On Reaching My Halfway Mark

Today, I turn 45, thoroughly middle-aged, cresting the hill of my life, and- assuming I live to the ripe old age of 90 that I’m hoping for- my halfway mark.

Some things I’ve done in the first half that I am grateful for …

* Found the love of my life and married him.
* Had a smart, talented, and beautiful daughter.
* Had a smart, talented, and beautiful son.
* Spent eight years marching color guard with several different groups, allowing me to grow as a performer and as a person.
* Been to Paris twice.
* Been to East Germany when it was still East Germany.
* Been a daughter, sister, cousin, godmother, and auntie.
* Seen the mighty Mississippi River, the Statue of Liberty, Niagara Falls,  the Louvre, Mozart’s childhood home, Amsterdam’s canals, Anne Frank’s hiding place, the church of my ancestors in Northern France, a walled city in Austria dating from medieval times, and Dachau.
* Made many wonderful friends along the way.
* Tried not to make any enemies.
*Taught color guard to young performers, spreading the love of the art to others.
* Volunteered.
* Learned to be an artist: wrote, played, drew, danced, sculpted, sewed, cooked, baked, sang, composed music, painted, designed, choreographed, spun, and marched.
* Became a vegan.
* Learned first aid.
* Kissed boo boos.
* Learned to read music.
* Sung lullabies.
* Hiked, swam, camped and cooked-out.
* Learned to read Latin and Spanish and French, even though I have never managed fluency in any of them.
* Read as if words were oxygen.
* Been mostly healthy, most of the time.
* Held loved ones while they cried.
* Laughed with loved ones while they rejoiced.
* Seen dances, and concerts, and contests, and games, and theater, and film, and marching shows, and exhibits of so many kinds.
* Reaped what I sowed.
* Gazed at the stars.
* Basked in the sun.
* Played in the snow.
* Walked in the rain.
* Dreamed big and small.

Some things I still hope to do in the second half…
* Keep loving.
* Keep hoping.
* Keep asking.
* Keep helping.
* Keep traveling.
* Keep learning.
* Keep healthy.
* Keep teaching.
* Keep searching.
* Keep volunteering.
* Keep creating.
* Keep wondering.
* Keep dreaming big and small.

My 2013 Anti-resolutions (or what I won’t be writing this year)

Inspired by a prompt at Today’s Author, I have decided to turn over a new leaf and try actually writing this year instead of procrastinating. In spite of that choice, I present 10 things I will not be writing this year:

1. I will not start a faux reality blog about former child stars raising ostriches, llamas, and platypuses in order to curry the reading audience’s favor (and votes) so as to gain a recording contract, a movie deal, and a year’s supply of Rice-a-Roni.

2. I will not try my hand at creating a new fictional genre that combines all the charms of spaghetti westerns, cyberpunk, Gregorian chant, and space opera with the fascinating rhythms of dub-step.

3. I will avoid at all cost spending my days creating odes to the toenails on my girlcat’s rear left paw, no matter how cutely she scratches me with them.

4. I won’t make it a priority to come up with 101 new ways to use pine nuts, sea salt, and coffee grounds just so that I can have the most novelly titled cook book on the internet: Pining for Arabian Seas: 101 Recipes Using Pine Nuts, Sea Salt, and Coffee Grounds.

5. I will resist the urge to create How-To manuals for watching paint dry, herding cats or watching pots boil, not matter how extensive my expertise on the subjects may be.

6. I will not write pro-Martian propaganda, write puff piece interviews of non-terrestrial beings, or answer fan mail on behalf of my alien overlords even if it means a neural whipping, a loss of space cantina privileges, or defenestration via airlock (viva la resistance!).

7. I won’t spend any time at all creating a choose your own adventure novel about the advent of stereoscopic vision in predatory animals or the founding of a new planet by spacefaring slugs, snails, and other soft bodied invertebrates.

8. I won’t even consider publishing an underground leaflet of instant soup recipes and other material subversive to our all powerful alien overlords.

