Advice From A Confident Advanced Beginner

I learned to sew under the tutelage of a wise and patient 4-H leader when i was about 10 years old. I have sewn off and on since then, but long gaps between projects meant that my skill level has dropped every time i started something new. Enter Covid. This forced self-entertainment during the pandemic has had me on a very long sewing jag. And perhaps as a result of age, rather than concentrating on getting to the finished product, i spent more time on the process. I have picked up some skills and tricks that i had never bothered to learn before. There are a lot of tutorials out there, but there aren’t many that just hand out the basic “rules of the road” like an elderly 4-H leader does. Since i know a lot of people have been teaching themselves to sew throughout the current isolation, i figured i might share some of those basic concepts that i was probably told all those years ago, but didn’t really pay attention to until i started on this self-made, sustainably-made, quest.

**** Note: If i make reference to a technique that you have not done before, just google a tutorial. There are a zillion tutorials, both written type and video. I use them frequently. Watch a few, take a bash at it for practice, and then go for the real deal when you are ready. Practice is the most important part.

First off, my “must haves” for sewing:

A decent iron. Teachers always say to press, press, press… And i used to ignore it. But having made many projects that came out crap because i was working on wrinkles or unpressed seams, i now press the fabric before i cut it, press every seam after i sew it, and even press it if it has just been jumbled on my sewing table for a couple days. I promise you, it is worth the time.

A seam ripper. This is your new best friend. Or maybe frenemy. No one likes to admit they have goofed, but if you want to improve, you have to. Check each seam after you complete it and make sure you have it caught the way you want. If you don’t, rip that baby out. Even if no one notices the mistake, you will know it is there, and it will eat away at your sewing confidence.

A magnifying glass. I have a couple $5 ones that i bought on amazon. I think they were meant for kids who were bug hunting, but they have been so helpful. Threading the machine is easier, for sure. And ripping out seams where your thread matches so well, you can’t see the seam…. Way easier when magnified (This is said by someone who, more than once, accidentally tore a hole in the allowance while trying to undo a seam because of very small stitches or a well-matched thread.)

Pattern paper. Personally, though i would love to buy the fancy stuff, i make too many mistakes to afford that. I searched for tracing paper on amazon and ended up buying rolls of paper that i’m fairly certain were intended for physician office tables. But whatever. It works, it comes in a big roll, and i use it with nearly every pattern. Why, you ask? Well, i need to alter almost every pattern. FBAs (Full bust adjustments,) neckline changes and/or shoulder alterations, adding pockets (Why do they even make clothing without pockets????) – If you try to do it right on your pattern, the pattern won’t hold up, it will look crap, and no one wants to sew with ugly supplies. Plus if you mess up the changes, you will have no way to go back and tweak it. It is also worth noting that Japanese pattern books are a lot of fun to work with, and you have to trace those patterns. Trust me, the purchase is worth it.

A stack of cheap thrift store sheets. If you have a pattern you have never made before, don’t do your first take with good fabric. Make a toile/muslin/practice, even if it is only of the garment body. A used $2 bedsheet can make a whole bunch of practice takes where you can check your fit, alterations needed, and whether you even like the style on your own bod. Yes, it takes time. But it is worth it. It does help if you have a dress form. Again, my budget is limited, so mine is made out of duct tape and fiberfill – Done properly, it is an inexpensive but helpful option. There are a mess of tutorials on how to make one and they all work, so pick your favorite and take a bash at it. It speeds up the early stages, but always try your muslin on the actual body before you make your final tweaks. A dress form can’t account for how your body moves in a garment.

Two rulers: A regular 12″ and a quilting ruler with all the angles marked on it. Make sure both have metric measurements as well – Some fantastic PDF patterns come from Europe. Those and those Japanese pattern books i spoke of earlier generally use metric measurements. You will need to mark points, mitre corners, make straight edges, accurately set on the bias… Measuring tape is great for measuring bodies, but not so much for the other stuff.

Now, for some things i have learned that upped my game from “Beginner” to “Advanced beginner”…

Resist the urge to step on the gas. Even if it is a straight seam, it is easy for it to get out of hand. Find that “sweet spot” on your pedal that gets you moving, but is still controllable. When i started back at the beginning of the pandemic, i actually spent a little time doing basic stitches on scrap because i know my tendency is to rush. To coin a phrase from Miracle Max, “If you rush a crafter, you get rotten crafts.”

If you are a beginner, you will likely use a lot of elastic, and elastic is definitely one of those cases where you need the right tool for the task. Pajama elastic may be softer and cheaper, but it will roll like hell in the waistband of your $15 a yard pants. (Guess how i know this…) Buy the good non-roll stuff. Oh, and flat front the waist, even if only a few inches – A) It looks better. And B) you will never have to wonder which side is the front. Also, keep some good narrow elastic on hand. If that neckline turns out way too wide and gapey, a casing made of a bias strip placed around the neck and threaded with some thinner elastic can save the project by turning the neckline into a softly gathered one. (I am embarrassed to admit how many times i have used that little nugget of advice, especially when i first started working full bust adjustments.)

