reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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what would popeye do? [flawed wednesday]

i know there is a simple solution: cut them off and scatter them back behind the garage so little critters can munch on them and appreciate them. yes, a simple solution. but i just haven’t done it. so, in the meanwhile, i whine and complain – aloud – about the spinach stems tucked tenderly under my potatoes and eggs, next to my halo and banana and adjacent to my steaming mug of bold black coffee.

though popeye attests ad nauseam to the benefits of spinach, never once have i seen him depicted wrestling with a spinach stem. this begs the question – do he and olive oyl remove them first? he sticks his hand into that infamous spinach can and sends a spinach lob through the air into his mouth, but, indeed, no stems.

i just googled, “should you remove spinach stems?”

it’s pretty apparent that this is An Issue. numerous sites are dedicated to showing how to wash and properly de-stem your spinach leaves. in fact, bon appétit.com states the obvious, “it’s pretty crucial to know when to keep the stems on your greens and when to take them off.” i say – in most cases, though not all, lest i be accused of limiting the magnesium intake potential and discriminating against non-fibrous-non-stringy-non-stuck-in-your-teeth-possible stems – take them off.

take them off. snip them. tear them. just get them off. this simple solution will likely add frequency to the spinach lineup in our breakfast menus. just the thought of nakedly-stemless rich green leaves peeking out from under the roasted potatoes on my plate makes me want to call popeye and stop kvetching.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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first-world pressure. [flawed wednesday]

i found an october 2017 edition of the magazine real simple in and amongst the catalogs in our magazine rack. paging through, i cringed when i saw an article about how to work from home, thinking how inadvertently prophetic that was. there were articles about kitchen makeovers, healthy habits, quick recipes and how to finance renovations. the second to last page was a faux program agenda for what was named by the author (ashley lefrak grider) the 32nd annual symposium of the american society for the investigation of contemporary fashion indignities. it made me laugh aloud, so i extracted two of the ‘session’ titles to share:

the morning ‘breakfast with the thought leaders’ was titled “low rise jeans: a plan to spread self-loathing among women who eat food.”

the ‘policy workshop’ held in the afternoon was titled “who bears the bulk of moral responsibility for pretorn jeans made of elastic and what is the appropriate punishment for this person?”

seriously, the experience of purchasing new jeans imperils most women’s senses of humor, not to mention self-image. styles change and jeans change and, each time, many of us are left wondering whose idea it was for women to wear skinny jeans or jeans that ride below a tummy that has had some serious childbirth adventures.

i detest the lighting in most store fitting rooms and the mirrors that surround you as you step out into the little hallway of curtains. were it to be my decision to make, i would provide soft lighting and beverages. a little asti/iced tea, perhaps. it’s painful. and jeans are my favorite thing to wear so you can bet that, once i have gone through this agony, through the oh-geez-these-make-my-butt-look-big-i’ll-just-wear-long-tunics-all-the-time enlightenment, i make jeans last a very long time and save them all in my overburdened closet. for years. it’s too anxiety-producing otherwise.

the worst is finding a new bathing suit. the hard plastic model mannequin wearing the darling suit in the swim, cruise and yachting department has not lived life and it is unfair to act like her little perfect shape is in any way relevant to the rest of us. ordering from a catalog is an option, but most of the same rules apply and make many of us wish that we could go back to the swimsuits of the 1920s, though these are also hardly ideal.

in the latest first-world news – just how does one keep up? – trends to follow include: luxe sweatsuits (named “almost-business-casual-take-you-from-the-couch-to-errands loungewear”), knit dresses and skirts (because who doesn’t want to wear form-fitting sweater-dresses!), leather coats pretending to be those oversized down coats, and, my personal favorite, puffy shoulders and sleeves, which makes me wonder why i gave away my bridesmaid dress from my niece’s wedding in the early 90s. what’s more, ultimate gray and illuminating yellow are the fashion pantone colors of the year, chosen for their “warmth and dependability”, but clearly not how they look on real people.

the tagline of real simple magazine is “life made easier”. and the heading on the page with the mock symposium agenda is “the struggle is real” with a sub-title of “clothes: we have a few complaints”. the closing session of the conference, with only an hour-long presentation – so little time, so much to say – was “to live is to suffer: was nietzsche wearing control-top pantyhose?” indeed.