9. I will not develop the technology to write poetry on banana skins without them going brown before anyone can read them just so I can publish my sonnet Banana, Banana, Whose Got the Banana? in the format for which it was originally intended.

10. I will find a way to steer clear of marking down the long awaited songbook for my extemporaneous musical, Why Don’t You Just Go to Flipping Sleep Already?, which was performed in its entirety only once before a less than enthusiastic audience during my oldest child’s infancy.

About My Hair

I haven’t shampooed my hair since last June.

Yup, you read that correctly. I stopped using shampoo on my hair at the beginning of the summer and my hair has never been happier. Instead I use a baking soda and water rinse followed by an apple cider vinegar and water rinse and my hair comes out looking and feeling softer and cleaner that it has since I hit puberty. Once my hair has dried, this method leaves no sent on my hair even with the vinegar. I used to have a lot of trouble styling or even brushing through my hair when it was wet- ending up ripping out a lot of hair if I didn’t do it very, very carefully. Now, the brush goes through my wet hair easily and my hair has more volume because more strands stay attached to my head instead of in my hairbrush. Even more importantly, my scalp, which used to get dry, scaly and itchy once a month, is healthier than ever, too. Last but not least, this method is super cheap- baking soda and vinegar enough for about 3 months cost about $5-7, making it as cheap or cheaper than bargain shampoos and conditioners (which I don’t even need with this method).

This way of cleaning hair is comically named the “No-Poo Method”.

As a child of the 70’s I was surprised to learn that use of shampoo more often than a couple of times a year was really a very recent invention of the soap industry- big business trying to sell more product by convincing us that we were “doing it wrong” if we didn’t do it the way big business said way the right way. (Sounds so familiar.)

The thing that lead me to No-Poo was one of the things we have been trying to do as a family for 20 years- reduce the number of chemicals we expose ourselves to on a daily basis. I began reading and hearing about health concerns linked to the chemical sodium laurel sulfate and, wondered about alternatives. We as a family began using products that were sls free a few years ago because, despite the fact that the jury is still out about how dangerous sls is, if it is at all, we felt it was better safe than sorry. But, even if sls was proved to be completely harmless tomorrow, I still wouldn’t go back to shampoo. My hair and scalp feel way too good using the No-Poo Method.

So, my point is- if you have any concerns about sodium laurel sulfate or find that shampoos dry out your hair and scalp even when you use a conditioner, consider dumping the shampoo and using this more gentle and natural way of getting your hair clean.

More info here and here.

My 2011 Anti-Resolutions

For Fiction Friday at Write Anything:

1. I will not whine about how I want to go vegan only to be lured back to the slightly dimmer side of vegetarianism by the siren call of fried eggs, various cheeses, and desserts with real whipped cream on top. I will just quietly repeat to myself that being vegan is too hard until even the meat eaters start trying to reassure me that I can do it if I really try.
2. I will not text random info-bites to my Dear Daughter during school hours in order to see if she remembered to turn her phone off before she went to class. I will also not try to time it for when she has her least favorite teacher in order to maximize her punishment if she has indeed made that simple mistake that I make all the time. (Do as I say…)
3. I will not lecture the kids just to hear them groan about how they already know why the sky is blue, the complete unabridged history of Rock ‘n’ Roll, and how genetics works. I will also refrain from goading the Little Neighbor Girl into arguing with me about the meanings of words used in anime cartoons that she watches just so I can tell her not to shout in the car.
4. I will not teach the cats to say my Dear Hubby’s name so that he feels obligated to be the one who always feeds them and changes their litter and takes them to the vet when they are all borked up and full of woe.
5. I will not make broccoli just to see my Dear Son writhe on the kitchen floor in anticipatory agony when he has sweetly asked for a well deserved cookie. Later, I will not eat cookies in from of him when I have punished him for throwing a tantrum by taking away both cookies and broccoli.
6. I will not I will not buy my Bug-eyed Little Boston Terrier a hat and booties to go with his jacket and sweaters. He is not so cold that he doesn’t want to retain that last shred of his dignity.
7. I will not teach my kids any more demeaning terms for people who have the very unfortunate habit of eating the carcasses of dead animals is if it were something that a rational human being would do on a regular basis. They already know enough of them and it would be a waste of precious time and resources.
8. I will not assume that everyone who is irresponsible either fiscally, ecologically or socially must be a Republican. Democrats make mistakes sometimes, too (like trusting Republicans).
9. I will not spend any more time ranting about Billy Caxton, who is really the worst thing ever to happen to the English language and directly responsible for my atrocious spelling grades in all years of school. I will also not utter the words “Great Vowel Shift” unless absolutely necessary.
10. I will not write a tenth anti-resolution. (Daggnabit! I broke this one already.)

