When Your Feelings Are No Longer Squelched

Note: I realize I am a privileged person who has nice things, food, shelter, and a good education. My family that speaks to me does their best to support me. And I am NOT blaming other people for my perception. That’s on me! As I repeatedly state in my personal blog here, I’m grateful for that. No need to point that out to me when I share that I’m struggling.

Feeling bad can distort your perception of reality just like a weird mirror on a trailer.

I feel like shit. I was feeling okay for a long time, and now I realize it is because, like so many people these days, I had used medication to numb my feelings and help me cope with reality. Reality, today, especially if you’re a woman in Texas, Yee-Haw USA, sucks.

Reality is hard on a personal level as well. One thing that medication did for me was enable me to sort of sit back dispassionately and watch how life goes on at the soap opera known as the Hermits Rest Ranch and not let it get to me. Things happen, people do things, I get stuck in the middle of situations I don’t understand. With medication, I just say, “Oh, that’s just so and so being who they are…no need to internalize the consequences.” So, I am able to deal with the kinds of treatment I normally would be devastated by pretty well. I’m able to forgive and just drop things, knowing that we’re all messed up and doing our best.

The best or worst thing about the medications (depending on how you look at it) is that I am able to resist the urge to stand up for myself or call out behavior, knowing that every time I’ve done so for the past few years, I’ve been gaslighted or been treated to that classic technique of being blamed for causing my own problems. Me standing up for myself tends to go horribly, horribly wrong. And it achieves nothing other than upsetting others. So, I’d rather not stir the pot, since I know I’m no better than anyone else, with my sarcasm and things I say when stuff leaks out that aren’t kind.

Now is my life horrible? No. There’s great stuff in my life and right here at the Hermits’ Rest. I was generalizing about difficult experiences that aren’t constant but that, if I’m being honest with myself, are hard on me. Of course, knowing what a hard person I am to be around, I know I’m very taxing on everyone who has to be around me! My only point is that the medication made it easier for me, and that I’m having trouble now that I am feeling things harder. I don’t want to subject the people around me to un-squelched Suna!

Would I like to be my authentic self in my own home? Yes. I could probably relax more. Is it a good idea? No. This is not a safe place to share feelings about the state of the world or my inner dysfunction. I crave peace and love. So, sometimes I have to sacrifice to get one or the other. Don’t we all? Perhaps.

I’d love to share some of the challenges I face here in my personal blog, because I think it’s good to present a balanced picture of life, which is imperfect and not always easy. But there is a long list of things I’ve been requested to not mention. That makes my sharing of my life sound often like I’m living in a paradise of privilege with no problems. But that’s not true. There are health issues with everyone in this family but me (and obviously I have a mental health issue). We have a business that is struggling, I think. Not really sure. I sometimes feel unsafe in my own home, since I’ve given up a lot of my firmly held beliefs so that others can do what makes them feel comfortable. And those vague generalities are as far as I can go. Holding things in can make them leak out in weird ways when you’re unmedicated, though.

For example, there are dreams. Oh my gosh, I have been having horrible dreams about people from my past berating me for all the mistakes I have ever made. That’s quite the parade, let me tell you. My estranged son, his father, numerous people I dated, my father (always my father, who is the reason I am so afraid of being yelled at), friends from high school (including the one I did not have a baby with when I was 17), ex bosses. Whew. I wake up and read bland news items about nature to get the dreams out of my head. They keep coming. I would like to re-squelch them.

It’s overwhelming. I am not coping well.

If you’re my friend in real life, reach out to me sometimes. I suck at reaching out. I hate to intrude. But I realize that vaguely saying I’m not feeling well isn’t too useful either. These are hard times. Many of us are struggling. I’m not alone in having a genuine meltdown and personal crisis. But I want to admit it and say that I’ll listen to YOU if you want to talk.

And I love every single imperfect person in my life. That’s why I’m still here rather than checking out, which is mighty tempting right now. Well, that and the horses. I can’t leave the horses, too. And dogs.

Next, here is what bugs me.

Things I Want to Say (some borrowed from my spouse)

Anyone who has managed to read through my mental health drivel now gets to read genuine opinions by uncensored me. If I piss you off, unsubscribe, block me, or stop speaking to me. You won’t be the first. But people like me keeping quiet, I think, has helped the world get to where it is.

