Whoosh! and I’m home again.

For my father, Brian  

July 1938 – July 2015

Retired Chief Petty Officer,

Electrical Technician in the US Navy,

served 30 years and in 2 foreign wars.

I miss you.

Aside from the terrible rift between my sister’s and I, that is unlikely ever to heal, I am feeling grateful. I feel grateful because I’m reminded that I had at least one parent who truly loved me, flaws and all, and just as I am. In fact, it’s from my father’s side of the family that I’ve experienced the most familial love. 

You see, I was what you might have called a “messed up kid”. That’s what a kid who got in a lot of trouble was called, what I was called, when I was 15 years old.. No one really considered that such a kid was being abused at–beaten black and blue by her mother– and that was likely the source of such teenage rebellion. But shortly after meeting my father my life path changed, for the better.  

My father, whom I’d never met before, had finally gotten my mother’s approval to fly me and my younger sister from the east coast to sunny southern California. As a sailor in the Navy, living over 3,000 miles away, and at sea in a submarine for months at a time, the every-other-weekend parent/child visiting schedule  just wasn’t possible.  But at last, we were going to meet him and to meet the family we never even knew we had: an uncle and aunt, cousins, and even grandparents! A Grandma and a Grandpa! I was excited about the prospect of meeting a whole new side of my family. Being the blacksheep that I was on my mother’s side, there was no comfortable niche in which I belonged, or was welcome or accepted. Square Peg, Meet Round Hole. Maybe this side would be different? 

I had envisioned meeting my dad all my life, so was terribly excited about this adventure! I had imagined him to be some really cool, laid back and handsome, bachelor dude. In the one picture I knew of that existed of him, he looked kinda cool and handsome, in a short sleeve shirt, a sailor’s crew cut hair, with dimples in his cheeks and a cleft in his strong, square chin. dadsdimplesHe’d been in the Navy his entire adult life, so I figured he would have to be strong and handsome, right? In fact, I was looking for that guy when my sister and I got off the plane and into the terminal.  I was definitely NOT looking for that strange guy in a loud Hawaiian shirt that was waving his arms in our direction. I wouldn’t have been caught dead hanging out with someone dressed like that, after all. What self respecting Valley-girl-wanna-be teenage girl would? 

Look! Look! I’ll bet it’s that guy! Him! Over there! The one in the the polo shirt and khaki shorts and the nice tan… he’s got the dimples! and I’ll bet he surfs… and…no…it’s not him.. Well, maybe it’s that guy on this side, the one that…damn! Hey, there’s a guy in military dress…no? Damn,  I wish that weird looking guy over there would stop making such a scene. Seriously. How UNcool is that? Who is he trying to get to pay attenti….

oh. Shit.  

This stiff-backed, too-old looking guy wore very uncool, 50’s-style black rimmed glasses, and an even more uncool Hawaiian shirt! His uncool hair was too straight and shaggy lookin -not the short bristled crew cut of a strong, proud military man! Don’t get me wrong, I liked longer hair on guys my own age, but his looked like he didn’t even brush it. Like, Oh. My. Gawd. Gag me! I totally could’a barfed. As he got closer, I even thought I could smell alcohol, too. How could this very uncool, uncouth vermouthed, 4-eyed, broom-stuck-up-his… well, you know- this guy– how could this guy be our dad? I was expecting a really cool dad. I admit it. It was a total letdown…like, fer shur. And, he was, like, totally awkward with us, you know? Like, trying way too hard to be some kind of gentleman with us, or something. Opening doors for us and shit like that. Seriously. Like I said, Way. UN.Cool.

“Hi. I’m your dad, Brian!” Big toothy, totally uncool, smile. (I’m sure I grimaced. Oh well. I was here, so I’d best get on with it and over it, right?) 

 I asked him, “how did you know we were your daughters?”  He explained that had a few pictures of us, but he would have known us anywhere, even without them. One picture turned out to be of my sister when she was a giggly 8 or 10 month old, with me standing beside her crib. Another picture was a copy of one my mother had.  I’m sitting on a kitchen counter, only 2 ½ years old, lightest blond hair with a dutch-boy hair cut. On my lap there is an open jar of peanut butter, and I’m sticking a butter knife in, trying to scrape out some peanut butter. Beside me are a few slices of Wonder Bread, and an open jar of grape jelly.  It was obvious that I knew, even then, if no one was willing to make me a PB&J, well damn it! I could -and would- make it myself. SO there! (You might imagine that, upon seeing this picture, the word most often used to describe me at that age would be “precocious”… or, “unsupervised”. Take your pick, both are true).

