Sunday, April 21, 2019

Checking In at 70%

Well.  Where have I been, and what am I up to?

I left DR on March 28th a day earlier than planned to visit family.  As you know, I’ve had recurring trouble with dizzy spells which continue.  I have finally seen an ENT specialist, 2 audiologists, and a physical therapist specializing in balance disorders in an attempt to feel better and be able to be more active.  As I have no hearing loss (yay) they are ruling out Meniere’s disease which is great.  Nobody knows what exactly is going on which is sort of what I expected.

So far the results of physical therapy are mixed.  I’ve had some of my better days in the last few months, and I had another very dizzy day after my first day of physical therapy for the problem.  It is interesting to me that the physical therapy involves provoking the symptoms so my brain relearns to accommodate certain movements but not to provoke them so much I get very sick.  In my efforts to hold still more and rest more over the last several months, I may have been making things worse.  We’ll see how this approach goes over the upcoming weeks as I continue physical therapy a time or two per week.

I have “gone down the rabbit hole” at two websites which I’ll share with you if you are interested:
Access to Insight: Readings in Theravada Buddhism

I’ve meditated for over 25 years and been engaged with the Buddhist Dhammapada for the last several years.  These resources are furthering my understanding and experience.

And speaking of rabbit holes….  As of this moment, I do not know when or if I will return to Dancing Rabbit.  I told the community that I would not be returning as planned in May as I am unable to engage there in the way I planned.  The medical resources and family support I have available to me staying here with Mom and Dad are preferred to what was available at DR.  Will I return?  Time will tell.

It has been quite an interesting year.  I suspect the next year will be equally interesting.  Big family Easter gathering today next door at my Aunt and Uncles’.  I’m taking Grandma to pick up her friend and chauffeur them back and forth to the gathering.  It is nice to be able to be useful even as I don’t feel 100%.  I feel about 70%.  After being at 1% on a few occasions, I’ll take 70% with gratitude.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Covenant 6

6. Waste disposal systems at Dancing Rabbit shall reclaim organic and recyclable materials.

Dancing Rabbits agree to abide by 6 ecological covenants upon becoming official Residents and Members.  The covenants are short and sweet and cover many areas of daily life to assure more sustainable living.  It is the bedevilment of the details, as with many things, that scuppered my peppers this week.

The implementation of Covenant 6 especially challenged me this week.  On first glance, Covenant 6 seems straightforward enough; it succinctly directs me to “reclaim and recycle.”  Easy.  I wouldn’t expect anything less.  I already helped build a new compost bin for kitchen scraps that sits right outside the SkyHouse Kitchen door where I eat, and it is working wonderfully for reclaiming kitchen scraps.  I usually take out and sort the recycling from the kitchen as well.  Easy.  So what’s my problem?

This week, for the 3rd time since I moved to DR, I hauled six 5-gallon buckets of people poo and pee to a huge pile of people poo and pee (PPP), dumped the buckets, cleaned the buckets, and hauled the buckets back to be reused ad nauseum - haul, dump, clean, haul.  You see “humanure” as PPP is euphemistically referred to is undeniably organic.  Since it is organic, per the innocuous sounding Covenant 6, it is reclaimable and “Rabbits Shall Reclaim Organic Materials.”

I don’t know if it’s because I’m still a novice when it comes to “doing a Humey Shift” as it’s called, or if I was just having an off week, but it did not go very smoothly for me.  In the interest of helping the next new person that comes along and finds themselves doing a Humey Shift, I’ve decided to put together a list of Do-s and Don’t-s.  If you’re telling yourself this will never be relevant in your life, I’m happy for you.  A year ago, I did not think I would need this information, but look what happened.  You never know!  Forewarned is forearmed.

When hauling, dumping, cleaning, and hauling 5-gallon buckets of human shit:

DO be careful the lids do not bounce off when going over a narrow bridge

DO NOT get too close to the sides of the narrow bridge (you will have 2 inches of clearance on each side FYI)

DO NOT remove the buckets from the front of the cart first.  If you DO, you will create a Humey Cart Catapult as the weight shifts faster than you cans say, “Who flung poo?”

DO NOT step into the large bin thinking it is still frozen so you can more evenly distribute the deposit even though you were explicitly directed to evenly distribute the deposit

DO use the shovel that is sitting right next to the bin for deposit distribution (provided you see it before stepping into the bin)

DO wear your tall, rubber boots like you knew you should have instead of your tennis shoes

DO NOT believe the voice in your head as you prepare for your Humey Shift that says “tennis shoes will be fine.  Wear the tennis shoes.”

DO wear the big rubber gloves provided at the bin

DO NOT be disappointed when you find the gloves to be wet inside

DO keep your mouth closed when dumping water from one bucket to another during cleaning

DO keep your mouth shut when using the bristle brush to scrub the buckets of Klingons

DO throw out the water you just cleaned the buckets with downwind NOT into the wind

I hope this helps.

At some point in the future, I’d be happy to answer your questions about the how-s and why-s of this Humanure System, but for now, I’m really just open to receiving hugs and gentle words of encouragement that everything is going to be okay again some day.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Not Again with the Vertigo

I thought getting the ear boogers out had fixed my vertigo.  Think again buffalo breath.

You might remember I postponed moving to DR in July due to having a bad dizzy spell with lingering vertigo.  Those symptoms have been manageable since, and I’ve been able to do much of what I want to do here at Dancing Rabbit until last Saturday.

Saturday was my big road trip down to Columbia, Missouri where my nephew Clayton is a sophomore at MU to see a basketball game with him and my dad.  The trip down was fine.  If 10 is being so dizzy and sick that I’m stuck in bed dryheaving and 0 is no symptoms at all then most days I’m about a 2 or a 3.  I have to take things slowly.  My field of vision constantly seems to be wanting to move.  I try not to jerk my head around too fast because I think that is what caused my most recent bout of severe dizziness at 4am a month ago.

I’ve had about 6 decent months between bad dizzy spells which I am grateful for, but the road trip to Columbia turned out to be too much.  It was the walking into the arena and something about the visual depth and angles of the inside of the arena that was too much for me actually.  A similar thing happens in the grocery store or other big stores.  I’m great when I’m driving or riding in a car interestingly.  Driving is the time I feel the most normal.

I was fine at the restaurant having lunch before the game.  We met and ate at a place right next to the stadium which was packed with black and gold clad Tiger fans.  We left in plenty of time to park closer to the arena.  It was a little stressful finding a parking spot, and we had a decent walk to get there.  I noticed a faint tingle in my lips.  No problem.  I’m fine.  I haven’t been getting out much lately so by a “decent walk” I mean 3 blocks.

Dad and I had already wondered how I would feel going into the arena.  Dad has been dealing with similar vertigo issues for 25 years.  For some reason, spaces like the arena tend to fire up the vertigo, and in my case, this time it did.

Going in the massive glass doors at the front of the stadium - fine.  Walking thru the turnstile and getting my ticket scanned - fine.  Finding our section and going down the cement corridor - still fine.  Emerging onto a landing with a full view of the arena -NOT fine.  Dad asked, “How you doin’?”  I said, “Fine.” 