Speaking of bias strips, learn how to make and use them. (There are a mess of tutorials out there, but practicing with scrap is the most important part.) Commercial bias tape has its place, as does a pattern facing. But for many beginner projects – simple tunics, for example – a simple bias strip in self- or contrasting fabric can be a really easy and pretty way to finish a neck, hem, or sleeve. I sometimes even do it backwards, bringing it from inside to outside, if i want a little contrast edge or i want the neckline to sit up a little.

Finish your seams properly for the fabric and project you are making. I make a lot of clothing with linen, for example, and my sewing machine is a rather basic one – no serger. To keep the fraying edges in check, i often do away with inseam pockets and make patch ones instead so that i can finish with french seams. Yes, french seams take longer, but the garment will last longer, and the inside will look and feel as pretty as the outside. On seams where a french isn’t an option and i have to zigzag, (For me, this usually means on garments where i have to stick with inseam pockets,) i have learned that wider isn’t always better. A medium width and a short stitch length work well and look and feel a lot better against the skin than a wide one.

Prewash! Your fabric, obviously, but also your trim. In general, it is advised by everyone to wash it before you make it the same way you would after you make it. I generally line dry the clothes, etc, that i make, but i do put them in the dryer for the prewash. It helps get more of the shrinkage out. The exception to this is a fabric or trim that specifically states not to dry it. To ensure you don’t make that error, check the bolt when you buy it, write the instructions on a piece of paper if they are different than your usual laundry care, and pin it to the fabric right when they hand the cut to you. That way, if it sits in your stash for a while, you won’t forget! I also take a tiny bit of red ribbon and stitch a small tag on the inside of the neck or a side seam of projects i make out of it to remind me not to wash/dry/whatever it in the future. Of course, you don’t have to use red – i use it because i rarely wear red, so the ribbon stands out and i can’t miss it. And remember to prewash the ribbon (Each trim in its own lingerie bag to avoid a rat’s nest) to ensure it doesn’t ever accidentally bleed on your beautiful creation!

And lastly, have faith and be gentle with yourself. Everyone has to tear out a seam now and again; it doesn’t mean you are terrible at it. Just take a step back and try again. And everyone has a project or three that turn out crap. I’m sure even Donna Karan has some designs she wishes she hadn’t even tried. It isn’t failure, it is experience. You learn and get better. Like any other skill, it takes times to master. And the first time someone compliments you on something you made, and they show genuine surprise that it is your own creation…. Well, that feeling is something a lot of us haven’t had since we were kids and got a gold star. Admittedly, you might not get that on your first creation, but i promise, it doesn’t take long before you will be whipping up something truly remarkable. As long as you take your time and practice, you can do it. I promise, YOU CAN DO IT!

Investing in Myself – A New Project

Lets face it… Overall, 2020 was a shit year. I have to admit, though, that it also taught me a lot.

I learned that i have more self-discipline than i thought i had… I just don’t always take advantage of it.

I learned that i had allowed my life to become inundated with activity, and that there is beauty and peace in periods of inactivity.

I learned that too much of our lives, of my life, has become caught up in “show.” Giving up most social media has allowed me to let go of the need to post and present things to impress others.

I have become acutely aware, as i succumbed to the online-shopping devil, of how much i waste and how much waste i create.

I spend a lot of my clothed-for-work life uncomfortable.

I’m ready to make some changes.


You all know that i started a while back transitioning my house to a more environmental friendly one. I have given up as much plastic as was easily conceivable. I have switched to more sustainable / reusable/ renewable options for cleaning body and home. Not wanting to create more waste by the transition, i have continued to use the things i have until they are gone or wear out. This has been difficult for me, as i am normally one who gets an idea in their head and then immediately jumps in like it’s a polar plunge. Knowing what i need to do and having to wait to do it has taught me a level of patience that i’ve never had before. I would say that it is a good lesson, but painful… A bit like buying your first home and then realizing you won’t actually own it for 20 or 30 years.

So as i stared into my closet and drawers at all the clothing i own, so much of which i rarely wear, it was time for a reckoning.

I’ve never been one to buy an article of clothing simply because it is “in style.” Firstly, there are few fashion trends that i have ever fallen in love with, and secondly, even fewer of them are anything meant for a body like mine. (I will never understand why fashion is made to fit 20-somethings. We 50-somethings are the ones with the bit of extra money… Why not make them to fit us???) Also worth noting that i DESPISE clothing shopping because i have such a difficult time finding things that fit. When i do find something that works, i generally buy it in a bunch of colors so i won’t have to shop again for a while. What this means, in a nutshell, is that i have a disjointed wardrobe of things that are very similar, but still don’t always go together, and often “fit” but aren’t necessarily flattering.

Add to this that my body, as a combination of landmark age and pandemic sloth, has changed shape over the course of the last year. Much of my clothing no longer fits properly. And with the relaxing of in-person meetings and in-office hours, i have discovered that most of it isn’t particularly comfortable either. I don’t mind being uncomfortable for a couple hours to meet the queen or slow-dance with Liam Neeson or whatever, but i don’t want to spend every waking moment that way.

On the flip side, it would be terribly wasteful just to toss it all and start over. And although donation is the easy answer, there are landfills full of clothing that has been donated and never used. Since a lot of my current wardrobe contains polyester and other manmade fibers, it isn’t going to decompose, it is just going to create more environmental burden. I have been able to find direct homes for a lot of it, giving specific pieces to people who will actually use and enjoy them. The items that fit, i will wear them, repurpose them, or do what i can to mitigate making more trash.

