A place where I can share interesting ideas and maybe get a few things off my chest

Every morning,as part of my daily journaling session, I draw a single tarot card to study. In my journal, I note it as “COTD” – Card of the Day – and write down what I feel is an apt interpretation. Then I pull interpretations from three different tarot books I keep handy for comparison.

Swords in general are not warm, fuzzy cards, and fives of any suit are not that positive, either. So, the Five of Swords would be expected to be doubly unpleasant. It is generally interpreted as a card of humiliation, defeat, and, at best, poor sportsmanship. We’ve got the guy in the foreground having won all the swords. The guy farthest in the background has has face in his hands, presumably in tears. Yesterday, though, I took greater notice of the guy to the far left, who seems to be just walking away. He’s got his cloak thrown over his shoulder, he’s not slumped over in defeat or crying into his hands. He’s just walking away from a person, a situation he no longer wishes to engage.

So, yes, the Five of Swords still indicates some loss, but on a more affirming note, also making the decision to cut your losses and walk away from a losing hand.

I like cloth napkins. I like having a substantial bit of cloth to completely cover my lap, catch crumbs, and absorb spills. I can launder them and reuse them over a matter of years and both my pocketbook and my conscience are satisfied with not having to buy consumable paper products. My husband prefers paper napkins. He says that once he’s used a bit of the cloth napkin, he’s never sure where a clean spot is for the next swipe of his mouth. In the spirit of marital harmony and choosing my battles, our household uses paper napkins.

I also like using generic products when they are of equal quality to name brands, but we’ve found that Bounty napkins are really better than generics or any other name brands. So, we have really good paper napkins. So good that Mom saves hers to reuse until she feels they are truly used up – which never actually seems to happen. I end up throwing away the used napkin stack every few days to keep it from taking over the table.

Mom's seat

Mom’s seat at the table

Since she is at home during the day, the napkin holder is right by her seat at the table so she can easily reach it at lunch time. At dinner time, since I sit in the middle of the table, I take napkins from the holder and pass them to my husband. A few weeks ago, I handed him napkins from the napkin holder and he immediately protested that they were dirty, and so they were. I asked Mom if she was putting dirty napkins back in the holder, but she said she wasn’t.  We finally decided that the cleaning ladies, who come every other week, must not realize that the stack of napkins are used and had put them back in with the clean napkins in the holder. I started trying to remember to throw them away more often.

My husband also keeps a short stack of paper napkins on the dining table near his lunchbox, so he’ll remember to take them each day. Last week he came home from work and told me that he had found that the napkins in his lunchbox had been used ones. That night at dinner, when he asked me to pass him a napkin from the napkin holder, I cringed a little, and carefully examined the paper napkins before handing them off. I couldn’t take it any more.

Napkin Solution

Napkin Solution

Fortunately, there’s a Target on my way home from work. We now have two napkin holders for the table. And I’ve asked Mother to start throwing her paper napkins away after every meal, but as these photos were taken this morning, you can see just how well that is working.

Casa Tina

Menu Salsa Chips 2014-09-06 14.52.27

This afternoon I found myself in Dunedin well after lunch time, but before I had had a chance to eat lunch. I drove down Main Street looking for something interesting and found an open parking spot near Casa Tina’s. I hadn’t had real Mexican food in quite awhile and this seemed like a perfect opportunity. As I approached, I realized that, in Florida, I wasn’t going to find the kind of Mexican food I’m used to – Tex-Mex – but figured it would still be at least somewhat familiar.

The interior was dimly lit, a nice break for my eyes from the bright afternoon sunshine. I was immediately seated and very shortly received a basket of light, very fresh, tortilla chips and a bowl of chunky, freshly-made salsa. And shortly after that, a tall glass of freshly-brewed iced tea. (Only available unsweetened, but then, I’m not in Texas.) I was pleased to find that the lunch menu lasted until 3:00 pm, and I had arrived just in time to choose a cup-of-soup-and-half-a-cheese-quesadilla combo, to which I added a small side order of guacamole. They had several soups listed; I chose posole, described as chicken stew with hominy and ancho chiles.

Soup n Quesadilla 2014-09-06 15.04.16

It arrived steaming hot, with a plate of fresh garnish and small warmer filled with three hand-made corn tortillas. (Yes, that’s only two – I had already eaten one before I remembered to take a picture.)

