Back to music in mid-February 2017 (plus thoughts for the evening)

Had a nice evening. My former stopped over for dinner (the first time in many months since he’s been over here) and to spend time with the kitty. She adores him. They have their own little games they play that I just can’t recreate for her in as exciting of a manner. Tonight I decided to try my hand at a recipe I haven’t attempted in probably 5 years now: Chicken Pot Pie Stew. It comes together in a crockpot cooked on low for about 5 hours. Into it went two skinless/boneless chicken breasts, 1 can of cream of chicken, 1 can of cream of potato, 1 bag of mixed frozen vegetables, a small bag of tiny potatoes cut into halves, seasoning salts, fresh-pressed garlic, nearly 2 cups of milk, onion powder (should’ve added more of that), salt and pepper — served with biscuits on the side (went with Immaculate Baking Co.’s organic flaky biscuits since they are tasty and so much easier than attempting to make homemade biscuits — will leave that to my Grandma, great as hers always are). Turned out well enough. Not fabulous but pretty darn good. Easy meal for a winter night (though it doesn’t feel like winter here lately, crazily enough for this month when we’d normally be knee-deep in snow).

Headed back to his place for a few brews while watching the show Cops. Heh  Yeah, we’re super-cool like that. cool  Chatted about memories from Memphis and New Orleans trips and he reminisced about his run-ins with local cops back in the day (nearly two decades ago). Casual Friday night chit-chat before he headed to bed to rest up after a long, hard work-week. And now I am back home with a few tunes on the brain, per my norm.

One that keeps running through my mind this week is Moby’s “One of These Mornings”:

Beautiful song. Comes back across my radar from time to time.

While over at his place I did read a couple articles in last week’s newspaper, and come to find out the two main stories on the front page both relate with a woman I used to volunteer alongside in that Quaker peace-community organization years back. She’s a Hispanic woman from a South American country (if memory serves me right) who offers counsel to other local Hispanics (who make up our largest minority in this city and state). There’s local talk about trying to turn our public schools into “sanctuaries” for illegal immigrant students. These are K-12 schools, not colleges as I’ve heard about in states like California. But one article stated that the agreement they arrived at does not block school officials from cooperating with federal immigration officials if ever contacted by them, though they have yet to ever be contacted by ICE officials, the article reported. So it appears to mostly be a symbolic gesture in that regard, which I don’t have a major problem with so long as it’s not taken too far beyond that. I’m cool with the Hispanic residents we have around here and have never had trouble of any sort with any of them. Seem like fine people to me. Many of them work very hard and aim to stay out of criminal mischief, so that’s good. BUT problems do arise when it comes to the question of receiving government aid and whatnot — it’s a matter that will have to be reckoned with and sorted out as time goes on. Just so that it can be resolved and handled in an effective manner, hopefully.

Anyway, there was a fairly large protest staged downtown recently, come to find out, where reportedly hundreds of migrant Hispanics and Muslims and their allies showed up trying to press for more “sanctuary” measures in this state. Heard about it the other day but rarely go downtown and so didn’t see the protest myself. This woman I used to volunteer alongside with is proving to be a focal point in these stories because she provides legal and social aid to Hispanic immigrants, some of whom she claims are receiving more discrimination “over the last 9 months” (to quote from the article) than ever before in this city. Hard to imagine since I’ve never heard anyone here locally express anything but respect toward our Hispanic residents (and people do seem to love to tell me their racial grievances behind closed doors). Have heard some grumbling about some of the Muslims here, but that’s obviously a separate matter since they belong to completely separate cultures and religions. The concerns she relayed didn’t sound terrible. No beatings or attacks. Claims of some bullying in schools, whatever that might amount to. We’re a relatively crime-free area, particularly on this side of town, and so I’m imagining some classmates probably said some rude stuff to one another over the Trump election. As is to be expected among youths. We weren’t any nicer toward one another in the ’80s or ’90s, I promise you that much.