I took a deep breath.  I steadied myself walking to our seats and did not look down toward the basketball court but stared right at the next seat in the row which I grabbed for balance.  (We had the wrong section on the first try and had to move.)  A couple weeks ago I did finally go to see my new doctor about these symptoms.  It does not seem like they are just going to go away on their own.  My doctor told me about a guy he had as a patient with vertigo problems who was a roofer.  The roofer would spontaneously throw himself to the ground thinking he was losing his balance when in fact he was not.  This is a problem if you’re roofing anything other than dog houses.  Lest I hurl myself over the stadium railing, I leaned way into the seats as I made my way up and down the row.

I eventually got settled in alright.  I looked around.  I kept telling myself, “You’ll be alright.  Breathe.  Breathe.”  Ever since my stroke a couple years ago my lips go tingly when I start to get anxious.  As the announcer got louder and loUDER! and the lights screamed just as loud my lips got to tingling.  “Try to make it to halftime.  You can make it to halftime.”  By the time I’m trying to just make it another minute I know I’m not going to make it.  Not one to suffer needlessly, I told Dad and Clayton I had to go, and I would give them a call when I got to my truck so they would know I made it okay.  I imagine they were surprised, not surprised.  I assured them I’d be fine and did not want to ruin the day for them.

I made it out of the arena and about a block down the sidewalk headed for my truck which was about 5 blocks away.  My legs got shaky, and I got woozier.  Shit.  Worse, I was afraid of getting dizzier and falling down or having to lay down.  I did not want to make a scene.  I’ve made enough scenes in my life, and I don’t like them.  Better not to make one.  I leaned up against the fence next to the sidewalk and took some deep breaths.  “I’m fine.  I’m fine.  I’ll be fine.”  My lips were numb.  “Relax.  Relax.  Shit.  Relax.”  I headed back to the arena without a plan except to get around people who could help if something happened.

I got to the entrance to the section where Dad and Clayton were sitting, but I couldn’t go in knowing things would get worse if I made it to the end of that concrete tunnel.  Not a chair in sight so I squatted against the pillar holding up the stadium and texted Clayton.  He came out.  I just shook my head.  Clayton went back to get Dad, but in the meantime, I needed to find somewhere to sit so I found an usher who eventually led me to Guest Services where Clayton and Dad found me.  I felt a little better sitting down and just tried to relax.  Inside the arena,  it was half-time.  Some guy made a half-court shot to win $5,000.  I’ve seen a lot of these half-time events over the years, but I’ve never seen anyone make that shot.  Just my luck.  The crowd noise celebrating the shot made me wince, but I was happy for the guy.  Dad and Clayton walked up, and Dad said, “A guy just made a half-court shot for $5,000!”  “I heard,” I said.

Clayton went and got Dad’s truck and pulled up close to the arena where I got in.  Oddly, again, I was much better riding in the truck.  We went back to the restaurant we had left an hour earlier and sat down to make a plan.  I felt bad for making us leave the game, but I didn’t have a choice.  I guess I sort of made a scene anyway.  Damn it.  Our decision was to leave my truck parked at Clayton’s fraternity house, and I would go home with Dad to rest up.  He could bring me back to pick up my truck the next day.

As it turned out, Dad brought me back two days later after resting up at the house with him and Mom.  I was fine driving, but I was very tired when I got back to DR, and I’ve been sleeping an inordinate amount which seems to have helped some.  In the last 24 hours, I feel like I’m back to that 2 or 3 on a 10-point scale I mentioned earlier.

MU lost the game at the end after having a big lead.  That guy did make the $5,000 half-court shot though which is cool.  If I could get back to mostly 1 or even 0 on that 10-point scale, I’d feel like I hit a half-court shot for $500,000.  It would be amazing.  I will be so grateful.  It’ll happen.  (And it is happening as I write this just 3 days later.  Don't worry about me please.  I don't want to make a scene.)

Friday, March 8, 2019


I know you’ll be proud of me.  All the trash that I sent to the landfill for the month of February only took up half a bagel bag.  How do I know?  I saved all my trash last month.  My personal garbage for the month of February weighed 4 ounces.  4 ounces is the same weight as couple swigs of Diet Coke if you’re really gettin’ after it.  4 ounces is not much.

(See more about average Rabbit trash here )

The average American is estimated to throw out about 4.4 pounds of trash or 72 ounces per day which is 2,016 ounces for an average February.  4 ounces is about 0.2% of 2,016 so good for me.  I wasn’t even trying that hard.  It is amazing how living in a community of folks that are consciously consuming less, reusing creatively, and recycling aggressively makes it so much easier to cut down on my landfill contribution.  Like I said, I wasn’t even trying that hard.

I did generate other sorts of refuse, but it’s not going to the landfill.  I composted some stuff, mainly used tea bags.  The foil wrappers those tea bags came in is a large part of what is getting hauled to the landfill though.

My eating coop has been in discussions about buying loose tea to avoid the boxes and wrapping and tea bags, and we agree to it in theory but have not yet made the loose tea purchase.  We plan to use up the bagged tea  we already have, 500 boxes or so?, then switch permanently to loose tea some time in the year 2086.  The road to the landfill is paved with good intentions even in an ecovillage, alas.

The biggest contributor by weight of my trash is the bag that the box was wrapped in that contained my new boots.  My old boots gave out after less than a couple months as I climbed around in wood piles and slopped through our mucky village during short-lived thaws this winter.  Those boots were not sturdy enough to climb out of bed.

Also going to the landfill will be four orange, used earplugs.  I can’t think of an upcycle here.  I do know I could buy reusable, custom-fit earplugs which would be pricier but “greener.”  I got a deal on the little orange earplugs -  a box of 1,000 pairs for $30.  I’ve stashed a few pairs here and a few pairs there so I always have them just in case.  They come individually wrapped, uh oh, so those wrappers are also landfill bound.  I do have big, heavy-duty earmuffs for working outside, but I don’t think I could sleep in them.  Maybe I’ll try though for the sake of the environment.

I’m throwing away a pen that quit working.

I’m throwing away a disposable dust mask I was wearing for fire tending.   I don’t think the mask really did much so I’m just sticking my face into the boiler with only my beard and God to protect me.  I got my beard trimmed up a little last week so God is going to have to kick it up a notch.

The rest of the landfill-bound trash seems to be packaging; plastic wrap from a roll of electrical tape, a muffin cup with some muffin left on it, a Spiderman baggy that had my favorite white chocolate yogurt covered pretzels, and the windows from envelopes.  About the envelope windows, I’ve seen other folks just throw the whole envelope in the recycling bin, but somehow I got it in my head that the little clear, filmy window of the envelope is not recyclable.  I carefully tear them out.  I’m embarrassed as I type this thinking how untrue that is likely to be, but my heart is in the right place.

