Wednesday, February 28, 2007

fat chicks in party hats

And fat guys, apparently. A couple of years ago when I was still working, one of the cops called me over to his desk to show me a website devoted to mullets. If you're unaware, the mullet is an outdated 'do that's short in front and on top and long in back. It is to be seen in biker bars around here, and at the Cain's Ballroom when there's some metal band playing.

They were funny, these candid photos of mullet-wearing guys and the occasional lesbian (of course she had to be a lesbian, according to the site owner). And we laughed and laughed and then I started noticing the eyes of the people in the photos.

Some looked like jackasses, to be sure, but the vast majority of them just looked like people. Guys who thought they looked cool, tough, sexy, whatever. If they looked goofy to me, so what. I quit laughing. They were real people with hearts and minds and families and friends and tender feelings and someone had submitted their photos to a website in order to make fun of them. That's what I think of when I come across a website devoted to fat chicks in party hats.

Not starting out to be a great day. I'm three for three: gay marriage, manatees and fat pix. Cheery news, anyone?

this makes me want to puke

This jackass ~ Michael Savage ~ has eight million listeners a week.

"I want to puke when I hear about a woman married to a woman raising children because, frankly, I think that it's child abuse to do that to children without their permission. What does a child know? Ask them when they're 16 whether they want to be raised by two lesbians or two men. What are the two men doing behind the other wall? You think the children don't hear it?"

WTF? I worked with kids and families for 16 long years and I can say with certainty that the most important thing kids need above all else is to know that they are loved and protected and safe. Food and housing are good, but kids can live through a lot if they are loved. Unless we bring up kids in an atmosphere of hate, I doubt there would ever be any question about why Billy has two mommies and Suzie has two daddies and Jack has one of each.

Media Matters has contact information for this asshat and an audio clip. Surely some man, somewhere, has done this guy?

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more manatees

This is one of the photos I took of the manatees at Three Sisters off the Crystal River in northern Florida. Last year was one of the worst for manatee deaths. This gorgeous quiet spring-fed lagoon is a haven ~ at night, anyway ~ for these gentle creatures. That's my 62-year-old (much older) sister paddling away in her kayak. She and her husband patrol the area one day a week in an effort to prevent abuse of the manatees, but they are volunteers with no authority and, alas, no guns.

The manatees come here at night to sleep. Our photos were taken late in the day, with the sleeping giants on the bottom of the springs. Without waking, they'll rise to the surface to breathe, then sink to the bottom again.

Days, this area will be packed with people, shore to shore. It's surely terrifying for the manatees, who only want to get out and get to the ocean.

Protection is a disastrous tangle of federal and state regulations and the manatees suffer for it. Stress makes them more susceptible to red tides (as the result of fertilizer runoff) and illnesses.

The mouth of this peaceful place leads to Crystal River and this is where the charter boats lie in wait every morning. At any given time, there are hundreds of people in the water trying to interact with these wild animals.

To get out of their nighttime sanctuary and make it to the Gulf, they've got to get through this horror:

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Lifting heavy weights hurts more than lifting lighter weights. Who knew?

On the happy side of the agony equation, heavy weights make me feel like a lead-booted kickass hard core wench. I'll need black leather workout clothes and some brass knuckles if I'm ever able to walk again. It probably says something about my psyche that I think this is fun.


so tiny, they're easy to miss. i planted them 18 years ago and still they come back every year. (disclaimer: can't find the camera, so these aren't mine, but they're the spittin' image of the sweet little flowers by my front walk.)

at last, an explanation

Lewis Black explains the wingnut position on gays and the American family.

Monday, February 26, 2007

why, why, why???

why do dogs roll on grotesque and disgustingly stinking things? Walking Billy at noon, he was drawn to a pile of leaves for a sniff and before I could react, he had flung himself full force onto the pile, rolling and squirming in a lustful paroxysm of joy. I heard the squirt of fluid from the decomposing horror beneath those leaves and suddenly he was covered with a thick wash of yellowish fluid with a stink like hell's outhouse. But it was the look in his eyes that was sickening beyond my ability to describe: he looked drunk, mouth open and panting, standing there covered in yellow goo. My baby looked lustful and wanton, as if he'd engaged in unbridled and licentious sexual behavior and could barely stand post-romp. Eeeeuuuuwwwwww does not begin to describe it. Why do they do this??

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

boo hoo hoo

A post at Long Story Longer made me think of the first time I let loose and cried after a 13 year tear hiatus. It was early New Year's Eve, 1982. There was a year-in-review retrospective on television and it caught my eye. I was about three weeks sober and something about the Vietnam Memorial hit me and suddenly my eyes filled and then my cheeks were wet. Within a few seconds I was sobbing with that breathless gut level urgency that bespeaks tremendous pain or an unexpected escape from something dreadful.

LSL wrote ". . . I also cried like a schoolgirl with no lunch money. Actually, I think it would be called sobbing. I had to concentrate to not go into the loud cry." This was the loud cry: uncontrollable, the body's wet and wracking response to hurt that is, at least for the moment, unspeakable.

I quit crying at twelve, about two weeks after my mother vanished. It seemed I had spent those two weeks at the front window, listening, watching, expecting that she would return only to reach a point of certainty that she was never coming back and crying wouldn't make it happen. I gave it up. Tears reminded me of those hopeless two weeks at the window. This loud cry on New Year's Eve was 13 years of stuffed, wrapped, constricted, should-have-long-since-been-let-loose need to cry and it went on and on and on. The post-tears calm was notable in that I felt peaceful and free. Remarkable.

Over the next several years, the tears were like slow leaking springs in a rocky outcropping. I was a hard, hostile, angry young woman with tears in her eyes. My AA card players, those precious old men who "adopted" me when I first got sober, would smile when the tears would come, then one or the other would get up and come around the card table to hug me and rock me and make it okay. They couldn't make the hurt better, but they could make it okay to be a tough, rowdy, foul-tempered, profane child-woman with a tear streaked face.

