needs to be called something, and the name should be kind wherever possible.

For the past couple of years, a pair of brother cats have been marauding the neighborhood and they've mainly pestered my good neighbors.  They call them the "beige" cats--true enough, they are beige.  I suspect that they are sons of Henry the Navigator, a lynx point Siamese who wandered the local landscape but never found a mooring.  Certainly the brothers bear some of the markers of the breed.

The good neighbors' cat Smokey and their new puppy Sandy are very accepting of one of the brothers but not the other.  The second brother is crippled in a hind leg and he fights viciously with any other animal--and reasonably so, if you think about it, because he has to work harder to protect himself, so he offends rather than defends.  Gotta admire a cat who makes the first strike to distract others from noticing he's in a poor position to win. 

Siamese were originally bred (as I understand it) to be temple guardians.  They are fierce fighters, even more than many cats are.  So the crippled kitty is within the breed profile as well as being within common sense of self-defense.  The neighbors call him Gimpy.

When I was talking to Mrs. neighbor the other day, she happened to mention that Gimpy was creating serious havoc with the puppy who utterly despises him (while casually ignoring his healthy brother).  That's when I admitted to Mrs. neighbor that I had, on a few occasions, put food out for the crippled kitty.  Now my good neighbors have mentioned that they would prefer I did not feed strays, so I have respected that wish and I have not fed any since they took my Texas to the pound (yes, he was being overly aggressive for territory and I did agree to this).  But I had not been able to ignore this lame beige kitty whom I'd find hungrily hunting through the vegetable peelings I toss into the undergrowth, so I took him a bowl of kibble sometimes.

Surprisingly this born-feral kitty seems somewhat calm with me.  At various times (even when not offering food) I have spoken to him and have made the appropriate feline signs of respect and liking.  He has never come near.  But he does happily empty the kibble bowl after he feels sure that I've walked far enough away.  Even more surprising is the fact that Mrs. neighbor approved of me taking over with this cat, so I agreed to make a project of him.

No pictures yet; that will take awhile.  Very probably a very long while, if ever.  I don't know if I can help this kitty.  But I do know one thing for certain:  I absolutely cannot and will not call him a derogatory name.  So, the other day, the crippled kitty became Byron (a name that seems apt if you know anything about the famous poet).  And, you know what, the cat approves.  When I speak that name, he lifts his head and looks me right in the eye. 

Welcome, Byron.
Life is good.
Let's hope it gets even better.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Warning About a Flea Control Product

The other day I happened to be reading some posts on a message board when I happened upon one that had the following title:  Warning for Sergeants Silver Spot On Treatment for Cats.

 The writer of the post quoted from a lengthy Facebook post by a veterinary assistant, and it detailed the suffering that animals endure when using Sargeants Silver.  (Link to the board post is here )

As you can see in the following link to Consumer Affairs, there are a huge number of people complaining about serious health issues in their animals after using Sergeants Silver Flea Control:

After I read the article, I suddenly realized that this was the product that I had used on Daisy when she nearly died a few months ago.

Sergeants Silver is sold at dollar stores for around $5-6 so it is readily available to people who may not have access to veterinary assistance or to pay for a more quality product.  I know that this is true because I bought Sergeants Silver at Family Dollar early this year when my dear elderly Daisy was suffering with a bumper crop of fleas.

Even if I could afford to take Daisy to the vet (and I surely do not have the funds), she could not go.  Daisy has serious fear-related behavioral issues that stem from her mistreatment by previous owners.  I've taken her for vetting before and she reacted so badly that she has now been banned by two vets here in my little town.  Bathing Daisy is also out of the question due to her behavior.  My only recourse has been to use spot flea treatments, and this time I couldn't pay for a better product.  Usually she's sleepy for a couple of days after a spot treatment, and then she recovers.

When I used Sergeants this spring, she was sleepy again for a few days.  The next week, she began to lose strength.  She was shaking.  She lay down in her own excrement and did not care to move out of it.  She developed pneumonia.  And it became apparent that she was dying.  There was nothing I could do but pray.  Pray I did.  I gave her to God; in his goodness, he gave her back to me.