The gaps created by this have inspired me to make a pact with myself: In the coming year, of what items i replace, at least 50% will be handmade by me of sustainable or recycled materials. The remainder, as much as i can, will be either sustainable or upcycled. The consequences of this are more than just material. There are some items that, by nature and definition, are not any of these things. There is no Greta Thurnburg approved wonderbra, so, i will be forced to accept more of myself on the way.

One of my forever-style icons is Dame Judi Dench. Even at (I assume) stressful red carpent events, she always looks both elegant and comfy. Her beauty shines though without having to strap herself into a cinched or boned straight jacket. That is what i want for this part of my life. I want to feel beautiful AND comfortable. I’ve no one left to impress but myself, and i’ve decided that i’m a worthy person to impress. So, to that end, i have invested in patterns drafted by small businesses and available on PDF. Note: While i CAN sew, i am not a master seamstress, so the patterns are all Japanese aesthetic / simple / hygge and altered to fit my middle-aged shape. (A shout out to all the fantastic people who have made youtube tutorials on making your own dress form and how to do full bust adjustments!) I have stocked up on natural and sustainable fabrics in colors that make me happy, are color-analyst approved, and all work together. And i am working on developing a style that is all my own.

I am starting a new category for these posts, and i will be sharing links to shops and tutorials that have been helpful. Feel free to follow along and join in as you can! The more the merrier! Lets share the joy, shall we?

One Way or Another

I decided a few days ago that it was time to get rid of the Covid 25 (Alright, amateur, i know you say 19, but i passed 19 back in May, and my snarky scale puts me at 25…) I woke early this morning, eager to try some new exercises that are supposed to improve my posture and back strength. This, in turn, should help tighten my abs and find my lost waistline. A few old-school stretches in my jammies, and then down to business.

Queue up some motivating music. Blondie seems good. She is older and still badass, right? Who better to spur on my slightly athletic reclaiming of my sassy bod? Crank it up! Grab a glass of water to replenish all the healthy sweat i’m about to give off. I can almost feel the fat rendering like bacon in a cast iron skillet.


I push my exercise ball into the middle of my office slash craft supply closet, sit on it, and then gently roll back. Each vertebrae gives a satisfying crack as it bends itself around the powder blue rubber. It actually feels good – The ancient muscle memory of my more flexible days starting to kick in and make it easier. I can feel my spine lengthening. Aaaah. This is good. I can learn to like this.

I’m not sure when i lost control. A second or an hour later, i opened my eyes and i was under my desk. The sight around me wasn’t pretty.


Still unsure as to exactly what i had done, i rolled to my side in an effort to get up and THWACK – head gets clocked.

Keyboard 1, Momma 0.

I let out the requisite string of cusswords as i extract myself from under the sliding keyboard shelf. I assess the damage. Both keyboards are on the floor, along with a mouse – the other mouse is dangling from it’s wire like a first time rock-climber. Sliding shelf is wonky and jammed. Monitor is setting at an angle i didn’t know it was capable of. Lamp is busted in half and conveniently setting on top of the trash can. My middle toe is bleeding. I’ve got hematomas on the inside of one thigh and the outside of the other (Think about the astounding amount of un-talent that takes!) There’s a lump on my head from the keyboard. And the exercise ball is lightly bouncing against the wall in the hallway. It’s laughing at me, i swear.


I spent the next half hour having an actual conversation with myself, debating whether i should continue to risk injury and broken décor to get fit, or if i should just stay schlumpy.

There was a time when i was graceful. There was a time when i was in great shape. There was a time when i could try a new workout and not be battered, bruised, and bleeding. Of course, there was also a time when you could get a snickers bar for a quarter, and i don’t think that time is coming back either.

There is a reason that so many of us gain weight when we hit middle age. I can’t speak for everyone, but i think a lot of us just get tired of trying “Cardio Funk” and falling down instead of getting down. Or accidentally snapping a resistance band in our face. Or realizing that your average 2 year-old could count the number of push-ups we can do. (Yes, those are all personal examples.) And it’s easy, when you hit that level of frustration, to become resigned in your squishiness and convince yourself that the effort isn’t worth it.


I’m not talking about the social-media fueled obsession with thinness and perfection here. I’m talking just basic health. Fit enough to walk the dog and carry in all the groceries without breathing hard. I don’t need to fit into the jeans i wore in high school… I just want to fit into the jeans i wore last year. (Ok, last month.) And, damn-it-all, i can do it. I know i can. Even if my bruises from this morning tell me otherwise.

I may have to swallow my pride and find some Sweatin’ to the Oldies until the marks from my latest embarrassment fade away, but i won’t give up. It may take me longer than i’d like to get back on track and be remotely hourglass again, but i won’t give up. I may have to stab that exercise ball with my largest carving knife to make myself feel better, but i won’t give up.


On second thought, better find another way to get back at the ball – With my luck, i’d cut my own leg off.

Joy to the World

Driving home today, i passed 2 houses with decorated Christmas trees in their windows. It’s not even 2 weeks past Halloween. I don’t know why i’m surprised. There is a station here that has already gone to playing exclusively Christmas songs. Like, 24/7 Peggy Lee and the Chipmunks. And it makes me so sad.

