.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2021

The Road To Nowhere

This is from a newspaper article I was asked to write back in 2014:



"Creative people are often asked about their inspiration or their muse or whatever it is that kicks their imagination and motivation into high gear. Some have really complicated rituals while others turn to music to put them into their prolific state of mind. There are even a few people that recommend sticking to a routine which I do not get at all since I see routine as the antithesis to creativity.

As an artist who uses photographs as the basis of my artwork, when I need to get my blood flowing I get in the car with my cameras and sometimes a person or two that I love and my dogs and I hit the road. Drives to nowhere are always the goal, and always on country back roads. Nothing soothes my soul and clears my head more than indulging the wanderlust and need for simplicity that is imbedded in my personal genetic makeup. Farms and barns, cows and horses, corn fields, roadside stands, and a sky full of puffy white clouds.  There is not much that can be better than all of that. My artwork revolves mostly around these kinds of bucolic scenes although I do add a whimsical twist to them in order to really get people’s attention. We are all so inundated visually and otherwise nowadays that sometimes you have to go left of center to make people see.

When I am out on one of my drives I have to pull over countless times to let someone pass so that they no longer tailgate me.  They ride up on me not because I am going too slow but because they are going too fast.  Although I am maintaining the speed limit, I am in the way of them racing at breakneck speed to get to where they are going in record time.
I am in the way of them racing to speed through their life, seemingly oblivious to the risks they are taking, the most important being the risk of missing out on the very quality of their own lives. 

I want people to slow down. That is one of the reasons why I enhance my landscape artwork so that it has a manipulated, wonky element to it.  It makes people pause; they linger long enough to really see what they are looking at.

I want them to pay attention to the beauty that is everywhere that they are not seeing as they lose their senses of wonder and awe to the myriad of distractions that everyone is consumed with and buried under nowadays.

I cannot imagine that it is worth any of these risks, particularly the risk of not seeing all there is to see every single day of our lives.  Remember staring at clouds until they turned into recognizable shapes?  When is the last time you did that?

These days everyone is preoccupied as they rush from one place to another. They are talking, texting, checking in, status updating, tweeting, Instagramming, picking up, dropping off, shopping, etc. 

All of that distraction is coming at a very high cost and that cost has nothing to do with the ridiculous amounts of money spent on gadgetry.  

When is the last time you got in the car to go for a drive to nowhere?  How about taking a walk in the countryside just to listen to how quiet it is there?  Do your kids know how great it is to dip their toes into a stream or to laugh while watching the antics of a bunch of farm animals?

Le petit bonheur is a French term that translates to the small happiness.  It means to take pleasure in and appreciate the little things. It means that if you see a lady with a camera pulled off to the side of the road, instead of speeding past her, think about slowing down to see what she is taking pictures of. 

You might wind up being very pleasantly surprised."  SOH, 6/14

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Grief, Chapter One

     Aside from the obvious the one thing I really hate about death is that all traces of the person disappear.
    
     And it doesn’t take long either. 

     Gone, like dust in the wind. When the dead person’s name is mentioned people cast their eyes downward, as if they’re looking for the person on top of their shoes or somewhere on the sidewalk.  Say the name of the dead person out loud to someone and they respond in hushed tones, like they’re talking about something or someone shameful or embarrassing. 

     Pictures might stick around for a while but eventually they’ll be put away, too painful to keep in plain sight. Personal belongings are put away in boxes that are mainlined for a closet or attic never to be brought out and gone through again. Sometimes Left Behind People even give the dead person’s stuff away to Goodwill or the Salvation Army or some anonymous organization that has drop boxes in the parking lot of the local supermarket where some strangers will wind up with the dead person’s favorite sweater or shoes, maybe even with their scent still clinging to it. This makes me very uncomfortable.  

     I hope no one gave your stuff away.  I hope it’s in a box in the attic and sometimes someone sneaks up there when no one else is around just so they can open your box and spend some time with you. 

     I have not been able to figure out how to get them to believe me when I tell them how wrong it is to act like dead people never existed.  Of course, I’m the crazy girl who thinks that dead people are still here; that you just can’t see them in the flesh anymore.  I’m the one who wouldn’t think twice about continuing to set a place for the dead people at the dinner table or even to talk out loud to them but that kind of thing is seriously frowned upon in polite society.  The thing is though, that everyone does it to one degree or another, they just don’t admit it which is a really big shame. 

