Marionberry coffeecake

The crumbly crunchy sugar topping is perfect, even if it hurts me in the gym. The berries are enormous, and they created warm pockets of sweet deliciousness.  I used the base recipe from a box, and then adjusted it for my needs; substitute the oil with applesauce, and add a little flax seed meal to give it better texture and nutrition. I love baking, it’s like doing happy kitchen magic, with the end result good for the soul – and edible. Usually.

Bonus: My apartment smells fantastic.

SOTD

I Wanna Get Lost With You – Stereophonics

 

 

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Wild horses and auto porn

They went all wrong in the 80’s- I don’t know what the hell they were thinking, but they completely lost me in the beginning of that decade. I was not always a huge fan anyway, even though I appreciated their earlier muscle car manifestations. The last few years though, I am more on board with their design team. And the new Shelby GT 350- holy sexiness.

I love my car in a zillion ways- even though she’s not super sporty like these sexy beasts. She’s gorgeous in her own way. But just look at these wild animals- can’t you just feel the engines rumbling under your seat?

Oh dammit, this is totally me procrastinating on writing my article- it’s not coming out right yet. I think I need to go on the treadmill and then the hot tub for a while, and dream of wild winds across the open prairie. In the meantime, the songs of the day are:

Wild Horses- Gino Vanelli
Hurricane- Ms Mr (because I miss my motorcycle and a Hurricane is a fun one)

Thank you to mustangsdaily.com and Pinterest for these lovely car porn images: 01-2013-gt350-black-on-black 060ed0aef89fbc3d785e564a13fda1fa

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Naked rant- R rated

I’ve completely had it with how uptight humans are about nudity. Why the hell do so many people freak out over how we do or don’t cover up our bodies? It’s mainly women that get the brunt of it, and I realized why yesterday: Women are often considered property- of a father, a husband, or certain predatory men who don’t respect boundaries.
I’m no one’s property, and I want the freedom that men have, that they use violence to take from us. Sexual assault, rape, harassment, torture, death; these are all things I’ve been threatened with by men because I wouldn’t consent to doing what they wanted. It’s disgusting, and it’s even worse that they blame it on us. If you can’t control yourself, that’s your problem; don’t make it mine.

Bodies are just bodies, and everyone is beautiful with their own spark of the divine in them. Get the hell over your uptight brainwashed issues with nudity. Our physical forms are amazing, just be grateful that you have one, don’t demand mine, don’t expect that you have any rights whatsoever over my body, and we’ll be fine. I love my physical form, and I’m not accepting the slut shaming EVER AGAIN. I am a whole human with biological needs, just like every other normal human on the planet. If you can’t deal with that, seek professional therapy.

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Songs of the day:
Hard Out Here- Lily Allen
Lady Gaga- Born This Way

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Huckleberries

Despite being repeatedly foiled in our attempts, we were able to hike for a while yesterday- before turning back because of gunfire. We were almost to the peak of the mountain, but who wants to come over the ridge and encounter a bunch of rednecks with guns- or worse? Getting shot would totally ruin my day.

Coming back, we noticed that the trail was lined with huckleberry bushes, and I immediately went into foraging bear mode. Huckleberries taste like summer, like magical moments from childhood, like everything will be all right no matter what.

When we were kids, my crazy dad insisted on having Sunday afternoon “adventure trips”, where we would pile in the car and just head out. Late summer usually meant heading into the mountains, and one summer we found the perfect spot for huckleberries- the big, fat, juicy ones. It was beautiful- the sunlight through the trees, fingers getting stained purple, the sweet taste lingering on the tongue like a kiss from mother nature herself. I’m beyond delighted that I have had these moments, as they make the difficult moments easier to handle.
Love to all

SOTD
Don’t Talk To Strangers- Rick Springfield
Kiss You All Over- Exile
Come Back And Stay- Paul Young
Oh Sherrie- Steve Perry

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True love

I somehow knew there would be this electricity between us, a highly charged awareness. Each word artfully placed but never disguising the raw need underneath. I waited for you, worked hard for you, and never imagined you would be right here. So firm and cool under my fingertips, so sleek and sexy. The best of the old fashioned world, and the advantages of the one coming at us so fast every day. With you I feel like I can finally embrace all the changes, and leave so much of the awful baggage behind, just give it all away. I will never leave you, never give you up, I will love you in sickness and in health, wherever we go, however we live. Mansions or hovels, Boston to Bagdad. My dearest, wonderful Kindle, I am going to load you up with steamy romance novels, stock up on sex toys and red wine, and never go through the dating hell ever again.