“What about your food coop? I bet you’re not counting the trash you threw away there!  Gotcha!”  You got nothing.  Everything there I’ve been involved with has been recycled or composted except wax paper the butter came in and drippings that have fallen on the floor.  I do sweep up the floor every couple days and that goes into the landfill bin, but guess what.  I put a dustpan full of that stuff into my bagel bag representing my portion of floor drippings so it was also included in the 4 ounce total.  I imagine there was some dried carrot shavings or potato peels in there plus some good ol’dirt.

I’m also throwing away some used dental floss.  I have a couple upcycle ideas for used dental floss, but I want you to keep being my friend so I’m not going to tell you about those ideas.

I was curious how this trash level might compare to other Rabbits.  Am I a special Rabbit trash-wise, or just an average Rabbit trash-wise.  A fellow with a doctorate named Josh has done some research here at DR and found Rabbits send about 0.2 pounds per person per day to the landfill.  I sent .25 pounds for the month of February.  You do the math, it’s late.  You might like reading Josh’s article.  It covers trash and car mileage and electricity.  Overall, my takeaway from the article is that Rabbits are thriving on about 1/10th the inputs and waste as The Average American.  The article has more detail and graphs.  Graphs are nice.  I like them.  If you like graphs, you should go read the article too.

Another way we try to keep things out of the landfill here at DR is to see if anyone else wants our stuff before we recycle or trash it.  Rabbits often bring items like this that are Up For Grabs (UFG) to the Week In Preview (WIP) on Sunday afternoons and put the items on display for all to enjoy and perhaps take home as their very own.

Last Sunday I could have procured a nice green ceramic piggy bank with a nature motif.  Last week, I got a bright yellow, long-sleeved shirt with black writing that I will wear to the MU Tiger basketball game this weekend.  The black writing does not say “MU Tigers” but I hear many of the students there don’t care much for reading anyway - kids today.  A few weeks ago, I got a shelf which is exactly what I needed for my tea, headlamp, as yet unopened mail, peanuts, pill bottles, and earmuffs.  I think someone made the shelf out of pallet wood.  It’s pretty nice for a DIY pallet wood shelf.  I’ve seen worse.  It has some blue paint on it.  I like blue.

I almost forgot.  Someone was giving away a toothbrush at th WIP Sunday too.  Nobody picked that up.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

There there.

The Best There Is

In order to learn to be truly content here, you have to practice being truly content here. And that means giving up any notion that there’s something better just around the next bend.

—Brad Warner, “Goalless Practice

Hi friends.  Today I'm just going to sit here and be content for a few hours while also meeting my outside obligations.

There is no there there.  Gertrude Stein

Sunday, February 24, 2019

DR Retreat 2019 and Ear Boogers

Well, we wrapped up the DR Retreat 2019.  It began last Tuesday evening, and we took last weekend off.  What is the DR Retreat?

Generally, it begins at 9am with lunch and dinner at 12 and 6:30pm with sessions in between.  I heard the sessions were good.

I see a few purposes for having the retreat.  On the first day, we took a look at everything that was accomplished in the village over the last year.  We filled up 3 white boards with things; new buildings, new dogs, new residents, successful classes, and well-attended workshops.  It felt like a victory lap after a long and busy year.

Retreat is also a chance for folks to connect more deeply if they so choose.  I’ve written about it before, but I am amazed how easy it is to not see folks for days even though we are a village of only about 50 adults.  Retreat is a chance to connect in person.  I’m a counter, and I have counted about 17 to 25 people at the gatherings where we are all together.  We also break out into smaller groups, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

Finally, we take a look at what is upcoming in 2019 and attempt to set priorities.  I say “attempt” as we never know what may surface.  Much time and energy has been unexpectedly but appropriately dedicated to helping folks cope with the village situation that surprised us all which I wrote about in my last blog.

Let me tell you a little about the sessions.

My favorite session was the Samba Dance Troupe -  daDa-daDa-Da-duh, daDa-daDa-Da-duh.  My foot is tapping just remembering it. If you have no morning Samba in your life, I suggest you get some.  Jason, an awesome drummer that just moved here a few months ago from Colorado, led the whole thing by demonstrating the instrument to be played and handing it off to someone in the circle and giving them the beat, daDa-daDa-Da-duh, daDa-daDa-Da-duh, until they caught on.  Castanets, cow bells, balaclavas, triangles, and rattles were represented.  I had a rattle.  Don’t judge.  Another rattle broke open during the ruckus spraying hundreds of little beads across the floor.  Very authentic.  I hear some of Carnival’s best Somba troupes will often break a rattle mid-dance.

Once Jason had all the instruments passed out, he sat down with a bass pedal next to the suitcase he had just taken all the instruments out of to distribute.  But this was no ordinary suitcase.  This suitcase became a bass drum. He also set up a snare drum and a cymbal.  For 15 or 20 minutes, we were the rockin’est Somba Dance Troupe in Rutledge.  You hear that Scotland County MO?  We were the rockin’est Somba Dance Troupe in Rutledge!

And now a word about drummer face.  Drummer face is the face I make when I play the drums or any other percussion instrument, the rattle in this particular instance.  Don't judge.  My drummer face is unlike any other face I make.  In fact, I can’t even strum my fingers on the table during dinner without making a wee bit of drummer face.  Jason most definitely had drummer face.  Drummer face is how I would look if I was cool.  Drummer face is the face I would make after getting off my Harley and stretching my legs after 12 hours in the saddle.  Drummer face is the face I would make if I ever got a strike in bowling.  As if.

And now for the worst transition ever written.  Drummer face is the face I would make after flushing a ball of earwax the size of a grape out of my ear.  Some friends and I had a conversation about these “ear boogers” on the way to town the other day.  For years, I’ve softened mine up with those ear drops that make tickly bubbles in my ears which I follow up with a vigorous, warm water irrigation via a small, plastic, squeeze bulb.  It is so satisfying when the water flows back out freely, and I know what’s coming when I look into the sink; ear booger!  We all agreed Q-tips are not indicated for such situations and actually act as ramrods packing our ears tighter and making them hurt more.  One friend suggested a curved device with a tiny scoop on the end, possibly Chinese in origin, that would do the trick nicely. 

The counterpoint to this suggestion was not letting a friend anywhere near your ear with such a device and only trust yourself if hazarding this modality at all.  In the back of my head, I can hear my mom passing on the advice her doctor gave her, “The only thing you should ever put in your ear is your elbow with a towel wrapped around it.”

So the great thing about flushing the grapes out of my ears is that my balance has been noticeably better.  I’m currently having almost no dizziness which I’ve struggled with since the beginning of July.  Granted things have been slowly improving as I’ve tried some other means to help get rid of the vertigo, but is sure seems like getting rid of the ear boogers has helped considerably.  Who knew?

You never know what you’re going to get in my blog so be sure and tune in next time when I cover the various disclaimers that have come with the food I’ve eaten since I moved here.

Sneak Preview:  “I made too much food for the dog, do you want some?” and, “If you don’t mind a little mold, ....”

