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Monday, July 29, 2019

**REVIEW** MiraBerry Miracle Berry Tablets

Last week when I reviewed the amazing Miracle Berry in freeze-dried form, I mentioned that I would be getting a chance to try the tablets. These are the MiraBerry tablets I am reviewing:



I was kind of excited. The first time I checked the product page, the MiraBerry tablets were described this way: "each tablet is made with approximately three miracle berries" Uh, no way. The freeze-dried berries I tried were game-changing. While I loved the idea of getting the same taste-switching effect from something in a tablet form, I wasn't sure about the hype. As awesome as they are though, the freeze-dried berries are tricky to carry in your purse if you don't want to crush them.



The tablets, I figured would be easy. Like packing some Midol or Excedrin, right? Absolutely. The tablets certainly are conveniently packaged. Not only are they in a box, but the tabs are individually protected. This is good. And... that's about it for the positives.



Now, I don't want to badmouth all brands of Miracle Berry tablets but I was really disappointed with these. I went over and read a bunch of reviews for various brands of tablets. Looks like, with most tablets, it's a kind of hit or miss deal, regardless of who makes them. People generally seem to either really love the effect or are totally disappointed. I don't know. I might at some point try a different brand of tablets.

The worse thing about these tablets is that they took forever to dissolve - I timed it out at over 5 minutes and there was still icky residue on my tongue. In contrast, the freeze-dried berries just kind of melted with my saliva. Also, they tasted nice. These tablets were seemed to be made of compressed grit and have very little taste. The slight taste they have is nasty.



I had planned to try the tablets with the same items as with the berries: lemon water, straight lemon, apple cider vinegar, and some hot sauce. I never got past the lemon water. From the first sip, I knew that the tablets were nowhere near as effective as the berries. I even added 2 more tablets to see if that would help. They took so long to dissolve that I think the effects of the first tablet had worn off...

Even with the 2 tablets, the lemon water tasted pretty much the same as it does without any enhancer. No way was I going to do straight lemon or any of the other stuff.

So these tablets were a bust.

Now to be fair, I have also read some negative reviews of the freeze-dried berries but the negatives usually are to do with customer service and not the berries. One customer felt their bag had been short a few berries and another was annoyed that their package arrived damaged. Negative reviews about the tablets were similar to mine - all about the effectiveness.

I also have to commend the seller of these tablets. Once I let them know that I was unhappy with the product, they issued a full refund. Good customer service matters. I have to point out that my review was the only one (as of today) for this particular brand. So there's that.

Here's the thing: these berry products are, I believe, really useful in some cases. For myself, I cut so much sugar from my diet on the days I used the berries. I didn't think that I was taking in that much sugar every day because I've been using Monk Fruit sweetener a lot of the time. It's the sugar in all those dessert-like coffee creamers I love that was bad. When using the berries, I was cutting back on my coffee and drinking more lemon-infused water. I find it so much easier to drink the lemon-water than to drink lemonade. When I drink lemonade - you know, sugar-sweetened lemon-water - I add too much sugar. Yeah, I know, I need to be more disciplined.

The main thing I like about using the berries is that it just cuts the sugar totally out of a beverage. No artificial sweeteners or possibly dangerous substitutes but just sugar-free. Sadly, the tablets did not compare with the berries.

If I get a chance to try a different brand of the tablets, I will post a review.

Peace
--Free


P.S.: I have just now noticed that the seller has submitted the following comment to my online review:
Thank you for that review! We are processing your refund - I believe you'll enjoy our powder much more! The pills require a lot more processing and we find it not as effective as the powder or actual berries; however, there has always been a curiosity and demand for the pills, which we felt necessary to provide. Our powder is simply pure berries crushed and mixed with a small amount of organic arrow root to keep from clumping. We did our best to make sure it's as close to the eating the berry as possible. Finally, we removed the language about each pill taking three berries. Even though it's true, it's not a good comparison. AS A NEW SELLER, YOUR REVIEW IS WORTH GOLD TO US. THANK YOU!!!
I thanked them for their honesty and I have to admit that I might even try their powder. Also, the product has been removed from sale.




Not sure where my emotions are lately, but some of these lyrics seem to fit



Thursday, July 25, 2019

**REVIEW** Miracle Berry Anyone?

So I had been hearing so much about the Miracle Berry that I just had to go ahead and try it in some form. Apparently, I came to the party late. Really late. Let's do a little background first.

The Miracle Berry comes from the Synsepalum dulcificum plant. Say that fast just once and I'll dance at your wedding. This is what the plant and berry look like:


from Wikipedia.com

The story goes that West Africans would eat the berry to make certain foods more palatable. And, of course, once an outsider saw this, the found a way to make money from it.

Now that the berry has become trendy, people are using them in freeze-dried or tablet forms to have "flavor-tripping parties". The fresh berry is supposed to give the best effects but has such a poor shelf life that the freeze-dried and tablet format is most popular. Also, you need a really healthy bank account to afford the actual berries. You can buy a plant and wait a couple of years for it to bear the fruit.

The flavor-tripping part comes in because, after eating the berry and coating your tongue with it, sour things become sweet. Lemons and limes taste as if sugar has been added, hot sauces become honey-hot (or so I hear), and naturally sweet fruits become even sweeter. That is for the flavor trippers who will move on to the next trend mentioned on social media. For some people though, the Miracle Berry has a more useful quality.

Some cancer patients and other folks who have a loss of taste (and appetite) may benefit from using the berry. Apparently, it not only tricks the tastebuds but also heightens their ability. I hope I said that correctly. For other people - say, those who need to cut back on sugar intake for weight loss or other more potentially serious reasons - the berry is pretty useful. I fall into this latter category. How many menopausal women in their late 50s don't? Ten women. That's how many. Trust me. There are already cookbooks featuring the berry, like The Miracle Berry Diet Cookbook by Homaro Cantu. People jumped on the trend before it even got a good start. Just like with any other trend that has come around so far, there are no miracle diets no matter what people say. All (non-surgical) weight loss requires some measure of discipline.

Anyway, I have been suffering through a routine of having a glass of lemon water in the morning and before bedtime. For some reason, it helps settle my nervous stomach. And, supposedly, it helps with weight loss. Supposedly...  It's going on 3 weeks and while I think the drink helps me feel better, it's been a struggle. So I got some of these freeze-dried berries to try out.

Only brand I've tried so far, but I like it
I have to say that I am surprised at how pricey the berries (in any form) can be. I chose this particular item mainly because it was a 2-pack for the same price as other 1-pack deals. It seems to be common for the berries to be sold in halves in and quantities of 10 or 20 halves. Tablets seem to cost more but I will be trying some of those also.

It's suggested that the berries work best and have a longer effect if you cleanse your palate beforehand. I went all out and re-brushed my teeth and rinsed with a lot of warm water before taking the first berry. Remember, the berries are halved so I used one half just to see how well it would work

The red outer skin you can spit out. The rest can be swallowed.