Hand-made corn tortillas 2014-09-06 15.14.36

It was all very flavorful and the only thing that was a little spicy for me was the guacomole. But it was a nice, familiar kind of spicy that made the whole inside of my mouth tingle with the heat, and made me sweat just a little on my upper lip. And there was so much, I have soup and tortillas waiting in the kitchen for my dinner.

Colorful decor 2014-09-06 14.49.15

The decor was colorful and definitely Mexican. And since we’re near the sea, there had to be mermaids, right?

Tin Mermaids 2014-09-06 15.25.30

Casa Tina also has a full bar and quite a few specialty drinks, one of which is a coffee with Mexican cocoa, cinnamon and other spices. It’s called “Cafe de Olla”. The drink they call “Cafe Mexicana” is coffee served with kahlua and tequila, topped with whipped cream. When I made the mistake of simply asking for the “Mexican coffee” and was brought the high-octane version, the server very graciously replaced it with the beverage I had actually *meant* to order.

Cafe de Olla 2014-09-06 15.34.15

It was a quite wonderful ending to my solo lunch. I will definitely be going there again, next time with a designated driver.

 

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Stuff, American Style

storage bins

 We spent the day clearing out and reorganizing  some of our stuff. Not all of our stuff, just the stuff in two rooms in our house, one of which is completely devoted to storing our extra stuff. We call it “the spare room”, but there is nothing spare about it. It is full of off-season clothes and bedding, crafting stuff, sewing stuff, overflow office stuff, a file cabinet almost completely filled with absolutely necessary paper stuff, and stuff we haven’t looked at in years except to move it from here to there but no, we can’t get rid of it because it is Very Important Stuff.

We did clear out some old computer hardware and software – things that have zero compatibility with any computer still running anywhere – and I identified some things to take to family in Dallas when we visit over the holidays. My husband picked up some drawer bins at a garage sale a few weeks ago (from someone able to actually let go of some stuff), and I’ve washed them and put them in the already-crowded room in an attempt to at least have better access to all the stuff.

A lot of difficulties we encounter in our society are decidedly first-world ones, but I think dealing with an overflow of consumer goods is a peculiarly American problem. We not only have aisles in box stores completely devoted to storage, we have entire stores. I saw an article recently that said that if Britain were to join the U.S., it would be the 2nd poorest state, behind only Mississippi. A Forbes article makes a correction to that based on local cost-of-living rates and points out that taking that into consideration leaves Britain dead last. 

The original writer based a big portion of his conclusions on the relative GDPs. So, that means that the U.S. produces more stuff per person. And we work more hours than workers in European countries in order to produce the extra stuff. Then we’re too tired to do much more than watch television programs developed for the sole purpose of advertisers buying time to sell us stuff. So, we buy stuff we don’t really need because we have a little extra money made from making extra stuff. Or we buy stuff we need only because of the time-saving aspects so we at least have a little extra time to relax before we go back to work to make more stuff.

I would really love to have the opportunity to work fewer hours so I could have more time and less stuff.                 

Hungry Dog

As we packed to leave for our monthly weekend camping trip, I worried, as I always do, about how Mother would fare while were gone. She’s got lunch fixings and TV dinners and ice cream bars, her walker, her pillow, and the western channel, and the emergency button necklace that is essentially a cell phone with one giant button that only dials the emergency service we pay for on a monthly basis. She is at home by herself on the weekdays she doesn’t go to the Senior Center, and does just fine, but I still worry, even though the PT who worked with her last year said she has clients less “with it” than Mom who still manage to live on their own.

This time, since we had an event planned with friends for early Saturday, we decided to leave on Friday evening, and also decided to leave the dogs so they wouldn’t be cooped up in their kennels while we were gone a good portion of the day on Saturday. They could also to keep Mother company, as her biggest complaint when we take our camping weekends is how much she misses us and how lonely it is without anyone at home with her. We did something similar in May, when we went to Disney, and it worked out well with one of our friends checking in on her and also making sure the dogs were being fed.

In May, Steve made up little bags with the dogs’ names on them for their breakfast and dinner, but Mom didn’t feed them breakfast. She doesn’t normally see them being fed breakfast, and I wasn’t sure she had been able to read the baggies Steve had fixed up. This time, I made sure he used labels, and then showed Mom the bags and explained how the dogs ate twice per day and how each dog had separate breakfast and dinner baggies for each day.