Still, I can see where she’s aiming to make her organization and her position within it seem more relevant in light of current mainstream media hysteria. Not that she seemed to have many local stories to work with or at least didn’t describe specific cases where we might become alarmed. All this pushing for “sanctuary” protection from the federal government is kinda odd though. Our state has been good about taking in refugees in the past, and we’re overall a pretty dang friendly community. Lots of caring people around who aren’t squalling to have people deported — quite the contrary. Myself included, when it comes to law-abiding Hispanics in particular. So when she says that some of her people don’t feel as safe here anymore, I’m wondering how much of that has to do with their perceptions changing due to current events in the news. Because locally we seem to be very abiding and helpful and not looking to sabotage these folks’ interests for nefarious reasons. Probably couldn’t ask for a better community than the one we’ve stumbled upon here. I know my gratitude has been growing since relocating to this area a little over a decade back. Good economy, plenty of job opportunities, friendly residents for the most part, low crime rate (compared to plenty of other big cities), greater respect for social freedom (in terms of choice of religion, political views and sexual orientation, especially compared to small towns in the Deep South), good quality utility companies and road crews and the like, etc. PLUS the cops and city councilpersons interviewed in the articles expressed care about hearing from their ethnic communities and stated they shouldn’t be afraid to report crimes regardless of their immigration status. This is probably the best a lot of us out here can hope for, so why people keep complaining over every little thing they can find to niggle about (on the front page of the local newspaper, no less) remains a bit of a mystery to me. Not saying that in anger, just in earnest.

Sometimes we’re better off counting our blessings. For they too might be gone one day…

Returning to music. Ground Up’s “People”:

Footage there was from my last South-bound trek back in 2016. Probably already posted that song on here before, but it’s still playing regularly in my car.

A song I have yet to entirely tire of, Red Rider’s “Lunatic Fringe”:

Lunatic fringe
In the twilight’s last gleaming
This is open season
But you won’t get too far
Cause you gotta blame someone
For your own confusion
We’re on guard this time
(On guard this time)
Against your final solution …

We all contain gremlins. Bad ideas, bad inclinations. Troublesome desires at times. Rage and wrath. Comes with the territory of being human. Good to ponder on that during calm moments too.

“Lord Have Mercy On Me” by Junior Kimbrough:

Another playing regularly in my car in recent months. Never tire of that one in particular. A prayer in a song.

“Burnin’ Sky” by Bad Company:

That one plays in my car regularly too.

Another personal favorite, “Ride With Yourself” by Rhino Bucket:

Footage there shown from my 2013 South-bound trek.

Another good one, “It Keeps You Runnin'” by The Doobie Brothers:

“Song to the Siren” by This Mortal Coil:

Very pretty song. Solemn and humbling. Like a prayer unto itself.

“Bitter Sweet Symphony” by The Verve:

Loved that one since it came out in the late ’90s. Never tire of it.

I can’t change my mold. No, no no …

Have you ever been down? …

Another I rarely tire of, “Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles” by Captain Beefheart:

Far as I can see she loves me …

I can’t see what she sees in a man like me, but she says she loves me …

Hmmm…

“Mea Culpa” by Enigma:

Sometimes we prove to be the “bad guys” in other people’s lives, whether we set out to do so intentionally or not. Stupid decisions can leave marks for many years, come to find out. Doesn’t require an external authority to teach one this lesson either. And sometimes our pain winds up being our best teacher. Hard lessons learned can prove to be a godsend.

Late summer easiness

Chillin’ and relaxing as much as time permits these days. Enjoying afternoons lazing in a private, backyard pool working on my tan (something I haven’t had the luxury of doing in many years). Got some nice color right about now, stark tan lines. Listening to the birds in the trees on the perimeter, marveling at the enigma of the “blue gold” I’ve been fortunate enough to be granted time and access to float around in, soaking up the sun’s rays while watching the clouds drift by. Reflecting on the tunes playing inside my mind, skin scented with coconut oil, enjoying the tranquility of lounging alone in the great outdoors.

My birthday’s right around the corner. About to officially become middle-aged. And I’m good with that.

Working as needed, like always, including the new side gig that requires even more driving around. Exploring a Pantera album loaned to me by my former companion. Getting along with him better as well since we’ve given each other more space.

