Wednesday, May 04, 2022

In a World of Simians, I'm Waiting for My Thumbs, On the Planet of the Apes, This Song is Sung


I haven't been great about writing lately, so I am cheating by putting up a post that I wrote on my original blog in 2005. It's about nicknames we give people:

Zira - Planet of the Apes

A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend of mine about a neighbor who I thought was kind of annoying. I never mentioned his name but because this is Iowa City, she figured out who he was and told me that she and her friends used to call him Senor Scratchy Patches because of what she described as "an unfortunately placed skin condition that he felt at liberty to touch". Gross...but that's what makes it funny.

Ever since then I've been thinking about nicknames and remembering monikers that were given to different cutomers at all the various bars and restaurants I've worked. When you wait on people, you don't always remember their names and nicknames really help reference people. Sometimes the monikers are based on their order - like there has been a mocha man at almost every coffee shop I've ever worked at and when I worked at The Mill there was that jesus freak guy we always called the chicken man. Then sometimes the nicknames are just mean and those are usually reserved for customers who are annoying and/or rude and people who don't tip well.

One of my favorites was from when I worked as a bartender at Macy's in San Francisco in 1986. There was a woman who we always called Zira-Planet-of-the-Apes. She was never just plain Zira, it was always the whole, long name. I thought she looked more like a combination of Zira and Ruth Gordon but it would have been way too long to say, Zira-Planet-of-the-Apes-Ruth-Gordon. I have no idea what her real name was. She would come in every Monday and be horrible and never tip the waiter but she would put tons of money in the jar for the pianist to play "New York, New York" at least 6 times a night. She always ordered a VERY dry vodka Martini. Which meant she didn't want vermouth. Which meant what she really wanted was vodka with an olive but she was too pretentious to order that. So, instead the waiters would come up to the bar and sing, "Zira-Planet-of-the-Apes" and I would know exactly what to make. It was way more fun than giving me the order the regular way.

But while I was laughing at all the nicknames I've always labeled other people with, I did have to stop and wonder what nicknames people may have for me. It's not like I can stop one of the guys at the Co-op and ask them if they have another name they call me. I'm sure they wouldn't tell me if they did and would I want to know? If it was bad enough, I'd have to start going to the Coralville Co-op and never be dumb enough to ask a question I didn't want to know the answer to again.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

I'm Flat Broke, But I Don't Care, I Strut Right By With My Tail in the Air

Okay. Now I am going to tell you a long, weird story about what happened last Friday. So, there has been this BEAUTIFUL, possibly part Maine Coon cat that has been living under my neighbor's porch for a few months now. At first I wasn't sure if it didn't have a home, and just liked to lurk around our house because we love birds and squirrels and other small animals, and make a welcoming place for them, or if she needed some alone time from her family (which I understand), or what? But it was becoming clear to me that she was either lost or abandoned. One day she even sat in our backyard and cried, so I thought she was hungry, and gave her some of the cat's dry food, which she snarfed right up. I told John and he said that I shouldn't feed every animal I met. Then I tried to explain to him how food was love in my world, and I love every animal I meet...But ultimately, as much as it pains me, I had to admit that he was right. I shouldn't be feeding the BEAUTIFUL, stray, possibly Maine Coon cat, even though it was so sweet and followed me around my yard and rubbed against my legs for pets and scratches.

By Friday after work, I decided I should help the poor girl, and called the animal shelter. They said they were closing and I should call the Community Service people, and they would come and pick the cat up and bring her to the Humane Society when they opened the next morning. Cool.

So, I called the community service people, and they sent some guy out. We'll call him Chad, since the kids are saying that's the male equivalent of a Karen. Anyhoo, Chad comes over, I tell him the story, and that the cat is in the breezeway. 

Wait. Let me back track. While I was calling these people, the sweet girl kitty was lying on her back next to me, so I could rub her belly, and when the animal shelter guy talked to me, he told me to put her in a contained space. So, I picked her up and put her in the breezeway, where she FREAKED the f*ck OUT. I felt like shit. Here is this BEAUTIFUL girl all loving and trusting me, and I put her in the breezeway, and then betray her even more, by sending some Chad to pick her up against her will. She did NOT seem to appreciate the fact that I was trying to help her by getting her to a safe space. As far as she was concerned, I sold her out. I felt so bad...And still do.

Isn't she gorgeous?

 Anyway, Chad went in our mess of a breezeway with his cat carrier, and set it down in front of her, like he thinks she's going to calmly walk right into it. Huh. Then she moved, and he set it in front of her again, and she jumped over it and ran to hide behind some big pile of crap in our breeze way. Then Chad came out of our mess of a breezeway, and said that the cat doesn't seem to want to come, and he didn't want to hurt her by forcing her out. Ummmmmm. Has he ever met a cat? What cat in their right mind would calmly walk into a cat carrier? The cat carrier means you go to the vet!

I tried to be tactful (never my strong suit), and instead of asking if  he was new to the job, I asked him what he normally did when he tried to pick up a cat. He didn't give me much of an answer. Instead, he sighed and went back to the truck to get longer, thicker gloves. When he came back, he tried again, and then gave up again.

Chad came out and started saying something like, "Well, the animal shelter will tell you that a cat is an apex predator, and if you get rid of one apex predator, another one will come and fill that void..." Wut!? How the hell do you respond to that? First of all, we have lived here for 12 years and we have never had any kind of "apex predator" living in our backyard before, and second of all, what is he even talking about? Watch out! Don't make him get the cat, or bears and tigers will move into our backyard! So, I asked him if he was trying to say that we should just let the cat be feral, and not try to get her to a safe place? 

He said I should just call the humane society in the morning. I told him that I couldn't leave her in the breeze way. That's how we enter and exit our place, and she'll escape. Also, she came willingly the first time, but she's a cat, which means she's a lot smarter than I am, and she will never trust me again. So, Chad sighed and went back in. He chased her out from under the table, and she hurled herself against the screen door, and her paws got stuck on the little ledge where the screen hits the window, and he tried to use one hand to get her, and he not only must not have met a cat before, but he must be terrified of them. I suggested he use both hands to get her, and he did and she let him put her right into the cat carrier without a fight. I wish my cats could have been there to watch how a GOOD cat enters a cat carrier (the answer to that is NOT jamming every limb against the opening of the crate).

