Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Chemical-Free Mole Repellent

Something dead is under my garden shed. It smells to high heaven. The last time the garden shed stunk that bad is when Peter died. He didn't smell that bad, but it wasn't summer. He died in the winter. I found a dead baby opossum in my yard the other day. I have a feeling one of my horrible neighbors has poisoned his momma and siblings. I hate it when people kill things.

And on that note, my yard is overrun by moles. They moved in about a year ago and they make such a mess. I can't kill them. They are so cute. And there is a chipmunk living in my yard, too. Well, maybe. I haven't seen him for a while so he's probably been snacking on the neighbor's tasty treats. Regardless, I prefer to prevent the critters from making themselves at home rather than murder them.

So...moles...last year I tried castor oil. I read if you put two tablespoons of castor oil with two tablespoons of dish soap in a gallon of warm water and spray it all over they will go away. What a hassle. It kind of worked. They stopped making mole hills for a while, but you have to constantly reapply it. It's such a mess.

Someone mentioned sonic beepers and several people told me they work wonderfully. The moles hate the beeping and will leave. I found two for $25.00 plus three size "C" batteries each. You can get solar ones, but they were much more expensive.

Now I thought they would be like the rodent beepers you can get for your house. Silent. Not a chance. The mole beepers are NOISY. I can imagine they would definitely work because if I had to listen to that beeping noise day and night, I'd move. I can't do noise. I can't imagine my neighbors would like to hear it either. I returned them.

Another someone mentioned PINWHEELS. Oh! That would be cute. It seems the vibration from the twirling drives the rodents nuts and they will leave. Unfortunately the only pinwheels I could find are red, white and blue in anticipation of the 4th of July holiday. They are also $4.00 a piece. Since I would need too many that seems a little pricey. I found some online for much cheaper, but I was unsure of the quality. There are some much larger for much more money, but I don't know if the big ones would work as well as they would need wind. Then I went to a festival last weekend and one of the booths was giving them away. Each one of my friends took one so I got three orange pinwheels.

But they hardly ever twirl! The problem I have is my five foot fence. And the fact I don't get wind that often. Every now and then it got a little breezy and they still didn't twirl! No twirly action and the moles won't care. I've been repositioning them repeatedly and every now and then one will catch a breeze, but it's very short lived.


So then I decided to check online to see if I can make some. I found a pattern. Very easy. Directions:

1) Cut a square.
2) Draw or fold corner to corner for an X. (Folding for no lines.)
3) Cut from each corner 2/3rds to the center.

4) Make a hole in the center.
5) Put holes on every other corner.

6) Put a skinny nail through each hole gathering up every other corner and through the center.

7) Put some beads behind the pinwheel on the nail or a small piece of plastic straw. (This helps keep the pinwheel away from the stick so it doesn't get caught.)

8) Nail it to a long stick.

9) Put the stick deep in the ground.

I did some experiments. I made one out of paper and it worked really well, but I made the mistake of turning on the sprinkler and it got wet and fell apart.

I made one out of some old laminated posters, but made the first one too big. Too heavy. You'd need a tornado to get it to turn. Light weight works best.

I made some smaller ones and experimented with different beads. Greased them up with olive oil and if the wind is just right, they work! When the wind hits the one below, it whips into a frenzy!

I made one out of a transparency sheets and instead of beads (because I ran out) I used a small piece of plastic straw. It's lighter weight, but I have yet to see it work. Waiting for some wind.

Will pinwheels chase the critters away? I have no idea. I don't know if I get enough wind for some consistent twirling.

 Time will tell. It was fun to make pinwheels. And they make my yard look happy.

Friday, June 1, 2018

The Man Hater

MCS is isolating, as we all know. Besides the need to self-protect 24/7 and besides the constant irritability that comes with each toxic exposure, I prefer my solitude. People just drive me nuts. I have no patience for them.

However, this year I have decided I need to be less reclusive. I need to meet new people, make new friends, form alliances, and find support. This is my New Year's Resolution and I'm doing a darn good job at putting myself out there, attempting to be less isolated, and being more friendly. However, believe me when I say, it's been a challenge.

Lately I've become talkative to anyone who will listen. I force myself. How else am I to meet new people if I don't expose myself? No engagement and I am invisible. My victims are the grocery store people, the librarians, the postal workers, people on the street. It's difficult for me. It somehow feels like a violation of privacy which is a clear indication of how reclusive I've become. I'm still not friendly with my neighbors. One step at a time.

So...When my postal guy said, "I know someone who is just like you."

My first question was, "What do you mean like me?" (I really need to check my apprehension if I want to meet new people.)

"Chemically sensitive." Really? Out in the middle of no where? On the edge of civilization? Someone who is chemically sensitive? Unbelievable. (I really need to check my skepticism.)

He asked if I was willing to share my email address and he'd deliver it. (He's a great postal guy!) He told me the Man goes to his church. Church-going didn't sound like chemical sensitivity to me.  Hmmm...My apprehension and skepticism was raging. Do I listen to my instincts or venture forth for some risk-taking people encounters?

I asked, "Is the Man weird? I mean is he going to stalk me or kill me or create so much stress my life would end up in the sewer?"

Postal guy didn't think so, but he informed me the Man is an artist. Oh! OK. I'm intrigued. A new artist friend would be good, someone who would not poison me if indeed he is really chemically sensitive.

I waited for about a month, but never received an email. I thought maybe the Man decided it was not a good idea and I was fine with that because I was having second thoughts myself. I like no stress in my life. I like feeling safe. The next time I saw the postal guy I ask if he gave the Man my email. He said yes he did, and he would check. The next day I received a note card in my mailbox addressed to my first name with the address added in another person's handwriting. His note was very cryptic. Or maybe he just wasn't good at writing notes? What does, "I feel for you in this new year" mean exactly? Hmmm...my instincts flared.

I emailed the Man. Much of his writing was incomprehensible, but he seemed pleasant, and I was determined to find myself a new fragrance-free artist friend so I threw all caution to the wind. We shared how we became chemically sensitive. The Man was poisoned in an industry job. I wondered if the Man had some brain damage which made writing (thinking) (spelling) difficult. We agreed to meet at a local park on Sunday morning. I worried. Is he weird? Will he stink? Oh god, this is a bad idea!