Don’t get me wrong, i love Christmas. It’s just that there is a whole lot happening between now and then. Concentrating on something that is still a month and a half away somehow makes me wonder if we aren’t wasting all the days until then.

The most obvious potential loss is Thanksgiving. I mean, a holiday completely centered on gratitude and food… How absolutely wonderful is that? True, it has it’s origins in a terribly euro-centric and racist period in our history (John Stewart once put it perfectly: “I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.”) But over the years, as we examine the errors of our past, the holiday has come to be less about our stomping on the rights of indigenous peoples and more about being thankful for all that we have. For one whole day, we all stop whining and griping. I love it. But even excluding Turkey Day, there are Chanukah, the Solstice, Diwali, and probably a bunch of other holidays that i could google up that come before Rudolph charges his nose light.

Perhaps more important than the holidays, though, are all the things that will happen that aren’t pre-marked on the calendar by Hallmark. There will be birthdays. Children will come home with report cards, and science and art projects, and exams that deserve praise and celebration. There will be sports games, and sappy movies, and toasted marshmallows. There will be hugs and kisses from people important to you. There will be comforting snuggles from your pets and children. There will be delicious meals, happy coincidences, days that sing with the beauty of autumn. Perfect cups of coffee, nights spent in freshly washed sheets, and once-a-year notes from people of your past. The list goes on and on.

If we spend all our time wishing and preparing for something in the future, it will be easy for us to miss the great things in the present.

And before you say it, i do realize that this year brings its own challenges in finding joy. Gatherings with family and friends will be much smaller this year, and some will have to forgo it entirely. Kissing under the mistletoe will be exclusively with the one you’ve been kissing already (If you are lucky enough to have had someone to kiss.) And it’s hard to smell the fragrant smoke of a firepit if you have a mask on. Global pandemics suck. But they shouldn’t, and mustn’t, rob every bit of happiness from our lives. As humans, our souls needs those moments as much as our bodies need air to breathe. For those of us who suffer from depression, those moments are even more important. When we are stuck in a pit of despair, sometimes a clear night sky full of stars, a languorous bath, or a giggle from baby is all we need to get one foot on a ledge to climb out of that hole.

Little happy moments are magic.

So before you start going full-throttle into holiday preparations, take a moment to reflect and enjoy all the small morsels of joy that will happen between now and then. Maybe even create some of those moments for others. Write a note, take a walk with a friend, smile at a stranger. Make and take joy in those moments that are gifted to us each day. I can’t promise that every day will be grand, but even if your day has only one little silver lining, it’s a nugget that would have been missed if your mind were on next month. Just like the pocket coins that you keep in a big jar to turn in, the small change, small moments, add up to a whole lot after a while. Keep them.

Live well, my friends. Savor each moment. Christmas will come soon enough.

My Brain in Close Quarters

Like so many of us during this pandemic, i have way too much time to think. If you’ve seen my ramblings before, you know that the ideas streaming through my brain are varied and arguably cause for medication. Now that we’ve been in quarantine long enough for everyone to have read every book in their home, plus the junk mail, your old legal documents, your dog’s palm, and the back of the detergent box, i was thinking i could put my insanity to good use and give you something new to read.