So, if that wasn't an example of  how no good deed goes unpunished, then the next little bit is a better example: Because I live in a very small college town, Chad happens to know one of my neighbors, and the next day, he was out with his wife or girlfriend and our neighbor, and some of their friends, and after a couple of beers, he started talking about some bitch (me), who made him come pick up a cat that was CLEARLY not lost, and probably just belonged to someone in the neighborhood. Wow. Apparently, Chad didn't want to do his job, and decided to create a story in his head that I just wanted to torture a poor cat that one of my neighbors owned. Why would I want to hurt a cat? I have no idea. Maybe to just make Chad's life hell? I mean, I get it. I don't always want to do my job either. I just don't blame other people because I have to do it.

I called the Animal Shelter on Monday to make sure she was okay. That's when I found out she was a female. I asked if she had a chip, and she didn't. Let this be a lesson. Get your animals chipped, so they can be returned to you if they get lost. I had to ask if they thought she had a home and was just hanging out at our house (old Chad made me paranoid about it). She said that she looked like she had been homeless for a while, since she was a little malnourished and she had some mats in her hair. So, I did feel better about it all. She said that if no one claimed her, and she got acclimated to her surroundings, they would get her spayed if she needed it, and try to get her adopted. 

If any of you are looking for the most BEAUTIFUL, and sweetest cat you will ever meet, please adopt her...And tell her I'm sorry.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

So, I'll Continue to Continue to Pretend, My Life Will Never End, And Flowers Never Bend With the Rainfall

Every year I think I'm going to be better about planning my gardens. I lie to myself that I'll pay more attention to when I should start my seedlings, I will research plants more, and write down all of the plants I want to get, and maybe get all crazy and actually diagram where my perennials will come up, so I don't accidentally dig them up, thinking they're some kind of weeds. Sigh. I haven't done any of that yet. Already this year, I forgot when I planted my seedlings last year (too early), thought I had waited a few weeks later, and then realized I planted them almost to the day, the exact time I did last year. Double sigh.

So, all of my seedlings are ready to be planted right now, but with as cool as this Spring has been, I'm sure I have a month before I can get the warm weather seedlings in the ground outside. I bet I'll have to dig down a mile to keep my leggy tomatoes from flopping right over. Of course, NEXT year I'll be better about when I plant my seedlings (much later).

I did remember to keep a fence around my seedlings, since a certain Gus who thinks spinach and lettuce are delicious would wreak havoc upon them all.  This year I planted two different kinds of tomatoes (Brandy Wine and Beefsteak), Genovese Basil, kale, Mexican Torch Sunflowers, some leaf lettuce, and those little yellow flowers that are called Billy Ball Craspedia. I took a vacation day last week when it was warmer and planted broccoli, kale, and spinach outside. This weekend I plan on planting Sugar snap peas, beets, leeks, more lettuce, and arugula. It makes me so happy to play in the dirt now, and then get to eat all the organic stuff in a month or two. I also love being able to give away extra veggies and flowers to friends. Speaking of which, let me know if you want to come over and pick up some kale seedlings.

Every year without fail, some woman I don't know because she never introduces herself, walks by my front yard garden, tsks and says, "I admire your optimism..." And she walks away as I'm saying, 

"I'm only planting Spring stuff this early that can handle a frost, BITCH!" Actually, I leave the BITCH part out, because I'm neighborly like that. I'm just hoping she knows it's implied. Why does someone need to walk past my house every year and judge my gardening? Especially when there are so, so, so, many other REAL things she could be judging me on.

 Anyway, this year I am going to probably bore you with my gardening posts because I really do want to be better about remembering which flowers and veggie plants I want to buy at the best times, and not dig up perennials that I forgot I planted, and have my yard look even more extra. And this time I REALLY mean it...

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Got a Wife and Kids in Baltimore, Jack, I went Out for a Ride and I Never Went Back

Since I don't think even one photo of me and my dad exists in the world, here is one of my mom and dad.

When you are the youngest kid in your family, nothing you remember is ever true. Your siblings will tell you that after you relate some memory that you thought really happened. "No," they will say. "That never happened". So,  all I really have are things that I thought I lived, but I was probably wrong about. That is how I will talk about my dad, through the things I thought happened, and the ways people who didn't like my dad told me they happened, and the ways people who had biases the other way told me they happened.

I was four years old in 1969, when my dad disappeared. For years, that's how I thought about it. That he was there one day, and then, poof! He was gone. When I got older, I thought that maybe he killed himself. He wasn't the happiest person who ever lived, that's for sure. So, it wasn't out of the question. Also, as a kid, it was too embarrassing to think that your dad ran away. Adults shouldn't run away from home, should they?

Even though I was very young, I think I have some actual memories of my dad. Of course, they are more likely things that someone told me happened, or maybe even something I saw on TV and my little kid brain incorporated it into my memories. These are the things I think I remember about him:

1.) I have a vague memory of going to the Superstition Mountains and being terrified. I had just seen or heard something about the Lost Dutchman, and also I was afraid of snakes. I wouldn't let my dad put me down, and he was rightfully annoyed with me.

2.) My mom went back to work at some point, and our dad watched us during her shifts. I remember him taking us to the race track, Turf Paradise, and us being so bored that we would spend hours picking up the paper betting stubs and making a little basket out of our t-shirts by rolling them around our arms, and when we had enough stubs, we'd release our t-shirts from our arms and the stubs would go flying into the air and we would start all over again. The horse racing track was way better than the dog track. All I remember of him taking us to the dog track, was the flies that were everywhere. At night our dad would take us to Sky Harbor air port, where he would watch the planes land and take off over, and over again. That was a little obvious foreshadowing, huh?

3.) I remember watching "The Wizard of Oz" and the scene where Dorothy is looking through the crystal ball at her Auntie Em, but then her picture turns into the witch, and I was so terrified that I screamed and my dad picked me up, and calmed me down.

4.) I have one last, weird memory that we're at someone's house in Scottsdale where there is an above ground swimming pool. Did we have an above ground swimming pool, or were we at someone else's house? I have no idea. Most of what I remember is a feeling. One of the other dad's at this outdoor party picked up my mom and threw her in the pool. They were laughing, but my dad was mad.

Okay, so those are the only memories I have of my dad. It still seems like a questionable amount for a four year old. Which is why I prefaced the whole thing with my little talk about memory...Or lack thereof.