women in our society have had an extraordinary and inordinate amount of pressure put on our ability to look fit, healthy, hydrated, well-rested, botulinum-toxin-injected and young. in the pickiest of picky new face-rules, lately i have noticed an emphasis on having eyelashes to end all eyelashes. as a blonde, eyelashes tend to be just laughable and definitely an investment in mascara. at a couple hundred dollars a lash extension application plus upkeep, costs seems like expenditures that would not fall under the ‘make a budget’ article guidelines, nevertheless it is a ‘thing’ and women everywhere are buying into it. at target yesterday, i wondered how the lovely young woman, waiting on us and trying unsuccessfully to type information into a device to locate our pickup order, functioned with her carefully manicured but insanely long fingernails. were these nails what she really wanted or were these nails a product of some sort of weird expectation that they were somehow elevating her already very natural beauty? the questions keep coming. so do the catalogs of new clothes, new swimsuits, new shoes, new products to trim your body, new trinkets, new dietary supplements. so much pressure.

too much pressure. good thing i don’t subscribe to cosmo.

i hear wide-leg-relaxed-fit-waist jeans are back. goodness and gosh, i can’t wait to go try some on. better yet, maybe there’s a pair in the back of my closet somewhere.

yes, friedrich, “that which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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arrive alive. [flawed wednesday]

once upon a time a little boy sat in the backseat of his family’s car on his way to kindergarten. as we can all imagine, he was excited and maybe chattering about the upcoming day. he was likely looking out the window at all the other cars and trucks and maybe having a little snack as he was driven to school by his mom. he was alive. and then he was not.

i don’t know all the details of this story, but the root cause of the catastrophic death of this little boy on his way to fingerpaint and hear stories and maybe jump rope or play 4square and practice letters with thick pencils on widely-spaced lined paper was road rage. no matter who was at fault, no matter what happened on that highway, no matter really anything, this little person lost his life on a freeway because of anger that had nothing to do with him.

i was stunned the first time i saw the signs on highway 82 in the roaring fork valley of colorado. “road rage – call *277.” but we have all been privy to at least one incident of raging road behavior so that there is a mechanism in place to report it is actually a progressive step forward. i was simultaneously disturbed to think that road rage was so prevalent in this gorgeous place and yet glad to see that the authorities had a mechanism in place to try and help dissuade it.

we recently left the park in illinois where we often hike. it’s a left turn out of the park with no traffic light onto a two-lane road. checking both ways carefully, as there is a bit of an uphill to our right as we exit, i pulled little baby scion out into the eastbound lane to drive home. suddenly, just as a semi approached from the east in the westbound lane, an at-least-80mph audi screamed past on the small shoulder on our right. i was startled, but luckily did not wrench the wheel either direction, for both would likely have had devastating consequences for more than just us. what kind of person passes on the shoulder on a 45mph road for absolutely no reason except that they are raging? what kind of all-consuming lack of regard for others does it take to drive a machine capable of great injury in such a monstrously irresponsible way?

we evaded tragedy that day, but how many examples do we each encounter every day? sometimes it is only with luck and defensive driving we safely arrive at our destinations. safely at our destinations. it doesn’t sound like too much to ask for. we need check our anger as we click open our car doors to get behind the wheel. the tag line of illinois tollway’s speed awareness day has been, “slow down. arrive alive.” yes. we shouldn’t need an awareness day or signs emblazoned with lighted letters to remind us. we shouldn’t need * numbers to call in times of raging road peril.

we pulled up to the red traffic light a couple miles down the road. the audi was stopped right in front of us, a mere one car-length gain. a tiny gain when so much could have been lost. like the life of a little boy on his way to kindergarten.

****

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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what is really real? [flawed wednesday]

back in the day, my sister drove a dodge charger. it was a pretty sporty car then, the 1974 model, and, as a driver on long island’s expressways, she was up to the task. she is still much a new york driver, conversation while driving in the car punctuated with relevant muscle-car-language. it was always an adventure being in the car with her. i am eleven years younger so i learned road-talk sitting in her passenger seat.

when the commercial came on for the dodge challenger i had to laugh. they have been pretty similar vehicles through the years. and the commercial made me think of my sister. until i saw the little boy driving it like a road-maniac. right smack dab in the middle of all the fancy muscling around, the commercial pauses and the little boy turns and says, “our lawyers just want you to know that this isn’t real.”

duh. it’s a commercial. is anything real?

the disclaimer at the end of pharmaceutical company ads listing possible side effects – though it is announced that it is not an all-inclusive list – is always bracing…especially the “do not use this drug (fill in the blank) if you are allergic to it or the ingredients in it…” seriously? what is real?

in our litigious country it is remarkable that you don’t have to sign a waiver no matter what you do. so many potential lawsuits, so little time. everything everywhere is closer than it appears in the mirror.