First thing I did was set out my tasting cups. I had my mixture of 1 part lemon to 1/2 part water in one cup. In the next cup, I had a capful of straight lemon juice (bottled concentrate). The third cup was a capful of straight apple cider vinegar. The last cup was a capful each of lemon juice, lime juice, ACV, and a teaspoon of raw honey stirred in.

The berry half softens really quickly with saliva and is easy to move around on the tongue. I had planned to swish the pulp for a really long time to increase the effect but... Nah. The berry quickly begins to melt away and is gone in less than 20 or 30 seconds. There is a little bit of residue of the skin or shell but I just swallowed that.

I was surprised that the berry wasn't super sweet itself. Maybe that's because it's freeze-dried and melts away so fast?

First, I tasted the lemon water mix. And... I will be doggone if it wasn't kind of nice. There was a tangy bite to it, but it was just sweet enough that I liked it. Next up, I worked up the nerve to try the straight lemon juice. Guess what? This tasted even better than the lemon water. I think that the tangier or more sour the drink, the better the Miracle Berry works. The cup of the ACV was my warning. Yes, it was sweet and pleasant - on the tongue - but as soon as the fumes hit my throat, my eyes watered. As I mentioned, just because you're tricking your tastebuds, you're still ingesting acidic stuff. I was careful to just sip some of the final mixture. Again, because this was a lot more sour and acidic, the berry seemed to go into overdrive. Still, I had that mild throat burn with the lemon, lime, and vinegar. The honey did not help that at all.

So, yeah, you can have fun with sour stuff, but only until it hits your throat. Apparently, swallowing the berry pulp didn't help coat that area enough.

I am not a lover of very spicy things so the best I could do was to try some Frank's hot sauce. I tapped a little from my finger to the center of my tongue and... Hot damn! It was still too spicy!. However, there was a tinge of weird sweetness. It was sort of what I imagine a really spicy honey sauce to taste like. I'm not a fan. I only eat a mild hot sauce when I have cheese or some other dairy to pair it with.

Of course, one of the things I do wish I could enjoy is black coffee. I do alright with a really good black coffee, but it's rare that I make a cup so well that I can stand it without creamer and sweetener. Sadly, the Miracle Berry does nothing for cutting the bitter taste of black coffee. Nothing at all. Too bad. If I could do black coffee, I could lose weight like nobody's business. I can almost live on nothing but coffee. Unfortunately, my coffee is just one half a calorie away from being a full-on dessert. On the other hand, I did find that the Miracle Berry helped boost the sweetening power of the Monk Fruit I sometimes use in my coffee. I will have to experiment with mixing up my own milk, vanilla extract, and Monk Fruit creamer to use with the Miracle Berry. That could be my way out of always using the calorie-heavy flavored creamers I so love. I'm talking about you, Sweet Italian and Vanilla Caramel coffee creamers!

Now here is where I can tell you that the effects of the berry only lasted just around 15 or 16 minutes that first time. I know because when I took another sip of the lemon juice that had just been so nice, I made a face that I would not want to be photographed. The tart was back.

I took another half berry so that I could taste test a few more things. I tried a sweet pepper and it was SO good. Yum. It wasn't so much sweet as it was highly flavorful. Red grapes and red cherries were so sweet that I almost couldn't stand it. It's as if they hyper-sweet took away from the overall taste of the fruits.

Cranberry juice is another of those things that we women try to drink on a regular basis. Again, I struggle with drinking it. With the berry, the juice was still tangy-on-the-verge-of-sour but so mellowed that it was pleasant.

So I can say that I like the berry best for the way it changes the taste of really sour things. I wasn't crazy about the way it made sweet fruits taste. It changed the core flavor somehow. The cherry wasn't just super sweet, it also lost some of its flavor, if that makes sense. The grapes just became too over-sweet.

The one thing I didn't have on hand to try is goat cheese (which is supposed to flavor-trip to tasting like a cheesecake) and greek yogurt. I can't wait until I restock on groceries. Just imagine going for a week eating and drinking nothing but greek yogurt, lemon water, and salad with raisins or grapes.

I have read about some people who used Miracle Berry to detox from sugar for a couple of weeks.I have seen a lot of articles like this one talking about various benefits of using the berries. Just ditching sugar is on my list of goals. Also, I like the idea of being able to substitute the berry's effects for using artificial sweeteners. So far, I haven't heard anything negative about the Miracle Berry. I'm sure if I look hard enough I can find something but, for now, I think I will like having some of the fruit around all the time.

When I get the Miracle Berry tablets, I hope to try more items - especially the yogurt and goat cheese. Come to think of it, I wonder how yummy some goat milk creamer would taste in my coffee after eating a berry? Hmmm...

I will be sure to update if I get a chance to review other brands of the Miracle Berry.

Peace
--Free








This used to be one of my favorite work-out songs.











Sunday, July 21, 2019

Hot & Happy Feelings

Just jumping in for a minute to say that I will be back to actually blog in a few days. For now, I am getting some life things taken care of and trying not to melt like the Wicked Witch in this heat. Despite the hellish-humid-scorching weather thing we have going on here, I've had a pretty good couple of days. Infusion this time went great and didn't take all day and night for some reason. That was my big happy point of the past week. Oh, and I haven't accused or abused any of my neighbors, knocked myself out on a doorsill or tripped and busted my tailbone. On top of all that, I am getting some work done on one of the books. Look at me, staying friendly and safe and getting stuff done. Of the past few days, the only thing I regret is that I have been eating like a hormonal teenager. That's going to be a slight problem when I attend my niece's wedding ceremony next week...

Until I come back to the blog, here's something that sums up how I feel about the heat.


And another clip just because Broderick here reminds me of a young Jerry Lewis:



Such a freaking funny movie. I'm going to have to watch it again soon. In the meantime, I hope you are all staying hydrated, safe, and healthy wherever you are.

Peace
--Free






Happy, happy, happy!


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

So Not In The Mood

Today has been one of those days.

But my head SWEATS
I woke up grouchy so I was hoping the day would go uphill and not down. I think it started with the heat last night.

The heat snuck up on me around 1 or 2 in the morning and I sweated out all of my perfect curls. Normally, I can hold a good set of curls for a week. My hair is good the first day after a wash and condition, but it's marvelous the second day on. That's when all the leave-in products have had time to work in and loosen up my curl pattern. Well. That was done for in under an hour because of the heat.

First thing I saw on my phone this morning was a warning about the heat index. I guess that's when the temps and the humidity collide to make each other act the fool. The "heat index" around nine this morning was 101 and getting worse.

Things got so bad here that by close to noon, the building manager put out a printed notice for everyone to stay hydrated and use their air conditioners. Then, of course, because this is Iowa where the weather is sociopathic, the temps suddenly broke a little and we got rained on. The rain cooled things off, but... really Iowa? Really?