It is every-so ironic that the woman-hating judge Clarence Thomas claims to be an “originalist” and that every word in the God-given US Constitution must be taken literally is not even a PERSON in the original constitution. He is a black guy! FFS!

It is every-so ironic that all the gun worshippers who also claim to worship the God-given US Constitution don’t realize that if we really went by it in its original and perfect state, as delivered by God from Mount Vernon (or wherever it came from) don’t seem to realize that if they are too poor to own the property on which their homes have been set, they would not get to vote. Only land-owners who are also genuine 100% man-humans got to vote in the version handed down by the Blessed Forefathers.

By the way, I read in a book (I know, I’m one of those doomed intellectuals who use those as sources of facts) that the MEN who wrote the US Constitution were, in fact, people, not deities. They drank, swore, cheated on their chattel…err…wives, owned slaves, and made numerous errors, like humans do. Not gods. Not perfect. Not able to predict the future.

And didn’t the God in the Bible used by most Christians say to not have any other gods before HIM? Wait a minute. Guns? Constitutions? Trump? Aren’t those not Jehovah?

DO NOT TELL ME TO VOTE. I VOTE IN EVERY PODUNK ELECTION IN THIS PLACE. I EVEN HELPED ONE PERSON WIN, ONCE. EVERY OTHER REASONABLE CANDIDATE, I DID NOT HELP.

Besides, the people or entities who are creating the society we live in today have nothing whatsoever to do with this illusion that we are voting for who represents us or that those people represent anything other than money and power.

I CAN Try New Things!

When I finally get a day off, I can cram a lot of fun into it, that’s for sure, and yesterday I even stepped outside my comfort zone successfully, more than once. I’m so proud.

Announcement! Suna is proud!

One thing I’m happy with myself for doing is finding my own fun by myself. As Lee has gotten more and more into the Hermit Life, I’ve found myself slipping into it as well (and COVID helped form the habit of being solo). Since I wake up ridiculously early here, I usually have five hours or so to kill before Lee is able to do anything. I sit on the balcony, read, or knit, but I’m so used to getting up and doing a bunch of chores that I’ve taken to just leaving and finding stuff to do outside.

Pretty kites, and look, way out there is a BOAT! You don’t see many boats here.

Admittedly, some of the stuff I do involves fruity drinks and beach chairs, but I wander around, take pictures, and talk to folks. I swear I’m turning into my dad with all this talking to folks stuff. Not very hermit-like.

I got to have the first pineapple slice of the day.

When Lee was awake, he suggested we go take advantage of the free putt-putt golf we get as part of our stay. I think the hotel chain bought this sorta run-down course, since it’s right across from one of the properties and counts as an amenity. Here’s an admission. I had NEVER played putt-putt before, or any other golf-like activity.

A Chapter for My Memoirs

Backstory: In my horrible only year at Plantation Middle School, some person without much forethought had the great idea of having a bunch of young girls, many from backgrounds that didn’t include elitist sports like golf (back then, well-to-do white people played golf), learn the sport in physical education. Golf includes golf balls and golf clubs, both things that needed to be treated with respect. There were rules, like only swinging your club behind a certain line, not swinging without checking your surroundings, and not driving the ball while people were out retrieving their shots. Good rules. Who can guess what happened?

Golf has rules for good reasons. Photo by @Thaninee via Twenty20

Yep. I had finally hit my ball far enough to get an extra point (a thing I needed because PE was my worst class) and was about to pick it up when WHAM, one of the little darlings in class swung her club onto my head. I was so focused on getting my extra point that I simply went back to the teacher to report my success. She asked me what was on my gym outfit. That would be blood. I had to go to the nurse’s office, which was hard to do when you had no idea where that was in the crazy building and you were dripping. I was so angry that I smeared blood on the exterior wall of the school, quite an act of rebellion for the rule-follower I was at the time.

I can’t believe I found a picture of the wall. The school is now the home of the Patriots and being renovated. Much different demographics, too.

The nurse washed me up and called my mom to come get me. Mom was in the middle of her nervous breakdown from having to move away from Gainesville, so she was not happy to have to drive down Sunrise Boulevard (she didn’t like four-lane roads) to come get me. She looked at the hole in my head and declared something like it was just a flesh wound and took me home with no doctor visit or anything. Mom was frugal and didn’t want to waste health care dollars on us kids when she needed so much (thus, we had no trips to the dentist until our teens, my brother’s lazy eye was not addressed until too late to fix it, etc.).