  • My life, overall, hasn’t changed much during this pandemic. Yes, i have transitioned to working from home. Yes, instead of going out on Friday after work, i have virtual happy hour with friends. But other than that and missing the occasional trip to Marshalls or brunch out in town with my daughter, i can’t say the difference is all that drastic. I spend as much of my time on my porch or at my redneck fire pit as i can. I walk Siri-Dog. I do chores. I guess i truly didn’t understand what a boring loner i was until i saw how easily i transitioned to Covid life. But on the bright side, i haven’t suffered the upheaval that those with an active social life have. And i have a built-in excuse for being dateless on a Saturday night.
  • Many of you know that i’ve been working on renovating my Crone Cottage. I broke out a package of graph paper and made little scale reproduction rooms that i could accurately design new ideas in. Looking for inspiration, i went to the website of the official domestic goddess. Searched for design ideas for small spaces. WTH? Ok, if i could afford a $5K laundry hamper, i wouldn’t be living in a cottage, now would i? And how is a 10’x10′ bathroom a small space??? Woman, in cottage land, that is a bedroom! I did try one of her ideas for utilizing storage totes because hers looked so neat and tidy. Mine looks more like a moving sale at Crafts-4-Less. Probably because i didn’t buy her $50 storage totes. Woman, i wish you had a sister from my side of the tracks with a similar website. That would be useful. Because Martha, i love you, but somewhere along the way you have lost touch with the reality of the general masses.
  • I bought myself an Amazon Echo. Now instead of talking to myself, i can talk to Alexa. I’m basically still having the same conversations, except now i don’t have to confess them to my shrink.
  • Six months ago i would have told you that i don’t work out an hour every day, keep my house immaculate, cook elaborate meals every night, master my ukulele, and have my book finished because i just don’t have the time. Yeah….. All that was a big, fat lie.
  • I can go days without a bra and my ducks don’t smack the ground like the Road Runner’s anvil. Who knew?
  • Not to seem irreverent to the seriousness of the current pandemic, but the only thing about it that is a surprise to me is that it took this long to happen. Big swaths of this world of ours are terribly overcrowded, poorly maintained, with no clean water or healthy waste disposal. Add to that an apparent lack of hygiene in the “civilized” world (Evidenced by the sudden need for the masses to purchase quantities of soap and TP… I would have expected us to all own those things already…) and a general degradation of common courtesy (i.e., covering your sneezes and coughs…) Truly, how the Terran population hasn’t already been culled by Tuberculosis, Hepatitis, war, or some other relevant ailment recently seems to me to be luck. But then again, diarrheal diseases, respiratory infection and TB are in the top 10 causes of death in the world… Each of those is communicable just like this and kills more than this. Don’t get me wrong, i am terribly sad that so many are sick and dying from the novel coronavirus. It is a seriously devastating illness. But maybe we’ve been in the midst of epidemics all along. And perhaps the only reason this one is getting the attention is because it is affecting the “civilized” world.
  • To those of you who said the solution to my son’s vile bathroom was to stop giving in and cleaning it for him… That he would eventually clean it himself when it got gross enough? You were wrong. So very, very wrong.
  • I really wish that after the 4th or 5th online shopping order in a pay period, my laptop hit me with a popup like, “You have apparently confused your bank balance with your calorie intake. Transaction cancelled. “
  • I miss my Dermatologist. Rebound wrinkles are a bitch. Especially when you have all the time in the world to notice them.
  • Contrary to the many times i have answered the question, there is absolutely nothing that i want to eat every day for the rest of my life. I can’t even eat the same thing four days in a row without wanting to hurl it out the door.
  • I really expected this quarantine would cause a lot of friction between my son and i. I have been pleasantly surprised that it has been mostly smooth sailing. Of course, the fact that he spends 20 hours a day in his room may have a bit to do with that.
  • Friends who leave surprise packages of homemade cookies on your doorstep are the poster children for all that is good and loving in this world.
  • I was really afraid that i would get in the habit of watching movies every hour that i wasn’t working (I am on the work-from-home train.) And i guess i did for a little bit. Basically until my smartass scale app went from calling me chubby to calling me fat. Then i started to do other things. I made myself a sundress and a sleeveless blazer, i learned some new songs on my uke, i’ve mastered Korean lip stains and cake mascara, i’ve been painting and reading again… And when i do turn on the tv, i try to seek out something different. I watched a couple live-stream operas (I can’t say i’m a huge fan, but even the classic one i saw was more enjoyable than i expected.) I watched some Broadway shows. Some documentaries. By forcing myself to stay away from my usual Firefly episodes or obscure period movies, i was able to broaden my horizons, though i’m not sure they’ve broadened as much as my waistline.
  • Have you ever wondered if putting Everclear in your essential oil diffuser would disinfect the house? No? Just me? Well, for the record, i didn’t try it. I just added it to the list of other things that i wonder about for my infuser. You know, like Nitrous.

Well, i’m off to draw some more renovation plans. Maybe i’ll do a search and see if there is a blog somewhere called “Crone Cottage Living For Those With Normal Incomes.” Or “Martha’s Poor Relation, Maggie, Takes On Decorating.” Something with more reasonable suggestions. Even if my book becomes a success, i could never spend $5000 on a laundry hamper. And if i did, my son would never bother to put his clothes in it anyway.


About me…

I’m a middle aged woman with amazing offspring and a rich life. I’m also a snarky old crone with a penchant for at least half of the seven deadly sins. And i like to laugh. A lot.

Stay tuned in the coming year for my book on the good, bad, and inexplicable insanities of entering your silver years.

Inquiries can be sent to

The Truth Hurts Sometimes

I have seen it everywhere. Social media, coffee mugs, t-shirts… “LIVE YOUR TRUTH.” Almost always, it is in the context of supporting someone whose identity has traditionally been marginalized: Gays, Lesbians, Trans, etc. And that is a wonderful thing. People waste far too much time forcing themselves into boxes built by and for the average community at large, whether for their safety, or just because the human need to be loved is so strong that we are afraid our true nature would leave us connection-less. Stop trying to be someone you are not. The world will adjust.

That’s not to say that everyone will like or love you if you do. But really, do they all like and love you now? Probably not. I mean, there are people out there who hate Hugh Jackman fer gossakes. What chance to the rest of us mere mortals have? But even tho you will still have some who aren’t happy with you, are mean to you even, you are likely no worse off than you were before, only now you don’t have the stress of a lifelong masquerade to add to it. Look to the others already living their truth for proof.

For example, there are people out there whose truth is that they are misogynistic, racist assholes. And they have no problem living that out loud every day. They know people disagree. They know some people hate them for it. They don’t care. They just keep on being true to themselves. Why should they get have all the fun? And on the opposite end, there are those who have no problem living large as ancient Jewish Democratic Socialists. They know there are haters. They don’t care. The rest of us should be just as determined to be true to ourselves.

Maybe your truth is that the spirituality of your African roots saved you, and wearing a dashiki helps you honor that. That is awesome! Do it! There will be some who look at you strangely or make rude comments, but plenty of us will be eager to hear what it means to you.

Maybe your truth is that your soul is a patchouli loving, bra banning, clove-cigarette smoking earth mamma. Some will make snide remarks, call you names. I’m not going to be eager to stand downwind of you, but like most people, i won’t hate you for it. I will still be respectful of you, even as i continue wearing pretty much anything but patchouli oil.