In my mind, tears were evidence of weakness, of tenderness, of a soft inside that was vulnerable to hurt, and they accomplished nothing beyond letting others see my humanity. Exposing the soft center of me did not appeal. There was a crazy kind of strength ~ and an awful loneliness ~ in pretending to be invulnerable. But absent alcohol, absent excess food, absent all of those things I've used to manage life, there was no way to keep the wet inside. I leaked.

Once the well was emptied, I found a balance and now tears just come and go as I suspect they are supposed to. It's a shame that our society looks down on or makes light of tears expressed by men. Having had the advantage of crying freely for the last 24 years, I am saddened that the men I love have to struggle so with letting go in this way.

It seems that in my younger years my emotional life was constricted to a single point: anger. Rage, actually. As I got better, my range of emotions widened until I was capable of experiencing all of them. In the same way, the painful episodes of crying in my younger years have diminished and I've reached a point of being able to cry for all sorts of reasons.

Tears today come with hurt and sadness, of course, but also as the result of having a sense of peace, of spiritual connectedness, beauty, love and affection, tenderness. I think the best day I can have is one in which I laugh so hard I can hardly breathe, and also have the opportunity to cry just a little. I don't want to live a constricted life. I want a big, rich, full life brimming with every normal human experience and then some. Being the way I am, I want maximum emotion, maximum experience, I want the most there is, all the time, with great intensity. I think it's possible if I just let go.

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

what is it?

That strange little wrinkle on the side of my nose. What is that? Where did it come from? Forty-nine now and I'm expecting changes. But what the hell is that thing? It's not there now, right now. Vanishing ghost wrinkle. Wish the rest of these would clear out.

I am nearing the age of invisibility. As it stands today, I still get flirty glances and some open invitations from men of all ages. For how much longer? I had enough of . . . well, of all of that which precedes a happy marriage and was the result of rampant popularity and a lot of time in bars. (A lot of time, real popular. What fun.) But it's the flirting I love and the flirting I will miss.

It's a lost art, this flirty thing. A southern man will flirt himself silly, even into his dotage. Southern women, too. It's the Yankees and the midwesterners and the oh-so-earnest left coasters who seem to have abandoned the art. Then again, who can flirt when everyone's wrapped up with a cell phone, diddling around on a Blackberry, essentially limiting human interaction to the point we may as well all be confined to little pods to protect ourselves from any chance contact with real live breathing flirting laughing human beings.

Reading Gone With the Wind at age eight, I had no truck with the mealy-mouthed and unbearably dull behavior of the insipid Miss Melly. It was Scarlett's feisty attitude and her smart mouth and her enchanting ways I wanted. Of course Miss Melly was a paragon of virtue, utterly boring and oh so good. But who would choose virtue in the face of Scarlett's kickass good times and her whore-red velvet dress and her rough and rugged jet-haired Rhett? That Scarlett didn't know she was having a good time is beside the point. Scarlett lived out loud, all over the place. She was a quintessential flirt and a tramp and a hussy.

At 49, I still want to be Scarlett more than I want to be Miss Melly. I am still feisty, still a smart mouth, and I enchant myself at times. If others are enchanted as well, all the better. I will flirt 'til I die and I hope at 80 I still have a whore red velvet dress and a rough a rugged geezer to flirt right back. I just want to be alive, all the way to the end, and I never want to succumb to convention and the external forces to "do the right thing." My bad girl is alive and well, living inside this solid citizen. I'll keep her, thank you. Even with the wrinkle. But I would like to know what the hell it is.

bloggish protocol

Just wondering this morning as I read the posts of others in various blogs, whether or not it is proper? preferred? mandatory? expected? for the blogger to insert comments among the comments of the readers? Is there a blog protocol? (And is it okay to still hate that word ~ blog ~ after 18 months of writing in one?)

I find that I appreciate the blogger's comments mixed in among the others, but it seems that might lend itself to some problems. One of my heroes, Joe.My.God., only occasionally chimes into clarify or make note of additional information.

I feel so graced by the wise and witty folks who leave comments here. It seems a travesty to not jump in and say thanks or never thought of that or great idea. I am perplexed. What do y'all think?

Friday, February 23, 2007

on the phone at midnight

calling in bogus tips about nuclear weapons . . . somehow it makes me think of cheney. read it and weep.

shocking, shocking!

Alleged "internet addicts" in China are being strapped down and given electric shocks to cure the addiction. One youth reported using the internet five hours per week. Uh-oh.

Why doesn't someone do this with food addiction? Why can't we get electric shock treatment for that. Oh wait! You can do that and, oops! I did do that back in 1979. $500 for a "treatment" program of a number of weeks, with the intent of curing addictions to certain foods.

My trigger foods were, of course, sugar (my heroin) and various combinations of fat and sugar (my speedball). My first treatment appointment arrived and I trudged off to Schick Center with my substances-of-abuse in a brown paper bag.

Upon arrival, I was taken to a room with a small table facing a mirror. I was asked to name five things that make me feel sick. Not a problem: moths, roly-polies, grub worms, maggots and the dreadful guinea worm, forever in my head, courtesy of First Lutheran Elementary and those mandatory missionary recruiting films.

Electrodes were attached to my wrists and activated. I reported when it was uncomfortable and the technician was supposed to leave it at that. I am confident that she actually jacked it up a few notches because by the time we were done with my half hour session, my hands were numb and my arms so tingly as to be useless. But by God, I didn't want to eat anything.

The theory is that the seductive substance creates some sort of pleasurable sensation in the brain. This must be disrupted by the insertion of pain and unpleasantness over the top of any good feelings associated with the substance of abuse, kind of like a nasty cork-o-pain in your bottle of good stuff.

The actual treatment consisted of arranging the brown-bagged substances on a plate before me while I faced the mirror. When given the go, I put a spoonful of sugar in my mouth. Don't swallow!! Just roll it around in there. As I was rolling and not swallowing, the technician was shouting out "grub worms!" "guinea worms!" "moths and roly polies!" and she was shocking me vigorously on the wrists. I then spit the sugar out on a plate.

We proceeded with a bit of chocolate. "Chew it up, do not swallow!!" Vigorous shocks coupled with intermittent exhortations to think of "maggots!" "fat slimy worms" (not one of mine, must have been one of hers). On this second go, I was running my fingers through the slimy sugary stuff I just spit out. Shock! Slime! Unpleasant and unhappy face in the mirror! Revolting creatures! Shock! Shock! Shock!