So Sunday morning I drive to the park chanting, "Be brave. Take a risk." I could see someone sitting at a picnic table halfway across the park. Is it the Man? Why is he sitting so far away? I walked toward him. He's all splayed out on the picnic bench leaning back against the picnic table, arms wide across the table, legs apart, nose stuck up in the air, refusing to look toward me. I kept wondering if his unfriendly, arrogant, self-righteous demeanor was just because he was nervous. I was nervous. I don't like meeting new people. There is always too much at stake. He had to have seen me approach him, but he refused to look at me. I walked right up to him and asked, "Are you the Man?"

He responded without hesitation, but still refusing to look at me, "Sometimes I'm not sure."

I yelled, probably louder than necessary, but feeling pissed off at his apathetic attitude and rude insensitive inconsideration. "ARE YOU THE MAN OR NOT?!" Am I wrong to have expected him to get up off his ass and at least attempt to meet me half way through the park rather than have me grovel for his attention?

He jerked to attention, finally looking at me, and stuttered, "Oh, oh, yes, I am the Man."

I sat. We talked. It was friendly. He didn't stink. We discussed MCS. I asked him if he was following any health protocols or reading any books. No, he doesn't read because he's far to busy with life. Really? His arrogance was nauseating. I suggested a dietary plan since he was having so many bad allergy symptoms. He talked about himself constantly and he kept lying to me. About everything. I have a really good sense for lying especially when the liar keeps contradicting himself. He kept repeating how honest, respectful and moral he is. I wondered why he feels he must sell me on his honesty? After a while I started excusing myself to leave, but he'd keep stopping me with another question. Eventually I got up, said good-bye, and started walking away. He yelled after me, "OK. Now what is next?"

"What do you mean?"

"What do we do next?"

I told him, "Now we go home and the next time we email we'll say 'Hello friend, how are you?'" He seemed perturbed. Clearly he wasn't interested in just a friendship, but he wasn't taking my subtle hints and he obviously misinterpreted my emails that explained my friendship goals. I felt sick to my stomach. I probably should have again explained our relationship right there, but truthfully, I didn't think he would take it well and thought an email might be safer.

As expected, the next email he went off on how it would have been a perfect date if we had a picnic. Clearly, the Man was looking for a love connection. I made it clear this was not a date nor a love connection, but only a friendship. He became defensive. He blamed it on society for making people not appreciate his honesty. Whoa. I wrote back to him told him it was ridiculous to be defensive after he so highly values honesty and I was being honest, but more importantly, if our relationship expectations are different, then this will not work. He seemed to accept that, but then he decided he needed to send me a lengthy list of facts about himself. I thought it strange how much I know about him and how little he knows about me. He hardly asked me any questions about myself.

He began emailing me continuously with a play-by-play of his daily activities, more lies, and more justification for his perfect behavior. We argued about everything especially our impending relationship.

Since I was busy with my own life, I couldn't respond to every email. The Man emailed again stating I was going to support him with his health issues and told me he would do the diet but he expected me to supervise and pick at him to death.  Clearly he was under the impression this was my responsibility as a woman and his most-excellent new friend.

He informed me, "We've known each other for five hours."

My instincts were screaming RUN! HIDE! Amidst the feelings of suffocation and stress, like the good, well-trained man-pleasing woman I am from a generation long, long ago, I tried to second guess his intentions and his motivation. I thought about giving him excuses and blaming myself for not being more patient, understanding, and compliant. Should I be more forgiving? He's chemically sensitive, after all. Then I questioned as a reclusive, chemically sensitive person if I am the same: emotionally needy, high maintenance, demanding, and self-centered with a tendency for pathological bullshitting in hopes of manipulating someone into liking me. Is that me? Maybe? Damn, I hope not. Does he deserve my unconditionally devoted attention after five hours of talking about himself?

After lecturing him on gender roles and the archaic expectations of men in a male dominant society, I told him he was too high maintenance and he needed to find a woman who was willing to give him undivided attention. Although I didn't say this, I figured he goes to a Christian church. There must be a whole harem of subservient women there he can pick from.

He wrote eight emails in the next two hours with each email getting more hostile than the last. He whined about his inability to make a friend in the last fifteen years, then about all the losses he's had to endure as a chemical sensitive person and I have just damage him with yet another loss, then demanding a definition of friendship, then blaming society for not liking how honest he is. Am I that socially inept, manipulative and controlling? I didn't respond to him. I was afraid of what I might say.

I've been in fear the postman will give the Man my last name and my address. He might show up at my door one day. <Shiver> This is why I like being reclusive. I don't like people. Really.

Leave me alone.

I find most older male humans to be man-babies. They expect women to cater to their every need, support them unconditionally, to cook and clean for them, to shop and organize their lives. I know this is the way society has trained them as well as the effects of hormonal changes that make them mushy. The dutiful expectation for a woman is compromise, compromise, compromise. This man-baby encounter has made me ponder why my youthful self was trained to catering to the needs of men that in a society that gifts them control and power: my behavior on dates, my subservience during relationships, and my views of gender roles and marriage. I can look back now on the marriages I have witnessed and don't even wonder why I've never wanted to be "institutionalized" as Cher once referred the state of matrimony. It takes a certain kind of woman to be married. With age comes wisdom and I've pretty much discovered I'm not that kind of woman.

You'd think with feminism we would have grown out of these gender roles, but I don't think so. I met a man a couple years ago who all he wanted to do was to talk about himself and have me talk about him. He also bragged about having a whole stable of women who were catering to his every whim. I backed away from that really fast.

In addition to outdated gender roles, the older I get the more aware I've become of gender inequities. I'm watching the men in my life retire early with a bank load of money from doing menial jobs that didn't require a college education. My highly educated women friends are not retiring early. Why not?  And I've become more aware of the difference in the way society perceives and treats older men vs. women. Older men are distinguished and experienced; older women are hysterical and ugly. I supposed menopause symptoms play a role in this perception.

