Running Feels Like Adopting Your First Dog

When we reach Saturday, if I can keep it up, I will have done my version of running (the closest I’ve ever gotten to it), for a full week. I will always have to wear a knee brace, that is unavoidable, and I may never run like those running groups you used to see all over town who ran from bar to bar, but I’m plugging away at it.  Today I traveled some of that beautiful greenway space, specifically the Little Rock Trail, and the Walnut Creek Wetlands.  It is easy to forget how beautiful open, wooded space can be when you live in the city.  We are so lucky to have the greenway.

If you haven’t been to the Wetland part yet, I encourage you to.  It is so full of life.  Below is a mother duck and her little babies that I watched for a while.  When I first saw them, they were right under the bridge I was running across, and swam away as I came closer. It was magical.  Bring the kids, you might see something cool.

I have noticed something, and I don’t know if this happens to any of y’all, but do you find yourself starving after a run?  I ate a little something before I left, but I was out for a solid 2 1/2 hours, and when I got home, I was ravenous.  It was like that the day before, and the day before that.  Actually, truth be told, I’ve been that way every time I finish a run.  I peel off clothes, hop in the shower, drink water, and my stomach is grumbling.  I start making dinner, and for the past few days, it’s been “the quickest thing I can make”.  Where I was taking all manner of hours to create masterpiece dinners, now I’m like “pasta sounds great”.  I think that if I continue to do this in the evenings, I’m going to have to prep anything that needs a lot of prep before I leave the house, and have it all ready for cooking when I return, because I return like a starving animal.

Below is what my phone has been charting each day.  One of the disadvantages of the “Health” app in iPhones is that it only works when the phone is in your pocket or hand.  It doesn’t track any steps you take without the phone (unlike a fitbit), but I don’t really have to know about how many steps I trudge through the yard or the house, I’m tracking the running.  Below is a screenshot of the amount of miles I’ve gone per day.

I’m so pleased!  I have always admired all of those running and walking people who I’ve seen my whole life while driving.  I have always thought “Now there’s a person who has their shit together”.  I’ve typically seen it as some sort of mark of adult success.  Anyone who does that shit at 5-7 am is seen in my book as “The Ultimate Adult”.  I still don’t see myself being that person any time soon, because I only see 5 am because I’m still awake at 5 am, however, there are PLENTY of evening runners, and I feel proud to be among them.

It’s funny, the things we perceive as “successful” when we’re young.  There are a lot of things I am today that would have blown 20 year old me’s MIND. Mid-twenties me could have never conceived of owning a house, much less two houses; it was almost too much to hope for, and yet, that shit has happened.  Early 20’s me thought that being the bartender was an ultimate goal, and being the manager of a restaurant was more than I could have ever hoped for, and those things have happened; come and gone in an adult lifetime.  There are tons of things that I’ve done that High School me would have not even believed, but funny story, as a middle aged woman, I still measured “success” by “Do you ever think I could be one of those running people?” It feels all responsible, like talking about “mortgages”, “salaries”, and “the stock market”- shit that you overhear when you’re 10, don’t know what it is, are bored, but somehow you know, those are grown up adult things.

In a sentence, running kind of feels like adopting your first dog.  Now you have something in common with “the normals”, something that shows responsibility and adulthood.  I guess tomorrow I should take the dog running.

 

I’m gonna say what no one wants to say: what if your restaurant or bar doesn’t come back?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this, and I’m just going to say what a lot of people are trying really hard not to say: a lot of restaurants, and probably almost all of the bars are not going to survive this.  Furthermore, those spaces will be replaced by larger “chain” restaurants and retail places, because that is who is going to be able to afford to rent a space.  One step further, the “eat in” restaurants that do survive are going to become luxury services.  No one is going to be able to survive being a dine-in only restaurant unless they increase their prices by a percentage in ratio with the amount of seats they lost.  Expect that dinner that cost $100 just 3 months ago to be $200-$400 in the future for the same types of offerings.

I know no one wants to hear that, but I’ve thought about it every kind of way, and that’s the reality that I always come back to.  Many of our dine-in restaurants are tiny.  The larger ones pay even higher rents.  If it isn’t feasible to do a descent take-out business, then raising prices are the only thing that is going to save them, essentially turning every higher end restaurant in town into the equivalency of “Second Empire”.  Going out to a “sit down restaurant” is going to return to the big treat it was when you were a little kid and your parents were young and broke; a thing of birthdays, anniversaries, and celebrations.