Maybe your truth is that you are a nudist, polyamorous vegan. Good for you! I hope you are able to find a group of people who share your same culture and values so that you can live your truth every moment of every day…. I may even come visit… But don’t show up nude for work.

Because here’s the thing…

Sometimes, being a good citizen means knowing when living your truth is detrimental to the populace at large.

I have heard people say that “gay behavior” is bad for the populace at large because it goes against Christian values. This, to my way of thinking, is incorrect. Public displays of blatantly sexual behavior are bad for the populace at large, but that is not a “gay issue.” No one should be having sex in the street. Downtown Springfield on a random Friday isn’t Mardi Gras… People aren’t expecting to watch your carnal exploits, and most would probably rather not. Consensual sex in private, gay or straight, causes no such issue.

I’ve heard people say that tattoos and weird hair colors and men who wish to wear skirts are a detriment to society. I have a few tattoos, and i fail to see how they harm anyone. That being said, if you have “Fuck you” tattooed across your forehead, there is an issue. Not with the tattoo, but with the sentiment. It’s just flat out rude to everyone. Hair colors? The definition of “weird” evolves over time – Hell, when i first stopped dying my hair, i caught flack for letting it be grey and white! But it is hair, and fashion trends wax and wane. Hard to regulate that. But again, if you work for a boss who has warned you not to dye your hair green, and you do it anyway, you should not be surprised if you get called to the mat for it. Same with the men in skirts, i suppose – tho i understand that one less. A woman can wear menswear, and no one bats an eye. Why is it allowed in one direction and not the other?

I think, what it boils down to is just learning to accept that no matter how any one of us lives, there will always be naysayers. Every choice in life has consequences. And even if i think it’s stupid for someone to be fired because they wore eyeliner to work, and the company has a rule about men wearing makeup; the fact of the matter is that you now have two adult choices: You fight it in the correct way – with arbitration or a lawyer – or you find another job. (I hope you fight it, because that really is stupid. ) Choosing to scream like a banshee on social media without taking any real steps to change things is juvenile and pointless. Trying to make a policy where the rest of the men also have to wear eyeliner just because you like it is also juvenile, and it is disrespectful to others’ truths.

Be an adult. Advocate for the freedom of individual choice. Stand up straight, speak clearly and with civil words. Make your voice heard. If necessary, protest and boycott. But do not set out to do deliberate, spiteful damage. I know that lately our country has seemingly forgotten how to have meaningful discourse and come to compromise. We also seem to have lost the ability to live and let live. But on the flip side, there are others who have forgotten that, while being civil to your neighbors and fellow citizens should be expected, as should the certainty of personal safety, there is no promise that they will all agree with you, nor can you expect them all to join in your bandwagon. The best we can hope for is that we all learn to play nice.

Which we all know is a pipe dream. There will always be Christians who aren’t very Christ-like. There will always be civil servants who aren’t civil. There will always be free-love hippies who aren’t very loving. We are humans, first and foremost, after all. And humans can be really mean and hateful.

But keep living your truth, if for no other reason than to offset the schmucks. It will be difficult at times, but keep at it. Because even tho we can be assholes, humans can also be supportive and loving and giving. We can be kind. We can extend the hands of brother and sisterhood. We can become friends with those who look, act, pray, dress differently than we do. We’ve done it before. Remember, there was a time when a woman could be arrested for wearing pants. But we grew past it. We opened our minds and grew.

So i don’t care if your truth is that you are a Kenny G loving woman who wants to live as a meercat. Do your job, be nice to your neighbors, and don’t make anyone else live as a meercat. If anyone tries to hurt you for your choice, lots of us will be here to defend you. (Ok, we’ll defend the meercat thing. I can’t promise about the Kenny G.) We don’t have to understand it. But if you aren’t hurting anyone, we will do out best not to let them hurt you. We might not defend your right to work as a brain surgeon, because, last i checked, they weren’t allowing meercats into medical school. But we will defend your ability to exist as a free citizen. It won’t be easy, and lots of people will balk. But sooner or later, things will level out, because the vast majority of people are decent.

Most of us learned in the sandbox to play nice and keep our hands to ourselves. Then we grew up and moved on, remembering the lesson. Others are still in the same sandbox, biting, throwing sand, peeing in the corner… And they wonder why no one will let them out or play with them. But their truth is that they are tantrum-laden toddlers. So the adults will respect that and treat them as such.


My Snuffle Brings All the Boys to the Yard

The night i did the test, i settled in as best as i could. It’s not easy to sleep with things taped to your face and fingers. Not to mention the strap around your chest. The first time i did it, i apparently pulled off the probe on my finger not long after i fell asleep, so i was stuck doing it again. I really needed this to work because i didn’t want to have to go do it in one of their mock hotel rooms. That would be too much like a B horror movie.

It took a full album of thunderstorm sounds before i finally fell asleep. And when i woke up in the morning, all the lights were still blinking. Yeah! Success! So i pack up all the accoutrements, toss the sticky tapes, and drop it off at the sleep lab before i go to work. As i handed it to the tech, i told her that i didn’t imagine it had much bad news, since i felt like i had a particularly (And surprisingly ) good night’s sleep in spite of being wired up like a science experiment. She gave me a bit of a smile that i mistook for “Good for you!”