     What I don’t get is why people let the love they had for the dead person turn into sadness. I mean, I understand grief. Well, that’s kind of an understatement. There’s not a lot of people who understand grief better than me.  It’s been my constant companion for decades now.  I take it everywhere I go kind of like a best friend. Or, a frenemy. I don't think it's very nice that a person spends their lifetime - however long or short it is - doing things and having conversations and making people laugh or maybe they made really good chocolate cakes or gave great hugs or would not give up those corduroy pants they wore long after they went out of style. Whatever it was, whatever they were, it seems to me that it is a downright travesty to sweep all of that under the rug, never talk about any of it, and instead get sad whenever they are thought or spoken about. Makes it seem like their life didn't have much meaning or substance which is the absolute furthest thing from the truth.

     Anyway, since I live with grief all the time and I have watched its effects on myself and others for years, I know how it works. Or how it wants to work.  Grief is always there even when no one has died.  It sleeps in the background of everyone’s life as they are preoccupied with living. Grief is the boogey man and the bully rolled into one. Once grief wakes up, it bangs on your door and if you let it in it will lay on your couch, dine at your table, sleep in your bed, drive in your car, brush with your toothbrush, and invade your thoughts, your attention span, your very ability to think.  

     Like a squatter, grief moves in uninvited and stays for as long as it likes and everyone seems powerless to do anything about it.  Sometimes it stays for an acceptable period of time and leaves.  But don’t be fooled, it will never be very far away.  It just goes back to sleep, albeit fitfully, in the backyard or the garage or the basement. 

     And sometimes it goes and hides in the closet after wreaking havoc and comes back out years later when it’s the last thing you ever expected. 


Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Cozy Palace


Growing up, I was always taught that it is a sin to make judgments on people and that you should avoid doing that best you can. Besides, nowadays you can get tarred and feathered and given one of a hundred different labels if you say out loud what some people think is the wrong thing or if you make a judgment that people don't like.

Yet it seems all them same people are the ones who talk bad about where I live.

Well, I don't care what they say.  I love where I live. This place is my cozy palace.

When I bake cookies in my little oven they taste and smell  just as good as the ones that fancy people make in their expensive kitchens. Maybe I don't have a granite countertop but I have prepared many meals on my plain laminate one that have nourished and given pleasure to me and the people I love.

Heck, I could rip out my old countertop and put in a granite one anytime I want to but that's not going to change a single thing around here except to drain out my bank account for no good reason other than so I can say I got a granite countertop. No, thank you.

You know, this little place holds just as many memories as any other house anywhere on this planet, by God. It knows our tears and every other high and low that's come our way. It's protected us from every storm that's passed through, too. And every year we set up the Christmas tree with all our old ornaments and the twinkle lights right there in front of the windows so everyone can see and maybe get a little bit of spirit.

Maybe it ain't much, but it's home.

Yes, it is our home.

-Sharon O'Brien Huey

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Cloudy Days Are My Favorite Days


It's gloriously cloudy outside today thanks to a Nor'easter passing through here in New Jersey.

Gloomy. That's the popular word used for days like today. The weather people say 'today will be gloomy but fear not, sunshine will return!', completely ignoring those of us who are hoping the clouds will stick around for awhile.

As far back as I can remember, I have loved cloudy and rainy days. I am calmer on cloudy days. I get more done and am far more productive. In fact, a study conducted by researchers at Harvard and UNC Chapel Hill¹ show that worker productivity is higher on so-called "bad" weather days and the reason for that is because of the cognitive distractions that occur on "good" weather days. 

Sunshine dulls the mind to risk and thoughtfulness. - Adam Alter

I won't convince sun-lovers to switch teams and I wouldn't even try to because we all have our preferences,  but I do hope that if you are on Team 'Gloomy', you could take a minute to appreciate the gifts that cloudy days bring...gentleness, quietude, etc.

If you need a little extra help, do a Google image search for "sunsets". Take note that the most beautiful sunsets need cloudy skies.

credit:  OwlsQuotes.com


Monday, October 25, 2021

Making 'Scents' Of Autumn



Can you smell the delicious and comforting smell of fresh baked cookies?

I can't. 
And it's not because we don't yet have smell-o-vision.

I am anosmic, a person who has anosmia, which means I can't smell anything. 

