Category Archives: Life

Catching Up (PerBlog 2017-06-17)

What a whirl of a week this has been. Summer is in full swing and with it, the heat and the storms that I so love about Florida. Even living a stone’s throw from the beach, I still haven’t had the opportunity to get out much. When I can, I enjoy every second of the scent of the salt water, the wind, and the sounds that make Vitamin-Sea such a vital part of a healthy spirit.

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Photo on Hutchinson Island, Florida, credit: Heather Noel (LifeInPawPrints).

Summer plans have gotten off to a slow start, mainly due to finances and unstable hours at work. It’s the slow season so where I was hoping for overtime, there hasn’t been any and there’s always a chance of being volunteered to go home early, so that make it hard to plan some things, not knowing how much a paycheck will be when it’s all said and done. BUT… I’m working on other financial fixes, they’re just being stalled by a very slow legal process which is driving me mad. I always found it ironic that it costs SO MUCH to fix money problems. Perfect example: Bankruptcy. Hundreds of dollars to file, yet if you’re truly bankrupt, you don’t have hundreds of dollars to file, or you wouldn’t be bankrupt. The legal system is twisted and distorted to work against the people, not for the people, but that’s a whole ‘nother rant altogether.

My daughter had wanted to get a job this summer at Publix but even after applying and following up, she was not not called back. They will hire at 14 but she may have a better chance when she turns 15 in a couple weeks. She’s already worked there unofficially, bagging for her grandmother who worked as a cashier, so one store’s staff already knows her. That’s always a plus. But until something comes through for her on employment, she is enjoying the first weeks of summer with me and my partner, his mother and sister. We keep her busy with the art studio, the gym, DIY projects… there’s always something to do. Plus, she gets to sleep in to her heart’s content 🙂

Projects for me include getting some flowers planted (though I’m a couple months late in doing so!) and building a container garden that won’t fall apart like the last attempt. Aside from the seaside, gardening is good medicine for my often bitter spirit. It takes me out of the world and back into the basics of life. I like sowing, I like producing, and I like the idea of making something useful out of nothing. Growing things does that for me. Trouble is finding a place to grow where all the animals won’t destroy my work. Chickens and raccoons are great at getting onto and into places they shouldn’t be!

Suppose that’s it for now. This heat is making me grouchy. Normally I love this house (basically an open-air wood cabin type historic house – no AC – central or window shakers) but summers are a real bitch. There’s no escaping the heat. Even the shade is brutal.

PerBlog 06-04-2017

Hi kids! Today we take a moment to remember that quiet, alone time can be a GOOD thing! It means not having to wake and work around 4 other schedules, being able to watch TV (specifically a documentary on minimalism) until 2 a.m. because I wasn’t tired yet. It means sleeping in til 9 a.m. and having the cats forgive me the moment I gave them milk with their breakfast. It means being able to listen to Ani DiFranco on iHeartRadio while I take my time going through the morning news.

Coming Up
Our father who art in a penthouse
Sits in his 37th floor suite
And swivels to gaze down
At the city he made me in
He allows me to stand and
Solicit graffiti until
He needs the land I stand on
In my darkened threshold
Am pawing through my pockets
The receipts, the bus schedules
The matchbook phone numbers
The urgent napkin poems
All of which laundering has rendered
Pulpy and strange
Loose change and a key
Ask me
Go ahead, ask me if I care
I got the answer here
I wrote it down somewhere
I just gotta find it
I just gotta find it
Somebody and their spray paint got too close
Somebody came on too heavy
Now look at me made ugly
By the drooling letters
I was better off alone
Ain’t that the way it is
They don’t know the first thing
But you don’t know that
Until they take the first swing
My fingers are red and swollen from the cold
I’m getting bold in my old age
So go ahead, try the door
It doesn’t matter anymore
I know the weak hearted are strong willed
And we are being kept alive
Until we’re killed
He’s up there the ice
Is clinking in his glass
He sends me little pieces of paper
I don’t ask
I just empty my pockets and wait
It’s not fate
It’s just circumstance
I don’t fool myself with romance
I just live
Phone number to phone number
Dusting them against my thighs
In the warmth of my pockets
Which whisper history incessantly
Asking me
Where were you
I lower my eyes
Wishing I could cry more
And care less,
Yes it’s true,
I was trying to love someone again,
I was caught caring,
Bearing weight
But I love this city, this state
This country is too large
And whoever’s in charge up there
Had better take the elevator down
And put more than change in our cup
Or else we
Are coming
Up
If I’m lucky, my own urgent napkin poetry may happen today, only it won’t be urgent, but it will be spilled out on any scrap of paper I can find. Who knows where inspiration will come from today but I’m not feeling it yet. Right now I’m just going through the motions of gut-wrenching period cramps and enjoying the clouds floating past, praying for (more) rain and waiting for the Tylenol to kick in so I can get on with my day. At my own pace.

