Monthly Archives: November 2015

Reflecting on NaBloPoMo

 

So today is the last day of NaBloPoMo. I hope that actually stands for National Blog Posting Month, otherwise I’ve sure been doing it wrong. While I did manage to post something every single day this month, I’m not sure I would do it again. It was great to have the discipline of coming up with an idea and writing something every day, but I felt like I couldn’t give most of my posts the time and thought I would have preferred. Some of them felt more like a wordy Facebook status than a blog post.

Maybe next time I try this, I’ll commit to a post every second day rather than every day. I did really enjoy making the writing a daily practice, but it might have worked better for me to journal daily instead of forcing out a post.

Thanks to everyone who read and liked and commented on my posts. I feel like posting every day was a bit of an abuse of the patience of my readers, so I am extra-appreciative of this month’s audience participation!

Did any of you do NaBloPoMo or one of the other versions of it? If so, what was the experience like for you?

 

 

Hutspot: The Ultimate Winter Comfort Food

When I moved to the Netherlands, I was introduced to two typically Dutch dishes heavy on the Mighty Potato: boerenkool and hutspot. I’ve since stopped eating meat, and have yet to find a satisfactory vegetarian version of boerenkool, but hutspot remains one of my absolute favourite winter comfort meals.

Basically, hutspot is half-and-half potatoes and carrots, with some onions thrown in. Peel, chop, and boil them all up together, then mash them up with generous amounts of butter and milk. Add ground pepper to taste (and salt if you do salt), then nom-nom-nom. Freeze the rest in portions for later in the week (my standard cooking MO).

I bet real Dutch people have very specific ways they make this, and they’d probably be horrified at my cavalier recipe above. I change it up sometimes, too—for example, I rarely have milk in the house anymore so I use soy milk instead. And sometimes I substitute yams (are those the orange ones or are those sweet potatoes? I mean the orange ones) for some or all of the regular taters. And today my bromate made up a batch and he threw in a bunch of garlic as well.

There is nothing like a bowl of hot, buttery mashed potatoes after being out in the snow. Add ketchup or sambal or more ground black pepper or just eat it plain and steaming hot. All hail the magical potato!

 

 

 

 

What the heck is the “Vagina Folder”???

Vagina I (16"x16" acrylic and collage)

Vagina I (16″x16″ acrylic and collage)

I was sorting through old pictures on my hard drive and I came across a folder called “Vagina Folder.” What the heck??? But when I looked in there, I saw pictures of three paintings I had been commissioned to do by a woman taking a course on women’s art. So here are three vaginas in multimedia (acrylic and collage). Continue reading

Good Self-Care Means Drugs and Dancing

I may have mentioned before that I have endometriosis. One effect of this condition is that my periods are brutally painful. At their peak, over-the-counter painkillers don’t even touch the pain, so I spend a few days a month on prescription opiates. Before and after those days, I snack on ibuprofen and acetaminophen like candy. My cycle is short (23-25 days), and my periods are usually preceded by a few days of cramps, as well as the random flares at other times of the month, so I spend close to half my life living with and managing this condition. Every period has its own internal cycle as well; some are worse at night, some worse during the day, some have 6- or 8-hour pain cycles.

The thing is, it’s kind of like rain in Holland. When I moved there from Winnipeg, I went from a very sunny place to a classic coastal climate: grey, rainy, and damp. Continue reading

Stop Telling Me to Be Thankful, Dammit!

Like many people, my relationship with my family is… complicated. Which means holidays can be… interesting.

The Americans are busy being thankful today. We Canadians did that last month (I think it’s because harvest comes earlier here in Canada. By next week, we’ll be approaching Absolute Zero). As we pass both Thanksgivings and I turn a side-eye toward Christmas, here are some posts I’ve been appreciating:

Thanksgiving. It’s not always happy by the Bloggess.

Captain Awkward’s Ugh… Holidays.

