What’s a Woman to Do?

Many years ago I suddenly found myself suffering from a bad case of vertigo.  It was horrible.  I couldn’t move my head at all without getting ‘the swirlies.’  The swirlies felt like being drunk without the fun of drinking.  Dizzy head-spinning frustration consumed my life for weeks.  Unfortunately, this meant I couldn’t drive or work.  It sometimes meant I couldn’t walk into the next room without help.  The ‘swirlies’ made my life a living hell.  Trying to find a cure wasn’t easy, either.

There are a whole lot of remedies for vertigo.  I tried them all.  There were a slew of home remedies.  No relief.  The docs gave me pills.  They didn’t work.  They suggested something called the Epley maneuver.  This consists of lying down and turning your head.  You turn your head 45 degrees and then get up and down.  Lie still and then turn your head 90 degrees and so on.  Up, down, 45 degrees, 90 degrees…it was a veritable geometry lesson.  As I worked my way through the steps, I had a sneaking suspicion that I would end up as an isosceles triangle.  I did do a fair impression of a lopsided octagon, but it didn’t matter because it didn’t work.

I saw more doctors.  They were stymied.  This had gone on for weeks!  Was this going to be my life now?  I was in panic mode.  I was in “I’ll do anything if it will help” mode.  I wasn’t hopeful but I decided to try one last-ditch effort by seeing an ear, nose and throat specialist in the big city.

I walked into the exam room and the doc was older.  A lot older.  He told me he was just temporary and he was doing this rotation as a favor.  He had come out of retirement to “help out.”  I was not encouraged.  All I could think was that this guy was probably old-school and wouldn’t have anything new that might help me.  After all, none of the typical remedies had helped and I was sure I wasn’t going to get anything new from him that the other docs hadn’t tried.  You know, they always say that you can’t judge a book by its cover.  That phrase was certainly true in this case.  I was right in that he didn’t have any fancy cutting-edge technology, but he certainly had a unique solution.  

He asked me what I had tried.  I gave him the list…pills, herbs, the Epley Maneuver, and as soon as I said that, he stopped my recitation.  He said:  “Ok, I want you to try the Epley Maneuver again.”  And with that, I stopped him mid-sentence.  “I told you, it didn’t work.  I tried and tried and it did nothing for me!”  He just smiled and said:  “I want you to try it again but this time I want you to use a vibrator.”  Huh?  “You want me to what!?”  My mouth opened so wide that my chin was on the floor.  How on earth would THAT help!?  He smiled again and said:  “I want you to put the vibrator against your ear when you are doing the Epley maneuver.”  Ohhhh…ok…I guess.  It sounded ludicrous but what could it hurt?  At that point, I would have tried anything.

So I had to find a vibrator.  I figured I’d find one online and it would arrive in a discreetly wrapped package.  Yes, that was my plan.  But fate stepped in.  On the way home, we stopped to get groceries.  As we were headed for the checkout line, we walked past the clearance bin.  I don’t know why I looked but there were these boomerang-shaped things with a tag that boldly announced that they were vibrators!  What!?  Vibrators in a grocery store?  Just at the time I needed one.  On sale!  I’m not sure what possessed me but I picked up all four of them and headed to the checkout aisle.  I figured if this worked, I could do my vibrating Epley Maneuver anywhere in the house.  Plus, if one broke, I would have backups.   I know I wasn’t thinking logically but there they were, when I needed them, and on sale.  Who wouldn’t buy them all?

This serendipitous discovery was made in a local grocery store.  I was in line and had two other people with carts behind me when I noticed that the checkout person was a woman I went to school with.  Any sane person would have gone to another line or put the things back hoping to get them later when there wasn’t a childhood friend working there.  I thought about it, but I was desperate.  I wasn’t going to be deterred, even if it was going to be embarrassing.  My head was swirling and all I wanted was to get back to normal.  I wasn’t going home without those vibrators!  And yes, I know how that sounds, but you know how desperate I was!  Ok, that made it sound worse…I’ll just carry on. 

Finally, it was my turn to pay.  In between the celery and peanut butter, my school chum found four brightly colored, boomerang-shaped objects that sported big red-lettered tags proclaiming they were vibrators.  There was NO way anyone could miss them, or mistake them for something else.  My old friend started to scan them and hesitated for a fraction of a second.  She gave me the quickest of glances and then she looked back down and turned bright red.  Yes, I could have explained, but who would have believed that I was buying a vibrator to cure my vertigo?

It was only after I got home that it occurred to me that scanning one vibrator might have been a little embarrassing considering we were school friends, but scanning four might be a little much.  I’m not sure what went through her mind but I would bet that any scenario she came up with was pretty scandalous, and nowhere near the truth.

The good news is that my vertigo was cured almost overnight.  And now, here I am, the proud owner of four vibrators…and no vertigo.  What’s a woman to do?

I am finally within a day of posts… whoo hoo! I think that means it is time to celebrate. To unwind and relax a little. And what better way to relax with a nice night of fishing, bug catching, watering flowers and talking to the neighbors. Many of you will not understand that last line, […]

via Mumbles … Equivocate — Leigha Robbins

I Am So Very Proud

I don’t normally do such things, but I am so proud of one of our own.  I met Shivam Srivastava right here on WordPress.  He was just about to turn twenty and I was struck by his heart and his art.  His sketches of many topics were lovely, but I had no idea how his talent would blossom.

In the blink of an eye, he was in fashion school learning every technique he could, and producing lovely garments along the way.  But when I saw his current portfolio, I was blown away.  It is extraordinary.  He’s combined the science of light with the art of fashion in a way that is so good that he was featured in the video I link here.

If you want a taste of his talent, just scroll down and click on the photo of one of his latest creations.  Leave a “Like” or a “Love” and support a fashion designer whose name will be uttered as stars walk down the red carpet.  I have no doubt of that.  This will truly be a case of “I knew him when…”  I am so very proud!

The Garden Is Dead, Long Live The Garden!

You might remember that I got my garden in recently.   If not, you can review my progress here:  Blood, Bug Guts, and Cow Manure

It was with great satisfaction that I put that last plant in.  Such anticipation!

But this morning the garden was a devastating sight.  The plants were black and wilted.  The garden is dead.  At least most of it is.  It just doesn’t seem fair that a few days ago it was 90F, but this morning we had frost.  A June 1st frost!  That is insane, even for Maine!

So now it’s time to find some replacement plants and try again.  I’m going to wait a few days, though.  We’re supposed to have frost again tonight.  My father would have been furious with Mother Nature if this happened to him.  I have to admit, I’m not too happy with her, either.

Sigh…

Blood, Bug Guts, and Cow Manure

Not exactly a combination you would like to have under your fingernails…unless you are me…in May.  Yesterday, I finished planting the garden.  Even though I am covered by black fly bites that made blood run into my eyes, I am happy.  It didn’t matter that I had bug remains smeared on me where I bothered to swat at them.  I was focused.  I had a garden to plant.

I do have to admit that I was particularly driven because I was two days overdue in getting those plants in the ground due to a frost warning a few nights back.   Sorry Dad, I know I broke your rule of having it all in before Memorial Day.  There is a small part of me that worries he might be judging me harshly from beyond the grave, in spite of the frost warnings.  Not that he didn’t pay attention to such things himself.  He watched the weather with an intensity that would awe any meteorologist .  If the weather was going to keep him from planting, it was a somber household until the seeds were in the ground.  All of the pieces had to fall into place in order to have a successful garden, and he expected Mother Nature to cooperate with his timetable.

During the winter, the seed catalogs were highly anticipated.  Once they arrived, my Dad pored over them for weeks.  Every variety was scrutinized and compared.  This went on until the seed order was finally placed.  Then the waiting began. And even more waiting.  So much waiting.  But eventually the order would appear in the mail and the waiting was accompanied by keen anticipation.

When March arrived, it was time to put those little vegetable seeds in pots so they would have a jump-start when planting time finally rolled around.  The garden had to be in before Memorial Day, come hell or high water. Maine’s growing season is short and my Dad wasn’t going to waste a single minute of it.  There were no excuses short of a blizzard.  And even then, the peas had better be planted.

Peas were special in that they could be planted as early as the soil could be worked.  In this neck of the woods, you aren’t a true gardener unless you have peas ready by the 4th of July.  But if it snowed after the peas were planted, that was ok, too.  After all, a late snow is ‘poor man’s fertilizer.’  My Dad believed in copious amounts of composted cow manure and it made our heavy clay soil friable beyond belief.  If Dad thought the plants needed an extra boost.  he would make a manure tea.  He’d dump a ridiculous amount of composted manure into a 55 gallon drum, add water, and let it steep.  Then he would use that as liquid fertilizer.  As if that attention to detail wasn’t enough, I swear he charmed the earthworms into working the soil from the bottom up.  Earthworms were revered in our garden and carefully protected…unless there was a fishing trip coming up.

Once the garden was in, there were many things to do.  The time waiting for harvest was filled with weeding, watering, and fertilizing.  He ruled over that plot with a level of stewardship that was unrivaled.  He had hard and fast gardening rules, too.  One rule was that you could only water at night. The sun glinting through the droplets might damage the leaves.  Watering at night had an added bonus in that it kept the frost damage down if  there are cold nights at the end of the season.  There were many more rules, but that one is a good example of the level of care the plants on that patch of dirt received.

It seemed like forever before the radishes were ready, then tender lettuce leaves arrived, and of course, those yummy peas.  As the season rolled along, all manner of vegetables were picked,  plucked, and pickled.  There was a never-ending supply of tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans.  New potatoes, sweet corn and beets followed.  Late in the season, the revered Blue Hubbard squash was picked.  It was so big, and the skin was so shell-like, that my Dad had to cut it apart with a hatchet.

All too soon, the plants were blackened by frost and pumpkins were picked from withered vines.  The dark days of winter passed ever so slowly until the brightly-colored seed catalogs arrived, yet again.

Maladjusted Mondays, #21

NOT Linda.

Greetings! I’m Jan C. Johnson. Thanks for joining the fun here on Maladjusted Mondays, a growing collection of scathing exposés in which I rat out my uncooperative appliances. I originally published these posts on my blog, Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story, where I do occasionally write about something besides my appliances. You can visit me there any time by clicking here.

The following post first appeared on my blog May 11, 2020…

Appliance Agitation

Here we go again… not long ago, I was relaxing on the patio with a good novel while a load of cycling clothes and other truly gross stuff was in the wash. Everything was fine until Brent popped his head out the back door and said, “The washer is making a weird noise.” I sighed and went to check it out.

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He was right. It sounded like a cross between a freight train and someone trying to start a car with a run-down battery.

According to the knob, the machine was in the Spin cycle. We opened the lid to find the washed clothes just sitting there, having a spa day in the dirty water that was supposed to be draining out of the tub.

Not cool. (By the way, that damage in the center was from years earlier when I working on a sewing project. Who damages their washing machine while sewing?)

Brent suggested I should be the one to choose the new machine, since I’m the laundry guru. We’d been under “shelter in place” for a few weeks by this time, so I was happy to skitter off to Lowe’s. Brent stayed to fish the Lycra out of its sudsy hot tub. Did I mention he’s a hero?

After two hours of looking at machines/considering pros & cons, I came home to find the bikewear all rinsed and neatly hung on the pool fence. Don’t worry; those little things on the spikes aren’t shrunken heads, just our cycling socks.

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I gave Brent the good news that I’d bought a Maytag. It would arrive on the next delivery date. Eleven days away.

A look of horror crossed his face. “ELEVEN DAYS??”

“You seem skeptical.”

“ELEVEN? DAYS?”

“Sure. It’s no problem–I can hand wash whatever we need until then.”

After all, we have a sink in the laundry room. Plus enough T-shirts to last until the week before Thanksgiving. Besides, the dryer still works. I pictured swishing a few lightweight items around in the sink, giving them a good rinse under the spray faucet, and tossing them into the dryer.

Brent pictured my suggestion a little differently:

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Re-enactment of an imaginary event. No rocks or laundry were harmed.

Okay, fine. The next morning, I called Lowe’s to cancel the order. Brent researched washing machines and found a local indie dealer who could deliver a Speed Queen the same day. The new machine even has some of the old-school features I like!

And so, our wardrobe maintenance hasn’t missed a beat.

But just watch the rest of the appliances talk the Speed Queen into joining the revolt.

Thanks for reading,

Jan

EIGHT!

I just want to remind you just how lucky you are.

All winter I have refrained from complaining about the cold, snow, ice, and general winter ickiness.  That whole refraining thing stops now.  I just watched the local weather forecast.  I just saw a snow map.  That’s right, a SNOW map.  Depending on what model you look at, we could have 2 or 3 inches…or 8.  EIGHT!   AS MUCH AS EIGHT INCHES OF SNOW!  EIGHT!  It’s time to get your mother a snowsuit for Mother’s Day!

They say this forecast is subject to change, and that had better happen.  My guess is that we’ll have an inch or two, and it will melt quickly.  That might be so, but I can’t help but grouse at least a little bit.  I really want to grouse a lot, but I was outside today trying to get some weeds out of my raised beds and I was barefoot.  I was barefoot, and I was happy.  I know I’ll be happy again but if this storm brings 8″ of the white stuff, prepare yourselves.  Because if that happens, there will be more complaining than you’ve ever heard before, and your luck will have run out.

Road To Nowhere

Being housebound, I have had time to think of all sorts of ridiculous, unimportant, and trivial things.   Therefore, it’s not surprising that I’ve been remembering idioms I never would have guessed would be so apt.  All of these have crossed my mind at one point or another in the last two months:

 

You’re going nowhere

All dressed up with nowhere to go

Getting nowhere fast

In the middle of nowhere

Nowhere to be found

Out  of nowhere

Nowhere to be seen

 

In order to alleviate the tedium brought on by our current situation, we’ve been going for rides just to get out of the house.  Those Sunday afternoon rides of yore are now Monday through Saturday rides, too. Of course, when we go, we have no goal in mind because we can’t stop anywhere or see anyone.  It never fails that when we head out on one of these jaunts I envision David Byrne running in place.  I love Talking Heads, really I do, but it’s perturbing that every time we leave the house I have this song in my head.  EVERY.DAMNED.TIME.

 

 

 

‘Challenging Times’

If I hear the phrase ‘challenging times’ one more time, I will scream.  Every commercial, every email, every everything uses that phrase.  But let me tell you, these are more than just challenging times.  These times are transformative.

I started this blog during the darkest days of my life.  I vowed that I would write funny things and tell stories that would make people laugh.  At the very least, I would offer something positive for my readers.  That’s tough these days because here we are, experiencing ‘challenging times.’  I really had to think about this.  How am I supposed to put a positive spin on something as deadly and life-altering as this virus can be?  Yet, in no apparent order, I see a few bright spots:

People are being nicer to each other.  For years I’ve said that the only way humans would ever stop killing each other would be to have a common enemy.  I used to joke that when aliens arrived to conquer us, we will rise as one. We have a common enemy now, that’s for sure.  On a smaller scale, people are showing kind gestures, both great and small.  There’s more more motivation to help each other and more appreciation and recognition for the people who do.

We are more cognizant of unsung heroes.  There are a lot of people out there who contribute to our wellbeing.  There aren’t enough superlatives in the world to describe the dedication and and humanity of these remarkable beings. EMTs, trash collectors, doctors, janitors, police, cashiers, shelf-stockers, cooks, nurses, fire fighters, scientists, mail carriers, toll-takers, pharmacists, and every last person who works in a hospital…this is a very abbreviated list of the people who are putting their lives in danger so that we will have a better chance of keeping ours.

Science and data are getting the respect they deserve.  If you ever told me that the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases would be a rock star in my eyes, those eyes would have rolled.  Dr. Anthony Fauci, and his unyielding dedication to science while being thrust into the political arena, is saving us.  Tens of thousands of us, if not more.  If the politicians stop listening to the doctors and scientists, we will be well and truly….in ‘challenging times.’

We aren’t taking as much for granted.   Kids miss school.  Those are three words I never thought I’d type in that particular order.  Who would have guessed?  Where someone might have groused about their job a few months ago, now they are very thankful if they still have it.  The things we thought would always be there have slipped away for many people.  Loss is everywhere and those things we do have are appreciated that much more.

Corporations are stepping up.  I got an email from my auto insurance carrier.  After assuring me that they are here for me during these ‘challenging times,’ they actually announced that they will be taking 15% off my bill for the next two months because we won’t be driving as much.  Grocers and other essential businesses are giving their employees what amounts to combat pay.  GM is making ventilators, streaming services are offering free content, oodles of companies are contributing to COVID-19 causes…and my insurance company is giving me 15% off!  Sorry, I had to repeat that last bit as a reality check because it still doesn’t seem possible.

Families are closer.  This can be a two-edged sword, but I would bet that most families are very happy to be stuck with each other at home.  I’m sure there are rough spots.  There have been times over the past few weeks where I have wanted to kill Bill, but then I think about the fact that there is something out there that could do exactly that.  My murderous inclinations are quickly squelched and I end up giving him a hug instead.

Personal health is taking on more importance.  Hopefully, each of us will try to improve our health overall.  The words ‘underlying conditions’ put fear in the hearts of many these days, and rightfully so.  This virus is culling the weakest among us.  Let’s be strong!

Healthcare, insurance, and prescriptions are getting a lot of scrutiny.  We, in the US, have a long way to go before we have a healthcare system that works.  The conversation around these issues started long before the virus hit, but now it is gaining momentum.  There’s a lot of work to be done.

Relationships are being rekindled.  I’ve heard from friends recently whom I haven’t spoken to in ages.  An event of this magnitude has a tendency to make us think about those we love, and have loved.

We are being more adaptive.  We are finding ways to accomplish things even if we can’t be there in person.  Working from home is just one way in which we do that.  Churches are holding virtual services.  Netflix has a feature that lets people watch a movie together even if they are on separate continents.  You can listen to your favorite singer perform from their living room.  The list of ways we have come together while apart is endless.

Virtual medical appointments through TeleHealth.  Through necessity, bringing this technology online widespread will change how medicine is practiced going forward.  Now that my technophobic psychologist has learned how to do remote sessions, I will never have to drive an hour to see him ever again.  It must have been a Herculean task for him to learn how to do it.  After all, he gave up his flip phone only a couple of months ago.  No lie.  If he can adapt to the new virtual world, there is hope for all of us.

Customs will change.  There is no question that life as we have known it is gone forever.  Just as airports changed policies after 911, hopefully we will adapt in ways that will promote good health.  Handshakes will probably go by the wayside.  Masks will be more prevalent.  We will be more cognizant of personal space.  We will keep a month’s worth of toilet paper on hand.  That last one is particularly important!

On a grander scale, one other thing has become clear.  When we curtail our activities, pollution is reduced dramatically.  Isn’t it ironic that as many are struggling for their last breath, Mother Nature is taking her first breath of fresh air in many, many years.

 

 

 

Maladjusted Mondays, #20

NOT Linda.

Greetings! I’m Jan C. Johnson. I’ve been away from Linda’s blog for ages and I’m happy to be back! Thanks for joining the fun here on Maladjusted Mondays. Linda heroically offered to host this collection of scathing exposés in which I rat out my uncooperative appliances. I originally published these posts on my blog, Joywriting: Everybody Has a Story, where I do occasionally write about something besides my appliances. You can visit me there any time by clicking here.

The following post first appeared on my blog March 31, 2020…

Processing… Processing

You know you have an appliance problem when you have to plaster them with notes to yourself. Case in point…

Spring-latchy thingsWhen I cook at home, I’m prone to shred fingers along with carrots. My sliced potatoes are like snowflakes: no two slices alike. Clearly, I needed a food processor. Thanks to the recommendation of my favorite food blogger, Beauty Beyond Bones, I gained the confidence to choose one: a 14-cup model from Cuisinart.

In due time I got the goods and opened the box to free the various components from their Styrofoam straitjackets. It seemed awfully complicated. Each part featured a lot of metal springy-latchy-looking things. Clear plastic tunnels kept the latches out of my reach.

Just as well. I was sort of afraid to touch them anyway.

I turned to the instruction book.

It offered page after page of instructions and safety warnings, including how to use the assembled processor, how to clean the assembled processor, and lots of things NOT to do with the assembled processor.

That would’ve been great… if only there were some hint about how to actually assemble the processor.

The picture on the cover* shows the assembled appliance from the front. You can’t tell a thing about how the parts fit together, let alone how to latch them without breaking something.

I went to their website. Surely they’d have helpful demos, right?

Nope.

Barely visible rod

Okay, never mind. How hard can it be?

I fitted the lid onto the bowl okay, then inserted the pusher into the large food tube.  I didn’t notice  at the time, but a metal rod runs downward along one side. I unknowingly positioned that side toward the center of the lid rather than sticking out over its edge.

Looks good. Let’s try shredding some carrots.

inserts 4-inch carrot lengths into small center food tube; poises pusher above them; pushes “on” button

Nothing. Yes, it was plugged in. I checked. Twice.

Great. I have a food processor that won’t process.

One more time, let’s look at the manual.

Uhhh… where is the manual?

Honestly, it was right there, and then I couldn’t find it. I have never seen it since.

With a few unflattering remarks, I turned back to the “assembled” processor and used the trial-and-error method. As it turns out, the food pusher, the kingpin of the whole operation, was facing the wrong way. The rod on the side has to stick out over the edge of the lid. If you push it down (and you have to use some serious muscle), it forces its way into the latch tunnel on the bowl. This somehow positions all the latchy things in a way that signals the processor it’s “Safe To Turn On.”

The resulting spring-loaded array of parts looks like a medieval mouse trap and feels as if it could sproinggg apart with no warning.

BUT, five seconds after this discovery? I had a cup or so of shredded carrots.

I still can’t bear to leave the food pusher’s metal rod wedged into the latch tunnel. I mean, I can just feeeel the springs wearing out from holding their tension all the time. So I store the thing with the pusher sitting backwards. And knowing how forgetful I can be, I now have a Post-It note stuck on the pusher:

So, yeah, I’m letting this one appliance give me orders. I can only hope that doesn’t snowball into yet another mutiny.

Thanks for reading,

Jan

* Photo is NOT from the cover of the instruction book, as said book went AWOL somewhere along the line.

jj