i had to text my sister and ask her what year her charger was. i remember clearly how much she loved that car – i remember it as butter yellow with a white vinyl top. when she texted me back i found out that she had purchased that very car because a playpen fit in the trunk. it was after her daughter was born so playpens and toting baby stuff was real for her. muscling on highways not so much.

my first car was my volkswagen. it was a 1971 super beetle and i adored it. my dog came with me everywhere and sat in the well. i toted my little niece all around, windows down and singing songs on our way to the beach or to feed the ducks or to play in the park. it was not a muscle car, it had zilcho storage capacity and it was not featured in cool cream puff commercials then or now. but it was real and it was a steadfast little bug.

pre-pandemic we loved to explore antique shoppes. we would stumble upon so many relics, so many memories, so many we-had-this moments. often, we would find things we still have, which made us laugh aloud that our possessions – the ones not obvious vintage treasures – were considered antiques. the mixing bowls, the salt and pepper shakers, the corningware, the irish coffee mugs. wandering through the aisles of antique shoppes, i have been known to exclaim, “people shouldn’t be able to purchase new glassware or mugs or plates or china! it should be a requirement to purchase from a secondhand store or an antique shoppe!” i am overwhelmed sometimes by the vast amount of wasted products, the vast amount of new choices, the vast amount of value people place in the stuff they have. what is really necessary? what is really real?

as the proud owners of stoneware i bought for 25¢ a piece at a wholesale show, passed-down corningware, a stove/oven circa 1980, a scion xb with 247,000 miles, an old 1998 ford f150 pickup truck and, yes, a 1971 vw bug, we are not the audience for the new dodge challenger commercial we saw.

because the little kid was right. it’s not real.

*****

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earth is weeping. [flawed wednesday]

i’m pretty sure earth is weeping right now. we have just had the seventh mass shooting in seven days in this country. earth’s occupants are in danger and earth is profoundly mournful. i’m with earth.

i don’t want to think that going to the grocery store could end anyone’s life – it’s unfathomable – and yet, as i write this, we have lost another ten people – who simply went to the grocery store. last week we lost eight beautiful lives with a shooter’s ‘bad day’ excuse. time and again, time and again. why is it we cannot stop this? it is no less real if you are not directly in the line of grief in any one of these mass shooting circumstances. the line of grief is all of ours and i wonder if you will think of this the next time you are in the grocery store or the spa or at a vigil or in a club or at a party, not to mention at a mall, in a church, at a concert, in a movie theatre, at school. i read a post with the words “…cheap thoughts and useless prayers now being rushed to the scene. more on this soon-to-be-forgotten-and-then-repeated story as it develops…” earth is reeling, its heart breaking into a trillion pieces in the midst of violence people seem unwilling to cease. i’m with earth.

i’m pretty sure earth is weeping right now. we have lost 540,000 people in this country to this pandemic, shy of 2.8 million across the globe. in miami’s south beach, there are restrictions that officials are begging thousands of pandemic-weary tourists to abide by. we pass folks in the local costco with masks under their noses; we see crowded bars and restaurants in our town. despite the government’s pleas for compliance and its new-administration’s plans facilitating and expediting vaccinations and aid, the level of apathy is disconcerting. wishing for everyone to believe we are all in this together doesn’t make it happen. earth is wondering what’s so hard about decent-human-behaving to save each other’s lives. i’m with earth.

i’m pretty sure earth is weeping right now. climate change and environmental flippancy is wreaking havoc on this good planet and the almighty dollar seems to be ahead in the race against any chance to reverse the damage. we were behind a pickup truck with the sticker “i’m with earth” as we drove across town. a little googling revealed what i couldn’t see from our vehicle, what i can’t read in the picture i snapped. these stickers are available on the website http://www.ilovegurus.com. each time someone purchases a pair of gurus – sustainably-sourced flip-flops – a tree is planted. every time someone purchases this sticker a tree is planted. their site reads, “continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting change in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts. it may sound daunting, but if we work together, we can plant one million trees to improve our planet for generations.” we are all responsible. we all must make decisions, choices to take part in saving the planet. being aware. being answerable. taking action. planting trees. maybe earth is cautiously clapping her hands as people become more knowledgeable, more protective, more potently effectual, watching her advocates gently plant saplings, tenderly seeding for the future. i’m with earth.

a serbian proverb declares, “be humble for you are made of earth. be noble for you are made of stars.” each and every person – yes, a balance. a coalescence of earth’s humility and stars’ nobility, both. weeping earth, lofty stars.

today, i am full of sorrow for those people who have lost others who ran out to buy chips or bananas or a gallon of milk, each of them brilliant stars. i’m with earth. weeping.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY



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one does not have to look like a snowman. [flawed wednesday]

“so, what do you really do?”

were that question to be paid by frequency, i wouldn’t have to answer it ever again. i’d be a rich chick with a h-o-b-b-y of music. or a h-o-b-b-y of writing. but alas, it is not frequency-paid and so i have to just lightheartedly laugh and, with a touch of demure-yet-playful, explain that this artist thing IS what i do. here i am, a pile of snow with stick-arms, a soul of magical-frosty can-do attitude and someone wants to know what i really do? i may not look like a snowman, but i am a snowman.

