Monday, May 30, 2022

May Was Full Of Promises

How is everyone doing out there? There's so much chaotic, awful stuff happening at a sonic-like pace we barely get a chance to catch our breath as we careen from one crisis to the next. I appreciate the mindset that says, "just get on with it", but I also understand how challenging that can be. I hope somewhere between war, white supremacist terrorism, school shootings, and the threat of world wide economic breakdown you're making time to look after yourselves. I don't mean a bubble bath and a pedicure (though those are certainly nice) but doing whatever you need to do to keep your emotional health in check. You don't need me to say it, but I'm going to anyway-insulating yourself from those that would do you harm isn't selfish. It is good, and necessary. You can, for the time being anyway, still (mostly) make decisions about your mind in the US even if your body is increasingly off limits.

One of the best (Unattributed) quotes I've heard recently was "The only people that'll be upset with you for setting boundaries are the people trying to violate them," That's a good thing to keep in mind as people will at best, disrespect the boundaries you've set, and at worst, attempt to make you question your sanity in setting them. I get told I'm "too sensitive" or, "crazy" neither of which I am, thanks very much. What I am, is someone that avoids conflicts and confrontations as much as possible. It isn't always possible. 
Content Warning: Bad pandemic behaviour, violence

So it was that I stopped at Walgreen's (a drugstore chain in the US  that also sells cosmetics, convenience items, etc.) because I was feeling a little shaky and their parking lot was as good a place as any to check my blood glucose reading. As expected, it was low, so I took myself inside to buy a bottle of juice and some candy to wash it down with. Typical day in the life with hypoglycemia. There were a couple people ahead of me, and behind. It was a beautiful, sunny day and I'd worn a sundress with bare shoulders. I was also wearing a mask (two actually as I wear a disposable surgical mask over my N95), as I have from the start of the pandemic. My immune system is in bad shape, so in addition to the four vaccines, I wear a mask when I'm out and avoid places like restaurants. Hardly anyone is still wearing a mask in Omaha, but that's their decision and I feel protected with my mask(s) and all the jabs(I've had a second booster). 

An old (and I mean, well over 80) man behind me kept inching closer as we waited. I kept moving away from him as much as I could. I had my back to him when I felt the wet cough hit my back. I turned around, expecting a mumbled apology (it is allergy season and everyone is coughing and sneezing) but was instead met with a laughing man who let me know that "I Think you're wearing that mask for attention. You're doing it for show." 

Friends, comrades, kindred spirits, remember what I was saying about boundaries? In the few seconds that I put together he'd deliberately coughed on me to get my attention so he could share with me, what he thinks, and mansplain his ideas about epidemiology to me...I did what every woman who's ever been harassed/assaulted by a man does. I assessed my ability to drop-kick the son-of-a-bitch across Walgreen's, determined that it was pretty good, and decided if he laid one goddamned finger on me, granddad was getting an ass kicking.  There were words, mostly mine as I let him know a fucking thing or two. He stood there laughing, clearly pleased with being able to upset me, and then turned to the other people in line (all men) and said loudly, "This one's crazy." At that point I had three volunteer body guards step forward to get between the old guy and me unaware that I was already preparing to flatten him whilst rocking a blood glucose reading of 45 if the need arose. The terrified cashier rang me out quickly and without a cheering audience the old fucker took a hint and shut up, fuming. I did let loose a few expletives on my way out, but I knew I had a store full of people that had my back. That's something that's changed-people have had enough of these loudmouths bullying people minding their own business. Two years into the pandemic, people just want to run into Walgreen's, buy what they need, and leave without being sucked into a Fox network viewer's need for attention. Trump had been in town the day before campaigning for his chosen candidate in our governor's race primary (he lost, thank god) and I wonder if this old creep was still fired-up from the Trump rally the night before. It didn't matter, I wasn't having it, and neither was anyone else. 
I've had aggressive men shouting at me before for denying them attention (though it had been several years because being old does reduce that sort of thing,) but I've never had people come to my aid. I am so, so thankful for that.

