What is Weird?

Blogging is, for sure. It’s like announcing to the world: This is my weirdness. Come share it with me. Laugh with me. Experience some righteous anger vicariously, and realize that you, dear reader, are not alone in your weirdness.

Does anyone still have a sewing box? I do. It’s incredibly ugly, too. sewing guageI recently decided to clean it out and have a real, adult sewing box. One where the scissors, pins, needles and thread are all kept. One with a seam ripper and a hem measurer (which normal people refer to as a sewing gauge). One with neat little compartments where all the bibs and bobs can nestle in quiet organization.

First I had to clean out the box.

I have many, many skeins of embroidery floss, predominantly in various shades of yellows and reds. I have no idea why I thought I had to corner that particular market. I don’t think I’m embroidered anything (except the truth) in decades.

Hot on the heels of the floss were several stamped tea towels, waiting to be embroidered. They’ll have to wait at the thrift store now.

Can we talk about needles? The kind you sew with, not the ones you get tattoos with, or the ones you take your IV drugs with, or the kind your friendly doctor sutures your wounds closed with. I have a perfectly good packet of needles, except the eyes, where the thread goes through, is almost too small to be discernible by human eyesight. What on earth is the purpose of such needles? And why do I have so many? People, I got out the crafting magnifying glass, and I can still barely see them. I don’t think a regular piece of thread will fit through them. Was I supposed to be embroidering something with human hair? Or filaments from angel wings? They went out with the tea towels.

Red sequins. There are burlesque shows that don’t have this many red sequins. Plus purple, green, red and black seed beads. These might be related to the sequins, but knowing myself, they might not. And why would these be in the sewing box instead of with jewelry/beading supplies?

Yes, I could start my own craft store. Shut up.

At least I can figure out the handful of tiny plastic skulls. Which is to say, I don’t know why I bought them, but they fall under the umbrella of Halloween. As such, they are a perfectly normal purchase for me. I will never be caught without plastic skulls and a variety of eyeballs–googly, adhesive, or painted on ping-pong balls. (Yes, there was a bag of assorted googly eyes, too.)

The other thing scattered into every nook and cranny of the sewing spider ringsbox was  plastic spider rings. I’m going to blame my children for these, even though they’re 18 and (almost) 21, happily enrolled in college far away from my sewing box. I can’t imagine any other reason I’d have dozens of these things, now safely corralled in a plastic bag.

The worst part about cleaning out the sewing box? Now I have to clean out the crafting supplies, or else the items liberated from the sewing box with malinger on my desk, glaring at me, making me feel guilty.

If you don’t understand the weightful glare of a plastic eyeball, you’re definitely less weird than I am. But that’s an awfully low bar to set for yourself.


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An End or a Beginning?

I have this vision that everyone is waiting on the edge of their seats to hear about the end of the Whole 30 program I did during January.

Yup. I’m delusional like that. I-finished-the-Whole30-blue

(Note: I am not Whole30. I am MB. I did Whole 30, but it hasn’t taken over my entire personality. It’s just one facet of the glorious mess of my personality.)

I didn’t do a whole series of measurements before I embarked on this journey. I weighed myself. Pleased to report I lost 9.3 pounds in the 30 days.

But, as anyone who has read the book(s) will tell you, Whole 30 is NOT a weight loss plan. It’s an elimination diet, designed as a reset for your body and a break from all of your bad habits.

What did I learn? I had a lot more bad habits to break than I thought.

Chief among them, I eat from boredom. Which is crazy. I’m smarter than that. Or so I thought.

I also learned that when I’m tired, sad, angry, depressed, lazy or just plain cranky and want to call for take-out, I can still get a good dinner on the table relatively quickly. I just need to tell my whiny baby side to shut the fuck up.

I learned that I wouldn’t starve or feel deprived on a low-carb diet. If you get bored on this plan, it’s your own fault.

Once you get in the groove, it’s not that bad. You’ll have moments where you want to kill all the things, but that gets much better after the first week.

