Sunday, November 19, 2017

Winter color

Lately the sky has been getting dark so fast!
To give myself a little perk up I went to one of my favorite winter hang-outs: Swanson's Nursery!
I love hanging out is the giant greenhouse/café and watching the friendly koi fish swim to greet little visitors to this local garden shop. The koi fish always come over to say hello.

My favorite thing is to grab something warm to drink and just walk around admiring all the colors winter has to offer - cyclamens, cabbage, neon green shrubs, winter pansies - just because it is winter it doesn't have to be all grey and dreary!



Sunday, November 12, 2017

33 Things

Happy birthday to me!!

I recently turned 33 and, inspired by posts like this and this, I decided to build my own list of 33 things. I had a lovely birthday exploring San Francisco - staying at an Air BnB with chickens outside the city and stuffing my face with delicious waffles, cannoli, and crunchy fries in between long walks to burn off all those carbs.

1. Enjoy today, you aren't guaranteed a tomorrow.
The world doesn't owe you anything and that bus is always just around the corner. Have fun today, laugh, spread some joy, make sure that if today is your last day - you did the best you could. No regrets.

2. Wealth doesn't guarantee happiness.
Being poor, you can still be happy. Being rich doesn't grant you happiness automatically. Having your basic needs met, health, a positive outlook, and something you are passionate about goes a long way to creating happiness.

3. The 3rd-world isn't far away. It is never, ever, far away.
There are always people suffering, without opportunity, without hope, in pain. Most of the time the general populace operates with a veil of willful ignorance, but it isn't hard to lift that veil. Challenge yourself to lift that veil occasionally, do something good for the people on the other side.

4. Beware desperation.
It is easy to fell into desperation if / when you do lift that veil. Desperation robs us of power. A desperate person is driven to do things they are ashamed of, a desperate situation shuts all routes of escape. Don't succumb to desperation. Recognize it, fight it, face it and let it go, but never let it rule you.

5. Learn to recognize and walk away from high-pressure or negging sales techniques.
We've all been there. The stereotypical high-pressure salesman of the used car lot seems obvious, but what about the college loan officer, the insurance agent, the health-plan navigator, your doctor, or that guy at the party who just wants your number? There's an adage about how to a surgeon even a papercut requires stiches...beware the motives of others, especially when they stand to gain financially from your situation.

6. Try new foods.
Try them. Even the wierd ones!

7. Tech is not almighty.
Working in tech isn't for everyone, and that's a good thing!

8. Wear sunscreen.
This recommendation is in almost every "things I wish I knew list," so, if you are reading this - listen!

9. Yoga.
If you don't use it you lose it. Watch the cultural appropriation - but stretching is generally good for you; as is taking some time for yourself, time to calm down, time to chillax. So, grab a space, clear your mind, touch your toes.

10. Go to the green.
Spend some time with nature if you can. Even if you are in the city - get a window box, grow some herbs on your windowsill inside. Low light? Try an orchid or violet.  Go to a park, stare up at a tree, get your hands dirty!

11. Water.
Drink it, conserve it, respect it - it won't last much longer.

12. Free public bathrooms.
Access to a bathroom is a privilege not a right...even though it probably should be. If you ever doubt this, try watching a homeless person get access to a coffee shop restroom. Watch the face they get, the "customer only speech," the rejection. Know where your free public bathrooms are. I base the friendliness of a place partially upon access to a clean, free, public bathroom.

13. An honest smile is the key to communication.
It will get you more from life than a scowl, and it buys grace when you don't know the language!

14. Don't hold onto clothes you'll "wear again someday."
Love yourself the way you are. Unless you are going through a dramatic a rapid body change - baby, surgery, cancer, etc - let the clothes of the past belong to the past.

15. You look fine.
You look better than you think you do and in 50 years when you look back at pictures of yourself, you'll want to see the real you - not some airbrushed, scrunched, and filtered version of a half-memory of you. Own yourself.

16. Don't read the comments.
It never ends well.

17. Figure out a travel kit and learn to become a traveler.
I keep a little travel kit, always good to go, and it saves me tons of time sorting out little bottles and finding that other pair of nail trimmers. Figure out what essentials work for you and build a little back-up kit.