My nightmare: a child with a giant golf club. Image by @Moondrop via Twenty20

The results were that I had headaches for years and sharp pains if I moved a certain way. I have avoided golf entirely. I wasn’t the only one permanently damaged by middle school golf. Another classmate had a chunk of her chin removed by someone who didn’t check her surroundings, and as far as I know, still has a nasty scar. I believe that was the end of the golf program at Plantation Middle School.

Back to Put-Putt

Anyway, Lee likes golf and used to be really good at mini-golf, so I agreed to go. I’m so glad I did. It was great fun, and I was nowhere near as horrible at it as I feared I would be. In fact, I was even under par on one hole, and made par on a couple more. The first hole was pretty bad, since I had to figure out how hard to hit the ball to make it do what I wanted it to do, but after that, I found it most amusing to see where the ball would go and what it would do.

Not too fancy but does the job.

I declare that I would do it again, perhaps at a nicer course. But, we got a lot of laughs out of the outing and it was great to see Lee actually enjoying an activity on a trip.

Off to Calabash

We decided we wanted some good seafood, so we motored off to North Carolina (barely) to the beautiful little town of Calabash, where we’d had a great meal last year. Once again, I knitted a lot. I am trying to get that baby blanket finished before that baby is born. We tried the restaurant next door to the one where we ate last year, and were not disappointed.

We were at the far left corner. Isn’t it pretty?

I got a huge amount of food in my platter, unlike the small serving we had in Murrell’s Inlet a couple of days ago. And it was fried so beautifully that my grandmother would have approved (the great connoisseur of Florida seafood). The oysters were immense and the scallops delicate and tender. The shrimp were local (from right next door!) and the fish was glorious.

See, even grackles can be pretty.

While the service was a little slow, I could not complain, since there was quite a show among the local bird population for me to enjoy. Grackles were mating and building nests, so they were in great form (and loud, being grackles).

The seagulls were also in squabbling mode, so there was lots of action. Plus, there were pelicans zooming around and catching fish. They are so beautiful to me.

After the meal, I went for a walk on the little boardwalk and boat docks, where I got to enjoy pelicans having some kind of bird party next to a party boat, which cracked me up (easily amused).

Pelican Party Time

I also realized why all the birds are so dang happy right there in Calabash. The water was literally teeming with little fish. No shore bird could go hungry with all those fishies everywhere they looked!

While I was gone, Lee was paying the check, and since he was alone with our leftovers, the laughing gulls got bolder. He got a great shot of a laughing gull taking one of my shrimp.

Once we got home, I needed to burn off that fried food, so I walked on the boardwalk until I got all my steps in, then decided to enjoy an Old Fashioned and knit a table at the upstairs bar (I had been outside until a loud family arrived). A lady said I shouldn’t be sitting alone and invited me to the bar to sit with them. I ended up talking to them and another couple for a long time. Lee even came down for a while.

And in talking to the staff, I discovered that Kevin the bartender is also a history professor who specialized in my very own ancestors in Florida! His family is also from north Florida with deep roots there. Who would have guessed? This condo has the best staff, that’s for sure.

Beautiful ending to a fun day, even if I overindulged.

I ended up meeting another couple and stayed too long and had three drinks, so I was not at my best when I got home. Lee said I was cuddly, so I must have been out of my mind, ha ha. It was worth it, though. I truly enjoy hearing the stories of all the people I run into and finding our commonalities without ruining things by getting into politics or religion. Granted, anyone I meet here fits certain criteria or they wouldn’t be here. Hilton sure does check your credit scores and incomes. But I’ve met people from many places and backgrounds, and that’s what I like and have missed so much the past few years.

While I’m still primarily doing outdoor things (we’ve been eating on patios), at least I’m no longer scared to talk to people. I’m back to having a nice balance of being alone and in peace and interacting with others.

Reminder: Enjoy the Moment

When I see tragedies happening around the world that are caused by some frightening person’s lust for power or sense of entitlement (I want it, so I’ll take it), I have no illusions that the same thing can’t happen here or anywhere else. People let it happen.

Tonight’s moon that I missed because I was in the hot tub. Glad I was sent a photo!

They are starting to talk about the other “n” work, the one Pres. Bush had trouble pronouncing. I’ve always thought that’s how I’d die. I’m ready for it. I’ve made me peace, eliminated most of the negativity around me, and am fine disappearing.