I wasn't always without the ability to smell anything. Twelve years ago I had a double lung collapse cause by a case of walking pneumonia which came very close to killing me. And while I came out of that experience very thankfully with my life, it cost me my sense of smell when two months later, while still recuperating from the lung thing, I caught a minor cold which caused my already overwrought system to shut something down.

And nothing has been the same since.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Joy Pauses

While driving along a country road this past weekend in South Jersey, I spotted this little flower stand... kind of hidden on the corner of someone's property. 



Without asking,  JP knew to turn around because I do not pass up roadside stands. 

In the distance I could see the field where the flowers were growing. Blissful.

There were several different types of bouquets and stems to choose from, but one in particular stood out. Somehow, they were only $5.

I bought my $5 bouquet of flowers home and put them in my best vase.


 
And I have been in all of it ever since they are quite possibly the most beautiful flowers I've ever had. 
I can't tell you how happy they've made me in these past few days. I have to stop whatever I'm on my way to doing in the house as I pass them just to linger and admire them, giving me little joy pauses throughout my day.

This is the kind of thing that happens when you get off the main road and slow down enough to see what is around you. 

I've been preaching that forever. 

Looking for the little things the give life the most meaning.

Finding magic in simplicity. 

It's there if you slow down enough to look for it.


Tuesday, August 31, 2021

So Long, Summer 2021

Where I live, here at the NJ shore, it's currently summer frenzy time. 

 

What that means is that the tourists (we affectionately call them Bennys) have checked the calendar and have become aware that the summer shore season is dwindling down.  
And while summer does not officially end until 9/22, around here it unofficially ends on Labor Day 9/6 - a mere week away. 

This incites full on panic on their part as they frantically eke out whatever is left of summer.
Traffic will be go from hellish to nightmare-ish and the crowds will somehow get bigger which doesn't seem possible but is.

Also, as summer winds down the tourists will not care one iota what the weather forecast says; they will get in the last of their summer fun, weather be damned. The other day I saw a family of many schlepping their way to the beach despite the dark clouds and light rain happening that day. You definitely do not want to be on the beach when the weather is acting up and you should still check the weather on what seems like a nice day before even stepping foot onto the sand. There are way too many stories with bad endings.

What this means for (some of) us locals is that we are well-advised to shelter in place until after Labor Day when the place we live becomes (mostly) ours again. September is known as Local's Summer around here for good reason - the weather is divine, the water is still warm, and the tourists have mostly left. I don't feel bad for being glad at their departure because, afterall, they had it all for the past 3+ months.

That being said, I am very much looking forward to the next phase of our life when we...

well, I'll wait to explain that in a future post.


Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Cherry Time Of Year


Currently there are probably 1.5 pounds of perfect dark, firm, perfect cherries in an old metal colander in my fridge.
Every day for some days now, I go to the fridge and I grab a handful which I set out on the countertop to warm up awhile because I do not like cold fruit.
My intention is to eat that single handful at some point and then get on with my day.

Except I keep repeating the process - go to fridge, handful on countertop, return to kitchen a little bit later, consume - approximately twelve a few more times throughout the day.  

I cannot stop. 
I will not stop.

I am a cherry addict.

One time JP and I were driving around aimlessly one summer day in our old pickup truck and we stopped at a roadside stand and bought a whole lot of cherries...then we continued driving around on backroads, radio playing, eating cherries and spitting the pits out the window, making each other laugh and, more importantly, making a sweet memory that we still enjoy remembering together.
This would fall under the category "Simple Joys" and if you have not done this, I can't suggest strongly enough that you make haste and get to it. Just do it, trust me.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Blueberry Jalapeno BBQ Sauce

We were out on one of our meandering road trips to nowhere recently and happened to find ourselves by Emery's Farm in New Egypt, NJ. Of course, we had to stop because one does not just drive past Emergy's without stopping.  Lucky me, they had lots of their organic blueberries for sale so I loaded up and I've been making batches of my blueberry jalapeno bbq sauce and putting it on top of everything.  

Blueberries are NJ's official state fruit and were the #1 crop in NJ last year which is just fine by me because I can't get enough of them. I used to pick buckets of them in the woods behind our old house and make blueberry pies for my father which is the quintessential summer dessert, if you ask me, as long as you've got vanilla ice cream  to scoop on top of your slice(s). And not only are these little blue marvels delicious, but they are wildly good for you! Blueberries are the #1 antioxidant fruit and consumption of these little dynamos has been linked to reduced risk of cancer, increased insulin response, a reversal in age-related memory loss, lowering blood pressure, and will benefit your love life because no one could resist you if you tempt them with a homemade blueberry pie or this bbq sauce (I made the last part up but still...).