Sorry.  I forgot about the other retreat topics;  firewood, conflict resolution, Kid Committee, what committee will hold what issues, Milkweed Mercantile, lunch, snacks, and dinner.  It’s in the notes if you want to know more.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Can't Breathe

A touchy subject came up at coffee the other morning.  Compared to my hopes, dreams and expectations how has my experience thus far at Dancing Rabbit measured up?  My answer - it depends on which hope, dream or expectation I take a look at.

I was taught well, years ago, that an expectation is a premeditated resentment, but I still hope for the best.  I still indulge in imagining a world that I think will comfort, satisfy, and entertain me.  I understand the world is not here for my comfort, satisfaction, and entertainment, but I do believe there will be a reasonable measure of such things if I align myself with the way things are, do a little work in the right direction, and don’t take myself, and you, too seriously.  And yes, there will be an occasional sucker punch in the stomach that takes my breath away.

I remember the first time I got the wind knocked out of me.  Mom, Dad, Grandpa, Grandma, and I were camping just south of Grandma and Grandpa’s house in the country.  As I remember, the pond down there was newly built and the dam still had large chunks of earth everywhere that had not yet been worn smooth by the wind and rains nor had much vegetation sprouted. 

From the top of the new dam, I was making my way down to the campsite at the dam base.  As gravity and running had their way with me, in no time at all I was going way faster than my short four-year-old legs could carry me, and I fell face first hitting the ground with a dirt clod gouging me right in the stomach.  Out goes the air.  Out stays the air.  I think the experience gave me empathy for the fish we had caught and thrown on the bank earlier in the day, bullheads we called them.  I couldn’t breathe.

I have had the wind knocked out of me here at Dancing Rabbit.  A long-time Dancing Rabbit member was recently arrested.  I could barely breathe.  The community has been gouged in the soul.  I’ve felt scared and hurt.  I’ve been angry.  I’ve lost trust.  I’ve been disabused of the dream that “I’ll move out to the country to an eco-village where I’ll garden, read, meditate, go on walks, and generally help out around the place.  It will be a relaxed and peaceful sanctuary to regain my health and take a much-needed break from the everyday world and all its troubles.” 

Gardening is still going on thanks to the hoop house with all the lettuce.  I count seven books on the table next to me all of which I am enjoying.  Meditation makes up about an hour of my day.  I walked down to the pond this morning and cut some willow wands so that they won’t keep growing and degrade the dam over time.  I’m trying to keep the fireplace warm enough today so our baker can get the bread dough to rise.  And I found a way to keep the boiler going without getting so much smoke into the house which is a big bonus.  Sounds great, doesn’t it?  This is typical of most days since I’ve been here at DR and meets my expectations.

But on one of these typical days last week, the sheriff was here to make the arrest.  I don’t know when I’ll be able to breathe again.  I don’t know when the community will breathe again.  We are gasping.  There are feelings of helplessness, rage, disbelief, and shame.  Will we return to normal or is this the end?

I never saw it coming, and it happened in an instant.  It changed everything here at DR.  I hesitate to share any of this, but it is the reality here at this time.  My burden is light compared to those most directly impacted.  I don’t have all the right words, but I feel not saying anything is not right either.

I look forward to being able to breathe again, and I aspire to be an agent of peace and healing here.

Saturday, February 9, 2019


Sleeping Cat wallpaper | 1920x1200 | #75060

I delight in naps.

It’s hard to believe my little three-year-old self did not run into my bedroom eager to lay down for my afternoon nap.  At the time, I desperately wanted to watch Bozo The Clown on television even as my eyes would half close, because I was so tired.  I vaguely remember faking a nap so I could believably lie to Mom when she asked if I slept, “Yes, I slept a little.”  Why so nap-averse?  There were other kids outside playing, Bozo was on television, and Mom was probably doing something I needed to help her with.  As I type, I’m remembering naps at La Petite Academy - the daycare center I went to awhile as a kid.  We had little cots akin to modern-day camp cots with aluminum frames and nylon fabric slung across them.  They were not particularly comfortable.  Nap time also meant a Dixie cup with some red “fruit” juice.  The juice was a nice touch.  They should have spiked it.  I would have slept better.

Like I said, I delight in naps these days, but that is rather vague.  It’s like saying I like food or I like travel.  If I really want you to understand me, which of course I do, and a vital part of my ecovillage life here at Dancing Rabbit, then you must have some fundamental grasp of my daily nappage.  Unlike food or travel, there is only one kind of nap I don’t like whereas there are many foods and modes of travel I dislike.  The only kind of nap I don’t like is a nap that is interrupted. 

Here’s the rundown on my typical afternoon nap this winter.  Let us refer to it as The Basic Afternoon Nap or BAN.  First, the BAN is usually in the afternoon.  Sometimes I’ll do a little something after lunch, but more often than not, I’ll eat a satisfying lunch, visit with my kitchen coop peeps while we clean up then head back to my room for a BAN.

Removing my boots or shoes, I lay atop the bed (which I have made), prop up the pillows (three of them), and pull either a super soft throw blanket or my sleeping bag over me.  The temperature in my room ranges from about 52 to 62 this winter so I choose my covering accordingly.  I clasp my hands and rest them on my belly and feel myself breathe.  I usually start on my back and sometimes remain in this position for the duration of the BAN.  Other times I will roll onto my side, one or the other, a time or two.  One quirk of back napping for me is the pre-REM waking snore snort.

Just as I’m actually falling asleep, that fugue state between waking and resting reality, I seemingly try to inhale a hard-boiled egg into my left nostril.  Rude awakening.  Upon checking for and finding no hard-boiled eggs, I roll onto one side or the other and go to sleep.  This could last anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes.  It is delightful.

Sometimes there is music playing downstairs or I hear the sound of doors opening and closing.  Footsteps treading up the stairs which could be human or canine.  Summer naps often featured the sounds of children and dogs, power tools and breezes.  Naps vary seasonally based on accommodations, time of day, and village activities.  I grew more accustomed to the Sweaty Summer Nap (SSN) as I found I usually stopped sweating after about 10 minutes.  A 12-volt fan blowing across my body also helped.

So far I’ve only touched on my Basic Afternoon Nap, but I don’t want you to think that’s all I have in my napping repertoire.  I’ve also been known to indulge in The Nap Before Bedtime.  In this nap variation, the procedure is much like the BAN but it differs in time of day.  The NBB happens shortly after dinner, is of short duration, and ends with me waking up briefly, taking off my clothes, brushing my teeth and going right back to bed for the night. 

I’m also not afraid of a good Mid-Morning Nap (MMN).  For some unknown reason, the MMN is more often accompanied by a river of drool that tends to wake me abruptly when I roll into it.  I think I call it “drool” because I don’t want to admit to myself that I would ever roll over, face first, into a gallon of my own spit.  Gross.  While less frequent, this nap indicates a less than ideal night’s sleep the night before.  Maybe I got to bed late, after 9pm, or maybe a little acid reflux kept me awake or whatever.  I’m not afraid to adjust to the situation on the fly and supplement with a good Mid-Morning Nap.