I’d miss my buddy for the past decade, though.

I don’t want to lose Gaia or all the young folks with things to contribute to the betterment of humanity. Of course, I also struggle to keep to my illusion that better things are possible, no matter how we try.

This one gives me hope, the cheeky adolescent that he is.

I know folks who have evacuated due to fires northwest of here. But their prize horses are safe. That’s good. Two other friends who’ve dealt with fires and flooding are recovering. That’s resilient. Some people I care about have recently lost loved ones, quite young. Their families show such grace and humor, as do those I know struggling with “long COVID,” which is so unfair. There are glimmers of goodness and hope, even amid despair and destruction. Our job is to see it and cling to it. It may be all we get.

What I affirm that I can do is try to be kind, try to help others, and enjoy every single day I have on this planet. I’m soaking up the beauty and peace as hard as I can, and I’m savoring any good moments that pop up, like my ring.

My dragonfly ring popped up! After three years, it still feels good on my hand, dry skin and all.

Sigh. Lots going on today, I guess. I’m beginning to sound more and more like a convert to Stoicism, even though I still claim to be an existentialist in my less woo woo moments.

Does Your Subconscious Try to Sabotage You?

As you know, I started a new job a couple of weeks ago, consulting at Dell on the software I worked with at the previous job. The new job features a very smart team, some fun clients to work with, and a reasonable and kind boss. These are all good things! I’ve completed a couple of little projects and a sorta big one already, and everyone seems pleased with it. No problems there!

This angst-filled woman keeps making an appearance in my dreams. That’s me and Eudora in the early 1980s.

But, my dreams have just not left me alone! I keep dreaming that I am unable to finish things, that I have messed something up (including one where I completely forgot how to use the software I was demonstrating). I’ve dreamed repeatedly of people telling me I’m not fitting in, am a poor worker, and that I don’t know what I’m doing.

Gee whiz, subconscious, what are you trying to say here, that I am Imposter Syndrome Queen or something? I’ve been doing really well in my waking hours with not taking criticism to heart, realizing that whatever went wrong in the previous job was not all me and had to do with something I wasn’t even aware of. I’ve been doing GREAT at not expecting everyone in the world to like me or think highly of my work. I am not basing my self esteem on someone else’s opinion, while still trying to do good work and owning my mistakes. That all sounds fairly adult of me (about time).

To change the subject, my it was a dewy morning.

These things you develop as you are growing up really stick with you, don’t they? I was always so darned fixated on pleasing my dad and my teachers that when I made the slightest error I was horrible to myself. The hardest thing I ever did was give up on academia, because even though it was the best thing for me to do for ME, I was so concerned about disappointing my family and my professors. So outwardly focused.

No matter how much better I’m doing and how much I learn, little Suna keeps peeking out and waving around to remind me that I’m still a bit of a mess, just like everyone else is (thank goodness I realize THAT now).

I did have a weird work-related dream that made me laugh, though. I dreamed I wanted a Wendy’s walnut burger (??). I had not been to Wendy’s in a long time and it had changed since COVID into a weird antiseptic, white subway-tiled place, where you went in one at a time to order. When it was my turn, the server told me that before I could order, I had to set up my Wendy’s PIN.

Something else to make you laugh. Brown Chick riding on top of Star. Black Chick did it later!

Well, that was fine, I guessed. Then the server told me that my PIN had to be the number that corresponded to one of the things that was on a laminated sheet of paper. The paper had on it photos of various things. I can remember a glass of wine and some piece of clothing. I said, “I don’t have any numbers associated with those things.” The server insisted that I had to use MY number for one of the things.

It’s cozy up here.

I finally decided there was a number I could associate with one of them, and asked the guy, “So, where do I write it down?” He looked at me, all fuzz-faced and panicked, and said, “I don’t know! I just started!”

I was never so glad to hear an alarm go off.

Happy Monday.

Book Report: Coffeeland

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I managed to get through this very dense book by taking breaks for light-hearted magazine reading every couple of days. Coffeeland: One Man’s Dark Empire and the Making of Our Favorite Drug, by Augustine Sedgewick (1920-21). It’s the second of the books I decided to read after they were referred to in This Is Your Mind on Plants. I’m not saying it wasn’t a good book, because it was, but there were so many details that sometimes I got a bit snoozy while reading it.

