Fire in the pie hole, that is. Initially, I stopped blogging for a while because I have a crazy sibling who stalks my every move here at my blog, and after discovering her footprints all over the place here (such as, seeing her key word searches that she used- which were disturbing, to say the least) – I just really grew disgusted at the notion that she poured over my every word, and it really just creeped me out, altogether. I began feeling like my posts were going directly to her, rather than feeling liberated and being able to express myself freely. (She has a long history as a stalker, and I’m betting she’s changed very little in the past 5 years.)
Alas, I can’t live my life based on other people.- especially her. So I’ll pick up where I left off and simply do what I’ve always done: document my life in words and pictures so that my children and others will have a digital “life album” that they can access, both now and in the future. Apart from that, blogging is really healthy, and sometimes, getting those feelings out through writing is the only way to move past them. So, I’m going to try and blog every day again, and the purpose is not to entertain others; if I wanted to do that I’d just be a You Tuber instead. I don’t really care if I’m blogging about peas, just as long as I keep writing. I’ll only be able to free up emotional space if I’ve made room for new things. So, if you’re here and reading this, be warned- you may eventually be reading about peas.
Since switching to a plant-based diet, Josh and I have considered our options where “meat” is concerned. We’ve been researching meat alternatives, and came across a protein-rich, wheat-based, gluten-heavy protein called tempeh. Basically, tempeh is fermented soy beans that have been fried into small “cakes”. It’s packed with gluten, because gluten is the part of wheat that’s thick and sticky and keeps the bread together. Tempeh is a concentration of the sticky parts, so if you’re eating Tofurkey– which is a vegan meat substitute- you’re eating a gluten-bomb.
I thought I’d be o.k. eating it, because I’ve never had signs of being gluten-sensitive before and have eaten wheat all of my life. But almost immediately after making spaghetti with Tofurkey, my tongue began to burn on its underside. At first, it felt like I’d been burned, and then it progressed into a full-scale attack in which the top of the bottom (of my tongue) felt and looked like it was split open. It clearly had swollen and split apart and appeared to be growing in both size and intensity. Before long, my right ear felt pressurized and my right eye began to burn as well. Within 12 hours, I couldn’t talk and it hurt so badly it took my breath away. When I woke up this morning, I was in excruciating pain and could barely chew my food.
It’s been almost 24 hours now and the pain hasn’t let up at all. I’m guessing I’m gluten-sensitive! Josh got some Orajel for me and it’s helped relieve some of the pain. So, I’ll be adding that to the list as well:
Thank God for Almond milk ice cream! Adopting a (mostly) vegan diet doesn’t mean food has to be boring. I’ve been making my own cashew milk too. It’s amazing! Josh discovered that almond milk has the nutrition of only 28 almonds, so we found a great cashew milk recipe that’s simple as well as wholesome and delicious. None of the pulp is thrown out, so nothing goes to waste. It’s actually tastier than cow’s milk. Lately, cow’s milk had begun to taste like water, so it’s nice to have a creamy milk that is rich in flavour and nutrients.
I’m taking the day off and resting in bed. I can’t believe January is almost gone! One month left of the cold and then the spring will be here again. ❤
Lewis and Clark’s cabin- overlooking the Ohio River
-Click on print to purchase-
Everything looks better in black and white. 🙂 (I know a few hundred people who’d agree.)
Spring Mill Park- Mitchell, Indiana – a warm day in February, on a day trip with Josh and Brianna- very little editing/Lensbaby Composer/ f/5.6
256 Spring Street/Jeffersonville, Indiana/47130
Josh told me about a new place in town called the Red Yeti Brewing Company. What’s this? A real craft brewing company with farm to fork food? In Jeffersonville, Indiana? I had to know more so we popped in today for a quick bite and a cold stout.
First, a bit of history. Our region is as old as the hills and seldom is there a new shop (or store) open that offers farm to fresh anything. Sauces come in large cans and you’re lucky to get fresh homemade pasta anywhere. Our city is dusty, old, historic, and not much happens in the way of culinary surprises.
