25 Questions Answered

My blogging friend Lillian, at It’s A Dome Life, tagged me with these questions.  Usually, I put off awards and games of tags until I forget all about them, but I had just woken up from an unexpected nap (ie I fell asleep with my laptop still open on my lap), mind blank and groggy, and decided to just answer these and call a week of blogging done.

I don’t know if I mentioned it here, but Lillian is an artist, and she painted a portrait of Trixie.  I love it!  You can see it and read about her creative process here.

US Capitol Dome High Res Jan 20061. Where were you born?
I was born in Washington, D.C.

2. Were you named after someone?
Yes, online, I named myself Kay after my grandmother.  In reality, my mother named me after an actress/role in a melodramatic and creepy movie she loved as a teen.

3. How many children do you have?
Three.  Two sons, one daughter.

field beagle at home4. How many pets do you have?
Two dogs.  One boy, one girl.

5. Your worst injury?
I am incredibly clumsy, but have not broken anything larger than a toe.  I did trip, fall, and gash open my knee once, and still have a scar and wonky knee from that.

6. Do you have a special talent?
Yes, my super smell-ability.

7. Favorite thing to bake?
Cookies.

8. Favorite Fast Food?
No, I don’t like fast food.  If I’m desperate, I’ll eat a bean burrito from Taco Bell or a baked potato from Wendy’s, but it would be an exaggeration to say I like either.

Viaduc de la Souleuvre4 909. Would you bungee jump?
No.

10. What is the first thing you notice about people?
It’s hard to put into words.  I notice their demeanor.  I notice how they speak to and about others, and the expression on their face when they do.  I notice what people don’t say, and whether they seem happy or sad or something of both.

11. When was the last time you cried?
I don’t remember.  It’s been a while.

12. Any current worries?
I do not worry obsessively, but I am concerned about genocides and the sexual exploitation of children.  I’m also troubled by the poaching of animals for supposedly medicinal (usually aphrodisiac) body parts or for the ivory trade.  I stopped buying quinoa after I read about how its popularity is hurting the indigenous peoples of the Andes.

13. Name 3 drinks you drink regularly.
I only drink water regularly.

14. What’s your favorite book?
This is almost as bad as being asked to name a favorite child.

15. Would you like to be a pirate?
No.  I have no desire to live a life of crime and poor hygiene on land, much less at sea.  If the rolling waves didn’t make me sick, the smell would.

Syringa meyeri Palibin zoom16. Favorite Smells?
Fresh, clean babies.  Lilacs in bloom.  Summer, just before it rains.

17. Why do you blog?
I love connecting with people, hearing their stories, and encouraging them.

18. What song do you want played at your funeral?
I will be in heaven, so I won’t care.

19. What is your least favorite thing about yourself?
I am lazy.

20. Favorite hobby?
Reading.

21. Name something you’ve done, you never thought you would do?
I am not a planner, but I’m a daydreamer, so I imagine doing all sorts of things, even though I never plan to do any of them.  Therefore, my life is a mix of unexpected turns of events that are also dreams come true.  It’s quite thrilling.

IMG_9913.222. What do you look for in a friend?
Kindness and a lack of pretense.

23. Favorite Fun things to do?
I love sightseeing, visiting museums, touring gardens and houses; taking photos at zoos; doing nothing with good friends and family; riding my bike to the library; reading to children; rocking babies; and being with my husband.

24. Pet peeves?
Lack of self control.  I think the world would be a much nicer place if people would hold their tongues and their tempers.

Rat terrier, the best breed ever25. What’s the last thing that made you laugh?
Trixie makes me laugh every day.  She’s bad in ways that are only funny in a small dog, and probably only to me.

I am going to break the rules of the game and not tag anyone.  However, if you’d like to take part, link me to your post in the comments.  I promise to come and read it.  Or just answer your favorite question or three right here.

Am I the pot or the kettle?

Small kindnesses and small irritants can make or break a day or a mood.  I know that.  Why don’t I remember it more often?