Last but not least, with age comes health issues. I don't want to be anyone's nurse maid. It's one thing to meet a man when one is young, grow with him, invest in a life with him, then take care of each other as the two of you grow older together, but it's completely different to meet men when they are already old, sick, and needy. I'm not finding anything attractive about it. And I cannot even imagine imposing my own health issues on another person.

I think I've become a Man Hater! Well, in reality, I've never gotten along with manipulative, controlling man-babies with entitlement issues.

June Movie Reviews

*****  Exceptional
****    Great
***      OK
**        So So
*          Blah

Aftermath was about a man (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who lost his wife and pregnant daughter in a plane crash and blames the air traffic controller for their deaths. He just wants someone to apologize and the airline refuses. The air traffic controller is tormented, psychologically tortured and damaged. He's forced to move to another state and separate from his family to give him time to heal although that gives him little relief. It all goes really wrong when Arnold finds out where the ex-air traffic controller is living. I don't know much about air traffic control but I would think if the pilot didn't wait for approval to descend, the crash was the pilot's fault, not the air traffic controller's. The whole story was tragic. It was based on the true events surrounding the crash of Bashkirian and DHL airplanes in 2002. ***

Black Butterfly is about a writer (Antonio Banderas) who is living out in the middle of Colorado country with writer's block. He drinks too much, misses deadlines, his wife left him, and he's trying to sell his property. He drives into town and ends up behind a logging truck that won't let him pass. In town we hear on the radio about a serial killer who has killed four women and our writer meets his real estate agent for lunch. The truck driver shows up, mad, and starts to pick a fight, but a stranger (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) at the counter goes after the truck driver. On the way home the author passes the stranger hitchhiking, thankful for helping him at the diner, offers him a ride and then offers to let him stay the night at his house. It's so wrong...who is stupid enough to do that? The stranger is scary strange, talks himself into staying to help around the house and then just gets weirder the longer he is there, paranoid when people come to the door, making himself at home, becoming very demanding, shooting off the author's gun, holding a knife to the author's throat, giving him advice on his writing,  and then disclosing he just got out of prison. Then it all gets very twisted...not once but twice. The whole time I kept thinking some of the plot was a little unrealistic, but by the end, I get it. I think that was on purpose. ***

A Coffee in Berlin was a gorgeous black and white German film with outstanding photography about the 24 hours of a young man who seems lost in life: breaks up with his girlfriend, drops out of law school, unemployed, after a DUI he goes through a psych eval and they refuse to give him back his license, he runs into a girl he used to bully when she was overweight, and has bizarre encounters with his strange friends. All day long he's trying to get a cup of coffee, but where ever he orders one they are out, he doesn't have enough money, the machine is broken, the machine has been just cleaned, his father bullies him to order drink instead, or they aren't serving anymore. Very creative and beautiful film and interesting because of that, but the story itself wasn't very interesting. ***

Extortion was about a family vacation in the Caribbean, they rent a boat, stop to explore an island, and the boat doesn't start. No water, no food and no one in sight. After a day or two and desperate, the man puts his wife and six-year old son in the boat and paddles out in hopes of finding boats, but they lose consciousness, and drift ending up on the beach of another island. A Haitian fisherman with his Hispanic boat captain find them, offer to save them for one million dollars. They hit the guy over the head and take him to a bank leaving his family on the island. He said no million and you will never find your family again. Desperation builds with each scene and the man goes rogue while everything goes wrong one step at a time. It's a roller coaster ride! Wow! ****

The Foreigner is a conspiracy/government/shoot-em-up/karate chop-em movie starring Jackie Chan who's daughter is murdered in a terrorist attack organized by the IRA. He can't get any answers from law enforcement or the government, but of course, he is Special Forces trained and goes after the Irish Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan). Chan's still pretty nimble for being in his 60s. I can't even remember the last time I saw a movie about the IRA. ***

The Great Gilly Hopkins is about a very angry foster child who is on her last family before being shipped off to an institution. Her foster mother (Kathy Bates) and math teacher (Octavia Spencer) attempt to help her adjust, she writes a letter to her useless, piece-of-garbage mother (Julia Stiles) telling her she's living in a filthy, abusive house. Just when she begins to feel at home and loved, her grandmother (Glenn Close) who got the letters takes her away. Sweet movie. Love her name: Galadriel. ***

I Am Yours was about a Pakistani-Norwegian woman who is divorced with a six-year old son. She jumps from man to man, most of them using her, not wanting to be in a relationship with her. Her parents disown her because she brings shame on the family. She's kind of confused and puts up with everyone's disrespect. Didn't see the point. Crappy title. **

The Last Movie Star is about an elderly movie star (Burt Reynolds) who was once the most popular actor in Hollywood. He is sent an invitation to receive a life time achievement award promised free airfare, first-rate hotel, and award presentation. He's not interested, but his friend (Chevy Chase) talks him into thinking this is the prestigious "Nashville International Film Festival" not realizing it's an amateur event called the "International Nashville Film Festival". He is picked up at the airport by a bad-attitude mentally-ill messed-up girl (Ariel Winter) dressed in sleazy shorts with her butt hanging out driving a beat up old car, taken to his seedy motel by the freeway that smells like pee and Pinesol, then driven to the bar where the event is held to watch his films projected on the wall. The event organizers are his most devoted fans and they are thrilled he was willing to participate when no other celebrities would. He's appalled. Growing old is bad enough and trying to negotiate each day, but this just reminds him he's now a second-rate has-been. He starts acting resentful, entitled, and rude to his hosts, skips the event to go reminisce about his youth in neighboring town where he grew up taking the bad-attitude girl with him. Excellent theme: Don't take your youth for granted and use each day of your life in the best possible way. Love the flashbacks as he talks to his younger self from film footage outtakes.  That was brilliant. I can't imagine anyone else but Burt Reynolds in this role! It was practically his life story, tweaked to be fictional. Good lord he was good looking when he was young!!!!! We forget how gorgeous these guys were in their heyday. I think Bette Davis said, "Getting old is not for sissies." So true. It's damn hard work. ***