I paid for this. Actually, my dad paid for this because I paid for my sister to go through the same torture for smoking. The funny (or not so, but ironic) thing is that I would be perfectly happy to weigh what I weighed when I started at Schick Center. I was round, but far from obese. I'm within sighting distance of that weight again, and I will be thrilled, delighted, pleased, happy as a little clam to get there.

Though I lost a little weight with Schick, the aversion therapy lasted until the moment my father returned from New York toting a box of Godivas, my first experience with those nuggets from heaven. One chocolate, two, and I was off and running, as only a food addict can be. I think Schick had it right as far as the fact of addiction, it's just that the high speed treatment was less than effective for the long run.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007


Suddenly, they're everywhere. Spring arrives on their tailfeathers. I adore these aggressive little things. They follow me in the garden walking right up close to see what the shovel's going to expose. Fat little red-breasted birds, such cuties.


what's that stiff thing there in your back

Mr. Reporter Man? I think it is ~ surely not ~ a spine? Tony Snow confronted on the shameful conditions at Walter Reed.

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All of my working out life I've been told that 12-15 reps in three sets is the best way to build muscle. It's obviously worked, because I have way more muscle than I had two years ago.

However, a physiology professor at the University of Connecticut, William Kraemer, Ph.D., suggests that "performing just a few reps with heavy weights activates hard-to-tone 'fast-twitch' muscle fibers that atrophy (hence the jiggly flesh) as you age."

He suggests shooting for 3-5 reps, three sets, and lifting the maximum amount of weight possible with good form.

Sounds fun and a real turnaround from what I'm doing now. Anyone have experience with this? Sounds like I could earn one of those t-shirts I've always wanted because they're just so seriously butch and macho: "Lift heavy or go home." I'm all excited just thinking about it.


pet peeeeeeeeeve

Why oh why do my dainty sisters who are far to elegant and refined to actually sit on a public toilet leave a wet mess on the seat for the rest of us? If you have to crouch above the thing, you're going to sprinkle. Wipe. It. Up. Please.

Which is it?

These people have bushel basket sized balls. He knew, of course he knew!

(Insert public outcry, much negative publicity, many articles condemning the outrage at Walter Reed.)

Oh no, he did not know! A belle just wants to smack somebody. Hard.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007


In my futile but lifelong effort to transform my food addicted self into a normal person, I am revising yet again my eating plan. I know I need a plan. OA tells me "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail," but there's a little voice in my head saying "it's okay to go slow."

So am back to a couple of shakes a day and a meal and a snack, something like that. The point is flexibility. I vacillate between absolute rigidity and some sort of fluid approach to food. Too fluid = big binges, but absolute rigidity seems beyond my grasp at this moment.

I learned this yesterday after returning from Ponca City, taking my sister to the airport and finding myself starving. Starving, I tell you! Starving!! So I stopped at a fast store thinking I'd get a protein bar kind of thing. When I am thinking protein bar, I should never, ever stop to read the ingredients. These things have to be manufactured by Dow or Pfizer and they actually smell and taste like it. Yuck.

So instead of the plan-approved protein bar, I looked around and there were grapes. Red, luscious, fresh grapes all clean and lovely in a nice portion-sized cup. I dropped the chemi-bar and snagged the grapes. I went to the park and sat in the grass feeling a delicious sense of gratitude for the beauty of the day, the sun, the breeze, and each one of those cold, crisp, delicious, divine little bursts of juicy sweetness.

Life may be too short to not eat grapes. I am forever grateful for the 6-7 months I was able to do on a full liquid diet because it gave me such freedom. I got rid of a pile of weight and feel frisky and fit and strong. I can do the rest with a more moderate plan of a few meal replacements and a real meal, something to share with friends or my sweetheart. It's okay not to be in a rush. It is. Isn't it?

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

guthrie boy walks away from madness

Guthrie, Oklahoma is just a short scoot down I-44 over to the red dirt buffalo wallow side of my state. Here in lush Green Country, we've got more in common with Georgia than we do with the wrong side of Oklahoma.

But here comes young Joshua Key, a Guthrie boy who joined the Army to try to lift his family out of poverty. His experiences in Iraq are freshly detailed in a book called The Deserter's Tale, published as Key is actively seeking refuge in Canada. "I ... tried not to think about which was worse: beating up and killing the civilians of Iraq or refusing to do it any more and becoming a criminal."

The terrible story of his duty in Iraq and his growing certainty that he could not morally participate in the war are detailed at Daily Kos. The book's available at even our Red State library as well as bookstores everywhere.

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media whores

Nance Gregg's latest rant, a subject dear to my heart: "Having grown up during the Cold War, I remember well the tales of how the Russian people were unaware of their government’s activities due to ‘news’ that was simply propaganda meant to mislead the masses. I remember the ads asking for contributions to Radio Free Europe, “so we can get the truth to people behind the Iron Curtain.”

"Little did I know that someday I, an American citizen, would need a source of real information, because the integrity of the TV news I had grown up with – being the integrity of the Cronkites and the Murrows – would die in the wake of endless, insipid chatter, or outright lies being passed off as fact."

Full text here.

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gratitude again

Mike and I went to an AA meeting at the old Rebos (that's sober backward) Club downtown. It's where I started going to meetings in 1980 and where I finally sobered up in 1982. It's a clubhouse, a place where frequent meetings are held and where the population's pretty transient.

It was different in 1982. The place had a lot of support from the local AA groups. Groups v. meetings, the big AA debate. Groups are like families: lots of sobriety, steady membership, a lot of recovery. Clubhouses, not so much. But clubhouses are generally where new people come into the program. When the desperate urge strikes to quit drinking, folks generally want to jump right on that, not wait 'til next Tuesday at 7:30.