An even harder truth?  I have no idea how bars that don’t serve food are going to make it.  There is nothing that says “social distancing” about a night club.  That’s not why anyone goes to a night club.  They go for the thrill of meeting someone, dancing all squished together with friends, and drunk people don’t understand anything about social distancing.  Put this all together with the constant bathroom trips, drunk, spotty hand washing, and the occasional vomiter, I have no idea how a traditional bar or pub is going to stand a chance.  Even the more chill “pub scene”, I mean, how do you even regulate that?  You can let only 20 people in the door, but you can’t control where they sit or stand.  Shit, some of my favorite bars don’t even have 6 feet of “passing by another person to get to the other end” space.  How is that even going to work?

Essentially going to a pub, even with only 20 people there, is going to be like going to a grocery store, where no one is wearing any PPE, everyone is drunk, but there is no food.  The truth of the matter is, this isn’t going to work.  Only the largest (in space) bars and nightclubs could handle this, and at a severely reduced capacity, that rent is gonna be just about impossible to cover.  Going to a night club is going to have a high cover, and even more expensive drinks.  It will also become a luxury.  The days of popping in somewhere for a beer might be effectively over.  Patios may save some, though, so I hold out hope for that for my service industry family.

Where does that leave the rest of us “Service for Life” folks.  Well, back of house will be able to find some work somewhere, even with take out, someone has to cook the food.  Some will find work at the few restaurants braving the new dining room layout, but with less customers, less employees will be needed.  Some will hand out those curb-side orders, but you don’t need a whole lot of folks to do that.  A handful of bartenders will see the inside of the club, but with less people, it will be just that, a handful. Folks with cars may opt to start doing food delivery.

I predict the rest of us are about to enter a whole new chapter in our resumes.  Some folks are going to straight up go back to school (this is the route that I have been thinking about, I only need 27 more credit hours).  People are going to switch into places that are hiring (warehouses, truck drivers, other retail opportunities, grocery stores and delivery).  Artistic people may be able to follow their passion and truly cut that album/write that book/make that movie/sell some art.  A bunch of you are about to learn some IT shit or take up programming, because that seems to be the only job left where anyone can make any actual money.  I love bartending, and I’m going to miss the hell out of bartending concerts and shows, but I just don’t know when we’ll be doing that again, and honestly, I don’t know that anyone really WANTS to do that right now with absolutely no vaccine or a cure unless it is just a matter of “do this or you are about to be homeless and go hungry”, aka, what our president is counting on, your economic desperation.

So, I’ve been considering other avenues, because I’m a survivalist, and I feel like I have to.  I’m going to encourage you all, gently, to start thinking about what you would like to do if your restaurant or bar does not open back up, or even if it does, and you’re not one of the 5 staff members out of 30 who gets to have their job back.  Now is the time to think about what something else will look like.  It is hard for me too.  Before now I was actually considering going to nail school (seriously), but I don’t foresee that making a huge comeback either, so I’m planning accordingly.  I was a horticulture/agriculture major.  We will always need plants and food.  This is the route that I am planning to go.  What will yours be?

Week #2: Not Smoking (and why our postal service is important)

I have hit the official 2 week mark of not smoking!  YAY!!! I am still on the patch, which has given my body the opportunity to heal from inhaling smoke, as well as given me the opportunity to create new routines that don’t center around cigarette breaks.  The patch is a very useful tool to have in your “quit smoking” tool box because although you are getting nicotine, you have space and time to re-create your life in a smoke-free environment.  While cold turkey is very effective (purging your system of nicotine in 3 days), I feel like 3 days isn’t long enough to create meaningful new routines and to form new habits.  Three days, even with the patch, still had me in a place where I couldn’t figure out exactly what I should do next.  Change takes time.

I’ve been doing my fast walk/running thing every day, each day going farther into town than the day before.  I’m changing up where I go each day to keep it interesting (and because that is a smart thing to do in general), and I’m really loving it.  I am wearing my knee brace, which has helped tremendously, as typically, I can’t do anything like “jogging” without one.  My right knee is shot.  It just puts me in a better mood all day, gets out nervous energy, and I get to see different things besides my own yard, which is great, but we all get tired of seeing the same thing every day.  I’ve noticed that running makes my appetite better, which in turn, gives me more energy to be able to do more.  It’s an actual “upward spiral” instead of a “downward” one.