How the story was told to me by both people who loved and hated my dad was that he left my poor mother with a four year old, a five year old, a six year old, and a nine year old, we were being evicted from our house, and he had run up every credit card he could get his hands on.  Eek! We moved into my Grandma Maxine's house (my dad's mother), with our Aunt Lee and her three children. All I really remember about that time is waking up to different tree shadows on the wall, and my brother falling off the top bunk bed. 

The story goes that the only way my mother wouldn't be responsible for my dad's debt was if she divorced him. It would take seven years before we could have him pronounced legally dead without a body. My mother was very Catholic and didn't believe in divorce, but my Grandma Maxine helped her with it all and even went to court with her. I hear the judge was amazed that my mom's mother-in-law would not only approve of the divorce, but actually go with her to court.

Eventually, my mom found a house in a bad part of  Phoenix where they were soon to build the Maricopa County Freeway. When I was at the end of first grade, we finally got some government funded housing in Mesa, where I was probably the happiest during my childhood. My mother died of a stroke when she was 42 and I was ten, and I was truly heartbroken about it for years and years.

Since we, or his mother, had never heard from my dad, I just assumed he was dead. Especially after I had my children, I couldn't imagine how a person could still be alive and not give a shit about what happened to their spouse and children. Alternatively, I had this very slight worry that my dad would come out of nowhere once his health was failing, or if he thought he could get money from us, and expect us to take care of him. Luckily, that didn't happened.

What did happen in 2013, was that my cousin Jo Anne was looking up her genealogy, and found my dad's obituary online. Guess where and when he died? Okay. I'll just tell you. My dad died in Hilo, Hawaii in 2009 of COPD. He smoked like a chimney when he lived with us, and I'm guessing that didn't change after he left. He is buried in the VFW cemetery in Hilo. One of these years, if I can get the money together, I'd love to go to the Big Island, mostly to ride bikes and check out the volcanoes, but if I was going to be there anyway, I wouldn't mind checking out his grave. It's the only physical thing there is of him (that I know of) after he left us.


Thanks to my cousin Jeff for taking this photo of my dad's grave in Hawaii.

In his obituary, it said he left two children, Bill Jr, and Ella. My brother is named Bill, but he was never a JR. I have a sister named Erin, but not Ella. My brother thinks that whomever it was who took care of him in his last years or months, just got the information wrong that he told her. Who knows what kind of  mental state he was in at the end. It's possible that he had two other children after he left us, but I did some internet searches for those names with no luck. It's also possible that he told his caretaker two names, that she then got mixed up, and totally forgot about me and my middle sister. It's sad, but he had only known me for four years when he left, and he was gone for forty years before he died.,

I've been meaning to write about this for years, because that's how I process things, but even after writing about it, I think I have a long way to go before I make peace with and/or sense of my father's story. I guess now you all know where my abandonment issues come from...The hardest part for me to process, is how he couldn't have even called to see how we were? Or maybe sent a couple of dollars in the mail whenever he had them? I'm sure he figured we wouldn't be at our Scottsdale address, since he was the reason we were being evicted, but he could have sent them to his mother. Was it shame that kept him from any kind of contact with us, or maybe it was the fear of getting caught? 

There are two things I know about him; one was that he definitely had his demons, and two was that he loved us and my mom. I did feel that back then. He was a photographer, and I believe he wanted the freedom to be brilliant at it. He also wanted to be a husband and father, but he wasn't able to do both. In the end, I have no idea if he kept up his photography. I would like to think he did. If he chose his art over his family, I hope he was able to capture incredible images. I would love to see them.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

When She Talks, I Hear the Revolution, In Her Hips, There's Revolution


 Wow! It's the middle of April and I still haven't written my "books I read last month post". Since I'm the only person who really cares what I read last month, it's not like anyone was going to sue me because it wasn't done. BUT I actually do like going over the books I read and so, I'm going to write that all out right now, dammit. Last month I was saying how I got back into the swing of reading again, and so that meant I read SIX WHOLE BOOKS in March. I had a little theme for reading, which was National Women's History Month. Every book I read except one was written by a woman. I read the one book that was written by a man, because I didn't think to do the little theme thing yet, and I was really interested in the subject matter. Anyway, so I read six books. This is what they are and how I felt about them:

1.) "Detransition, Baby" by Torrey Peters. Torrey Peters was in the Writer's Workshop here, and I always like to point that out if I know that about an author. So, as you probably already know, I hate to be ignorant. I also don't like to be an asshole (well, most of the time anyway). So, I try to educate myself about things I don't have a lot of first-hand knowledge of. I only know a couple of trans people, and this book was great for some education, but also to read about messy relationships, no matter what gender the people are. I learned a lot, I felt a lot of feelings, and I also had some fun reading this book. I highly recommend it...Unless you are squeamish about sex and messy relationships. This book was also perfect for Women's History Month.

2.) The second book I read was the only one written by a man. It is a non-fiction book called "Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI", by David Grann. This was a non-fiction account of what happened in the 1920's when the land that the US government thought had no value, and therefore shoved the Osage tribe onto it after they stole the land they had previously lived on, then they suddenly found oil on that reservation. The Native Americans/First Nations people became very rich, which made white people very jealous, greedy, and homicidal. There was so much effed-up stuff surrounding this particular horrible serial killing. Then J Edgar Hoover brought in his currently forming FBI into it. I had just watched the Clint Eastwood movie about J Edgar Hoover, so it was interesting to see this version of the man. Mostly, the book was heartbreaking, and maddening, and I was very engrossed in the story and the detective work, and the travesty.

3.) Okay. By my third book, I finally settled on my read theme. I decided to read a children's book written by a woman that touched on gender norms, or the lack thereof between the two friends. I had never read "Bridge to Terabithia" by Katherine Paterson before. It was published after I fancied myself a little old for children's literature. This book was so sad, and sweet, and though it was pretty short, it packed a lot of punch... Punch like someone had just punched me in the heart and I had no choice but to cry and cry. If you haven't already, you might want to read this...And cry.

4.) By the fourth book I read last month, I had graduated from children's lit, to Young Adult lit. "The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas was one of the best books I've read in a long, long time. I seriously read this book in a 24 hour period because I could not stop myself. Then my friend, Sarah came to visit the next day and I couldn't stop talking to her about it. The story is timely, the characters are so well written, I felt like I knew them, and wanted to take that family home with me, so I could hang out with them all the time. The subject matter was so sad, but handled very well, looking at all the different shades of gray areas in the cause. If you want to get lost in a novel, read this book and let yourself feel all of the things you need to feel.