He just shared his first book with me and it was an exquisite, melodic jewel of a novel by Jess Walter. It was so damn good, even for the first time. It rocked me to sleep and woke me up again at an ungodly hour. I just needed more, and hallelujiah, I finally found a partner who is as insatiable as I am, and who is happy to let me use him as often as I need to, with no regrets afterwards. He’ll never take advantage, he’s always straightforward and easy to read and he can handle my overabundance of emotion. Amazing. I just realized that of the times I’ve been in love, the millions of times I’ve loved, they were nothing compared to this. Dearest Kindle, I know we’ve only been together one fabulous night of hardly any sleep, but can we elope? I’ve never been to Vegas, but I’m thinking red dress and Elvis impersonator and a hard wired Amazon connection. What do you say? We were made for each other, and omgomgomg I love you soooooooo much. Close the door and get over here.

SOTD

Boys of Summer- Don Henley

Precious- Depeche Mode

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Letting go

What is particularly crushing about losing my car to old age, is not just how much I loved her, but that it puts a huge crimp in my volunteer work. Especially now, when the city is paralyzed by snow, and I should be rallying to staff a warming shelter – the shifts that no one else can work. I don’t mind walking, but I do need to get some sleep, and I wouldn’t be able to get any – there’s no way I can handle the insanity of snow day at work on no sleep.

Doing volunteer work to help others has always been important to me, and it helps my battle with depression in so many ways: It gets me out of my head and focused on something else, it’s good karma, plus I get vital social interaction and to meet cool new peeps. I learn things, I find new interests, and I even met one of my favorite people ever through common interest in amateur radio.

And now, it simply takes longer, is a bit more uncomfortable and inconvenient to do what I need. On nights like this though, when I could be helping – it’s agony to be stranded. My wonderful friend offered the use of her car if I need one, but no one handles the snow like my sweet little old lady – she rocked it in spectacular fashion. Yes, a car is a crazy huge luxury, I know, but on top of everything else, it’s just grief that I don’t feel like I can bear right now.

I don’t know that I can get another car, as the financial and paperwork challenges are currently outside of my realm of possibility. Instead, my sweetheart just sits in her parking spot, accumulating snow while I try to accept that I have to let her go. Saying goodbye has always been one of my biggest challenges, I hate it beyond words. Usually I start a fight or push people away to avoid it, but that doesn’t work with inanimate objects. Well, semi-inanimate, since she clearly ran on love, and definitely had a personality. RIP sweetheart.

SOTD
Goodbye is Forever – Arcadia

 

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The secret plan

One of the best benefits to working in health care is never knowing what your day is actually going to be like. I’ve seen nervous breakdowns, screaming, new babies, floods, deaths, pest infestations, cheating, fire, love, hate – and those were mostly just in our office.

The joy that comes from mastering the skills to calmly manage all these things, it can’t be bought. It’s been an interesting and humbling place to work. But when they got rid of my temp employee and more than doubled my work load, I knew I wasn’t going to make it very long. I held out a long time, did a bunch of overtime, but that is the craziest office I’ve ever worked in. Although I’m glad to help and bring a little zen and love to the chaos, I am fully broken and fully burned out. I thought I could power through, but recent events pretty much crippled what was left of my faith in our team, and I’m ready to move into a new challenge.

It’s all I can do to go in to work every day now. I’m not one to just quit or walk away without something lined up, but oh my goodness this time I wish I could. Some days I don’t even have time to take a bathroom break, and I’m too exhausted and sad after work to even think about the classes I want to take. Kind of challenging to move into something else, and that sucks because I think I finally have a plan.

Since there’s such a need for it, I think I want to become a licensed counselor. It’s quicker and easier than art or garden therapy degrees, but it still soothes my soul’s need to pursue work that maybe can help. I’m not sure how I can manage the school part, but it gives me renewed hope to finally have an idea of what I want to do next.