Anyway, both my younger sister and I felt awkward around him; no one knew really knew what to do, or say. It took several days to find some degree of understanding and comfortableness between us. He tried to be a gracious and entertaining host, and he obviously wanted us to like him, which clued me into the fact that he might be a lot more permissive than my mother… and might allow me to do the kinds of things that my mother would have slammed me into a wall for, like smoking cigarettes (she could do it, so why couldn’t I?) Sure, I could’ve snuck out to find a vending machine, but I decided to test him instead.  I told him,

“hey. I smoke, but mom doesn’t know. If she did she’d flip out. I’m out of smokes. Will you buy me a pack?”

He nodded, said OK, and then bought a whole carton for me! Whoa! And he made sure I never ran out while we were there, too. He even allowed me to drink a beer as long as my little sister didn’t see, because she’d tell probably tell our mother. He definitely earned a few points on my father cool-o’-meter for that. It was enough to let me decide I was going to lay it on the line. You know, let my darker self out, the sassy teenage girl with a cig hanging from her lips, saying whatever the f**k she really felt like saying. You know, be a real punk pain in the ass to test his worthiness of the title of “Dad”, rather than just “my father, Brian”.

The fact is, he just wasn’t the heroic father figure I’d fantasized having as I was growing up. Letting me smoke and drink a beer didn’t make him a good father, I know, but it was all he knew to do at the time. He didn’t have any experience dealing with kids – let alone, teenage girls. Thinking back, he must have been scared out of his mind! 

 After that, however, everything changed. He brought us to San Francisco, and on to Walnut Creek to meet cousins –and grandparents. To my Grandmother…

…She came rushing out the door the moment we arrived — my mirror image in nearly every way: height, hips, thighs, square jaw –only she had darker hair (my color now) fine and soft, permed to give it some curl, and streaked with gray. We had identical facial features, even expressions! but she also had such beautiful, soft, lines on her

grandma and me

My grandmother, Orla Jane, and me.

face. Lines that spoke of kindness and of a life that experienced more joy than sorrow, and she carried those memories of joy within each line, and it was beautiful to behold.

Then, she came right up to me, so very close.

(Whoa, invasion of the personal space, lady!)

She placed her small, square shaped hands

(hey, they’re shaped just like my hands!)

on either side of my face, gently cupping under my jaw to hold me still -captive!

(do I break away?…no…..it’s ok…)

and I saw my own face still looking back at me, much older than me, ageless, but ancient at the same time. And kind and wise. My own marbled blue/grey colored eyes gazed back into themselves. Reflecting. But I mean, she really gazed, hard! Looking into me so deeply I knew she could see those secret places –those places that hurt, that cried and curled up in dark corners to hide and keep secret.

(why don’t I feel afraid?)

Then, as if it was the simplest, most natural & normal thing, like everybody and anybody could do and say this kind of stuff in front of anyone,

(No. Way.)

with each word emphasized gently so as not to scare me away, she said, “I. Love. YOU. S0 very much. And I always have”.

“Always” echoed through the chambers of my heart. Always? Me? She’s never met me! How the…?…Inside me the guarded, too cool persona with a pack of cigarettes rolled up in my T-shirt sleeve like James Dean, with all those protected, hidden wounds, dark secrets and fears and anger…felt it become real. Every single locked space within me just opened up, completely, the doors flung wide….  and then….all the fear and shittiness inside spewed out of me, as if a dam broke from inside.

Then,  in the next heart beat… sweet baby belly laughs….the scent and taste and feel of warm chocolate chip cookies. It all WHOOoshed in, and filled up those emptied places as if it belonged there first. A perfect fit. 

Do you know was the most amazing part of all of it? I Believed Her.  That I could, at that age, believe that someone actually loved me, was nothing less than a True Miracle (–and I say that as a very non-religious person). My world change. I changed. She was a gift. A gift to me from my father. He gave me a family where I belonged and felt wanted, and it was just given to me without expectation or demand. Given with love. He gave me a Grandma and I loved her, fiercely and completely (and I still do). And then I started to love him, too.