And the Artistic Encouragment from My Parents Never Ends (that’s a good thing)

So, as I wrote a few weeks back, I’ve been lucky to have grown up in a family that strongly encourages artistic endeavors and, despite the fact that I’ve been a grown up for a couple of decades now, I’m still getting some new artsy experiences encouraged by my parents:

We went to Sunday Brunch a few days ago and my dad asked both Dear Hubby and I to help him out by letting him record us singing his newest song so he could play with the new super snazzy professional looking mic that he recently got. He was doing this 5 part harmony thing and he had already gotten one of my sisters, one of my brothers, and my sister’s husband to sing two parts each. Dear Hubby sung tenor and bass and I sung soprano and alto. It was a quick, fun new experience and I kind of hope that we get to do it again sometime soon.

On the Arts

So lately I’ve been thinking about the Arts. You know, drawing, painting, sculpting, collage, photography, dance, music, theater, film, poetry, fiction: all those creative things that we all used to do or wished we could do when we were children, but don’t always remember to pursue as we become adults with adult responsibilities and less and less time that feels like it is ours to use as we wish.

I’ve come to realize that the times in my life when I have been the most artistic are the times in my life when I have been the most happy. And, those times in my life when I have let art and creativity fall away under the pressure of adult responsibilities have been the times when my come and go depression has come and stayed a while, sometimes a long while.

Continue reading

Lost Arts of Common Living- What your great-grandparents knew that you don’t.

So mostly, time marching on is helpful- we learn more about how the world works and more about how we as humans work, and our lives get better. But lately, what seems like a very large amount of the advances made in science and industry have begun to have the opposite effect. Instead of learning how to do things better, we are learning how to have something else- some machine or some process- do it for us and forgetting how to do it ourselves. This lament for ways past is not a new one- every generation looks to the past as a more innocent or purer time. The good old days have been thirty to fifty years earlier for as far back as humans go, but this lament- my lament- is not so much a look at how much better the past was as a look at what we are losing. Go back two generations and nearly every grown woman knew how to cook a decent meal from scratch, go back a few more generations and that included making even those staples that we as modern consumers would never consider making ourselves like butter and bread and jams and pickles- unless we were doing it as a sort of a hobby. The same goes for skills every grown man had- how to construct and repair furniture, care for cars or horses and other essential skills.

Continue reading

Wine Log: Lushness

Been writing- really I have, just not stuff I’m a gonna share here- too personal/incriminating or something. Instead here, have a wine log I’ve begun: Lushness. It’s mostly for my own entertainment because I don’t know wines, but I know what I like or something along those lines. Why yes, I did have a glass today, why do you ask?

On cold medicines and the FDA

So, being that it’s October (Again? Didn’t we do this like a year ago?) my Dear Son has a cough. And, as with most children, the cough is worst overnight and into the early morning, which makes for less than restful night for him. So, like countless parents on countless nights, I give him cough/sniffle medicine to enable him to breathe and possibly sleep.

Having the annual head-chest cold season start off, got me thinking about something I read the other day. Recently, the FDA decided to review the use of over the counter cold medicines in children. Go read the link quick and come back, okay. If it’s bad, I copied it at the bottom of the post, so scroll down. Go on now. Shoo.

*files nails and contemplates navel*

Continue reading