One huge reason that I started doing this is to stretch and exercise my lungs.  I gave myself an almost full 2 weeks before I started so that I would be healed enough to be successful, even at a very modest pace.  This is very important because 2 decades of smoking does not go away overnight.  My cells will be replacing themselves for months ahead, and some parts of my lungs (mainly alveoli), may never fully recover, but I can still make it “better than it was”.  I’ve also started back my “50 pushups” thing I used to do, and BOY AM I OUT OF SHAPE!!! I did it Saturday, and I’ve been paying for it in soreness for 2 days.  To think that I used to do 50 pushups and 100 sit ups every single day (which was a decade ago), I am seriously so sore that I couldn’t touch a pushup yesterday or today.  I mean my abs ache, my triceps ache, my entire pec muscles ache all the way across my chest, my back muscles ache… man, if you don’t use it, you damn sure lose it.

I’m hoping to be able to do some sit up/push ups/hip extenders/squats tomorrow.  I know I’m going to have to build up to being able to do those every day as well.  I typically alternate arm and leg days (I did do 100 hip/glute reps yesterday, but didn’t get sore at all, which means that I need to do a higher number of those).  I just really shredded myself on those push ups- you never know how many things you use your abs for, until they are aching, then you realize you use them when you cut vegetables, and drive your car, seriously.  I’ve also lost 3 lbs. in 3 days.  Whenever I start doing some serious cardio, that happens.  It doesn’t go on like that forever, but it definitely jump starts your metabolism.  Since I’ve spent the past 6 months doing literally nothing, I’m sure my body appreciates the jolt.

In other things that give me hope, I was inspired to try out my bead loom today.  I have only used it once, the first day I got it, and then it went into the craft room and I forgot about it while I had my months and months of depression which turned into 2 years.  It was nice to do something creative.  I am still writing snail mail and am looking forward to a couple of letters to write tomorrow- I go all out with it, all sorts of pretty embellishments.  Which reminds me, I got the John Oliver Last Week Tonight stamps.

I’m so in between, I really want to use some of them when I get them, but I also feel like I should keep them as a collectors item, because they’re only available through June 11th.  I should have gotten 2 pages of them.  They’re absolutely hilarious.  Being a snail mail person, I had to have them, and I love the things that John Oliver’s show does.  This one is to specifically support the post office, which is why I bought the last two books of stamps that I did, so I’m all in.  I don’t want our postal service to be privatized.  That would be just one more way to disadvantage people, not to mention, our postal service is part of a broader network- every country has a postal service of some sort.  That’s how anything gets anywhere.  For more about this issue, I got to listen to “How Protecting Voter Safety with Mail-in Ballots Became a Partisan Issue” today.  Please read the transcript to find out why our postal service is in danger of being eradicated.

I got these nicotine patches through the mail.  I got the second set of them through the mail during lock down.  Without the mail, I might not be able to do this life-changing thing that I’m trying to do right now.  Go buy some stamps :).

 

When You Really Feel Like Punching Some Nazis.

I started today with motivation and intention: I was going to do the best I could to run (and I don’t run) over two miles in honor of Ahmaud Arbery.  I could not have managed it just a couple of weeks ago because I smoked 2 packs a day, but I was seriously determined today.  I fast walked, and ran at every crosswalk.  My only regrets were 1.) I forgot my knee brace, and 2.) I should have worn a sports bra.  I did it.  I didn’t have a fit bit to track it, but I ran all the way from my house, into downtown, down Wilmington St., and up Morgan until it turned into New Bern Ave., then headed to Lenoir St. and back toward Rock Quarry Rd.  I did it, and I want to do it again (after I recover, I’m hurting.)

Little did I know that while I was running in meditation of an unarmed, black jogger, murdered by a couple of white guys “flexing their 2nd amendment rights”, as I was running in downtown, I must have barely missed whatever shitshow this was  (link is a video, text is below):

“Pushing his two kids in a stroller along Fayetteville Street on Saturday morning, Deonte Thomas wandered into a confrontation with a small group of armed demonstrators that left him fearing for his family 24 hours later.

Videos shot by the protesters and The News & Observer and posted online show one unidentified man from the group, carrying a large pipe wrench and crossing the street at the intersection with Davie Street. He heads straight toward Thomas, his wife and their children in a crosswalk.

“I will question to the end of my days how I reacted or should have reacted,” Thomas, an attorney for the Wake County public defender’s office, told The News & Observer in an interview Sunday.”