Since it was so hot (and I don't do well in the high heat and humidity), I felt slightly more fatigued than normal. Listen. my 'normal' fatigue is so bad that it's driven me to have my depression meds upped. It's a serious problem, people.

There was no question about getting anything done around the apartment because the humidity was like a wet wool blanket weighing me down. So I stripped down to my bra and undies, started drinking water like I was in training for, I don't know, something, and lay down to watch some movies. It's the only thing to do when all you have the strength for is staying as still as you possibly can.

The first movie I watched was pretty awesome. I have to be honest and admit that Christian movies aren't usually known for their production value. It's probably a budget thing. Everybody knows Christian entertainment doesn't have a lot of support. This movie though was kind of up there with the acting and everything. It's called Divination and it's on Amazon -free with Prime. It was so good - especially the special effects - that I went over to recommend it to my Facebook fam.

While on Facebook, I got a friend request from someone who is also friends with a family member so I accepted the request. About 3 minutes later, this person messages me to say that he thinks we might be cousins. He is, he says, cousins with the family member we share as a FB friend. Oh. Nice. He then asks me a question about my family which I think is a little forward so I ask him how he happens to be a cousin to my family member. Instead of answering me, he continues asking me for information. Weird, right? I give him a couple of chances to answer my question but he just kept trying to get info out of me. My jerk radar goes off so... Block, Mute, Unfollow, and restrain self from thinking bad thoughts about the goofball. That, coupled with the heat, put me at Grouch Level 1 (or DefCon Grouch-Con 5).


About this time, the temperature has dropped from severe to merely uncomfortable. I drink some more water and make my 200th trip to the bathroom where I almost knock myself out on the door sill when I lose my balance for a second. I don't get any grouchier from that but I feel a little bit woozy from the knock on the head.

Once my vision cleared, I check my phone for the current temps and there's a warning about the rain that's coming. The heat index warning has disappeared (but I don't know why because I still feel like I'd be breathing in water if I went outside for a moment).

Since I have phone in hand, by reflex - yeah, sad, isn't it? - I check Instagram. At first, I'm happy because there are new photos of my beautiful and baldheaded baby niece and even a couple of new pics of my boyfriend-in-my-head, Keanu. You'd think this would boost my joy levels, right? You would think...

My joy level dropped to my toes when I notice is that in at least 3 of the photos of my 'boyfriend', he's making devil signs or wearing devil-themed shirts or being, I don't know, devilish. And not devilishly handsome or flirty but just plain, devilish. Oh, man.. How can someone with such a seemingly wonderful heart and soul be down with the Devil? You know what, Keanu? I have been your top fangirl even back when I had to defend that choice to my friends - you know, back before John Wick and everybody was jumping on my Keanu wagon and got all diehard for you. I'm so offended right now. How you gonna go and break my heart like that? I can't be digging on somebody who's rooting for Satan! C'mon now. If I have to choose, I choose holy over hellish. I'm going to be praying for my ex to come over to the light side.

Okay, so I had to dump the guy who, let me be real, was never going to be my man anyway. Still, he was my dream crush. That little breakup hurt. It put me at GrouchCon 2.5. That's almost to three, people. That, coupled with my noggin bump was not a good thing. I got all fired up and had to drink some more water just to cool down...


By now, it's full-on raining outside and I realize I forgot to take out my trash last night. And I have more trash to throw out (including my little VapeWild illustration of Keanu, the traitor). This means that I have to change out the garbage bag and leave the old one tied up and sitting on the kitchen floor until I can take it out. Whatever.

I'm still a little dizzy so I go back to find something else to watch until I can take out the garbage. I pick another uplifting-sounding movie because I feel like I need to cleanse the Keanu-digs-the-Devil from my broken heart. I choose a Kevin Sorbo movie. Kevin Sorbo - a Christian actor, Keanu, you hear that?

The movie I pick is called Let There Be Light. Okay. I could use a little light right about now. As long as it doesn't involve any heat. The movie starts out okay, then it gets to the part that most Christian movies have showing some of the less-than-stellar acting.

Sorbo plays an atheist writer promoting his latest book by slaughtering a Christian apologist on a debate stage. That part comes off well enough - I mean, as far as the acting. The bad acting comes in during a party scene when you are introduced to the characters of Sorbo's fashion model date and his book agent. Both those characters are so badly acted that I was briefly entertained a little by the bad acting. I'm not sure what the actor playing the agent was going for but he came off somewhere between British, maybe gay, and woman-chasing-creepy.  Like I said, I have no idea what he was going for, but it was very over-the-top Norma Desmond-ish. Try to imagine that. I mostly stuck with the movie because I was too tired to look for something else to watch.

The movie wasn't all bad, but it got a little cliched and syrupy at some points. But it wasn't enough to turn me completely off. UNTIL one of the scenes involving a couple of the main characters doing an interview with another devi, I mean, Sean Hannity.

Now, for those of you who haven't stopped reading and started cursing me, let me explain my problem with Hannity who is as crazy far to the left (oopsie-edit) right as Rachel Maddow is annoyingly far to the left. However, I've never heard Maddow refer to herself as Christian.

Hannity is a man who portrays himself as supporting Christian values - apparently unless those values involve being charitable towards immigrants and their children. He obviously is a cheerleader for a president who - when not bragging about grabbing women by the ***** because "when you're a celebrity,  you can get away with it" - lies, mocks people like a pre-pubescent schoolyard bully and spews racist and egotistical hate every time he opens his mouth. As Christians, we are not to serve two masters, but Hannity is most definitely at the beck and call of the vigilante and self-serving Trump. As far as I can see, neither man has let the beatitudes affect their attitudes.

GrouchCon 3 achieved. Or whichever level is closer to being the worst. I've gotten my levels and stuff mixed up now...


Listen. I had to fast forward through every glimpse of Hannity's face. I thought about leaving a movie review just to get my concerns off my chest. I would have, too but the heat and that bump on my head were affecting my thinking. Also, I had to go pee again. What is it about getting past 50 and not being able to hold enough water to fill a teaspoon?

On my way to the bathroom, I decide to toss out my empty water bottle. Keep in mind that I'm still seething about Hannity ruining a not-completely-awful Christian movie.  I'm not paying as much attention as I should to the coordination of my feet. All of a sudden, I trip on something and dang near do an unintentional somersault. Somehow, I manage to just do that trip-and-skip thing and I don't fall on my face. The obstacle that almost killed me? The trashbag I forgot I set out. Not only am I lucky I didn't actually fall but I'm luckier still that I didn't pee all over myself.  Ugh. What a life this is.