I’m not entirely sure what the heck Tiger Blood is, so I’m assuming I never hit that phase. I was supposed to feel crazy energized, full of optimism, hope and unicorn farts. I didn’t feel bad, but I didn’t detect any more energy than a normal good day.

Texture is everything. I already knew that, but jeezum crow, this drove it home.

I had a truly awesome FB group that went on this journey with me. It was interesting to hear why people chose this path, and encouraging to hear what was hard for other people, as well as what worked well for them. We swapped some recipes. Bitched and whined. Talked about our cravings.

Best of all? I’m walking away with a new, deeper sense that “I can do this.” And I think I can define “this” as anything I want. I made a 30-day commitment, I stuck to it, and I honored the promise I made to myself.

I had one slip-up halfway through. Hardcore Whole 30-ers would say I needed to start over. Ha! But I was in my car at a stoplight, and realized I had fish breath. Sardine breath, actually. And what was sitting in the minivan’s console? A package of TicTacs. So I popped two in my mouth.

Then I yelled “I’m not supposed to have these!” I started rolling down my window to spit them out, even though with my advanced spitting prowess, I stood a good chance of hitting the car next to me. And who wants to risk road rage for that? Fortunately, Thing 2 was with me, and she just held out her hand. I spit the two tiny mints into it (the red coating hadn’t even fully dissolved), and she dumped them into a tissue. Crisis averted.

For all the people who want to know what I had to drink on Day 31, the answer is: water. We decided to add alcohol back later in the reintroduction phase. I’m anxious to see what foods have what effects on us, and what ingredients I can add back to my cooking.

Would I do this again? Yes. Joe and I are already talking about maybe doing it again in the summer, when produce quality and variety is better.

If you’re thinking about giving it a try, I say go for it. What have you got to lose, except a few sugar cravings and all your sugar-laden condiments?

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My Lips Are Tired

Get your minds out of your respective gutters.

There’s been an item on my to-do list since the end of December. “Clean out the bathroom drawers.” I approached it will the same enthusiasm I exhibit for root canals and tax audits.

If the apocalypse happens tomorrow, I’m you’re go-to girl for adhesive bandages. I have a gallon-sized Ziploc bag full of them. Assorted sizes. Some are regulation tan, some are neon, some sport cartoon characters,Image result for minion bandage and there are a few that say things like “Pow!” and “Ka-BAM!” You might be kind and think these are leftover from when the girls were little, but I bought the Minion ones about a month ago. They make me laugh.

Also, water-proof tape with which to secure gauze pads over larger wounds. I think I have five rolls of the stuff, despite the fact I don’t recall using it in the last five years.

You don’t want to know how many half-empty containers of Vick’s Vapo-Rub I threw out.

Then it was time to tackle the makeup drawer. This may shock those of you who know me, and would swear you’ve never seen me wearing makeup. And you can’t just throw makeup away if it isn’t visibly damaged, dried out or smells funny. Oh, no. You have to try it on. Which leads me to this question: Does khaki green eye shadow need to exist? Does it look good on anyone? Come on, someone out there without crepey eyelids, tell me the truth.

A lot of very substandard eye shadow went into the trash, and I’m not just saying that because I have no skill at applying it, blending it, or removing it.. I learned I’m still fairly inept with eye liner, too. There’s a whole lot of give in my eyelids that I swear was never there before. I think they’re growing. You could put a ping-pong ball in my eye socket, and I’d still have enough lid to cover it. If rumpled is ever in, I’m ready.

Are you ready to hear my lipstick confession? I am physically unable to walk past a bin of discounted or clearance lip goober (my term for all products you apply to the lips) without buying one. We won’t even talk about my lip balm addiction, and DID YOU SAY IT WAS TINTED LIP BALM? I WANT THEM ALL! Seriously, you can’t throw out lipstick until you try it on one last time.  You have to give it one last chance. That’s how you find out it makes you look like the walking dead, or smears when you breathe or goes on drier than a stick of colored chalk.

