Boobies in Politics

30 09 2015

I started this particular blog post about 3 years ago.  Amazing and frustrating how we continue to tread water over this issue. Boobies in politics, indeed.  And I refuse to answer on the grounds that I might incriminate myself if I’m referring to the so-called helmsman of the recent shouting match in politics or the actual subject matter at hand.  It’s a spiffy double entendre, if you’ll allow my ego to fly proudly for a moment, whatever my stated objective might ultimately be.

So – I have three general rules about blogging. One, don’t swear. Much. Two, don’t talk about politics. Much. And three, violate the first two tenets only when I think I have a reasonable and logical objective for doing so.

Today is that day. Dammit.

I totally don’t remember where I got the image from. If it’s yours, might I please borrow it for this post? IT’S AWESOME.

About 3 years ago I discovered a lump in my breast. No, I can’t really believe I’m taking the plunge and mentioning this in public, and yes,it’s been thoroughly checked out, but when I discovered it, I was in Florida, and, well, one of the downsides of having no health insurance is that it’s a lot harder to get seen by someone while one is traveling around the country making a living.

See, at the time (prior to Obamacare) I made too much to qualify for the local free clinic. And cash pay folks generally pay a LOT MORE (or did at the time) than what insurance companies payout for procedures.  If that’s not a sick twist of a still-not-great system, well… Anyway. Gods bless Planned Parenthood. They (at the time) had a sliding scale and they are medically recognized enough to have been able to give me that magical piece of paper one needs to penetrate the sanctum of specialists – a medical referral.

I don’t know what your politics are, and, in a pique of narcissism (hey, it’s my blog) I’m going to say I don’t really fecking care, because it’s tangential to this conversation. But assuming you disagree with my politics, I would ask you to think about the GOP’s recent stance on Planned Parenthood, and think about what that means directly to people like me. I am a human being, and it frustrates the everloving shite out of me that here in the United States, which is considered a first world nation, I was (and depending on how much I make in any given year), still am treated like a second class citizen based on my ability to pay for basic medical care, the costs of which are more per capita in the US than in any other first world nation.

Maybe someday I’ll be one boobie shy of a full roster (take that however you’d like) although I’ve had no more scares since then. But please know that 3 years ago, before “Obamacare” existed, I got in to see a doctor when I needed one and was able to pay the full fee they required at the time (which was a pretty big amount for me, but would have been unimaginably unaffordable if I had had to pay the full cash-pay fee). And I got in and got looked at because funding for healthcare organizations like theirs exists. Notice the use of the word “healthcare”.

End rant.

Yoga Dogs and Tear Gas

24 05 2012

There’s nothing like starting out one’s day with a little exercise. And because this thought was too long to form into a cleverly worded facebook status, I’m writing about it here, although it is in no way relevant to my glass business or anything, really.

It was just funny.

My dog, Guinness, is a funny little dude, incredibly intelligent, and a total clown.

In short, it seems like his total purpose in life is to bring joy and laughter to people. Since I’m the human he’s around most often, let’s just say I laugh a lot with him around. He has quirks too, that make him all the funnier. For example, if we have a laser pointer in the house, and he sees where we put it down, he will sit at the base of the bookshelf-table-dresser and look up longingly at the location he last saw us with the pointer. And then look at the floor by his toes. And then look at whoever was holding said pointer. And then repeat the entire cycle until we either a) ignore him for a good long time or b) pick up said pointer and honor his request.

Another quirky factoid about my dog: he loves my yoga mat. Whenever I pull it out for my morning yoga, he’s right there with some toy clutched in his mouth, writhing on his back in an ecstatic expression of doggie happiness.

The only hitch in the giddy-up is that my buddy Josh was at the studio yesterday, and so Guinness got a treat or two more than usual. And while I was in Down Dog (photo below) doing a few slow and meditative breaths, he wiggled up next to me, rolled over, and planted himself under my tummy so I had the south bound end of a north bound dog eyeballing me.

And then he farted.

I outweigh him by 150 lbs or so, and I really didn’t want to land on him. You can probably picture the rest of the story… me, trying to a) get out of the ick zone b) not land on my small dog while doing it and c) laughing so hard I nearly wet myself while trying not to inhale.

I’ll be checking my yoga mat for holes directly, and letting the military know that there’s a new version of tear gas (or would that be terrier gas?) available.