The awesome cartoon sonofabeach96 dug up.

GettingrealwithPTSD linked to a piece about Finding Something to be Grateful for on Thanksgiving for survivors of childhood abuse.

Some fabulous advice from rumpydog’s mom about What to Give a Child in Need. (Also, if you’re giving to shelters and food banks and the like? Tampons! Pads! Deodorant! Toothpaste and toothbrushes! New underwear and new or very gently used bras!)

And basically every single gorgeous post by textilessudouest.

I refuse to invent things to be thankful or grateful for out of some sense of holiday obligation or pressure to “think positive.” But these bloggers are some of the voices I greatly appreciate.

Now I’m off to plug in the car for the first time this year…

 

Better than Chocolate and Wine and Books Combined (wait, that would be messy)

It’s true. I am wildly in love with my pets.

Tonight I’ve been working on my sets for an upcoming gig. This is a kitchen job, since the gear all fits nicely on the kitchen table and the cables reach the speakers (and yes, I have a subwoofer in my kitchen—don’t judge me!). I try to practice earlier in the evenings, before my tenant gets home from their shift, so my pounding bass doesn’t disturb others.

The Brindle Dog was stretched out on her side beside me, fully relaxed, sound asleep. I had to be careful not to dance onto her (I work the music with my whole body, feet and hips for the beat, arms and head for other bits I’m tracking, like melody or special effects), but I kept stopping to look at her with a full heart. Continue reading

Marketing is Hard

Not only is marketing hard, but it feels pushy and rude. This is a big reason I no longer work for myself full-time. When I lived in the Netherlands, I had a little editing / proofreading / translating business, and before and after that (here in Canada), I’ve done a lot of freelance work as well. I work my ass off to get the first few clients, and after that they come to me by word of mouth, which is lucky because I really hate self-promotion.

I mean, I know it’s an essential part of business. But it feels really wrong and artificial to say “hey, hire me because I’m the best!” or “look at this beautiful stuff I made; give me money for it!” It’s not that I think I’m bad at my work, but rather that it makes me very uncomfortable to push myself onto others. Continue reading

Today I Can’t Shut Out the World

My Facebook news feed always shows me stories about hard-luck dogs: the ones abandoned, the ones surrendered to shelters by owners unwilling (or, so sadly, willing but unable) to care for them, the ones born wild and now starving / scavenging / suffering.

I’ve put most of those pages on a separate “interest group” so I’m not confronted with them every day, so I don’t start every day in tears as I eat my porridge before going to work.
But most of my Facebook friends care as much about dogs as I do, and the things they share still appear in my main feed.

I always care about these lonely and confused dogs, but at enough of a remove that the sadness doesn’t trip me up. Today, though, I feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of suffering in the world. I am feeling tender and moved toward all the abandoned and unwanted creatures, Continue reading

Finished this book: Irma Voth by Miriam Toews

Cover of Irma Voth by Miriam Toews.

Cover of Irma Voth by Miriam Toews.

Irma is a young Mennonite woman whose family has moved from Canada to Mexico to live in a repressive community. Her authoritarian father no longer interacts with her since she married a Mexican without his permission, but she still lives on her father’s land and works for him. This book is about what happens to Irma when her husband disappears and she starts spending time with some filmmakers who set up nearby.

Toews has a wonderfully understated writing style. This book flows along calmly, despite the big events and strong emotions it contains. Toews seems to care very much about all of her characters, and is generous even to the “bad” people.

I don’t want to spoil the plot for you by mentioning anything else, because this is definitely worth reading. The characters have a wonderful internal consistency even when the most unexpected things happen to them.

Irma Voth by Miriam Toews. 2011. ISBN 9780307400697.