What I didn't do was take advantage of the fact he was purchasing incontinence underwear by telling him to go piss himself, or whatever it is he does when he's not at Walgreen's coughing on people. I could have said something utterly humiliating to him, and he was definitely the sort of man that would have been upset by that, but I didn't. There's no shame in incontinence. What would someone hearing it think if they were wearing the waterproof underwear? Just as it always seemed wrong to attack Trump for being fat when there were so many legitimate things you could attack, the diapers felt like an inappropriate response. Mind you, he'd just deliberately coughed on me in a pandemic, which in a decent world would be considered assault by the police, but isn't, so it wasn't like he deserved any sort of kindness from me. I wasn't being kind, to him. I was sticking to my own sense of right and wrong and boundaries about how unfairly I'm willing to fight. Beat the crap out of a pensioner? Sure. Ridicule his diapers, no. Am I a good person? Fuck no. But I do have standards. 

I'm sorry the cashier had to be put through that. She looked scared, and I know she isn't getting paid enough to deal with it. I spent a very tense couple of weeks checking my temperature and looking for symptoms of covid until it was obvious I was clear. I'm angry, but I'd have been angrier if I hadn't given him a good lecture. I know he wasn't expecting a stream of vulgarity coming from a five foot tall woman in a dress and heels. I must have looked like a soft target-perhaps he thought he'd make me cry. As the television drag queen once famously said, "Bitch, I am from CHICAGO."  Don't confuse frailty with fragility. I suspect he'll think twice before trying that stunt again. I guess I should be thankful I didn't get shot. That's how people settle things in America. It did cross my mind that he might be armed and I kept an eye on his hands as I was screaming at him. I mean, fucking hell-I'm angry at the world and as fueled by spite as the next person, but I don't go looking for confrontations. I've never been tempted to shoot someone because I disagree with them. And I've definitely never coughed on someone to get their attention. 

So boundaries. Boundaries are good. When my "relative" keeps trying to contact me screaming down the phone and demanding to know why I'm angry at her, I have ZERO regrets at (again, and again) blocking the number she's calling from, and hanging up on her. I haven't seen her in over twenty years. I'm not changing my mind. I'm done. I can't make someone respect my boundaries, but I can enforce them. When a doctor suggests a sketchy off-label use of a drug I'm uncomfortable taking with very little scientific literature to back it up, I'm comfortable saying, "No thanks." I'm also comfortable finding a new doctor if that isn't respected. Don't wait until you're old to learn how to say, "No." Get good at enforcing your boundaries beforehand and when the time comes you won't spend needless energy wondering if you were being mean, unfair, etc. No. No. No. No. No. 

Content Warning: Medical issues/weight loss

The few pounds I managed to gain last month have all gone away, and I'm under 7st. again. I'm being given supplements that are keeping me from feeling horrible (B12, Vitamin D, Magnesium, etc.) and while it is annoying and frustrating, it isn't too critical. I'm OK, but why my body refuses to absorb calories is still a bit of a mystery. Food needs to be taken in very small amounts to 1) accommodate dysphagia and 2) not cause pain in my lower esophagus 3) make me feel so full once it hits my stomach that I feel like throwing up for the next four hours. Unpleasant, but manageable. We're watching it. I'm getting good medical care. Life goes on. One of the really helpful medications I take for arthritis had to be reduced because of my weight, and I'm feeling the effects of that now, but it is summer and at least I'm not dealing with it in January. I'm able to take some very slow, gentle exercise, so that's good. Our pool is about to open, so that's where you'll find me doing leg lifts and whatever. 

I haven't made a secret of what I'm dealing with because I feel the need to be clear this is a medical issue, not the newest fad diet. I know people with eating disorders, and they're suffering horribly and the absolute last thing I want to do is contribute to their misery. When I was a university student my mother convinced herself I had an eating disorder when I came home from my fieldwork weighing 108 pounds. I didn't have an eating disorder, I had dysentery. After being tricked into an appointment at the hospital with an eating disorders specialist she angrily set my mother straight, and gave us a referral to a gastro guy. My mother continued to tell people (grandmother, sister, etc.) that I had an eating disorder because in her mind it was more fashionable, and she wouldn't be getting anyone's sympathy for having a daughter with an amoeba hanging out in her gut (it never goes away, but it has been dormant for over 30 years and we've already determined it isn't what's causing the current issues). I like food. I enjoy eating. I enjoy cooking. I'm always going to fall on the side of "Riots, Not Diets." I don't care what people do with their own bodies, but I don't want it forced on me. 