I've written before about the old men who saved my ass in the beginning by taking me to raise for a couple of years. They were cardplaying rowdies who loved me despite all my hatefulness and the rage that permeated every cell of my body and flowed from me in waves. They called me Miss Lynette when I was purple haired and cursing. They taught me how to play killer Hearts and they hugged me when I finally was able to cry and they tracked me down if I disappeared. It was my first experience with the unconditional love of Alcoholics Anonymous and it was magic. That's what I associate with the old house at 1635 S. Carson. My old sweethearts, most now dead, still live in those rooms for me.

So back we went and the house was packed. The women of The Haven (Havenettes, in Rebos' parlance) were there, and shortly after the meeting started, the men from the Salvation Army (Sally Boys) strolled in. There's always an interesting dynamic between these two groups. It would be fair to say that many folks have started on the path to sobriety with lust nipping at their heels.

It was a good meeting focused on "We Agnostics," the fourth chapter in the AA Big Book. The entire Big Book, written in the '30s, has a proper tone not found in today's literature. The words are different, the phrasing is different, but the words in this chapter very often give me chills and they did last night. Finding a power greater than myself ~ my own conception of a higher power ~ was the transformative experience of my life. That AA suggests that power must be of my own choosing is a freedom not expected in any spiritual teachings. "We Agnostics" is the key to staying sober.

So I listened to the others read and comment. Lots of happy comments and a few struggles. I offered my book to the trembling man beside me. I remembered what it was like when I first dragged my ass into those rooms, fresh off a three day blackout, living in a nasty rooming house for women. I was 23 years old and thought things would never change. I couldn't die and I couldn't live and I couldn't quit drinking.

The thing I believed in then was that the people in those rooms were doing something I could not do. They were sober, laughing, happy, productive. The thing I still believe in is that there is some Power, some Force in this universe that heals things, that can make a dried out seed turn into something lush and green and alive, that can take a hopeless alcoholic with eyes of death and turn him into a sparkling fully alive human being.

Sitting in that room, I was reminded once again of how very much I have to be thankful for. The list could run on all day, but the miracle of being alive and happy and free and sober is at the root of it all.

Monday, February 19, 2007

presidents' day

The worst president in US history compares himself to the other George. Washington. His hubris knows no bounds. And that is the last political post on this Presidents' Day 2007.

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this is support for the troops?

A shameful story here about conditions at Walter Reed, and another here about the disgusting treatment of our war wounded. This is especially revolting in light of the record profits reported by war profiteers Lockheed Martin, Halliburton, Bechtel et al, and the billions of dollars wasted through inefficiency, price inflation, and outright thievery.

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reboot camp

Rebooting to kick up the gym time I lost in Florida and patting Mike's hand while he was thinking he would kick the bucket. I'm thinking I might need this handy tool to keep track of calorie burn throughout the day? All shake no sugar plan is modified to three protein shakes, one meal. The weather is gorgeous, feels like spring. So happy.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Talking Points Memo has a timely post on what's funny v. what's not funny. I feel pretty hopeless about the media for the most part abandoning its responsibility to keep the people informed. Greg Sargent points out the enormous difference between the press of old and the lapdogs who masquerade as reporters these days.

This has a little age on it, but never hurts to see again how the White House correspondents ~ the people who are supposed to report the truth and investigate statements made by politicians ~ laugh merrily as George Bush makes jokes about weapons of mass destruction. It doesn't hurt to be reminded when we are running headlong into sending more young people to die in Iraq and fast building up toward attacking Iran.

Just in case you feel so led, you can call your representatives. Find their contact info here.

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

6 snippets from a weekend

1. Trucknutz. Three times now. Again on I-40 I picked up this clown at Sallisaw and lost him at the Ft. Smith turnoff. Same black truck, same B&D taillights, same big ol' swinging nuts under the bumper hitch.

2. A man pulled up next to me on I-40 just as I turned east. Lingered long enough at 80 mph to cause me to look over at him. What is that thing men do where they flick their tongues between the upside down V of their fingers? I mean, I know what they're doing, but crimifuckinitly, is it an invitation? I wish I could look stern or hateful in response, but it always just makes me laugh because it's so stupid. Did he really think that upon seeing his tongue performance, I'd be overcome with lust, roar off at the next exit, fling myself from the car in a heat and sprawl in the grass to await his ministrations?

3. Hit two auctions, and didn't buy everything in the building. Bought what I need and only at good prices. If you noticed a little dizziness and an unsettled feeling late last night and again this evening, that was the earth stopping its spin momentarily as I checked out and did not overspend. Miracles happen, it's true.

4.Second auction, a guy grabbed me by the arm and said "have you been coming here long?" I said yes, for years. He said "wow, did you, um . . . have you lost a lot of weight?" I said yes. He said "man, you look amazing! Candy and I were trying to figure out if you were the same person. You just look great." To which I could only say "well thank you, honey, I sure feel better." Compliments are fast and furious with active weight loss but when it levels out, they slow or vanish. Sigh. It was nice to be reminded.

5. Went to Ft. Smith alone as Mike was still kind of puny from the cold he caught after the awful thing he had last week. I had a CD called "Last Party" and was playing disco at top volume, drinking coffee, speeding along in my little car unmolested until I saw Mr. Big Testicles. But it was a blast and it reminded me of the person I used to be, the one who'd get out of the Houston bars at 3 a.m. and head to New Orleans on a whim, the one who'd drive to Chicago for no reason, would head to Galveston in the middle of the night. I love my sweetie with all my heart, but it was a little bittersweet to think of the way my life used to be.

Of course most of that was when I was drinking, so there were also times when I'd go to the bars and end up in places I'd not planned with individuals I'd not met (in lucidity, anyway), so I'm not complaining. There's just something wonderful about being alone and free and on the road.

6. Thanks to all of you for the kind words about my papa and for sharing your own experiences with dementia/alzheimers. I know it is an increasingly common problem and it helps so much to hear the experiences of others. Thank you.


Thursday, February 15, 2007


It was his pale complexion, I think, that got to me as I turned to say goodbye. The sight of him put a knot in my throat, made me wonder if this would be the last time I would see him. My father, nearing 90, once 6' and so strong, now looking so pale and tender, bent and very thin. He was on the porch to wave goodbye as I left this afternoon, the others forced inside by the 16-degree temperature. Daddy in his short sleeves, thin slacks, dress shoes.