5.) The fifth book I read was a non-fiction book called "All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley's sack, a Black Family Keepsake", by Tiya Miles. This was a more academic look at a bag that was found at a flea market belonging to a family, passed down from their ancestor who had been sold away from her mother when she was still a young girl. Her mother had given her a bag before she left with some gifts for her, as she got marched away and sold off. The author tries to track down the family in archives, and give the reader a picture of what Ashley's life would have been like during slavery. It was VERY well written and researched. My ADHD made it hard for me, because it was written about in great detail, and my brain tends to skim when things are that detailed. I learned so much, and I was very interested in the story that rose from all that tragedy, and hate, and turned into incredible motherly love. It won all kinds of awards.

6.) The last book I read was called "Bookish Broads: Women Who Wrote Themselves into History", by Lauren Marino. At first I thought this was just going to be a quick little blurb about different women writers, but it was more than that. It spoke to the problems women have had since forever with creating/working, and being expected to devote themselves to being a wife and mother. It talked about women being forced to either use male pen names, or to just use their initials in order to sell their work and have it be taken seriously. It also introduced me to new authors, and told me incredible stories about women authors I've already read. It was the perfect way to end my Women's History Month themed books. 

So everyone, I hope you keep reading, and buying books by women writers. We will all be rewarded by reading their stories.

Saturday, April 09, 2022

Look Out Honey, 'Cause I'm Using Technology

Well kids, it's been a rough Spring so far. I had a migraine for about two weeks. Some days were better than others, but it was a lot to deal with. Since I was in so much pain that I couldn't do much else, I watched some TV. I always say this, but I love TV. Not like TV was when we were growing up, where there were only four or five channels, and nobody could swear, and you had to watch commercials. I like TV the way it is now, where I can just buy the streaming services I want, I don't have to watch commercials, and there are tons of movies to watch as well as series TV.

1.) I'm sure it won't be big news to anyone but John and I are huge nerds. So, we've been happily watching the latest season of "Star Trek Discovery", which I feel has lost a bit of its punch from the first two seasons. Although, I've heard Stacy Abrams is in an episode or two, and I'm excited to see her. 

2.) We are also totally engrossed in the second season of "Picard". I was a little worried when they brought Q back, since I've always found him annoying. Of course, Q isn't half as annoying to me as Diana Troi, and she already made an appearance in the first season. So, I figured I might as well suck it up and just see where the show took us. Holy cow! am I glad I got past that initial Q appearance, because the first few episodes of this season have been so good. I'm really interested to see where they go from here.

 3.) I can watch some even cheesier stuff too. I watched "Indian Matchmaker" on Netflix. The whole first season was fascinating to me. Rich people have such different lives than I do.


4.) I have to say, I loved, loved, loved HBOMAX's "Somebody Somewhere". How often do you see shows where the main character is an overweight woman in her forties and she's not the butt of the show, and she's not suddenly going to lose a bunch of weight to be more attractive to men. I really did relate to Sam in this show. She lives in Kansas, which could easily have been Iowa, and she finds her friend family of lovable freaks, which is what I am always searching for, and thankfully have found in many places. I couldn't get enough of Joel. He was so sweet and spazzy and he made me fall in love with this show every episode. I hear they're doing a second season and I can't wait.

5.) I should probably put a couple of movies on here. As you know, I am never afraid to admit that I can like a mainstream feel-good hit...Especially when it has Ryan Reynolds in it. I thought "Free Guy" was a fun, escapist little movie. Sure Ryan Reynolds was just Ryan Reynolds again, but I was more than okay with that. What with pandemics and wars in the world, and with all the divide in our country, isn't nice to know that Ryan Reynolds is always going to be his charming, wise cracking self in a movie?

6.) We also watched "Death on the Nile". My mom was a big Agatha Christie fan, and so anything that is based on Agatha Christie's work, will always be nostalgic for me. This movie was rich, and pretty, and I hadn't read the book, so I didn't know who done it, until Poirot, laid it all out there in the end. Again, great escapism, greatly needed.

7.) I just this evening watched HBO's documentary about Tony Hawk. I thought it was well done. I am always interested in shows about counter movements, and skateboarding did ride right next to the punk scene, and the music in the documentary gives nods to that. I didn't know a ton about Tony Hawk before this documentary, so it was educational to me. Most of all, I could totally relate to being in my 50's and feeling all of the pain from my antics in my younger days. Sigh

 Okay, soooo. My migraine pain seems to be lifting a bit. I can only hope it gives me a break forever now, but if not, it's just a damn good thing that I don't mind watching shit on TV.




Monday, March 21, 2022

Only Women Bleed, Only Women Bleed

                     This was me when I was Margaret's actual age in the novel

Oh, kids. I'm STILL going through perimenopause. Since people love hearing a woman talk about her hormonal issues as much as they want someone to go into great details about their dreams for them, I'm going to write about it as an homage to Judy Blume - a kind of backwards "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.":

Are you there Gawd? It's me Churly. Most of the other women in my grade are done with their period. Can you make sure I'm done with mine too now? I thought I was done last Summer. They always say you'll be post-menopausal once you've gone for one full year without getting your period, but they never say what they consider a period? Is it where you bleed for several days, or is it if you just wipe once and there's the tiniest bit of blood, and that's all? Well, according to my doctor, even the tiniest little iota of blood counts as a period. Now, I'm 56 years old, and still have to worry about birth control. Sigh.

Dear Gawd, if you are going to make me still be in perimenopause, can you please get rid of the some of the worst symptoms? Or maybe we could work out a deal? I could maybe handle the mid-section weight gain and dried-out skin, if you could keep the migraines at bay, and keep my muscles from cramping up every five minutes. 

 I understand how it is with estrogen and women - can't live with it, can't live without it. If you go through menopause in  your 40's you stand a greater chance of having heart attacks, and if you go through menopause in your later 50's you stand a greater chance of  getting breast and uterine cancer. Of course, the estrogen fluctuations are the worst! There are supposedly 34 different symptoms of perimenopause, and I've had almost every one of them. I can't take any of the estrogen supplements because of the breast cancer risk, and I've tried phytoestrogens with very little benefit. So, Gawd, if you're listening and want to help me out here, I'd love for last week to have been my very last period, so I can be in menopause, and then be post menopausal by this time next  year. 