I haven’t thought about those first meetings in years. They changed me…fundamentally changed me.  It was the first time I had ever experienced being unconditionally love. And it allowed me to believe that my life could be better. Two months after meeting my paternal family,  I ran away from home for the last time, at last.  I left because I didn’t want to become like my mother –abusive, hateful, selfish, brutal and cruel. I wanted to be like my grandmother (every kid should have one like I had –a grandmother who can make the word “Always” echo in the chambers of her heart, with yummy baby belly chocolate chip cookie happy-ness and jiggly giggles that fit inside perfectly).  

She died years ago, but with my father’s death I feel the loss of my grandmother again, too. Alone. I understand that this is a part of Grief.  Of course I am grieving, but it strikes me as odd. I didn’t think I could ever feel this kind of grief for my father. My grandmother, yes, but I didn’t know losing him would feel just as painful…even more so.

I did visit him a few more times over the years, as well as my grandparents, and we talked on the phone and wrote letters to each other regularly.  But it was not your typical father-daughter relationship, any way you look at it. Still, I continued to challenge him over the years, demanding answers to what had happened between my mother and he when I was just a toddler.  I asked him where he was during those years that my mother was beating me. The thing is, though, he would answer me. I didn’t always like his answers, but in responding he was telling me that I mattered to him.  As my Dad, he was willing to dig deep into some seriously scary, emotional stuff that caused his military masculinity to tremble, and he did it because he cared.  

Isn’t that what Dads do?  I still have every letter he ever wrote to me.

Sadly, and wrongly, I let too much time pass since I last saw him or talked with him.  I was too caught up in my own world, with my own kids. Any reason I might grasp for is weak and worthless, though. All I can only say is my selfish child-within never paused long enough to imagine a world without him in it. I never considered he might actually become old…or need my help. Now, adding to my grief, sits inside me a cold stone of regret, tumbling around with the sadness, anger, and such a deep sense of loss. 

I don’t like this feeling of Grief. I feel like a little child missing her Daddy–when he never was a “Daddy” to me. And I definitely had not been his precious little girl. He was just… my “Dad”.  He was that “not-a-surfer-dude” guy I knew, and who happened to end every phone call by saying,

“and remember, I love you”.

He signed his letters with those same words. It always felt somewhat foreign and weird and I often couldn’t understand why he’d say that when I really wasn’t deserving. Not really. We never went fishing together, or do anything that might resemble parent and child bonding time.  Whenever I visited him as an adult we’d usually go to his favorite sports bars to quaff a “seven & seven”, followed by a Lite beer. I went to visit when I was considering entering the military, so he took me around to the various recruiters and, of course, the Navy base. Then to the American Legion for a light lunch served with another 7&7 and Lite beer, and so on.  Another visit, after I’d graduated college, was spent visiting various sports bar and military bar lounges, interspersed with a little sight seeing. Each visit was spent like that. Some father-daughter relationship, huh?

Still, I never wanted him to stop writing and calling, and saying

“and remember, I love you”.  

I usually answered, “ya, you too”. Once in while, however, the words would even slip out of me, all on their own,

“I love you, too, Dad.”  

(I think those words bubbled up from where they’d been living ever since my Grandma tucked them back inside me.)  

My sisters did not get what I got. Except for one other time, they never spoke to him again, or communicated with him or our grandparents and cousins, after their first and only meeting. When was about 65 years old he decided it was time he travelled the US, to see all his surviving family for the last time.  He knew that, at his age, he probably wouldn’t be able to make such a trip again and he wanted to see us all together, just this once.  Regardless of whether they cared, or did it for the steak dinners he paid for, I know it meant a lot to him. And this time he got to meet his grandchildren, too. 

For what it’s worth, in his own way he became the parent I needed him to be.  He stepped forward, reached out to me, and brought me “home”, but he never encroached, reproached, nor made demands of me as a daughter.  He was a father who, if nothing else, was willing to try to make a connection with his kid, to try to be a “Dad” even if he didn’t rate very high on the cool-o’-meter.  It may not seem like much to anyone else, but it was all we had. It was all I had. And I loved him for it.

Yes, I am sad that I’ve lost my father, my Dad, and I have regrets for missing out on so many years of life we could have (should have?) shared, but I’m also filled with a wonderful sense of gratitude for him -for my Dad- because I still know that my Dad did love me. I had started to forget, but then, all these memories of the gifts he gave to me have come back and… well…

Whoosh! I am home again.


DIY Liquid Laundry Detergent

I’ll be posting pictures after I make my next batch.


read, please, before you start!