Laundry is my favorite household task.  (In other words, I hate most housework, and merely don’t mind laundry.)  For the first too many years of my marriage, every time I would take the laundry out of the hamper, I’d grumble to myself about my husband’s balled up socks and rolled up sleeves.  “Why is he so inconsiderate?  It only takes a minute to unroll things before tossing them in the hamper.  Can’t he do this one little thing?”

KETTLEYears of that went by until I finally thought, “It only takes a minute for me to unroll them, too, so why do I fuss about it so much?  Am I that self-centered?  I can’t spare a minute?”

Pot, meet Kettle.

I decided to look on the unrolling of sleeves and socks as a kindness on my part instead of an irritant, and after a while, I found that it truly didn’t bother me anymore.  Unfortunately, there are plenty of other things that I still allow to irritate me, like dirty dishes unwashed or shoes not put away.

Like most people, I overestimate my own positive contributions, and overlook my own shortcomingsBlack kojoko teapot I see the mess of stuff my family leaves laying around the house, but my eyes gloss over my stack of unsorted papers.  I wonder why my daughter won’t replace a roll of toilet paper, while I put off going out to buy her school supplies.

Kettle, meet Pot.

Sometimes it feels like the only thing I get better at over the years is recognizing my own hypocrisy.

What little kindnesses have you experienced lately?

Before my husband left for his trip, he brought home individual Fage yogurts for my breakfasts and Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey for my evenings.  I’ll start and end every day this week thinking about how loved I am, and I’ll wonder why I ever let those stupid shoes bother me.

Motivation for weight loss? No, but…

I ran across this site on Pinterest yesterday.  Model My Diet allows you to make an image of yourself based on your current height and weight, and one based on your goal weight.

Although I’m not on a diet, I couldn’t resist comparing my current and (self determined) ideal weights.  Maybe it would even motivate me to eat fewer sweets.

At left is the virtual me.  Or, it is me if my skin were still as firm as it was at thirty.  My skin is rapidly losing elasticity, and no amount of exercise or dieting is going to change that genetic heritage.

So, what would I look like if I lost twenty pounds?

That’s the thinner me on the right.

Twenty pounds lighter and I did not even lose the double chin!

Not motivational.

I played around with it, to see how much I would need to lose to have a single chin.  Forty pounds.  That’s how much I weighed at my first prenatal visit, over twenty-one years ago.  I have not seen it since.

Funnier, though, was that no matter how much weight the virtual me lost, her breasts stayed the same size.  I wish.

Still, the Model My Diet simulator did inspire me.

While I was trying to get rid of my virtual double chin, I set the weight at known points in my history: my weight in college; my weight at my first prenatal visit; my weight after that second baby, when I could not get rid of those last ten pounds and felt FAT.

That’s virtual me, post-baby, feeling fat.  Granted, my stomach was a bit poochier than that, and it was covered with stretch marks (still is), but over all, it’s pretty accurate.

I look at her and wish I’d not cared whether I’d ever lose those last ten pounds and just enjoyed the body I had.

Which is good advice for me today, too, and, maybe, for you.

My Unwanted Super Power

I’ve always had a keen olfactory system, but over the past couple years, it has become my unwanted super power.  Or maybe it is my kryptonite.

Not only do I smell everything, but seemingly ordinary smells can nauseate me.  Last night, cooking dinner, I had to walk away from the stove twice because I was on the verge of gagging.

Gagging!  Until my forties, I had to be cleaning up vomit for my gag reflex to kick in.  Now, the smell of mayo can do it.

A Faded Ginger Licorice Breath

On a bad day, if my husband breathes within a six foot radius of me after eating licorice, it can trigger my gag reflex.  On a good day, he can eat it on the other end of the sofa.

My poor husband!  He thought I was joking when I first told him about the hyper-smell-reactivity, but now he asks me if it’s okay to eat near me.

Sometimes it’s not.

Smells I’ve always disliked now turn my stomach upside down.  The heavy vinaigrette my husband loves on salads will drive me out of the room, and hot dogs are revolting.  On the worst days, even foods I would eat, like scrambled eggs, have the same effect.