Also, if you could try and ease up on the pain and suffering that women have to go through in our lives, and maybe smash the patriarchy while you're at it? I think all of us women would really appreciate it.

Love, Churls

Saturday, March 12, 2022

I'm Writing 'Bout the Book I Read, I Have to Sing About the Book I Read

 Now I'm going to write about the books I read in February. I know I've mentioned before that for a year and a half of the pandemic I wasn't into reading very much, which never happens to me. It was kind of like having reader's block. I'm still not quite sure what the deal was there, but I think some of it was anxiety. I just couldn't read a novel where something scary was happening and I didn't already know that outcome. I read a lot more non-fiction, because I knew what happened in those books. Lately, I feel like I'm back to my obsessive reader self. I'm not at the point where I'm sometimes reading ten books a month yet, but I'm definitely reading more than one book a month. Sooooooo, here are the books I read last month:

 1.) "This is Your Brain on Plants" by Michael Pollen. I've read a few of his other books and really liked them. This is a look at some plants that are basically drugs. He starts out with opium, then moves to caffeine, and finishes with peyote. He does a great job with looking at the history, politics, culture, and side effects of each plant drug. It was all fascinating, and the thing I liked best about it, was that it was a lot more personal than his other books. I liked seeing things through his wife and his experiences.

2.) "Kindred" by Octavia Butler. Just for something special during Black History Month, I decided to look for some older books that I haven't read since the 1980's. I dug around until I found "Kindred", "Song of Solomon", and "Invisible Man". John asked if he could read "Invisible Man" again right away, and he's still working on it, so I started with "Kindred". It takes place around the Bicentennial.  A young Black woman starts having these occurrences where she is taken back to slave times to help an accident prone ancestor. She is "called" back to him over and over, and she is unable to leave that time period, until she feels like HER life is in danger. I love this book. I basically devoured it again. You should read it.

 3.) The third book I read in February is "The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls", by Ansissa Gray. Gray is a journalist and author. The book is about a family in Michigan, and how the issues of their childhood affect their lives as adults. I'm giving you all a trigger warning for physical abuse and eating disorder issues. I thought the writing was great, the sibling dynamics were VERY realistic, and the characters were well formed.

4.) I ended Black History month with "Song of Solomon", by Toni Morrison. I read this thirty years ago. I remember liking it, but I didn't remember what it was  about. So, it was almost like reading it for the first time. There are so many stories within stories, and a lot of different characters, but Toni Morrison gives them all her contemplation. I had to pay attention because there was so much going on, but I WANTED to pay attention. I love the character of Pilate, and while I didn't love Milkman, I was curious to see how he would grow, or not. 

From plants to people, and from science to culture, I learned, and in some cases, relearned a lot in February. Now I'm in the middle of reading through Women's History Month, where I plan to keep on learning things. All of this living and learning, is the only way I want to exist.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

If You Desire a Bright Tomorrow, You Must Build a Brighter Dream


 On International Women's Day I happened to see that the PBS American Master's Show about Maya Angelou was on Amazon Prime. I just finished reading all of her autobiographies last year, but I was curious to see film clips and I wondered if they had any new information. Obviously, I'm a little obsessed with her, and who isn't, right? 

I read "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" when I was probably 11 or 12, and I identified so strongly with it. Since then, I've read a lot of her poetry, and as I already mentioned, all of her autobiographies. I've been to two of her readings, and I actually got to talk to her once...Or I tried to anyway.

She came to read at a very small event at a library in San Francisco in 1986. I went with my boyfriend's mom and one of his sisters. His mom didn't like me at first. The first time I met her, I overheard (although, I'm pretty sure she wanted me to hear) her say to him, "Why are you with this ugly white girl when there are so many beautiful black women you could date?" Which, wasn't very nice, but I get it. I've lived in places where I've been one of the few white people, and I've lived where there were mostly white people. I know I won't surprise you when I say, there is a WHOLE bunch of racism in this country, so it's understandable that she might not want her son dating someone who looks exactly like the oppressor.

Honestly, though, most of the white guys I dated had mom's who weren't super thrilled about them dating me either. If you haven't met me before in person, I'll just educate you about me - I'm more than a little weird, and rough around the edges. Also, I am ridiculously socially awkward. I don't dress well, my hair is all over the place, and my mom used to call me a rag-a-muffin for good reason. Of course, I think those are all amazing things about me, but I understand that not everyone else does. So, anyway, I wasn't too shocked or hurt by his mom's comment. I dated that particular man for at least two years, and we lived with his mom for a short time, so she got to know me better, and while I'm sure I would never have been her first pick for her son, she did warm up to me a little.

One of the big things we had in common was our love of literature. She would ask me if I had read a certain novel, and we would talk about what we thought. So, when she found out Maya Angelou was going to read at a library in town, she asked me to go with her. His mom was really excited to meet Dr. Angelou, and after an incredible reading, we got in line to talk to her. 

When It was my turn, she held my hands in both of hers and looked straight into my eyes. If you have ever stood anywhere near her, you know what I'm talking about when I say that her power and grace is enough to make anyone lose their train of thought. I did give it my best try, I want you all to know. So, I was super smooth and said, " I can't..I can't...I can't even..." And that was all I COULD say

Dr Angelou laughed and said, "Well, I guess you can't!" And we all had a good laugh. Thank gawd she had enough social grace for the both of us.

Anyway, I want to recommend the American Master's show on Maya Angelou. If you don't know much about her, you should, and if, like me, you have read all of her autobiographies, you will still find out new things and the photos and videos in it are delightful. I'm just sad that she is no longer walking this earth to be able to grace us with her strength.

Sunday, March 06, 2022

Never Mind I'll Remember You This, I'll Remember You this Way

Archie basking in the glow of Stinky's painting.

I love art. I was fortunate enough to grow up with it all around me. My mother was a painter and my father was a photographer. They tried their damnedest to encourage us to be creative people. I think they believed that structure inhibited creativity, and I was also lucky enough to live the first ten years of my life with very little structure. It was perfect for me, but I know it's not for everyone. We didn't have a set bedtime. My mom once told me that she thought we were all intelligent enough to know when we were tired. She was giving me WAY too much credit. I am 56 years old, and I STILL don't know enough to get my ass to bed on time.