Working Sick: Where’s the Line?

​Recently (meaning a couple months ago), NPR did a report featuring workers who go to work sick. For the majority, it was mainly older employees who tended to stay home while the younger workers were more apt to push through their illness to not miss work.

The major difference between these two groups were the ones who tended to stay home were those who had tenure and got paid sick time off or would otherwise not be punished for taking time off. This was the older set. Of those interviewed in the younger set, they told the reporter they almost always went to work sick because they did not have paid (or even unpaid) sick time that they were allowed to use. Illnesses ranged from painful migraines to colds, flu, and other contagious illnesses that involved vomiting and diarrhea at work. Those who went to work sick said they did so because they could not afford to lose the pay or their jobs.
I was reminded of this radio spot as I forced myself to go to work sick today out of the same fear. I’d called out the past two days with severe bronchitis but could not afford a write-up for missing any more time, so I stuck it out. I ended up getting worse throughout the day because I wasn’t able to rest or take the medications that I have been at work – they put me to sleep. Upon returning to work today, I also heard from several others that they’d had to call out sick this week too for the same thing and I know where it came from. One person who came in sick 2 weeks ago coughing up a storm and even bragging about having the flu and still working.
The question is: where does someone who lives paycheck to paycheck draw the line between going in sick and staying home for their own health and others? Is it worth losing money or even your job to keep others safe? How do you handle it? Comments are welcome.

Election 2016 Afterthoughts

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Just a quick disclaimer: I am the most non-political person I know. I do not claim to have a scholarly understanding of politics, government, or how it all works. Even so, I still cannot believe what I woke up to Wednesday morning.
Maybe it didn’t seem real because for the past two days I’ve been sick as a dog and in a cold-medicine-induced head-fog but Donald Trump as president? Seriously? He’s not a politician, he’s an actor at best. Granted, one with a boatload of money, but that doesn’t qualify him to be president. Honestly, I voted for someone other than both Trump and Clinton because neither of them are really fit to hold office. But still.
Then I start reading the news. Both parties may as well have been tied in the popular vote but Hillary still had the lead. Even so, Trump got the electoral votes needed to claim the title. And now, our nation has lost its collective mind.
Social media (no, I don’t trust everything I read) is exploding even now with shouts of “A Nation Divided” and reports of riots (sorry, “peaceful protests”) from one side of the country to the other. And then it gets ridiculous. California wants to secede the Union, or at least its tech founders do. Immigration lawyers’ phones are ringing off the hook. Women are flocking to get IUDs implanted before their abortion rights get taken away. Immigrants are in a stir because they think they will immediately be deported away from loved ones.
Let’s just put the brakes on all this for a moment, shall we? I’m an open-minded person.
If you voted for Trump, congrats, your candidate won. Don’t be a dick about it.
If you didn’t vote for Trump, I’m sorry your candidate lost. Don’t be a dick about it.
Regardless of how our opinions are split, we are all still “One Nation.” We are all in this together. Remember, the President is a talking head who, as the face of the nation, does NOT carry all the power of the nation. That office still has to go through other channels to have things approved. All these radical claims of “building a wall” and flushing out the “illegals” will probably NOT happen. At best, we may see some changes in the economy for the better. Remember, any changes that happen will be slow.
Whether you love or hate the outcome of this election, please be human first. I call for unity over division. I call for love to suppress all the hatred. I call for us to remain ONE NATION, no matter who is in the White House. We are all still brothers and sisters under one American flag and we need to look out for each other.