So it was a nice fresh surprise upon first arriving: a small quaint crowd gathered ’round the bar, and the smell of fresh food was immediate. We were greeted by our server, Ashley, who was super friendly (but not overbearing) and besides serving us, she filled us in on the local food scene- what came from where- and also obliged to tell us what our food was made of.
I’d like an Ashley in every restaurant. I was dying to know what was in our smoked brisket, besides their homemade BBQ sauce (yes, homemade), smoked cheese, and bacon jam. There was a distinct sweetness there that I couldn’t quite pick out.
“Blueberries,” Ashley revealed. “We don’t have a freezer or a microwave. All of our food is market fresh from the local region.”
Ashley, we love you. (Don’t worry Jack. We love you too!)
Our home cut fries were served with a fresh covering of grated parmesan with a side of garlic ranch aioli. The food was absolutely fantastic and so very fresh. Although they spoke of making their own brew soon, for now, they’re importing a variety of exotic sounding (and tasting) beers. Take for instance, the Brooklyn Chocolate Stout:
It’s absolutely out of this world with notes of deep chocolate. It’s richer, deeper, and full of way more flavor than a traditional stout. Heaven in a glass.
The colour scheme was rather masculine, which I very much like: red and black throughout surrounded by brick walls. Large pieces of machinery peppered the decor giving it an interesting industrial tinge that I very much dug:
One thing that I really appreciate about this place is that the menu is small and uncluttered. If I’ve learned anything from Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, it’s that most failing businesses clutter their menus with unnecessary items that they’ll never cook. Everything on the menu is (again) fresh, and made by a professional chef as well as a sous chef, and it definitely shows.
As Ashley stated, “I’m proud to be part of this establishment. We all work really hard to bring the best that we can and do what we can to make it what it is.”
She went on to describe many of her work days, which include arriving early to sort out the fresh kale and other farm fresh vegetables. I’m used to eateries such as this on Bardstown Rd. in Louisville, Kentucky, but it’s a total delight to find such a gem right around the corner here in Jeffersonville.
My guy before the Brooklyn Chocolate Stout:
“Do you know what I love about you?” He asks.
“What?” I ask in return, eyeballing my stout.
We’ll definitely be coming back to the Red Yeti Brewing Company. 🙂
Taking a break from the schoolwork.
Jeffersonville Marina- early this morning in the fog.
Lensbaby Composer/Double Glass/ f/4/ISO 100
“Is that a mop she’s carrying?” I asked my daughter.
“Looks like it.”
I pulled the car slightly behind the woman, who was making her way across the parking lot taking slow, methodical steps. I happened to have my Canon around my neck with my trusty 50 MM prime attached and ready to go. I went to work quickly, snapping away shots of this curious woman- I didn’t know at the time that she was homeless. It was Valentine’s Day. My daughter, who knows me all too well, said, “You’re not going to stop…”
“Of course I am,” I replied.
My daughter then realized that it was the same woman she’d had a previous encounter with, and not a friendly one at that. The woman had been using a grocery cart and my daughter had recognized the store and had asked her about it, while passing her on the street. The woman fired back a few semi-obscenities and continued on her way.
“You’re going to help her?” she asked.
“Yep.” Said I.
It was then that I recognized her. I had shot the residents at the Haven House (homeless shelter) two Christmas’s before: she was there that day, and allowed me to use her photo as part of the website’s pictorial. I knew that if I approached her with a DSLR around my neck and a myriad of questions, she would be put off. So, I basically rushed her with a big smile and a hug and asked her how she was doing.
“Hey, remember me? We were at the Haven House together!” This isn’t altogether untrue.
I could tell by her expression that she didn’t recognize me, but I held her with my smile and made small talk, making light of my camera. She warmed up to me quickly and began telling me her story.
She wasn’t a junkie, or alcoholic. She was once a registered nurse, who had suffered a series of unfortunate events in her life. She continued sharing her story with me, as we made our way back toward the abandoned train yard where she currently resides. The owner, who is a Christian man, allowed her to move into one of the cars four years ago.
“They call me the caretaker,” she said, pride intact.
“Do you want to see it?” she asked.
