Misanthrope in Texas. I need the ocean, the pluff mud and my family in South Carolina.

I like to cook. I make up all my recipes and more often than not, they are at the very least palatable. Sometimes, I miss spectacularly (gobby mac and cheese that tasted like I forgot to add-well, cheese). That said, I like simple ingredients and one pot meals, and since I am pressing 60 so hard, it’s pleated, I’ve had to cut out bad fats, most spices, salt, and mostly tomatoes. Those puppies give me vivid nightmares.

Add to this a bad back and legs that go numb after standing for five minutes, and of course, necessity is the mother of invention.

This recipe is very low sodium and about as heart-healthy as I get, given that I did use chopped sirloin.

Beef Fried Rice

1 pkg Uncle Ben’s heart healthy brown rice ready made, not heated 1 cup Great Value frozen peppers and onions 2 slabs of Great Value Philly Steak patties, frozen 2 tbls olive oil, not extra virgin, I like the “experienced oil” 1 egg or 3 tbls egg whites 1 pkg herb ox no sodium beef bullion, the one that make 8 oz of broth 3 tsp worcestershire sauce 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Heat the oil until it makes waves in the pan. Add the peppers, onions, philly steak patties and beef bullion. Make the fire hot enough to fry like hell, but not so much that it smokes. Stir and chop the meat until it is cooked, with browned edges. Add the rice and heat it up. After everything gets good and stirred up, add the garlic powder and make a hole for the egg in the middle of the pan. Once the egg starts to set, turn off the fire, start chopping the egg into the mixture. Add the worcestershire sauce and stir until everything is nicely tanned. Serve with a mess of collard greens with apple cider vinegar so you can mix it all together and let all the food likker get into everything.

Less than 200 mg sodium per serving. The delicate flavors are noticeable without the salt killing it. Oh, this makes four generous servings without someone feeling like they swallowed a beach ball.

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I smelled spring in the air today and it was magnificent in all its damp, rotting mulch glory

A watery sun broke through some of the clouds and bathed all the dead grass with a brassy glow

it released more aroma of the hay fields down the road, alfalfa turning up the allergy meter to almost intolerable

but it still felt damned good and warm and my skin expanded to its normal size after some weeks of shrinking as close to my insides as possible

it was tight and it loosened with an inaudible sigh

and when it loosened up my mind loosened up right along with it

Winter pinches and squeezes a body more so after fifty, squeezes the mind and the mood and the spirit into drafty little corners of darkness

I’ve felt claustrophobic this year and it feels like a too-small overcoat that chafes my skin

Pretty kitty and Casey

I washed my sheets yesterday. I moved my bed a foot. I cooked for the first time in two months-no, three. I threw away one more useless item.

Good night’s sleep by my standards means that I woke up fewer than ten times and fell asleep again before the night clerk at Hotel Anxiety rang the bell. I had a good night’s sleep.

No clean sheets, though. They are drying now. I slept on a bare mattress, contrary to every tenet of home training I had. I did drag the covers off my absent roommate’s bed (she’s temporarily in a nursing home. I hope.) and her cat immediately found a corner of the blanket to knead and suck. That poor feral baby slept against my legs all night, her delicate ethereal weight letting me know that she exists in a sad, grieving place of confusion.

Two cups of black coffee have a sedative effect. Feral kitty and and Black kitty settle in: her at my calves, him down my back. I think they like this routine.

Lunch is leftovers. I wanted a fish sandwich. I’m lying. I wanted two fish sandwiches. The echoes of depression voices channeled by my mother, filtered by my guilt, amplified by my depression keep me at home, in slippers, the clothes I’ve slept in for four days, and well, shit, it’s Monday.

Tomorrow might be better. I might be able to slog through the mud and fog again. Today, today continues.

black hanging bridge surrounded by green forest trees
Photo by Kaique Rocha on Pexels.com

I put a new roll of toilet paper . . . On the holder.  It felt like I’d completed a workout in the rain barefooted.

Depression is a catch-all term for a whole plethora of symptoms relating to the psychological and physical inability to function like normal people do in the real world. Allegedly. We depressives tend to not talk much about the various ways our depression will sabotage our efforts to function. I like to write. I like to create. Mostly, what I do is nothing. My bed calls me, dirty sheets and all. And every time I crawl under the covers, right before I sigh with exhaustion, I think, I should change the sheets and throw these in the washer and take out the trash and wash the dirty dishes and clean the kitty pan and . . .