The book is not a history of coffee, but rather is a history of how the cultivation of coffee shaped the country of El Salvador, as engineered by one coffee planter and his descendants, starting in the late 1800s. James Hill came over from England at a time of much change, and he instigated just that when he emigrated to El Salvador. His descendants, now fully embedded in the upper classes of the country, continue to work toward change.

There’s a LOT more to this book than just a history of one coffee planter and his plantations. There are long digressions on the history of growing coffee, processing coffee, and marketing it. I had no idea how much it had changed, and what other changes to society went along with it (coffee breaks and supermarkets, to name a few).

You also learn a lot about the history of Central America from a much more neutral point of view than you’d get in a US history book. By the time you’ve read about the conditions the Hill family’s worker-people (as he called them) lived and worked in, you can easily see the appeal of Communism when it showed up. And Sedgewick does a great job of laying out the perspectives of the plantation owners, the government (such as it was), and the indigenous people who worked the land.

I guess what I learned the most about, and what was hardest on me to follow, was all sorts of scientific theories of humans and work. You learn how calories originally were measured, how the idea that in order to eat you need to work came about (that’s right, it was not always a given), and how people like James Hill motivated workers by giving them food, but not too much food, so they’d have to keep coming back to earn more food.

There was also a very interesting history of economics, what it originally was and what it came out to be. Yeah, there’s a lot of educational material crammed into 350 pages of Coffeeland. I’m not sure if this was stuff I was dying to learn about or what I had hoped the book would be about, but I think I’m probably a better and more thoughtful world citizen after learning all these things.

A final thing I enjoyed about Coffeeland is that it was told from the perspective of another part of the world, not the US. I enjoyed learning what the priorities were and are in El Salvador, the modern history of that country, and most of all, how events around the world (the Great Depression, World Wars, etc.) affect our commodities and societal norms.

While not everyone who reads this blog will be the right audience for the book, fans of history, science, philosophy and how they all interact, will enjoy it a lot and come out much wiser.

Lost Memories?

Wow. I’ve discovered that I’m not alone in having trouble remembering things. That’s another reason I’m glad I have my bullet journal — I can remember what I’m supposed to be doing and am scheduled to do. But, that’s the day-to-day stuff.

Suna in the only long, white wedding dress she ever wore. Sadly, it belonged to her friend Liz (still married to the guy she wed in this dress). This is in Pennsylvania, when I went on a visit to cry about being a bad girlfriend.

Talking to people in my extended circle, I realized that many of us have lost access to our past. One friend said she no longer has memories. Others are having a hard time remembering things when they need to, or remembering whether they told someone something. Lee totally forgot to tell me his car broke down—that’s something you usually remember to share!

This photo reminded me that my dad put wood siding up on our house in Plantation, Florida, just before he left. He was ahead of his time.

We all have a clue as to why this is happening. It’s the stress, the mega-stress, the overwhelming worry and anxiety. We all have COVID stress. No one can avoid having world events stress right now, what with wars, storms, earthquakes, and shootings galore. We have overload from black-and-white thinking in politics, organizations, and families. Many of us have big work struggles. Our brains are full. And so are the brains of the people we encounter. I’m getting stressed just writing this.

Here’s a happy memory of me and my friend Robin, who, by the way, is still my friend Robin and has children older than she is in this photo.

Sometimes, you can get your memories back, though, which is why I’m glad I grew up in the age where people took lots and lots of photographs (though nothing like today). Today, for a bit of stress relief, I wandered through my photo album from 1984-1986, which were not my best times (I managed to lose the love of my life and my mom in just a few months), I’ve got to say, but which also had some really good times. I’m so glad I can see both types of memories.

Here’s a place I once lived, in Urbana, Illinois. I doubt it’s still standing. I’m remembering that is my Asbury Jukes jacket that I won at a record store.

Also, when I was young, I wrote a lot of letters. It was in my blood, since my whole family wrote letters to each other. I found a box from when I was in college and grad school lately, and they reminded me of my journals in that some were a bit embarrassing (I sure fell in love HARD in my twenties, repeatedly), but others reminded me of what strong connections I had to my communities, and that brings me back to today, when I’ve learned from some of those infatuations and heartaches and gained some balance.

I never share photos of this guy, but I remember him. It’s the late Bill Crain, my first husband, being coached on good husbanding by my dad, in 1986. He didn’t listen.

I’m glad to be able to dredge some of my memories back up, after all. I hope you enjoy some little glimpses into my box of memories. See if you can come up with some.