A bar of soap: The Original DIY Recipe calls for Fels Naptha, or Zote, and can be found in the laundry detergent isle, often overlooked.  It is also on Amazon. This laundry soap has been around for nearly a century, and your grandmother or great grandmother probably used it long before she bought her first automatic washing machine. It works great on greasy grime, from sweat stains to motor oil. There isn’t much this bar of soap can’t get out. But one great thing about this recipe is that you can use almost any kind of bar soap you like, from Ivory to Zest…although I won’t recommend using Dove. Something about it being a moisturizing bar seems to limit its laundry washing options. Otherwise, choose away! Even soaps for sensitive skin or allergic reactions can work well (particularly Dr. Bronner’s baby castile bar soap).

20-MuleTeam Borax(SODIUM TETRABORATE DECAHYDRATE): No it’s not the same as Boric Acid, nor is it Boron, both of which people often confuse with Borax, asking “isn’t that stuff toxic?” There are plenty of sites that will provide you with the scientific breakdown of each, as well as some conflicting stuff by people who really don’t know their a@@ from their elbow (it’s obvious.  when you read their info, and follow their links, not one leads to any trustworthy source). I did a lot of research on it a few years back, and ended up choosing to try it as a particular remedy that involved ingesting small quantities on a daily basis. Basically, it’s far less toxic that table salt, and it is used in all kinds of products you already use, like make up, skin care, even in some agriculture processes, and definitely in other cleaning products. Here is the MSDS sheet on it  You can also look up Sodium Tetraborate on the NIH ToxNet website. Anyway, it, too, can be found in your laundry detergent isle. If not, you can request that your store carry it, or order it on Amazon

Washing Soda: not baking soda, washing soda. Again, found in your Laundry detergent isle or on Amazon. It’s a box that’s about the same size as the Borax, usually found in the same vicinity. It’s the Borax and Washing Soda team that seems to really do the trick in this recipe. Some people even use just the bar soap and the washing soda! (although I think the Borax is the key dirt kicker…)

You can buy all three together on Amazon, too.

Finally, if you like scented laundry detergents, then drop by a health food store or coop and buy a few Essential Oils. It can get kind of pricey if you go overboard, which I think happens when you sniff too many different EOs in too short a time period. (Surely, that can be the only explanation…). My own experience in buying EOs eventually led me to searching for other ways to make my DIY products smell nice, and led to learning how to make DIY EO, which I’ll be sharing with you soon. For now, bring along a scent sensitive friend who can slow down your frenzied EO sniffing and purchasing, and try only one or two for your first batch. You can always go back for others, later.

OPTIONAL Ingredients: I think I’ve read somewhere to avoid adding oxy-clean… I’ll look for it and report back here. Otherwise, almost anything you feel you need, including adding a small amount of your old detergent, simply because you think nothing can clean as well (tho’ I hope you’ll try this without, first) or because you prefer it’s fragrance (which are quite toxic, and harmful to those with multiple chemical sensitivities).

Most of the DIY recipes you find are for making 4-5 gallons of detergent, requiring you to find a large restaurant sized pickle bucket. While I firmly doubt you’ll ever look at another detergent after trying this, I am going to start you off with a smaller quantity, so you can get a feel for the stuff without having to make a lifetime commitment (no comments on my love life from the peanut gallery, please). You’ll still end up with a considerable amount (about 2 gallons). If you find you like it, then move on to the next phase: find that 5-gal bucket, with a lid, and double the recipe*!!

*Bonus: No wedding ring required, either.

Before starting, gather all your ingredients, and these items as well:

  • 2 gallons of water
  • a pyrex/glass liquid measuring cup (4 cup if you have it, 1cup will do) and a few non-liquid measuring cups, (the 1/3 is all you’ll need)
  • a hand-held grater or cuisinart/food processor
  • a good spatula
  • a good wooden spoon (the spatula can do double duty instead, if it can handle hot temps)
  • a good hand whisk, or hand-held beater, or a blender, or an electric drill with the paint mixing spatula on (all, but the hand whisk, are optional, although any one of them will create a preferred end product).
  • and several wide-mouthed containers, enough to hold up to 2 gallons of laundry detergent.

1) To start, grate 1/3 of your bar of Fels Naptha  (or about 1/2 of your regular soap. If you do not have a hand grater or zester, you can cut the portion of soap into small bits and toss it in your food processor and pulse it until you have a finely granulated portion that equals 1/3 cup of Fels (1/2 other soap). I usually grate the whole bar, putting what I don’t use in a ziploc baggie, ready for the next time I need to make a batch).

