Wednesday, January 29, 2014

January doldrums.

Atlanta, as most have heard by now, is at a standstill due to poor planning and resources and weather events that we are simply not used to.

Fortunately we are home, safe and comfortable. None of the animals quite know what to make of this cold, white stuff on the ground. The wild birds have even had quite a rough time trying to figure out where they can safely land and you can almost see the surprise on their little faces when they hit the snow. The doves are the most comical of all, coming in to land then thinking twice, then three times, then veering off to the one bare edge of the garage roof.

Today's been a mash up of activity now that I am finally recovering from a cold that has been hanging on for over a week. It is incredible how far behind you can get in daily chores when ill. I can't imagine how hard it would be if we had children instead of (or in addition to) animals.

So, the chickens have had fresh water brought out to them, the birdfeeders have been refilled, almond meal has been made from the remains of my almond milk-making, and homework is getting trudged through. Counters are getting wiped down and laundry is getting done.

Now lets go eat some lunch.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Sweet potatoes and who is this?

Who is this?

Crap. Its me.

The point of the photo was to show the size of my surprise sweet potato harvest (love front yard gardening!), but it also shows, explicitly, my relationship with myself.

Our bodies betray us. How we value ourselves is plain to see, right obvious to the world around us. We think we are hiding our illnesses, covering up our depression, but it comes out. It makes itself known.

I've had a tremendous amount of emotional/psychological trauma over the last several months and though it has been rough, it has shoved me face-first into reality.

At first I was angry. I felt helpless. I wanted to give up, run away.

I'm done with that.

This life is MINE. This body is MINE. It is MY gift from fate/god/nature. It is the only thing I truly own.

Its going to take time, training, and mistakes, but I'm going to fix this.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Summer is coming to an end.

Ah, DragonCon is over for this year, and with the help of two of my dearest friends, we had a great time.

And now, I'm afraid, it is back to reality. Fortunately, my reality is pretty darn good.

I think today we'll go with a garden update as of today:

You can see the cucumbers off to the left are completely gone, but they sure gave it their all this year. We were absolutely swimming in cukes, and though I wish we were still getting some, I certainly couldn't complain when they ran out of steam. The eggplant in front of the bean teepee are still going strong, though a little wilted from the sudden heat. The speckled butter beans will hopefully start flowering soon, since there's nowhere else for them to go!

What is interesting here, though, is the teepee to the front right. That's my Mexican Sour Gherkins, and they are my new trap crop for Mexican Bean Beetles. I had no idea this would happen, and at first I was pretty bummed. But then I realized what was happening, and that the death of those gherkins was the saving grace of my other plants.

I still have the damn beetles and their larvae on some other plants, but it isn't nearly the infestation it would otherwise be.

I thought I was too late when I planted these sunflowers, but they are happy and beautiful as can be. I need to plant many, many more next year. They make me incredibly happy. The one in back is probably ten feet tall!

Four seeds = lots of birdhouse gourds, even given less than ideal conditions. I can't get over how many gourds are on my arbor! Hopefully I can stave the mildew and bean beetles off long enough for them to ripen!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Salon music.

The latest project I have been seriously working on is learning to play some early 20th century salon music.

See, I have this crazy idea of starting up a neighborhood Salon Society, where folks would come together over tea and crumpets, dressed in their Sunday best, to discuss art and music and to demonstrate and/or discuss whatever interests them.

For example, maybe someone wants to recite some poetry, even if they didn't write it. Maybe someone wants to bring a painting they are working on to display and talk about. Maybe someone wants to do a five minute lecture on the history of the safety pin. Maybe someone wants to play some music. Maybe folks will even sing to it. 

So with that in mind, I've started working on a piano piece called Rippling Waves from 1905 which is a very sweet little salon piece, as well as a sing-along piece called There's Someone More Lonesome than You (1916) which I find to be a kick in the pants. Both pieces are so...period. It is so easy to imagine the people who wrote and enjoyed this music at the time. Eventually, I'd love to have an entire repertoire of this type of music! Now, keep in mind that I am no pianist. I have a degree in music, yes, but I stopped playing piano when I was something like nine years old. And now, at the ripe age of 40, I've started taking lessons again.

Anyway, what do you think? Would you join me for a Sunday Afternoon Salon Society (SASS) meeting?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Forced change and heartbreak.

I just received news that has shattered me.

The details are not important, and it is not a life or death situation. I don't think anyone else would understand why it has affected me the way it has, and that's okay.

What is important, however, is where to go from here.

As I sit here, weeping, I am feeling my strength rise up from deep inside. A determination is growing. What a perfect opportunity this is for a fresh start, a reinvention. I've often complained that I'd lost myself many years ago, that I'd forgotten who I am, that I'd stopped having fun and taking risks. I'd buried myself in food and self-pity which of course creates a vicious cycle of depression and anxiety.