The Learning Curve

22 02 2012

A friend of mine once joked that he should need a passport to visit Ohio. (He lives in Florida.) At the time I sort of rolled my eyes at him and just laughed.

But it’s true. I’ve been here about a week now, and I’m feeling out of sorts and cultural shock on the scale of (almost but not quite) when I went to London. As in England.

For example, Florida drivers (on the whole) are very aggressive compared to drivers in other places I’ve lived. The closest I can compare them to is Massachusetts drivers, and (please don’t take this the wrong way, Floridians who read my blog), but there’s a reason MA drivers are referred to as “Mass-holes”. I got cut off in traffic more times hauling my very heavy trailer in the state of Florida than the whole rest of the trip combined. (That would include Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia in case you were curious. And assuming my memory is accurate.)

I LOVE my GPS in my phone. I think if I didn’t have it I really would go nuts driving around in the very heavy, very aggressive traffic trying to find a grocery store, oil change place, gas station, etc.

The wildlife has taken some getting used to. Apparently it’s unwise to cut through a deadfall of trees (because of the spiders, snakes, ticks and other Florida wildlife.) Which struck me as strange ’cause I used to go tromping around in the woods in other states I’ve lived (Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Hampshire) all the time. Perhaps the weirdest part is the lizards. They’re everywhere. And they have a startle factor like mice. So although they’re not scary, per se, they do have a knack for making your heart skip a beat when they scuttle out of your line of sight or across the porch.

Here’s the most embarrassing one so far. There is an orange tree in the backyard of the house where I’m staying. I’m pretty good about knowing edible foods in the “wild” so to speak, and my philosophy is when the thing hanging on the tree is the same size, color, shape, and approximate smell of an orange, and the tree it’s hanging on looks like the groves of things you’ve been passing by for miles at a time, well, it must be an orange.

Except that it isn’t. It’s a thing called a wild lemon. And the hand squeezed juice I labored over this morning was, well, puckering. In a turn-your-face-inside-out kind of a way.

I’m sure I will learn more things about Florida as I live down here for the next several weeks. My two goals are pretty simple: I hope to not make a complete ass of myself when tripping over some local colloquialism or oddity of geography, and I hope to not get bitten by a snake. I’ve heard they have lots of them down here, and if there’s one thing that turns me into a screaming girl, it’s the sight of a snake.

Maybe I should start carrying a hoe?

Combat Scribing

27 01 2012

So we went to an SCA event last weekend. It was a lot of fun – Ian took a kumihimo class, and hung out with several ladies of the fiber guild after his class, working on his current cord-making project.

I headed straight for the scribes’ room, as I had to drop off a few award scrolls that were to be given out that evening in court. After geeking about all the other scribes’ scrolls that had been dropped off, and getting some geek over the scrolls I had done, the head scribe started to go through the scrolls received to make sure she had them all.

A Finished Scroll of Mine

It’s not all that unusual to have one scroll not turn up, but somehow, real life had intervened for three of the scrolls due to be given out that day. And that is where I come in. I’m what’s affectionately known as a “combat scribe”.

A High level Award Scroll I Made

There are two parts (generally speaking) to every award scroll: the calligraphy and the illumination. Calligraphy, is, well, calligraphy, or the text of the award. Illumination is anything that isn’t the text – usually a fancy first letter, or some gold leaf motif down the sidebar of the scroll, and so on. A lot of people (myself included) do both calligraphy and illumination, but some only do one or the other. People who are only illuminators make up what are called “scroll blanks”, which are basically painted scrolls that are ready and waiting for text. The head scribe (called a signet) usually has a selection of blanks on hand at any event in case of emergency. And we had three emergencies.

Scroll Blank

A combat scribe is someone who scribes under “fire”. When an award doesn’t show up, there is anywhere from a few hours window to 45 minutes in which it’s determined a scroll is not going to show up on time. And the clock is ticking. Within that timeframe, a combat scribe has to lay out the wording for the scroll, including the particulars like the recipient’s name, what they got the award for, the date, etc. and then do the calligraphy for the whole thing. Fast. And accurately. Out of every 10 people or so who do calligraphy for the SCA you may find 1-2 people who combat scribe.