Down Time

When is the last time I had a vacation? I can’t remember. So 3 months ago, when my job finally made me permanent and assigned some PTO for me (paid time off), I requested a 4-day stretch off work. To my surprise, it was approved so as I write this, I am enjoying my first little non-working vacation in I don’t know how long. Can I tell you how good it feels to NOT have to set the alarm? To be able to go to sleep when I’m tired instead of when I have to? This is much-needed down time for mind and body, especially since the busy season is about to start at work and not only will time off be difficult to obtain, we’ll start seeing mandatory overtime as well. It’s about to get stressful.
So what am I doing with my time? Lots and lots of reading and relaxing for one. Some self-pampering. Today looks to be a day that involves nothing more than a long soak in the pool, followed by basking in the sun with a book, then the jacuzzi. Then dinner with my hunny and curling up to watch some TV, just us.
I wanted to stay local while still being far enough from home for it to feel like a getaway, so we booked a lovely inn that is a little out of town and right down the road from my second-favorite Downtown area and the artisan community interlaced with it. Tomorrow looks like window shopping and browsing at the many antique stores and art galleries. Best way to spend a Monday 🙂

Audacity

2016 07 30 Reading Room

On the top floor of the library downtown, there is a wonderfully sun-lit corner set aside for a casual reading room. It offers a stunning view of the water and the entire marina and barrier islands. Facing one large picture window is a love seat where anyone who likes can relax as long as they want, enjoying the view and the quiet atmosphere.

Recently, I visited and took a seat away from the windows but where I was able to still enjoy a good view. I settled in with my Kindle and was knee-deep into a gripping story when a woman across from me (who had only sat down a few minutes prior) started clucking her tongue and sighing exasperatedly over the sound of a happy toddler just chatting to himself. He and his father were quietly enjoying the prime seating at the picture window and the toddler was, in my opinion, being exceptionally well-behaved. I glanced up and saw her glaring at the pair, scowling, then looking over to me as if she expected me to say something. After a few more minutes of her huffing, what she did next just blew my mind.

This woman – and because this story does have to do with racism and classism, I may mention she was Caucasian and very much a New Yorker and somewhat well-off – picked herself up and marched right over to the man – a local black southerner – and leaned right down in his face, asking him how much longer he planned on sitting there. I couldn’t hear his response but she said to him, “I’m not telling you what to do, but as you can see, this is a beautiful spot to sit and it is here for all the patrons of the library to enjoy, so you and your boy need to go downstairs or find somewhere else to sit because other people will want to sit here and you’ve been here long enough.”

Whoa.

Mind you, there were several seats available in the area, all with a view, and no one was waiting for a seat. The woman had only been there for five minutes when she decided the black family wasn’t good enough to use the seat. After hearing what she said to him, all I could do was utter a shocked sound and watch in horror as the man actually politely got up, packed his son back into his stroller, and left. I felt horrible for them, but I didn’t know what to say!

The woman then went to sit back down in her seat – not the window seat! – and about 30 seconds later got back up and came over to me. I was shocked when she placed her magazine and her hand on my lap and leaned in only inches from my face and asked me, “Were you laughing at me or with me?” I just shook my head and said, “You have balls.”

“What does that mean,” she asked. I calmly looked up at her, leaning back so as to feel a little less claustrophobic, and told her, “I was laughing at the audacity you have to think you have some God-given right to tell perfect strangers what to do. Those people had every right to be in that seat, they weren’t disturbing anyone, and you had NO right to walk up to him and tell them to leave! You don’t own this place and you have no authority over anyone here!”

She. Was. Shocked.