Carefully chosen, lightly scented candles have become kitchen necessities, because I do not like to wake to the aroma of last night’s dinner, no matter how good it was.  (I will never again buy a house lacking an exhaust fan over the stove.)

It’s not only food that offends me.  Last week, I made my husband throw away a bathroom waste bin because I could smell it from my seat on the sofa.  Through a closed door.  After I had thoroughly cleaned the bathroom.  I tried spraying the bin with Lysol first, but ended up with a Lysol induced headache.  So it had to go.

I refuse to go inside MicroCenter because it smells like mildew.  My husband and daughter insist it doesn’t, but I doubt they would notice the stench of old dishrags or sponges either.  (I change my kitchen linens every day, so this is an untested theory.)

I slipped my shoes off in the car the other day, only to be assaulted by my own stinky socks/shoes/feet.  The shoes were quickly on again as I exclaimed, “Oh, sorry!  I didn’t know my shoes were so stinky!”  My husband hadn’t noticed.

Unfortunately, I notice and tell him that he smells all the time.

A Faded Ginger Smoking Stinks

Other people, and their houses, smell, too, but no matter the circumstances or smells, I try not to react.  If I feel gaggy, I go home where my own family gets to hear things like:

  • Did you have onions/mustard/coffee/pickles/chocolate while you were out?
  • You can’t smell that?
  • Did you buy a new shampoo/deodorant?
  • Where did you wash your hands?  That soap is nice/spicy/perfume-y.
  • I can smell you from way over here.  You need a shower.
  • Please wash that pan; it’s stinking up the whole house.
  • Prop the door open so the washer doesn’t get stinky!
  • You smell like sunshine and dirt.  (That one is a compliment.)
  • Do I smell like bacon/garlic/smoke/curry to you?
  • How can diesel be clean when it nauseates me?
  • Put that in a ziploc and then in a container so it doesn’t stink up the fridge.
  • Your room smells.  Open the window for a bit.
  • That blanket smells like dogs.
  • Why does it smell like old cardboard in here?
  • Please brush your teeth.
  • The air smells like creosote today.

Most days I feel worse for my family than I do for myself, and my husband takes the brunt of it.  I must annoy the bejeebers out of him, but to his credit, he puts up with this new kind of weirdness.  He often laughs, but he rarely complains.

A cell phone saga that ends where it started.

In early December, my cell phone died, or the battery did.  I didn’t want a new phone, so I bought a $4 battery on Amazon.

Last Saturday, that battery died.

Near-Ancient, but beloved phone of Ginger Kay.I debated over replacing the battery again or buying a new phone.  Even if I put a new battery in it once a month, it would be cheaper than a new phone.  However, that would mean either stocking up on batteries or going without the phone for a week every time the battery dies.  Then, too, what if the batteries start dying more frequently?

The safest bet would be to buy a new phone.

I went to Costco to look at phones.  I did not really want any of the phones they offered.  I like my old Droid 2, with its slide out keyboard; I didn’t want a touchscreen only.  So I bought a Samsung Galaxy with a keypad for $50 (plus the $30 activation fee).

I hated it.

There is nothing wrong with it, I’m sure.  I know it is me.  I just didn’t want to take the time to figure out how to use it.  I hated that the phone kept guessing at the words I was typing and getting them wrong.   I hated searching for the functions I use the most.  I just hated it because it was different.

This isn’t surprising.  I’ve already admitted that I am on the low end of the tech learning curve.

My son has a newer Droid, with a keypad, so Monday morning, we went to the Verizon store to see if it was still in stock.  It was not on the floor, but they said they did have one, for $200 (plus the $30 activation fee).

No thank you.

I briefly considered abandoning a smart phone altogether and getting a flip phone.  Or seeing if my old flip phone still worked.  I think I could relearn texting on a number pad.

New Droid PhoneThen I went back to Costco and exchanged the Samsung for a new Droid, with only a touchscreen, for $70 (plus the activation fee).