A Doodle A Day (acrylic version)

6"x6" acrylic on canvas (Nov 2015)

6″x6″ acrylic on canvas (Nov 2015)

In one of my previous posts, I mentioned that my friend R. and I repeatedly take the acrylic painting class at Forum Art Centre with David Cooper. Here’s the only thing I have actually completed so far this session. There’s one more class next week but it’s the critique class (with wine and snacks). At that class, we won’t be painting, but we’re supposed to share everything we’ve worked on during the course, whether finished or unfinished. I’ve got eight other pieces on the go, and am hoping to find time this week to work on some of them before the last class. But I’m not going to stress about it; this is funtime!

 

 

Finished this book: Altruistic Armadillos, Zenlike Zebras by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

Cover of Altruistic Armadillos, Zenlike Zebras by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson.

Cover of Altruistic Armadillos, Zenlike Zebras by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson.

Masson has written many books about animals, a few of which I have read. His love for animals shines through everything he writes, as well as his advocacy for their welfare and that of their habitats.

The short sections of this book each discuss a different animal. Any aspect of animals might be discussed in any given segment, from feeding habits to mythology to lovemaking preferences to communication to childrearing to emotional responses. Masson very strongly encourages the reader to think of animals in a relational rather than a functional manner.

I liked how the book was broken up into sections of 3 to 5 pages. It’s a good bathroom book or before-bed book because there is no actual plot, but you can sit and learn something about an animal while you poop or while the sleeping pill kicks in (pro tip: try not to do these at the same time).

Masson laments the destruction of habitats and also the human mindsets that allow us to kill for our own convenience. Once in a while he comes across a little bit preachy, but it is forgivable because his deep interest in and voracious curiosity about all the animals he discusses is so obvious and so beautiful.

Altruistic Armadillos, Zenlike Zebras: A Menagerie of 100 Favorite Animals by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson. 2006. ISBN 9780345478818.

 

 

Adverse Road Conditions & Confused Drivers

I stepped out with the dogs this morning into this season’s first blanket of snow. The dogs were wild with joy, and instantly made it their Prime Objective to find all of their digging holes and excavate them from under the layer of snow. Within minutes, the pristine white quilt was defaced with the spray patterns of mud and dead leaves kicked out from a handful of Very Important Holes.

Since I have tenants, I have to make sure I keep the sidewalks clean. So I cleared all the sidewalks and both decks, then went in to shower and get ready for work. The snow was still falling, Continue reading

Finished this book: Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver

Cover of Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver

Cover of Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver

I am a big fan of Barbara Kingsolver, and this is one of the books I have read multiple times. It continues the story of Taylor and Turtle from The Bean Trees, but they’re both standalone books and you won’t miss out on anything if you haven’t read the other book first.

This books gets into more detail about Turtle’s family of origin and her tribe. I like how carefully the characters walk the balance between the good of the individual and the good of the group. People really wrestle with their consciences and ethics to figure out the right course of action, but the way they do so is deftly embedded in the story. In clumsier hands, this would be moralising, but Kingsolver shows how people can struggle to do the right thing and come to understand that there is no one right way to act.

Kingsolver’s writing is so generous, so kind and gentle, and at the same time cuts straight to the heart of people’s interactions and retrospections. I enjoy the flow of her writing, and I relax into her books with the trust that she will not let me down with weak writing or implausible plot developments. It’s a rare and beautiful thing to trust a writer in that way.

Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver. 1993. ISBN 9780571171781.

The Brindle Dog Goes for a Checkup

The Brindle Dog at the Vet

The Brindle Dog at the Vet: Holy “Tongue Out Tuesday,” Batman!

The Brindle Dog went to the vet for her annual checkup this evening. She was pretty sick in the spring, and I always worry about her. She’ll be twelve years old in a couple of weeks, and I am trying to enjoy every day with her while also preparing myself for the end. But she’s not dead yet, and part of continued life means regular vet visits. So this evening I lifted her into the car and we headed over to visit Dr. Beggs at St. Vital Veterinary Hospital for her annual checkup.