Even as his mind is failing, he can hold on to the fact that his baby daughter has come to see him and is leaving again. He stands on the porch in the cold with a smile on his face. He waits until I reach the street. He is so pale, his once black hair now white, the deep tan he held my entire life vanished.

We complete a ritual part of my leaving for the last 32 years. I back out of the curving drive and tap the horn, he waves and smiles and even from the street I can see the love in his eyes. His mind is sharp for a few moments and our eyes and smiles and waving hands connect over that short distance, enough for him to know that I love him absolutely. I already know he loves me back, that constant fact of my life.

He will call my sister tonight and tell her that he never hears from me, that it has been weeks since I've called. He will ask her how I am and if my life is good, how's Mike, the little dog, "oh there are two dogs now?" I try not to care, to treasure the moments I'm with him. He can be so sharp in the instant of our conversations, my visits, but has no memory from one moment to the next.

Dementia is stealing my father and there's no one to rage at, to hurt, to strangle with my bare hands and stomp into the ground. I fold up all that fury and sadness and wrap it tight and keep it put away. It sits in a tight little knot in my gut day after day, a constant reminder. I want my daddy back.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

what's that definition of insanity?

doing the same thing and expecting a different result? bush, speaking from the white house this morning:

Q . . . I'd like to follow on Iran. Critics say that you are using the same quality of intelligence about Iran that you used to make the case for war in Iraq, specifically about WMD that turned out to be wrong, and that you are doing that to make a case for war against Iran. Is that the case?

THE PRESIDENT: I can say with certainty that the Quds force, a part of the Iranian government, has provided these sophisticated IEDs that have harmed our troops. And I'd like to repeat, I do not know whether or not the Quds force was ordered from the top echelons of government. But my point is what's worse -- them ordering it and it happening, or them not ordering it and it happening? And so we will continue to protect our troops.

The full text here just makes me want to give up.

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if i ever bitch again

about the heat i am going to slap my own self. this cold is almost unbearable. that is all.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


The cold and life have me so cranky of late (I need chocolate!) that I'm all misdirected in my focus. I am grateful for:

sweet husband, healthier today
a cozy, warm home
good family relationships
great friends
the best dogs in the world and a juicy old cat
get to work for myself
good finances
garden catalogs in the mail
feather bed and flannel sheets
another trip on the horizon
off sugar
i'm healthy
the hole in my soul that plagued me through my late '20s is gone
W can't be president again
never had kids
i get to laugh a lot
coffee with cream
hot showers from a 12" showerhead
fur-filled mittens
muscles that work
being old and feeling young

Black dot

Went back to my clinic class last night just so I could check in and keep getting my free health club membership and the protein shakes. The topic was stress and how it affects health and eating behavior.

Ho hum, heard it all before, lalalalalala. Then she handed out these little plastic discs, "stress dots." Applied to the hand, these give an indication of stress level. Black = severe stress, dark green a little less so, medium green = moderate stress, light green = relaxed. And on it goes. I'd recite the other colors but it doesn't matter because I couldn't get off of black.

Black black black, even after deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, even a little cheating. I put my other hand over it for a minute, tucked it under my arm. Black.

I think if I could learn to shut off my mind, it would be better. I don't know how to stop thinking. I think it's a spiritual task and it relates to being in the moment, but I'm stuck in this moment, this morning, thinking about 40 things that must be done, 10 things I want to do, another dozen or so that ought to be managed in some way or other.

There's not enough time, not enough daylight, not enough. Doing too much is a favorite old groove of dysfunction for me. I line up a dozen "musts" and face them, paralyzed by the impossibility of it all. At that point, escape via Krispy Kreme begins to look appealing.

All is well for today, but I know I have to deal with this. Exercise, more rest (did that last night, feel pretty good this morning), start and end time for work, actual days off which don't include any work. I want a light green dot and I want it now. I think the last time I felt calm and relaxed was December 1 on the beach at Mazatlan. Deep breaths, relax, be calm.

How do you get rid of stress? Do you?

Saturday, February 10, 2007


Just watched the documentary Thin on HBO. My husband sees these women as different from me, but he wasn't around during the bulimic years, during the insanely excessive exercise, the abuse of laxatives, diuretics, thyroid pills. Sometimes I think that an eating disorder of such extremes burns itself out over time. If you live long enough. I quit throwing up, for the most part, in 1987. I still remember the horror of the relentless weight gain thereafter. Twenty years later, it's still a temptation. I listened to two hours of misery and hope and anger and sadness and childishness and all I can feel is hopeless. I just don't know if it ever goes away. It transmutes. It is better, I guess, to struggle with weight and eating today than with bulimia of 20 years ago.

But I am really, really sick of it. I am just sick of having this shit in my head, of always thinking about it in one form or another, whether good or bad. It's always there on some level of consciousness. Always. What a waste. Eat this, don't eat that, what will the scale say, what does that mean for today, how do I feel about that, what will happen if I let go, can I start over ever, will I start again tomorrow if I give it up today, am I really an addict, is this all in my head. Most days I am grateful for freedom from the kind of insanity that afflicted me in my younger years, the kinds of things I saw in these women today, in Thin. I really am grateful most of the time, but right this minute I am angry and resentful and just flat pissed that it is still something I have to deal with every single fucking day of my life.

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I wrote this about a year ago and am adding it here in honor of Adrian's birthday. Another dead child, a little graphic 3d paragraph, but not like the last one.

Adrian died just after he turned 13 years old, running from the cops in a stolen rusted out beater that topped out at 30 miles an hour. Had he not run a red light, he'd have been captured, taken to detention, lived another day. As it was, he forged ahead, ran the light, hit a truck in the intersection, flipped the behemoth of a car, igniting it. He killed one woman in his carelessness; paralyzed another.

He was dead for three days before we figured it out. I knew he was missing, but he'd been missing before. It was not until reading the paper the morning of the third day that I recognized the description of the sweater I'd just purchased for him, the two dangling silver strings he wore in his left earlobe.