I raised my kids with a little more structure than that, but I'm sure The Oldest would tell you that it still wasn't nearly enough. I also tried to raise my daughters to make whatever they wanted, and not worry about whether someone else might think it wasn't good enough. Stinky has always loved to paint and mold clay, and make collages, and The Oldest loved photography. I have a painting that Stinky made hanging above our bed to this day.

This Christmas, The Oldest asked for some art for her office at work. Stinky and I went to the Artisan's Gallery to see what they had and if I could afford it. I saw a print of a photo from Antelope Canyon that was about the size I wanted, and it was $3,000 without the frame. I wish I could afford that, but there was no way.

Then I thought, "I have almost the exact same photo, I bet I could find someplace that would blow it up and print it off for me at a reasonable price". So, I went through our photos from our Colorado/Utah/Northern Arizona trip in 2019, and found some great shots. I picked out two for The Oldest, and a couple for us. I figured they would look great on our large living room wall that has been bare naked for the last twelve years. Then I looked around for some black wood frames. Between the four prints and the frames for all of us, it cost about $200. I could actually afford that.

Of course, then I realized that our wall was much too big for just two photos, so I had John and my girls offer their suggestions of some of the photo options I gave them. I also bought more frames, and on Friday, John helped me hang up our choices. Since I love trees, I had to put a couple up there, and an arch, and one of the gorgeous shots from Antelope Canyon. It's crazy how much better our living room looks now.

I love to paint, and draw, but I haven't had any real training, except my mom helping me with drawings when I was younger. Apparently, she thought it was important that the people I drew had necks. Who knew?

So, anyway, I draw and paint for myself, and thankfully, my mom raised me not to care if they aren't great works, or what kind of brush strokes I use. If I like something I did, I check with John to make sure he's okay with me hanging it, and since he is so damn supportive, he gives me the go ahead, and I hang it in our house, until I get tired of it, and put something else up in its place.

I live in a college town and have always had tons of friends who make the coolest shit. Of course, as I mentioned above, I don't have tons of money, and I have no idea what art work costs. If you were to ask me what people should charge for their work, I would say millions of dollars. They are able to put what is in their heads on paper, or in clay, or metal, or fabric, or whatever medium they use. To me, that is so impressive. 

So, if anyone I know has a print, or vessel for sale, and I CAN afford it, I try to support them, and enrich my own home by buying it. The print above is by the wonderful Greta Songe. Cats and fish? Of course I want that in my house.

My friend Chris sold us some of his gorgeous work this year. John chose the lighter work, and I loved the darker one. We both won.


Our friend, Maire sold us some of  her work a few years ago. I love this piece. It looks great in our kitchen, and that butterfly is everything.

Finally, I bought some of Lauren Briere's Robot prints this year and got them framed. I have admired her robots for years at the Iowa Artisan's Gallery, and they were reasonably priced, so bought three of them. I'm still not sure where to hang them, but give me some time and I'll find the perfect spot.

I do feel lucky to have been raised to make stuff, and not to worry if it turns out shitty, and to appreciate the amazing stuff that other people make. Through plagues, and wars, and the crazy things that happen in a life, those expressions, and feelings, and colors, and dreams that people share gives me hope, and that's one hell of a gift.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

April, Come She Will, When Streams are Ripe and Filled Wtih Rain

I don't have a lot of pictures to add to this post, so you all get to see Gus again. Hi, Gus!

 Oh, kids. It's that weird time of year. You know, the ass-end of Winter, where it feels like warm temps will never come, and then we got our first fake Spring last weekend. If you have ever lived in the Midwest, you'll know that a fake Spring is when it all the sudden warms up, sometimes 50 degrees in about a day. Everyone goes crazy and gets outside, and the college kids who normally wear flip flops on the coldest days of Winter, are practically wearing swimsuits. It feels like it's finally done being cold and snowing. Then a day later there's some weird rain that turns into ice, and then into snow, and the temperature drops another 50 or 60 degrees, and everyone cries.

Well, this week looks like it will be our second fake Spring, for maybe an entire week!!!!!!!!!! I can't tell you how excited I am about it...Or maybe those 500 exclamation points just did. 

I am trying to be better about so many things right now. I'm trying to be a kinder person, who doesn't get annoyed so easily. Wish me luck with that one! I'm also trying to eat less food, and better food. I'm trying not to eat in between meals and be more mindful when I do eat, instead of devouring my food, barely tasting it, possibly biting my cheek, and then not giving myself a chance to see if I'm starting to get full, before I serve myself up some more. 

We''ll see how that goes. Also, I'm trying to drink less alcohol. I've never been a big drinker, The migraines have always helped me remember why I can't drink more than a beer or two at a time, but I can get into this habit of just having a beer after work, just one, but if I drink a beer everyday, that's seven drinks a week, and that starts to add  up. Now, I'm cutting way back. I'll still have a drink here or there, but I hopefully won't get in that bad habit of drinking a beer most days of the week. I'm not sure if cutting down will help or hurt my other goal of being a kinder (more kind?) person. I guess poor John will let me know.

The other thing I'm trying to do is work-out more. For most of my adult life, I ran six miles almost every day. Now, with this stupid perimenopause, my body isn't letting me run like it used to. I'm still trying to run, but a lot of times, I can walk a little, run a little, walk a little more, and so on. ANNNNNDDD, I can only do that for about two miles. I'm still hoping that the worst of this will go away once I'm actually in menopause. I finally figured out my almost constant migraine situation last Fall, and that has helped me be able to run, and ride, and cross country ski, and stuff more often this year. Thank the lard! With the first fake Spring a week ago, I got all motivated and did my little run/walk thing four times that week, I also rode my bike on the road, outside, for the first time this year, and weirdest of all...I swam laps for the first time in two years last Saturday. It felt strange to actually work my upper body for a change. We rode our bikes outside today too. Since I'm not in the best shape of my life, we just rode down Sand Road, which is almost completely flat. That's my kind of road!

So, tomorrow starts our second fake Spring of 2022. I am all goofy and hopeful at the prospect, but it will be a few months yet before I put away my Winter things, It's snowed her in May before. I'm just going to sit around drinking many glasses of water, and not drinking very many alcoholic beverages, or eating many delicious snacks. Do you think I'll get used to it and not crave cookies and ice cream any more? If you think I still will, feel free to lie to me. Like I always say, I'm a sucker for false hope.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Mama Said There'll Be Days Like This, There'll be Days LIke This, My Mama Said

This is my mom, my oldest sister, and my mom's amazingly drawn-in eyebrows, when we lived in Scottsdale in the late 1960's.