The news is good. I mean, she’s old and getting older, and every bit of her is aging. Her eyes are worsening and she’s got a cataract. Her hearing is going. Her sense of smell isn’t what it used to be. She’s starting to lose muscle tone. She’s full of lumps and bumps and warts and cysts and lipomas. Her teeth are wearing down to stumps (although all the chewing keeps them remarkably clean). Her stamina isn’t what it used to be. Continue reading

Don’t Project Your Weight Loss B.S. Onto Me!

Last week I ran into someone I haven’t seen for quite a while. She tugged on my shirt “well, look at you, all svelte!” she exclaimed. “Good for you!”

I snapped back: “It’s NOT good for me. I’ve been sick!”

She was taken aback by my tone: “Are you okay now?”

“No, but I will be.”

“Still,” she said cheerfully. “At least you lost the weight!”

I turned my back and walked away.

This kind of thing pisses me off. Why do women always assume that other women are trying to lose weight? Why do they think it’s okay to comment on each other’s weight? Why do they assume all weight loss is welcome and a matter for congratulations? Her “Good for you!” felt so condescending.

Other people’s weight is none of your business. Seriously. Never. Continue reading

Finished this book: Ark Baby by Liz Jensen

Cover of Ark Baby by Liz Jensen

Cover of Ark Baby by Liz Jensen

Dystopias and post-apocalyptic stories almost always fascinate me. Liz Jensen’s Ark Baby is set in a near-future (at the time of writing) Britain after the Fertility Crisis, in which no one is getting pregnant on that island anymore. That story is juxtaposed with another cast of characters in the nineteenth century whose lives have effects on the people in the modern-day story. One thing I love about this book is Continue reading

Hurt People Hurt People

It’s awful and heartbreaking and terrifying and absolutely unacceptable.

But please stop pretending it’s incomprehensible. And please stop thinking the perpetrators must be “mentally unbalanced.”

We in the white western world are in their countries, killing civilians, bombing hospitals, and destroying infrastructure. And in “our” own countries Continue reading

That’s Crazy Talk

It makes me crazy when people say things make them crazy. It’s just nuts how people think everything is insane. I mean, I know it’s a schizo world and all, but how retarded do you think I am? It makes me so depressed I could just shoot myself. I wanna go postal. You must think I’m insane.

The worst is how people use “crazy talk” to describe difference. Difference is not crazy, not scary, not bad, and not wrong. Continue reading

The Bird Dance Revisited

 

This post is dedicated to honestme363 after our little conversation yesterday in which they wondered if I was planning to play a rave remix of any polkas or perhaps the bird dance at an upcoming gig… I said “No way!” but actually, it turns out I have some options:

DJ Birdy’s Techno Bird Dance (Techno Chicken Dance)

The Chicken Dance, Techno Remix

Chicken Dance Techno Remix

The Chicken Dance Club Mix by DJ Tob-i

Loituma levans Polka Hardstyle Remix

Hardcore Polka

Techno Polka

Double on Genre (Techno + Polka)

The last one features a cat!

It was a lot of fun looking this up. Thanks for the smiles!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reblog: What If We Are The “Bad Guys?”

I just read this very moving post and it expresses a lot of how I feel about Remembrance Day and the military. I believe we in the West are the bad guys. I believe we are doing a lot of really shitty things in the rest of the world, and we pretend it’s in the name of freedom but really it’s in the name of money and power and oil and corporate greed. We brainwash people into doing our killing, and then when they come home injured both physically and mentally, we abandon them.

Here’s the blog post: What If We Are The “Bad Guys?”

On the one hand, I feel it’s important to share this. On the other hand, I don’t really feel like arguing today, so I’m going to close comments. Here’s hoping we smarten up soon and stop inciting more hatred by going out and killing people and then profiting from their pain by “helping them rebuild.”

This Remembrance Day, let’s remember not just “our” dead soldiers, but also the ones on the “other” side. And let’s also remember all of the civilian victims.

