Saturday, July 14, 2012
I sure don't - have heat tolerance, that is. it was a little better when I was working full time as a landscaper, but now...pffft.
One of the reasons I moved to Central New York was that I'd had enough of Philly's "triple H threat " - hazy, hot and humid. I distinctly remember, as a child, thinking that if I could use a knife, maybe I could cut a hole in the air to breathe through. And now (thank you, global warming) it's like that here.
I don't have air conditioning because, since I live on the top of a hill, I almost always have a breeze - I pay for it (literally) in the winter, but in the summer, it's a blessing. Plus, it takes a couple days for the house to warm up inside, and I learned young how to open and close draperies and windows in a house to make the most of cooling breezes and shut out hot sun. I also know how to get up early and do all the cooking for the day before it gets too warm.
Still, this has gotten to be a bit much. It's too humid (because the temperature is close to the dew point) at 5:00 a.m. and too hot later, so I'm having a hard time finding a way to exercise.
Anybody got any suggestions?
I've heard of them, sure, but I never knew what to do with one. I belong to a CSA, and whenever they'd present me with a kohlrabi, I'd put it in the "swap" corner, where it usually had lots of company.
(See the article in the Huffington Post, entitled WTF, CSA?)
So this week I took the things home. I did a little online looking and discovered that one could eat this ... thing...raw. Perfect, since it's too hot to cook. I sliced it thinly and salted it sparingly, and, lo and behold, it's EXCELLENT! It tastes sort of like a very mild radish (I've read that it tastes like broccoli stalks, but not to me.) It's crispy and juicy and really very pleasant. I can definitely see it as part of a relish tray - crudites, to you fancy folks - maybe with a creamy yogurt dressing.
Anyway, even if you don't belong to a CSA and are therefore pretty much forced to find a way to enjoy the thing, try one. I was pleasantly surprised - maybe you will be, too.
Monday, July 09, 2012
We need to talk about where this phrase comes from. And it has nothing to do with cats.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, doctors believed that ranting and raving and carrying on - in short, "hysteria" - was caused by female hormones getting out of balance. Forgetting their places, as it were. The cure for this was to remove the uterus.
Yep, "hysteria" and "hysterectomy" both come from the same linguistic roots. "She's just a hysterical woman." Take her uterus out and she'll behave better.
I don't want to get into whether it worked, or the whole sexual politics of the thing. I just want people who choose this phrase to know what kind of his-tory (different linguistic root altogether) they're dredging up. Personally, I wouldn't use the phrase "hissy fit" at gunpoint.
Monday, June 18, 2012
"Non, je ne regrette rien" (Statement made famous in a song by the incomparable Edith Piaf.)
It's been pointed out that we learn from our mistakes - certainly far more than from our good moves - and that energy and emotion is wasted on regret. And while I agree with that in theory, I think we have to make a couple distinctions here.
Do I regret, *for myself*, the idiotic things I've done in the past half century or so (yeah, I started young, playing "who can jump out of the tree the highest")? No, because I believe/agree that the happenings and doings and decisions that we've made have in turn made us who we are today, and I think that I've turned out rather well. It took a good deal of patience on the Good Lord's part, but all in all I wouldn't trade me for someone else.
What I do regret, and what I think we all need to come to terms with and pardon ourselves for, is the harm we have inadvertently (or..what's the opposite..."advertently", I suppose) done to others.
Let me think of an example....okay. In high school, my boyfriend and some other buddies broke into the old Philadelphia Armory and stole two cases of soda. Then we drove down by the airport and drank Seven Up all night, watching the planes take off. (From there, I think we set off some cherry bombs, but it doesn't matter for our story here.) At the time, it was just one of those adventures that, as we said, make us who we are today.
But with grown-up hindsight, what about the security guard (assuming there was one.) Did he lose his job? Did the money lost in soda make a difference? Did the Armory have to make a new, expensive alarm system? We can't just assume there's no fallout.
The regret doesn't come from my own experiences, it comes from the "collateral damage" caused by recklessness, ignorance and arrogance. I suspect I left a pretty wide path of destruction. And *that*, my friends, is what I found I had to forgive myself for.
It just doesn't make as good a song.
(Hey, I did pretty well with "short"!)
Sunday, June 17, 2012
I'm 57 years old, and looking back over that last half century, I can honestly say that I have made some of the dumbest, most reckless, self-destructive, self-serving, bone-headed, and just downright stupid maneuvers and decisions I have ever seen any one person make.
(Yes, I've done - perhaps accidentally - some pretty decent things, too, and had a few remarkably clever moments, but if you're at all like me, you know those aren't the ones we focus on. Nooo, we only pay attention to the other ones - the roads not taken, the balls dropped - the ones that bring us, at 3:00 a.m., grief, shame, horror, regret, remorse and all the other horsemen of our personal apocalypses. )
It's taken me a along time, and I'm still not perfect at it, but I've come to understand that having done something idiotic decades ago is not the same as doing the same idiotic thing now. At twenty, you don't appreciate that accursed ripple effect; you don't see how a harmless flirtation with a married man could cause a divorce (not saying that happened), or how a night spent carousing instead of studying could drop one's GPA the tenth of a point that kept one out of grad school (not saying...etc.) When you're young and do something ill-thought-out, it's because you just don't *get it*; if you do it now, though, you should be feeling the guilts because you have the understanding that comes with time, with simple miles under he wheels.