 

So you’re feeling like punching some nazis these days, huh?  Me too.  I do have some therapy for you, in the form of binge watching, and that’s the show “Hunters“.  It is literally about a group of people (mostly Holocaust survivors), who hunt and kill nazis.  The premise of the show is based on truth- our country, good ole’ USA, essentially hired nazi scientists after the war to keep the Russians from getting them.  They settled in here (yes, many near NASA), and did research and development for all different kinds of programs. Click here for “Operation Paperclip”.

The show is set in the 1970’s, and while there is a certain amount of relief that those old nazis are mostly dead now- they had children, and those children had children.  This shit you’re seeing today, well, where do you think some of these “values” come from?  It comes from leftover nazi shit mixed with the KKK shit from the states.  In any case, binge and rage watch “Hunters”, you won’t regret it.  I’m on episode 6, and it’s cathartic af.

When I was a super-young person, we really, truly thought that things were getting better and life was becoming more progressive.  There were some forms of optimism in the 90’s, but later I have learned that it was because people were simply hiding.  We never saw all this overt racism, because it had all gone underground to fester for a little while.  We really thought it was just those backwards hillbillies on “The Jerry Springer Show” that showed up in white cloaks from Whiteville, NC (literally).  Now, racists just letting it all hang out, they just don’t care anymore.  Worse than that, we have also learned that all of that time they were “being quiet”, the white supremacists were busy infiltrating our government, law enforcement, court systems, and any other high power position that they could put themselves into, all undercover.  They were playing the long game, while everyone else decided that racism had “gone out of favor”.

Now honestly, I don’t know exactly what anyone should do when confronted by a group of armed racists.  You can scream at them, but they are armed.  You can threaten them, but they are armed.  If you are also armed, and you pull yours out, it will basically give them the right to shoot you on the spot, and they will probably get away with it.  The best thing to do is get as far away from them as possible, which is what the family today did. There are folks in the comments saying “Well if it was me, I would have screamed and hollered and blah blah blah”… YEAH RIGHT.  I bet.  Lots of folks have said “Why are they smiling?”  Have you ever heard of the “Please don’t kill me” smile?  It’s the automatic smile that women give threatening men to keep them from attacking them; a phrase known in feminist circles, and something every woman can tell you about.  It’s an uncomfortable smile, meant to disarm and de-escalate a would-be attacker.  I know EXACTLY why they were smiling, and it wasn’t because they were happy.

Now, I’m going to try to run again tomorrow, to let off some steam and frustration.  I am also planning to binge watch more “Hunters”.  I’m also calling all of the Moms in my life (don’t forget to call yours).  Don’t forget to take a moment (maybe while running, maybe while in quiet meditation) to think of all of the moms that don’t get to talk to their children this year because someone decided they needed to take matters into their own hands and murder them.

 

 

I’ve Got a Pen, Give Me Directions…

Did you have a penpal when you were a kid?  I did, her name was Christina, and she lived in California, which I thought was OH SO COOL.  I ended up having her as a penpal because her best friend had put her address in the back of one of those “Teen Beat” magazines, and had gotten so many letters that she split the hundreds of envelopes between a group of her best friends.  Turned out lucky for all, no one can keep up with hundreds of penpals in 5th grade, and Christina and I wrote back and forth for a least a couple + years.

I’ve always been a fan of letters.  Before the time of email (and I lived and existed for years without it, even after it was invented), snail mail was often a primary form of correspondence for me.  There was even a time period where I didn’t have a phone, and the only way to get up with me was literally a letter, or sticking a note in my front door.  Somehow or another, shit got done, people met up places, and plans were made.

Can you even imagine planning a cross country trip totally on nothing but snail mail, hand written directions, and a paper map?  Imagine doing all of that with no cell phone?  I did it, Freshman year of college.  It wasn’t a thing, hardly anyone had a cell phone, and your regular phone charged long distance (ack!).  People simply made plans months and weeks in advance, and then actually did them.  When you said you were “leaving on May 20th”, and the trip was 25 hours long, ending in a pay phone on the edge of town, then you damn sure better have done just that, or be prepared to hang out somewhere for a while.

Remember when directions to a rave were “then drive until you’re like ‘where the fuck are we?’ When you see all of the cars, you’re there”.  I found parties on literally a road name and almost less than that.  How we did it?  We just did.  There was no other choice.  This was how things were done.

I probably wouldn’t do it now.  Shit, I freak out when my GPS takes me that wonky way back from Topsail Island in a way that wouldn’t have phased me 25 years ago.  If I felt like I was out in the boonies, I would have simply pulled over, pulled out my map, and figured that shit out, but when was the last time you saw a paper map?  It’s been a minute.