Staycation Day 4: I Hid the Lists and Did What I Wanted

There’s not much to add, really. I cleared all my papers and lists off the kitchen table, and then spent a few hours doing this:

Watercolour pencil doodles part 1

Watercolour pencil doodles part 1

It’s been months since I last played around with the watercolour pencils. Not since last winter, I think. I used the notebooks as a way to warm up a bit, and then I did the heart above on a postcard to send to a friend whose birthday is coming up. Then some more notebook doodling, and the heart below (not finished yet in the picture) for my cousin’s upcoming wedding.

Watercolour pencil doodles part 2

Watercolour pencil doodles part 2

Also, I was approached about maybe DJing a rave-themed wedding, which is about a 90% perfect fit with my DJ style and music collection. I hope it works out, although I bet they’ll have second thoughts when they think about their poor grandparents!

Tonight is studio time at the Forum Art Centre where R. and I take an acrylic class taught by David Cooper on Thursday nights. This is the fifth (I think) time we take it together. The class fee includes studio time on Tuesday evenings. So I am considering heading down there for that, although if I take advantage of the cleared-off kitchen table, I could do “studio night” here at home, and not even have to put my bra back on!

All in all, hiding the lists and choosing to just play today was the best idea I’ve had in a while. I even got a couple of errands done and took the dogs along in the car to pick up the winter tires. A lovely day! It’s amazing how much better I feel if I’ve made something. Writing, weaving, drawing, painting, anything. It doesn’t have to be good; it just has to be made.

Frustrating Vacation Days

This is my third day of a five-day “vacation” in which I am just staying at home and trying to catch up on my life. I had a huge long task list involving some cleaning and organising, some art-making and writing, some (limited) socialising, and some progress on contract work and paperwork.

Saturday went really well. I met with the bank about the mortgage, sorted through all of the stuff in my front alcove (which is supposed to be my Reading Corner but has slowly filled with books and bags and baskets and bird cages), freecycled a bunch of books and other stuff, brushed the Fluffy Dog, wrote a blog post, and came up with a grocery list. Super productive, and I still had time to do some reading and kill a dragon or two in Skyrim while finishing off the bottle of wine I’d started on Friday.

Sunday was slightly less productive. I did get grocery shopping and dishes done, and sent out another invoice (yay for income!), but the big event of the day was a combo art playdate and doggy playdate with J. at her place. I love spending time with J., and the Fluffy Dog loves spending time with her new little rescue dog, but we got no art done. As a visit goes, it was lovely as always: we humans drank London Fogs and discussed the state of our psyches and the world around us while the two dogs (one 80 pounds and one not even 8 pounds) gnawed on each other and played adorably. But the thing is, I got no art done, and I had been looking forward to that for days, anticipating our playdate. This is the first time we’ve tried to combine the two (art and dog playdates). Maybe over time, as the novelty of these two dogs developing a friendship becomes more mundane, we will be able to do both. But I think that for now, I will have to just accept that when the dogs are involved, art won’t really be on the table.

The thing is, that doesn’t leave a lot of time for art-making now. Today has been mostly given over to waiting for and dealing with contractors. Electrical estimates this morning, and now I have been waiting for over three hours for the drain people to come and clean out the main drain. The appointment was for between noon and 2. I called at 2 to ask for an ETA and they said 45 more minutes. I called again at 2:50 and they said they couldn’t tell me a time because there had been an emergency and the guy got his machine stuck in a hole. Sigh. It’s 3:10 as I type this and they just called to say the technician is on his way, so I live in hope but I am not holding my breath.