In reality, i later found out, it was more representative of, “If it were good, you wouldn’t have had to do it in the first place.”

I had opted to have a followup appointment to discuss my results instead of a phone call because i was curious about the mechanics and documentation of the measurements. So a couple weeks later, i’m in an examination room at the sleep lab office, and the PA comes in, shakes my hand, and says, “Yeah, i heard you had a good night’s sleep.”

“Yup. Hopefully it didn’t skew the test too much.”

“Uuuuhhh, seems unlikely. But if this was a good night for you, i’d hate to see a bad night.”

In one night’s sleep – a good night no less – i had 413 events. 4-fricking-13. Granted, i’ve heard of people having worse, but they were older or heavier or drank more. I’m an average weight healthy woman. I don’t fit the profile. Or so i thought. And when i voiced my surprise to the PA, he laughed. When i asked if he was joking about me needing the CPAP, he shook his head. When i said, “Do you have any idea how hard it is for a single, 52 year old woman to get a date WITHOUT having to wear a vacuum cleaner on her face at night? ” He offered that i could probably find a partner who also wore one so we could look like fighter pilots together – make it part of role play.


He went over the report with me line by line, graph by graph. There was no denying it. My middle of the night whale song was proven indicative of severe sleep apnea. (Leave it to me to skip straight to the high level. Oy)

So while i’m waiting for the insurance company to make false promises to the medical appliance company, i try to mitigate what i can. No sleep aids, no pain pills, no alcohol at night. I wear my little nose-opening strips, even knowing they are going to block my pores with their glue, or pop off and end up stuck someplace that didn’t need expanding. I doubt i’m really helping anything, but it makes me feel better to at least do a little something.

While i’m waiting for my new trunk (How big and bulky will it be? I know size doesn’t matter, but i’ve only got so much room next to my bed…,) i also do some reading about the condition and my test results. On the bright side, what few little health problems i have might actually get better if i can fix the sleep apnea, since most of them are at least peripherally related. That’s a plus. I will probably have more energy – Another plus – Which means i’ll be more likely to be active after work…. Which could mean losing those extra 5 lbs. – yet another plus.

So if i can learn to sleep while strapped in like a Borg, the payoff could easily be more than just an end to my overnight career as a fog horn. It could mean a lot of positive things.

That’s my story and i’m going to stick to it and tell myself it’s worth it, when i get depressed over having to sleep like i’m part of the Matrix.


Day 1. With the help of a melatonin (Ok, two melatonin), I managed to sleep all night with my sexy new snuffle. Honestly, i do feel more awake than usual this morning, but that may be a placebo effect.  I check my report in the online app – And there is none. So i check the machine. No cell signal. Hmmm. Read the manual. Move the machine around the room. Still no wireless. Try plugging it in in the kitchen. Nope. The front porch. Nope. Considering my insurance company’s payment of said snuffle is depending on proof that i’m wearing it, i’d say we have a problem.

Read the manual. It says there is space for an SD card. Ok,. So there’s my fallback. Note to self: Buy a spare SD card today. (I probably have 50 lying arounnd the house somewhere, but of course i’m not going to find one when i need one.) The last bit of indignity would be to have to pay the full, uninsured bill for my  snore nozzle. Gotta fix that.


Day 2. Last night i tried to adjust my attitude about the whole thing. Popped in an SD card. Strapped myself into my flight gear, took a pic of myself, and sent it out on Snapchat with the tagline, “My snuffle brings all the boys to the yard.” Here’s to humor – Helping to make the best of depressing things since forever. I look like i should be standing next to Sharon, Lois, and Bram and singing, “Skinnamarinky dinky dink, skinnamarinky doo….” But hey, at least i no longer sound like an Orca when i sleep. Or, at least i don’t think i do. It’s not like there is anyone here to tell me except SiriDog, and she won’t answer.

To help me get better used to this, i also turned off my morning alarm. There isn’t much variability in when i wake in the morning, so i wasn’t terribly worried. And true to history, i woke right before my alarm would have gone off. First thing i noticed was that i was instantly wide awake. My usual 5 minute transition has been shortened to almost nothing. Not sure if it’s my turbo hose or just the lack of an alarm, but that is kinda cool. I mean, i’ve always been a morning person – I wake fairly easily and without any grump; but it usually takes me 5 minutes or so to awaken the brain and the joints and the hands and the feet. Now it’s just, “Ok, i’m awake! Let’s go hunting snarks!”

I took the SD card to the sleep center and they checked my results. Success! Woo hoo!  My overall score went from 47 to 6. Yeah for me and my new grey appendage! At least i know my embarrassment is not for naught.


It is almost my get-ready-for-bed time now, and i’m starting to feel tired. But that is most likely due to the fact that i had the energy for a full workout earlier. Another bonus. Energy for a decent workout. I can start looking forward to a waistline again. Hell, that alone might be incentive enough to keep wearing my face vacuum. Except that no one will want to see my waist because i will turn into a Kraken every night.

The Universe has a cruel sense of humor sometimes.