My office in October 1984. I wallpapered the walls of this closet/office that I shared with two fellow grad students with my word a day calendar pages. Behind me is an original IBM PC that had two floppy drives and no hard drive. I can’t believe how happy I looked. I was one big mess and had anxiety symptoms 24/7. And migraines.

Book Report: A Girl Is a Body of Water

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I was sort of sad to finish my latest relaxation read, A Girl Is a Body of Water, by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, because I sure was enjoying my education in the culture, food, and clothing of Uganda. Basically, all I knew about Uganda before was Idi Amin, and he certainly isn’t something worth representing an entire culture with. Well, and I knew the Gandan people spoke Lagala there (among other languages), from when I studied linguistics. I guess that put me one step ahead of most people in my culture.

I also really like the cover.

Do you have to be interested in the culture of Uganda during the 20th Century to read this book? Absolutely not, because the story is beautiful, interesting, and very captivating. You grow to love the characters as you learn more and more about them, especially Kirabo, the main character, and Nsuuta, the blind woman of mystery who is inextricably linked to Alikisa, Kirabo’s grandmother. You just want to know what’s going on with this fascinating and many-layered family!

But for me, the information about traditional Ugandan culture, how it changed with colonialism, through Amin’s reign, to more modern times, was fascinating. The book does a fantastic job of delving deep into the traditional and modern roles of women in Uganda, which parts change and which parts stay traditional. Many of the women Makumbi writes about were among the first to try to do things differently, and you might be surprised at some of the consequences and who encouraged and discouraged them. The way feminism and traditional roles came together in A Girl Is a Body of Water was really skillful.

Makumbi does a great job of introducing new Ugandan words, ideas, and concepts in the course of developing the plot, so it’s easy to learn as you go. I found it fun to try to figure out what some of the words meant, especially foods and items of clothing. I admit to looking some words up, like luwombo, which is a kind of stew-ish dish served in banana leaves. Some words, though, I waited until I could figure them out from context. That is MY idea of a good time. YOU might want to keep Google handy.

Luwombo, from an online brochure. It can feature any meat.

The culture stuff was really fun to learn, too, like what constituted beauty to them, how who was related to whom was calculated, who counts as “family,” and how the deal about having multiple mothers in households with more than one wife worked. It sounded like a lot of love, actually. It was fun to imagine living in a society so different from mine, with different mores and guidelines, but that made perfect sense in its context.

I’m glad I finally was able to get around to reading this book, which I’d had to put off for a while. If you are like me and enjoy learning history through the eyes of women in a culture, you will enjoy this book very much. It’s going to stick with me, and I’ll always wonder how Kirabo did after the book ended. Hey, a sequel, that would be fine with me!

Say Thank You to Your Word Processing Software

Today Lee was unpacking stuff from our old Austin house, you know, the stuff I just couldn’t get to in all the time we lived at the Bobcat Lair, now officially known as Anita’s House of 300 Boxes. (She is ready to move out soon as she can.)

Anyway, Lee found a true gem, a takeaway notebook from a seminar in 1988.

Blast from the past.

Oh wow. I forgot how much effort it used to be to make newsletters and such back then! Or write dissertations (footnotes on a typewriter, hell). This really helpful (back then) guide even came with tools. Let me explain to you lucky people only slightly younger than me.

A ruler

So this ruler is for figuring out how many characters you can fit in a space. I’d completely forgotten that typewriter balls came in Pica or Elite. That’s if you were lucky enough to have an IBM Selectric, the dream typewriter with an eraser key and interchangeable heads. I’m eternally grateful to High School Boyfriend for sharing his with me.

We made money typing papers for others in college and I even typed a whole book on Basque for pay. That typewriter was beloved, even though we sure typed a lot of pages over and over, especially when we had to use footnotes. No wonder I love end notes today.

This tool was a mystery.

The other tool that came with the notebook was this crazy wheel that tells you how much you have to reduce your text to fit in a certain space. I imagine this was very handy. It also makes me really glad I didn’t make newsletters until personal computers were available. I never had to paste up anything. Yay.

I think this is too much math for words.

I thumbed through the notebook as it showed how to make monospaced text interesting, as it went over how to get photographs (real ones) and put them in, and extolled the virtues of typesetting. Then I remembered the date. 1988.