Loving Vincent was this amazing, hand-painted cartoon in the style of Vincent Van Gogh's paintings.  Absolutely amazing. It takes place a year after Van Gogh's death and addresses the controversy. I've always questioned the theory that Van Gogh killed himself...according to historical accounts he shot himself in the stomach then walked a quite a ways to the hotel he was staying and died a couple days later. So strange. Who shoots themselves in the stomach to commit suicide? Some interesting ideas were presented in the film, first that some witnesses say they heard a gunshot coming from a nearby barn dispelling the account that he shot himself while painting out in a field. The village doctor says if he would have shot himself at close range through the gut, the bullet would have exited his body. This indicates someone else shot him and historically there is another theory that he was accidentally shot by some teenagers which makes much more sense. The story itself was interesting, but the hand-painted film was really spectacular. ***

Lucky was a very compelling, touching story about a little boy in South Africa who's mother dies. She leaves him instructions to go to his uncle in the city who will pay for school, but his uncle who was given money by the mother is a sleazy pig and throws him out. The Indian neighbor lady attempts to take him in, get him into school. Since they don't speak each other's language communication is a little difficult but not impossible. The uncle finds out, threatens her, and wants the welfare money for himself. She tries to help him find his family to keep him safe, but he doesn't have any. It was a great story. So sad there are orphaned homeless kids all over the world with nowhere to go. The movie has won a lot of international film festival awards.***

Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine is about the life and death of Matt Shepard the gay college student who was viciously beaten by two low-life thugs and left to die tied to a fence post in freezing weather. It's told by his friends, family and the people connected to him. Such a heart breaking story. ****

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life is about a cute kid who is on his last school having been kicked out of all the others. Instead of sleeping, he spends his nights drawing cartoons. There is some indication that someone died which is why he's having problems, but every time it's mentioned I thought, "What? Who?" and each time I considered backing the DVD up wondering why I missed it. At first I thought it was his father since his mother is dating a horrid man he and his sister hate. And he has this adorable side kick who is with him at school. Finally this all comes together and I realize how utterly sad it is...so it's an unusual teen-themed movie, filled with quirky characters, pranks on adults, but takes detour into grief a few times. Nice cartoons. ***

The Names of Love was an outstanding, incredibly hilarious, unconventional love story between a middle-aged scientist (veterinarian for dead animals) and a crazy liberal "political whore" who rights the wrongs of the world while saying whatever she wants when she wants. She's a bit of a scatterbrain and really poor at multitasking...she forgets her clothes in one scene because she gets so distracted. They both grow up in "hybrid" homes dealing with their respective family histories. It was wonderful with exceptional writing, excellent performances, and LOL moments. The dialogue was fast, furious and French so the English subtitles were really difficult. I just can't read that fast! ****

So B. It is about Heidi, a twelve-year old girl who lives with her mother, So B. It who is mentally challenged with a vocabulary of 22 words. All she knows about her past is from Bernadette, an agoraphobic who never leaves the house, who has told her of the night she heard So B. It out in the hallway screaming with a newborn baby in her arms. Bernadette took them in and cared for them, opening a closet wall so she can go between apartments without leaving hers and never questioning how So B. It's next door apartment bills are always paid. Heidi finds some old photos, questions her existence, and takes off on a bus trip from Nevada to New York on her own to get some answers. She also has a knack for luck - wins at games of chance or gambling machines. I'm not sure the point of her mental talents nor how that fits into the story, but it did add some interest. Sweet story. ****

Strange Weather is about a woman (Holly Hunter) who's son committed suicide seven years prior. In conversation with a friend she finds out her son's college friend is making lots of money after stealing her son's idea for a restaurant based on a thesis project. He's even used her son's family memories and history for the restaurant's origins. She wants to confront him, but what she really needs are answers so she can move on. Hunter was absolutely wonderful. The southern accents were a little hard to understand. Stupid title. ***

Tumbledown is about a woman (Rebecca Hall) who's folk singer husband who has a cult following dies and she is attempting to write his biography. A university professor (Jason Sudeikis) contacts her to write a book about her husband and after some resistance she hires him as a partner to help write the biography. It was a great movie about grief and love. ***

The Wave is a Norwegian movie about a Norwegian natural disaster waiting to happen. It starts off with historical footage of the first time the mountain fell into the fjord causing a gigantic tidal wave that wiped out the village of Geiranger. Fifty years later and the mountain is again separating from the cliffs - "it's only a matter of time." This is the modern day fictional simulation of what could happen centering on a geologist, his wife and two children. The mountain starts acting up but the warning center thinks it's just faulty wiring or whatever so they don't hit the panic button until it's too late. The residents and tourists have ten minutes to make it to high ground. It was very excited! Norway is so beautiful when it's not crumbling. ****

When the Bough Breaks is about a couple who desperately want a child. They hire a surrogate to carry the child not realizing she's part of her sleazy boyfriend's scam to get money then sell the baby to someone else. But the girl is crazy. She falls in love with the husband, kills her boyfriend, and just gets crazier with each passing moment. Very scary. ***

Wonder was a sweet movie about a ten-year old boy with a facial deformity who goes to school after a lifetime of homeschooling. Of course, he deals with bullying and feeling like he doesn't belong because no one likes the way he looks. I like how it addresses all the kids who feel alone but who's pain is invisible on the outside. It dealt with a whole lot of serious issues kid's are faced with today. ****

Wonder Woman was cool. Excellent kick-ass women. Great role models. Nice story. Great themes. ***

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

I'm a Groupie

In my quest for connection, I have started joining groups in hopes of meeting new people and getting involved with various communities of like-minded individuals. Besides chemical exposures, another risk is I'd be exposed to is stupidity which could raise my irritability to new heights.

My first foray was the local resistance group, a politically-motivated community who's goals are to change the world. A friend of mine suggested this group because they are so liberal, and liberals are often more aware of the world in which they live so they might be fragrance-free.  About thirty people convened. Many I had met in various situations around the area. Most seemed really nice. Some were intolerable.

My first encounter was a woman demanding my phone number. When I told her I didn't have one she exclaimed loudly and rudely, "Well then how do you expect anyone to be able to contact you in an emergency?" Whoa. She sounded exasperated at my non-compliance. An emergency? A little demanding for not knowing me at all. I volunteered my email and later discovered without my permission she added it to an email list. My email started getting flooded with political discussions. I was NOT happy.