The police came to the office to show me a photo of his body. He was almost unrecognizable and yet there was that pale fuzz on his upper lip, the softness of his face, grotesquely battered and torn, not yet even approaching manhood. He still wore the earring and the green cable-knit sweater, now drenched with blood, jazzy vinyl V's across the front stiff and rust-colored. It was Adrian, this child I'd worked with for two years, the young man who repeatedly asked to live with me, knowing I was his parole officer and it was purely insane for him to believe he could outrun himself, his history, in my home.

Adrian got loose after returning to Tulsa in shame over a disastrous placement I'd made with an aunt and uncle. These people, generous and kind souls, were the parents of a severely disabled child of eight. No one else in Adrian's family would have him. The State of Oklahoma was out of ideas and there were too many nights I sat at the office calling shelter after shelter, one foster home after another, trying to find someplace for him to be, just one night.

Too many times, Adrian would smile and say "I'm going to the bathroom," then disappear down the stairwell, his way of giving me the gift of going home to my life, the home I love, the relationships with people who care for me, love me, stick by me. He loved me and thus Adrian, a child who grew up in squalor and filth and violence, who never had anyone stick by him, care for him, love him, allowed me to return to my brick cottage with the old trees, stained glass, oak floors, piled up feather beds with antique linens, the warmth and love and safety of my home. He returned "home" as well, often spending the nights on the cold vinyl couches in the ICU waiting room of a downtown hospital.

Too many of these nights and then the aunt and uncle, saviors of this unwanted, unloved, abused, now-delinquent child. A going-through-the-motions approval of the saviors' home, then approval yet again for them to move with their son and Adrian to New Mexico. I am not ashamed to admit that I felt relief in the placement and subsequent departure of this difficult young man. I was exhausted, angry with the ridiculously limited resources of my state, sad about his losses and grieving the severe and likely permanent emotional damage he had suffered. I was regretting that I allowed myself to love this boy. It was easier with him gone. I had other boys to care for, other children whose problems were not so entirely hopeless, so unrelenting.

Two months, three months, good progress reports and then a middle-of-the-night hysterical call at home from the aunt. Adrian must go: he had threatened their son, he had been forcing the boy to fellate him, threatening to kill the child if he told. Adrian, my 13 year old charge, now a sex offender by virtue of the age and handicap of his cousin. Adrian was humiliated by the return trip to Oklahoma. He refused to talk about what had happened in New Mexico, he was as angry as I'd ever seen him, and as sad.

A local shelter, having had a reprieve, gave him another shot. By virtue of his recent experiences, he had moved into the arena of Offender where compassion ceases to exist. Thirteen years old, now and forever after an Offender, a Perpetrator. Friday afternoon, I left him at this shelter 30 miles away with his promise that he would get through the weekend, no matter what. Sunday morning early, the call to come get him. He had smoked a cigarette in the bathroom of a movie theatre, an unpardonable transgression made more firmly so by my protests about the idiocy of depriving fragile, vulnerable delinquent kids of cigarettes. A two hour trip to gather him up and place him in yet another shelter where he lasted not even long enough for me to make it home. Sunday afternoon and he was gone and I would not see him alive again.

Adrian was the last child in a string of five that I buried in a period of 26 months. That abysmal record earned me the nickname "Death Row" among my sensitive and loving coworkers. Although I was one of four social workers in "South Central," home of the worst of the worst delinquents in the county, this sorry record was stunning and evidence of the profound problems of the children in my care. Evidence, too, of this state agency's habit of rewarding good work with absurd numbers of the most complex and difficult assignments. Slackers got 14 cases, I often had more than 30. Adrian's death was the impetus for my move from the back end of the kid business to the front, from juvenile parole to child welfare investigations.

Adrian's history was one of despicable abuse: drunken parents, sexually abusive father, a sister dead under suspicious circumstances, another sister permanently brain damaged from near drowning in a mop bucket full of water while mom and dad drank at the bar, yet another sister turned to prostitution at age 12. The intervention should have happened in infancy; thirteen was just too late for this child. Knowing his history I could not work up a rage over his abuse of his cousin, it just made me sad, agonizingly so.

People told me that God killed Adrian, as if that was a comfort. God killed him, they assured, to prevent his harming other children. God rescued countless others ~ future victims ~ by sweeping down and flipping Adrian's car. But if that's the case, what about those two women he hit? One dead, one paralyzed. What did God want to prevent them from doing? Were they sex offenders? Is it worth three lives to God to save others from the potential for sexual abuse? There's sure a lot of abuse happening in the world if that's the case. Does He need to rev up the executions, flip some more cars, paralyze some people? Has He lost the pace? If it was death administered by the hand of God to prevent suffering, was the eight-year-old not worth Adrian's life? Why didn't He run the bus to New Mexico into a ditch. Did God not care as much about the profoundly disabled eight-year-old?

Others said his death prevented his becoming a monster. It was his life, though, which made him a monster if indeed he was. His death just gave him relief from a world he did not understand, from the aching need within his heart and soul that drove his rage and despair and his violence. I don't excuse it, it's not mine to excuse. I think God needs to step up to the plate here and explain this one. Adrian was broken before I ever met him. His brokenness led him to harm others and that's untenable. It's been 12 years. I still think of this child and my heart hurts.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Bang those pots and pans and get the mammogram now

The loss of Molly Ivins leaves a gaping hole in the world. I have loved her since I lived in Texas. She epitomized the smart, sassy, rowdy Texas kind of belle I adore. Amy Goodman has written as fine a farewell as I've read to date, noting that Molly "first questioned authority, then skewered it." It brought tears to my eyes and is a fine remembrance of a fine woman. What a loss.

I've borrowed this photo from the Texas Observer, Molly's home for many years.

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Don't know what day it is

Funny how the horror of Nutritional Boot Camp makes counting the days seem impossible. It's like early sobriety when I just kind of woke up out of the awfulness of it and realized I had six months. Only it's taken just four days (I think) to feel better. That's the nature of this drug, I guess, as opposed to one of the others.

Husband is better. Had a major electrolyte imbalance and a flareup of inflammation in the remaining quarter-sized piece of pancreas he owns. It's pretty sad when I have to tell the doc what blood work he might need and why his amylase and lipase might not be elevated when his pancreas is messed up.