I can’t make something when I know an interruption is coming. If I have 20 minutes or an hour or (happy day!) four hours scheduled, I can use it to make something. It doesn’t matter how short the time is as long as I know it’s mine. But in a circumstance like this, when I’ve been awaiting the doorbell’s ring since 11:45, I can’t put my head into that space. So I’ve sorted through paperwork and pulled the things I know I’ll have to work on later. I’ve replied to a few emails. I’ve sent another invoice, and after the electrician left I zipped over to the hospital to pee in a bottle for the urine metanephrine test. At 4:45, I have to be at The Forks to meet S. for coffee and I had been planning to walk over, but time is starting to get short.

***

Two polite young men showed up and cleaned out the main drain. This is a major deal for the household. We used to get it cleaned every two years, as we have massive oaks growing along the sewer line and roots get in there. Last time, we left it for two and a half years…. and had a sewer backup, rendering our former tenant homeless and leading to a five-month, $15,000 renovation. The nice young men (a white tattooed supervisor and an earnest brown apprentice) did find a fair amount of roots in there even though it was last cleaned eleven months and three weeks ago.

The main drain access is in my tenant’s suite, so I had to be present while the guys were down there. How odd to be in someone else’s space like that, in a power position (I, Landlord), seeing their things and the intimate details of their daily life, the apple on the counter and the scrub brush in the sink and the knick-knacks and baby pictures.

Now it’s time to let the dogs pee and I probably have just enough time to walk to The Forks to meet S. instead of taking the car. Yay for beautiful autumn walks! Perhaps that will make me feel less time-wasted and frustrated, and maybe I can get back on track for Day Four of my mini-stay-at-home-vacay.

Finished this book: The World Unseen by Shamim Sarif

Cover of The World Unseen by Shamim Sarif

Cover of The World Unseen by Shamim Sarif

Another wonderful book! This is the story of two Indian women living in South Africa under apartheid who come to know each other despite their very different life circumstances. Amina is a not-really-out-but-everyone-knows-it lesbian who runs a cafe, while Miriam is living a more traditional life with an authoritarian husband and a few kids. Their story together, and their stories individually, are told with so much compassion and empathy for people whose lives are constricted by law and custom but who nevertheless strive toward wholeness and integrity.

Ever since I had the very good fortune and privilege to spend six weeks in Zimbabwe for school, I have been drawn to books and stories about Africa, preferably with protagonists who are rooted there (as opposed to stories in which Africa and Africans are merely superficial and exotic backdrops to the story of some white tourist, for example). I felt that what I saw and experienced in my short time there, and in only one country, was not even the tip of the iceberg, but just a glimpse of the iceberg in the distance. The more I read, the more I learn, and the more I enjoy it.

This beautiful book is filled not only with fascinating characters, but is firmly grounded in the land, the laws and customs of South Africa and of India, and the particular cruelties of apartheid. A good story, well-told, and definitely re-readable.

 

The World Unseen by Shamim Sarif. 2001. ISBN 978-0-9560316-0-0.

Winner of the Pendleton May First Novel Award and the Betty Trask Award.

Use Your F*$king Turning Signal (or, Driving is a Team Sport)

I love driving. I really do. And most of the time I try to be a very chill driver. I listen to music and drive just slightly above the speed limit (or, you know, maybe a bit more than that, depending). I use my signals to indicate what I plan to do. I come to a full stop at stop signs, and I try to give others space—no tailgating or cutting people off. Ideally, I want people to see me but not have to think about me or worry about what I’m going to do next. Driving is a team sport; if we all behave predictably and politely, we’re all going to get where we’re going with as little stress or mess as possible.

But at the same time, I have a really low frustration tolerance when it comes to other people being selfish jerks. And there’s an awful lot of selfish jerkiness on the road. Those super important and busy people weaving in and out of traffic with no turning signals, racing to get ahead by just a couple of car-lengths. The ones who race up the empty right-hand lane and then bull their way into traffic. The ones who ignore construction signs and speed past workers. The ones who don’t pay attention to traffic flow and are always riding the gas and brake at the same time, speeding up too much and then braking, speeding up and braking. The ones who have no patience for cyclists or pedestrians, and who therefore take huge risks in driving too close to them, because they can’t bear to slow down for ten seconds and keep everyone safe.