Personally, I love it. I like the challenge of creating something that is aesthetically pleasing in a timed situation. It hones my skills like no self-timed re-creation at home can. A combat scribing situation is nothing I would ever wish for, as it means that someone typically had a scroll disaster or personal emergency crop up. But the secret part of myself hopes that when that situation does crop up at an event, that I’m there with my ink-stained fingers and scribal kit, ready to sit down and do battle.

Yeah, Well, Rapunzel Got Evicted.

22 01 2012

So you’re stuck with me today.

I have really long, fine, stick straight hair.

It’s about down to my bum, actually, and with every inch that it grows, I end up with more and more funny stories about it.

For example, I was in line at a convenience store last week, I was wearing a fleece top, and it was cold, so my hair was sticking to about everything in sight. This lady in line behind me fished something out of her purse, and my hair must have liked it, because when she went to zip up her purse, I felt that distinct tug that told me my hair was getting stuck in or to something. Again. I turned around and took custody of my wayward locks, and she started apologizing all over herself for not noticing. I thought it was funny, and said so, and realizing that no harm had been done, she joined me in a chuckle.

That’s just one of the anecdotes I can share about my hair. The real focus of today’s soundbite is this: Long hair hasn’t been fashionable since the 70’s, and with the saturation of ads today touting the scrubbing of all your parts everyday, I wanted to toss my hat in to the ring, and explain some long hair stuff that seems to work for me. Most of this might go against the fashionable grain, but as my hairdresser (who I imagine has a bit of experience with this sort of thing, since she’s been doing it as an occupation all her life, and she’s in her mid 50’s to early sixties) says my hair is the healthiest long hair she has ever seen in her career, I think that gives me a leg to stand on regarding my hair care routine.

So here’s my advice, and hey, if it works for you, Mazel Tov!

Wash it as little as possible
Yes, you read that right. I was the whole of my hair about once a week. Otherwise, your ends get frizzy and fried, and split prematurely. When I wash my hair, I shampoo the hair that actually touches my head, down to about the first vertebra below my hairline. The rest I don’t actually shampoo – just letting the shampoo from my head wash through the rest of my locks is usually cleansing enough.

Use good conditioner. This is one of those instances where “good” conditioner usually equates to spending a little more money. But in my experience, you get what you pay for, and stuff that is thin and washes right out does not help a comb go through my hair post-shower. I use Aussie’s 3 minute miracle, and a bottle lasts about 2-3 months. (Hey, if you’re only using it once a week, it goes a long way!)

Apply the conditioner from about the first vertebrae below your hairline down the rest of the length of your hair, and then finger comb the part that’s conditioned until you can comb it without hitting any snags. Rinse the conditioner out with slightly cooler water than your normal shower temperature – super hot water seems to make hair snarly, which negates any conditioning you just did…

Comb it, then do it up
Comb all your hair out when you get out of the shower, then figure out a way to do up all or part of it so it doesn’t affect you sleeping on it. Keeping it up during the night and not fussing with it much on a daily basis is what keeps it from getting prematurely greasy. Milkmaid braids, a side french braid, ponytail by night-hairsticks by day, whatever works to keep it a bit contained will help. (All the photos in this article are ideas for how to put it up and keep it up.)

Get it trimmed regularly
I get my hair trimmed about every 10-12 weeks, and I keep the trim to whatever my hairdresser recommends – usually about half an inch or less. It really cuts down (no pun intended) on the split ends.

When I’m in a dry or dusty environment, or have been on the road for awhile, I get stressed out, and that begins to stress my hair out. I can tell (and I don’t know that I can explain it well, but I’ll try…) When the last 3-4″ of my hair starts to feel like it’s kind of frizzy, or straw-like, or when I pull a hair elastic out of the bottom of a ponytail and it grabs up a lot of hair with it, rather than sliding nicely out, then it’s time for some hair TLC. Warning: It’s messy, so have an plastic bag or two ready… Mix olive oil and honey together until you get a toothpaste sort of consistency, then microwave it until it’s warm. (Not hot – you should be able to stick your fingers in and keep them there without it burning them…) Mix it again when heated, and it should now be the consistency of thick soup. Dunk all of your hair that you can fit into the honey-oil mixture, up to about 4″ below your natural hairline at the back of your neck. Slip your hair into the plastic bag and hold it on there for about 20 minutes. Then wash your hair out normally and don’t over shampoo it – it will feel super conditioned, and may need an extra wash the next day as the excess olive oil is released.