Anyway, this sauce goes particularly well on pork, roasted potatoes (I swear), and burgers. Heck, I might even pour some over vanilla ice cream.

I got creative recently and put together this watercolor recipe and I've made it available for you to download, if you are so inclined.

Click HERE to download.


Enjoy!

New Event! October 2021

I am very pleased to announce that I have been asked to display my artwork

at the Barnegat branch

of the

Ocean County Library


I have a special affection for the Ocean County Library -not only because it is an invaluable resource to our community and one of the best library systems, but also because I used to work there. 😊

So, yes, I jumped at the chance to show my photo art in my own community and within an organization that I still hold near and dear to my heart.

I'll probably have at least twenty pieces on display.

The exhibit will run throughout the entire month of October 2021.

Ocean County Library
Barnegat Branch
112 Burr Street
Barnegat, NJ 08005




Updated Online Photo Art Shop



I have finally updated my photo art shop - a task I've been putting off for far too long.

The newest pieces are loaded and available, including this one:


 
It's an easy and very secure process to make a purchase.

You can choose to have your order sent directly to you from the art printer
or you can elect to have it sent to me first, so I can sign it.

Art makes a wonderful gift for yourself and others
and your purchase helps to support an artist/small business! 



Fun & Uplifting Simple Little Giveaway


This is a picture of the decal I currently have on the back of my car.

I got tired of seeing profane, sarcastic, nasty stickers on vehicles every time I left the house and wanted to send the opposite message out into the world...something that uplifted instead of insulted.

Lord knows we've got more than enough stuff to feel bad about in this current world of ours, am I right?

I got the idea that there should be more of this kind of thing - wishing complete strangers well - that I ordered two more and decided to make them this month's giveaway.

Nobody likes giving stuff away more than me!


For the month of August, I will be keeping track of every person who comments ('likes' don't count - I'm wanting real interaction) on my Facebook pages, signs up for my newsletter, and/or hits the share button under my artwork posts.  

Then I will randomly select two of those people to receive this decal, absolutely free of charge, no strings attached.

Let's uplift together ♥


Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Surviving Summer

I'm in self-imposed lockdown this week because most of New Jersey is in a disgusting heat wave.

Also, my anxiety level is creeping toward the red zone because most of New Jersey is in a disgusting heat wave.

Did I mention the disgusting heat wave?

Thanks to black paper shades (just over $6 at Home Depot!) and dark curtains on most of my windows, it's nice and dark and cool inside my house and I'm protected from the intensity of the sun which is essential for me all the time, but particularly in the summer when the sun is trying to kill me.


There are other things you can also do to cope while hiding inside away from Evil Sun and its cohorts, Humidity and Dew Point...

For one, humor. Humor is essential to ward off all kinds of woes. In fact I would go so far as to say that it has saved my life on many occasions. So while you are hibernating from summer, you could look at fun/ny things on the internet or watch funny television  or read books that makes you laugh (the library is free and cool!) or draw nonsense pictures that crack you up (see above & below) even if they might not make a single other person snicker. 

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Decorating Naturally For Everlasting Life

Recently JP came home with a Just Because bouquet of flowers for me.  Such a thoughtful husband he is.

I am a flower lover; they are one of my very most favorite things in the world and they are everywhere in my house, in dried form, in a myriad of ways.  You see, I have to make sure they're reused so that their little flower lives aren't short-lived and/or for naught. 

While I of course appreciate a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers, when I see them stuck in a vase I eventually can't help but think about how happy they must have been growing happily in the dirt until they got ripped out of the ground and shoved into a vat of water, on display as they die.

It's the same reason I won't have a real Christmas tree. I'll tell that story when we're closer to December.

So while I know any fresh flowers I receive would be much happier in a field soaking up sunshine and swaying in the breeze, I can at least extend their life by decorating with them and loving them long time. 😊 
That's way better than throwing them in the trash and sending them to the landfill.
Flowers bring so much joy; surely their lives are worth more than to culminate in a garbage truck.




For this most recent JP bouquet, I used them along with a tree branch from my vast collection of tree branches.
Yes, I collect tree branches so that they, too, can have everlasting life.
Trees and flowers. My two most favorite things after husband, daughter, doggie.

I have a few of these tree branch/flower bunches around the house and they're so pretty.