So that's how my day went. Thank goodness, things didn't get any worse. I even made up my mind to start praying for people like Hannity and Trump instead of just hating on them. With my luck and bad balance, I will knock myself out and die before I can repent of all these bad thoughts about certain people. I need to remember that the seventh beatitude is about being a peacemaker.

Finally, now that it's late at night - real late, actually - the heat has calmed all the way down to the low 70's. It's still humid but not as bad as earlier. The bump on my head has gone down and I don't think it will be visible by morning. My head still hurts to the touch but I'm glad that I don't have a dent where I hit it. My Grouch Levels are down too. I think I was just feeling a little irritated from the heat and fatigue. If I feel up to it, I will twist my hair real quick, take a cool shower and go to bed thinking clean thoughts. I need to be rested so I can start living my life tomorrow without Keanu in it. I'm going to be praying for him. Seriously.

Peace
--Free





Saturday, July 13, 2019

**GRIOT** Named and Loved

Okay, so I was chatting online with some of the nieces and nephews about these Griot posts. They love hearing about their 'grandpeople' and I love sharing what I can remember. Since the cousins are all about the genealogy these days, I thought that I could talk about some of the names that run in our line.

A name is a special thing. Your surname can be a kind of placeholder in history. Your first names sometimes are meant to reflect the hopes pinned on you. In the Bible, names are very important. God would change people's name or bless their names. Today, we honor our Adamic past by giving children Bible names. I watched a documentary the other day where the presenter noted that you won't find a lot of children named after Judas Iscariot. I had never thought of that before. Personally, I have always believed that the name a child grows up with can have a serious impact on their personality and attitude, not to mention in how the rest of the world might see them. That's why we make cruel fun of people by calling them a "Becky" or "Shanequa" - and I have been cruel in that way...

In my family, nicknames were kind of a big deal. My mother had an older brother named Eber but everyone called him "Mutt". Uh, yeah. Don't ask because I don't know. There were other male relatives or close friends known as Sonny, Sonny Boy, Snookie Boy, and Bugs.

One of my mother's sisters - the one who passed before I was old enough to know her - had a beautiful name: French L. The "L" didn't stand for anything, it was just part of her birth name. I do remember that some of my folks would pronounce her name as "Frānch L.", going long on the 'a'. Apparently, she was as beautiful as her name. She must have been a riot though. I heard one story about her once being a little tipsy and admonishing a child for having their shoes on the wrong feet. The child knew better than to mention it, but the adults who were there cracked up laughing because Aunt French L's shoes were also on the wrong feet. Aunt French L's granddaughter was named after her but we mostly called her just "French" or "Frenchie".

Some of the adults I knew as a child were always referred to by their initials. To this day, I can't tell you what Aunt French L's husband's real name was. We just called him Mr. J.B.

My father always called my mother Hon but most of her other family and friends called her "Tootsie" (or, as they pronounced it, "Too-see"). This is because she was very dark complected but, as a child and teenager, had fire-red hair. Being so black-skinned with that red hair, she looked to them like a Tootsie Pop. She dyed her hair a deep brown for years until it started to grow in as a darker auburn. Here's something crazy: I'm very dark-skinned like my mother and my hair also tends towards auburn if I don't keep it dyed. In addition to that, I inherited from my father blue encircled irises. It's a harmless condition and not a totally uncommon thing although it can freak people out when the sun hits my eyes the right way. Without the sun shining into them, most people don't notice anything different about my dark brown eyes.

Back to the wonderful nicknames, one of my favorite uncles - formally named a Jr after his father, Oscar Sr - was always called Hot Shot (or 'Hah-shot'). My grandfather was known to his friends as "Bud". Oscar Sr's wife (my step-grandmother) was "Miss Ollie" to everyone, including me and the other grandchildren. By the way, young Rudy Cosby sounded just like Miss Ollie did when saying "Bud".



Granddaddy Bud's first wife, my grandmother, was named Gretchel but, for some reason, everyone called her "Aunt Jack".For the longest time, I thought her first name must have been Jacqueline or Jackie.

I had a cousin we always called "Yogi". Whenever a teacher in school used her birth name of Saundra, everyone - including Yogi - would look around to see who she was referring to. Other cousins and peers of mine had names that had to do with sweetness: Peaches, Cookie, Sugar, Candy. I use those names for characters in my stories because I loved the real people.

Now that  I think of it, my Texas family were the ones with nicknames. Not so much with my Arkansas relatives. I'm going to have to think about that a little bit. Actually, my dad's father was never called George; everyone called him Mr.Tampa and I don't know why that is since "Tampa" was no part of his actual name... Now I'm going to have to get in touch with one of the aunties! I need to know what was going on with my grandpa's name!

Remember now that my paternal grandfather - Mr. Tampa - was a Louisiana man. His relatives did have nicknames. I remember a distant female cousin (?) that was called "Big'un". I really am going to have to talk to my paternal aunties because I cannot remember some of the other nicknames for the Lousiana family...

My oldest brother was called "Chubby". When he was younger, he was, in fact, kind of chubby. My sister who I've talked so much about over the years was nicknamed "Mike" and there's a story behind that. I was Penny to my parents and siblings up until I became a teenager. One of my older brothers still calls me by that nickname on occasion and I had one uncle who called me that until he died a couple of years ago. Apparently, as an infant, I was copper-colored like a new penny. As I got older and my skin darkened, one of my older brothers started calling me "Black Knight". Yeah. Cute... In high school, I went through a phase where I used only my middle name: Michele. Some of my closest friends back then called me Bones because I was so rail-thin. Oh, the good old days of carbs without consequences!

Names are not just an identity. Your name belongs to you in a way that can help shape your identity. When you love someone - through kinship, friendship, or romance - their name on your tongue has the taste of your relationship with them. You might remember that favorite quote of mine is by a child who defined love as keeping someone's name safe in your mouth. That's so real.

Thinking back to some of the first people, Adam's and Eve's names had meaning. Even God has several names and they each have a special meaning. I personally like to think of Him as El Shaddai and Elohim. To go further, even love has different names. In reference to my faith, Agape (or Agapao) love is the one that most comforts me.

So, when you think of your loved ones and speak their names, remember what the Bible teaches about the power of the tongue. Keep those names safe in your mouth. Speak their names with love and peace and hopes for their well-being. Even when speaking of your enemies, be careful not to use their names in ways you wouldn't want anyone to use yours.

Peace
--Free





And since I am in a praising the Lord mood right now, here's some Third Day with beautiful lyrics




Thursday, July 11, 2019

**GRIOT** Devil Beating His Wife

Being the child and grandchild of Southerners, I grew up hearing a lot of odd phrases. To be honest, my relatives just talked plain funny. They had weird phrases and they painted the English language with a beautiful array of colors. My people used language in their own way, just as they put a unique spin on living life.

my mother in her late 20's-early 30's (?)
 For the longest time, I thought that only my mother said things like "You don't believe fat meat's greasy". That was for when I was being warned that my misbehaving was about to get me a whooping. Modern mothers threaten to start counting to ten, my mom had more colorful ways of warning me.