“don’t judge a book by its cover,” my sweet momma would admonish anyone who would listen. one day, at 93, she texted out, “don’t underestimate me. i know more than i say, think more than i speak, notice more than you realize.” and she meant it. her spirit – to the end – was strong and she was a five foot powerhouse. whether she looked like a snowman or not, she was a snowman.

we live in a culture that is beleaguered with judgement based on appearances. it’s in no one’s best interest. but it is pervasive and the injustice that stems from quick assumptions is rampant. we have pre-formed opinions for most everything; we have images in our mind’s eye before we do any research, ask any questions, have any conversation. we assume. we presume. we surmise. all before we actually take a second look at the snowman.

it is ‘interesting’ (please note this is tongue-in-cheek) to be looking for new positions. at just-shy-of-62 and just-shy-of-60, it is more age-typical to be celebrating an upcoming or recent retirement than to be passing out resumes. the wrinkles around our eyes, the few grey hairs sprinkled on our heads belie who we are inside. experience and education and boots-on-the-ground knowledge come with a price – and that price is age. in real life, that doesn’t have to be a detriment for an employer. it is a quieter wisdom, a less-intense slower-striding competition with others, a recognition of the collective embrace of gleaning from each other. but the looking-a-tad-bit-older-thing, in person or on paper, rears its head and, too often, the what-we-could-bring is tossed off the table.

here we are, two sedulous snowmen, measured simply by whether we have three round balls stacked on each other, a carrot nose, two button eyes and a scarf wrapped around an undefined neck. we may not look like judge-a-book-only-by-its-cover-snowmen, but snowmen we are.

perseverance picks it all up off the floor and tries again.

goodness. i reckon my sweet momma would have loved the t-shirt i recently saw, “underestimate me. that’ll be fun.”

*****

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chaos. [flawed wednesday]

1000 pieces. we finished it in two days. two blustering cold, freezing rain, pallid grey days. we moved the tiny pine tree forest to the end of the dining room table and turned on all the twinkling lights. we had snacks early and glasses of wine later in the day. we’d leave the table and then return to it. there is something deeply satisfying about piecing together the outer edges of a puzzle and then, slowly but surely, gaining on the whole image, tiny sections of the picture emerging.

if only life were quite that easy.

the puzzle of our lives is in pieces. though i suspect we can pull the ones with straight edges and fashion them together into a frame of sorts, it is the rest of it that will prove challenging. we are upended. there is no picture on the front of the box to follow. it is disarray. chaos.

a friend recently chided me on my distraught emotions. “you were plucked out of a snake pit,” he texted. although i mightily disagreed at the time, i am beginning to see the wisdom of his words. people are not what they seem, sometimes, and communities can easily become poisoned by the actions of a very few. i don’t know when i will rest easily again. every night i am awake, reviewing, wondering, trying to figure it all out with little to no information. i am appalled time and again by ruthlessness. our friend may be right. it’s beginning to look more and more like a snake pit. and his words of reassurance and encouragement may be spot on. but it is chaos for us right now.

this week is pivotal in our country and in our own town. between a president psychologically and constitutionally off the charts, congressional leadership following along nose-tail-nose-tail in his feverish and fraudulent election-fraud wake, a senate run-off of significant proportion, a deadly pandemic spiraling out of control, our country, its democracy, and its constituents’ health are in peril. it is chaos in this country.

in our own town, they are erecting concrete barricades, blocking roads, re-attaching window boards, putting a potential curfew in place. the boy-with-the-big-automatic-gun who blithely killed two people on the street a few streets away is being arraigned. the district attorney is announcing his decision on whether or not to criminally charge the officer who shot a young black man seven times in the back in the line of duty earlier this summer. there will be unrest. there will likely be violence. it will be chaos in this town. again.

we have a couple other puzzles in the closet ready to be tackled. i’m thinking it is entirely possible that we will clear the table of this one we completed, stashing the pieces in a ziplock bag inside the box with the picture on the cover. we might choose another. empty the pieces onto the table, turning the cardboard pieces over to see the colors on the other side, placing the box-with-the-picture so we can work from it. in the moments we feel the most chaos we may walk over to the table, pick up a piece or two and, because we have a post-chaos-pieces-in-the-box picture, begin to sort and put it together. it will feel like a little bit of accomplishment in the middle of real chaos.

if only life were quite that easy.