 Well, Valentine's Day would have been my mom's 90th birthday. I can't imagine what she would have looked like as an old woman. She died when she was 43, and I was 10. Her death when I was so young, and everything that came after it, was probably the worst thing that's ever happened to me. I always say, I was lucky to have her even just for those ten years. Here are some of the wisdom that I carry with me all of these years later:

I was a mama's girl. Clearly. I was a pain in the ass, overly sensitive, hyper spaz, and my mom was so patient and sweet to me. She would say things like, "Here. Let me do it. That way if it's not done right, I won't have anyone to blame but myself." It had never occurred to me that my mom could make mistakes before she said that. I had never met an adult who admitted that they were fallible before. I just thought I was the only one who messed everything up. 

She also made sense of unrequited love for me. I told her I was in love with Brian Chapman. He was sooo cute, and all of the other girls liked him too, but he didn't like me back. She told me that she used to love a boy in grade school and he didn't love her back. She said he was so cute when they were kids, but then she went to a grade school class reunion when she was older, and he was fat and bald and even worse, so booooorrrrring. and she was glad he hadn't liked her. She made it seem like Brian was doing me a favor by not liking me back.

When we lived in Arizona among many Mormons, one of my friends invited me to what they called Primary. It's when their family sits around and talks about their religion. We were Catholic, and they took every opportunity to let us know how bad that was, and to try and recruit us to Mormonism. I just wanted to hang out with my friends, so I said, "sure". I came home in tears that night and told my mom, "They said when we died, all the Catholics were going to this layer just above hell, like purgatory. We would be with Black people and Jewish people too," My mom told me that it sounded great. We'd be in good company.She could always turn things around for me against the negativity of the world.

There are many, many, days where I wish I could tell her something that made me feel bad, so she could turn it around for me. Now, I have to do it for myself. At least I was lucky to learn how to do it from a pro.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Let's Talk About Poop, Baby, Let's Talk About You and Me

 Well, Valentine's Day is upon us, and what better way to celebrate it, then talking about poop? That's right. I had my first colonoscopy last Thursday. I know, I know. I should have had one years ago, but I was doing these guaiac cards once a year instead. If something tested wrong with the poop smudged cards I sent in THEN they would make me do a colonoscopy.

They never came back bad, but about a year ago, I ran into one of my daughter's grade school friend's dad at the store. Got that? Sadly, he was dying of prostate cancer, and we were talking about preventative tests, and I happened to mention about my doing the guaiac cards instead of the colonoscopy. (because these are the type of things that totally NORMAL people talk about when they're casually shopping and run into a friend, right?) He gave me a little lecture about how important it is to do the REAL test, and he was right. 

Sooooo, at 56 I had my first colonoscopy. Like everyone told me, the prep was the worst part. A week before the procedure, you're supposed to only eat meat and white bread and pasta, and cheese, and very little of what I normally eat like veggies and whole grains and beans. I'm not sure why they want to stop people up for a week before they let everything explode out of them. Maybe it's for dramatic effect? Also, I was allowed to have ice cream, and I figured since everything was going to go right through me the next day, I made sure to get some Ben and Jerry's the night before I had to fast. It was absolutely guilt free.

The day before the procedure I had to fast and they had me start taking a laxative at noon. Then at four I had to take more laxatives, and then at six they wanted me to start drinking EIGHT WHOLE GLASSES of the Golytely shit. It wouldn't be horrible if you had to drink a glass or two, but eight? JAYSUS! It had this weird, vague, salty/fishy taste to it. After the first three glasses, I decided to add a little dash of Squirt soda to it. I didn't want to have to drink more than the eight glasses, so I didn't add a ton, just enough to take the fishy edge off of it, and keep me from puking it all up.

Needless to say, the Golytely and laxatives did their jobs, and I might have to rewatch "Nightmare Alley", because I had to keep pausing it and running to the bathroom, and then "Where were we?" and then like that there for about two hours. Poor John.

At nine, and then at ten, they told me to take a couple of Gas-X tablets before bed. The next morning, I had to do the Golytely bit again, and all this time not eating for two days. I did spend a considerable amount to time fantasizing about what I would eat the minute after the procedure was over.

The nurses and doctor were all very nice. I warned the nurse that I have bad rolling veins, and that she needed to really hold them down, but she spent a lot of time digging around in my arm anyway and said, "Yer not kidding!" I used to do phlebotomy, so I get it, and if that's the worst thing that happens to you during a procedure (which it was) than you're pretty damn lucky. (which I was)

John came with and went next door to 30HOP for lunch and a beer while I was busy having someone stick a camera up my butt. He made it back to the recovery room, just as they were wheeling me in. Perfect timing! The doctor came in and said everything was fine and there were no polyps or other problems and I wouldn't have to have another one for ten years. Thank Jeebus!

I felt a little dizzy afterward, but not much worse than normal. We decided to go to Los Agaves for a late lunch for me, and since my stomach was very small, I wasn't able to eat very much, but it still tasted pretty damn lovely.

So, if that all wasn't the most romantic prelude to Valentine's Day, I don't know what would be. It had all the sexiness of backless hospital gowns, uncontrollable pooping, and reminders of impending old age. I'm not sure what John and I can do to top that next year. Maybe I'll let him sit in on my next mammogram?

Saturday, February 05, 2022

Summer is Gone, But Our Love Will Remain, Like Old Bicycles, Out in the Rain

Okay. So, where was I? Oh, yeah. Last Saturday, my cold was getting better, but I woke up with a migraine. Wah!

I took my migraine meds (Zomig) and they worked just fine. By the time we got to the race venue, my brain pain was all but gone, and I was surprised at how much energy I had.

Cyclocross is always a fun spectacle, and the world championships brought out the costumes and cow bells in full force.

To me, the women's races are way more exciting than the men's, and this competition was no exception. There was a race to the sprint for first and second, and the third and fourth place racers battled until the very end too in the Women's Championships.

The biggest problem for me with the race was the food and drink situation. You weren't supposed to bring any food or water in with you, and they made you wait sometimes an hour and a half to stand in line for a bottle of water. Also, it was sixty degrees on Sunday, and for us Northerners, that was a LOT to get acclimated to, so dehydration was definitely possible. So dangerous. So dumb.