“Well yeah!” I said, hardly believing what I was hearing. She went on to tell me that she had no running water, no heat, no air conditioning, no electricity, no medical coverage, no car, no government check, no computer, no cell phone, and very little else.
“You’ve been living here for four years?”
It was all I could do to not break down crying. We have a new, fancy bridge that’s being built in our city that’s costing millions of dollars, connecting Indiana to Kentucky. While that’s great and all, our transitional housing program has been cut- lack of funds.
“What’s your name- first name only?” I asked her.
“Jean, I’m Birgitta.”
And we traded another smile.
“I can’t make any promises Jean, but I’m going to see what I can do for you. Tell me what you need; can you make me a list? I’m going to see what I can do to raise some money for you, ok?”
She made a small list of things, such as AAA batteries and other miscellaneous items, and I gave her my home and cell numbers.
“If there’s anything you can think of, call me, ok?”
Jean shared more of her story with me, and the plights of trying to receive medical treatment while being homeless. Our city’s main hospital, Clark Memorial, has an extended emergency room: the Behavioral Health unit. Because substance abuse is such an endemic problem in Southern Indiana, people who are thought to be mentally ill or exhibiting behavior associated with substance abuse are directed immediately to that area of the ER, and without question. They tell you that it’s simply part of the overflow area where they put people when it’s crowded. Because homeless people are stigmatized much of the time, and filed away quickly straight over to Behavioral health, many homeless people don’t receive the necessary treatment they need.
“I fell off my steps 10 days ago. Look,” Jean said.
She raised her shirt and pulled her pants away from her hip, revealing several large, yellow-green bruises that covered her backside.
“I can’t go to Clark Memorial because they’ll stick me in Behavioral Health.”
This too made me want to cry. I mustered my strength and fought to maintain my composure so that I could finish conducting the interview. Just then, two men with kind eyes and a pair of crutches came walking down the tracks, toward her train car.
“Here ya go, darlin’,” said one of the men to Jean.
And then Jean looked like this:
I introduced myself to them, quickly establishing the necessary street repoire that states clearly, “I’m one of you guys.”
After another quick round of shots, sans the gentlemen, I trotted back to my car, ending our rendezvous. I went back later that night, with a bucket list of things that I wanted to try to do for Jean, and a hot bowl of homemade chicken soup. As I made my way down the dark tracks, it was bitterly cold, and the desolation was palpable. I knocked on Jean’s door and she answered quickly.
“Yes? Who is it?” her voice carried a note of dignity and hospitality. She made her way to the door with a flashlight in her hand.
“It’s me- Birgitta. I have something for you.” I said. “I think you should know that I make the best chicken soup on this side of heaven,” I said with a smile.
That was two days ago. Last night was teeth-chattering freezing. I cried off and on throughout the evening, thinking of Jean in her train car; no lights, no heat, no t.v., no company.
When I mentioned online college, aka distance education, Jean had taken great interest. Having been a registered nurse, she might like to further her education, just as I’m doing. Josh happens to be in possession of a standard size construction trailer. It’s an 8×20 with a built in kitchen nook that looks like a diner from the 50’s, along with a tiny bathroom, door included.
I literally AM the poor, but I can’t keep something that might be of use to somebody else, especially in Jean’s situation. I’ve talked Josh into giving it to Jean, if she’ll be allowed to have it there. At least it has windows. I’m not going to let her know beforehand, but if she can have it, we’re going to fix it up with a bed, pictures (that I can provide myself, being a photographer and all), and other necessary amenities. I love surprising people. 🙂
I’m going to petition several small businesses and ask if they can donate their services (cell phone, laptop, wireless printer, etc.) so we can help Jean get her life back. I have a children’s book I’d like to market and promote, as well as a music album/CD I’d like to compile (being a singer/songwriter musician) and a virtual art gallery to create, but I’m putting everything on hold for a bit so I can at least offer Jean some reprieve. I have a lot of irons in the fire: it’s something that I’m used to.