She didn’t call all weekend and since we were so busy, I didn’t think to call until after she would have gone to sleep. I told myself everything was fine, but I was still worried a little, and all kinds of outrageous scenarios played through my mind. We’d get home and find her fallen, with the dogs sitting beside her, keeping watch. Or we’d get home to find the dogs locked in the garage, having barked themselves hoarse because she couldn’t hear them. Or she would have become incapacitated and missed feeding the dogs and they would decide she would make a fine meal substitute.

Fortunately, none of those uglier things came to pass, but little Sophie, who really doesn’t need to miss a meal, didn’t get to eat all weekend. While I thought  I had been very clear on how to feed the dogs, and Mother made yes-I-understand noises, she really didn’t get it.

Dog food bags 2014-08-17 17.53.52

Gracie gets dog food from the supermarket, which comes in good-sized crunchy bites. Sophie, with her little, tiny mouth and delicate tiny dog teeth, gets food from the pet store that resembles cat food, because it is the only food she can chew. Instead of feeding each dog from the marked packets, Mom split Gracie’s food bag between the two dog’s bowls (the only reason one of Sophie’s bags above is empty is because I used it to feed her right after we got home – she was really hungry!). When we got home, she told us that The Little Dog (she has a hard time remembering Sophie’s name) hadn’t eaten hardly anything while we were gone. I tried to explain to her that Sophie couldn’t eat the big pieces of dog food and how we had specifically marked the bags. Mom kept nodding and agreeing with me as if we were saying the same thing and  just kept saying how she tried to feed The Little Dog but she wouldn’t eat anything.

How often do you think dog-sitters are hired to come in and feed dogs when someone is still at home?

In front of the Oldsmar Library

In front of the Oldsmar Library

At lunch yesterday, my co-workers and I were talking about the state of our society and how everything is so much worse and so much scarier than in prior eras. (Our ages vary, and so the prior eras remembered vary, as well.)

I had to put forth that not only do I not think things are worse, but that they are actually better and improving exponentially. Our perception of sickness and evil in our society is greatly skewed by the 24-hour news cycles, the ubiquity of negative stories (often clickbait) across the entirety of the internet, catastrophized, mud-slinging and muckraking rhetoric between political factions, and human beings’ penchant for focusing on what is most threatening and fearsome.

The very fact that many of these things are in the news at all is, in and of itself, a sign of hope. Horrifying things that make the news cycles would often have not been considered newsworthy at all in prior centuries. A hundred years ago, women and children were considered chattel. A hundred years before that, many people were literally chattel. The first child abuse prosecution was done through animal abuse laws, as there were no laws in place protecting children from being beaten or starved by their supposed caregivers.

Cesar Chavez’ efforts helped empower U.S. farm workers.

The Civil Rights Movement empowered people of color.

The Feminist movement, growing out of the Civil Rights Movement, helped many women realize that subordination is not part of the natural order of things.

Until Candy Lightner got MADD, drunk driving was only considered to be somewhat foolish, and drunken wrecks were just considered accidents.

And those are all examples just from the 20th century in the United States.

So many areas of society are so much better in so many ways, I just don’t have time to go on because I have to get ready for work – my work in child welfare, a job that didn’t exist a century ago, and that, as a woman, I couldn’t have held anyway.

Scans From A Shoebox

Have A Coke

I have know idea who this is; I just like the composition of the photo.

That’s the name of the folder open on my desktop. The photos aren’t in a shoebox now; they’re in a copy paper box, because the boot box they were in for as far back as I can remember finally deteriorated beyond the point of keeping anything contained. Aunt Helen, Mother’s older sister, had rows of photo albums with pictures of family and her trips to Europe neatly labeled in chronological order. We had a boot box that had originally held workboots that Dad had worn out and discarded before I was born.

I’ve been meaning to digitally scan these photos for years, and finally started a few days ago. Most of them are of family. Many are of people I don’t know and except for a couple, the only clues are notes I made in pencil on the backs of some of them over three decades ago. I would like to go through them with Mother and ask her about the people in them, but I’m afraid the exercise will be frustrating for both of us.

The photos of family members I recognize, I’m dividing into large envelopes to send to representative members of each family group. They may already have copies of these photos, but they might not, and maybe they can pencil in all the details and make interesting albums and give the pictures somewhere to live besides in a box in a closet.

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