Since my son was still home, I asked him to set it up to look exactly like my old phone, with the things that are important to me on the main screen and all those irrelevant but pretty features hidden where they won’t distract me.  Ten minutes later, he had it just like I wanted.  I have no idea how he did it.

I still missed the keypad from my old phone.  However, I could find everything on the new phone, so I accepted that I’d just have to hurdle this learning curve and get over it.

Tuesday morning, I woke early to see my son off.  My new phone was dead!

Dead!

I told my husband, and he mentioned it had been lit up all night while charging.  What?

The charger killed the battery!

Did it kill my old phone, too?

I’d been using this charger from at least two phones ago for, let’s say, at least seven years, because it has a really long cord.  All the phones I’ve bought since have had short cords, so I just kept using the one that nicely reached up to my night stand.

Who knew phone chargers could go bad?

So I charged both my new and my old phones with new chargers, and they both worked fine – negating the need for a new phone.

Thursday, embarrassed and hoping that a different employee would be working the phone kiosk at Costco, I went back to return the new phone and re-activate my old one.  I did indeed find a different employee, but I ended up telling the complete saga anyway.  He had never heard of a battery charger killing a battery, but said that most people don’t keep those things for years and years.

He also said that most people are happier getting a new phone than getting back their old one, but he was friendly and non-judgmental.  I promised that when I was ready for a new phone, I’d buy it at Costco.
Stealing the Sunlight | A Faded Ginger

Lessons Learned:

  • Do not use the same charger for more than five years.
  • Do buy your phones at Costco.
  • Do not hesitate to return a phone to Costco.
  • Cheap batteries from Amazon do work.
  • Twenty year olds can do with a phone in minutes what would take you weeks.
  • If you put a chair in the sun for a photo shoot, it becomes a dog portrait session.

The Early Bird Gets What?

All my life, I’ve been an Early Bird.

However, that does not mean what it used to mean.  It used to mean waking up and immediately starting my day.  Lately, it means I wake up, get out of bed, take care of the dogs, then curl up under a blanket on the sofa, barely awake for the next two hours.

It’s pathetic.  I do not stay up any later than I ever did, and I am “waking” at the same time, so I know I am getting enough sleep.

Saturday night, I went to bed thinking that I should bake a cake and make macaroni and cheese before going to church on Sunday.  Our service starts late – 10:30 – so I have plenty of time in the morning.

Sunday morning, I was sorely tempted to curl up on the sofa with my laptop, but I wanted to go to the Botanic Gardens in the afternoon.  The downside to such a late worship service is that it’s past noon by the time we get home.  I needed to have lunch ready when we got home.  So I baked the cake.  Then I made the mac and cheese.  I still had time to goof off online, too.

Not only was I not tired, I wasn’t cold, either, because instead of sitting on my butt, I was moving around.

Like I used to do every day.

The truth is, I’ve become idle in the morning because I can be.  I don’t need to get chores out of the way before starting the school day.  I don’t have little ones who need my care in the morning, or anyone that needs to be coaxed out of bed into action.  I don’t have to drive anyone anywhere in the morning, and I don’t need to get myself ready for work.

I am no longer in the habit of being productive before 9:00am.

This morning, inspired by my new insight, I decided to start the day with productivity and clean bathrooms while my daughter was getting ready for school.

She left the house without saying good morning or good bye!

She’s never done that before!  Ever!

When I’m sitting on the sofa with my blanket and laptop, she always comes in to say good morning, ask a question or two, and always shouts out an, “I’m leaving, Mom!” before walking out the door.   I always shout back, “Have a great day, Sweetpea!”

Since I was busy, she left without a word.

So my bathroom is clean, but my heart feels a bit empty.  Not a good trade.

Tomorrow morning, I’ll be sitting on the sofa with my blanket and laptop.

How do you start your day?

It’s not a cold.

On the radio yesterday, I heard yet another proclamation that I live in the “healthiest state in the nation.”