Other specialty naps you might be familiar with yourself are The Rainstorm Nap,  The Sick Day Nap, The I’m Too Sad To Face The World Nap, and the It Could Be A Long Night So I Better Get Some Extra Rest Nap.  Almost forgot the Nap While Not Really Watching Golf.  I’ve considered taping golf announcers and just playing it back on a loop to ease me to sleep at night.  It’s easy for me to imagine going to sleep hearing Jim Nance whisper, “It breaks a little to the right...It breaks a little to the right...It breaks a little to the breaks a  little ....ZZZZzzzzz...zzz.

I’m currently doing some field research on other potential naps.  For my research, I’ve decided to enlist the help of some of our local napping experts.  These beings seem to live for naps and have a far greater repertoire and higher proficiency than us humans.  You’ve probably already guessed, I’m talking about The Cat Nap or TCN.

Sweet dreams.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Little White Baggy

Once and for all, for the last time, am I, or am I not addicted to delicious white chocolate yogurt covered pretzels?  I don’t want you to give me any of this, “It depends,” crap.   I want a simple “yes” or “no”.
I’ll wait.  I’m waitng.  Waiting...
What do you mean you can’t tell me?  I have to decide for myself?  You’re useless.  Go away.

Fine.  I’ll go straight to the experts and figure it out for myself.  I bet the good folks at The American Society for Addiction Medicine have a self-test or something.

I’m checking here now…
Seriously.  Those clowns could overcomplicate a balloon snake.

Wait.  I have a better idea.  I’ll just ask Dr. Google...
And Google sucks.  Here I am asking “am i addicted to yogurt covered pretzels” and all I get is advertisements for buying shipping containers full of said pretzels and recipes to make -Most Delicious Yogurt Covered Pretzels You’ve Ever Experienced- , and an offer for a free e-book on Life Changing Yogurt Covered Pretzel Vending Opportunity.  I’m sweating.  My hands are shaking.

I’ll just go with my gut.  Guts are smart.  Some say guts are smarter than brains and even smarter than our funbits.  My guts are definitely smarter than my funbits.

Guess what my gut says?  My gut says, “MORE DELICIOUS WHITE CHOCOLATE YOGURT COVERED PRETZELS!”  Maybe smartness is not the most reliable way to figure out if I’m addicted to delicious yogurt covered pretzels.  Smartness isn’t all that and a bag of chips as they say.

I’m realizing I jumped right into the deep question end of the pool without giving you any context.  Context is everything.  Without context a roach infested trap house in the bad part of town is just a house.  Here’s some context.
Most days here at Dancing Rabbit from about 4 ‘til about 6pm I go to Happy Hour downstairs where I’m staying here at The Milkweed Mercantile.  Usually it’s a quiet social scene; one friend warming himself in front of the fire, a couple at the bar naming a new drink they just concocted, and me watching the wood burn in the fireplace.  For weeks I’ve ordered a root beer and nursed it for an hour or so.  Twice, at the exhortation of the bartender, I tried a ginger ale, but I find myself returning to root beer.  Root beer is a nice accompaniment to the fresh popped popcorn I can’t stop shoving down my facehole.  Seriously, who eats popcorn this fast?  I’m an embarrassingly fast popcorn eater. Popcorn, however, is not the point.

On display in one corner of the room is an assortment of snacks.  Flavored chips in fanciful packages, gourmet chocolate bars, and the snack currently under discussion, delicious white chocolate yogurt covered pretzels.  They are white and slightly bigger than a quarter - and they are delicious.

A small bag, I’d say about 8 oz. is $2.00.  I held off for many weeks eating any of these little delicacies until one day I said, “What the hay T?  Live a little.  Have a little bag of pretzels.  They’re covered in yogurt so they are probably beneficial to your microbiome.”  I got a bag.  As a kid, I didn’t even know I had a microbiome.  Maybe it was not discovered yet?  I’m amazed how anyone survived as long as I have without knowing about microbiomes.

Every day since that first purchase with almost no exception, I’ve gotten another bag of white yogurt covered pretzels at Happy Hour.  I do share with my friends.  “Want a pretzel?  No, please have one.  Save me from myself.  I can’t stop eating them.”

You see when it comes to me and sweet, tasty things, almost every package I’ve ever encountered is a single serving size.  A pound of M&M peanuts - single serving.  A half gallon of eggnog - single serving.  A half gallon of Breyer’s Vanilla Bean with Fudge ice cream - single serving size.  A little baggy of delicious white yogurt covered pretzels - single serving.

I have even had a second bag at one Happy Hour.  I tried to save some one other time.  You know, seal up the bag, take it to my room and bring them down the next day - save a little money and a few calories.  I finished them off upstairs after dinner before going to bed that night.  I could have died in my sleep and left a half eaten bag of yogurt covered pretzels in my closet hidden in a little box.  What a shame that would have been.

There was a big Game Night planned the other night in town at a former Rabbit’s house, and I didn’t want to go empty handed so I bought 3 bags of pretzels.  I squirreled away one for myself, my own private stash, and I carried the other 2 openly where others could see I was not coming to the party snackless.  Well, we didn’t end up going to the party due to another stuck truck, and there I am awash in yogurt pretzel abundance.  I’m impressed with my willpower so far.  I took one bag to Happy Hour last night and finished it.  I have not gotten into the other two bags.  I hid them in the box in top of my closet as kind of a barrier to impulsivity.  So far so good.

One time I joked to the bartender that I have willpower.  “Hey Matt, I’m going to eat this whole bag of yogurt covered pretzels.”  And I did.  I have willpower.

I’m feeling a little disappointed in myself for returning to daily junk food eating after staying away for weeks and feeling good.  But are these really hurting me?  Was the clog in my left carotid that broke loose and scrambled my brain a couple years ago just a leftover piece of Chunk from all the Chunky Monkey ice cream I was eating or maybe the stroke was caused by a glob of cookie dough that got dislodged?  I’ll never know.  It’s hard to tell with these things sometimes.

So far, I haven’t lied to anyone about my pretzel eating.  I don’t think my personality changes for better or worse when I eat delicious white chocolate covered yogurt pretzels.  Maybe, if I go to Happy Hour hangry, pretzels may make me a nicer, more social person.  But is that too much sugar what with the root beer AND pretzels.  Is the whole greater than the sum of the parts?

If you read this and then comment on my pretzels eating next time you see me at Happy Hour, I might get a little defensive and call you a name or point out that you can’t stop shoving popcorn in your mouth.  (Actually, I’m the one that stuffs popcorn in his mouth.  Strange how I forgot about that so soon.  Oh hell no!  We’re not going to talk about popcorn too.  Nope. Not gonna do it.  Popcorn is off limits.)  Yogurt covered pretzels are legal in Missouri after all, and I’m a grown ass man, and I quit so many other things I’m not going to be denied this, and if the Goddess did not want me to eat pretzels she would not have made them so, so delicious.  I think we’re done here.