And then the slow ones. The ones who brake for green lights and slow down for clear intersections, or for smooth, dry curves. The ones who even under the best driving conditions can’t bring themselves to drive the speed limit. The ones who drift slowly in and out of their lane. The ones looking for a particular street or house who don’t just pull over when they see the long line of traffic backed up behind them.

And then the pure ignorant narcissistic assholes. The ones talking on their cell phones. The ones who are high (yes, pothead, marijuana affects your driving). The ones who’ve been drinking. The ones on coke (yeah, you, who thinks you’re invulnerable and no one else is really real). The ones who can’t pull over for a minute but have to retrieve that dropped item, or hand their kid that thing, or find the thing in their purse, or find the right radio station, or use the rearview to fix their hair, all while still driving the car. The ones who claim they’re good drivers because they’ve never been in an accident and yet leave a trail of rage and smoking brakes and near-strokes and terrified cyclists behind them every time they’re on the road.

So most of the time I try to be chill, yes. But if you’re the guy tailgating me in the morning on the way to work, you can bet I’m going to take great pleasure in slowing right down to exactly the speed limit and preventing you from passing me all the long, curvy way down Wellington Crescent. And if you’re that entitled jerk racing and weaving through rush-hour traffic to get ahead of everyone, you can bet I’m going to nose right up to the car in front of me and not let you into my lane. And if you’re the guy in the big soil-hauling truck who suddenly dropped into my lane on a curve the other day and nearly hit me, I just want to inform you that what I was screaming as I slammed on both the brakes and the horn was “WHAT THE ACTUAL FUUUUUUUUUUCK?????” which is a step up from my usual “Wow, you suck!” or “For real?”

But if you are obviously anticipating the traffic around you and making an effort to drive well and safely, I am going to see your turning signal and give you space to get into the lane in front of me. And when you lift your hand to acknowledge me, I’m going to nod back at you and feel pleased that we treated each other as teammates and actual real people.

I was in Montreal a few years ago and an acquaintance picked me up from the train station. That was a scary ride. It seemed like most drivers kept their car straddling lanes (reserving a spot to move over?) and seemed to rely a lot on the quick reflexes of others to prevent accidents. My driver was yelling at other drivers on the road, at one point shouting “You fucking asshole bitch!” Then she turned around (still driving!) to grin at me: “That’s what I say when I don’t know if it’s a man or a woman!” At that point, I decided to just lean back and pretend I was on a carnival ride.

Many years ago, when my mom was teaching me how to drive, she berated me for only using the turning signal after I had started braking for the turn. She explained: “Your turning signal is a signal of intent, not of action.” In other words, people and bots, let others know what you plan to do, don’t just show us what you’re already doing.

It’s not rocket science. Mind your manners and show a bit of empathy. That person who doesn’t spring into action the minute the light turns green? Give them a sec before you honk. That’s a real person in there who just found out their mom has cancer, or whose dog just died, or who has terrible insomnia, or who simply happened to be looking in a different direction when the light changed.  During the end of my marriage and my divorce, the car was the only place I could cry, so I cried myself to and from work for nearly two years. I’m sure I wasn’t the best driver on the road during that time! I try to remember that when I get impatient. And I try to remember that the old guy in the hat drifting around his lane who irritates the daylights out of me is probably going to have his license—and thus his independence—removed soon, and that really sucks for him.

I love a nice smooth ride. I go home at lunchtime during the week to let the dogs out, so I’m on the road multiple times a day. It’s just lovely when everyone is driving smoothly at or just above the speed limit, using their signals, moving into the lane they need with plenty of time to spare, and allowing others to move around as well. When backed-up traffic remembers to leave intersections clear for others to turn, when people wave each other in and wave thanks, when drivers show some planning and consideration—that’s good drive.