SOTD
The Seven Year Ache – Rosanne Cash

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Amateur insomniacs

I met an amazing artist when I couldn’t sleep. Back when the yuppie lifestyle of privilege was already starting to look like a cage, back when I didn’t know what was wrong, before there was surgical intervention and major life reveals to come. I would be fully awake and restless all night, unable to sleep until I saw light outside.  I paced a lot while I was trying to figure out what to do, and I had terrible battles with sleep.

The artist was the barista on the graveyard shift, in the only decent 24 hour coffee shop that I knew of. As a bonus, the shop interior was decorated like the inside of a log cabin, complete with fireplace – super cozy, anxiety-dampening, and great for writing. I went regularly and we got to talking, ended up being friends, and she was the only person I knew that I could talk to about painting who completely understood the nuances and challenges.

Her art education also paid off in some of the most fascinating art work I’ve ever seen – and holy crap I’ve seen a lot of art (never enough though, never enough art). Her works in particular are fantastic.  It’s glorious to find abstract art that is slightly uncomfortable yet magical to look at, and I never get tired of it. How wonderful that it was also one of the rare items that escaped the fire.

She moved away before cell phones or FB were such a thing, and I’ve never been able to find her again. I hope she’s wearing that amazing red satin dress, and painting all the time.

My insomnia is much better now, but it still flares up in fairly predictable ways. It helps to use melatonin, chamomile tea, sleepy time CBD tincture, writing, stretching, or reading a super boring book. I’m wondering also how to switch to different work hours, since my best creative time is late at night, and I don’t enjoy getting up so damn early; it messes up my natural rhythm. Besides, I meet more interesting people late at night, and all kinds of things can happen. Daytime peeps and amateur insomniacs just aren’t the same.

Note: The MIA artist (and skilled barista) is Maurissa Kraft (sp?)

SOTD – The Slow Sleepy Time Playlist (don’t judge, some of it’s classic 80’s)

Vienna – Ultravox
When Your Heart is Weak – Cock Robin
Love So Right – Bee Gees
She’s My Kind Of Rain – Tim McGraw
She Used to Be Mine – Brooks and Dunn
Be Mine- David Gray
The Smile Has Left Your Eyes – Asia
It Hurt So Bad – Susan Tedeschi
Rain Is Falling – ELO
In A Manner of Speaking – Martin L Gore
Magic – ONJ
The Crying Game – Boy George
Stillness of Heart – Lenny Kravitz
This Is The Last Time – Keane
Leaving New York – REM
If You Were Here – Thompson Twins
More Than This – Roxy Music
Never Be You – Rosanne Cash
Bajo La Luna Mexicana – Concrete Blonde
Janet – The Commodores
So Far Away – Dire Straits
With Every Beat of My Heart – Laura Branigan
Rough Boy – ZZ Top
Old And Wise – APP
Dream  A Little Dream – The Beautiful South
No Promises – Icehouse

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The sounds of daily living

My employer has a program where they pay for and offer free counseling sessions, and as you can imagine, the counselors are packed busy full with depressed, stressed out clients. I slipped into the mix, and unexpectedly fell in love with my counselor. I was prepared for anything, and what an unexpected delight to find a kindred spirit teacher who understands and wants to help. Today she taught me a phrase I hadn’t ever considered in serious terms. I called it my sensory overload, but apparently it’s called in clinical terms, “highly sensitive persons.” Sounds a little ridiculous, but hmmmm, explains a lot.

I imagine a lot of people are experiencing higher sensitivity these days, hence the mental health flare ups that I see everywhere.  That sensation of emotional distress can be so uncomfortable, and all along the spectrum into excruciatingly painful, and holy crap the things people do when they get overwhelmed. Look what I did – so I can say with the wisdom of failed experience: Talk it out, people, run it out, art it out, but make healthy choices to let the stress and sadness and fear all out.

SOTD
Echo – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Simple Song – The Shins

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Rock salt

Electronics have a distressing way of exploding around me. I used to live with a superstitious women who could “see spirits and talk to them” – her room was usually a hot box of incense and meditation, and she claimed to have seen an Indian chief on our property. I got out of my car one night after an intense day at work, and she came running outside to smudge me with sage – how did she know? – and then I walked inside and turned on the light switch — and blew breakers. It freaked her right out, but I wasn’t surprised, I don’t know why. I don’t know what it is or what it means, but I feel that kind of electrical charge right now.