Whenever I find myself in a situation where technology has failed me, I try to take a moment not to panic, and remember that I was a driving, working, functioning human back before any of this stuff existed.  I try to ground myself in that.  I used to read a newspaper daily.  I drove around with no computer generated map.  I left notes for people at their houses, and people left notes for me.  I wrote letters to my friends when I had no phone or computer (much less internet), and somehow, I still went to some college during that time, I still worked, and I still lived, day to day.

I almost feel sorry for people who didn’t have that experience.  Not in a mean way, in a resiliency way.  For example, I had no pockets yesterday, and took my dog on a long walk around the neighborhood.  I felt very on edge by not having my phone.  “What if something bad happens?”  I had to keep telling myself that I once, over 20 years ago, had a dog, and no phone at all EVEN in my house, and I used to walk him around our neighborhood daily.  What do people who have never had that life experience console themselves with?  What happens when they get lost and their phone has died?  What do they use to calm their nerves and help themselves think?  I’m sure they don’t say “Well, what would I have done in 1997?”  Hell, many weren’t even alive then.  It’s my grounding place.  I just switch gears and pretend that I’m 16-22 years old again, and put myself in that technology time period problem solving space.

I’ve been thinking about this because we’ve been watching “The Loop”, and it’s a mix between the “Twilight Zone”, and “Stranger Things”.  It’s set in what is obviously the 80’s, as far as daily technology is concerned (most problems that occur would have been instantly solved by a smart phone), but in other ways, for example, there are robots just wandering around the woods.  There are hover craft tractors that the farmers use.  It’s an AMAZING show, and I highly recommend it for a binge watch, but it is as if in an alternate reality, some technology advanced further than other forms as we know it today.  We damn sure don’t have robots wandering around the woods autonomously, or hovercraft tractors, but we have tiny hand computers.  These folks have landlines, record players, and cassette tapes, but can alter the time/space continuum.

Science Fiction writers never truly predicted the internet or social media as we know it today.  They also overestimated the desire to have a giant, live-streaming wall-sized video “phone” (we all know that no one wants to take all of their calls that way).  They seemed to think that we would want robots that mimicked the look of humans, when we’ve found that it’s actually the opposite- humans are pretty uncomfortable with robots that look “human” and prefer that they either be “cute” or look basically functional (think about the roomba, I like to think that someone 50 years ago would have envisioned it more as a little person with a little vacuum cleaner, or more like Rosie from the Jetsons). What people predicted, the online world has far exceeded.  I will go out on a limb and say this; if you ever get the chance to talk landline to landline again, do it, it is the clearest, most amazing sound that you will experience- we really took it for granted.  The sound on our cellphones has not nearly the clarity of that old technology, you can literally hear someone swallow between sentences on that thing.

These past few months, I’ve been in love with cards and letters.  I send them out periodically.  It’s awesome to receive a piece of paper mail that isn’t junk or a bill.  If you would like to be in my actual paper address book, written in actual pen, maybe even in *shock* cursive, pm me your address.  I’ve got all the time in the world right now, and my cute stationary, cards and sticker collection is truly to die for.  I’ve been collecting it since 3rd grade, and the vintage cuteness is obscene.  In the past couple of years, all it’s been used for is writing to friends in jail (yeah, I said that), but I can’t put stickers on any of that stuff (against the rules).  Send me a PM, and let me shower you in sticker magic.  You guys might be all going out and seeing each other after the “city reopens”, but I’m not.  I’m staying my happy ass right here unless I need something (they don’t deliver chicken feed, gotta go to Agri-supply).  I will happily keep the post office in business and buy cute stamps.

 

 

 

Purposefully Lighter Content

There have been many times in my life where I have written blogs with the express purpose of making people feel.  Creating awareness about a situation here at home or elsewhere has often been a function of not only this blog, but my blog posting for the Love Wins page when I was writing for them as well.  Over the past 10 years, most of my social media has been geared towards heavier and more serious content, but that’s not what I’m doing right now.  There is SO MUCH serious, often times disturbing and upsetting content available right now.  The news is terrifying.  The inequity in our country is showing, not just to those of us who work in areas of inequity, but to every single person.  I’ve spent the last three years writing about people in crisis- now the entire world is in crisis.  I decided that what folks occasionally need now is something different.  People need to be able to casually run across some purposefully lighter content.