Part of the reason I walked away from Instagram is the absolute glorification of disordered eating. If I'm getting repeated compliments on my sick body for looking thin, by people that KNOW what's going on, then it is time to pack up and leave. I occasionally check in there to look at close friend's posts, read messages, and so on, but in reality I spend most of my time blocking spam accounts, scammers, thinspro accounts, and creepy men. I have better uses for my time. 

I've had this blog for over 18 years, and I'll be damned if I'm giving it up too because someone won't respect my boundaries. I don't know how many warnings should be reasonably required after the first, but I'm going to state it again: Diet talk isn't welcome here. Comments on my body aren't welcome here. Don't like an outfit? Have at it! Think a recipe sounds disgusting? Go for it. Feeling the urge to compliment my visible bones? You're going to get blocked. Fair warning. I am sympathetic to people's mental health issues. I'm not a therapist, and giving advice is way above my paygrade. I am not qualified to dispense advice for things I know nothing about. That said, MY well being IS my concern, and I'm going to continue blocking people that don't respect my boundaries. 

Whew, we now return you to your regularly scheduled programme. 

Before I was forced to re-assert my boundaries here on the blog (ahem) I was cooking some interesting things, but I've sort of lost track in the passing time, so forgive me if I present things a bit out of order. 

I had a celebratory cake to bake that was both dairy free for the lactose intolerant, and sugar free for the diabetic. I used almond flour to keep the carbohydrates low for the diabetic. For the frosting I used cocoa powder, powdered peanuts, and Swerve icing sugar replacement. Instead of butter, I used a tofu based sour cream replacement. It worked! The boys loved it, and it kept well for over a week in the fridge. Powdered peanuts are my new favourite ingredient. It mixes well and provides a good dose of protein and is much easier to mix into things than traditional peanut butter. You do miss out on some fats, but stirring it into ice cream takes care of that! 

Humblebrag alert: Dan got a very good score on his college entrance exams. He wants to take it again for another possible point or two despite the fact the schools he's planning to apply to don't require the test at all. I'm going to let him, because they covered the maths skills he was weak on shortly after he took the exams (great timing). He had perfect scores in English, Reading, and Science so this is purely for a couple extra points in maths. I made clear that we don't expect perfection, and he's established that this isn't out of some unhealthy perfectionism but rather, to include what he subsequently learned in the rest of the school year. Having them take the test in the third year does lead to these situations. 

My college entrance exam scores were. "good enough" though if I hadn't gone to a concert the night before, I might have done even better. I did the same thing when it was time to take the graduate entrance exams and I did even better! There must be something about going to clubs with a two-drink minimum to see bands the night before sitting exams that is helpful to me. Dan is not me, as it should be. I'd also never re-take an exam where I scored a 33/36. I'd probably go out to see a band and get drunk to celebrate. I baked Dan a cake instead. It was a very nice cake. He enjoyed it, but he will never be able to say that Paul Kantner got him into graduate school. 

End of mama bragging.

I had an abundance of Bing cherries, so I roasted them with rosemary, thyme, bay laurel, salt, pepper, and olive oil. When they were done, I mixed in the juice of an orange. Half of the batch was further cooked into a steak sauce with red wine. I cooked these at 425 degrees F (218 C) for about 30 minutes. 
After roasting.

I'll serve the rest with a baked squash later in the week. 
I have a gadget to pit cherries/olives that works well. If you're looking to buy one, make sure it comes with a splatter guard. Mine is made by OXO. Even with severe arthritis I'm able to use it easily. 

Cute serving bowls make everything better. These are chickpea flour pasta with a homemade fresh tomato sauce with artichoke hearts and capers. 
Glad I stocked up on tinned artichoke hearts when there was a sale. They're nice to have in a year when 
fresh produce had been expensive and of poor quality. They also come frozen, something I only recently discovered. My only cooking advice for fresh tomato sauce is to take the time to blanch the tomatoes and remove the skins. I also juice them and strain the seeds, adding the juice back into the sauce. Is it a bit of extra work? Sure, but tomato skins and seeds are annoying. Well, I find them annoying. I used onions, garlic, thyme, paprika, olive oil, salt, pepper, a splash of red wine, and veggie stock. If your tomatoes are still a bit flavourless as they can be at this time of year, use some tomato paste to boost it a bit. I finished the dish with parsley because I had it, and it looks pretty. I doubt it added much. 