Bah-humbug!

Almost every time I leave my house someone asks if I have a cold.  “No,” I say, “I’m just allergic to Colorado.”

Technically, I know I can’t be, but that is how it feels, and, apparently, how it looks.  This altitude and semi-arid climate does not agree with my sinuses (or my skin – but my hair does well), and it seems my symptoms get worse every year.  Winter, being the driest season, finds me constantly congested and sneezing with lovely dark bags under my eyes.

I’ve had one steadily increasing sinus headache since returning from my Thanksgiving holiday back east.  Back east, where the air is thick and humid and people complain about it all the time, I don’t wake up with a blood crusted nose when I forget to coat my nostrils with vaseline before going to bed.  I never appreciated humidity until I lived someplace without it.  (Even so, I am still not a fan of sticky, sweaty summers.)

Because my discomfort is caused by dryness, it seems counter-intuitive to take antihistamines or decongestants.  Wouldn’t they be even more drying?  I resisted for a long time, but eventually began taking generic Benadryl at night.  I figured even if it doesn’t help with the congestion, it might help me sleep despite it.  I’m not sure whether it’s helping me sleep, but it’s not helping me breathe.

Yesterday, desperate from throbbing sinuses, I went to the pharmacy, where I pinky swore I am not manufacturing illegal substances in my basement, and bought myself a box of good old Sudafed, or, at least the generic version of it.  I popped two as soon as I got in my car.

Psuedoephedrine, you are my new best friend.  I hope I don’t get put on a list of suspicious persons before winter is over, because, really, I just want to be able to breathe through my nose and not have a headache that makes me want to sleep all day.

Pinky swear.

Not quite resolutions

I’m not making resolutions, but I spent fifteen minutes today thinking about the year ahead – keeping my expectations low, so if I change course or abandon them later in the year, or next week, I won’t mind.

  1. Take more photos.
    Take photos of the ordinary, everyday moments of my life.
    Be bossier and make my family pose for more flattering photos.
  2. Print some of the photos.  Send them to my mom.
    Even if they are bad.
  3. Figure out how to transfer fifteen years of snapshots
    into a digital format.
  4. Be more generous.
    As much as I can, show grace to those who need it.
  5. Let go.  Forgive.
    Let go of bad relationships.  Without anger or regret.
    Disengage from commitments that I dread.
  6. Show people I love them.
    Send cards to the people who care about cards.
    Post on the FB walls of people who care about FB.
    Send my son a care package at least once each semester.
  7. Leave my house more often.
    Talk to strangers at church.
  8. Think of a regular Sunday blog topic.
  9. Get a physical.
  10. Celebrate more special occasions with my daughter.
    With pie, cake, or small presents.
    Make up holidays if needed.

That’s all I could think of in fifteen minutes.

I think the seventh will be the most challenging for me.  It’s weird (even to me), but I am more likely to talk to strangers in the grocery store or library than I am at church.  I’m fairly certain that 7b will be the first item dropped from this list.

I’m still looking for input about my Sunday posts.

Here is an unrelated photo, which I took yesterday.  (Day one of taking more photos – success!)

Socially Awkward Dishonesty

I have no poker face.  I can’t fake anything.  I have no ability for improvisation.  I don’t think fast enough to lie convincingly.*

This does not make me honest and virtuous.  It makes me socially awkward.

Example:  I helped an acquaintance with her moving sale.  She wanted to thank me, and a close friend of hers, by taking us out afterwards for margaritas and lunch.  I didn’t really want to go, but it seemed wrong to say no, so I went.  Both of their husbands joined us, and the friend’s 16 year old daughter.

I don’t drink, but I ordered lunch.  (This is not virtue, either; I don’t like the taste or smell of alcohol.)

The conversation, in which I was more of a listener than a contributor,  turned to homecoming, and did the young lady have her dress.  Yes, she did, and the next thing I knew I was being shown an iphone photo of two girls, being asked, “Do you think this dress is inappropriate?”  (I’m not kidding.  That is exactly how the question was phrased.)