In another conversation a social-butterflying name-dropping busy-body asked why I was there and I said I'm hoping to meet like-minded people and get involved. She asked where I lived. She started naming off names in hopes we had mutual friends. I didn't have the heart to tell her I am a reclusive people-hater who has no friends, but after the fifth name, she became indignant looking at me like I was a psychopath. Maybe she's right, but I still hadn't become irritable so I think her judgment was a little premature.

The sitting arrangement was around tables and as I sat facing the speakers, those on the opposite sides of the tables were facing me. I watched people roll their eyes during talks. It was very rude. Some talked incessantly to their friends across the table rather than graciously and respectfully listen. It was all I could do not to scream. One of the meeting facilitators is a retired teacher and he eventually got in front of everyone and told them to shut the fuck up while others are speaking. Ex-teachers hate talkers.

The final straw for me was the anti-gun protest school walkout. There were some rumors students in our area were thinking about walking out, but no one knew for sure. I suggested we need to be at the schools to support any student who walks out. Several people said, no, instead we should wear orange that day for support and if you want to walkout, then walk off your own job. Well, that's it for me. I realized this wasn't a resistance group but a senior citizen social.

The next group I joined was the new art association. The organizers spent the whole meeting demanding membership payment while emphasizing all the money they were spending that they didn't have. Hmmm...I gently tried to suggest NOT spending money and finding alternative ways to finance activities or finding freebies. They weren't having it. In between their money demands the women in charge kept excusing their lack of organization on how "absent-minded" "scatter-brained" "ditzy" and "confused" they were. It just seemed like a bad investment. Several of the women stunk to high heaven. Unfortunately, I came to the conclusion they were not my people.

I took a break from in-person group attempts and in my quest for health care information I started joining online support groups. I haven't had much luck in the past with support groups. My irritability gets the best of me and I have to un-join to survive the anger. I just don't do well with rude people. Unfortunately, these are groups centered around health conditions that cause irritability so other people aren't always in control. I have survived a month now without any online altercations. That's a record for me.

One new member the other day sent a post demanding to know if the group is "pushy" claiming other groups she has joined she has encountered pushy people. Well, OK. After a month I have not at all encountered pushy people on any of the groups. In fact quite the opposite. Most members are very helpful and supportive with loads of experiential information. On occasion someone will complain someone else is judging her lifestyle or diet ("her" is the operative word here), but for the most part everyone is well behaved. However, it's only been a month....

I'm still a member.

UPDATE: A week later I un-joined all the groups. No need to temp fate.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Sapient House

Rebecca E. Webber is starting a fragrance-free community in Seattle for MCSers called Sapient House. You can read about it on her website HERE and apply to become a resident. We need more housing options such as this. I'm not sure how well it'll work in the city as I think finding areas with less pollution might be more promising, but it's definitely a start! Kudos to Rebecca!

Friday, May 25, 2018

Have It All

This song is so sweet.

May you have auspiciousness and causes of success
May you have the confidence to always do your best
May you take no effort in your being generous
Sharing what you can, nothing more nothing less
May you know the meaning of the word happiness
May you always lead from the beating in your chest
May you be treated like an esteemed guest
May you get to rest, may you catch your breath
And may the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows
And may the road less paved be the road that you follow
Well here's to the hearts that you're gonna break
Here's to the lives that you're gonna change
Here's to the infinite possible ways to love you
I want you to have it
Here's to the good times we're gonna have
You don’t need money, you got a free pass
Here's to the fact that I'll be sad without you
I want you to have it all
Oh! I want you to have it all
I want you to have it
I want you to have it all
May you be as fascinating as a slap bracelet
May you keep the chaos and the clutter off your desk
May you have unquestionable health and less stress
Having no possessions though immeasurable wealth
May you get a gold star on your next test
May your educated guesses always be correct
And may you win prizes shining like diamonds
May you really own it each moment to the next
And may the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows
And may the road less paved be the road that you follow
Well here's to the hearts that you're gonna break
Here's to the lives that you're gonna change
Here's to the infinite possible ways to love you
I want you to have it
Here's to the good times we're gonna have
You don’t need money, you got a free pass
Here's to the fact that I'll be sad without you
I want you to have it all
Oh, I want you to have it all
I want you to have it
I want you to have it all
Oh, I want you to have it all
All you can imagine
All, no matter what your path is
If you believe it then anything can happen
Go, go, go raise your glasses
Go, go, go you can have it all
I toast you
Here's to the hearts that you're gonna break
Here's to the lives that you're gonna change
Here's to the infinite possible ways to love you
I want you to have it
Here's to the good times we're gonna have
You don’t need money, you got a free pass
Here's to the fact that I'll be sad without you
I want you to have it all
Oh, I want you to have it all
I want you to have it
I want you to have it all
Here's to the good times we're gonna have
Here's to you always making me laugh
Here's to the fact that I'll be sad without you
I want you to have it all
Songwriters: Becky Gebhardt / Mai Bloomfield / Mona Tavakoli / Chaska Potter / Jacob Kasher / David Hodges / Jason Mraz

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

I'm a SIBO Killing Machine!

My latest diet sucks. My colon still isn't working and my new doctor thinks it's SIBO. I'm resistant. Don't get me wrong, I actually think I like this new doctor. First, she speaks my language and uses words like "leaky gut", "genetic mutations", "organic foods" and "coconut oil". Second, she sees patients on Saturday! Third, she's a real doctor who's gone holistic. And fourth, she actually emailed me out of the blue to find out how my colonoscopy went. That's above and beyond what anyone expects of a doctor these days. She seems very knowledgeable, but I'm not convinced about the SIBO idea.

SIBO stands for Small Intestine Bacteria Overgrowth which means bad bugs are in my small intestine supposedly causing all kinds of havoc. Symptoms are: bloating, gas, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, food intolerances, chronic diseases, vitamin B-12 deficiency, heartburn, leaky gut, nausea, fat malabsorption, abdominal pain and cramping, and, wait for it...constipation although not as common as diarrhea.