Good luck 🙂 and here are some great sites for further information:

Who’s Theodor Geisel Anyway?

9 01 2012

I’m a member of the SCA
to dress up in fine clothes and play
with glass and string and pointy things
that adults are usually told “NAY!”

"Thing 1" by Dr. Suess

I like to draw and paint
(It’s called to “illuminate“)
So I started a scroll
that borrows cloth whole
from two genuises who are late.
(Late means dead, mate.)

"Thing 1" in my scroll-in-progress

It’s not finished yet.
But I hope it will be met
with happiness and wild praise
from the kid whose wall it’ll grace.

Image from the Luttrell Psalter

The little green guy from "The Bippolo Seed"

So who is this Theodor guy?
If you haven’t figured out, please try
to hearken to your childhood
where you heard tales of ill and good
’cause I’m betting that this doctor man
had a book on your bedstand.

My initial sketch of the little green guy from "The Bippolo Seed"

My thanks to Dr. Suess, who is the most modern example of an illuminator that I could think of. The scroll in progress is based on the Luttrell Psalter and Dr. Suess’s The Bippolo Seed and Other Stories


A Starving Artist’s Restaurant Guide

17 12 2011

As a continuation on the blog post back in October, titled “The Care and Feeding of a Starving Artist“, I’d like to take this opportunity to dish up a list of cheap eats for starving artists. (I can only compare my eating habits to those of my friends, and I would say that based on that, most of these recommendations will work for light to medium eaters. People who eat more in one sitting will obviously spend more money on food on average.)

Embrace Water
Water is boring, and trust me, if you know me well at all, you know I despise drinking water. But it’s cheap, and adding a little lemon to it can make it more palatable. Besides, soda (being full of sugar and nothing else) has a tendency to make me hungrier again sooner than if I had skipped it altogether.

Fast Food Joints
Think McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, etc. I try not to indulge in fast food often because, well, it keeps you upright and filled with calories, but defining it as “food” seems a bit of a stretch. That being said, items from the Value Menus at fast food joints can fill most tummies for $5 or less, especially if you’re willing to go with a small drink or a water to drink.

Chinese Food
Most Chinese places are reasonably priced. If you’re totally on the cheap though, a bowl of egg drop soup can be had for less than $3.00, and adding an egg roll to that usually won’t take you above $5 or $6 total. Hot stuff – tea, soup, broth, etc. are a great way to trick an empty stomach into believing that it’s consumed more food and calories than it actually has.

Yes, you’ve either got to have a membership or a friend that will let you tag along, but at the food kiosk a piece of pizza (they’re huge – one piece fills me for 6 hours or so) and a drink will run you about $2.75.

A friend of mine (thanks, Richard!) introduced me to this on the road to the TN Renaissance Festival this year. Most of their meals run between $5-7 plus tax. Assuming you have a fridge within a reasonable driving distance, a regular burrito loaded up with everything that they will let you have on it can feed a light to medium eater for two meals.

Cheapskate alert: All of Subway’s footlong sandwiches are a better deal in terms of amount for price, and if you’re not feeling like you could eat the entire town in one sitting, take the other half of the sandwich home – it will give you a second meal at some point.

We’re closing in 10 minutes and…
This tactic relies on luck and knowing your local places’ habits more than anything, but over the years I’ve been able to make out like a bandit when kismet presents an opportunity. Both our local grocery store and a Cici’s Pizza we used to frequent offer special discounts just before they close, because store policy is to throw anything out that’s left at the night’s end. So I’ve gotten entire pizzas for free from the CiCi’s pizza buffet, and about a 50% discount on a bucket of fried chicken from the grocery store deli all because of timing.

God bless my great grandmother
She raised two kids during the Depression, and while I can unequivocally state that I have never been this ballsy, my great grandmother used to take an overlarge purse and a couple of ziploc baggies to any wedding reception or party she was attending, and sneak whatever caught her eye and could fit in a ziploc into her purse for a later meal.

So happy cheap eating. And to all my starving artist kin out there, I very much remember the day (August 12th, 2011 to be exact) when I could afford a meal out at a “real restaurant”… which I define as one of those places where the waitress actually takes your money instead of paying at a cash register. I hope that day finds you soon.