 While a lot of the phrases I heard had to do with consequences of my behavior (for instance, my butt was constantly in debt from all the checks my mouth wrote), there were some to go with everything from the weather to someone being sick.

I remember whenever it rained while the sun was shining, my mother would say that the Devil was beating his wife. I was surprised to learn just now how commonly that saying is used - and in a lot of cultures. I'm going to have to go take a closer look at that website.
one of the aunties

When my Yankee friends were "about to" do something, I was "fixing to". When Yanks were not paying you any attention, I wasn't "studdin" (or studying) you. You might be going to Heaven, but I'm going up "yonder". We also go over yonder, back yonder, or way yonder.

I'm not sure if this one is Southern or not, but where others might say someone had you wrapped around their finger, we'd say that they had your nose wide open. Another way to put that is to say that someone has your drawers (underpants) hanging on a bedpost. That, I think, had something to do with voodoo (or "hoodoo"). Another one from the voodoo files is to say that someone must have "worked a root" on you.

an uncle with a church group
Maybe right here is where I can get into my Big Mama's fear of all things pagan. Big Mama wouldn't eat food if she didn't know who cooked it. If she didn't know you, she wouldn't eat your food unless she had watched you prepare it. Why? Cause she was scared of hoodoo. For that same reason, she never left her comb or hairbrush laying around where just anybody could get to it. As Christian as she was (which is why she didn't like voodoo/hoodoo), she wasn't ashamed of her superstitions. She was one of those people who, after accidentally spilling salt, would toss some over her shoulder. Yes, my Bible-believing grandmother could be so unconsciously paranoid that it was kind of hilarious.


 These are some random photos from an old
photo album of my mother's

I don't know most of the people except that they are aunts, uncles, extended cousins, or 
very close family friends.


 I thought it would be cool for my younger nieces & nephews to see these photos. I just now started posting links to this blog of Facebook because that's where the kids hang out!
 

 I love the hair & clothing fashion of the '30s, '40s, and '50s.










Maybe because of their cultural ancestry, or maybe just because they were very practical and thrifty people, my relatives even dealt with health issues in their own ways. I've already talked a lot about my grandmother using asafetida poultices to deal with chest colds. I suppose there's a reason 'fetid' is in the name, but I just learned another thing: that asafetida gets its name from being funky. Wow,. At any rate, my mother never tortured me or my siblings with it but our Big Mama made up for it by giving us daily tablespoons of Castor oil. You might want to throw up every morning after your dose of oil but you were never constipated around Big Mama.

On my mother's side of the family, it was less about the countrified 'slanguage' and more about the Texan lifestyle. Where back in Hope, Arkansas where our Big Mama took us fishing with worms for bait, my West Texan grandfather let us enjoy his walnut and pecan trees. My mother would make homemade, fresh-churned ice-cream right in the front yard of Grandaddy Bud's house. Back in Arkansas, we ate bacon from pigs my grandmother's husband, Mr. Brown owned. We had fresh eggs and meat from his chickens.  In Texas, we ate peaches and apples and crab apples fresh off Granddaddy Bud's trees.

My granddaddy Bud always owned a pickup truck of some kind. My cousins and I would ride in the back while he went around to different homestead's taking care of business and sharing the goods from his trees. I remember one time when he took us on a long ride out "in the country" and showed us fields of cotton ready to be harvested. He told us to ask our mothers about their time spent picking cotton as kids. My mother told me that it was one of the ways she and her cousins made money as young girls. They would spend hours in the field, filling bag after bag with the cotton. I was absolutely horrified, but my mother had good memories of the time spent with her cousins and friends out in those fields. Even though she explained to me that there was a difference between being forced to pick cotton and being given a choice to get paid for doing it... I never could handle it. Years later, when I went through my stage of being a junior revolutionary and idolizing Newton and Seale for being bravely defiant, I would just cringe when I thought of my mother picking cotton.

Back when I was young, church and religion was a different experience depending on which grandparent I was visiting. My dad's mom (Big Mama) was deeply religious but didn't attend church on a regular basis. Nevertheless, if there was a heavy storm, she made everyone (kids and adults) get still and quiet. If there was any lightning or thunder involved, well, forget doing anything but taking a nap. You weren't going to disrespect the Lord in Big Mama's house by doing much of anything until the storm passed. To this day, during a heavy storm, I will sit my tail down and try to be still until the weather calms down. Unlike Big Mama, I don't go around unplugging everything, but I'm not trying to party down.

I didn't realize it until I was writing this post, but apparently, I carry a lot of my recent ancestors around in my behavior. Yesterday, I was cooking some sausage in my new cast iron and I flashed back on my mother standing in front of the stove, cooking something in her cast iron. I understand that people we love don't go ever completely away. They are in our memories of them. They are in the lingering memory of their touch or the sound of their laughter. They are here with us in the ways they affected us, changed us, or made us love them.

Peace
--Free



For the video pick, I think this one is just about perfect.



Tuesday, July 09, 2019

**Quick Post** I've Been Missing Out

This is a quickie post just to tell you about something wonderful.

I've been buying my Cafe Du Monde chicory and coffee blend for the longest via Amazon. It's almost impossible to find it locally unless I use Hy-Vee (and they went WAY up on their delivery fees so.. bye). Last night I was surfing Amazon checking out the latest Cafe Du Monde prices and, yeah, they are still much too high. While I was surfing though, I spotted a coffee I didn't know about from a brand I do know about -Luzianne. I love Luzianne tea so that was great news. Bad news is that the shipping for the coffee almost cost more than the coffee itself.

So, I go and do a general search for Luzianne coffee and...

That's one way to get the video out of the way 

Heck yeah, hold up. I found this place online called the Cajun Grocer.




I can't even breathe right now for thinking of all the coffee, etouffee, and bread pudding with rum sauce. The only thing kind of holding me back is, I love Cafe Du Monde chicory coffee but I don't know how good Luzianne coffee actually is, and the shipping on the perishables (oh me oh my oh jambalaya) is pricey because you have to order at least 5 pounds at a time. Let me tell you something though, I am over here going over my grocery list to see what magic I can work with the budget.

If you have not seen The Cajun Grocer site, do go and check it out. If you know about it, fill me in on details. Is the fresh food worth paying to ship? Is it actually good? Keep in mind that my daddy was the son of a Lousiana man so I know a little bit about Cajun food. I haven't had any since Baby Kay's Kitchen in Arizona (where the spices nearly burned off my tastebuds), but it's good eating.

Man, I wish I had thought to order food like this when my mama was alive. She did love her crawfish and was thrilled anytime someone shipped a batch up to her in Alaska. I personally have no patience for crawfish, but I love the bread and pastries and that amazing coffee. And funny enough, the Cafe Du Monde is pricier at the Cajun Grocer while the Luzianne brand is more expensive at Amazon. Whatever. Come to think of it, I still have family somewhere down in 'Loo-zee-anna'...