This is my goal, to provide something lighter- a recipe, a funny observation, some nice pictures- something good.  I can’t say that I won’t write a piece on racism in America; I probably will, and I can’t say I won’t write about mental illness, eating disorders, or homelessness, but I’m going to try to balance out some of the newsfeed horror with beautiful, simple things too, like these flowers that my Mom sent me out of the blue.

I’ve noticed that a lot of people have been interested in “how to grow food out of food”.  These are things like putting the bottom of celery in water, for example.  If you haven’t tried it yet, if you find a tomato you like, cut it into slices and plant it right now- it works!  It’s the perfect time of year to try this.  Get one of those multi-colored cherry tomato mixes and try one of each.  I did this last year for the Love Wins Community Garden, and it works.   I also took a habañero from my CSA a few months ago and planted the seeds inside.  Peppers take a LONG time to germinate, compared to squash and tomatoes, but check this little guy out:

There are 4 plants total, but this is the only one ready to be potted out.  Since nobody needs more than 1 habañero plant, the other 3 will be up for grabs in a couple of weeks.  Peppers take a long time to get started and fruiting, often not really giving their best push until fall, so don’t feel like it is too late to plant them.

In other news of the bored, I know that we are not supposed to do anything with our hair in lockdown- I know, I know, I know.  I did it anyway.  I found a 12 year old bottle of “Special Effects” hair dye in “Cherry Bomb”, and died my whole head.  I took my time, and the dye worked beautifully.  It was a little chunky, but not bad (don’t worry, I did a small section first yesterday just to make sure).  Honestly?  I love it.  I never thought that having a white skunk stripe in the front of my head would be such an advantage- the “highlight” effect is stunning.  I didn’t even have to bleach my head, all that white hair did the trick lol.  I like it enough that I’ve purchased a second bottle online (obviously newer than 12 years old) to do it again once it fades.

I know no one is going to see it except me and the man, but it brought me joy and it makes me smile when I look in the mirror.  Since I’m considering upping my game at the 2 week “quit smoking” mark by doing some fast walking (not running, my knee does not do running), maybe at least the cars passing by will see me coming.

In fashion predictions, I predict that this year is officially the year of small post earrings, because have you tried to take a mask on and off with dangly earrings?  It ain’t happening folks.  I actually had to think about this the other day as I donned my nifty dinosaur blouse to deliver cupcakes to Love Wins.  I chose Brontosaurus post earrings because, well, mask (and only I would have a selection of dinosaur earrings to choose from).

I’m actually not looking forward to the trend of coordinating masks with outfits.  I have 3 masks.  They are identical.  I really don’t want another accessory that I’m going to mass hoard.  I already own 10 pairs of sunglasses, can I just be practical for the masks?  Probably not.  Knowing me it’s only a matter of time before I start designing and sewing the motherfuckers to match outfits. Before you say, “How can you think of something like that at a time like this?????????!!!!!!! OMG!!!!!!!”, allow me to inform you that not only have thousands of other people thought of it, every major fashion label has stepped up to the plate with their mask game.  I’m thinking like a Capitalist, because that’s what we live in.  It’s happening, just like American flag clothing came back into fashion after 9/11, which I also predicted, to which my boyfriend at the time looked at me, as if I had said “I just gave Satan a rim job”, and exclaimed, “OmG! HoW cAn YoU tHiNk Of ThAt At A tImE lIkE tHiS????!!!!”  Simple.  There’s a stripper somewhere who needs a red, white, and blue thong, and guess who she’s gonna ask to sew it for her (which was my side hustle at the time).

On that note, remember, all money is evil, it’s all covered in germs.  It’s probably covered in cocaine, and every dollar bill has definitely been in a stripper’s ass crack.

See you tomorrow, same time, same channel.

 

Thyme after Thyme

People are gardening more than ever this year, and there has never been a more beautiful spring for it.  I garden every year, and this year I decided that one of the raised beds in my front yard had to become a dedicated herb garden.  Going into the front yard is more feasible than the back yard, and herb gardens should be close to kitchens.  This year, I went all out with it, choosing several variegated varieties of favorite herbs, as well as standards to create something not only functional, but beautiful.

I began with a standard English Thyme (shown below), and went from there.  Almost every herb has a more ornamental variegated variety (all perfectly edible, just even more interesting).  I took a trip to Logan’s (very pleasant, only 5 people in the big, outside area, all wearing masks), and found some of the most stunning plants!  I’ve linked each type to either a wiki page, or a page where other pictures of the plant can be found.