I'm over the pissed off bit of withdrawal, I think, and am stuck now with tired. Another couple of days and all will be well.

On the phone in the ER standing near a woman who was sobbing her heart out, I overheard her say, as her companion's cell phone rang, "is it DHS?" I had a moment of intense gratitude that, though it may have been DHS, it wasn't me. I don't know what she did/was thought to have done/allowed someone else to do to her child, but at least it was not me who had to make that decision. Life is good today on just that realization alone.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

How many days?

Let's see, 18 hours in the ER with the husband since Monday. Lots of uncertainty. Behind at work as a result of hanging out in Florida for a week. Fired a guy who works for me this afternoon. And yes, still no sugar. Still. No. Sugar.

It's better today and I'm getting a reminder of how I felt before I took it back. The AA book talks about those "strange mental blank spots," wherein we find ourselves doing things we swore we'd never do again.

I started eating sugar again for the 49,673d time, having failed to successfully manage it 49,672 times. I used the excuse I've used 19,162 times ~ "I can moderate like other people, I'm better now" ~ though I'd failed to do so 19,161 times. I might be exaggerating a little bit, so consider those numbers +/- 10.

Happy today despite it all. That's what being clean does for me. How easy to forget.

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Sweet dog, deaf dog, fat cat

What's a blog without pet pictures? Bill, Betty, the deaf puppy, and Mo, a sleek, beautiful and not overfed feline. I don't know how he got to be so luxuriously sized, this cat. He's big-boned, but well padded.


Basal metabolic rate

When I started my first round of protein shakes July 2005, I was concerned about lowering my basal metabolic rate. Consuming 880 calories a day, that's assumed to be a given. The BMR is what your body will burn if you just lie around and do nothing all day ~ basic maintenance calorie burning. The story is that if we restrict calories severely, we'll lose at least as much muscle as fat and the result will be a smaller, less fit body with more fat and less muscle mass.

Here's what happened to me, though. I had my BMR tested with the Body Gem at Bally's in late August, a month after starting on protein shakes. I was about 10% below where I should have been given my weight, so from that we could determine that I had less muscle and more fat than the average same size big girl, one who had not been a chronic up and down dieter.

After dropping about 15 pounds, I began working out. It was slow at first, but as my fitness improved and the weight kept coming off, I increased the intensity and length of my workouts. I've always especially liked lifting weights. From my days at Mike Moguin's body building gym, replete with hulking steroid-laced sweating muscle boys, I've found there's something I love about the process of building muscle. It makes me feel tough and kickass and loaded for bear. Love it. Cardio is a necessary evil, less so since I found the elliptical and DJ Steveboy's workout mixes, but an evil still.

So I worked out hard. I slugged back those shakes, kept up with the water. It seems odd that folks who used the same process but did NOT exercise seemed to lose weight more quickly than I. I reminded myself I was in this for the life-changing long haul.

The great thing was that after about six months of this process, having lost 100 pounds, I had my BMR rechecked and I was 15% above normal for my weight and size. That would indicate more muscle mass, less fat, than one would expect for my weight.

Good news for a chronic dieter. It seemed that I had undone a lot of the damage from my years of bingeing and starving and throwing up and gaining and losing, and I'd done it through exercise. I'd not lost muscle, I'd gained it. The protein shakes had not hurt me; along with the exercise, they'd helped maintain the muscle I had and added more (calorie burning ~ yea!) muscle on top of that.

All is well in the land of protein shakes this morning. It's not for life, it's for the moment and it's a tool. But it's been a good tool for me and I'm feeling pretty happy about it this morning.

Not happy about the husband's health. Another 10 hours in the @#$!@#$@$#% ER last night and still no answers.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Day two and some perspective

Nothing like a hospital ER to provide a different slant on things. Withdrawal from white powdery substances whether heroin, cocaine or sugar sucks. Being an addict sucks. Doing the same thing again and again and again ad nauseum sucks. It's not, of course, the end of the world.

It sounds absurd, really, to be in severe sugar withdrawal, especially since my consumption has been so casual. It's looked a lot like what regular people do. A little dessert, a bag of whatever. No big deal. Working out, losing weight, consuming regular food. Only I'm not regular. I can't eat like other folks. I say it and say it and say it and still I try it again. Anyway, day two of withdrawal. Yipthefuckee.

But perspective is indeed a good thing. Took the husband to the ER thinking he was having another bout of acute pancreatitis. He was severely dehydrated, incoherent, unsteady on his feet. He's better and home and we go back to the doc tomorrow. Not pancreatitis, apparently. The other big fear is pancreatic cancer, but that's just always hovering in the background with a pancreas as tortured as his.

In the room next to us, separated by those ridiculous "privacy" curtains, was a man who was making all sorts of revolting noises as he tried to rid his lungs of an excess of fluid. Turns out he had lung cancer two years ago. He couldn't remember who his doctor was, never saw the guy after radiation treatment. Has not seen any doctor in two years, now he has a lump on his neck, can barely swallow and can't quit coughing up all of this mess.

He never saw a doctor, he said, because he's got no insurance, has been on Methadone for a long time and had little money for other things. Methadone costs a fortune, but it's a step up from the alternative in most cases. Living on the edge like that, health insurance becomes a luxury. We were there long enough to hear the diagnosis: a lung full of tumors and metasteses to the bottom of the esophagus, liver, throat.

I heard all of this, this tragedy, through that thin curtain in that ridiculously busy ER. I heard, too, the efforts of this dying man to try to comfort the reserved and dignified woman with him who described herself as his "signifcant other." I heard the doctor tell him this dreadful news and heard the compassion in her voice as she called him sweetheart and told him she wasn't going to let him go, that she was going to admit him right away, not send him on a chase to this doctor or that one.

I overheard this same doctor using the same compassionate voice to talk to a man on a gurney in the hallway. He had spent the day huffing paint and she matter-of-factly asked him if he had been huffing all day? had he eaten anything? did he have someplace to go? This man was not sick in a way that ERs can treat, he was sick from chemicals and no food and no hope, no place to go, no one to help. Addiction.