All you have to do is deconstruct your flowers into small little bunches.
Wrap the bunches with some twine, then tie each bunch to the branch.



Voila!




Friday, June 11, 2021

Jabbed

I got my 1st dose last week, finally, after overcoming personal hurdles.

I have medical PTSD...well, actually, I have C-PTSD (the C stands for Complex) which means it's sourced from more than one trauma but the medical part is a big part of my particular PTSD pie.

What that means for me is that it's about 1000 times worse than the more commonly known 'White Coat Syndrome' so even something as simple-sounding as going to Walgreen's to get a vaccine that a gazillion people have gotten is a monumental thing for me...and I mean that in the true sense of the word.
Anyway, we went to Walgreen's. I had cancelled approx 3 appointments prior to this one for various reasons such as the stars not being in the correct alignment 😄 but at this point I was so sick of myself, sick of my anxiety and neuroses, that I forced myself this time.

And once we got there and approached the pharmacy part of the store I told JP I couldn't do it, which he understood because he is saint-like in his support and understanding of my aforementioned anxiety and neuroses.

Not wanting to disappoint him or myself, I then told him let's walk around the store a bit to see if the panic subsides.

Friday, June 4, 2021

The Herbary at Bear Creek Farm

As I said in a previous post, we stayed local during JP's vacation which was just fine by me especially since it turned out to be oppressively hot and depressingly sunny that week. As someone afflicted with Summer SAD* and photosensitivity, hot and sunny weather is the most dreaded combination and makes me hide in the house insulated comfortably by dark window coverings and air conditioning.

However, I do recognize that it's creepy not always healthy to hide from the sun all the time and so we ventured out on a hot, sunny May day to visit a place I've been meaning to get to since we moved back to the shore last July - The Herbary At Bear Creek Farm in Howell, NJ.

Have you ever heard of terrain - the Anthropologie-associated garden center/gift shop/all around amazing retail wonderama?  When we lived in Delaware we would frequently go to the terrain location in Glen Mills, PA since it was just a few miles from us. I haven't been back there since leaving Delaware and I've missed it, so you can imagine my delight at discovering that The Herbary has a very similar terrain vibe which is also my vibe: simple, natural, peaceful, hip.

The first thing we noticed when we drove into their parking lot is the openness. No cramming of mass amounts of plants that makes you feel overwhelmed...

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Staycation At The Jersey Shore

JP was on vacation last week - or, rather, he was on staycation.

It was his first time off in sixteen months other than the one day he took off when we moved into our house.  To say he needed a week off would be a gross understatement especially considering that he works in the auto industry. Oh, the stories I could tell about what it's like to work at a car dealership!  
For now I'll just save it for that book I'm going to write soon.

Taking the kind of vacation where you pack bags and travel to a place and sleep overnight(s) there was not on the agenda since what he needed more than anything was to do a whole lot of nothing.  To just be home, to take it slow, to sleep in. His daily commute is pretty much a nightmare from the Jersey shore to north Jersey so I did not want him to have to drive too much during his week off. As usual since he is the best husband on earth, he said he'd do whatever I wanted but what I wanted more than anything was for him to relax. 

Staying home for vacation is highly appealing to someone like me. I hate sleeping away from home. For one, I have a monstrous phobia of bedbugs and other disgusting things that might be present in a place you would rent to sleep at - hotels, motels, Holiday Inn, etc. Have you ever watched the television show Hotel Impossible? I've seen things on that show that have scarred me and will haunt me for all my days. 
I used to not be this way. In fact, for many years I spent the winter months in a Miami Beach hotel suite.
This was before bedbugs made a comeback. By the time they re-emerged (<---that word makes my skin crawl), I was no longer a snowbird and was instead embracing local day trips that had me back in my own nice clean NJ bed by bedtime.

For two, in the few instances that I have actually been able to get past being completely skeeved out about laying in a bed that many, many other people have laid upon and in, I literally cannot sleep. Maybe if I'm lucky I'll get 3 or 4 hours of broken sleep which means that I am basically a zombie on away vacations.  I have stayed in everything from super luxury resorts to rented cabins and it doesn't matter - I won't sleep. 

For three, many people seem to want to pretend it isn't so but...there is still a pandemic. It's really obvious that there are wayyyyy too many people who seem to have forgotten that now that summer is nearly upon us and there is fun to be had. 