If I wanted to open a drug store, I have enough miniature tubes of tooth paste to stock an aisle or two. I’d throw in a free mini dental floss with every purchase. And toothbrushes. Which pile up not because I have poor dental hygiene, but because I use an electric toothbrush.

Out of six plastic combs, I threw away the one with broken teeth. And a handful of barrettes.

I’m donating four pairs of eye glasses to charity, because they’re so old I don’t even remember wearing them. And they were all single-vision, which is definitely a young person’s game.

There were stray cotton swabs everywhere. I’m going to see them in my dreams tonight.

Lotions and potions specifically for the feet were the next to go. I put on socks and call it good. If they aren’t lotus-petal soft, I can live with that.

Another hot item I can’t pass up: Halloween-themed fake nails. I found at least six packages. Six different packages. Some are press-on nails, and some are nail wraps. I’m not ashamed to say I kept all of them, because Halloween is my favorite holiday.

You don’t want to know how many curling irons I found. Especially in light of the fact that my hair is about two inches long, and has been that short for more than a decade. The curling irons are now resting comfortably in the donation bag next to the glasses.

But now I’ve completed my Start the Year Fresh To-Do List! My lips are tired because I tried on–and then scrubbed off–around a dozen different lip colors. But I can open all my bathroom drawers, and actually find the items I’m looking for.

What’s the next big cleaning chore that you’re avoiding? I know there has to be one.


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Almost Done

I could be talking about Whole 30 again. After all, today is Day 29 of the 30-day elimination diet. No grains, no alcohol, no sweeteners, no legumes and no dairy for the last 30 days.

Talking to a friend yesterday, she asked me what result I expect when I step on the scale on Day 31. I said, “I’m not unrealistic. I don’t think I magically dropped 30 pounds.” I thought a bit more. “But if I did this whole month and only lost one pound, I’m going to dive face-first into a pizza.”

Which means my target is a weight loss between 2 and 29 pounds.

What can I say? I like achievable goals..

But I could also be talking about the jeans I’m currently wearing. They’re the lovely, soft faded pair everyone wants to own. Except when I tried to do crisscross applesauce, sitting on the floor, the paper-thin fabric near the thigh seams voiced its discontent. And while it’s okay to walk around the house with a large hole near the crotch of my jeans, I definitely cannot go out in public that way.

I don’t think these jeans will make it to the end of Whole 30.

They’ve been good jeans, serviceable jeans, never trying to strangle me after a trip through the washer and dryer. I feel as though they need commemoration, like a burial at sea. Perhaps I should burn them on the barbeque grill and keep the ashes in a decorative bowl on my dresser.

Maybe I’m talking about the month of January. February looms before us like a bottomless chasm of spider-infested nightmares. Except for Thing 1’s birthday, it’s a month I’d usually like to sleep through. Shortest in days, but the month creeps by like someone has poured cosmic molasses into the eternal gears of temporal stability.

There’s also the Zebulon, which is the writing contest for Pikes Peak Writers. The big judging period ends tomorrow. I didn’t enter this year, but I am a judge.

Which this post is done, so I can finish my judging before deadline like the responsible adult I sometimes strive to be.

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Book Group Reading List 2017-18

Well, it appears that I totally skipped the 2016-17 list. If anyone is interested, let me know and I’ll unearth it and post it. The books we read are always interesting, but I won’t pretend they’re always light-hearted or fun.

October 2016: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. I guess it tells you a lot about my reading habits that several of my book group found this to be a dark read, and I did not. Horror and psychological thrillers give me a decent tolerance for the dark side.

November 2016: Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan. The group was mostly positive on this one, a tale of family secrets that twist and bind and separate two sisters who immigrate from Ireland to the U.S..

December 2016: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. It’s been a long time since a book split the group this strongly. Some vehemently disliked it for the violence inherent in the story of an immigrant Dominican family. Others fell in love with the wild and provocative writing style. I came down on the “love it” side. I thought the writing was refreshing, unique, evocative and beautiful. Absolutely too depressing of a story for our December read, though. We try to avoid that.