Two stories in one ER in one city. I can't imagine how many thousands more there were across the country just last night. I am a sugar addict and I chose to pick up my drug again. Right now, I have enormous hope of getting it out of my life one more time. I am also healthy, fit, insured, with good finances and a nice home and people who love me and who I am fortunate to be able to love. Alcohol was easier to get off of, or maybe it seems so because it's been 24 years.

It's just another drug and I have all of the tools to beat it into submission. I am blessed with so much and I know it. Today I am praying for those who are suffering without hope, without support, without love.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

One day

One day down on nutritional boot camp. Almost anyway. As often happens when I go cold turkey off sugar, there's a screaming bitch inside of me. What more proof do I need of the fact that sugar is a drug?

I remember telling the little sweet gray haired ladies in a morning OA meeting that I was finally clean from sugar and felt like a scream with skin on. That's what today has been like.

Important alert: this crazy woman inside of me has lost the thin veneer of respectability that glosses over her native tongue, profanity. I run my head into this wall of addiction and shriek OUCH! I rub my head, back away, go about my business. I run full tilt into the wall and scream SHIT THAT HURTS!! I bandage my wounds, back away, go about my business. I run my head into this fucking wall until my skull cracks open and I scream MOTHERFUCKER!!!! I screw my skull back together and stagger away. I run full force into this son of a bitching cocksucking shit eating wall and I scream I GIVE THE FUCK UP, THAT HURTS, I DON'T WANT ANYMORE.

And having written that, there's a little voice inside that says "really? are you sure?" God help me, I am sure for this moment. I'm an addict. I am.

Taking the husband to the ER. If you're a praying person, say a prayer for Mike.

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Love yourself, no matter what

Go Tyra!

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President Cheney

Talking Points Memo has an interesting post on the role of Darth Cheney in this administration. It's nice to be a paranoid conspiracy theorist and have the conspiracies and theories essentially confirmed. God save the Constitution of the United States. Seven hundred fourteen days left.


Nutritional Boot Camp

Nutritional boot camp begins today with a return to protein shakes for 30 days. The success of basic training at the gym convinced me that it's time to do this in order to clean up my sloppy eating habits.

No criticism is necessary. This is not a long-term solution and I know it. It's an intervention, sort of like taking an antibiotic for an infection. I have been infected with a casual attitude about food choices and I have been including sugary and highly processed foods as if I can successfully eat them. I am a sugar addict and I can't do it. The protein shakes ~ four a day, 220 calories each, nutritionally balanced and doctor prescribed ~ will be a means of detoxing from that poison.

The training instilled in basic boot camp continues with six days of working out, at least 30 minutes of cardio, alternate days of upper/lower body weight training, and those wretched crunches which I do believe are more effective done to perfection than done in quantity.

So there it is, another 30 day plan building on the success of the first 30 day plan. Four shakes, 100 ounces of fluids, exercise every day but one.

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Florida was beautiful. It also broke my heart. Development is insane. The beach was stunning but a little chilly. Haven't ever seen such fine, white sand. Next to the emerald (truly) water, it was one of those visions that could convince an atheist there's an artist in charge of world design.

We kayaked to a place called Three Sisters. It's an isolated lagoon fed by three springs. To reach it, we paddled down a narrow waterway thick with overhanging brush and trees. The limestone bottom of this beautiful cove is clearly visible through the spring water.

This amazing place ~ a hidden gem ~ was thick with manatees that evening. They arrived with the incoming tide and, with the exception of a few rowdies, were apparently turning in for the night. It was amazing to float across the top of the water and look at these immense creatures resting on the bottom.

Most of them had scars on their backs and tails from boat motors. It's not usually these huge gashes that kill them, it's the idiots who speed through the waterway and hit them at high speed with their boats. It's also the red tides that flourish as the result of overfertilization of the turf grass which simply must be had to set off the elegant homes which are appearing everywhere.

These are amazing gentle creatures, huge and powerful with only a thin covering of fat over their muscular bodies. They have to have these or similar springs to maintain their body temperature. Environmentalists in Florida and elsewhere are battling corporate interests and development in efforts to protect them. I fear it's a losing battle. The area around Three Sisters just sold to a developer who will be installing a condo complex and some multi-million dollar homes. He doesn't own the water, but he can clearcut the protective trees and build right up to it, around it, over it.

I was dumped out of my kayak when a pair of frisky manatees rose up under me. I reacted like a little girl, especially when I felt them surrounding me as I swam across the lagoon. Manatees against my legs, brushing my feet as I swam, huge creatures all around. It was completely foolish and I wish it had been different, but being in that water with all of those gigantic beings revived a childhood fear of lake and river bottoms and I couldn't wait to get back in my kayak. An idiot.

Happily, I had the joy of watching Mike engage one of these rare creatures. He slipped into the water at the edge of the springs and just waited. A mid-sized manatee found him and began exploring, touching its nose to his shoulder, his furry tummy, nuzzling his toes. It would turn away to take a breath, then return to its gentle inspection of his body. They're apparently used to seeing folks in the water in wet suits and this one may have been especially interested in Mike because he wore only swim trunks.

2006 was a deadly year for manatees, yet Florida has removed them from the endangered list. They're still federally endangered, but the feds have handed over all decisions regarding their protection to the state. That would be the state that just upgraded their status.

I am grateful that I had the opportunity to see them, yet I wish they could simply be left alone. Every morning they're met at the entrances to their various nighttime habitats with hundreds of boats and divers and folks hoping to see them and interact with them. Kayaks are the least troublesome to the manatees as they're silent with minimal draw. But even 100 kayaks would be too much for these reclusive animals.

The Luddite in me comes out in the face of so much natural beauty, so corrupted by overdevelopment and the unending influx of new residents. The best news of the week was heard while eavesdropping on a couple of elderly residents who were discussing the many folks they knew who were leaving Florida for the Carolinas. Hope it becomes a trend.

The other thing about Florida is that everyone is old. Everyone. They're also frisky and active and feisty. That's the other good news. The funny news is that a huge senior center one county over from where we stayed has a shockingly high rate of STD infections. The not funny news is that it's primarily herpes and HPV. Docs blame it on viagra.

Debating about the early April trip. Cruise the Mexican Riviera or a week on the beach outside of Corpus?

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