I was just disgusted. She scoffed at me and stormed off. Good. I’d wanted to slap her however my words appeared to have stung just as well. As soon as she left, the man and his son came back and he and I shared a smile and a look of understanding and sympathy as he took the window seat back and went about his business spending time with his son in these beautiful surroundings. People like that woman are a poison in our sea of tranquility and I hope for even a brief moment she realized that her intolerance will not be tolerated.

SHARE YOUR WORLD – 2015 WEEK #40

SHARE YOUR WORLD – 2015 WEEK #40

I’m jumping in just a bit late here (OK 10 months late) because a: I just discovered these prompts and b: if I don’t start now, then when?

#1: If you have been to a foreign country name those you have been to?

I have skirted around Cuba and the Bahamas but the place I actually spent considerable time and never wanted to leave was Quintana Roo, MX. It was on a honeymoon cruise in 1997 and we entered Cozumel through Playa del Carmen. Admittedly, I was disappointed at first because it felt no different than being in Miami. The first thing I saw off the boat was a Burger King and a Daquiri bar popular in the ‘States. Liberating ourselves from the tourist trap however, we were transported into a whole new world of single lane dirt roads, quiet villages, and some of the nicest people I have ever met. Even with a language barrier, there was still understanding, kindness, generosity, and genuine welcome.

#2: Is the glass half empty or half full? What type of glass is it and what is in the glass?

This question has always irked me because it forces one to be judged in such a closed-ended, black-and-white manner that really isn’t realistic. Our moods change, our personalities change, our momentary stimulus changes and the answer can be different every time, leaving us wrongly judged because we are just being judged in the moment.

I see it this way: The glass is halfway to whichever direction the contents were traveling. If it was in the process of being filled, then it is half full. If it was in the process of being drank or poured out, then it is half empty. It isn’t about what *I* think. It’s about the facts happening around the situation and leading up to it. There are always other facts to consider. Is it half full or half empty? “It’s just half.”

Incidentally, it should contain a good, hearty, merlot.

#3: If you could have an endless supply of any food, what would you get?

Sushi, hands down. It’s a dish that can be created endless ways under one label, it’s fresh, it’s clean food, and can be nutritionally dense. I could easily live off sushi.

List: List at least five places worth shopping.

As one who doesn’t shop often, this will be difficult…

1. Local farmer’s market (downtown, Saturdays)
2. Nelson Family Farms
3. Local artisans
4. Local art galleries
5. Any small business with a quality product or service

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I’m grateful I got to spend some quality time with my daughter, especially now that she is getting to the age between being a little girl and wanting her teenage freedom. This week coming up will be hella busy at work because open enrollment for Medicare Part D is starting, so we are gearing up with parties and all types of goodies for the crazy time ahead.

Zombie Apocalypse In My Dreams

I had some weird dreams that continued to play out as I woke up throughout the night and kept falling back asleep. Must have been the migraine…

I was somewhere, not sure where, and someone was preparing their house for the end of the world. They had the house set up for 130 people in the basement, and I didn’t believe any of it was going to happen. They had all the provisions though the people would have been crammed wall to wall. This guy seemed like some kind of false prophet, tall and charismatic.

Dream broke to me having to accompany some woman down to a Walgreens several miles away. It was raining and we were on bicycles, she had her two kids with her riding in a basket on the back. I realized I had forgotten my inhaler and wanted to turn back but she wouldn’t let me. I went into a minor panic attack and tried to breathe my way through it. We got to Walgreens and her male friend who appeared out of nowhere directed me to this “doctor” who would give me a new inhaler.

It took me a while to find this “doctor” and it was getting dark out. It ended up being a house, and the “doctor” ended up being some weird hippy kid who just happened to have a stash of generic meds. He acted very cocky and cool like he didn’t have to help me because I was disturbing him (from what I have no idea because he wasn’t doing anything), then finally gave me something that, after reading the label, I realized I could have just gotten over the counter. Then he crawled back into bed and his mom came home.