Tried dating a new guy for a couple weeks there — more like hanging out and hooking up really. But we proved incompatible right from go, not to mention I’m allergic to something in his home. Perhaps his cologne? Don’t know but finally had to throw in the towel since itchy eyes in the late-night hours aren’t sexy. But he was fun to spend time with for a minute, so long as we weren’t drinking too much rum and cokes. It has been said before and it is confirmed once again: I can argue with anyone about anything. Amazing how trifling some arguments wind up being between some of us. Won’t even elaborate on how dumb. Serves me right for giving higher priority to sex appeal in my male suitors than intellectual curiosity. But I do adore muscular eye candy…

Nice to feel my sexuality revived a bit, to know that I haven’t lost my mojo but merely misplaced it for a spell there.

Still working out regularly and have dropped a few pounds since returning from my Mississippi trip in early June. Aiming to hit it harder in coming weeks in preparation for a friend visiting Labor Day weekend. Very much looking forward to seeing him again.

Not been home much lately and hence haven’t been writing on here or elsewhere online. Been enjoying the nightlife, observing the wheels go ’round and ’round…

Pondering like always. Listened to a good audiobook recently and am now re-listening to it again: The Confidence Gap by Russ Harris. Interesting info and ideas that tie into so much else I’ve been reading this year pertaining to mindfulness and taking action and clarifying one’s values. Today I downloaded the audiobook Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind by Yuval Noah Harari and should be starting it soon.

Can’t complain these days. All is going pretty well. Building my income back up, taking time to pamper myself so as to enjoy my femininity once again, exploring social opportunities, sharing meals with friends, tuning out useless political jabbering, taking walks with a new female friend some days after gym class, just letting life roll without trying too hard to force it in any particular direction right now. Taking care of business and leaving the rest to fall wherever it may. Moving from living in my head to living in my body, bit by bit, so far as I am able.

What else? A good friend is making us dinner this evening. On the menu: bruschetta made with tomatoes from another friend’s garden and chicken cacciatore made with ingredients from his own garden. Looking forward to it. He’s a good cook. Another new pal has offered up his swimming pool for late-night skinny-dipping but so far it has been too cool in the evening to stay in for more than a few minutes. Would be nice if another heat wave struck before fall sets in, just for that reason.

Not much else to report on at present. Currently tending to laundry while waiting for the time to roll around to head back out to work. Tonight’s plans are set. Tomorrow remains up in the air. Tuesday evening is girl’s night out at the coffee shop to play cards. Learned a new dice game at my local watering hole last night. And on and on this lazy late summer ambles to a close…

I’ll leave off with a song that’s been playing in my mind a great deal in recent weeks, “Love Reign O’er Me” by The Who:

Further teachings on Epicurus

More lectures on Epicurus from Dr. Sadler.

“Philosophy Core Concepts: Epicurus on Practical Reasoning”:

“Philosophy Core Concepts: Pleasure, Prudence, and Justice”:

“Epicurus on Three Types of Desires”:

“Epicurus on Moving and Static Pleasures”:

“Epicurus on Mental and Bodily Pleasures”:

“Epicurus on Justice”:

I share his view about laws and justice differing across different communities and that being just fine.

“Epicurus on Friendship”:

On the menu this evening…

Pulled Pork Sandwiches. A local grocery store was having a sale on boston pork butts, so I grabbed a 5-lb. one and now have it set on low in the crockpot along with a can of beef broth, a few ounces of dark beer (1554), and onion soup seasoning and garlic powder for adding the flavor I like. That will cook at least for the next 4-6 hours while I go about my day, then I might kick it up to the high setting for the last hour or two before trimming it of fat and pulling the pork apart, adding barbecue sauce, and setting it in the oven under the broiler for a minute so that some of the tips char a little. Then it’s to be packed up and transported to my girlfriend’s place to be shared on buns with a side of chips and dips (and she might be preparing sweet corn too). smile

That’s what’s on the agenda for today.