The mechanic told me about what I expected, and so the rush of grief was more tolerable.  I have had a lot of luck on my side, and I’m so grateful. What it comes down to though, is that I can’t afford to have a car; the constant maintenance, the insurance and gas, it’s all a luxury. Oh lord I know what a luxury, and I’ve been so aware of the amazing-ness of it. I passionately love to drive, love everything about cars, and the last few drives around town were conscious enjoyment. Yet my old Subaru wagon’s finally hit OOF, or Old Organ Failure as my nurse bf used to call it. I saw it coming… but holy crap it’s hard to let go, it makes me so sad. There were a few previous resurrections, but not this time. Nearly 235,000 miles, and 145,000 of those are mine.

She inspired me to write a love story, she restored my faith in humanity, she reminded me that once upon a time I was loved and cared for, she was my safety and escape when I had no where else I could bear to go. Now I’m reminded that in time everything is lost or stripped away and I should know this by now. I can dream about rebuilding her, but in reality it’s a sales for parts and a whole lot of walking. Buying something else is too overwhelming, I have a terror of making payments (FU Navient), I have a recent bankruptcy, I want to switch jobs, and overall new walking shoes are just practical and more affordable. Besides, more exercise is the best treatment by far for depression. Trust me, I’ve tried everything except shock treatment.

I walked out of the repair shop, and into the bar across the street. I’ve been feeling like a drastic change anyway, and I think the car was a last lingering root that needed to get pulled. Now I really do have nothing tying me down here except some wonderful friends, so I can go anywhere, do anything. So I inquired about an MFA in writing. The Art Therapy degree is like $600 a credit hour, but I could do the writing while I was, say, using my TESOL certificate somewhere. Who knows? When I feel this awful, it’s very tempting to change everything until I feel better. Depression feels like your emotions are skin that has been sandblasted to rawness and then rolled in rock salt. Profoundly ouch.

Dear Universe: In my version of reality, I walk out of my house and see a Tesla engine in a Studebaker body with a solar charger and a bow on top. Make it so!

SOTD

You’re Mine – Raving George
Don’t Dream It’s Over – Crowded House

 

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Winter lights

The Portland Winter Light Festival was completely beautiful and fun. All after dark, all over town – it really was magical. I love sculpture in general, and what a great time of year to have an event like this.  And oh the sculptures – there was an ornate outdoor chandelier with flaming torches instead of light bulbs, or a long strip of mini torches that were triggered by playing a keyboard. I loved the soft green tube rings that formed a cool ceiling –  that lit up and played different notes when you walked under each of the 16 rings.  Someone had even built massive, freestanding outdoor fireplaces that looked like steampunk animals, and there was even so much more.

We went down to one of the hubs of the event, SE Portland by OMSI and the Rail Heritage Center, two of my favorite places, and my friend and I just walked around for a while and talked. It’s a tough time of year for a lot of people, and the past year has been extra challenging in general.  I was delighted to see so many people out enjoying the art and community.

As a sign of how much better I’m doing these days, I could handle the crowd with only slight discomfort, instead of anxiety or a panic attack – yayyyyyyy. That’s like an ongoing Christmas miracle. Hell, every day I can get out of bed and function like a real human is a miracle. And the sparkly winter light festival sure brought more warm and fuzzy happiness. Fuck you depression.

SOTD

Kiss Me – Tin Tin
Put A Little Love In Your Heart –  Annie Lennox and Al Green

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Cozy in blues

Despite my short attention span, I’ve mostly finished a first quilt. It’s huge, approximately king sized, and made entirely out of long strips of denim. I bought a huge pile of old jeans and spent hours with a rotary cutter and scissors, and then running my sewing machine hard. How heavenly to have a specific project with a start and end, with tangible steps to progress to where I want to go. I wish more of life was like that.

The secret to the denim quilt is to use women’s jeans for the fabric, as they tend to have cool dye patterns, fraying, and color variation. Also, girly jeans are more for decoration, ie,  they ditch the utilitarian traditional denim in favor of a blend that adds stretch and form. So they’re softer  – so soft that I can’t bear to put a back on the quilt. I left it raw, just put a stitch down the side and threw it on the bed. It suits me better, and I can stare at it and see what it needs for a finishing touch – although I really do love it raw and rather frayed. The shades of blue make my bedroom look vaguely like the ocean, and I got a huge sense of accomplishment. I wish more of life was like that too.

