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Hello reader! How about that sky? I always appreciate nature’s gifts when I am feeling a little down. Like a lot of people, I am reeling over the Supreme Court Decision about Roe v. Wade. I actually find abortion abhorrent, on the whole, but absolutely wish to keep it legal and safe because I find the following (taken from research by Lisa B. Haddad and Nawal M. Nour) unacceptable:

Every year, worldwide, about 42 million women with unintended pregnancies choose abortion, and nearly half of these procedures, 20 million, are unsafe. Some 68,000 women die of unsafe abortion annually, making it one of the leading causes of maternal mortality (13%). Of the women who survive unsafe abortion, 5 million will suffer long-term health complications. Unsafe abortion is thus a pressing issue. Both of the primary methods for preventing unsafe abortion—less restrictive abortion laws and greater contraceptive use—face social, religious, and political obstacles, particularly in developing nations, where most unsafe abortions (97%) occur. Even where these obstacles are overcome, women and health care providers need to be educated about contraception and the availability of legal and safe abortion, and women need better access to safe abortion and post abortion services. Otherwise, desperate women, facing the financial burdens and social stigma of unintended pregnancy and believing they have no other option, will continue to risk their lives by undergoing unsafe abortions.

Having someone very dear to me as a child of adoption, knowing women who were quite cavalier about their multiple abortions, as well as knowing women who badly wanted children that did not live more than days beyond birth has given me a front row seat to the nuances of choice.

Before I was married, and ages before I knew my body was wholly inhospitable to fertility and pregnancy, I had two “scares” where my period was very late. Having known I did not ever want children from a young age, I was terrified at the prospect of becoming a mother. Yet, both times, I never considered abortion. My first instinct was adoption. This inclination has obviously never changed. As this has been unfolding these last days, I wondered why more women don’t consider it. Most who choose abortion, find the thought of terminating a pregnancy more palatable than giving a stranger their baby. Only about 1% choose adoption. The remainder find themselves attached to the child and become single moms.

I don’t really know where I am going with this, besides to say life is so complex. I want all women to feel agency over their lives. I want all babies to be wanted and cherished. To thrive! I want families not to struggle financially to raise their children. I personally won’t be helping any woman receive an abortion for reasons of my own morality (save in cases of rape, incest, mother or infant mortality), but I will absolutely support families by continuing to contribute to food banks, affordable housing agencies and initiatives, and Save the Children. Additionally, candidates who believe in choice will get my vote, since that is the only remaining option, governmentally speaking. It will not help people over the short term, sadly, but if the people will it to be, choice will come for every woman again.

And now, for something completely different! We had a most amazing cool and rainy day yesterday. I took full advantage by making what would normally be a sweltering day a most hospitable experience. The windows were open, the kitchen abuzz. I made: strawberry rhubarb jam, with our own rhubarb, of course; sweet-tart jelly/almost jams of roasted bell pepper and chipotle; and green chiles – Hatch, poblano, and jalapeno. We test drove them over today’s lunch of smoked chicken, and all the thumbs are up, dear peeps!

Then there was soap. From the top: a goat milk and oat made spicy with cinnamon, clove, and ginger; and my favorite shampoo bar combo of essential oils of rosemary and mint, fresh mint leaves – also home grown; and nourishing herbs of calendula, marshmallow, horsetail, nettle, and burdock (I make a tea and add the lye to it), with rhassoul clay. Hair luxury in a bar!

I used to fuss over getting the soap to a thick pudding stage before putting it in molds and creating swirls and flourishes on top. Now, after everything is thoroughly combined, I dump the mixes straight in and smooth the top, deciding the initially pretty crests and valleys only attracted dirt from our grubby hands when washing. Gross. I also pop the molds in the oven at 160 degrees for about an hour to ensure each loaf gels. I got tired of partial gels with that weird oval at the center and decided this was easiest. Working smarter and not harder, batch by batch. I do what I can, at least.

Do you know about kintsuge? Also known as Golden Joinery, it is the practice of fixing damaged pottery by adding gold to the repair. This enhances the broken bits and becomes part of the history of the object. I have known about it for a while but never had occasion to put it to use.

My Mom bought me this tray for Christmas. A New Mexico license plate?! So cool. It sits, with pride of place on our kitchen counter, a nice spot for fruit. I clumsily dropped an ice pack on it, and it snapped in two. Instead of searching for another or tossing it, I immediately thought of kintsuge and bought a kit. My repair, being my first, is FAR from expert or even terribly pretty, but I like it! Which, I believe, speaks loudest to the purpose of the practice.

Our broken bits can be made whole again, beautiful and useful, too! We need only believe them to be and willingly make the effort.

Of course, this got me thinking about how I have the opportunity to make my life this way, too. I used to feel a lot of shame around patterns I allowed to repeat over and over. Women came into my life, and I put aside my needs and feelings to make them feel loved and appreciated. That I was a friend they could count on. I’d drop anything for them. Give anything to them. Keep quiet about their negativity, insults, and slights.

I didn’t see it as me being a doormat. Until. I felt the first cracks in my being and knew I could do something about them. I stood up to them. The ways were mostly small, the glue filling the tiniest of fissures. A flimsy, yet valiant, first effort. Definitely no gold.

I experienced the seams holding and was emboldened. More and more, I uttered yes to me and no to them. I also started seeing the behavior more quickly in new relationships and ended them the moment I felt a fracture, even the tiniest of one. It leaves me with very few close friends, but I don’t see it as a negative. I am sprinkling gold about and enjoying the shimmer, the promise of all the history, of all that I was and now am. It is far from perfect but pretty grand.