Now that we're fed, let's see some clothes. 
Vintage 70s Koret of California jacket with a Leslie Fay skirt from the 80s/90s

Vintage belt and handbag too
And a Vera Neuman scarf in my hair. 
I have so many Vera scarves I think a dedicated post is in order. I'll get on that.

Strawberry brooches
Nothing here you haven't seen before, but all pieces I love dearly. Elastic waist skirts are turning out to be quite useful now. 

One of three recently thrifted Boden dresses. Yes, the slip, I know. Wonky spine.
Beautiful new, unused vintage blue leather bag. 80s, I think. I remember having bags like this.
Here's Boden dress number two. 

I love them both so much, even if they're a bit similar. As they were all found in the same shop and are the same size, I suspect they belonged to one person. 
You've seen the Betsey Johnson bag before.

Finally, Boden dress number three. This one's a jersey knit.
Comfortable and pretty. 

I owned this dress years ago, and was only too happy to re-buy it at Thrift World. It was like being reunited with a long-lost love. I always felt fabulous in it and I'm pleased to say, it did not disappoint. 

I added a sheer jacket and a gigantic Coach handbag. 

Some stretch bracelets.

I had the perfect earrings even if the photo itself is quite imperfect. 

Staying with the monochrome for a moment, this outfit features the surprise vintage blouse I didn't know was Alex Colman until I turned it inside out to wash. Colman was best known for graphic prints, so this was indeed a departure from the typical  company style. 

That carved bone necklace is heavy! 

Vintage handbag with original lucite handle. I love this bag so much. It needed to be washed and sewn back together when I bought it, but it was well worth the effort.
The skirt is Ann Taylor via Goodwill. 

From California to Hawaii now. 

This dress never fails to cheer me up. I've always loved it. Made in Hawaii for The Sample Shop it is a heavy barkcloth that still manages to stay cool. Resists wrinkling as well-always nice in warm weather to skip the iron.

This is a rare, non-wool Pendleton skirt made of cotton and rayon. It is from their Country Sophisticates line, which I believe was around in the 80s and 90s. It is a nice skirt, but honestly, I don't want to wear  plaid in summer. For me, Pendleton is winter clothing. What can I say? 

I swiped the belt from Dan. 

Speaking of clothes that look like they're in the incorrect season...
That jacket is Pendleton too. The skirt is vintage JH Collectibles. It is rayon, but the dark colours and paisley print don't really feel correct for May. But it was freezing, so I wore it anyway. 

Long sleeved cotton shirt from J.C. Penny's
Cool vintage jewelry, 
I wasn't kidding when I said it got cold.
The coat is heavy, embroidered cotton made in India for Antropologie (yes, I hate the spelling) and retailed for much more than the few dollars I handed over for it. I didn't think I'd be wearing it with a poloneck and tights at the end of May, but that's midwestern living for you. If I packed away my coats every year I'd have froze to death by now. At least it wasn't snowing. A few days later we had excessive heat warnings. 

Big brass necklace and belt buckle

Back to Hawaii again, by way of Omaha.

Rudofker. LOL. 

You've seen it all before. 

Straw bag and hat are vintage. Dress is Isaac Mizrahi for Target which was almost 20 years ago now. So almost vintage. Jacket is something I bought at Dots in the 90s. 
It got warm!

Meanwhile, I bought another Pterrible Dinosaur item to cheer myself up.

Support your artist friends when you can. You'll get great stuff and give your money to people, not Amazon. 

Mr. ETB bought this at our local Asian market. It is almost too cute to eat. I want the label when he's done. 

Finally, here's an outfit that says we've arrived at summer (fingers crossed).

Everything but the shoes and earrings are thrifted.

The dress didn't look like much on the hanger, but I'm a sucker for a floral print and crochet. I was worried it might be too revealing, but it worked. I'm making an effort to wear my hats especially as my hair is falling out and I will not be wearing a wig in the heat of a Nebraska summer. I have plenty of vintage hats to keep me stylish and shielded from the sun. 

Thanks again for sticking around through these posts I'd rather not be doing. I'm going to return to keeping this blog a happy place save for when life absolutely can't be avoided. 

We're under storm warnings for tonight , and the wind has our lights flickering, so I'm off to boil a few thermos flasks of water because I can live with power outages, but I don't want to live without tea. 

See you when June is Busting Out All Over. Also, FYI-sheep don't mate in the spring, but don't let that ruin a perfectly good musicalšŸ˜€