2) Next, bring 8 cups of water to boil in your largest spaghetti pot (it should hold up to 16 cups, or 2 gallons, of water total). Once it has started to boil, turn the heat to medium. Sprinkle in the soap. You will need to stay close and pay attention! The goal is to melt the soap, which takes a bit of patience. Turning up the heat to make it go faster is not a good idea, as it will likely bubble up and over before you know it. It will only take about 10 minutes. You want it to have very small bubbles around the edges of the pot, as in simmering a soup.

3) While you’re keeping tabs on the pot, pre-measure and set aside 1/3 cup of Borax and 1/3 cup Washing Soda. Then, stir the pot from time to time, scraping down any that starts to creep up the sides.

4) Once the soap melts, the liquid will be slightly thicker, and that’s your cue to turn off the heat and add the Borax, stirring well, and often for the next few minutes. When it appears the Borax has dissolved completely…

5) add the Washing Soda, and do the same. The liquid is getting thicker by now, so it’s time to

6) add the rest of your water, between 6-8 cups, depending on how thick you want the final product, and to finalize the stirring, being sure all your ingredients are melted and dissolved.

7) Take your mixture off the heat, but leave it on the stove for now. Come back in about an hour, or use the time to put everything you’ve used away, or read something else on my blog (you are forewarned: we may not agree on things. We can enjoy each other’s company without agreeing on all things, can’t we?).

8) Now comes the fun part!! When you come back you’ll notice a layer of jello-like stuff in your pot. Poke through and there will probably be a bunch of liquid below. If you were away a lot longer, it may be almost completely gelatinous at this point! No worries! At this point you already have a perfect laundry soap; all that matters is its texture or consistency. It will work great no matter what happens.

Regardless of it’s condition, you can choose to give it a final whipping with a hand whisk and be done, or take the time to whip it in the blender (or with your paint whip on a drill, or hand held mixer). As for me, I prefer the blender option, and I like to do this when there is a minimal “jello crust”, while there is plenty of warm –not too hot to touch–liquid underneath. First, I give the mixture a good hand whisking. The end result of that is that it looks like the kind of pile of gloppy goo that boys would love having a discussion over, but not good for discussion here. Just consider it gross looking, and be glad if you don’t have a cold.

9) That’s when I start pouring batches into my blender and really whipping it, on the highest setting, till it lightens and starts take on a frosting-like texture. I prefer mine this way. It’s easy to scoop with a tablespoon (which is the amount to use for an average load!), and to spot treat, using a child’s wetted soft-bristled toothbrush to gently scrub into stains before laundering. However, if you want a real liquid laundry soap, add more water to the blender, whip again. Continue to do this (remove some if it becomes too full, add what you take out back into the pot) until you reach the right liquid consistency for you. A real liquid-y laundry soap may need about a 1/4 to a 1/3 cup per load of laundry in the end. As each batch reaches it’s final whipping

10) add your EO fragrance, then pour into the appropriate storage containers. Keep one near the washer and store the others.

One last note: as a liquid it will still tend to separate, forming a layer of gel on top. Just give your laundry soap a good shaking prior to using. The heavier paste style I’ve made never separated.

So, remember: no matter what it looks like in the end, it will work. Add fragrances last, so that the heat doesn’t cause it to dissipate before you ever get to use it!

Total time: about 1 to 1 1/2 hrs max.

To use: a thick laundry soap will use about 1 TBSP per load.

A very liquid-y laundry soap will use anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 cup.

This stuff is an excellent pre-treatment, too!

It works in ALL TEMPERATURES, and in ALL MACHINES, including HE machines*!

*A special note to HE machine users: I don’t own one, but on every site that I’ve found with DIY laundry soap recipes, the question arose in the comment section, by at least one HE owner, of manufacturer’s rules and requirement to use only special and expensive HE detergents. The responses were 100% in agreement: the DIY laundry soap never caused any problems. And a few HE owners even mentioned the thievery of plumbers who are making a fortune coming out to fix their machines that no longer drain well, and learning that the real problem was a clogged filter–clogged with debris from laundry, regardless of detergents used. So, check your filters. Apparently this, too, can be a challenge, as the directions, let alone the actual filter, are not easily found. Good luck. Use the recipe at your own discretion.