Two hours later, the nap has succeeded in making me feel worse. I still can’t move, though. I should hang up those clothes. I should go visit my friend in the nursing home. I need to write. I have some orders I could be working on. Those dishes aren’t cleaning themselves. Those sheets are getting sadder by the minute.

Depression lowers the immune system. Being the misanthrope I am these days, about half the time I go out of the house, I get sick with something: bronchitis, stomach viruses, strained tendons, 6-5 and pick’em.

My truck had four active recalls on it when I took it in for work. 24 hours later, I felt like a new deckhand working a tuna boat on the Atlantic in January with a violent storm blowing in. My cat curled up on my head, all 17 pounds of him, purring like a kitty generator. I firmly believe that my fever would have lasted at least another day if not for his medical intervention. As soon as I started sweating, he moved down to my icy feet and draped himself over them until they warmed up. Three days later, I’m still not well physically. Kitty did check on me last night, delicately licked my eyelid, and settled down for a nap on my painful shoulder, purring contentedly.

The first glimmer of a break in the clouds just happened a few minutes ago. You see, I try to listen to comedy bits, and they say laughter is the best medicine. It’s actually more like a vitamin supplement: the placebo effect temporarily supplants the depression. This small window of not-feeling-hideous could be used to wash the sheets, I suppose. I’m going to try it, see if this actually makes it to the bedroom. If it does, Ch. 2 might be a progress report.

I used to love the holidays

They were a time of anticipation, of warm drinks and crispy nights where the stars all glittered with a promise of exciting adventures just around the corner

Life happens, as it does

Loved ones went away. Jobs shifted. Hometowns got shabbier. That bell ringer became annoyingly aggressive in front of the store. Instead of good will towards all, the mantra seemed to be, what’s in it for me?

The pandemic of sadness and grief settles like an ice fog over everything.

I want to tease out all the components that contributed to this and cleanse them of darkness, but

I lovingly hoard each dirty, grimy piece because they are mine alone. They are my companions, for good or ill. Perhaps one day, when the first daffodils poke out their heads from the cold ground, I will try to travel lighter, with less baggage and more kindness.

Until then, let me grinch and grumble, toast my irks, feed my peeves. After all, this is a time of giving, and it’s my gift to myself.

 

 

 

 

scenic view of the trees
Photo by Alex on Pexels.com

There’s a curious freedom in dreams

curious and crucial

it makes for exciting scenarios, heroic actions, perfect endings with perfect partners

perfect skin, perfect teeth, perfect body

And just for that while, that vivid, fantastic dream period, the smile in the mirror contains all the wisdom that unlocks every mystery, answers every question that my fevered mind shouts into the void:  Two nights in a row,

My lost love reappeared to let me know that all those feelings never left completely

that what we’ve built separately could have never been accomplished together, because

Together, we were complete. Together, we reached the pinnacle.

There would have been no need to strive for more, to engage every ounce of energy in creating a place of serenity, for we were already serene together

And for a few minutes, I embrace the wisdom of dreams, the divine message of meaning and hope

that I cannot fathom when I am awake

And it feels quiet and good and perfect for a few minutes.

gift set 2

I have tons of ideas.  Most are good, viable moneymakers.  Others, not so much.  Recently, a walkway to a new school opened near my house.  It winds through the woods for maybe 1/4 mile before it ends at the unfinished school. Several kids from my neighborhood will go to the school when it opens, but parents are leery of the isolated pathway and likely will drive their children to school instead of walking with them.

So, my brainstorm was to offer walking services to kids and their parents for a small fee.  It seemed like a win-win in the first minute or so.  Then, my internal editor/parent/critic started up with fifty reasons why it would not be a good idea.  A few of the highlights:  what if it rains? What if somebody gets hurt? What if my ankle and back get too sore to do it? And thus endeth that brilliant, flawed idea.

My newest venture is soapmaking.  Actually, making soap is but a part of my business. I’ve started making bath bombs (whoo, boy, the kitchen smells like someone slaughtered a bale of crisp cotton) they are now curing in the laundry room. My coffee scrub is very popular with at least one customer. My next product rollout will be wax melts just in time for the holidays.