This recipe has never failed me yet. Tastes better than most pulled pork sandwiches I’ve tried at restaurants. Maybe eventually I’ll get around to making French Dip Sandwiches since nowhere around here makes a good one and mine are very tasty.

Sharing food with friends is part of my aim in finding greater balance in life these days. Always done it some, but nowadays I’m needing to branch out more and meet new friends and to find ways to enjoy their company that doesn’t necessarily involve the barscene. Like biking and taking walks and playing games and sharing meals. And eventually making it to the shooting range (still not gone yet). And maybe bowling and shuffle board and whatever else. This is all part of my gameplan in expanding my little world so that I’m not so stuck in a routine that’s grown boring and counterproductive. Trying to stimulate greater confidence in myself and my abilities so as to feel more emotionally on even keel. Been on too much of an emotional roller-coaster in recent months.

Tomorrow I’m supposed to go with my best guyfriend to sit on the “beach” of a lake to sun ourselves, then out to dinner with him later in the evening.

And Sunday appears to be pretty wide open with only one work appointment for the whole day. Not certain yet how I’ll spend my time that day.

Yes, he is a human being. And so am I. And so are you.

Happened to stumble across this video clip this morning:

He is a human being. Very humbling to listen to his words and to take time to consider how close any one of us is to experiencing that same fate. Many are only a couple paychecks away from possibly losing everything…

Homeless persons have always pulled at my heartstrings, as I’m sure is true for many others out here. They remind us of our shared humanity as well as how rapidly luck can turn, how bad circumstances can spiral and snowball into desperate situations. Puts into clearer perspective one’s own pains and problems.

Might sound cliche, but I’m going somewhere with this.

Ya know, one thing that always comes to mind when I’m confronted with a homeless person, as occurred again yesterday, is what tools are at my disposal to ward off such a fate. Not all have access to the same tools though. It might displease some people to hear it, but I’m going to be blunt here. I got lucky by being born a reasonably attractive female in this day and time. Why? Because I could always trade my sexuality in order to access what I needed, primarily money. Hence why I worked as an escort throughout much of my 20s. Does that come with its own downside and psychological baggage? Of course it does, but I never went homeless for more than a night. Been mistreated and put up with more than I cared to, but I was luckily savvy enough to steer clear of most druggies and dangerous individuals, and there I’m referring to my teenage years, prior to becoming an escort, which I believe the education provided during those years conditioned me to handle. It’s tough out here for young people who don’t have protective families to provide for their needs and to keep them safe, and some of us had to learn many things the hard way. Some of us got luckier than others, if we’re to make that crude comparison.

But that realization can’t help but humble me, knowing I possessed something naturally bestowed that could be honed and used to attract what I needed to get by. And not just tens of dollars but hundreds of dollars per client. And like a lot of inexperienced youths, I took that for granted at the time, not realizing yet how time would take its toll eventually. Though, luckily, another business opportunity presented itself to my imagination and so I transitioned that direction and have remained there ever since, leaving behind that old lifestyle, though carrying forward its lessons, as well as its psychic scars.

Those scars came primarily as a result of how people label you, the words they call you, how they look at and judge you…how some come to see you as less than human (“lower than a dog” is one insult that stayed in my mind over the years). In that respect, I can relate to that man in the video and others like him, though our paths were very different. Words do hurt, absolutely they do. They have power. We can pretend they don’t, but when one’s humanity is denied and you realize some people see you as completely disposable, as irrelevant, as something different from themselves to either be used or avoided, it can’t help but mess with a person’s mind and damage the soul. Thankfully better people exist who do not view others in that narrow of a way, and I was fortunate to have known plenty who treated me fairly decently and noted the potential within me. Not everybody receives such a fair shake as that though, particularly when they’ve grown old and appear physically worn out or belong to a race that some others choose to disdain.

That’s a sad truth in this life. Everybody needs a helping hand from time to time. Every single one of us. And everybody deserves to have their humanity recognized, setting aside all the labeling garbage.