18. Clean plain nails are fine.
I used to keep my nails painted all the time. For a while I felt pretty proud of the rainbow of nail polish I kept and I was obsessive about getting a chip in my manicure. But, it is a frivolity for me and healthy plain nails are perfectly fine...and much less maintenance! Now I save that time (and space) for things I enjoy more like sleep, baking, or playing cards with a friend.

19. Not everything has to be online.
Have an offline life. Life is not the internet and the internet isn't life.

20. Everyone has the right to die.
We tend to shy away from death in this country, and sometimes that causes us to turn a blind eye to the suffering of others. I'm talking about the man with the end stages of liver cancer, the one where treatment isn't an option, alone with no family, who is in extreme pain with no end.

I believe quality hospice care should be available for all, not just the rich. No one should have to blow out their brains, beg a friend, or craft a cocktail. If we have the right to quality healthcare(which I hope we do!), we also need to consider the right to a quality death.

21. Don't be afraid to stand for what you believe in, but don't be an ass about it either.
Simple enough.

22. Take good care of your teeth and gums.
You only get one adult set - so floss!

23. Soup.
Soup really is good for most things that make you ill. Chicken, barley, pho, doesn't matter - just get a cup of soup and things will be a little brighter tomorrow!

24. Be kind.
Simple enough.

25. Train your dogs.
If you have a dog, take responsibility for it - that means picking up poop, making sure it is fed and watered, providing it an education, watching out for physical and emotional needs. Dogs are super fun, but they are also a huge responsibility!

26. Read.
Grab a book once in a while. Grab a book more often if you can. Audiobooks are also a wonderful option!

27. Don't waste your time.
I often hear folks saying that they'd like to do more with their day but that there just isn't enough time to get it all done...but then they watch TV for 3 hours. If you need 3 hours of TV to chill, okay, but you can do some ironing while binge-watching?

28.  Life is what we make it.
Catastrophes happen. Laughter also happens. At the same time you are crying, somewhere in the world someone else is dancing, laughing, trying a new recipe, getting married, going on vacation, or finding their passion. We can focus on the sadness, or we can focus on the joy. Our lives are made or lost by that determination.

29. A good cup of tea is a little luxury.
Coffee might be your choice, or wine, or a beer - in any case, set yourself up to enjoy it!
Like all things - moderation is key.

30. Save your money.
Seriously, save as much as you can. Be smart with what you have, invest, experiment, get yourself something nice - but also save. Always be saving for that rainy day, for that house, for that retirement, for that medical bill.

31. Living a closeted life sucks. If you can, get out.
Some folks can't come out and that's more about our failure as a culture than theirs. They might fear losing their job, housing, physical safety, family relations, whatever - any reason to stay in the closet is a valid one, and I'm not going to judge that - but living in the closet is a tough life. If you can, get out.

32. The stuff you own really does own you.
It is a tired adage, but really honestly true.
Washing, drying, folding, ironing, cleaning, polishing, dusting, sweeping, painting, trimming - these are all activities we do for our things instead of for ourselves. See #27 and make decisions about what things are worth that time.

33. Always be improving.
We are all human and so we live in the space between being absolutely perfect in every way and eternally flawed. In any given moment we are exactly where we need to be, exactly the right size, right shape, right time, right everything. But - there's always little things we could do to make it better. That's not a negative thing - seeking to improve is not saying that we are horrible or bad, just little things that we can do next time.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Holy Knee-Brace Batman!

Happy birthday to the best Batman ever - Adam West!

Nobody beats Adam West as Batman and as today is his birthday, he gets fist dibs on this blog post. SO - thank you Adam West for being an awesome batman!

I also adored Eartha Kitt as Catwoman. Oh, and T and I get into way too long conversations about which is the better Joker - Cesar Romero or Jack Nicholson. Jack is seriously creepy, but Cesar is a great camper and works really well in the context of the show...see how this can go on?

Well, as much as I'd love to, there's no Batusi dance for me today. I already twisted my knee and so those Batman knee-bends are out of reach for me for the next few weeks at least.

You'll never guess how I twisted my knee - okay maybe you will:

Option A: Lifting a dog out of the car.
Option B: Digging in the garden.
Option C: Playing round in a giant bounce house.

If you guessed Option C, well, then there's nothing more to say. Your snickering is heard loud and clear.

It happened exactly as you might expect. I saw the advertisement for the bounce house and thought to myself, "why aren't there more options for adults to play around in bouncy houses? When was the last time I was in a bounce house? Oh my! I MUST GO!" I gathered some brave souls to go with and we all took off our shoes and pretended we were 10 again.