We took a ride on Sunday from Seaside Heights to Point Pleasant Beach (which encompasses some of the most prime NJ shore destinations for those unfamiliar with the area) and I'm still traumatized 24 hours later but what we saw - and we saw a lot because we were stuck in summer-style traffic even though it's not summer yet.  Thousands of people on the boardwalks and beaches. Truth is I've never been big on being anywhere that a whole bunch of other people are and now thanks to pandemic, that's about 1000% worse.

Deciding to stay close to home and enjoy our house and yard and sleep in our bed this past week was just fine for both of us.

The plan now is to buy a really small inflatable pool that will fit on the patio so we can cool off while enjoying a cocktail.  If we stretch our imagination we can pretend it's sort of like a swim up bar at a fancy hotel but much, much cheaper and without the crowds. Or the bedbugs. Or various other germs and inconveniences.

In no way do we feel like we're missing out. In face, we really wouldn't have it any other way.


Thursday, April 22, 2021

The Potpourri Of Putridity Has Been Proliferating In Plentitude

I've had some personal challenges recently, or as I recently wrote in a letter to a dear friend - "the potpourri of putridity has been proliferating in plentitude of late".

And, as usual, when putridity enters the scene, creativity beats a hasty retreat and I've just basically been languishing in a non-luxurious state of inertia, enhanced by healthy does of overwhelment and ennui.

Plus, it really is 37°(F) outside despite it being late-ish April.
I know, I know - springtime is unpredictable...which is why I distrust it so.  
Did I mention the wind?  Yes, on top of the unseasonable temperatures we are experiencing here in New Jersey we are also under a gale force warning. 


But back to the putridity...it really all started months and months ago when we moved back to NJ and a whole bunch of Other People's Stuff started happening that affected me directly and I forgot to remember to protect myself from a lot of it as I put Other People's Wants/Needs/Issues ahead of my own and you have to trust me when I tell you that no good will ever come from that. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

From 2019: Sitting Still On A Friday (6.10.19)

More evidence that sometimes something good comes from something bad:

 Last week Sherilyn was not feeling well with a pretty good cough and general malaise and so I got to work making a vat of chicken soup for her.  This is what I do whenever any one of us is sick as a pot of my very garlicky chicken soup has been known to cure most ills.

Then I got the idea to mix up a batch of fresh juice for her and us, too.  The more vitamins, the better, right?  But I didn't want to drag out the juicer because cleaning that thing after usage is a nightmare, so I decided to use the Ninja thing with the big attachment.

 This is really boring so far but here comes the good part.

As I was attempting to assemble the blade attachment it somehow slipped right out of my hand and I don't know what happened next but one or two seconds later I became very aware that a very significant amount of blood was gushing from my right wrist.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

You Know What They Say About Mean People



Mildly apoplectic with a large dose of being disheartened would be the words of the day for me.

I had a job interview the other day and the interviewer was rude and condescending and I didn't speak up for myself so I've been stewing in that for the past couple of days.

Ever have something like that happen?  How did you handle it?

I used to interview people in a previous position and I was really good at it.
Thankfully, it would never occur to me (then or now) to to be rude and condescending to anyone generally speaking, but especially in an interview setting when you know the person is already nervous.

I'm frustrated at myself for not speaking up but more than anything I'm sad that there are people who treat other people with such disregard.

Seems like a good day to get outside and spread some extra kindness.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Finally, March (aka Fake Spring)

It never fails.
Despite knowing better, as soon as the calendar turns to March, I'm like hooray, winter's over!

Case in point:  I was an avid Rollerblade skater back in the day. I was pretty much addicted to it and used to skate between 3-5 miles every day, always in the same place.

There is a road in Bay Head, NJ, that runs right up alongside the ocean and the oceanfront mansions of the Excessors (people who buy more and spend more than they actually have to). It's not heavily trafficked so you'll mostly find people riding their bikes, walking themselves and/or their dogs, skating, etc. You'd find me there every day from springtime to late fall, showing up immediately after work on the weekdays and sometimes several times a day on the weekends. Regular exercise - which I will not go on about because there's not much else that's more boring than people talking about exercising - will do that to you...make you addicted thanks to glorious endorphins...the exact ones that have been eluding me of late.

Back then I had to skate, just like I had to eat and sleep.

But skating outdoors in a place like New Jersey is a seasonal activity and I would freak out hard when the seasons changed and it got too cold to skate anymore - especially along the oceanfront where it's much colder and windier than it is inland.  