I can be in my worst hours, feeling like I don’t know where to go from here, feeling that rock bottom isn’t terribly far off, and then I come across someone in a worse situation who’s humbled and sad and in need. A look in my wallet tells me I have something that they could benefit from more than I likely will. In my life, money has generally been easy come, easy go. So I share it with others who might hopefully be able to put it to better use. Figure I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to attract enough to cover what I need, so the rest is just a gift, an extraneous offering intended to be shared when paths cross and needs are going unmet. Feels like the right thing to do, ever since I was a young teenager and first confronted on the streets by a homeless elderly woman in Gulfport, Mississippi. We share, because we are human. What else is money for than to provide what we need to survive?

Material desires feel trifling as time moves on. Don’t need so many fancy gadgets or designer brands or decorative furnishings. They don’t bring much pleasure, not usually, not unless received as gifts from people who cared. My life has simplified tremendously since around 2007. I am largely content wearing the same garments until they become too tattered to restore. Have shoes I haven’t tried on in years. Appreciate the jewelry received as gifts along the way, but there’s no real desire for more. All of the art on my walls was either painted by me or received as gifts. Most books I purchase used for cheap, and some of them belong among my prized possessions. Clothing and lingerie hang in my closets that haven’t been worn in years, awaiting the day I might fit into them again. Sometimes I go through phases of buying makeup, but mostly it sits unused, causing me to feel guilty for wasting money on petty indulgences. During daytime hours I ceased wearing makeup anyway.

Most flowers I receive these days are clipped out of people’s gardens, and it really brightens my day when someone makes the offer and asks me to bring by a vase for them to fill. The homegrown peonies on my counter currently mean more than store-bought roses ever could. Because it came from their own garden, which is a product of their own skills and effort and time spent. Same for when people offer to share with me vegetables they’ve grown.

Very thankful that my vehicle is paid off, though it requires repairs soon. Still sad that someone who knew how to fix it led me on and never did so, but that’s on him now, considering I did try to do right by him by buying him nice things and making sure he had some of what he needed to get by, like snow tires for his car this past winter. But we shouldn’t think about that right now. A friend has offered to help me with that instead. And that’s been a harsh lesson right there — expending energy on someone who didn’t truly appreciate it while depriving myself in the process. But whatever. We live and we learn…

And now, lately, I’ve been frequenting bars more often than I probably ought to, wasting money on drinks that only contribute empty calories, in an effort to numb some of the feelings I have inside. Pacing the cage, yes. Using these outings as opportunities to meet and converse with new people, some of whom are in more troubled spaces themselves, others who have wisdom to offer up, while keeping an eye out for those who just wish to exploit and take advantage since those types are everywhere. But it beats sitting at home drinking alone as I have been doing too much of these last two years. Can’t bear doing that anymore. Not even allowing myself to purchase alcohol for home consumption anymore. Because it got to feeling like a slow death. The opposite of living. Isolating myself away from others and our shared human concerns and the ways in which we might help one another. When I’m out I see people, including those in unfortunate circumstances, and a part of me feels guilty for wasting as much as I do and not contributing more. Though I suppose it’s impossible to live within a consumption-based economy without participating to whatever extent as a consumer. Either way, I choose to share. I’d probably just drink that money away anyway. And if that individual chooses to do so, maybe it was their turn. What do I care? If it brings them a little peace for the evening, then isn’t that worthwhile?

We all hurt and we all go through rough times in whatever form it may take. Pain is pain. Sometimes just sitting with a person and listening to them is more valuable than anything else you can provide. Sharing meals is the simplest and most meaningful form of communion. The more greedy I behave as, the more miserable I become…that’s something life’s been teaching me over time as well. My things don’t bring me as much pleasure as interaction with good people does. My day feels purposeful when I am able to offer useful assistance of some kind. And I think that points to what it truly means to be human.

Some say that I am selfish woman. They are correct, but that’s not all I am. Never claimed to be a good person, though I’d like to think I’m not the worst, troubled as I obviously am. But when I share what I do have, my burdens feel a little lighter and my outlook appears a little less gloomy. Because I’m reminded that we’re all in this together, and it can be no other way.