Sorry.  Maybe I got a little carried away, but now you get a better idea of what is going on.  Now you have context.  Maybe we can circle back to ASAM and see if I can get any clarity on my question, “Am I addicted to delicious white chocolate yogurt covered pretzels?”

(Another aside, I limited myself to only 1 jar of peanuts this week, and I did so good.  I bought the jar on Sunday, and they were gone by Tuesday, and I did not buy another one until Sunday, and I like writing run-on sentences, and I just wanted you to know I know what a run-on sentence is.)

I’m not hopeful, but I’ll revisit the ASAM folks, because they did, at least, have a definition of addiction.  Maybe together we can look at the background info I just gave you compared to what they say an addiction is and make some kind of reasonable guess as to whether or not I’m addicted to yogurt covered pretzels of the delicious chocolate covered variety.

Here’s the short definition of addiction from ASAM:
Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.
Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.

Even this short definition sort of hurts my head, but I’ll look at that second paragraph specifically and break it down into simple questions answering a firm “yes” or “no” to each.

1.  Do I have an inability to consistently abstain from yogurt covered pretzels?  Yes.
2.  Do yogurt covered pretzels impair my behavioral control?  No.  Denial?
3.  Do I crave yogurt covered pretzels?  Yes.
4.  Do yogurt covered pretzels diminish my recognition of significant problems with my behavior?  No.  Denial again?
5.  Do yogurt covered pretzels diminish my recognition of significant problems with my interpersonal relationships?  No.  And another possibility of denial.
6.  Do yogurt covered pretzels lead me to dysfunctional emotional response?  No.  Shut up!
7. Have I quit eating yogurt covered pretzels, stopped for awhile, and then gone back to eating them?  No.  Only because I haven’t stopped yet.
8. Is it possible that my current consumption pattern of yogurt covered pretzels could lead to disability or premature death?  Yes.  One could get stuck in my carotid artery, get jiggled out and give me another stroke.

Well, there it is.  Right here in black and white, clear as day, I have my answer.

Thanks for going through this with me.  Having people like you around is what I really cherish in life.  If it was between you, and delicious white chocolate yogurt covered pretzel, I’d definitely hide a bag of yogurt covered pretzels in a box in the top of my closet and profess to be pretzel-free because you are more important to me than any silly, sugary snack.  I can hear myself -

“Of course you’re more important to me that a stupid bag of yogurt covered pretzels.  You’re the most important thing in this world to me.  You want me off the pretzels?  I’m off the pretzels.  Clear as day.”

Friday, January 25, 2019

Snow Changes a Person

Insane Icicle Display, Glenshane Pass - Jan 22nd 2013

“Where’s your shoes?”
“South Dakota does strange things to a person T.”

Well I guess it does.  I came into The Mercantile dining room the other day where a bridge lesson was taking place, and one of my friends was sitting at the table without any shoes.  I think it was about 17 degrees outside that day.  Folks around here are accustomed to some quirky individualism, but I had concerns, and I spoke them.  I got an answer.  I can live with it.

Just a couple weeks ago I was waxing poetic about the joys of First False Spring on a day I sat outside at the picnic table in January eating a salad.  What a day that was.  Was it really only three weeks ago?  I got up in the middle of the night last night and put on a long sleeve shirt over my short sleeve shirt, because my sheet, quilt, fleece hat, longjohns, wool socks and sleeping bag were not keeping me warm enough.

The cold does things to a person.

Every morning over coffee a couple of us seem to read over the same script with slight variations;  it’s like we’re reading a MadLib filling in only weather related terms.

Mornin’ ____.  How’d you sleep?  ____.  Last night it got down to ____.  Yup.  Felt like it was only ____.  Did you have any ____ on your windows?  Nope, but my ____ was frozen.  Dang.  It’s only supposed to get up to ____ today.  Yup.  The roads are going to be ____.  How about tonight?  Tonight, it’s supposed to be ____ with a chance of ____.  I haven’t seen weather like this in ____ years.  Yup.  I remember back in ____ we had ____ inches of ____ in January.  Yup.


There is a sense of comfort for me in summarizing the weather in this way.  Maybe it serves as an incantation against any harm coming to us from weather as if only unforeseen, unmentioned, or surprise jumping-out-of-a-cake weather can do us any harm.  As long as there have been firesides, and tables, and coffee, I am positive there have been conversations about weather.

The snow, especially the amount we have gotten which is about 14 inches in the last week according to me and my eyeballs, is doing some fascinating things that I’m not used to seeing with those measly 2 or 3 inch snows of recent years.  A 14 inch snow has some tricks up it’s sleeve.  Big, deep drifts are one such trick.  Find a spot where wind has scoured the snow down to the the grass and somewhere nearby you’ll find a spot that is 4 feet deep - physics and aerodynamics and such don’t you know.  And the sluffing off of snowbergs from the roof!  They moved like a retractable dome glacier on many roof edges here in the village and then spawned long icicles making the building look something akin to The Abominable Snowhouse getting ready to have me for lunch on my way to lunch.

It’s snow quiet after a snow.  Sorry.  It’s so quiet after a snow.  Taking a walk in the fluffy stuff before it turns into the crunchy stuff is ethereal.  Take that walk in the woods.  Ummm.

The wind yowls like snowcats fighting.  My hand went numb walking 50 feet across the courtyard from my place to Skyhouse.  It was getting scary cold.  Compared to that, a 30 degree day is warm, and I wonder if I really need this long sleeve shirt or not.

Never mind South Dakota.  Winter in Missouri does strange things to a person.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Of Guerrillas, Monks and Comparing

Spinning the Web of Life in Sacred Circles Called Mandalas ...

Ever caught yourself thinking you know something for sure then finding out you’re entirely wrong about that thing?  A perfect example of this was when I was a kid and heard on the evening news that “Guerrilla Attacks Leave 7 Dead in Western Overthereia.”  I'm totally not kidding you when I tell you I imagined a Planet of the Apes-style attack on humans in some far off and very dangerous country.  I’m not sure why I imagined Planet of Apes instead of King Kong.  Maybe because the King Kong scenario just didn’t make sense.  Like the Planet of the Apes scenario did?  Anyway, it was a while before I realized “guerrillas” were not “gorillas” and I had to rethink everything I thought I knew about Overthereia.  Shit just keeps happening to me.

I thought buddhist monks did those sand mandalas freehand.  I’m not sure why I thought this, I just did.  Monks are very spiritual, I suppose, and it would be very spiritual if the monks made the mandalas freehand.  That would be almost magical surpassing spiritual when I really think about it.  It would be totally magical if they took two handfuls of multi-colored sand and gave it a little toss into the air over a light colored marble floor and all the sand falls into place forming an intricate mandala - magic.  In my mind, it is (was) a sign of advanced spirituality that the monks make these elaborate, detailed, multi-colored mandalas grain by grain from colored sand freehand.  That takes some deep spirituality just one step shy of magic.  (If you don’t know what a mandala is,  go rewatch Episode 7, Season 3 of House of Cards.  If you haven’t watched House of Cards,  I’m not really sure I even want you reading my blog to be perfectly honest.)