Peace
--Free




Might as well finish the song

Got My Dutch and Tissue

Listen, I just want to cringe every time I remember posting about my missing package. I mean, what a bully. If I can get that cranky from missing a calorie or two, just imagine how awful I am when I am doing a prayer fast? (Which I need to do because it's been a while...)

Anyway.

My missing-but-not-really-missing package arrived. Yay! I'm good for toilet tissue for the next several weeks. Also, I got my water. Water is important when you are trying to lose weight. For one thing, if you drink enough water, it's easier to ignore junky snacks. It's actually even kind of hard to want any food when all that water is literally sloshing around inside you. Yeah.  But I'm getting off track.

Guess what other wonderful thing arrived?



The Dutch oven.

That thing is freaking beautiful.  I was a little worried about a couple of imperfections but they are small and I am choosing to ignore them for now. I don't think they will be a problem. If so, I will let Amazon hear about it...

Anyway, I went ahead and broke it in by fixing my one meal for the day. I had 2 brat sausages and some plain mixed veggies. That's one benefit to using cast iron - you don't have to use much oil at all. I would have taken a photo the way Instagram folk always do but I was finished eating before I thought of it  It was (as my little niece says) "da-nicious".

What I love most about this pot is that the lid is made to be used separately as a skillet.

It's the 5-quart pot

 Yass, girl, I know, right? Even though the whole thing was pre-seasoned, I re-seasoned the pot while I fixed my lunch in the lid/skillet. The food turned out nicely and I didn't even have much trouble cleaning out the veggie residue. When cooking with very little oil, some food will stick on cast iron until it becomes better seasoned with use. (Here's a tip: use some salt and a little oil to wipe out stuck on food bits.) That always worked for my mom and it's kept my other cast iron going good for years.

I have carried this skillet with me from Anchorage to Arizona to here and have had it for at least 16 or 17 years. Originally, it was my sister's "breakfast pan" that she used for cooking small meals when there wasn't the usual army of us to feed. When our mother stopped cooking on a regular basis, my sister Mike inherited all of her cast iron and she passed this small pan on to me. When Mike died, I gave all the other cast iron pieces to my nieces because I'm never going to be feeding as many people as they do.


I have some newer ones, but this one is a keeper
Anyway.

My not-a-diet eating plan these days is heavy on vegetables with small portions of meat for protein and variety. And make sure everything has flavor, flavor, flavor. The sausages and simple veggies were fine to test the new skillet, but I'm ready to do a larger meal with a lot of sweet onions, green onions, bell peppers, and garlic. I adore stinky veggies. Caramelized onions and fresh-roasted garlic are my favorites. Bell peppers are so expensive here - in the freaking food belt of the nation - that when I get ready to buy them, I have to make some serious life decisions and rearrange my budget. And don't even think about finding any fish that's not farmed unless you have some serious cash to spend. But that's okay because, if I have enough onion and garlic, I don't care if I have anything else to go with a meal of mixed vegetables. But I was told by one of my nurses to make sure I am getting enough protein so I'm supposed to always have a least a little portion of meat... So I'm going to be eating a lot of chicken and sausages. Hopefully, if I work my recipes right, I won't have to cook but once every three or four days.

The oven wasn't the only thing I was happy about. That Amazon Presto brand tissue is the business! I ordered it without high expectations. I just hoped that, for the price, it would be as good as Charmin. Listen. That tissue beats the heck out of every other "soft" and plush tissue I've used. And the rolls are humongous. I ordered a pack each of the "ultra strong" and "ultra soft" versions of the Presto tissue. I'm not as crazy about the "strong" version (though it's strong enough) because I prefer the soft version. And the soft version is actually strong enough. At least, it doesn't shred and come apart. You could clean up small spills with this tissue. I won't call out the last brand I used (because it's a decent brand of tissue), but look at the difference:


And the spool on the smaller roll takes up more space...


Right???? That gigantic thing barely fit on my tissue roller. The other brand was a little cheaper than the Presto but it was a good tissue (good enough that I have bought it a few times), but for the size of the Presto roll (and the softness), there was no competition. I have found my new favorite tissue. Of course, I have to use up all of the "strong" version before I buy any more of the "soft" stuff. Now that I have tried the tissue, I might have to check out some more items from the Presto brand.

So, yeah, I am in a much better mood tonight. I have eaten a healthy meal, drank gallons (or at least quarts) of water, and I have the Dutch oven I always wanted. By the way, you do know that there are reasons people cook in cast iron, right? The main reason my mother and grandmothers did was that cast iron distributes heat better than most pans. Also - and this was something my mother taught me - anemics can benefit from the added iron that leeches into food cooked in cast iron. Now, once you get a cast iron pot or pan well-seasoned, it's perfect because food doesn't stick and there are none of the chemicals that other "non-stick" cookware use.

It took me about a year to get one of my newer cast iron skillets fully and totally seasoned. And I mean, seasoned to the point of the pan's surface becoming almost completely smooth and non-stick. If I had cooked in it more than once or twice a month, it would have gotten there so much sooner.

Now, frying isn't the only thing you can do in a cast iron pan - which is why I wanted this deep Dutch oven. My mom and grandma cooked almost everything in cast iron - soups, stews, chili, roasts, baked meat, and pies and cobblers even. I'm not sure they ever owned many other types of pans. I fix cornbread in my large skillet all the time, and Indian fry bread too. You can make delicious (and quick) bread in it. Like I can't say enough, cast iron holds heat really well and keeps a more even temperature inside than most pans of other materials. If you get a pan with a good-sealing lid, even better. The only possible downside to cast iron is that it's so heavy. I usually just keep the pieces I use most out on an empty burner or in the oven. You don't want to drop one of those bad boys on a toe or on your flooring...

If you go online to look, it might be hard to find a lot of recipes for cooking in a cast iron Dutch oven - on the stove or in the oven. Just about anything you cook in any other skillet or pan, you can cook in cast iron, but you just might not find many recipes online. Lots of people use cast iron for camp-cooking - again, I think because it's strong and durable and holds heat so well... However, I found this easy bread recipe from Jenny freaking Jones - remember, she had that talk show? Now she is on YouTube with some really good recipes. I check out her videos all the time and she has this one for a No-Knead Bread. You may never want to hassle with making any other kind of bread after this. I tried this recipe using a neighbor's deep-welled enameled pan. It takes time to bake it, of course, but the prep is so fast. I am not a huge fan of enameled cast iron, by the way. It's pretty and easier to clean (at first) but it can be a little delicate. I don't think I get the same flavor from food cooked in the enamel kind.