 

 

 

 

 

My Very First Art Lesson (in which I learned I’m no good)

When I was six, I learned that I would never be an artist.

Like any other kid, I loved to draw and fingerpaint and glue stuff onto other stuff, especially if beads or glitter were involved. In the homes of my grandparents, my father, and my aunt, I was surrounded by evidence of art and artists: my great-grandfather was a master painter back in the Old Country (Denmark), and my grandfather had been apprenticed to him. My grandparents met when my grandmother took a class with the master painter, and my grandfather would offer to walk her home and carry her painting gear. The walls of my grandparents’ home were filled with paintings and drawings and woven tapestries and other work by my grandfather, grandmother, great-grandfather, aunt, and other artists. Every bit of wall space was filled. Continue reading

I Hate TV (but I think I love Netflix)

It’s always hard for me to start watching a new show. I am easily irritated, and TV shows and movies seem to bring out my hostility in a way that only actual news stories can match. For example: I abhor a laugh track. If I start watching something and there’s a laugh track, I am very unlikely to keep watching. Because honestly, if you have to prompt me to laugh, you’re just not funny enough.

Also: reliance on stereotypes. The clueless hippie. The absentminded professor. The ditzy blonde. The geeky boy-nerd who can’t talk to girls. The geeky girl nerd who blossoms once you put her in a dress and get her some contact lenses. The Jewish mother. The Arab terrorist. The evil stepmother. Continue reading

The Story Behind the Genderbread Person

The Genderbread Person

The Genderbread Person

I wanted to share the Genderbread Person with you, an infographic I found helpful in  being able to articulate the differences between gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, romantic orientation, and biological sex, and how these things can operate relatively independently of each other. But when I searched for “genderbread person” to find an image to insert into the post, I found The Genderbread Plagiarist, the story behind the genderbread person, a long, well-documented account of how the genderbread person was plagiarized and used for profit, It’s an old familiar tale of how the hard work of some is appropriated by those with more societal privilege or power. And it’s also a great example of how the truth will eventually out when enough determined and committed people are looking for it. Enjoy the read.

Finished this book: Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill

Cover of Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O'Neill

Cover of Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill

This wonderful book is about an adolescent girl named Baby whose parents had her when they were fifteen. Her mom died and she is being (kind of ) raised by her dad, who has schizophrenia. So many sad and heartbreaking things happen in this book, but it is so gorgeously written, and Baby is such a convincing protagonist, that it is not as hard as you might expect. Continue reading

The Fluffy Dog’s First Halloween

The Fluffy Dog in his devil costume, gnawing on a squeaky toy.

The Fluffy Dog in his devil costume, gnawing on a squeaky toy.

 

Even though he’s six years old, this was really the Fluffy Dog’s first Halloween. Usually, I keep him and the Brindle Dog (and the Old Dog, when she was still alive) locked away in a bedroom so they won’t get freaked out by all the commotion. But this year, the Fluffy Dog and I got invited to spend Halloween with J and her new rescue dog, Little One (who is really little! Seven and a half pounds to the Fluffster’s eighty!).

So Mr. Fluff and I took ourselves over to Wolseley to hand out candy. Little One was in an adorable Batgirl costume, and J had picked up a devil costume for the Fluffy Dog. Continue reading

Saw this movie: Ex Machina (not recommended)

CAUTION: There are so many spoilers in here I can’t even. But don’t worry, it’s not worth watching anyway.

So not only have I not been sleeping well for weeks, I am now in Week Two of some hybrid flu / cold that started as fever and shakes and chills and has now evolved into a runny nose and phlegmy cough. I’ve barely walked the dogs for ages and they are getting tired of the confines of the back yard. My house is a mess and I am choosing to pretend this is because I am sick and tired (just work with me on this one). Mostly what I do in the evenings after a long day of functioning at work  is pop cold meds like candy and watch Netflix while wrapped in a quilt and pinned into place by various dogs and cats. Continue reading