A truly enlightened monk could make a mandala from memory with lines straight as the dharma and right angles as true as truth itself - freehand.

Imagine my surprise as I  watched a video recently of monks making a mandala, and they were using rulers and tape to mark out the design.  Whaw, whaw, whawww.  Total disappointment.  Okay, it’s still spiritual, but I really thought they just sat down and made the mandalas without any mechanical aids.  I admit I’m sloppy sometimes when it comes to thinking things all the way thru.

Buddhist monks share 'real gift' in sand painting meant to ...

I also thought the metal pen-type instruments the monks work with were some kind of file that wore the sand off a block grain by grain and it fell perfectly into their freehand mandalas.  Sloppy thinking on my part again.  The pen-type things are pre-filled with grains of colored sand and the rubbing of the ridge does not create the sand particles but just shakes them enough so they slide down the pen to fill in the place they are supposed to be.  It’s really just paint-by-numbers.  Still spiritual I suppose but not as spiritual as rubbing a colored rock over a blank surface and ending up with a mandala.  Half gallon tubs of colored sand occupied the outside ring of the workspace in the video.

Some of the monks in the video wore surgical masks I guessed to keep them from breathing on the sand and blowing it all over the place.  They did not all have them.  The heavier mouth breathers are probably much less spiritual than the monks that don’t need a mask.  Some of the monks are probably so spiritual they simply absorb the life force thru their skin without breathing at all.  Or maybe, they have such control over their bodily systems that they down regulate to 2 breaths a minute or something nearly as magical.  I wonder which kind I would be?  Would I need a mask as a heavy mouth breather or not?  What’s with the comparing?  Would I need a mask?  Would I not need a mask?  I bet I could do only 1 respiration per minute!  Would I be a better than monk than Billy?  Or Tracy?  It probably depends on the day.  (I will ignore the comment of my friend who suggested at coffee this morning that the dyes that make the sand a certain color are probably toxic so the monks are just trying to protect themselves from toxic chemicals by wearing the masks.  This could be true I suppose if one ignores that fact that monks have super spiritual immune systems that defy the laws of chemistry and biology allowing them not to get sick from breathing in toxic chemicals.  I swear, I don’t know where some people get their information about monks to remain perfectly honest with you.)

Some days I am much more spiritual than others.  Some days I could use my own eyelash to paint a watercolor whooping crane with my rainbow tinted tears.  Other days, I couldn’t even make a mess by slinging my own poo against the bathroom mirror.  I’m inconsistent you see.  Are you inconsistent?  Please tell me you are inconsistent.

I compare.  Just as I assume the monks draw mandalas freehand with freshly ground sand without blowing it away due to their perfectly controlled breath, I assume you are always in a much better state of mental fitness than I am.  I assume I have fallen behind or I will never catch up or I got a bad hard drive at the factory or I had a dizzy spell last night.  I stubbornly believe these comparisons to my detriment.

When I compare my insides to your outsides, your outsides usually win even if you have dirty toenails.  Why is that?  I don’t know.  Do you do that to yourself?  If you do, please stop.  You’re insides are fine I’m sure.  Especially if you’re vegan.  The insides of vegans are certainly better than my insides.  Full disclosure - I ate some hamburger last week.  Please don’t judge.  I’m hard enough on myself without you piling on.

Why all this comparing?  Oh, I don’t know, maybe because it’s what I’ve seen done and have done to myself since birth.  I weighed 27 pounds at birth putting me in the 99.9th percentile.  I was special from the start.  I walked at 5 weeks, again by comparison against less mobile cohorts, placing me very high on the mobility scale.  Always worrying about my place on the scale.  How about a scale that just says one thing.  How about a scale that always reads “just right.”

“How are you today?”
“I’m just right.”
“How tall are you?  How smart are you?  How do you feel?  How’s your cold?  How’s school?  How’s work?  How’s that thing?  How’s you’re wife/husband/partner/SO/boyfriend/girlfriend/special friend/friend with benefits?  How’s the weather?”
“Just right.”

Will this disallow some relief from what I’ve been told is the lowest form of gratitude but still gratitude nonetheless?  I’m speaking of the gratitude that comes in meeting or hearing about someone who’s worse off than you.  You stubbed your toe?  Get over it !  I know a guy with only 9 toes because he cut one off with a lawnmower.  You should be glad you’re not that guy.  I guess I’m glad I’m not that guy but do I really need that comparison to feel okay with my current state of being.  Is the 9 toed guy more or less spiritual than me?  More or less spiritual than the mouth-breathing monks?  It is a race right?  There are winners and losers right?  The winners get warm fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies and the losers get raisins.  (I do now consider raisins a viable snack option but c’mon they are not even in the same galaxy as chocolate chip cookies.)

BraveTart: Best Case Scenario

I’m also in the 99.9 th percentile when it comes to overthinking and possibly oversharing, but there you go.  It’s okay to go to the zoo, because guerrillas are not killing people there. The monks disappointed me, but I guess they are still just right.  Don’t let my outsides fool you, and please, let’s stop comparing.  Let’s all just be just right.  I’ll bet I’ll be one of the best at not comparing.  Probably in the 99.9 percentile of non-comparers.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

First False Spring

Rabbit Ramblings: Cartoon - A Bunny Classic

January 7th and I’m sitting at Happy Hour in the Milkweed Mercantile nursing a root beer and making shadow puppets over the fireplace.  Which little detail is most remarkable to you?  To me, the most remarkable detail is that I’m making shadow puppets, because it is so sunny outside.  I would love to learn how to make a shadow rabbit and think I got close a couple times but just not quite there. I have a profound respect for all you accomplished shadow puppeteers out there.  As a group, I don’t think you here that enough, so, good job.  I say, “Good job,” shadow puppeteers.

The thermometer is showing 57 degrees at 4pm so I’m going to say, rounding up maybe, it was 60 degrees here in garden zone 5 of North America today.  I realize this is not unprecedented, but it sure feels good!  In years past, I’d take my motorcycle out on days like today if I thought the salt and sand didn’t make things too risky.  Instead of a motorcycle ride, my new little food coop ate our lunch outside at the picnic table.

We still don’t have a name for our food coop, but we had lunch outside today.  Did I mention it was 60 degrees and we had lunch outside today?  I’m giddy.  I might have a touch of sunburn or heat rash or some such a thing.  It was 60 degrees outside today.  During our outside lunch, one friend  was hula hooping and blowing milkweed seeds around.  Another visitor from next door was sporting sunglasses and went for swim in their pond this morning without hacking thru the ice.  There was no ice, because it was 60 degrees today.

Why does anyone hack thru ice to swim?  I’m terrified I’m going to feel some kind of journalistic responsibility to go take a polar plunge and write about it for you dear reader.  Please talk me out of it.  Please.  Now.