Scary

I got my first PC in 1985. The people one year ahead of me had to write dissertations on a mainframe line editor. I got to use WordPerfect in beautiful Times Roman. By the time I got my first real job in 1987, page layout software existed. I just gave my graphic designer my words and she poured them into the software. The typesetter at work saw their career path dwindling to a footpath.

Good advice.

Things changed so fast around this time. It was fun, though. Soon I could make my own documents.

Soon after that, I was making web pages, all words, no pictures. Monospaced. Then there were digital images! You could make text blink! Be green! Have moving backgrounds! Play an insipid song in a loop! Ah, times were so simple then. I’m so grateful for word processing and page design software!

But the course on how to make newsletters on a typewriter didn’t help Lee for long. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t given much longer. But I sure like that ruler and reduction wheel!

Book Report: The Four Winds

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Finally, I was able to read a neighborhood book club book again. The Four Winds, by Kristin Hannah (2021) is set in the 1930s, during the Great Depression and the horrible Dust Bowl times in Texas, Oklahoma, and surrounding states. It’s definitely not a feel-good beach read, though there is plenty of goodness in it.

This book draws you in quickly, as you’re taken in by the story of CCX and her isolated life in west Texas. Hannah truly tells a good tale and make the characters seem real.

Every once in a while someone says or does something that seems out of character to me, but I just rode along with it. I think some of it is how jarring Elsa’s breakthroughs of her “true self” appear, like when she suddenly goes out and BOOM has sex with the first male she encounters.

You also can’t avoid drawing parallels with our current times. Those hard working farmers just couldn’t grasp that they were actually the source of the problems. The message isn’t subtle, but the points ring true.

The Four Winds seems eerily prescient in 2021 . . . Its message is galvanizing and hopeful: We are a nation of scrappy survivors. We’ve been in dire straits before; we will be again. Hold your people close.”

The New York Times

I was fascinated by the depth of the horror people lived through during the Dust Bowl times. The graphic images of dirt and more dirt are sobering, as are the details of the lives of “Okies” who fled to California.

You’ll come to admire the tenacity of Elsa and her kids and have a hard time putting this one down. I love historical novels like this, where you learn a lot as you enjoy a good tale.

The Past Is a Blast

The past is a blast of what, you ask? It’s more like a punch to the gut sometimes and it sure makes it hard to slog through to the future, if you aren’t careful. I’ve been trying to let go of things, but it’s sometimes more successful than other times.

These are my first glasses. I’m 27. They are back in fashion.

Today I canceled a lot of domain names and blogs I’m no longer using. Our event venue at the church in Cameron never happened, as we pivoted to other projects and started Hearts Homes and Hands. So, that website is gone (though I saved all its stuff). Maybe someday we can start again. I also canceled a bunch of domain names having to do with our former Hermit Haus Redevelopment company (it’s where I primarily blogged before this one, and it has so many stories and photos I treasure, like when Mandi interviewed us all). We had been careful to get domains that resembled the right ones, in case people typed in the wrong thing. I guess I saved myself a thousand bucks or so, but it felt like admitting we failed (even though we didn’t fail, we just moved on when real estate went on its complicated recent course). It still sorta hurt.

Me in 2017. I had a strange hair-do.

And, as part of moving things out of the Bobcat Lair, Lee brought home the rest of my photo albums, and wanted me to open the boxes and put them somewhere. I’d been avoiding opening those boxes, since they are full of memories of happy and sad times (naturally). I just didn’t want to see my first husband, who died not long ago of cancer. And I didn’t want to remind myself of how amazing my older son was as a baby and how much I enjoyed being his mother. But, the good thing was that I found some really cute photos of my younger son with his grandfather in Ireland. My heart was warmed, so I asked Lee to scan them, and I sent them to him.

It’s odd to me that I like to save objects that remind me of the past, like gifts people gave me and little souveniers, but I have a hard time looking at photographs, because they put me right back into other times, some of them pretty rough, like when my mom died and I was only 26.

Poor mom wasn’t really cut out for the stresses of life.

But, at least I’ll never be able to forget the good things, like Pumpkin, my dog sister from the 1980s, who brings Vlassic to mind so easily. And by the way, his nose is looking way better.

Well, hmm. The past is just there, and just little neurons firing away in my mind. I know it’s best to focus on the present! So, here’s how the shawl I recently made came out after being blocked. You can really see the pattern now!

I’m proud of that!
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