If you have a great project or DIY recipe, I would love to learn about it, and any other money-saving and earth-friendly DIY projects or recipes that you have, or improvements to any that I post. Please let me know if I can share them, once I’ve tried them out myself!

****please note: questions asked, that are discussed within the article or recipe, may only receive a short, to-the-point response informing you that what you seek has already been answered, for example, “question answered in the article/recipe. Please read it again.”  Thank you for understanding that taking time to repeat the same information many times, to many individuals, can take up precious time spent doing other things I love to do.

Your considerate comments are welcomed!

An Ornery Woman

The definition of the word “ornery” implies having an irritable disposition. Synonyms include: irascible, dyspeptic, ill-tempered, crotchety, and cranky. For some reason, however, I don’t think they quite capture the essence of the word ornery; they hint rather more towards a negative connotation, while the word ornery seems to imply, to my understanding anyway, an intrinsically positive quality, imbued with strength and concentrated courage, or moral fortitude. Perhaps it’s because anyone I’ve ever known, who was ever described with the word ornery, was someone I knew to be strong, courageous, and with a sense of morality I admired.

So, I am particularly fond of the word ornery, and feel it is deserving of its very own, special placement as a unique sort of word of power, containing enormous benefit to a person, including a person such as myself. I love this word, in fact, for no matter how often I hear it, it gives me a little boost of courage. When I say it, my mouth literally (yes, literally. I am writing, after all) waters. It has a sort of yummy mouthful of meaning contained within it; it even tastes delicious all by itself. Go ahead, try it! Roll it around in your mouth, chew on it and suck on its juicy, cantankerous raw taste. See? It really does have a powerful flavor, doesn’t it!…especially when applied to a woman in need of a boost to her self confidence and personal power.

I have spent most of my life as what one might refer to as a “people pleaser.”  You know the type: always trying to do what she thinks is right, according to your standards, doing what you want her to do, behaving as she ought to behave, backing down rather than standing up, in order to keep the peace. In other words: a freakin’ victim. Sure, some of these sort of persons might actually have all the power they need, using passive-aggressive manipulation techniques to herd others into doing exactly what they really want them to do, all the while feigning powerlessness and innocence; especially when the outcome isn’t so pleasant. But the other kind of People-Pleasing Victim -or PPV for short– is really just that: a self-made victim, known for pouring out all kinds of personal energy into the needs and wants of others, and then wondering why, when finally recognizing her (or his, but for ease and continuity, I will use the feminine- how trite, I know) own needs, finds herself alone, and drained, in the midst of all those demands of others that never cease, and which will never, ever, give back any of what they have received from their People-Pleasing Victim. Worse still, by having the audacity to even have needs of her own, the PPV might be chastisized, bullied, or otherwise become the recipient of scathing gossip, until she is pushed back in line, back to fullfilling demands like a waitress in a dumpy diner, passively pleasing others once again.

Mothers tend to become this way, I believe, as a result of feeling they are meant to pamper, praise, and always, always, always properly discipline their beloved offspring according to the most current, up-to-date, scientifically tested and approved parenting techniques discovered, and written of in books, in order to thwart the possibility of one day waking up to discover that this offspring is, in fact, an antisocial, sociopathic serial thumb sucker, who will never be more than a grocery store bagger at the local P&C store…. forever dashing the hopes of one day being recognized as Mother of the Year to the Greatest Nobel-Prize-Winning-Doctor-Surgeon-Inventor-Scientist-Astronaut-President-Ever.

Yes, indeed, these mothers require a full plate of orneriness to chew on until they choke on their own chump-dom, and til their PPV has abated and dissipated.

At least, that’s what I needed. Not only did I once read every new parenting book I could get my hands on, and try every parenting theory, process, or method I could learn, in a desperate and futile attempt to get my less-than-perfect behaving son to fit his explosive mortar rounds of mood into the required range of square molds of public school behavioral norms, I signed on as a Therapeutic Foster Parent as well! This kind of foster parent is required to have a higher degree of parenting skill, and have an even greater commitment to than the average parent or foster parent, with a better than average understanding of both developmental behaviors and learning challenges, as well as a good foundation of understanding various psychiatric disorders. This is because the children coming into our homes generally exhibited a multitude of very challenging, sometimes disturbing, even potentially dangerous, psychiatric behaviors which were often associated with having been severely abused and traumatized in their original family.  As a Therapeutic Foster Parent I was required, and eager, to attend all sorts of psychology 101 workshops and training sessions that were offered. On the positive side, it did finally let me *see* my own son for who and what he really was/still is –an exceptionally gifted and brilliant kid, with all that that entails– but it also brought my level of PPV to even greater heights.