I don't really know why I did not connect Daisy's decline to Sergeants (perhaps her reaction was different than other cats because she didn't show negative signs as quickly maybe she is elderly, perhaps because she was dealing with other behavior problems at the same time) but I feel sure now that this is what nearly killed her.

I consider it a miracle that I still have my cranky old kitty, and I don't take that gift for granted.  If you love your animal, don't use Sargeants Silver.  I surely never will again. 

Daisy, please forgive me.

Life is good.
It's better with a feline friend.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Food Budget Fussing Again

Yeah, I just keep bashing away at the subject of saving on food but it's something that is really important.  Yeah, you better get ready, because I'm about to stand on my soapbox and fuss again. 

Here's today's shopping:

I bought
  • two five-pound bags of flour
  • a four pound bag of sugar
  • a pound of carrots
  • a bunch of celery
  • a gallon of milk
  • a dozen eggs
  • two pounds of margarine
  • two packages of yeast
  • three big boy tomatoes
  • three limes
  • one orange
  • a pound of mushrooms
  • a large spinach salad with mini-tomatoes and croutons

And here's what I spent:

That's right:  20.57.

  • I will make stuffed mushrooms for supper.
  • I will make a mushroom loaf to freeze. 
  • I will make mushroom stem soup. 
  • I will make six loaves of yeast bread. 
  • I will make loaves of fruit bread with lime. 
  • I will make breakfast muffins.
  • I will make orange nut bread. 
  • I will make cat-head biscuits.
  • I will make tomato dressing.
  • I will make tomato sandwiches. 
  • I will make yoghurt.
  • I will make cream of spinach soup.
  • I will make a small spinach salad.
  • I will make potato celery soup.
  • I will make raw celery snacks.
  • I will make carrot soup.
  • I will make carrot slaw.
  • I will make carrot hot dogs.
  • I will make ramen with tomatoes, celery, and carrots.

Yes, I can do all of that (and more) with the few items that I purchased today.  (And, yes, I often do have simple soup and bread for supper.)

The key word here is MAKE.  My $20.57 will go a long, long way and it will provide me with reasonably healthy food.  (Hey, I still don't like that margarine but I use margarine for baking, and it's just fine for that--cheaper than Crisco and actually a very similar product.)

And the reason I'm getting on my soapbox about this again is two-fold--that would be two people I saw at stores today. 

One was a man looking worried and complaining about the price of food but he was buying three loaves of grossly over-priced mass-produced bread that has little nutritional value.  The price he was paying for those loaves was about the same as what I paid for two bags of flour, the bag of sugar, the dozen eggs, and the gallon of milk.  If he'd bought what I bought and got cooking, he'd be eating a lot better, a lot cheaper, and a lot healthier.

The other person was a cashier at another store.  When I asked for a price check on a business calendar I was buying because I was being asked to pay $2 more than the shelf tag price, the clerk was a little annoyed at having to deal with such a "small" issue.  Apparently she thought I should just let it go.  But I figure that it's still my $2 and I wasn't gonna overpay because I cannot afford to waste.  She said she guessed she could understand because maybe I could make a sandwich for $2 and have lunch.  I told her that I could have a whole lot more meals than that for $2.  She apparently thought I was just being a silly old lady.  But it's the truth!  I know that I can.  And if you've read my other Food Budget posts, you know it, too.  By the way, I got the lower price on that calendar; the store manager said that I was right about the shelf tag; the cash register computer had it wrong.

It pays to watch your pennies.

Yes, I bought budget brand items (except for the flour for the yeast bread--I don't like to skimp on that unless I absolutely have to because it's an important protein source for me).  And, yes, I bought clearance sale veggies--that's how I happened to get the eccentric combination of tomatoes, limes, and an orange in one package.

The important thing is that your values have just gotta be in the right place.  You've gotta protect your $2 when you have to, and you've gotta get cooking just because you can.  That's what I'm gonna go do.

Life is good.
Value your resources.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Just Listening

Not sure what brought this song to mind but I have very often taken the time to sit in the dark listening to it before I went to bed. 

Soothing.  Mysterious.  The stuff of dreams. 
Just had to share.  Enjoy.

Jim Byrnes, One Life (Creole Poetry) 
I could listen to him singing forever.

Have a restful sleep.
Life is good.