By the way, if you are interested in Jenny Jones's recipes (and you should be because she certainly can cook), here's her YouTube channel and her website. Now I have to go and drink another bottle of water before I slosh off to bed.

Peace
--Free

Friday, July 05, 2019

Cranky Is As Cranky Does (UPDATE)

I first published this post on 7/5. Today 7/9, the first package of items arrived.
 Amazon told me to just keep the package. So now I have plenty of tissue. Pah-lenty.




You know, I should know better than to interact with people when I am deprived of calories. I'm not the most social person when I'm in a great mood, but I dang sure don't need to be set loose on the world when I'm cranky. Here's what happened today:

I had put in my regular order for some household items the other day. And which service did I use? Amazon. Prime. Fast shipping, baby.

For those who may not know, you can sign up for text alerts regarding your deliveries. And of course, I signed up way back when. Keeps me from missing parcels. If I'm not home, I can have a neighbor hold them for me. Usually, I am at home. So when the text pops up that my items have been delivered, I can go to the door and grab them.Easy peazy and a lazy shopper's boon.

Today, I got the text alert that my order of items was delivered but, when I check, there's nothing outside my door. Huh. I go back and check online to see what's up. Maybe the text was wrong. Nope. My order was showing as delivered and accepted. Accepted by somebody named Mike M___.

I have no idea who this Mike dude is. I'm bad with names so I can't tell right off if he's a neighbor in the building or somewhere else on the block. The building manager hands out a list every now and then, updating with the names of the tenants. I, of course, always lose that list. And by "lose" I mean I throw it out. I can't deal with clutter and I have enough from my writing projects.

So, who in the heck is this Mike? I have no idea but I do know who to ask. If he lives anywhere within a 3-block radius of this building, there's one neighbor who will know something about him. She keeps up with that kind of thing. I go ask and, sure enough, she knows for sure that there is a Mike in the building but she doesn't remember his last name. She doesn't remember exactly which second-floor apartment is his either but she does know there's a little statue of a duck outside the door. Listen, if I ever turn up missing, somebody contact this woman. She will have some kind of intel for sure.

Let me mention that at this point, I'm irritated. Normally, things like this don't faze me. I'm generally a very easy going gal. But not today. Today I am in a post-birthday funk. The voices in my head keep reminding me that I'm older and that the older I get, the harder it is to stay in shape. Those voices had the nerve to tell me that I should lose some weight. I mean... The. Freaking. Nerve. Right?

Yes, I have let the prednisone take over my willpower. And, yes, I need to be a little more disciplined. Also, since apparently prednisone is going to always be some part of my life, I need to stop using it as an excuse and just deal with the extra fat on my ass. But I really don't appreciate my personal Jiminy harping at me until I started covering all the mirrors in my home.

Yes, I covered the one full-length mirror that hangs on the back of my bedroom door. It was getting to be a pain to remember not to look whenever I passed in front of it.

Anyway. I've been severely restricting my caloric intake. This is just to jumpstart things. In a couple of weeks, I will test the waters of a couple hundred more calories but, for now, I am in a low-carb mode and not my usual sunshiney self. Listen, when I measured out the sweetened creamer for my coffee this morning, I actually licked the residue from the spoon. Yeah, that's where I am in my life...Anyway, this leads me back to the part of the story where I practically stomped into the elevator, then down the second-floor hall - hopefully burning some calories. I was on a mission to find a duck statuette. I was going to confront this Mike dude. because I wanted to know where he got off with stealing my delivery. Matter of fact, I was planning to inform him that his theft had caused me some serious emotional suffering. Also, who the heck would steal someone's order of toilet paper and bottled water? Tell me that.

When I spotted the duck, I didn't immediately knock on Mike's door. I kind of put my ear to it for a moment. I wanted to know if Mr. Mike was possibly talking to someone about his theft. Maybe he was even sharing my toilet paper and water, handing out rolls and bottles to his... partners in crime???

I knocked at the door and... nothing. I waited for at least a count of 100, then knocked harder. Finally, I hear someone telling me to "hang on, just a minute". And that's when I realized I might have been just a little bit out of control. I wished I had realized that about 5 minutes earlier because, boy, did I feel like an ass when that door opened.

Mike is an old guy - maybe in his early 80's? - and he's on a walker. Yeah. And he's got the kindest eyes and this really sweet smile. Right then, I could hear my mom turning over in her grave. Shame on me. Just shame.

Of course, Mike didn't have my package. And that made me feel bad enough but when he offered to help me look for it, I died a little inside... I felt like such a thug.



I thanked Mr. Mike and apologized for bothering him. And then I slunk all the way back to my apartment.

I was home for maybe three minutes before I got a real bright idea (you know, the one I should have had first) and called up Amazon. Because someone had accepted my delivery, right?

Guess what? Turns out that there had been some kind of snafu with the delivery service (I won't name names but I will share initials, U.P.S.) For some reason, my delivery never made it to my building. It got to town and then was sent back to the last station where - get this - it was accepted by some worker named Mike M___.

The Amazon rep couldn't even figure out the why of the situation and was as baffled as I was that the packaged had been marked "Delivered" instead of "Returned". Whatever. She was awesome. In addition to refunding the money back to my original payment source, she gave me a complimentary gift card to put towards my next purchase.

Sunshiney, sensible and well-fed me would have used that credit toward that re-purchase of goods. Cranky me ordered a freaking dutch oven...In my defense, I've been wanting one forever. I'm going to need something in which to cook all that carb-free and low-fat protein I'll be eating for a long while to come.

Listen, I know that I handled everything in my life wrong today. That's why I'm going to up my calorie limit a bit asap. Happy me is already misunderstood but cranky me... I'll get kicked right off the planet. Regardless, I don't want to be a meanie. All I was trying to do was shut up those voices in my head

First thing tomorrow, I'm starting my day with some protein. I might have to torture myself long enough to bake some bread or cookies to take up to Mr. Mike, but I know I need more food before I face anyone.

Peace
--Free




A little D'Angelo always calms me down.

Thursday, July 04, 2019

People Are Fascinating

I have a thing about watching people and trying to spot their personality sparks. Sometimes, it's just the way someone's mouth looks when they smile or the way they look when they are listening to another person. Way back when I was in junior high school (you know, all those centuries ago), I rode the bus with a girl who had the tiniest dimple on one side of her mouth. Fascinating. And then there was the girl I knew way back in, I don't know, maybe sixth grade who was a really good soccer player. She probably went on to become a pro. I remember that she always stretched her neck from side to side just before she went onto the field to play. She looked so serious and so determined, like a soldier about to go into battle. Myself, I didn't play sports. Still don't.  I was very girly and prissy back then. Still am, mostly. But I was always mesmerized by that one girl. I think her name might have been Tamara.

As old as I am now, I am still fascinated by people. Whenever I see a woman do something that sort of defines her personality - maybe it's the way she moves or the way she laughs - I wonder if there is a thing I do that defines my personality. Lord Jesus, please don't let it be my maniacal laugh...