An ornery woman, however, is one who refuses to bow down to the fluctuating ebb of whims and beliefs of others, because she is secure in her choices and can stand strong against adversity; as a parent, she is confident that she and her child can survive the learning curve, without causing harm or permanent damage. She takes no bull-hockey from anyone. In fact, she refuses to even say the words “bull-hockey” and will tell you, to your face, what she really means: she won’t take any eff-ing bullshit!

No, no no… I can do better…really, I can (I’ve been practicing).

She won’t take any fucking bullshit!

(Whew! What a rush!)

The Ornery Woman (OW) is also known as She That Others Dare Not Cross (STODNC), unless they want to be brutally and thoroughly tongue-lashed, up one side and down the other, for making the mistake. Or, even worse, she might cast upon the power-mad demanding wrong-doer, even if it is the school principal, the Evil Stink-Eye Glare of Death (ESEGoD), which has been known to cause one’s nether-regions to shrivel up into eensy bitsy tiny bits. The best and most powerful ESEGoD ever reportedly cast, was cast by a the very rarest of True-Born Ornery Woman (TBOW) –one who was often referred to in whispers as “TSB,” (That Scary Bitch), when she wasn’t around to hear, of course. Those present at the time have sworn that her ESEGoD was known to have caused the shriveled up ‘nether bits, of a particularly over bearing and demanding offender, to fall off completely and roll away under a couch to hide, and were never seen again!  The gender of the offender is unknown to this very day.

I will admit to being awe-struck by such stunning, innate and rare talent. In reality, however, I don’t think I could ever wield the responsibility of such raw, ‘nad shriveling capabilities, nor do I want to have such ability. I want only a little bit of it for myself, with just enough orneriness to keep me free of subservience to my remaining child, with the strength to resist endless requests to fetch food & drink so that she won’t have to interrupt her SnapChat with friends, or YouTube make-up tutorials; and have enough chutzpah to remain firm against the whiniest pleadings of teen-aged reasoning as to why I should allow more facial piercings; and to have an ESEGoD that is just strong enough to convince her…or anyone else for that matter… that I mean business, and will not be backing down when I know what the right thing to do is, for my child, or myself, so don’t even bother trying to change my mind, or, or….or even try giving me any fucking bullshit about it.

That’s right. I said it. Yes, I want all that, without being plagued by self doubt, or guilt, for holding my ground. I want to stop second-guessing myself as a parent, and stop waffling over parenting decisions I’ve made. Or any decision, really, even for myself.

Mostly, it’s that last little tidbit that matters, above all else. I want to be an Ornery Woman because, to me, it implies having an innate sense of self confidence in one’s own life choices, with total mastery over self doubt. Lacking confidence and being full of self-doubt just plain sucks most of the time.  So, in order to combat what I’ve determined to be weaknesses within myself, I’ve begun practicing my ESEGoD in earnest.  My sister, however, has always been the lucky one in my family. She is one of those few TBOWs that I know of, and inherited our mother’s ESEGoD– and I’m almost ashamed to admit that my sister’s version is so powerful that it can make even me cower, whenever I have the misfortune to be caught in it’s cross-hairs! (My mother, when she was alive… well, let’s just say that the dust-bunnies under the couch always had company, ok?)

Alas, for all my practicing, I’ve only managed to go cross-eyed thus far, but I am getting better at it… and I have also started chewing on my favorite, most delicious, cranky word on a daily basis: Ornery. Ornery. Ornery. Chew, chew, crunch, squish…ornery…feeling the power flowing in my veins now…ornery…

…Ha! who needs balls of steel?

…when I have ovaries that clank. I Am an Ornery Woman! Hear me roar.

(why is a Billy Joel tune wandering around in my head right now?)


Your considerate comments and thoughts are welcomed.

How A Welfare Queen Saves Money: DIY Recipes

How A Welfare Queen Saves Money: DIY Recipes

DIY Recipes Listed After my Rant...