Lemon Thyme

Silver Thyme

Variegated Thyme “Foxley”

( to the far right), Variegated Sage “Aurea”

Lovage

Marjoram

I have 4 of this assortment of basil clusters, which were planted all in one big container, which I then separated into clusters.  This group includes Italian Basil, Sweet Basil, and Thai Basil (the purple colored one).  I also have several parsley plants (both curly and Italian), not pictured.

I’m hoping to document the progress of this bed all summer as it fills in.  I have two pepper plants in the center as well, so that should look nice come fall, when peppers make that second big push to set fruit.  I’m watering these new babies every day so that they’ll stick around and not dry up.  Even though the temperatures have been mild, the wind has been heavy, causing transpiration (this is where water moves up the plant and escapes from the leaves due to heat, wind, or both).  I definitely want these guys to have an awesome root system before the crazy, hot weather gets here.

Herbs are easy to raise in pots, so if you’re feeling like you want some tasty fresh treats, or you just want a little something to take care of and watch grow, choose some of your favorites and have at it. Water potted, outdoor plants every day.  I have never overwatered an outdoor potted plant in North Carolina with daily watering, it’s nearly impossible with our nasty, hot summers, so don’t be afraid.  You can do it.  I do it every year, “thyme after thyme”.

The Cult of Busy-ness

NC’s Stay at Home order expires on May 8th, and we go into phase 1 of trying to reopen. I just finally got used to this new way of life, I don’t know that I’m ready. Honestly, I’m probably not doing anything different than what I’m doing already. The phase 1 orders don’t look much different than what we are doing right now, except that I think some retail stores, like clothing stores, that had previously closed, will be able to open again.

I have created a little routine for myself here. I like it more, honestly, than I liked my life before. I stay busy, the house is cleaner than it has ever been, the yard looks better than it ever has, the dog gets more walks, shit… I’m cleaner than I’ve ever been. I’ve been flossing literally every single day. I’ve been taking vitamins. I’ve been eating square meals regularly and walking at least once a day. I do something challenging (like digging a vegetable bed, or hauling some junk) every day to keep myself strong. I’ve never been one who enjoyed working out, so these types of things are how I stay fit. I don’t really want it to go back to the way it was for me before, and I don’t think that I’m going to.

I have plenty of clothes. I finally located all of them (I have WAY TOO MANY). I don’t need to go clothes shopping. I can order anything I need or get it locally, literally anything I can think of within reason. I have time to think now, and I get things done. I don’t need to go to a bar, I can simply go see a friend. I got over the bar thing really fast. I’ve learned to cook so many new things, about once a week we get the urge to go to get some kind of take-out, like a treat. That take-out is typically very modest, I’m talking Snoopy’s or Moe Joes. Something I would definitely be willing to spring for is descent sushi. I can roll some, but mine is just not the same.

I wake up, have my coffee on the porch, feed all of the animals, feed the chickens, and water all of my baby plants. Then I water all of the garden beds. Then I usually start some kind of weeding/digging/planting project. After that, I eat lunch. If there are errands to run, I do those. Then I put all of that stuff away or whatever needs doing with it. Next I start kind of planning for dinner. I call a friend or family member. Today I even sat in the hammock and read! Sometimes I write letters to people.

Then I make dinner and clean everything up- dishes never sit in this house anymore. I sweep the floors, because pet hair is constant. I floss my teeth when I can’t think of what to do next and remember to take my vitamins because my brain isn’t packed full of busy bullshit. I tackle something that is disorganized because I simply had not noticed it yet. I don’t rush through it because I don’t have to. All of the laundry is done and put in its place. All of the towels are clean. Sheets are washed and changed on a mental schedule, and my office is finally organized into something that I can work in.

As I settle into the evening, Elliot and I might watch something together. My hands take a beating from working outside, so I strip off old, clear nail polish and apply a new coat, sometimes getting daring with glitter and little decals- can’t get too crazy on it, it will all be ruined in a day or two with all that digging in the dirt, but then again, what does that matter? I have time in the evenings to fix it, if it’s important to me. I take a shower, no need to rush, but I tend to take short showers anyway compared to my husband, “King of the 30 minute shower”. I put on something clean and comfortable. Elliot goes to bed and I take over the office and write, research, and learn to do new things. I plan to try something new tomorrow. I go to bed and repeat.