As far as the opposite sex, there is this thing that some men do that I find so attractive. It's going to sound weird but here goes. You know how when a man is wearing a tie and just before he sits at a table or desk, he smooths his tie and holds it for a moment? That thing, it just makes me shiver. Something about the hands. It's so subtly masculine. I'm the same way about when a man does that hand-to-heart apology motion. Swoon factor, 10. I imagine that men feel the same way about us females crossing our legs or playing with our hair.

One of the older ladies in this building has this thing she does (unconsciously I'm sure) where she touches her husband's wrist when they are sitting and talking. She just lays her fingers on his wrist. It's so sweet and telling. The two of them have to be around 75 or 80 but whenever I see her do that, I can picture them as newlyweds, her so in love that she can't resist touching him. I think that it's actually calming to her these days but, still, it's so beautiful. They really aren't otherwise very publicly affectionate. He's hard of hearing and always looks slightly annoyed at everything.

One of my brothers does this thing where he drums the fingers of one hand against his mouth when he's concentrating. Or scheming. Another of his "sparks" is to throw you a sly sideways look whenever he thinks someone else in the room is talking crap. It's a look that says, "You hearing this?"

Whenever my mother was worried or anxious, she would hum. When she had something heavy on her mind and was lost in thought, she would mutter "huh" as if to say "Oh well." Mostly though, she hummed. If my father was worried, he chewed at the corner of his bottom lip - which is not uncommon. His other quirk drove all of us crazy. Happy, sad, or whatever, if he was sitting, he would prop one leg over the other and shake his foot. It was the most annoying thing. Sitting next to him felt like sharing space with some kind of engine. My younger brother has the same habit.

I have one aunt (who's actually very close to my age) who has a really sweet smile, but it's a closed-mouth smile. You never see her teeth. Even when she's not smiling, she always looks like she's about to smile anyway. Some people have that kind of pleasant expression. Not me. I have resting confused bitch face. The complete opposite of my auntie's resting angelic face.

Talking about my aunt just made me remember a late uncle. He was a sweet man and most of the time, he was jovial and easygoing. He had deep dimples and beautiful hair - shiny and wavy. And he wore an earring back in the early and mid 70's when I didn't see a lot of men wearing that solo earring. He was an alcoholic. He loved his wife and kids and he held down a steady job at the same place for as long as I knew him. For a long time, I thought he was the coolest and happiest guy. I think he was for most of his life, but then, when I was around fourteen or fifteen, I remember being able to see some sadness in his eyes. Even when he was smiling and engaging with the family, that little shade of self-disappointment and weariness was there. He died maybe a year after I first started noticing that he wasn't always happy. I think he knew that his drinking was killing him and he still didn't know how to stop. When I think of him now, I think of his dimples and that smile - the one before the sadness.

We all have our quirks and "sparks" and soul scars that make us unique. I honestly believe that it's our scars that make us beautiful. You know, the way that a little salt makes chocolate taste sweeter? Maybe because our scars make us more human and real.

Anyway.

People are just so very fascinating, aren't they? And it's the small things we do that make us memorable and individual. It's all these small things that will be forgotten years after we are gone. People will maybe know our names because of what we leave behind, but our little sparks will be forgotten.

I'm not sure what all of this means. I guess I'm just so aware of how important part of our existence is while part of it means nothing much long after we are gone. The whole of us may be remembered while the small and beautiful parts of us are forgotten too soon.

I will have to think about all of this some more and if it starts to make sense to me, I'll let you know.

Oh, and by the way, happy Fourth of July.

Peace
--Free

Monday, July 01, 2019

I've Leveled Up

I once saw a cute meme that said we should start thinking of our ages as game levels. The higher up we level, the more badass we seem. I dig it.


Yesterday, I celebrated surviving another year of existence and I'm not ashamed to say that this birthday made me a little sad. I had made a wish a while back and was holding my breath, waiting for it to miraculously come true. It didn't. That's what I get for being a dreamer of impossible dreams and such a hopeless romantic. Other than that, I had a fabulous day, thank you very much. I ate too many cupcakes, laughed a lot, and spent time with people I love.

But another year is gone. Wow.

Mission accomplished
Actually, aging is not a big thing for me. I can age or I can not age. I choose life.

I think that it's not aging that bothers people. I think the problem is the importance we put on aging. And that we are trained to set our life clocks and dreams to specific ages.

Aging is not just physiological. It's always been my opinion that there are different ages we reach in our own time, regardless of our biological calendars. There's the Learning Age -  which lasts a lifetime unless you are determined for it not to. The Experience Age lasts several years until you've done most of what you ever will for the first time - first job, first really good friendship, first love (and maybe) first heartache, first mourning a loved one, first regret, and so on. There are people still in their 20's going through things I never will. Life's funny like that. I feel for kids who have had to experience the most painful stuff before they get to the good stuff.

I'm fortunate that I learned a lot of life lessons when I could best handle them. I'm especially lucky that I still enjoy learning and discovering. That will always be my favorite life "level".


The Romantic Age is the tough one for some of us. It can come early in life or late. It just might come around again and again. For some people, their romantic age is planned out and works out with the first person they love. For some, it comes as a surprise. At my age, that's what will have to happen and it would be so welcome and amazing.

I've had 2 chances at romance. Let's call them Ghosts of Romances Past. I mourn both of them because I didn't make them what they could have been. I'm okay with that - finally - because I think I have entered my Comfort Age. In this age of my life (and especially since my wish didn't come true) I'm not expecting much, I just enjoy what I have - or the memories of what I've had. Some people don't even have memories of good things.

Yes. This.
So where does my sadness come from? It comes from an echo of my past, not my "now" and it's not a deep or heavy sadness. It's a reminder that I could have been in this Comfort Age all along. This age is one of acceptance. I'm content - for the most part - and thankful. Nothing has to be forced anymore. I live my best, love my best, and hope for the best. That's all. It's like my spin on the Serenity Prayer.

By the way, despite my current calm, don't think I didn't have a rough moment or two. I spent most of last night bawling like a jilted bride. Then I realized that I probably need to start watching out for wrinkles! (Just kidding. You all know I had to throw a joke in somewhere.) But listen. I did cry for a while, just for a short while. What I came to realize is that I'm blessed to still be here in this life of mine. As raggedy and worn out as it is, it's mine and I cherish it.

And if my "wish" is still out there somewhere, I hope it finds me one day.

Peace
--Free


P.S.: The other day, I was looking over some old photographs of family and friends - and a lot of people I have no idea about...  I've had a lot of happiness in my life. Sometimes, I'm so busy missing what I don't have that I forget that. And because this is what I feel like inside, I'm choosing this song for the post:


"I wanna be free to know
The things I do are right
I wanna be free"