So...what I don't have are the classic symptoms of bloating, gas and diarrhea. I also don't have irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, heartburn, nutrient malabsorption, or nausea. My vitamin B-12 levels are excellent and I've been on the leaky gut diet several times in the last few years with the most recent in December. I don't have the food intolerances the websites list (gluten, casein, lactose, and fructose), but my latest food allergy test showed some sensitivities to...vegetables. My new doctor didn't seem to care about this because she said those tests are just a reflection of the moment and next week the list would be different. I agree. I think the list is a reflection of the current state of my colon. It doesn't like fiber.

What I do have is what appears to be a non-working colon rather than typical constipation. A year ago I had fat malabsorption, I have had some intermittent abdominal pain, and I do have a chronic disease known for constipation - Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. SIBO bugs are known to cause constipation through the methane they produce. The other bugs commonly associated with SIBO are hydrogen-dominant and those are the bugs that create the diarrhea.

My cynicism is also grounded in the fact five years ago it was as if everyone I knew was all of a sudden diagnosed with SIBO. I found this unrealistic. Is this the latest holistic fad? Now, years later, none of them are "cured". They suffered through all the expensive treatment options and many now have a standing prescription for antibiotics every six months with repeat testing. So if there is no working treatment, what is the point of all this medical expense?

Instead of jumping into spending $180 for the test, I asked my doctor for the SIBO diet and she gave me a copy of Dr. Allison Siebecker's protocol which you can view HERE. Everything I've read states the diet should help make the patient feel better within days. Of course, most are suffering from bloating which I am not. My thought process is if SIBO is what I have and the diet the treatment, I should have some improvement. Doesn't that make sense? Even a tiny indication I'm on the right track would give me hope.

This diet restricts sugars and starches since that is what the SIBO bugs eat. If you can starve them out, they will die and go away. OK! I can live off meat for two weeks! I am allowed a few choice fruits, vegetables, some oils, some nuts. Just to be safe I'll stop eating all my food allergens as well. Who needs vegetables! And on top of that continue with the Paleo Diet with a Hashimoto's Twist. This doesn't leave me with many food options, but after five months of a non-working colon, I really don't care. I just want a sign that SIBO is at fault for all my misery.

The diet was horrid. My intestines screamed in burning discomfort, my stomach cramped, and I started crashing with bouts of exhaustion and fatigue. My thyroid hates the diet. And on top of that, the constipation got worse. No laxatives of any kind would work. At first I thought this was what everyone calls "die-off" or the bugs starving and dying which releases their toxins as they exit your system, but I didn't have the typical die-off symptoms and stayed on the diet for two weeks. I just felt worse and then more worse. And then my hair started falling. Call me vain, but that was the last straw. At two and a half weeks, I ate some rice and everything felt wonderful.

So now what? I'm paralyzed with indecision. Do I listen to my instincts and refuse the test or do I cave, pay for the test, and then get really irate when it comes back negative as I expect? Even if it came back positive, how can I possible treat SIBO? Antibiotics or herbs might cause me far too much misery. Then what? Ponder...ponder.

So I ordered the test. My doctor said two weeks on the diet wouldn't do anything. I'm still not convinced, but I got tired of doing nothing paralyzed with indecision. At least this moves me forward. The test has a preparation plan and diet. I have to be OFF laxatives for four days!? HOW? My colon stops working without laxatives!

Does that deter me? Nope. On to a liquid diet of fruit and vegetable juices and meat broths. I confirmed this plan with the lab as I was afraid too restrictive a diet might produce a false negative. They said as long as one adheres to the 24 hour preparation diet, no problem.

The first, second, and third days of the liquid diet my colon screamed in burning pain and cramps.  Then it gurgled for hours alternating with moments of feeling really good if it wasn't for the excruciating hunger, then the hunger would go away. The sweet fruit juices helped alleviate weakness, but then the pain and cramps would return and the cycle would continue. This feels more like an infection and I was surprised to get the same pain with an empty gut as I did with a fully packed intestinal tract.

The fourth day, however, was a diet of only chicken broth. I thought the feelings of hunger would kill me. Weakness and brain fog took over and by 1pm I was done thinking for the day. By four o'clock I was sick of chicken broth and this is good because one needs to start fasting twelve hours before the start of the test. I tend to get up early and knowing I'd be famished by the next morning, I planned this in advance.

I drug myself out of my weakened state out of bed at 3am, one hour before the test. I could hardly function. Sitting in a chair took a great amount of effort. My joints burned and I was sweating profusely. I began the test. The lactulose solution was fine. It tasted like weak orange-flavored Kool-aid. I was hoping it would give me some energy to survive the next three hours. It ever so slightly took away the some of the weakness without bad side effects. The test involves breathing into a little funnel with a test tube inserted every twenty minutes ten times. I turned up the online jazz station and began. Three hours later done...over. You can get instruction details and watch informative videos for this test from www.sibocenter.com

Waiting, waiting, waiting for the results....still waiting. Waiting longer...

Waiting some more.

NEGATIVE. Duh. What a waste of money! But I am absolutely relieved and overjoyed the results are negative. Maybe the new doctor will start taking me seriously now?

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

April Movie Reviews

*****  Exceptional
****    Great
***      OK
**        So So
*          Blah

Ballet 422 is about the production of the 422nd ballet of the New York City Ballet choreographed by one of the dancers who is only 25 years old. I don't know how they remember all the steps and the tiny details that go into a dance let alone how complex it must be to choreograph one. Then to add the music, lighting, costumes. They even showed how they dyed the fabric and designed the costumes which I found fascinating. one never sees that kind of thing in these dance documentaries. I kept thinking about all the energy those dancers need to have to do what they do. Amazing. ***

Being Charlie is about a kid who's a drug addict. He's in and out of rehab, and doesn't care much about anything until he falls in love with another addict who proves to be his undoing. It was an interesting story about drug addiction.  A little depressing. Good performances. The lead kid, Nick Robinson, was good. **

Ben & Ara is about two PhD philosophy students finishing their dissertations who embark on a relationship. She is a Muslim from Cameroon and he is a white atheist who grew up with lesbian mothers after his abusive father left. She's very traditional and religious, and he drinks, goes to parties, is a procrastinator, and believes in open relationships because he doesn't believe in love. It's a messy, yet interesting story.  The performances were good but the script was a little stiff. ***