The other day, out walking Juniper on a frigid frost day, Greg and I were chatting (as we always do), and there was a moment where I could not remember an essential detail germane to the conversation. Down the hill to the under the bridge tunnel, now laughing. Sometimes, it’s a bitch getting older, we thought aloud. Important threads of thought lost to the wind.

As I walked, I slowed my pace, trailing a step behind, the tunnel icy with wind and damp. For the first time in memory, I did not mind it: the forgetting. I am nearer to fifty-one than fifty and like it just fine. I realized I have no desire to spin backward the hands of time, to less sagging and wrinkled quick-memory days. Those when I saw so little of my own value and strength. Those when I thought I deserved mistreatment. Those when I was gas lit and sad. Those when I feared to make my voice heard. Those when I saw so many problems.

As I came out the other side, I felt a lightness and strength, a sheer joy I had never experienced. How beautiful the day and my presence of mind to love it for all it was and I am.

Goal!

Well, friends, I did it! I reached my Weight Watchers goal and then some. I am down 16.2 pounds, to be very precise, and feel positively wonderful.

The photo at the left was taken in Ness City, Kansas on the final day of our summer vacation. I had been thinking about Weight Watchers on and off since January: my belching and digestion were pretty awful, clothes were fitting tighter, and I really didn’t want to go up a size. I also wanted to establish healthier eating habits. With my MTHFR issues (heterozygous for the C677T mutation), my liver function on it’s best day is at 70% of normal. As a result, I had all kinds of digestive woes, depression, anxiety, and possibly a million other annoyances that may or may not be related. It depends on who you ask.

When I uploaded our vacation photos and saw myself, I didn’t think I looked bad. To toot my own horn, I thought my hair looked especially great! I did, however, think I looked a little chunky for my frame. Combined with the above, I told Greg I wanted a change and asked if he wanted to join me. As you well know, the hubster is the best life partner I could conjure with a wand, and we went forward together. Next week will mark three months and countless ways of improving our life.

First, and most obvious – I think I look swell! My face isn’t so puffy, my clothes are looser, and my muscles are tighter. My body is so much stronger, too!! Weights I never imagined using on the regular are part of my routine. And my emotions! They are far more steady and largely void of the depression and anxiety that often plagued me.

Most exciting is my overall health. I had been in the necessary habit of taking a daily slew of supplements to manage my MTHFR. Liquid Glutathione, Gallbladder Nutrients, Ox Bile, Digestive Enzymes, B Vitamins, B-12 on its own, Selenium drops! So very many. With my change in diet (MORE vegetables!) and subsequent weight loss, I was able to drop the selenium, gallbladder nutrients, and B-12. I also reduced the others overall dosage pretty dramatically AND to just three days a week. I only take the digestive enzymes when I eat something rich or especially beany, as I am NOT fond of farting. The last time my digestion was this good, I was a newlywed. That is twenty-eight years ago, dear peeps. A hearty hoot and holler!

Not surprisingly, I believe there are two messages here. First, it is always the right time to improve. Second, which is really a two-parter, tracking habits and being accountable for behavior leads to change. I knew my eating wasn’t perfect, but once I really paid attention and learned the point value of everything I was gobbling down, it became easier to choose healthier options and take the best care of my one marvelous body.

p.s. How about this crazy weather? I am wearing shorts and a t-shirt in the middle of November and am not at all cold. It is supposed to be 73 today!

p.p.s. Juniper, as always, is so adorable!!

mint + tomato

I love HOT coffee. To get quite literal, I’m talking 150 degrees hot, because, of course I measured! On a French press day, I pour it into our old school Corning Ware pot and let it big bubble boil before adding the wonder that is milk. Mostly lotsa, lotsa homemade almond, cow a distant second, I know – snob. But I’ve probably burned a coffee connoisseur bridge or two by boiling it in a pot on the stove. Eeek! Now that we have an espresso machine, that milk’s gotta be creamy-steamy steamed. I like what I like! I sit at my usual spot at the table, sip slowly, and revel in every single sip. I really do.

Lately, I’ve been reading a Psalm while I’m at it. Aside from a few Catechism classes as a wee one, I have never had any sort of bible study. If you are a religious Christian, this might be the moment to avert your eyes. <<PAUSE TO WAIT>> Thus far, I am finding them to be mostly angry rants against the Lord and wishing misery upon others, when I was looking for a bit more eloquence, hope, and aspiration. Let’s just say it answers a lot of other questions about Christianity for me. We’ll see how long I stick with it. <<PAUSE OVER>>

And now for TEA! For reasons I cannot explain, it is pretty much a polar opposite situation. I do not enjoy it at coffee temperature. At all. TOO HOT!! So I wait, generally for enough time to have nearly forgotten about it. Then it is lukewarm perfect and I GULP it down in a truly separate but equal heart aflutter fashion. Odd funny, and another very unsurprisingly me, Colleen Sohn, thing to do. Oh, the multitude on the list. Like anyone cares or needs to know, but alas, here we are!

And finally, the photos. The last bunches of mint and tomatoes. So pretty. Praise be to the beauty of fall. I do not remember the last time it didn’t snow or freeze in such a terrible manner that the majority of leaves immediately fell, so very green and sad, denying us the beauty we are now experiencing. The trees are alive with color, dear reader, and I could not be happier about it!

The amazing salad -Vietnamese Pork with quick pickled radish, jicama, and carrot, and with a bevy of other chopped goodness – the last of Farmer Greg’s cayenne & curly endive, then jalapeno, cucumber, cilantro, mint (from above!), purple and green cabbage, lettuce. Good grief, the chopping! It was super-yummy, but if there’s going to be a next time, I will need a little help. I was at it for an hour, chop, chop, chopping, and pickling. We downed them in less than ten. Not the best ratio, in my humble opinion.

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