It’s not a crazy life, but man, it’s a better one than I’ve had in years. I don’t think that I’ve checked so many wellness boxes in one day in my entire adult life. I’ve just always been too busy, and when I wasn’t “too busy”, I was too depressed about not being “too busy” to enjoy what I had. I didn’t even know how to live a day to day life that didn’t require me being pulled in 4 different directions while needing to physically be in 2 different places at the same time. I just simply didn’t know what that could feel like. I would work hard, then play hard, and everything else got smooshed, condensed in between, typically with “personal wellness” taking the bottom rung and the least amount of space.

In my downtime, I felt like I had to go socialize- often times because jobs I’ve had most of my life required it to some degree. I can still be social. I’m a great messenger person. I do actually reply to texts. I can even talk on the phone or in person. If I have your address, you may even get a real piece of mail when I feel froggy, but I am absolutely over being squished into a wall, dick to ass, in a music venue. (I’ve sort of been over that, now I’m real over it).

I’m enjoying getting exactly what I want at smaller places, instead of braving the grocery store- fish markets are awesome. The Farmer’s Market is awesome. Individual growers, bakers, and local artisans are awesome. I’ll also tell you this, I have not stepped foot inside a Wal-mart or a Target since this all started. Not to be snobby, I haven’t gone to Costco either and you couldn’t pay me to go in Wegman’s. Those big ass places full of humans scare the fuck out of me right now. I would rather just go to the Walgreens at Cameron Village for shampoo, toilet paper, and pain reliever- so fewer people, in and out quickly. That’s where it’s at for me.

I think I’ve found my “new normal”, and I think I really like my “new normal”.  I like ME better this way, not just the world that I’ve been somewhat forced to create (even though it was really here the whole time), but the person I am while being a part of this world.  I think I’ve retained more information, lived in the moment more, and had my life more organized in the past few weeks that I definitely have in the past 10 years.  No matter how far they “reopen NC”, I don’t think that I’m going to be fully participating in all of that anymore.

The Ice Cream Maker

About a month ago, a neighbor was cleaning out their house and had a TON of stuff on the side of the street, offered up for free.  Lots of small appliances, still in the box.  That’s where I found the ice cream maker.

It was a crank handle, in a box that looked absolutely vintage.  Elliot looked up the patent, which was granted in 1984.  The box looks like it came from 1984.  It works perfectly.  Now I’m obsessed with making ice cream- I’ve never done it before.  So far I’ve made strawberry, and banana peanut butter.  It’s excellent stuff.  Here’s the recipe I’m using:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract (didn’t use for the banana peanut butter)
  • 1 pint of whatever you’re flavoring it with

 

  • blend fruit, sugar, milk, salt and vanilla extract in a blender to the consistency that you desire.
  • add heavy whipping cream and burst no longer than 10 seconds
  • pour mixture into ice cream maker and process (or crank, like I do), for however long directions say (for mine it is about 20 minutes, stirring every 2-3 minutes).

For my favorite video out of everything I searched click here and watch the process.

I want to make more, but we really shouldn’t have that many pints in our freezer, especially since ice cream is Elliot’s kryptonite.  The strawberry is delicious, and the banana/peanut butter is even creamier, probably due to the oil (strawberries have more water to freeze in the mix).  If you haven’t had the luck of finding an ice cream maker on the side of the road, YouTube has several tutorials about how to make it using a standing mixer, heavy cream, and a can of condensed milk, so check those out (typically under “ice cream with 2 ingredients”).

Stay sane, try something new if you can, and if you need comfort food, I can rush you a pint :).

 

March Reading List

The March Reading list is my last reading list for a while.  After we became quarantined, I simply stopped being able to read.  I have not a single book for April, and a pile of books that I intended to read, but I’m not there yet.  Hopefully, I did enough reading for the first 3 months of 2020 to hold me for a couple of months until I can get my head back into the reading game.  Right now I’m looking up tons of recipes and other useful ways to keep my hands busy.

1.) The Gathering Storm- Robert Jordan

2.) Towers of Midnight- Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

3.) A Memory of Light- Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

4.) New Spring- Robert Jordan

5.) Warrior of the Altaii- Robert Jordan

6.) When Katie Met Cassidy- Camille Perri

7.) Every Wild Heart- Meg Donohue

8.) Second Sister- Chan Ho-Kei

9.) The Boatman’s Daughter

10.) Bluebird Bluebird- Attica Locke

11.) The Supremes Sing the Happy Heartache Blues- Edward Kelsey Moore