Call Me By Your Name is about first love and this incredibly sensuous dance that takes place between a virginal, sexually frustrated American-Italian teenage boy and a young (gorgeous) male American scholar. The scholar is yet another summer visitor staying at the family summer home in Italy studying with the boy's father who is a college professor in archeology digging up sexy Greek statues of young, naked bronze men. The whole movie was a sexual tease. Even the sex scenes weren't shown - the camera would pan off to a view of the trees or show only half of their bodies. So odd. It was like coitus interruptus ...It just felt unfinished in a very frustrating, unfulfilling kind of way although I think that was the point. But I don't know how it was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Some of the photography was poorly done and it had the style of long-drawn out, time-wasting panning one normally sees in a foreign film, the kind I hate. It gets an A for Italian countryside, sexuality and the performances were great. ***

The Circle was a sci-fi type movie about a young woman (Emma Watson) who gets a job at "The Circle" a high tech company that promotes transparency and community. Tom Hanks is the CEO. The plot was fairly predictable, but took way too long getting to the point which was cessation of privacy as technology takes over our lives. In this company's world, privacy is forbidden. Unfortunately, I found it boring.  I've never known Watson to be more than boring in her post-Harry Potter performances. It's as if she doesn't quite understand the character. Once the "crisis" presented itself, it was so uninteresting I didn't see the point in continuing. *

The Diary of a Whimpy Kid is about surviving seventh grade and figuring out where you fit in. Great kids' movie. Well done. Excellent writing. Loved the art. ***

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby  When I first saw this title I thought it would be some clever story on the Beatles' song. Not sure the point of the name other than maybe it's trying to force a connection between the plot of the movie and the song. It's about a happy couple until the next scene then she rides her bike over a bridge, stops in the middle, and jumps off. She lives, but leaves her husband and he's distraught not sure what to do or why she's behaving the way she is. It goes on for too long leaving the viewers in the dark before finally revealing the purpose of her melancholy. ***

Don't Breathe  I avoided ordering this movie from the library when I saw previews because it just looked too scary. It sounded like a horror movie. It was sitting on the shelf and with nothing else to watch, I checked it out. It's not horror, it's psychological thriller. It's about three burglars, one sleazy guy, one misguided, desperate, abused girl trying to get enough money to escape her life, and the cute kid (Dylan Minnette from Thirteen Reasons Why - so adorable and sweet) whose father is a security officer with house keys for all his clients. Sleazy guy hears about this man who lives in a trashy, deserted Detroit neighborhood who won a legal settlement when his daughter was killed in a car accident caused by a rich girl with a very rich family. They assume since he's reclusive and blind, he has his money hidden in his big old house.  The guy has a humongous Rottweiler, too. I would have declined...too much dog for me but more importantly the guy is an Army veteran so you know that's risky. Cute kid says it sounds too risky, but he's in love with the girl and caves in to her dreams of escape. It all goes wrong and hell breaks loose. It was incredibly tense and emotionally exhausting, but exceptional. I love the sensuousness of the movie focusing on sight, sound, and smell, but I am surprised the blind guy couldn't smell them before he could hear them. ****

Elle was a bizarre French movie about a video game producer who is violently raped in the first scene by a masked man dressed all in black. She takes it in stride, not wanting the police involved due to her childhood traumatic experience of being the daughter of a mass murderer who has been in prison for the last 39 (?) years. She keeps getting text messages from the rapist, and he breaks into her house and masturbates on her bed...and then she starts getting game videos of the protagonist getting raped so she's on a quest to identify the rapist thinking he's one of her employees. Still all this doesn't faze her which I thought odd.  I would have been walking around well armed and paranoid. At one point we find out she left her husband because he hit her. Then the rapist breaks into her house again, assaults her, but she fights back, stabbing his hand with some scissors and ripping off his mask. I shouldn't tell you who the rapist is...don't want to spoil it. I was kind of confused - why leave her husband for one hit and then agree to be beat up by a rapist? Hmmm... The story was very complex with all kinds of subplots, but it was an interesting movie with lots of interesting turns and characters. Excellent performances. Just strange.***

The Family Fang is about performance artists who used their kids (Jason Bateman and Nicole Kidman) as part of their act damaging them psychologically in the process. When the parents' car is found with blood all over it, their daughter is convinced it's just another performance and begins her own investigation to expose the ruse. ***

The Glass Castle is the story of Jeannette Walls, New York journalist, who grew up with an erratic, tormented, alcoholic but imaginative father who moved his family from homeless dump to hillbilly hovel, drinking away the family money while constantly promising to build them a house made out of glass. The kids took care of each other while planning their escape. Good story. Woody Harrelson was outstanding. ***

Into the Wild is the adventure of an entitled college graduate who is haunted by his family dysfunction. Although destined for Harvard law school, he takes off after graduation in search of truth, hitchhiking across the United States with goal of reaching Alaska and living off the land. He meets a variety of good people along the way. Once in Alaska he finds an abandoned bus and lives there for nine weeks. Uplifting and life affirming until the end. Hated the ending...but it's a true story so there's not much to be done with a biographical story. All-star cast and great performances. "Happiness is only real when shared." Very true, but it only depresses me. I thought about this movie for days. ****

Iris is a documentary about Iris Apfel, a 90 year old woman (now 96) who has been a New York interior designer, fabric designer, and stylist for the last 75 years.  She has a personal collection of couture jewelry and clothing that fills multiple rooms in her multiple apartments which are piled high with toys, memorabilia and curiosities as well as a warehouse full of junk she's collected from all over the world. She's a collector pack rat. She now loans these items out for museum exhibitions or department store displays. What a life and personality! Amazing. She's my new post-menopausal idol and inspiration. ****

Just Let Go is the true story of Chris Williams (played by Henry Ian Cusick) who lost two of his four children, his wife and unborn child in a car crash caused by a drunk-driving teenager. It's about the power of forgiveness. It had less God-talk than I thought it would. It was interesting how everyone around him constantly volunteered their opinions on how he should act and how he should think. I like the twist near the end which lent a little more credibility to the story. ****