Well, i fell asleep with no medication help and stayed strapped in all night. I guess i can get used to this. I may never like it, but i think i would hate the complications from sleep apnea more than i hate looking like an HVAC when i sleep. And, i suppose, the older i get, the more likely any potential overnight dates will have one as well. Of course, that whole premise hinges on actually having dates. So basically, the whole thing is a fantasy. So be it. In the end it boils down to this:

I’ve got shit to do. Places to visit. People to meet. New foods to try. Languages and dances to learn. Music to hear and play. Books to read. Things to create. Friends to make. And maybe even some grandchildren along the way. I can’t do that if i fall into decrepitude. My desire to check off items on my bucket list and have a wonderful life is greater than my embarrassment. So i will do what i’m supposed to do and be compliant with my personal mechanical robot. (“Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!”) I will strap myself in and ride the wild rubber hose every night. I will turn in my reports and make changes as needed. I will use the extra energy i gain to get off my arse and exercise more. And i encourage you, if you know you need it, to do it as well. Because the only thing worse than growing old is denying yourself the opportunity.

Sink the Knife a Little Deeper

You sent me a message. I ignored it.

You sent another.  I sent a one word reply.

So you ask, “Are we ok?”

I want to answer. I really do.

No. We are not ok.

You are ok. And i am ok. But we are not ok.

I want you to know.

I want you to know what it feels like to spend close moments together for years… And have your lover-friend go out of their way to avoid letting anyone know.

I want you to know what it feels like to be called a “Fallback” in a joking way, but not as a joke.

I want you to know what it feels like to watch your lover-friend return from a trip with you, and talk of the days, the weeks, like you were never there. As if they were having an illicit affair… But neither of you are married…

You should know the pain and humiliation of knowing that they were just too embarrassed to admit they had been with you.

I want your heart to crush when your lover-friend meets someone else, travels and spends time with them, and proclaims he was with her from the rooftops to anyone who will listen…

Because the new one isn’t a fill-in.

They are important. And worthy. And wanted.

And you are not.

But i can’t say it. I can’t. Because as hurt as i am, part of me feels i deserve it.

Part of me loves you too much to wish the pain on you.

And all of me knows i could have stopped playing along ages ago.

The need to be loved is stronger than any other, and we fill it however we can.

Even if it means making ourselves disposable.

Even if it means trusting in a person who won’t admit they know you, and doesn’t care enough to see how much it hurts.

So, no, we are not ok. We are not.

I am angry. I am hurt. And the pit of my stomach sinks deeper.

Because i was the friend, the lover, you couldn’t admit you had.

And you, my friend, are an asshole.



I’ll Trade You A Ceramic Chicken For Him

Sitting at the bar with a drink, a light nosh, and a magazine. Unwinding and looking for fashion ideas that will hopefully deceive the public as to the amount of class and grace i actually possess. Starting to feel all the bad vibes escape through the calamari. I feel a presence, and a body slides into the chair next to me.

At first glance, i was guessing his name was Chet, and he spent his weekends trying to lure 14 year-olds into the back of a panel van.  I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but it’s kind of hard to get past that thought. Home-bleached Sideshow Bob hair, tobacco-stained teeth, and a shirt unbuttoned to show his mangy chest hair… The appearance of a man who sells weed out of the back of an Ice Cream truck.

Why is it always these guys?

But maybe i’m being prejudiced. He might be a perfectly fine man. So i nod hello and go back to my magazine. A minute or so later, he sticks his jaundiced finger on an ad with a young and voluptuous model wearing strategically and provocatively torn jeans and two pasties over her ducks and says, “You would look good in that.”

The fact that it is total bullshit is overshadowed by my disgust at the lechery oozing from his face. Eeeewww. Just eeeewww.

So much for me being prejudiced.

I raise an eyebrow, utter a quiet and curt “Thanks”, and go back to the magazine.

He chats up the bartender, who appears to be about as enamored with him as i am, and in the periphery of my hearing, there is a comment about bitchy and unsociable women. I wanted to say something, but ignored the impulse, lest it start a conversation.

I’m not in the mood to fight.

I’m not sure what it is about me that attracts these people. The creepy; the crude; the crass. The ones who smack of squalid morals and smell of stale hormones. They always seem to find me. Or maybe it isn’t me… Maybe they hit all of us, and we all wonder that same thing. In any case, the only way this man could be more scheevey is if he was wearing a big, ugly scorpio medallion around his neck.

Just about the time i motion to pay my tab and gather to leave, a couple of young blondies take the stools on his other side and he puts his attention there. One of the few times in life i’ve been relieved to be replaced.

But i will give the guy credit for one thing – He was real. He wasn’t hiding his intention, not trying to be sly. He wore his indecency like a signature cologne – as part of his persona as his accent. I might not have liked what he was peddling, but at least i knew i wasn’t being swindled. And there is real value in that. Not enough value to give the man my number, but value nonetheless. And it makes me question what would be enough value, and am i trying to buy a Mercedes on a Chevy budget?

Since value is largely subjective, i don’t suppose there is a single correct answer. There are people in this world that would pay $100 for a ceramic chicken. I wouldn’t pay $5. So what is the value of the chicken? Maybe there isn’t a single value at all. Maybe it’s a range of values. Maybe it’s a three-dimensional graph plot. Maybe it’s a complex trigonometric equation to be expressed in base 7.  Hell, maybe it’s 42. I don’t know. To be honest, i’m not even sure we can know our own worth. “Eye of the beholder” and all that.

It’s probably a good thing. It would be sad to find out that you weren’t worth more than a ceramic chicken.