“Fail to plan, plan to fail”. I’m seeing this in action.  I’ve watched at least one hundred videos on every aspect of the soapmaking business, from marketing to packaging, and I’m seeing a pattern.  Successful businesspeople actually get out of the niche and generate more income streams with videos, affiliate marketing, instagram posting, and their original business has settled into a solid grounding, but not the only income they rely on.  Hmmm.  Interesting.  So, first things first.  I have gotten great views on facebook when I make videos of my processes. I will likely start making weekly videos on whatever I’m working on at the time in addition to building my product inventory.  I have a possible retail space opening up in a store in a very hot area here, so definitely, more inventory is in order.

Packaging.  I really am not very good at it, honestly.  My label making skills are somewhat on par with a toddler banging away on My First Tablet.  I spent hours yesterday trying to make one label, and it didn’t go as well as it should have.  So, I found a video that showed some easy peasy ways to wrap soap, and I thought, oh, yeah, this is the way to go.  Then I remembered that I cannot wrap a present, much less make a cute, tight little soap wrap.  So, I can go for easy and inexpensive, or I can go for easier but more expensive.

Right now, I’m giving away a lot of products. Most everything I ship costs as much to ship as what I charge, so what am I doing? I’m getting feedback on what works and what doesn’t. My beta customers will always be the ones who will get the discounts, the secret goodies, and the upcoming production runs and the new scents available.

I must be doing something right, because I’ve been waking up at 1 am every night, having an anxiety attack, hearing my internal critic berating me unmercifully.  I get up, get a drink of water, and go back to my recipe book in search of new combinations.  Sometimes, that is just too much.  That critic can get so loud that I feel like giving up, but then I remember why I do this.

I love it.

I didn’t get into this for money. I do this because I love to create.  My creations will sell themselves because I’m sold on them. That reminds me: I have a commissioned art piece I need to start working on.

 

bare trees against sky during sunset
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

A therapist once told me that I thrive on becoming rather than being.  He was

right, but I didn’t understand at the time it is a double edged sword

The excitement of becoming is a drug that can chase one into madly searching for somewhere to land

Being. Ah, being. Just being. It sounds like stasis. Boring, Stuck.

At this age, I realize that stasis is equilibrium and that is a very good thing. Balance.

Not a teetering on the edge kind of balance, but a discrete place of action and calm.

Pity this wisdom comes so late in life, but the richness of nuance and meaning adds immeasurably to each precious day on this side of the dirt.

Experiences become a symphony of light and serenity

of satisfaction and grace notes of grief and booms of being one in this place

while memories race to claim a seat in reality, they add color and depth

to what is already at hand

I want to taste and feel and understand and stay still in the moment

It is a good thing, a very good thing, to be here.

adult alcohol bar bartender
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Either the crazy never begins
or the crazy never ends

Irascible writers are blown by the
winds to their place, screaming or quiet

In life, as in marriage or writing or working or drinking or making love or sweating out a hangover

Desperate regret births fear
And so, safely in the waiting room, under the buzzing lights
we will read a magazine, toss it aside
pace and curse and commiserate with others
but
we will never leave that room

scenic view of mountains during dawn
Photo by Stephan Seeber on Pexels.com

 

This morning, I arrived at the intersection of mortality and denial.  The past, present, and future sat at a cafe table, sipped lattes, and watched as my steps became hesitant.

The past delicately placed a five on the table.  “My money’s on knowledge.  She’s seen this one before and chose–well, if not wisely, then correctly.”

Present added a fiver. “I don’t know. Lately, she’s been just waiting and not doing. I’m going with what I see now.”

Future smirked and placed a ten under the cold candle. “You all know I have to cover both positions.”

I looked both ways and sighed. There must be a third choice I cannot yet see.  Frost may have gotten it wrong. I took out my notebook and started writing down the possibilities.

Wings sprouted from my shoulders and lifted me up, over the intersection, over the obstacles, away from the cafe. From above, I could see both roads.  I clutched my notebook to my chest and smiled. So, the writer’s way, then.

A passing waiter collected the money off the table and smiled at the trio staring openmouthed as I disappeared.

“It’s a push. Better luck next time.”