I'm learning to forgive myself for all those things I listed in the first paragraph. Not to ignore having made certain mistakes, or forget that I made them, but to stop toting around the burden of embarrassment, of regret, or those especially heavy "what ifs".
(As an aside, here's a memorable pardon, the culmination of wheels within wheels that started forty years ago today: http://watergate.info/pardon/ford-pardons-
So, yeah. I'm pardoning myself. It's first cousin to forgiving. It doesn't mean all is forgotten, or that the fallout never happened or mattered. It does mean accepting that what's done is done, there's no do-over, and to go on carrying around yesterday is cheating today and tomorrow. Instead, be gentle to yourself, and speak to yourself and your own past with the love and patience you'd unhesitatingly use when speaking to someone else. Then step up and use your new-found knowledge to improve life for yourself and those around you.
The quote is:
"We do the best we can with what we know, and when we know better, we do better" - Maya Angelou.
Saturday, June 16, 2012
(If anyone is wondering how I got in this position in the first place, it's in the intro and in the blogs. Regular readers - including this one - can't stand yet another recitation.)
So now I've got a 5000 square foot, 200 year old farmhouse that is totally clogged with Other People's Stuff - either people who have passed on to the other side or daughters who have passed on to Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, a lot of their Stuff is getting wet, because I really need a new roof. It's not good, lying in bed at night listening to water dripping...in the hallway. Especially with plaster ceilings.
That and a bunch of other, ground-level repairs have taught me to address things whether I know much about them or not. I've discovered that a basic tool kit, a good DIY book (I like Reader's Digest) and a little common sense will get you a long way in home repair. It isn't brain surgery, and if it gets too icky, you can always call a repairman - except in my current experience, the only thing they have going for them that I lack is not having a stupid fear of spiders. (I don't mess with electricity - if you screw up plumbing, you won't drown in the night no matter how much the faucet leaks. Electricity, though....)
I've learned to mow the lawn *before* it gets to be a foot high. And I sprung for an electric start mower because I can never get the string-pulling kind to go. I've also figured out that one of the joys of living out in the country is that nobody gets after you if your lawn gets knee-high. In fact, instead of criticizing, they're liable to volunteer to mow for you.
I've learned that, just because I bought bread at the grocery every week for thirty years, now that I live alone, if I don't want to eat something, *I don't have to buy it*! If i don't think I should be eating something, all I have to do is skip purchasing it. Now, if I really want bread, I have to bake it. It's come to that a couple times, but not often. I belong to a CSA, so I have fresh vegetables coming in every week, and whatever I can't use I freeze for the winter. I get two big heads of lettuce right now, plus leaf spinach, so I'm eating a ton of salad. Yay!
No one checks to be sure there are no dirty dishes in the sink when I go to bed - and no one notices if I make that bed in the morning. Not that I'm turning into a horrible slob (I make the bed anyway, just because I like it that way) but I'm the only one who knows if I vacuum carefully, moving the furniture, or if I just do what my mother called "vacuuming up the big lumps."
I can handle the Other People's Stuff however I wish - and whenever I wish. I got rid of a ton of my husband's clothing a year ago, but I'm not ready to get rid of his Hawaiian shirts yet. Maybe next week, maybe never. Nobody's business but my own. In a perfect world, kids come home and deal with their own Stuff - in my world, they won't. I check with them before I jettison anything of theirs, but if they don't want it, it goes to the Salvation Army. I'm also learning that its better to give a lot of stuff to the Salvation Army (or whomever) than to try to sell it on eBay - sometimes that's the way to go, but it's time consuming and the profit isn't always worth the effort.
I don't especially care what I eat, and no one is going to fuss if the same thing is for dinner three or four nights in a row (a big crock of chili, or a turkey breast in all its various manifestations.)
If I'm the only one living here, I can decorate to suit myself, not the Better Homes and Gardens people that I always expected to show up at any moment. I can paint the walls the color I want, no matter how odd, and use the rooms for whatever purpose I see fit (family room is now art studio!) if there are people I feel would Judge Me, (and if I care), I simply don't invite them over.
In short, instead of being all lonesome and out of control, I'm learning that I can handle what absolutely needs to be done, delegate (as in hire someone) some things, and ignore the rest without guilt. I can do what *I* want to do, when I want to do it. I can get up at 3:00 a.m. to read or paint (and have done so, many times) without anyone giving me grief. I don't have to keep doing things in a certain way, just because I've "always done it that way."
I've also discovered that no one is standing over me watching what - or when - I eat or insisting that I exercise, so it's totally up to me whether or not I'm successful on this weight loss/health gain adventure.
All these things seem so obvious to someone outside the situation, but when it's you, it's different. I've had to learn to be my own therapist, housekeeper, gardener, home-repair person, decorator, mechanic, organizer, accountant, secretary/assistant and exercise buddy - and realize that if I don't do it, it won't get done - and maybe that's okay, too. It's been quite a revelation so far, and I'm still learning.
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