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No Excuses

I am exhausted by the ill behavior of others. And to cut anyone off at the Greg Cooper pass, definitely not his. I promise! We are better than a-okay.

Truly good, lasting relationships result from doing the work to make them so. Everyone must take full responsibility for their actions, so if someone hurts you, tell them. Set boundaries if you need to. Do not assume they know you are upset or give them the silent treatment until they guess. This is passive-aggressive immaturity in action.

If you are the one who has done the hurting, make it right. Saying someone you love died or you were young or having a bad day or under the influence of drugs or alcohol does not count. Saying you have social anxiety does not count. Saying you have children does not count. These are no excuse for bad behavior and precisely how not taking responsibility looks.

Additionally, no one should automatically know you are sorry for your actions. People are not mind readers. You need to actually apologize, genuinely, whatever the circumstance. Express exactly what you did wrong and how you intend to do better in the future. This is required even if you didn’t mean to hurt someone and maybe the most difficult to recognize. The pathway to hell is, as they say, paved with good intentions!

Finally, sometimes the hurt person may decide the relationship is no longer worth it, too much water under the bridge. This is entirely their right. No one else gets to decide, and anything along these lines is an attempt at control. The same applies if years have gone by and the hurt person still does not wish to reconcile. Don’t try to shame someone because you want your family or friend group back. Succumbing to your desires does not make them a “better” person. It makes them abandon their security and principles for your comfort. As challenging as this is, give your heartbreak over to grief and make every attempt at healing the loss.

Saying all of this in such a matter of fact fashion does not belie the fact that this shit is hard. How lousy is it to be the one left behind (personal experience!), to wish we behaved better. By that same token, it is far easier to wallow in our sorrows, failings, and anxieties than address them directly, maturely. Admitting fault is scary! The beauty is, with every breath, we have another opportunity. The choice is ours.

Way back in 2008, I wrote about the concoctions I made in the drinking and body care categories. One of them was kombucha, which I have made off and on in the fourteen years since. We’re in an off period now, but never say never about the future!

I also tried various deodorants and shampoos, which in their former formulations I abandoned. The deodorant paste contained baking soda and made my armpits break out in a rash after a couple months, while the shampoo eventually made my hair look greasy all the time. Live and learn.

Today I present you with what I have learned. I still make soap (and very much enjoy it!), for hand and body washing, shampoo, and pictured at top, laundry. This is made from 100% coconut oil (and lye, of course) which cleans clothes exceptionally well and will make your skin drier than dead leaves if you wash with it on the regular. Greg and I grate it with a microplane, using about two tablespoons per load. A batch of eight bars lasts well over a year, mostly because we only wash a load or two a week.

In case you wondering why, since we’re such a small family, it takes a while to achieve a full load, usually every two to three weeks for darks and once a month for lights. I considered the minimalist clothing idea at one time, only having a few items in each category, but realized with so few garments, the necessity of washing a small load of laundry all the damn time, and who wants that? No one under this red roof, I assure you. I went for a minimalist color scheme instead – black, white, grey, oatmeal, harvest yellow, forest green, turquoise, and rust for the majority of my tops and sweaters. Jeans in every fade, a single black pair of corduroys, ochre, rust, and green pants, skirts, and shorts. Most every garment is a good match for the others. I also wear everything but the undies for as long as they aren’t visibly soiled or smelly.

It’s also a boon for all of our water reducing measures in preparation for moving to Taos. We’ll have a well and collect rainwater for all of our usage, no endless city taps! It is best to be prepared well in advance.

Getting back to it, I also make hand and lip balms, with beeswax, avocado, and olive oil, sometimes with herbal infusions, like creosote bush and calendula, and the remains of lip balms I’ve gotten as gifts. The lip stuff I use several times daily and the hand balm every night at bed time. I should also mention the hand balm benefits from the addition of zinc, which is a pretty amazing all-around for skin.

In the liquid category, the pink spritz (a great re-use of a rosewater bottle) has a mixture of zinc, magnesium flakes, sulfur, and filtered water. Greg has super sensitive skin, and this is the absolute best mixture for keeping it clear, soft, and itch-free. He sprays it all over, scalp included. It is not hyperbole to say the change has been astounding. Surprisingly enough, he doesn’t smell like matches, either.

The old rye bottle is a mixture of apple cider vinegar and rice water, which I use as a face and hair rinse. The blue spritz is our deodorant – a combination of essential oils (tea tree and white thyme for antimicrobial properties, sweet orange for scent), water, magnesium flakes, and a touch of alcohol. The amber bottle is my moisturizing hair oil. I use castor, olive, and jojoba oil, with rosemary and mint essential oils, which are supposed to stimulate hair growth. That is not definitive, but really smells nice. It helps keep my dry ends in check, at least!

Are you still there? The camera continues to please, dear peeps, in spades!! Our first frost brought a whole host of photographic delights.

Weekend morning ritual: get up without an alarm, though shockingly close to said usual hour, enjoy a latte or three and a ginger biscuit or three, with Juniper cuddles on the sofa. Right when her pants are full to brimming with ants, we walk!

Oatmeal Raisin with flake salt, crispy-sweet, salty good.

Creamy chicken stew, made with cauliflower and cream cheese instead of actual cream, pureed to smoothness. Add ground chicken, green chiles, corn, onion, garlic, and powdered New Mexico chile galore. Eat super duper fast.

Happy Halloween!!

Reflection of the hands of Philip Glass, playing his lovely work, Mad Rush.

Crazy clouds over Pike’s Peak and flowing northward…

The newly painted fireplace and our best girl, in focus.

Bostock – a very fancified toast, made with jam – strawberry here, and almond frangipane. It is yet another great use for all the “waste” created by making our own almond milk. So very tasty.

We enjoyed it with Joanie and the kids, who were in town for a hockey tournament.

Moments before goal number one.

Joanie’s oldest, and one of my youngest cousins, number 49, was our favorite player, of course. I am not a sports photographer, so I was working this out as I went along, but considering this, the pictures are pretty stellar.

They won! I would also like to mention that he scored TWO goals and was named the team player of the game. WOOT!!

Handsome man, super crisp photo! Post game grub at O’Furry’s. Their cheeseburger and wings are hard to beat. Greg feels similarly about a Guinness.

Good morning!! Well, I did it. I thought on it, realizing I only ever used one lens, the dying half-focused one, and decided I would be better served by a new camera. Fear not, however, my well-loved 5200 will be in good hands with my camera expert nephew, Tyler. A win-win situation. For reasons of vanity and functionality, I chose the Nikon Z fc. It has a very old-school look (the vanity part) but is 100% digital, so it is much lighter, which I love. I also chose the DX 18-140 lens that is most like my previous camera, but with a bit more zoom. It is pretty darn perfect.

These are the first pictures, and I am super pleased with the quality. Something bananas about the mirrorless is that the look of the shot in the viewfinder is exactly how the shot turns out. What you see is what you get, and I suspect I’ll be a bit awestruck by this for some time.

p.s. It snowed on Pike’s Peak yesterday!

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.

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