While sitting on the porch swing sunning myself in the 60 degree sunshine after lunch, I was invited to rendezvous at the trampoline to watch some trampolining.  I am not a partaker in trampolining no matter what the temperature, but I was keen to watch.  Alas, I missed it but I made my way down to our pond to see how a 60 degree January day looked down there.  It looked good.  It was warm.  I moved a lawn chair out on the dock and just sat in the sun.  It felt like 61 degrees in the direct sun on the dock.  It was so bright I had to squint.  Through the squinting I saw those floating amoebas moving about in my eyeballs no doubt invigorated by the 60 degree day.  Rainbows adorned the squint as well.  Rainbow amoebas on a 60 degree January day.

I didn’t even keep the fireplace going today at The Mercantile.  Why?


We had a snow back in early November which seems like a year ago.

I left the pond and strolled over to check on all the little lettuces in the greenhouse.  They were loving life today!  It was about 80 degrees in the greenhouse.  My head started sweating almost immediately after going in.  Nothing like a good January greenhouse sweat.  Some of the little lettuces got a tad freezer burned awhile back but they are still tasty.  And abundant.  There are a couple 3 foot wide rows about 30 feet long with a lettuce carpet growing.  The soil was double drenched as the seeds were planted back in October and that moisture will be expected to keep things growing all winter.  There is a mix of red, green, oak, and arugula lettuces.  I’ve cut a couple pounds worth so far that my food coop has enjoyed.

I did get out into the garden and cut down another 30 red mulberry saplings.  This was in addition to the the 50 I had already cut.  Red mulberry is an ambitious little tree.  I checked out the fence around our garden.  It needs some work.  By “our garden” I mean our new food coop.  Our unofficial working name has been “Podatoh” and then “Sweet Podatoh” and then since we are in SkyHouse we have referred to ourselves as SkyKitchen or SkyPeople.  Put it all together we’re currently the Beloved Sky Kitchen Sweet Podatoh Kitchen Coop.

Almost forgot, we ordered some seeds after lunch today.  Seed catalogs started showing up here at Dancing Rabbit about a week ago.  Someone commented “the plant porn” is here.  How indelicate.  Indelicate or not, a few more catalogs showed up in quick succession and I’ve flipped through the pages dreaming of bumper crops of tomato, basil, kale, and the list goes on.

If it seems to you I’m a bit manic, I am.  Nothing like the first false spring of January to get me all worked up.  I know it won’t last.  6 inches of snow is forecast this weekend, but as I put my longjohns back on and wear my Elmer Fudd hat outside to feed the fire, I will have the seed of hope in my soul’s warm center promising that it will get warm again.  Seeds will sprout, I’ll jump in the pond, and I’ll be proud of having a farmer’s tan again.

(And just so you know, it snowed a foot in the last 24 hours and I've totally forgotten about how awesome and warm it was just a few days ago)

Sunday, January 6, 2019


I went to visit Grandma Matthews last week.  She did not come over to my parents’ place for a belated Christmas celebration because she was sick.  She gets sick every year about this time.  We agreed it was due to holiday stress and lots of germs in the air.

I wanted to make time to go see Grandma while I was in the area.  Melissa, my sister, and her sons Cole and Clayton stopped by Grandma’s the day before I did.  Grandma had snacks for them I’m sure.  When my parents go visit Grandma they always try and talk Grandma out of cooking anything.  Grandma is always serving up food when we visit.

 I don’t even try and stop her anymore.  Grandma is 91 years old and has earned the right to do whatever the hell she wants.  Why fight it?  Even when I try and limit her efforts to feed me, it is futile.  Grandma will make food.  Grandma will be in the kitchen after her own funeral making sandwiches.  I’m sure of this.

Here’s how it all went down last week -

Me:  Hi Grandma, how are you?  You sound sick.
Grandma:  Oh I’m okay.  I’m a little hoarse.
Me:  I’ve been sick too.  Day 10 for me, but I’m not too bad.  Can I come over and visit?
Grandma:  Sure!  What do you want to eat?
Me:  I just ate so I don’t need anything thanks.
Grandma:  How about a ham sandwich?
Me:  Okay.  A ham sandwich would be great.
Grandma:  Is that all you want?
Me:  Yup.  A ham sandwich will be great.  Can I bring you anything?
Grandma:  No, I’m fine.

I drive into town to visit Grandma bringing a bottle of wine from Dancing Rabbit, a coffee cake left over from all the stuff Mom had for my visit which we never ate and a container of leftover chicken fettuccine.

I arrive at Grandma’s in town-

Me:  Hi Grandma!
Grandma:  Hi Troy.  It’s so good to see you.
Me:  Good to see you too.  Sorry you’re sick.
Grandma:  Oh well.  You know.  Seems like I get this every year.  I’ll make you a sandwich.  And there are some peaches if you like.  And some chips.  Do you like chips?  How about some chicken noodle soup?  What’s this you brought?  Would you like some of that?  Let me heat that up.  I love this coffee cake.  You want some coffee cake, don’t you?

I surrendered.

Over the next hour, on an already full stomach, I ate 2 ham sandwiches with Miracle Whip and mustard on white bread, a bowl of chicken noodle soup, a big glass of milk, a slab of coffee cake, a bowl of peaches, some peanut butter filled pretzels, and half a bag of potato chips.  To my credit, I fended off another sandwich and bowl of soup, chicken alfredo, a milk refill, a slice of cheese, coffee, pork and beans, and a gift box filled with coffee, a mug, and cookies.

To my chagrin, I did leave with a candy cane, an individually wrapped piece of dark chocolate, and a partially eaten chocolate covered pretzel stick.  These items collect in a tin on Grandma’s kitchen table.

I put up a good fight, but Grandma always wins.

We had a nice visit and covered the usual topics; card parties, eating out, football, doctors, her friend David, and things she doesn’t really care for and has told people about.

Grandma plays cards with a group of friends a couple times a week.  She has cut down on her driving so only plays every other week in Concordia about 6 miles away from her house.  She enjoys the 7 Days a Week Diner especially when she gets offered a discount by the owner at the register.  Unfortunately the owner has not been there lately and his daughter does not offer the discount.  The Kansas City Chiefs football team has been good this season but lost the last two games.  We agree they will win their next game.  Her doctor talked her out of taking an antibiotic right away after Grandma got sick on Christmas but prescribed one just in case Grandma did not start feeling better.  Well, she hadn’t started feeling better and wishes she had taken the pills right away.  Grandma’s friend David will turn 90 in April and Grandma has noticed, “He’s slipping a little bit.”  Grandma will be 92 this year.

After collecting cats for several decades, live and manufactured, she has turned her attention to elephants; elephants of only the manufactured variety.  She offered me “the whole lot,” but I explained I’m paring down my collectibles.  I was relieved to hear that she is saving a scarf I gave her many years ago and has never worn it but knows “it will mean a lot to you someday so I’m holding onto it so you can have it.”  Phew.  I can imagine Grandma wrapping a sandwich in the scarf in case I “need a little snack.”

Thanks Grandma.  Love you.  As always, thanks for the sandwich.