Land of Mine This movie was outstanding, but very nerve wracking and tense. Based on real life history, it takes place in Denmark at the end of WWII after five years of Nazi occupation. The Danish are incredibly hostile toward the German POWs and use them to defuse and clear the millions of mines the Germans placed all over the west coast of their country. This is the story of one group of German soldiers and their Danish commander. None of these boys are over 18 years old. They are just children. It was disturbing. I've read at the end of the war when the Nazis were running out of soldiers they began recruiting from the Hitler Youth Group. Excellent performances. The information at the end of the movie stated half of the POWs died while trying to clear mines. So sad. War is ugly. It brings out the worst in humans. Great title - my land, land OF mines. ****

Life itself is about the life of Roger Ebert, film critic. Exceptionally fascinating, but what was really amazing was his strength of character and constant cheerfulness with all those health issues. Jeez. I know I'd never be that strong. Even the smallest of health issues and I'm whining. Pretty amazing life he had. ****

The Light Between Oceans was about a man living in isolation in a lighthouse in the nineteenth century. That's all I read on the DVD cover since I didn't have my glasses with me so I didn't know what this was about. Anyway...he meets this woman who lives on the mainland, the fall in love, get married and she goes to live on the island with him. At this point I thought it was really boring and waited for something exciting to happen...he was a WWI veteran so I figured something is bound to go wrong. BUT she gets pregnant, has a miscarriage, gets pregnant again, has another miscarriage, is very depressed, starts hearing crying babies in the wind...but she's not imagining it. A small row boat is adrift offshore and in it is a dead man and a little baby. Her husband says he needs to report it, she says no, we are keeping this kid so it doesn't end up in an orphanage. During the christening the man sees a woman crying at a gravestone, goes to look and she's crying for her husband and baby who were lost at sea...he feels guilty...and of course, it's all wrong from there as they rip the child away from the only parents the little girl has ever known. Good story. Somewhat unrealistic plot - doesn't make sense why the man and little baby were out on the ocean in a row boat. ***

Our Little Sister was a Japanese film with English subtitles about three sisters who live together in a big, old, very cool Japanese house with sliding doors. Their father had an affair fifteen years prior, left the family, married his mistress and they had a child. Then I think the mistress died and he remarried again. The sisters' mother left them fourteen years ago. It wasn't clear who raised them (maybe the great aunt?), but now it's been fifteen years since they have seen  their father and he's dead. They go to his funeral and meet their fifteen year old half sister who is now an orphan. The three sisters invite her to live with them. The oldest sister hates her father but the other two don't have much memory of him. The new little sister has many memories. Sweet story about family ties. The little sister is so adorable. I wish I had a whole bunch of sisters I liked. ***

The Shape of Water is about the military in possession of an aquatic creature from South America. One of the maids at the research lab is dumb (can't speak) falls in love with the creature, teaches it sign language, feeds it eggs, and plays music. She finds out they plan to kill the creature and dissect it. She sets out to save him. It was a fairytale that wasn't quite sure if it was a fairytale. I think they should have made it more obvious. Sally Hawkins was outstanding. Great sets and 1950s aesthetics. ***

Suburbicon is a very bizarre commentary on the American Dream. It's about a family in the 1950s who lives in a state-of-the-arts modern residential neighborhood called "Suburbicon" where life is perfect and white. The new neighbors move in, and OH MY GOD! they are black. All those white people are beside themselves with horror and set about harassing them in hopes of driving them out. Meanwhile, back in the perfect white house next door, the husband (Matt Damon), hired some men to kill his wife (Julianne Moore), because he wants to run away with her sister (Julianne Moore). It all starts to unravel when the insurance claim guy shows up and tries to blackmail him and, of course, he's behind on his Mafia loan payback so they come for him. His young son is watching all this unfold. So weird, very dark, disturbing humor.  Matt Damon is really good at playing quirky characters. **

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri You know those seven stages of grief? This movie is about the third stage: anger.  It wasn't anything like I expected which was a typical Hollywood plot about a murdered girl and her grieving mother. I expected to cry all the way through it. No crying at all! Unfortunately, all that expectation was distracting. Initially I was a little disappointed and wondered what I just saw. I thought about it for days. Then I (finally) figured it out: all the main characters were dealing with death in some way and not necessarily the obvious in-your-face-death of the murdered girl.  This lingering infestation of death bubbled up through their personalities as irritability, anger, rage, and violence. Ahhhh ha!  I wondered how I missed it especially being such a fan of death. So I watched it again. Anger that makes one blind and brain dead, not caring about anyone around them. One line summed it up: "Anger begets more anger."  It reminded me of that movie Crash with people crashing into each other only this one was how our anger is contagious. Also, notice the red accents in the movie. Interesting. Even one of the characters is named "Red."  Great performances and it deserved all those Academy Award nominations and awards. Sam Rockwell was hilarious and Frances McDormand brilliant. Beautifully filmed with outstanding photography. Although I don't know if it warrants five stars, anytime I feel that compelled to watch a second time, five stars is what it gets! *****

The Wrecking Crew is about the sessions musicians who played on all the great hits through the 1960s and into the 1970s. It features interviews of famous singers, producers, songwriters and musicians discussing how some of the early rock 'n' roll hits came to be and how so few of the bands played their own music because this group of musicians were so great. I can't get that bass from Sonny and Cher's "The Beat Goes On" out of my head now! ****

Thursday, April 26, 2018


I love Spring when everything comes alive, the sun shines, the birds sing, and the blossoms explode. Last year my fruit trees were contaminated with some kind of fungus that destroyed what little fruit they produced. All winter I sprayed the trees with sulfur. I read this sulfur is organic approved, but I don't know. It stunk so I had to wear my HAZMAT costume for fear of a poisoning. I think (hope) it paid off. My trees look fantastic!



Fig leaves sprouting with two baby figs!
A sea of bluebells.
I love bluebells!

Does anyone know what this plant is? I planted some seeds in a bed and this plant came up. Not sure what it is. I guess I'll wait until it blooms to find out!

Spring is so lovely!