Did I mention that I have an intestinal virus? And, TMJ (my jaws crack and pop like Rice Krispies when I open and shut my mouth it’s so bad, and extremely painful), scoliosis, and of course, the arachnoid cyst on my brain stem. The car accident back in October compacted every one of these afflictions- I have nerve damage as a result, along with other damaged areas. I’ve been so sick these past few days. (The insurance company, Allstate, who represents the lady who split my bumper, has offered me a paltry $1,700 for my pain and suffering. Um, are you for real Allstate? After I had to drop out of school last semester (with a doctor’s note), repair my GPA, have suffered unthinkable pain and suffering to my overall alignment- in my vertebrae, not my car) and am barely able to hang on to this semester due to all of the stress…and they offer me $1,700. Unbelievable. No, you are NOT in good hands with Allstate.
I could get a lawyer and duke it out for a year or so, but that would mean that I would have to go through the “doctor gauntlet”, being referred here and there. I know the drill- I’m a research hound and stay up on many things.
Poor J- he’s hurting everyday as he continues his decompression therapy several times per week. It’s no picnic! I’m concerned about his liver- he takes a lot of Ibuprofen, but basically, he lives uncomfortably and in pain much of the time. The car accident has absolutely turned our lives upside down.
Because I refuse to take prescription pain medication, and/ or anxiety medication, doctors aren’t sure where to go with me. They’ve suggested a number of medications for me to try, but the majority of the meds double as anti-depressants (the latest fashion in chronic pain meds) but I refuse to be a guinea pig after Topomax almost killed me. They’re quick to diagnose you with a conversion disorder if you’re a chronic pain sufferer, which in short, translates to “it’s all in your head”. (Which in this case, it is. Literally.) I’ll take my chances with cayenne pepper, ginger, green tea, a mile walk (when I can squeeze it in), and other homeopathic avenues.
As much as I regret it, I may have to cut my own throat and take the offer from Allstate simply because I want to set Jean up with an Android cell phone with a paid one year contract. That would at least give her a lifeline to the outside world via the internet.
I’m not driven by money- never have been- never will be. I am, however, going to add a PayPal tab here in this blog (up at the top, later), temporarily, so that whoever may have it upon their hearts to contribute to Jean, will be able to. I’m hoping to be able to collect at least a few thousand dollars for her. This is my target list for Jean, and what I’d like to get for her with outside help:
Medical coverage for 1 year
Inexpensive, but descent car
Paid car insurance for 1 year
Smart phone (Android) + 1 year paid coverage (internet)
Battery powered printer (wireless printer accessible from Smartphone)
Small Generator with (some) gas
Water filtering system (portable)
Jean has given me permission to work on her behalf: Lord knows somebody needs to.
She’s grateful for all of the help.
Josh is going to use his awesome talents and make her a homemade walking stick/cane. We’re going to go soon and select a sturdy tree branch so that he can smoothen it, stain it, and shellac it. It’ll be another nice surprise for her.
If you’d like to make a monetary donation, the PayPal email address is: email@example.com
Any and all contributions for Jean will be documented, systematically filed, and then made available for public viewing. Thanks again. 🙂
Now I’m going to go and collapse.
The breakup letter worked. It’s been difficult, but I haven’t chewed on my cheek/tongue since I “dumped it”. (Hey, whatever works.)
Brianna, J, and I headed out to Spring Mill Park today. The place was completely abandoned (which was perfect) so we had it to ourselves. I have to say, I wasn’t missing the cheesy period costumes (women churning butter, old men at the apothecary, etc. etc.).
It was an excellent opportunity to get reacquainted with shooting in monochrome using the 50 MM + all manual controls (focus, exposure, etc.) I’m a stickler for manual focus.
That’s right. Real men carry their womens’…necessary things.
The heart of Pioneer Village.
An interesting growth atop the entrance to the garden.
Josh composes a shot using the trusty “road warrior”, also known as the Canon G3.
A quick self port. in the ladies restroom. Yes, those are pajamas…
Josh carries Chance in his jacket. All together now…”Awww….”
And this is why I’ve fallen in love all over again with the 50 MM. This bench shot is straight out of the camera. (Had to lay on my back in the snow to get the shot- but I got it.)
Canon Rebel Xti
50 MM 1.8 II