The bounce house was huge. This is the world's biggest bounce house! It advertises itself as 10,000 square feet of bouncey air-filled fun. There is a live DJ at the center playing music, beach balls, a ball pit, inflated slides and obstacle courses, lounge areas, and a giant pink gorilla...because why not have a giant pink gorilla?

Our tickets were for the 60 minute adult session. That might not seem like a lot of time. I know when I bought the tickets that I was a little let down that we only had 60 minutes, but after the first 10 minutes of non-stop jumping...I understood why. Jumping is a work-out! I tried the obstacle courses, fell into the ball pit, tried my hardest to get on top of the giant balls in the giant ball pit, and merrily hopped to the beat the DJ laid down.

I made it a full 58 minutes.

When minute 58 came I was preparing to wallop a friend who was coming down a slide with a beach ball. I had my right leg out and my arm raised with the ball. He rolled at the end of the slide...slamming into my knee. I heard an epic 'pop' and grinding sound in my ears as I fell to the floor.

The next couple of minutes are a little blurry, but I was carried out by a lovely Scotsman, ice was brought, and some water and Tylenol came my way. My friends brought me to urgent care and we spent the evening talking about how cool my new prosthetic leg would look, discussing our hiking plans, and laughing through the pain.

I can tell  you - that shot they give you in the butt - that HURTS!

I'm happy to report that my ACL is not completely torn! I was on crutches for a bit, but I'm improving every day. This week I stopped using crutches and so now I'm just on the knee brace. I'm also doing some self-imposed physical therapy with yoga and swimming on top of RICE.

With any luck, perhaps I'll be doing the Batusi for Adam's next birthday!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Tattoo ReDo

This is a seriously great before and after:

Short story -
I drew the design and brought it to the artist my husband used.
The guy seemed friendly and it was a small thing so he said it wouldn't be an issue.
I specifically asked him not to use black - I wanted it pale and subtle.
He agreed.
I got the tattoo.
He used black..."to make it pop" and couldn't figure out why I was so upset.
I felt really disrespected, hurt, and haven't had a tattoo since.
I have always hated and tried to hide it.

Then, on a particularly nice day when I was walking somewhere new, I happened to notice a small tattoo studio Ink and Paint on Stone way. I emailed the owner and operator, Nina, and shared my story and inquiry on if she did cover-ups and asked her opinion on what might be done. She immediately put me at ease with her calm, professional, but caring demeanor. Her shop felt really comfortable - a mix of eclectic cartoon cells, dinosaurs, and current projects but everything still clean and organized. It felt like the shop of a working artist.

We came up with some ideas and since I really like camellias I did a few drawings and she did one and we tried but couldn't make it work. The star shape, single color, and tight proportions weren't working out.

I started to look for star-shaped flowers figuring that if we couldn't easily hide the lines it might be better to accentuate them instead.

Some possible options were: fuchsia, bittersweet nightshade, morning glories, and lilies.

Bittersweet nightshade was my favorite.

I like it because it grows in the East coast where I grew up and it grows on the West coast where I live now. I like it because it is a very pretty flower, but also one that isn't as showy - it isn't a lily shouting out front and center, but its flowers and berries are bright little stars against a green backdrop. I like it because although it is small and pretty, it is also strong. Bittersweet nightshade can make a person ill if they aren't careful. If you don't treat it with respect it'll get the better of you - that's a sentiment I much prefer (literally) over the one where a man made decisions for my body without my consent.

Nina was great, loved the images I sent her, and worked up a second drawing that aligned much better with the existing ink. The colors were also much more flexible - shades of purple and green that could blend into the stars as opposed to a flat red that would have been for the camellias.

It took about a month to find time in Nina's schedule - which was perfectly fine, I wasn't in a rush.

On my actual tattoo date we went through the placement, she double checked the colors, and it went fairly smoothly. Getting a tattoo on the space behind your ear is painful and LOUD and I didn't want to talk or move my jaw in any way for fear of warping the skin behind my ear. So I passed the time staring at Nina's dinosaurs and still-cells from different animations.

After the tattoo was complete she went through the normal post-tattoo review for care and gave me a sample of Aquaphor and a card with aftercare review. It has been healing lovely and during a bike ride with D we even stumbled across some bittersweet nightshade growing wild along the Burke Gilman bike trail.

What do you think?