The food there was another shit show. Again, we missed watching an entire race, so we could stand in line for an hour, and they had about five options available. All were gross, fried food. The only thing I could eat there, because I don't eat beef or pork, and I don't like mushrooms, was this greasy cheese fries concoction with a mess of chicken and cheese. I ate about half of it, before it made me sick.

I don't know who plans a bike race without plenty of different kinds of beer? On Saturday they had an IPA, but I guess Miller Lite was their sponsor, and on Sunday that was the only kind of beer we could find. Have you ever tasted Lite beer? It felt like we were transported back to the 80's. Fayetteville, you could have don SOOOO much better.

Like most people we knew, we snuck food in on Sunday. Believe me, no one wants to be around me when I haven't eaten all day. We did that race venue a favor by ordering an extra pizza for leftovers, and hiding it in our bag on Sunday.

On Sunday one of my favorite riders was racing in the Under 23 women's race. Puck is amazing, but she kept getting 2nd in all of the big Under 23 races this season, and I was REALLY hoping she would win.

Lucky for me...And her too, I suppose, she pulled it out in another sprint finish. I was so happy. She is such an incredible bike handler.

Since I was feeling a little better, John and I went to ride on the mountain bike trails in Bentonville after the races were over. We were staying at a place just across the street, so it was easy to just pedal over.

These trails are amazing and abundant. They are made with Walmart money. I wish Walmart would pay their workers better, AND make cool trails.

I am not the bravest mountain biker, but there were plenty of green trails, and any trail we rode on was super scenic.

Since I still wasn't feeling 100 percent, John did a lot of riding ahead and waiting for me. Riding ahead, and waiting for me. I'm sure he's used to it by now.

I really do love it when people put art on the mountain bike trails. It makes the experience even more fun and photogenic.

We spent our last night in Arkansas eating Torchy's tacos. I love their food. We went to our first Torchy's in Austin, and then the last time we were in Arkansas, we found out they were a franchise. There are two in the Fayetteville/Bentonville area. We took full advanatage.

 So, after our long anniversary weekend adventure where it was warm enough to even see a butterfly at the end of January, we returned home to the cold, and our cats. The cats were happy to see us, but sad that they didn't get to free feed dry food all day anymore Too bad for them!

Friday, January 28, 2022

Still It's a Real Good Bet, The Best Is Yet to Come

Well, kids. I caught a cold. I know. It feels so weird. I did a covid test and it was negative, so it really is just a cold. I haven't been sick in over two years. I almost forgot what it felt like, until I was so rudely reminded. So much sneezing, and Coughing, and blowing my nose, and hacking shit up, and then my ears got all clogged up, and I was dizzy and exhausted...Even more than usual. Before I took the Covid test, I looked up the difference between the Omicron variant, and a cold. They said the biggest difference was having night sweats with Omicron. Really? Then I could have had Omicron for the last several years.

It was horrible timing, what with our planned trip to Arkansas and all. I was in bad shape on Wednesday and Thursday, but I'm feeling much better today. Which means I'm not so dizzy I can't stand up, and I'm not hacking, and blowing my nose as much. I slept most of the way down to Arkansas. We stopped for lunch in Kansas City at a place called Martin City. We got mussels, and crab cakes and shrimp tacos and split it all. Everything was lovely. I still can't eat that much, because I can't taste the food as well as I can when I'm not sick, so I'm not quite as interested, but I did my damnedest.

We got to Bentonville right at 3,and we couldn't get into our AirBnB until 4, so we thought we'd check and see if I was strong enough to ride a little on the trails there. Bentonville is lousy with Walmart money, and I guess the Walmart boys like to mountain bike, so they made tons of cool trails all over town.

They also run through Crystal Bridges Museum's sculpture garden, and so we rode the easiest trails, and took many photos, as I am wont to do.

Come to find out, I was not very strong at all. I was getting winded riding up the slightest of hills, and my lungs were very angry with me. I was even slower than this stationary tortoise.

I loved this exhibit where they asked that you please do not touch...The balls. Heh heh.

We rode past a pig, back to our car to get settled into our place before dinner.

 We went to an early dinner at Table Mesa (table table?) and the food was lovely. We got some Ceviche, and margaritas to start off with, and then ordered the crab enchiladas, and spinach chile rellenos. It was all delicious, but our food came out about a second after we got our appetizer, which was poor form. Oh well, it could be worse. We could have waited forever for our food.

Let's see, great food, riding bikes around art, more great food, and margaritas? I think we covered most of our bases on this fifth wedding anniversary.

Funny thing: The gift your supposed to give people on their fifth anniversary is wood. Tee hee. Sure, diamonds and flowers are nice, but what straight girl doesn't want wood?

Sunday, January 23, 2022

On A Winter Sunday I Go, To Clear Away The Snow, And Green the Ground Below


 Well, Stinky tested positive for Covid on Friday. She is smart and is vaxxed and boosted, so her symptoms aren't too bad. She's just exhausted, super congested, and very, very tired. Since I was in a car with her on Thursday evening, John and I each did a home test. We were both negative. Yea!

 If you know me at all, you know that food is love in my world. I went to three different stores to get Stinky some orange juice, chicken noodle soup, Mucinex, fresh flowers, a bunch of microwaveable meals, snacks, treats, cereal, Dr Teal's bubble bath, Kleenex and electrolyte tablets. If she's sick for the next month, she's still all set.

Remember how I said I was going to read the Stacey Abrams novel? I lied. I saw the T. C. Boyle novel about Timothy Leary and LSD, and since it's January in Iowa, I needed a LOT of escapism, and so I went that direction. Now that I'm crawling down into that rabbit hole, I'm going to read Michael Pollan's non-fiction book about hallucinogens next. Unless, of course, something else pops out at me instead.

Today was the first Sunday in about a month and a half where I didn't work on our bathroom reno in any way, shape, or form. It would have been nice if I had been at all productive, but I really just read, spent some quality time with the cats, and played Wordle, and did the Sunday New York Times Crossword puzzle, and the mini, and Spelling Bee. John has tried to get me to do Sudoku, but that is a puzzle of numbers, and my brain can only do puzzles with words, so it never really stuck with me. And also, I don't really think I need to add more puzzles to my repertoire, do you?

I hope you all have a lovely week saying goodbye to January, and not getting Covid, and doing all of your puzzles, whether they be word, or number, or if you're some kind of crazy genius who can do both.