If you have been reading my blog, then you know I am one of “those” people. You know, the one that the GOP and Faux News (aka, Fox News) like to lay the blame on for everything that is wrong in this country, who is described as a lazy, good-for-nothing-user, living a decadent life of luxury off the lap of government hand-outs– that are funded with your hard earned tax dollars. This us the kind of person who likely smokes pot all day, uses, or sells drugs (probably both). To make it worse, the drugs are bought with foodstamps! …All so that her kids can wear made-by-child-labor, X brand name sneakers; she is a lowly, reprehensible person who can’t even be bothered to try working for a living. Yes, it is the dreaded welfare queen. If you have been reading my blog, you know that I am the kind of person that is often judged in this way, but that it is simply not the Truth!

When I decided to start a blog, I knew that I would be writing about my Activist work as well as offering insight to life as a single parent, and life as a person with disabilities. I also knew that if I wanted my insight to have any credibility, I would have admit that I’ve gained these perspectives because I receive a number of public supports that are funded by taxes, such as foodstamps and section 8 rental assistance. I hate admitting it because it is cannon fodder–I am immediately judged to be one of the aforementioned “welfare queens”, or subjected to the debasing, simpering look of pity–I have to fight the urge to give a disgusted roll my eyes and sneer at the latter, and grit my teeth against the urge to kick the prior. Life happens. Plain and simple. I would much rather the judgemental attitudes and looks of pity were saved for someone who deserves such a lack of respect, and be dealt with in the present, on equal footing, as a human being. I will point out the challenges faced from my part of the world, not for pity or loathing, but for understanding, by clarifying things with the Truth. If you can’t respect that, please don’t bother reading any further. Continue reading

The New ‘Normal Barbie’ Comes With an Average Woman’s Proportions — And Cellulite Sticker Accessories

A wonderful, and refreshing, alternative for those parents who want to give their daughters a head start on developing a healthy self-image!


Screen shot 2014-11-19 at 3.57.10 AMIt’s a month before the holidays and you’re grappling with a serious toy buyer’s dilemma: On the one hand, you kind of just want to get your kid a Barbie; on the other hand you’d rather not perpetuate the peddling of anatomical ideals that are so impossible to achieve–and impractical. (Were Barbie human, she’d have to walk on all fours due to her tiny feet and would only have room for half a liver.)

That’s why graphic designer-turned-toy-maker Nickolay Lamm created the Lammily doll — what the Barbie would look like if she actually had the measurements of an average 19-year-old woman’s body (based on CDC data). And brown hair. (She also comes with a sticker extension pack, complete with cellulite, freckles and acne, but we’ll get to that later.)

What started as an art project in July 2013 became available for purchase and delivery Wednesday. “Parents and…

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on public versus private education…some thoughts

My area has some very fine private schools, but they are too far out of my financial reach to consider, even with the fullest scholarship offered. Honestly? In light of the difficulties my family has had with the local public high school, I would have preferred to send my daughter to one of them, rather than home school.  But these private schools are simply not accessible to us, nor to many who are low-income-to-middle-income. Even if the failures in public education are proven  to be the fault of that school, the amount the school district is required to pay to the private institution isn’t enough to cover the full costs. So what can a parent to do? How will the child be educated?  Should we move to another area and try a different public school? Even the cost of moving  can be a deterrent for many, such as myself.  Beyond homeschooling, what choice is there when public schools fail a child?

I do appreciate the existence of private schools. I really do. And I believe in our right to determine if the focus and specialization of a private school is right for our children, as long as the foundation of is based on honest, proven and factual information:

Wanna add your god to the curriculum? Have at it! But tell it like it is: it’s a belief, not a fact. Using the bible as the only source of your claims does not constitute proof of fact; it proves a foundation for your belief.  If agriculture is focus and structure used to educate, fantastic! Just remember to teach those kids the truth about the Native Americans who once lived on that land, and what methods were used to remove them from it; tell them where the survivors live today, and the conditions in which they are allowed to maintain their culture.

The most important aspect of education is to teach kids to exercise their critical thinking skills, so that they make their own decision about in what to believe, and can distinguish between that and the factual truths presented to them in core subjects. Let them decide if we were morally right to take this land, or if we should make reparations for harm done, and let them pray to their god as they plant their corn. As long as they learn that 2+2 is always 4, Hitler really did kill millions of Jews, and dinosaurs roamed the earth millions of years before the emergence of humans, it’s good in my book… and  I really don’t care, then, if you believe it was a sudden, massive and spontaneous BANG out of nothingness that started the universe…or that it was some old guy with a long white beard, laying on a pillow of clouds, who pointed his finger and said “let there be…” and *poof* -there it was! Continue reading