In my head, I was picturing my own 14 year old daughter, who is rather modest, and my husband, who thinks there is no such thing as a too-modest daughter, and was feeling glad that this was not my child barely covered with spandex and glitter.  I wasn’t thinking about the girls in the photos at all.  Realizing I’d already paused too long, with all five looking at me expectantly, I panicked and lied, “Uh, no,” because I knew that was the desired answer.

It was not a convincing response, as evidenced by the awkward silence that followed.  (I so appreciate the socially adept who can fill these awkward silences and move conversation along.)

Later, of course, I could think of a number of non-responses.  I still don’t understand why someone I barely know would want my opinion of her daughter’s dress.  Even I don’t care what I think of her dress.

This is why I did not want to go to lunch, and why I prefer helping people with tasks to chatting.  I’m not good at it, and I know it.  I can’t fake interest for things which don’t interest me.  When people ask me questions which I can not politely answer truthfully, I feel like a child who has been called up to the board to work an incomprehensible math problem.  Clueless and embarrassed by it.

Interactions like this are fairly common for me, and have two effects.  First, they make me want to avoid social gatherings which might require small talk.  Second, they make me appreciate my friends all the more.  I have great friends.  Not tons of them, but I treasure each one of them.  I love them because I can be my socially awkward self and give them my honest answers.  They don’t ask me idle questions.  They know when I say, “Well, I wouldn’t want my daughter wearing it, but she does have the figure for it,” that that is exactly what I mean.  No judgement towards them, just my honest response.

*I can, however, keep a secret.  Being told something in confidence allows me time for advance preparation of evasive maneuvers.

Honeys and Honey-Do Lists

Before I married my husband, I’d noticed that his sister kept a list on her fridge of things needing to be done.  A “honey-do” list for my brother-in-law.  I mentioned it once, and my husband-to-be responded, “If you ever make a list like that for me, I promise I will never do anything on it.”  So I never did.

We worked out this arrangement for getting things done:

I’d say, “The faucet in the upstairs bathroom is dripping.”

He’d say, “I’ll take a look at it.”

A couple weeks later, I’d say, “Did you get a chance to look at that faucet?”

He’d say, “What faucet?”

“The one in the bath upstairs.”

“Oh, no, I’ll do that this weekend.”

It would end in one of two ways.  Either he would eventually find himself in that bathroom one day, notice the leaking faucet, and fix it right then and there, or I would eventually break down and say, “Should I call a plumber about that faucet?”  (I made this example up.  The leaky faucets are still dripping.  I’m too cheap/lazy to call a plumber for a minor drip.)

Another effective method would be to start a project myself.  I’m not sure if seeing me start a project caused extreme guilt or outright fear of the results, but it often prompted him into action.

After almost 23 years of this highly effective system, I wrote a household to-do list a couple weeks ago.  It’s a list of things needing to be done to sell the house.  I thought having a list would help spread out both the cost and the work, rather than using our usual method of leaving all projects until the last minute.

(True example:  he wanted to remodel a powder room in a former house.  It was ugly tan tile, much of it chipped, cracked sink, etc.  He did the demolition one weekend, removing the toilet, sink, and half of the drywall.  It stayed like that for the next two years.  When we needed to move, he had to take time off work to put in a new bathroom.  It looked great for the next owner.)

I told him about the list I’d made.  He seemed intrigued.  He had no recollection of having ever been honey-do list averse and thought it was a great idea.  I was still afraid to send it to him, but I told him the first item was getting a dishwasher that works.

I thought that the best place to start.  The dishwasher that was here when we moved stopped working three or four years ago.  Since then, we’ve used it as a large drying rack.  My husband washes dishes more than the rest of us combined.  (He is not a slacker, despite the aforementioned examples.)  I thought starting with something that was a chore for him would be motivating.  He said he doesn’t mind washing dishes, but agreed to do it for the sake of resale.

It was installed a couple days ago.  It’s not nearly as good looking as my old dishwasher, but I’m going to email him a list.