Since it was getting dark and I didn’t want to walk 3.6 miles (according to my phone’s GPS – at least I remembered to grab my phone!) alone during the impending zombie apocalypse, I sat in his room for a while, then when his mom came home, I rummaged through his stuff, found an inhaler, and headed off back to the safe house. Was dark when I got to the safe house and people and their pets were all filing in under the direction of the home’s owner. There were no other homes around this place, it was just a regular single family home standing along a sidewalk with nothing at all surrounding it. I ended up opting not to go into the safe house and the dream ended there with no end of the world happening.

Leave it to me to forget my inhaler during the zombie apocalypse.

Ad Tracking On Facebook and How To Stop It

So you visit a website, let’s say… a Halloween costume shop because you are looking for the perfect spandex bodysuit to play your favourite super hero. The next time you log in to Facebook, you’re seeing ads down the side of your page and stealthily snuck into your News Feed. These ads are full of spandex body suits. And latex. And worse. You only needed a spidey costume! Your browser has tracked your surfing activity and fed it back to Facebook. Do you feel violated yet?

There is now a way to drastically reduce the number of activity-based ads (also known as behavioral advertising) that you see on Facebook. Since simply turning off your cookies renders Facebook (and many other websites) virtually unusable, the Digital Advertising Alliance gives you a tool to opt out of tracking based advertising. Here’s how you do it:

Visit the Digital Advertising Alliance’s opt-out page at: http://www.aboutads.info/choices/ (Think of this DAA tool as the “Do Not Call” list of the Internet.)

The page will automatically begin scanning the browser you are using for companies that are tracking your activity and reporting it to Facebook to generate ads.

When the scan is complete, you will see a list of companies that have been participating in this on your computer at your expense. Here, you want to check the “Select All” box, then submit your choices at the bottom.

Once complete, you will have a screen that looks like this:

Opt Outs

I have selected the 3rd tab here to show companies that are no longer tracking what I do for advertising (and God only knows what other purposes). As you can see, 118 companies were found in this case to be tracking activity. Of those, one “could not be communicated with.” 96 of these companies had an option to “opt out” of their tracking based advertising. The rest had no available opt-outs. Still, there are now 96 companies that are no longer tracking me for Facebook ads? I’ll take it.

Of course, this will not get rid of all of your Facebook ads – they have to stay afloat somehow and advertising is their primary source of income. However, you can feel a little bit better about your privacy and that in itself is worth a few clicks.

Are You OK?

A while back, I came across a blog entry via Twitter that brought attention to an Australian social campaign called R U OK? It promotes starting conversations to let people know that they are cared about and to help them voice things that are not OK in their lives so that help can be provided before a situation becomes a crisis. It’s a beautifully simple concept really, and one that could realistically save a life.

This morning, I was reminded of this campaign as I was sitting on my front step waking up with a cup of coffee. This is a small community so most people know each other. When a car drove up slowly into my neighbor’s driveway, I noticed it of course but did not think much of it until the door opened and no one got out. The elderly man in the driver’s seat sat there for a few minutes and then put his head down, chin-to-chest, occasionally looking around then putting his head back down for a couple minutes. From this angle, he was acting as I’ve seen people with dementia act when they are confused, not knowing quite where they are or why.

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Alarmed, I got up but he picked his head back up and reached for something in his car. He seemed OK for the moment but I kept watching. After a few minutes of him just sitting there, his head began to sink again, so I went inside to get my phone in case I needed to call anyone. I headed over to his car and quietly asked him, “Are you OK?”

Startled, he jumped and stared at me for a moment before angrily telling me, “I’m napping!” The tone of voice made me take a step back and apologize, telling him I didn’t know if he needed help and I was just checking on him. He nodded then, and turned to put his head back down.

Since this was not anyone who lived there or anyone I had ever seen, I kept watch from my front step for about 10 minutes longer. Finally, he got out of the car and slowly made it to the front door where my neighbors apparently knew him and they helped him in. I apologized for startling him and was thanked with a smile and a wave that communicated to me, “It’s OK.”

Even though everything was OK this time, there may be a time that someone does really need help. The responsibility falls on all of us to be aware of the situations around us and to be proactive, asking even a total stranger… “Are you OK?”