January 2018: Killer of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. This is a hard book to read, because it takes an unflinching look at American settlers and their despicable treatment of Native Americans, in a particular time and place. Hard to “like,” but more people should read this.

February 2018: Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple. Spoiler–I’ve already read this. Devoured it. Really liked it, because I could relate so strongly to the main character. Although who the hell names their child Timby?

March 2018: Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo. Among other accolades, Huffington Post lauded this as Best Feminist Book of the Year. But you all know HuffPost are boogerheads, right? This is the story of a marriage, set in Nigeria. I’m looking forward to learning more about a culture I’m currently ignorant of.

April 2018: Eyes Wide Open: Overcoming Obstacles and Recognizing Opportunities in a World That Can’t See Clearly by Isaac Lidsky. The memoir of a man losing his sight to a blinding disease. I have trepidations about this one. Not sure why.

May 2018: The Nix by Nathan Hill. This one fascinates me. A man encounters his mother, Faye,  decades after she abandoned her family. From Amazon, “The media paints Faye as a radical hippie with a sordid past, but as far as Samuel knows, his mother was an ordinary girl who married her high-school sweetheart. Which version of his mother is true?” High expectations for this one.

June 2018: Celia Garth by Gwen Bristow. An historical novel about a dressmaker who spies for the rebel cause in Revolutionary-era Charleston. I like a good historical. I like a good spy story. I love strong female characters. High hopes.

July 2018: 11-22-63 by Stephen King. Disclaimer: I did NOT submit this proposal to the book group, but I was happy to see it and voted for it. I already know it’s one of my favorites. Looking forward to the chance to re-read it and discuss it with other smart, funny women.

August 2018: Born a Crime: Stories for a South African Childhood by  Trevor Noah. Memoir by the new(ish) host of the Daily Show. He’s funny, smart and articulate on TV, so here’s hoping that transfers to the written page.

In September we have The Choosing, which is a potluck dinner where we talk about all the proposed books for the following year, and then we vote. This year Jennifer read the proposed titles and their descriptions, and she was so hilarious that I would like to nominate her to do it every year.

If you’ve read any of these, what did you think?

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Which Way is Up?

January seems a good time to clean out my closet. Eject the drab, the worn and weary, from my wardrobe. Get rid of things that just don’t fit any longer, or that I just don’t like any longer.

Do you ever look at items in your closet and wonder if you were drunk the day you bought them? I certainly don’t remember shopping while under the influence. Well, not since the 80s, anyway, and I blame Frieda and the existence of a Spinnaker’s at the Lynnhaven Mall. And the fact that I was expected to wear “business attire” and shoes with heels, long the bane of my professional work life.

Have you noticed, too, that an item that you don’t particularly like is the one that will last for-freaking-ever? If you try to kid yourself that you’re going to get a couple more wearings out of it, and you’ll toss it when you’re worn, you can be assured that thing will be around for your great-grandchildren to inherit.

Anyone remember stirrup pants? Proud to say I no longer have any of those lurking in my closest. Or jackets with enormous shoulder pads. I’m a big-shouldered broad to begin with, so I don’t think I really needed to look more like a linebacker. I blame Dynasty for that one.

But every once in a while, you come across an item or two that you just can’t bear to toss into the “thrift shop donation” pile.

I have two cardigan sweaters that belonged to my grandmother. One is cherry red, the other a faded green that’s beginning to lose structural integrity. (The latter is, of course, the one I want to wear most often.) Because Grandma took them with her when she moved into the nursing home, they both have her name on tags inside. Occasionally I get up and think, “I feel like Hilda today,” and put one on. M.B. Partlow's photo.

Then there’s my Lucy dress, as in Lucille Ball. When I was attending graduate school in Chapel Hill, I was walking down the street one day and saw this dream of a dress in consignment shop window. Black with white polka dots, fitted bodice, flared skirt. Went in and begged to try it on, which was normally against their policy for items in the display window. It fit like a dream. I felt like a million bucks in that dress. More begging, and they let me put it on hold. I saved up while it was on display, and retrieved it as soon as it was for sale.