*****

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tuckered out. [flawed wednesday]

like a non-dangerous heat-seeking missile, babycat searches for the warm spots in the house. when the sun pours in the front windows, you will find him laying on the rug in the middle of the room. when the sun is higher in the sky and no longer checkers the rug, he will seek out the next. he can be found next to the radiator in the girl’s room, on the dog (read: cat) bed next to the radiator in the sunroom, on the bed waaaay up by the pillows, just above the radiator over the windows. he seeks comfort. he’s one smart cat. especially when he is tuckered out.

as this year-of-years comes to a close, it would seem that we are all tuckered out. yesterday we saw a wooden trivet for sale – beautifully crafted with cuts made by (i’m guessing) a jigsaw or scrollsaw. the very center featured the carved number 2020. from the center, there were what resembled fragile flower petals forming the rest of the trivet. each of those petals featured was carved intricately around one four-letter word: the one that starts with an f and ends with a k. yup. we should have purchased it. it seems fitting. sooo tuckered out.

we have only a few days left of this year. what shall we do with them? it has been my tradition, with calendar in hand, to review the year – at the end of the year – to see the rise and fall of breathing through all of it, the things we accomplished, the things that failed, the places we went, the times we shared with others. you know, the whole roller coaster ride.

this year i’m not sure if that would be fun, however. we are tuckered out.

this year we might just curl up next to the radiator and rest.

*****

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“truth decay.” [flawed wednesday]

truth seems a scarcity these days. like various species of rhinos, elephants, penguins, tigers, whales, it seems to be on the endangered list. vulnerable, it is threatened by agenda, by usurping rhetoric, by propaganda, by people hiding behind cloaks of superheroes. it has been battered by self-aggrandizing people, by persons in positions of power, in high places, in low places. dangerous falsehoods and narrative abound, both in the telling of lies and in the non-telling of truth. “we are suffering from truth decay,” brian stelter reports, “we are in a truth emergency.”

it has become pervasive, this rotting apple. from the top down, we do not have fine examples of truth-telling. we watch as the spinning stories spin faster, out-of-control, madness. it has permeated every little corner, this toxicity. even in our own little worlds we see evidence of spinning stories, of truth-evasion, of gaslighting, of madness. it is a contagion of its own merit, this decay, and we must brace, stand steadfastly in reality and facts and protect truth. we must ask for it, require it, demand it. we need push back against the covering-up of what is real, what is truth. we must find the verifiable core, have hard conversations, move in a healthy, unwavering way to verity. we need rail against the extinction of truth.

because of the hard work of dedicated organizations, wildlife may make a recovery. with the dedicated work of each person, each capable of forthright honesty, humankind would benefit from a truth recovery.

“this much is clear: we cannot afford to fail in our mission to save a living planet.” (world wildlife foundation)

yes. because extinction is extinction.

*****

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bullied. as a woman. [flawed wednesday]

“never be bullied into silence. never allow yourself to be made a victim. accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.” (harvey fierstein)

“to thine own self be true,” my sweet momma would say. she and harvey fierstein would have been pals. heck, i should be pals with harvey.

there is a cost. we all know that. coloring outside the lines requires sisu, gumption, chutzpah. speaking up, speaking out, speaking for, speaking against. a cost.

like you, i have been bullied into silence in my life. i have been harassed and i have been victimized. i have been liquified and poured into molds that don’t fit. i have been vaporized. i have allowed it. i have not allowed it.

i am a woman. and with that comes bullying, harassment, victimization. with that come molds, generalizations, inequalities, assumptions.

i am not naive enough to believe that were i to be a man i would never face any of these crushing blows. but i do believe that i would have faced seriously fewer.

it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that i would have been sexually assaulted at an innocent 19. it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that, in reporting the abuse of many underage young women, i would have my life threatened at 21. it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that i would have been scarily pursued by a man-with-a-foot-fetish at 35. it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that i would have been terrifyingly stalked at 50. it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that i would have been verbally and professionally assailed at 60.

were i to be a man, the men who wielded the power in each of these might have tucked his superman cape away, might have had a second thought, might have played out his control-game-fantasy somewhere else.

but i am a woman. and, for some reason deeply embedded in society, that changes the rules and empowers the mongers.

i have been silent.

for too long.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY