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Archive for May, 2014

Black and White vs. Colour

I’m torn:

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Josh’s Potato Onion


Relaxation = Torture

I swear, most people would give their right leg to have my summer. I get to take the entire summer off- work free. Everything is taken care of financially- for that, I can be so very grateful. I own my home (and car) so there are no payments to make there. I can loaf around and read all day, or watch Netflix or arrange my patio furniture on my deck (etc.) or do absolutely anything I want until August.

For most people, that’s called “winning the lottery”. But for me, a perfectionist-workaholic, it’s sheer torture! I live my life by deadlines and goals and am always “achieving something”. Anything less than that feels utterly lazy to me. Logistics aside, I am having a wonderful time in the chill zone.

I’ve registered for my new college- Indiana University East- for this fall where I’ll be working on a double bachelor’s in Psychology and Criminal Justice. I’m hoping to eventually be able to move to Arizona. (That’s later on down the road though.) As much as I’m drawn to both majors, I’ll wait until I’ve completed both before deciding to work towards a Master’s in Psychology or Criminology. it’ll be an interesting road nonetheless.

Josh is off to get us some authentic tacos and ceviche and we’ve decided to settle in for a night of intense gaming! I swear I’m having the best time of my life these days. No complaints.

water lillies

Bernheim Forest/ Water Lillies  [Van Gogh meets Monet]


My Latest Addiction

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Home made salt water taffy!

As a young girl, I often made homemade rock candy. I also made fondant and tried to make some sort of chew candy, but I was a noob in the kitchen with little more than an old beat up Betty Crocker cookbook. (This was waaaaay before the internet.)

I’ve made several batches of this delicious salt water taffy in the past few days and will try it again tonight, adding a scoop of peanut butter. Even the timing of one minute can be the difference between soft, chewy taffy and jawbreaker-like solidity, so best to not exceed 245 F degrees.

For anyone interested, here’s how to make it:

Ingredients

 

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon real butter
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla favoring 

 I’m no Martha Stewart and I prefer to cook like my grandmother, Jewel- rugged-style and pretty much eyeballing everything rather than measuring. For this type of thing, you have to measure it, however. It couldn’t possibly be easier:

Mix everything up in a pan. Stir somewhat consistently until it reaches 255 F. I didn’t have a candy thermometer so Josh stuck his voltage tester in it and viola! If you don’t happen to have a hot guy in the kitchen with greasy power tools, you can also do the cold water test. Drop 1/4 of a teaspoon in a cup of cold water. If it “balls up” easily- you’re good to go. I also gauge it by the “pull” it has when you stir it. After stirring it over medium heat for 8 minutes or so, it thickens up and begins to have a pull to it- you can use that method also. 

At 220 F- you’re going to get a runny taffy that never really firms up. At 245 F, you’ll get a firm taffy that’s just about right. At 260 F and on up, you may need to see the dentist if you try to chew it. If you want a buttered Werther’s type of candy, jack it up to 275 F or more. Trial and error is the best way to learn but really, 245 F is usually what I aim for.

When it’s ready to take off the stove, pour it into a buttered dish (or bowl) and let it cool down long enough to be able to handle. Once cooled, the real work begins. The taffy needs pulling and stretched for about 10-15 minutes. It’ll begin to change colours from a honey brown to a light tan and then to a bone white when it’s finished. 

Roll it into a log and use kitchen scissors to cut it into bite sized pieces. The sweetness of the sugary vanilla mixed with bite of the sea salt is pure HEAVEN. Twist each piece up into wax paper and you’re good to go. 

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Burn Bright: Burn Loud

Today’s been a wonderful day. 🙂

When I gave my mother my diplomas (Behavioral Sciences degree + CPC in Substance Abuse) for her birthday today, she gasped and then clutched them to her chest and just wept. It was so precious! I wasn’t expecting that kind of a response. I also told her that if I’m half the woman that she is when it’s all said and done, I will have succeeded in this world. I’ve never known a sweeter woman than my mother. She has a greater capacity to love and forgive than most people.

I know quite a few people who feel that their moms are critical and will even make them feel bad or ashamed of their appearances or what have you: my mom’s just the opposite. I’m working toward buying her a home over the next few years. I told her (back when I was 16) that someday, I’d buy her a home. Now I can see the outline of it taking shape.

After I graduated, she asked me if I was able to add “those little letters after my name”- ha. Cute.

“No. I don’t have any little letters after my name. But after I’m a doctor, I will have,” I said.

The thoughts and realizations of becoming a doctor are now within my grasp. It’s no longer a wild notion that I can work toward and obtain my Psy. D in Psychology, which is one of the highest levels of doctorate for psychology that one can receive.

The reason my fight is so intense, is because in my family, we women have always been little more than glorified toilet scrubbers, wives, moms, nannies, care-takers and sitters. I’m the first female- for literally generations- to receive my college degree. It’s just not something women in my family do-ever. This is why I took both of my nieces under my wings and encouraged them to get their degrees. One of them enrolled in college, but dropped out shortly after she was married- never to return. The other (I hear) is now working really hard in a nursing program, taking after her Aunt Birgy- making A’s and doing very well. She’s had some private struggles which have stacked the odds against her, so the fact that she can overcome these obstacles and pursue her degree is really quite profound. I think she’s going to make it. 🙂

In my family, this type of thing is huge! She wants to be a nurse, but really, there’s nothing stopping her from going all the way and becoming a doctor. We’re all quite poor, and I’m doing all I can to change the infrastructures of the (hush hush) sexism that has held back the women in our family for many generations. When a person or family unit comes from a very poor upbringing and goes on to earn a good salary and improve their lives economically, it’s called “upward mobility”, sociologically speaking. When a person comes from money (whether old or new) and ends up in a shack with little more than a few coins to rub together, it’s known as “downward mobility”.

I want to be an example for the women in my family and I’m raising the bar high. I won’t settle for going to work and going home- multiply that by many years- and then “simply dying”. What will it all have been for? I want to burn bright and loud and show them that they can achieve anything that they set their minds on. Mediocrity is not an option.

Another reason working toward a doctorate in psychology is so important to me is because my maternal grandmother died with dementia. It’s not a stretch to assume that my mother could end up like her mother. I’m working toward becoming a trained professional so that I’ll decrease my Mom’s chances at getting dementia. It’s an inherent disorder, and you can do little to alter DNA, but it can be warded off, or even diffused altogether if given the right nutrition, and treat any early symptoms aggressively and proactively. I will not let my mother become a statistic and in some home somewhere.

She gave me life! And it’s the least I can do to spend the rest of mine dedicated to making hers better.

I’m off to play a Nancy Drew game. I’m having such a great time in life these days: Every day is a vacation. 🙂

My son, Brian ,and his little lady, Amanda- so in loveImage

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God Walks

These past few days have been nothing short of incredible. Some things have happened here at home that have caused both Josh and I to be soft-hearted, more so than usual. Take for example, his wallet, that was stolen from a department store. His birth certificate, ID, more than $100, my credit card too- and lots of other goodies were inside of it.

Interestingly enough, rather than being angry much, we’ve been teary-eyed and hyper-emotional. But that’s to be expected under the circumstances. As for me, I’ve been pondering my life (imagine that!) and contemplating my absolute direction in which I’ll go. I was in Business Administration five years ago when my Pastor suggested I switch majors to something that might better utilize my talents. I considered what she said and decided to go into Human Services/Behavioral Sciences. Generally, I wanted to work with homeless people and troubled juveniles, etc. From there, I considered Criminal Justice and probation/parole, and up until yesterday, I was alright with that.

But I’ve been praying and asking God to guide me to the place that He wants me to go. His answer: Psychology- specializing in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder/OCD behaviors- but most importantly- child sexual abuse and trauma. He’s really been digging around in my heart these past few months, stirring up some things I’d rather not acknowledge.

I was sexually abused by a relative when I was nine years old. Up until a year ago, I couldn’t even string those words together in the same sentence. I haven’t been in denial- but so very apprehensive to even look in that direction. It means pain. Heaps and heaps of pain. At some point, we sexual abuse survivors really do just get tired of this old monster that eats away at our heads and hearts. It’s emotionally and psychologically draining. Well, perhaps that is a form of denial. But as long as I don’t want to see it, it’s still buried. I couldn’t speak about this issue while my Dad was alive. This type of thing destroys lives- it’s like a locomotive with razor-sharp teeth- eating souls along the way. It devastates families. So for many years, I’ve stayed silent. I’ve taken my lashes privately to spare my siblings what would have been much ruin, both privately and publicly. Not surprisingly, my family has preferred that as well. Nobody ever talks about it. It “doesn’t exist” in their worlds.

I was told (when I was a child) that if I ever told anybody, my brothers and sister would be taken away and we would all be put in foster homes and that I would have been the cause. I was only 9! What a terrific and horrendous burden to place upon a child so young. So I kept my mouth shut. And suffered alone. And suffered. And suffered. And suffered.

My siblings got to keep each other and nobody went to a foster home. Hooray.

But I can’t stay silent any more. God has been walking through my heart. He’s telling me that I have a story to tell and it’s ok to tell it! I’ve suffered enough. I can hardly believe the number of women I’ve met online who are my age that have been sexually abused. A good many of them are taking multiple medications and cannot even leave their houses without another family member. That was me a handful of years ago too.

For four years now I’ve studied psychology and such in college. I used to slag on therapists, thinking they were goofy- spitting out “mumbo jumbo Freudian crap”. How ignorant! Naturally, I’ve come to understand just how hard psychology really is; all of the various sections of the brain and their functions that pertain to specific disorders and so on. And that’s just the physiological aspect- there’s the sociological aspect too; perspectives and theories and research methods. The field is so extensive, it really does command respect.

I’m 44 years old and I’ve never been treated for being molested as a child. The shame and pain that goes along with it keep women like me silent. And so we suffer silently. Year after year. But God has touched my heart today with His finger. It burns with a super fire! I’ve decided for the first time in my life to seek treatment for my childhood trauma. The silence must be broken if the remedy is to be successful. Besides, this is the area I want to study and specialize in in my studies. How can I possibly be of any help or use to other women who’ve suffered from this if I don’t become the client and receive professional help too?

And so I shall. I’ve called my local Behavioral Health facility and have scheduled an appointment for June. The first step really is the hardest. I know that the road won’t be particularly easy, but I know that I’m making a good emotional and psychological investment for my future. I’ve been so encouraged by the many (many many) brave women who have shared their similar stories through their blogs.

Some people think that such things shouldn’t be aired in public, but every one who has and continues to do so is my hero. We never know just who we’re going to touch in this world, or who may be reading our posts that have no idea what to do, where to go, who to talk to, etc.

I have a great, new outlook on life and I’m excited at the prospect of finally getting professional help for such an ugly disease: child sexual abuse.

Today is my mother’s birthday.  She doesn’t know it yet but I’m going to give her my (college) diplomas as one of her gifts.  I’ve fought so hard to finish my degree- for myself, yes, but especially for her. And she’s so proud of me. :0)

Happy birthday, Mom. ♥

My Mom’s one and only sunflower

 SunflowerMJ


This One’s for You, A*****e

So Josh and I were hanging out in a parking lot, near a sweet little 1/2 mile walking track. We’re laughing and taking pictures:

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Josh was doing figure 8’s and I was experimenting with long exposure:

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Just as Josh was finishing up a few tight laps, a white car slowly approached us: Security. Great.

And it went a little something like this:

“Is this private property?”

“Yeah, you know you’re not supposed to be taking pictures.”

“Um, no. I didn’t, Is it private property?”

“Have you been taking pictures?”

“Well…yeah, of him,” I said, pointing to Josh. “Is the grass and walking track public, or is that private too?”

[No answer. Again.]

“You know I could take your camera if I wanted to?”

[WTF?]

And then he went on to tell me how much control he had over me (etc. etc.) and didn’t like my “bad attitude” (get in line, dude!) and that he (again) could take my camera away.

Good grief- I really have had it with men who want to control a woman because THEY THINK THEY CAN. It’s absolutely abusing one’s “power” because he has a gun and a government vehicle.

I went over to the gazebo, stuffed my camera in my bra and dared him to say another word.

“Josh, can you pick me up over here please? UNBELIEVABLE,” I said, standing a few feet away. I was beyond pissed.

And just so you know Mr. Security dude, I DID take pictures of your building.

And this one’s for you, a*****e:

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And there’s more where that came from:

The same location:

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ImageI even drank your melted snow- barefooted:

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And some of the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant (which is strictly prohibited to explore, I might add):

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And some of the kids:

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And for the record, there was this one security guard that works with you. He stopped me one day in the winter time as I parked my car in your parking lot. He asked what I was doing and I told him I was taking pictures. I asked him if it was alright if I took some shots of one of the old buildings. He said, “Sure.” I ran all the way there and back, as I knew I needed to hurry, and I did that to be considerate.

Everything worked. See?

Industryaag_jth8q1viiy_detail

Get a clue, douchebag. <<<<<<<<—————–


Creek Walk

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Helios film 44-2/Canon Rebel/natural lighting

 

 

 


I Can Get Used to This

 

I stayed up all night reading my Vivien Leigh bio and eating Jalapeno Cheetos. Does life get any better than this? I can hardly wait to find out.

I awoke at 5:00 p.m., cleaned the house, and am getting ready to hit my Gazelle Stryder for an hour- coffee at 7! This is what my entire summer will look like. Loafing around doing absolutely anything I want- living on rock-n-roll time. (Up all night- sleep all day.) I’ve gone from a no nonsense student to a glorified beach bum in less than a week- I love it. 🙂

Josh has been out of town for two days on business. I really miss that kid when he’s not around!

Nothing more to report. Life is good.
Very very good. 

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 Brian and Amanda- Warhol/pop


Just In

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My diplomas!

I had no idea that my CPC/certification in Substance Abuse would be an actual diploma also. I don’t think it’s set in that I’ve officially graduated from college. It feels like a major accomplishment and it’s definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. My 2nd diploma was a great Mother’s Day present when I checked the mail today- fresh off the press.

All in all, today’s been a great day. I spent the afternoon with Josh and my mother. (I had ordered some chocolate truffles for her from Swiss Colony for Mother’s Day.) It’s 1:35 a.m. and although Josh has to work tomorrow, he left to go to the store to buy me chocolates. I only hinted that I would like some and he was out the door and off to the drug store to buy them for me. What a great guy. 🙂 No complaints here.

Off to bed. My Vivien Leigh bio awaits. (And so do my chocolates.) Happy (late) Mother’s Day, to all of the moms out there! x


Lately

Things have been pretty darn good.

School is OUT for the summer! I finished off my last two finals today. I’m totally finished with everything. I have no idea what my grades’ll be like: I haven’t a clue. I was at all A’s during midterm, but I can’t say that’s the case now. No matter- it’s over!

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Taken today: Ohio River, lying on the rocks- Helios film 44-2/Canon Rebel

I’m told I look like my daughter, Moriah. I think I look more like Heidi.

Josh and I went to the river today on his moped. We packed up a lunch of Arizona tea w/ginseng + Pringles, smoked mussels, and Jalapeno cheddar crackers. (Desert was Snickers and Strawberry and Creme Lifesavers.) We laid on the rocks with our library books and listened to the crashing waves slamming the rocks. Perfect afternoon. 🙂

As stubborn and resistant as I am, wanting to jump right back into summer school, Josh has convinced me to take the entire summer off. So, I shall. Tomorrow I’ll clean the place spotless and begin my summer long vacation doing absolutely anything I want.

Heaven…