It would be fair to say I’m not wearing the same body now that I was wearing in 1985. That body hadn’t given birth. Or slowed down. The dress doesn’t fit, but I can’t seem to let it go. I still love it.

The last item I’m keeping for no practical reason is a bathing suit. I’ve had the damn thing for years. It’s a one-piece, in lovely shades of blue, with a flouncy little skirt at the bottom, and molded cups in the bust.

Side rant: WHEN will swimwear manufacturers figure out that some women want or need support in their bathing suits, and give us some underwire options that don’t cost more than a month’s rent? And while we’re at it, could we have some stylish options, please, instead of industrial looking garments that look like they could double as Hazmat suits? Rant over. For now.

Anyway, those molded cups. Those are nice, because when you get cold, you don’t have to worry about putting someone’s eye out. And they offer a bit of support. And a bit of modesty, for those so inclined which I am usually not.

I can hear the question in your mind. So what’s wrong with this bathing suit?

The molded cups. They aren’t aligned. At all. While I’m wearing the suit, it looks like one breast is listing west and south, while the other is pointing to the north and east. And if I turn too quickly, those magical cups stand still, even if the body beneath them doesn’t.  That’s right, there is little correlation between those cups and the breasts they’re supposed to be supporting.

Now you can’t figure out why I keep this travesty of a bathing suit.

It’s because my dear friend (and sister-in-law) Amy absolutely loses her shit laughing every time I wear it. By that, I mean she will laugh the entire time. She’ll be minding her own business, look over at me, and bust out laughing again.

That’s a lot of mileage from one bathing suit. I see it as one small way I can bring a little sunshine and laughter into the world.

This round of closet cleaning: all these items stay. But the singularly unflattering black linen pants, which I LOVE, have got to go.

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Always Learning

Here I am on Day 20 of the Whole 30 program, and I haven’t lost my mind. Yet. There’s still time, I suppose.

I’ve learned a lot on this journey so far.

1. It’s ridiculously easy to make your own mayonnaise. Takes about a minute if you have a food processor.

2. I still don’t like mayonnaise very much. Although homemade is supposed to be a fabulous treat, I’m still not a mayo gal. Although I may try again and jazz it up with more flavor, such as adding some grainy mustard, roasted peppers or roasted garlic to the mix.

3. It’s ridiculously easy to make your own sausage. If you can buy ground pork at the grocery store, you can make sausage in about a minute. Maybe a little longer if you have to search for the measuring spoons. The basic recipe would be marvelously easy to tweak, to make it spicier or add more sage. I used a pound of pork and a half-pound of ground turkey, and was extremely satisfied (read: smug) with the results.

4. Coconut aminos are really not a fabulous seasoning. While they are better than nothing, I’m not crazy about them. They taste watery and weak to me, light the Ghost of Soy Sauce Past. I’ll continue to use them over the next 10 days, but this is not an item I’ll use voluntarily in the future.  Bragg’s Liquid Aminos are another story, though.

5. Food boredom is a real thing, although not every is afflicted with it. I can eat the exact same breakfast two days in a row with no problem, but by the third day I start feeling wriggly and hampered. On the fourth day I wonder why I hate myself so much.

6. Even the lactose-intolerant can get cravings when walking through the deli section of the grocery store. I wanted to sniff all the cheeses, but feared this would lead to licking the packages, so I just motored on by.

7. It is possible to miss oatmeal. I found a fabulous breakfast that Joe and I both really enjoy, and I can’t wait until the 30 days are up so I can try it with oatmeal instead of coconut.

8. There’s a whole lot of flossing going on. Between all the meat and all the veggies, it’s a wonder I have time to do anything else.

If you’ve ever tried Whole 30, I’d love to know what your experience was like. And if you love coconut aminos, please tell me why.


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