On some level, I must have seen this coming and started getting ready for it. Last week I started a little health kick and have already seen results. Amazing what losing five pounds does in the mirror. I can look at myself and not feel like a monster; I can actually start to see myself there and not a stranger. It is inspiring.

Anyway, I'm going to start making use of this blog again to document this journey. I'm going from drab to fab. I'm going to get things done. This will not defeat me; it will strengthen me.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Fundraiser in memory of Cpl. Parker, East Point Police Department

One of the things I love about living here is the incredible sense of community. I've lived all over this country, from coast to coast, and have never experienced anything like this before. If you get sick, there will be ten people on your doorstep with lasagnas (or whatever). If you need a ride to the airport, or if you need to borrow a tool, a saw, or just an extra pair of hands all you've got to do is jump on Facebook and ask.

We also have an incredible police department. These men and women are some of the most professional, kind, and hard working people I've ever met, and considering that I work in public safety myself I feel well qualified to say that.

A couple days ago, one of our best officers was found dead in her home, the victim of a crime. The department is suffering greatly for this loss, and we are grieving with them.

I've created a fundraiser in memory of Cpl. Parker, and am working to raise money to accomplish three things: a floral wreath at her funeral from the citizens of East Point, a donation to a charity of the family's choice in her name, and a catered meal for the men and women on duty on the day of her funeral. They are going to have a long, difficult day and I think that will be a way to show our support that will touch them individually.

The fundraiser is through, a website I've used before for successful fundraising, and I trust them. Their interface is VERY basic, but they also don't charge any fees. If you have any desire to donate, I would appreciate it. I must make the disclaimer that I am not a non-profit or any type of business, and I will do my best to allocate the donated funds in a fair and appropriate manner. All funds raised will go toward this effort, minus the fee that Paypal charges me to use them. None of this money will be for my personal use.

Here is the widget. It will take you to a gateway page which will then take you to Paypal. Remember, although the gateway page appears extremely basic, it *IS* trustworthy. 

Additional note: you will get a notification that the payment went to Chelsea Smith. This is not an error. That is the name the account is under.

If you cannot see the widget, go to 

August 13, 2013: FOLLOW UP

I apologize for not updating the blog with how the fundraiser worked out, but it has been a very busy month with another tragedy that has taken my time and energy.

The result of our fundraising effort was a mindblowing $2655 which allowed us to meet all three of our goals far beyond the basics I was anticipating. Here's a breakdown of how the money has been allocated:

A gorgeous funeral wreath from Peachtree Petals which they gave to us at cost.

A fully catered funeral repast for the East Point Police Department officers and Cpl. Parker's family. If it hadn't been for this fundraiser, there would have been no reception of any kind. I can tell you that the officers and family were incredibly touched, and several were crying. I got more hugs and thanks than I can count, and I would like to pass that love on to everyone who donated.

A donation to a charity of the family's choosing. Note that the family has not yet decided on a charity, and I am holding the money until they inform me of their choice. Hopefully it will not be much longer.

Incidental expenses including reimbursement for fuel to pick up donated drinks from Pepsi/Gatorade, plates and serving utensils, tablecloths, etc.

A recalled donation from someone who says the donation was not authorized.

None of this accounts for all of the hard work from others involved, including several folks from the EPPD, the Blue Knights, the East Point First Mallaliu United Methodist Church who hosted an absolutely beautiful and touching funeral, Pepsi and Gatorade for their donations, several neighbors and Council member Sharonda Hubbard who helped set up and serve at the repast, and I'm sure others who I am neglecting to mention. And I most certainly want to thank everyone for your support during this difficult time. You all helped turn a tragedy into something beautiful, a true celebration of Cpl. Crystal Parker's life. You have renewed my faith in humanity and community.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I always swore this wouldn't be my life.

A full pill box.

Granted, it is mostly multivitamins and supplements, but there are real prescriptions in there, too. One, to treat an unexplained inflammation, and another to treat the possible destruction of my stomach as a result of the first. It is the start of a downward spiral that I don't want to get sucked into.

I've made excuses for years. I've continued to promise myself with each life event that "this is the perfect opportunity" to start again. Well, I keep failing, and I am SO. TIRED. OF. FAILING.

I was watching various women who appear to be my age and older today as I was shopping. I was taking note of their body shapes, their posture, their skin, hairstyle, clothing. I noted what I want to be and what I am becoming. They are *very* different people. But what is the difference?

Fitness. Confidence. One obviously cared about herself and was not ashamed of that fact, and the other obviously did not.

Rather, it isn't that the second type didn't care about herself. She did. But she *felt* old. She *felt* unattractive. She obviously put others before herself to the detriment of herself. She was dressed decently though certainly not stylishly. Her hair was done and makeup on, but very "age appropriate" and grandmotherly.

The first type, however, was sporty, outgoing, with excellent posture and bright clear skin.

It really was one type or the other.

Guess which type I am becoming?

Oh lordy, no. SCREEEECH! We're bringing that train to a HALT and reversing course!