Winters were long for me as I counted the days until I could skate again.

When the calendar turned to March it was on.  In my head March meant springtime no matter what the thermometer said and so I'd head out to finally skate again. Drive to the beach, park, put my skates and wrist guards on, and off I went.

To hypothermia.

20 or so yards into my skate and my eyes were tearing, nose was running, and I would start to not be able to feel my extremities and it would dawn on me that it wasn't time to start skating yet.
Skating the 20 yards back to my car felt like this:

 


I did this every March for at least a few years.

In my defense, no one ever said I was the sharpest tool in the shed.

My only excuse?  I guess it's only that hope always springs eternal + those eager little endorphins.

19 days until technical Spring.
Actual Spring is anyone's guess.

A few minutes ago it was flurrying outside.  Not a good skating day.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Not Always Uplifty (Especially A Year Into A Pandemic) & That's OK

Hello all.
I hope today finds you as happy as you can muster during these uncertain times
Do you hate that term as much as I do? I'm sorry. I don't know why I used it. I won't do that again. 😕

Recently I have been stuck in a mildly depressive funk* and I wrote about it in a previous post. I received a comment from someone in response to that post in which the person wrote 'thanks for being so uplifting' with what I deduced might have been an itsy bit of sarcasm, and accompanied by the statement being punctuated with abundance of exclamation marks (!!!!!!!) which can sometimes come across as being shouted particularly when more than one is used.

THANKS FOR BEING SO UPLIFTING!!!!!!!

Ha ha, I'm having fun with it although I am hoping that the commenter wasn't really yelling at me because there's nothing I can do to change about being in a funk and not being very uplifty right now. 

See, I write from my real life.
Sometimes in my real life the things I write about might be happy, funny, weird, sardonic, sad, ridiculous, depressing, self-deprecating, etc. 
Am I uplifting and encouraging at times? Yes.
All the time? No. I'm an actual person with various moods, emotions, etc. 
Am I filled with a bunch of nonsense? Regularly. I use humor in all aspects of my life because
(a) what's better than laughing?, and
(b) humor is a fantastic coping tool when sh*t gets real (see resources below and image above).

I do not subscribe to the idea of constant positivity because it's unrealistic, unsustainable, and also unrelatable, which may be the most important 'un' of the three. 

Monday, February 8, 2021

39 Days Until Spring + Everything's Stupid

I am not dealing well with winter this year which is quite surprising as I am usually a wintertime welcomer.

This year, though, I've been stuck in a pit of despair struggling more than usual and so being stuck indoors is not doing wonders for my fragile state of mind mood.

This morning I heard that springtime is 39 days away and I felt this sudden odd and foreign sensation that might have been hope but I'm not sure because I no longer really know what that feels like, which was then quickly followed by the crestfallen thought of how the hell am I supposed to get through the next 39 days even though I've now gotten through almost 12 months of what was supposed to be a 15-day pause.

The truth is that I don't need springtime; I just need it to not be 20°(f) so that when I do go outside it doesn't make my lungs feel like they're going to explode. 

My mood has been so low lately that I have resorted to looking things up on the internet like How To Cope With Winter During A Pandemic and Wintertime Mood Lifters While Traversing A Worldwide Plague and Happy Activities When Pretty Much Everything Sucks.  Not surprisingly, I have not found anything very helpful in reading such things as it does nothing for my mood to consider following their suggestions such as getting up off the couch to go alphabetize my spices or starting a new home-based fitness routine via free YouTube videos. The only real exercise I'm getting lately and seem capable of is lifting my hand to my mouth to shove food into it.

note:  the above meme is meant to be lighthearted  

Monday, February 1, 2021

HandyCam Fun



So I bought a video camera.

A few reasons why...

1. I love filming stuff. I love making goofy little movies, proof of which is on my new YouTube channel. Creating movies using various software is crazy fun for me. I love messing around with different kinds of technologies and so using software to make short films - getting the sequence right, adding music, special effects - is such great brain food for me.
2. I hate cell phones. Oh sure, they're useful and despite my aversion to them I can't deny even my own reliance on them...but I hate them for doing creative things, especially movies. For such purposes, they're terribly awkward and cumbersome. Also, I don't like walking around with a phone in my face and I am most definitely not a selfie stick kind of person. 
3. My new little camera fits nicely in the palm of my hand using the side strap that's part of its design and it weighs just a few ounces so the cumbersome factor is non-existent.
4. It's an excuse to get out of the house and go on more adventures and document things and places.
5. I like the old school factor. Everyone is using their iphones and apps for iphones and I'm over here with my $200 video camera. This gives me lots of satisfaction.
6. Capturing scenes like this one that just happened outside my front door:




Tuesday, January 19, 2021

That Time Of The Year + Random Stuff

January 18th is the anniversary of my lungs collapsing.
In 2009, I suffered a spontaneous pneumothorax (lung collapse) in both lungs. I had walking pneumonia, didn't know it, which had a lot to do with my lungs collapsing.
Left lung, 100% collapsed. Right lung, 70-75% collapsed. 
By the time I got to the hospital the doctor told JP if I'd waited two more hours I would have been a goner. Terrifying stuff.

12 years ago on this day, at around 4-5am while in ICU, a doctor came in and inserted a chest tube through my ribs and into my left lung - with no general anesthesia. If you're thinking that having a 1" tube inserted into your body is excruciatingly painful, you would be correct. I remember the pain - which was about a 47 on a scale of 1-10 - and wondering why a doctor was kind of straddling me.
I was in ICU for 3 days and then regular room for 7 days; my memory of most of it is absent and I recall only bits and pieces from the entire 10 days. 

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Insert Really Long Dramatic Sigh

So yesterday was pretty interesting.

Wednesday is JP's day off so we get to spend the day doing things that ensure we are together doing them.
His job/commute mean that his work/life balance winds up favoring the work part and so it's important to prioritize quality time over pretty much everything else during his limited free time.

Quality time for us has always meant hopping in the car and driving around aimlessly which works especially well during a pandemic when there is not a lot of other things to do.  Lucky for us we live at the shore again so meandering the coastline is just minutes away and is perfect for meandering. 

Our first stop was the charming town of Spring Lake (NJ - also known as the Irish Riviera) because they have a fantastic boardwalk alongside the beach and ocean and, even more importantly, an authentic coffee shop that has the best cappuccino I've had in a very long time, consistently. If you love coffee like I do, you know how important the 'consistently' thing is. If you're nearby, be sure to stop in at Driftwood because I need them to have a lot of business so they stick around forever because of my developing addiction to their cappuccino.

We took our perfect cappuccinos and drove over to the beach and sat in the car for a long time watching the walkers, the joggers, the seagulls, and the ocean waves rolling and breaking. You don't get more quality than that. We didn't walk because it's pretty cold alongside the ocean and we hadn't dressed properly. Next time, though.



From there we drove up through Belmar, Avon-By-The-Sea, Bradley Beach, Ocean Grove and, finally, Asbury Park. Our coastal foray took up the entire afternoon and we didn't get home until after sunset.

Little did we know that our lovely afternoon out together had the added benefit of rendering us blissfully ignorant of what was happening in Washington, DC.  I was alerted to the melee by my daughter during her dinnertime check-in call to me. With dread, I tuned in to the news and was rendered speechless by what I was seeing and reading - and, trust me, speechless is not a character trait anyone would ascribe to me.

I am not political. That used to not be the case until I realized that being politically tuned-in did not enhance my life in any way and, in fact, detracted from it significantly. Which begged the question why would I intentionally focus on something that only brought strife into my consciousness? That's basically a masochistic activity, no? Whatever it is, it's an activity that doesn't make sense to me. Focus on things that make me stressed, angry, frustrated? Yeah, no. I'm too aware of how short life is and how important it is to fill my limited time here paying attention to things that actually matter. Some would argue that politics does matter and I would ask them to please point out how politics has fixed anything in recent memory.  Seems the opposite is true to me nowadays which might actually be the problem. 

Alas, being non-political is not popular right now and someone somewhere might read this and send me hate mail which is fine



but I'll stick with what works for me which, by the way, has always been and always will be that which resonates and doesn't cause turmoil. Popular and its counterpart popularity, in any form, is not and has never been something I'm interested in or care about.

As for what is happening in my country right now (politically and otherwise) ...well, as far as I can tell, things are pretty upside down in a whole lot of ways at this time and there isn't a whole lot I can personally do about that except stay the right-side-up course and do my best to remain remain hopeful and faithful.

If you are at all in agreement with that but are maybe in need of a little help in the faith and hope departments at this weird time, I'll remind you of the final paragraph in Max Ehrmann's Desiderata:

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the Universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.


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