The spaghetti bake’s in the oven

Not feeling too well today, that being a product of my own doing, but apparently that’s what Sundays off are for — recuperating. Decided to cook up spaghetti and bake it in a casserole dish covered with cheeses — mmm, comfort food. One of my favorite dishes that I personally am capable of pulling off without a hitch. Simple, tasty, provides enough food to last for days (or to share with friends). For the sauce, Newman’s Own Five Cheese sauce has been my preference in recent years. Decided to try some noodles from some fancy company out of Italy for this batch. Pressed in probably 6 cloves of garlic after browning a lb. or so of ground sirloin. Drizzled in what’s become my favorite extra virgin olive oil out of those locally available (Lucini limited reserve); added more spices, plus a can of tomato paste and a can of seasoned diced tomatoes. Topped the pasta and sauce with provolone, mozzarella and a little asiago. Bakes for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees F until the cheese is bubbly.

For sides, tonight I’m going with texas toast and steamed green beans sprinkled with sliced almonds. Really prefer seared zucchini with this dish, but fresh ones are obviously out of season.

All comes together, from start to finish, within about an hour.

Might cart over some leftovers to share with my friend and his mom tomorrow.

Beyond that, another notable aspect of my weekend was trimming a few inches off my hair. Once it gets this long it’s pretty easy to care for at home, reducing the need to deal with salons. I watched a few tutorials on youtube in the past to gain an idea of how best to go about it and have been trimming my own for the last year or more. Important to purchase sharp enough scissors only used for those purposes, but those can be had for around $20 at Sally’s. Saves money and time handling this at home.

And this is how we’re keeping occupied this weekend, along with my regular intake of youtube videos and tunes.  ha  One foot before the other, returning to Bacheloretteville. C’est la vie. It’s gonna be better this way in the end. Just an adjustment currently.

Some change will do me good

Made up my mind to start eating healthier once again. Fell into a slump the last 2-3 years while dating my most recent partner since he’s into cooking rich foods (and is a fantastic cook, I might add) and has no tolerance for whole wheat breads or vegetables not soaked with butter. But he works in a physically-demanding job where he can work off all of those calories whereas I do not.

And soda — the man reintroduced me to soda! He knows he did too, devilishly luring me in with the addition of spiced rum. haha  Shame, shame.

Heap stress on the mix and it’s proven to be a recipe for me gaining a bunch of weight. I’m ready for that to change though. Ready to return to less-processed foods and enjoying meals that I cook at home to suit my own taste.

So, yesterday I spent a couple hours at the grocery store stocking up on more wholesome foods that make me happy. Not diet foods contaminated with aspartame or similar nonsense since that stuff is for the birds. Just trying to get back in the groove of cooking for one at home once again using better-quality ingredients.

Today is the first day of the rest of my life, so I keep hearing. Savoring delicious foods is one of life’s sweet luxuries, as is maintaining reasonably good health so as to enjoy life’s spoils. In short, I miss feeling perkier. Plus, experimenting with recipes used to be a fun pastime. Never been much of a cook myself, but I get by.

On the menu this evening: Slow Cooker Chicken & Dumplings

Or something like that anyway. I’m working off of this recipe, making alterations as seem fitting and getting ideas from the reviewers.

Here’s what I’m doing. Cut two chicken breasts in half and placed them in the crockpot, then added two cans of cream of chicken soup, plus part of a can of low-sodium chicken broth (in place of most of the water called for). I then tossed in half an onion (not cut up, just one big chunk thrown in for flavoring — I don’t care much for eating onions), a 16 oz. bag of frozen mixed vegetables, a couple stalks of celery, and I seasoned the pot with poultry seasoning, garlic powder, and black pepper. Gonna let it cook on high for 3.5 hours before I add in the refrigerated biscuit dough and one chopped up Russet potato.

Hopefully it will turn out to be a reasonably satisfying meal.

chicken-dumplings-recipe

On the drink menu this evening, I’m sipping a concoction that includes a little bit of vodka, a few drops of lime juice, topped with ginger beer, served over ice. Got the idea for that little Moscow Mule cocktail from my good buddy.

MoscowMule

(Photos borrowed from the internet and do not belong to me.)