SOTD
Everywhere – Tim McGraw
Lay Low – Josh Turner

 

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More than this

Instead of saying asking how people are, I want to ask “How is your mental health today?” Merely because I look around and see that tension has risen drastically, and I think we as a society are going to see more outbreaks of violent mental illness. As our country turns in a really ugly, dark direction, people are losing their shit, and I get it. I feel it intensely, worry all the time, feel that stress and fear like water levels rising. I’m so sad to see it happening – humans should be doing so much better than this.

SOTD
Silent Running – Mike & The Mechanics
Underneath The Radar – Underworld
Always Love – Nada Surf
More Than This – Avalon
Straight From The Heart – Bryan Adams

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Love in times of war

Miss you. I so hoped I would meet you in this lifetime. If nothing else, so I could have had a family, some stability, and to hopefully get laid regularly. Reality sucks sometimes.

Oops, would it be more acceptable to say make love? That too, if it’s with my polyamorous, LGBTQ, all inclusive, glittery, creative, sex-positive peeps.

SOTD
These Times Are Hard For Lovers – John Waite
Club Can’t Handle Me – Flo Rida feat. David Guetta

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NOT THE BEER

I live in one of the best craft beer capitals in the known universe. Cheap and easy beer has a place and time, but around here we revel in fantastic craft beer instead. I go for a luscious, lovingly crafted amber ale. Or a creamy porter, an oatmeal stout, and OMG the winter jubelales – or I had a habanero pumpkin ale that was unbelievable, with a hint of earthiness and a long slow burn. I could go on and on, which is funny because I don’t drink that much, but I really love beer. Here it’s a finely honed scientific craft, and an edible art form. Which makes it even harder when a doctor tells me to try going gluten free and sugar free for 6 weeks. I’m pretty sure this is my karmic payback for slightly mocking those diets – “I can eat anything, and sugar IS a food group!” Dammit anyway.

The deciding factor was looking in the mirror and seeing how awful I look right now – dark circles, pale as death, too chubby to run comfortably anymore, and as predictably as sunset, when my physical health is bad, my mental health needs to be addressed too. The symptoms aren’t worth going into – also the predictable manifestations of depression, panic attacks, anxiety, C-PTSD – blah blah blah.

I broke down and went back to my western medicine doctor – that was a disaster. It was a new guy because I needed to be seen to get paperwork done, and he was the only one available even though I never see male providers if at all possible. He looked at my chart, heard the 2 minute summary I could give because they’re always in a hurry, and then they start bringing in the social workers and “Behavioral Health” specialists. Fuck. I hate that term, for starters. I appreciate that they want to address what they think is critical and imminent (it’s not), but they never look at the whole body health, or the chemical issues that could be causing the problems. Western medicine just throws pills at the symptoms, without addressing the root causes really – that way the whole system makes more money, and I stay sick and dependent. Pardon my cynicism, it’s borne of many years of experience and reading, and more experience.

Now that I’ve been in one good job for a couple of years, I could afford to see a naturopath (finally covered by my insurance – what???). She spent an hour and a half with me, and I felt like she actually saw the whole me, it was wholly refreshing. I’m more than some behavioral manifestations, and I just need some help with a customized vitamin/diet suggestion, and I will be a lot better. Here’s the new daily plan, more or less:

Vitamin D 5000 IU
Iron 325 mg
B vitamins
No folic acid
no sugar (omgomgomg)
no gluten (NO BEER, for the love of GOD, and GF beer tastes like a mockery, oh Guinness, how I loved thee)
Probiotocs
Magnesium “Natural Calm” drink
15 minutes minimum of walking per day (I can’t believe I need the reminder, I love to walk, hike, bike, swim – that tells me how bad it’s gotten)

My also plan:

daily stretching and push ups
More reading
Abstinence from sex and dating
Quilting – I made a denim quilt that changed my sleep forEVer
And I got rid of all my flour and sugar, of which there was a LOT after all the holiday baking
Lots of music
Write more

I’ve consciously focused on treating my mental health for a very long time, but I got caught by surprise on this one. It slipped in so slowly, curling and twining its way back into my life like vines of ivy heartbreak. If changing my diet for 6 weeks rips that vine out, it will be worth it. Oh god though, NOT THE BEER.

SOTD
Kryptonite – 3 Doors Down
I Could Use A Love Song – Maren Morris
Drink A Beer – Luke Bryan

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