Fall Florals

So I finally took my iPhone macro lens out for some fresh air again. Been a while since I spent time in the yard looking at tiny things and snapping pics.

I look forward to being done decluttering, repairing, painting, and decorating my house, so I can get back to the art and photography with a clear head (and a clean and awesome house). Soon, I hope.

Say What?!

Let me tell you a story about coffee beans.

We buy coffee beans from a local outfit. They are roasted here in town, and we've been using them since we started with having my groceries delivered. I'm especially fond of the French roast, but over the years others have been bought, and they are all tasty. I love them so much that other beans seem to suck in comparison.

Earlier this week when I was making the grocery order, my grocery service was out of the French roast whole beans, so I ordered a tri-roast blend to try, and guess what? I love it more than the French roast. I decided I wanted to link to it on their website to rave about it. You know, an excuse to make a happy little post to my neglected blog. A simple little post about my love of coffee and some awesome coffee beans.

What could possibly go wrong? I typed the name of the outfit into Google.

The first thing I notice is they have an actual coffee shop in town, and I get excited. I don't often go out for coffee, but sometimes I'm out and about doing things and think “A cup of joe would be nice right now.” So it's nice to know where the good shops are, and what shop could be better than one serving coffee made from my favorite beans? But that's not what I was looking for, so I continue down the list of results to find the link to their coffee bean retail outfit. I find it, and then just a couple results down further I see “[Insert Coffee Bar Name Here] is Totally Anti-Choice”. I go and read the article, and wow. Not only anti-choice … vehemently anti-choice.

In general, I don't give a damn about the political leanings of businesses. Oh, I do, but I don't go out looking for the information. There aren't enough hours in the day, and it only leads to misery once you jump down that rabbit hole. I realized long ago that to be a consumer who stays 100% in line with my my beliefs and ideals I'd have to be naked, living in a recycled cardboard box under a bridge, eating dirt and drinking rainwater, because all businesses do things I don't agree with. All of them. That's why I don't poke around too much. So long as they keep it to themselves and provide services/goods I want and enjoy (and aren't openly kicking puppies), they can have my coins.

But … when they don't keep it to themselves, and I hear about it, that changes things. It makes me consider whether or not I truly need and want to be spending money on their service or goods anymore, and the answer is almost always a resounding NO I DON'T. The head of Papa Johns destroyed a lengthy and happy relationship with me when he came out swinging against Obamacare (with the stupidest argument ever), and now my favorite coffee beans have been tainted with comparisons of abortion to the Holocaust. My delicious cup of joe tastes a little off, and as much as I love those beans, I'll be looking around for other beans to love. It's a shame.

My advice to businesses, especially small local ones, is to keep your political and religious beliefs to yourselves. If a pro-choice outfit asks you for a donation and you are anti-choice, just say no. Or ignore the damn email. To do anything else risks turning away consumers who would gladly consume your goods and services, because anything you put in writing will get out into the wild where your potential customers can see it. I've heard the arguments (at length) that then the business owners will not be living by their own belief systems and how can we ask them to do that? But isn't that exactly what businesses like this are asking their consumers to do? Wouldn't they prefer I overlook the fact I believe anyone who compares abortion to the Holocaust is a little soft in the brain and continue purchasing their product? Of course they would. They want to keep making money, and taking my dirty pro-choice money wouldn't bother them at all.

If you want to be political, run a political business. If you want to run a coffee shop or any other kind of general non-political business, keep your own politics and beliefs out of it. When you walk into the door at work, you just shouldn't be spewing anything about your religious beliefs, political beliefs, or your personal life. You especially shouldn't do so while representing your business, unless you want that to be the focus of said business and only want to cater to consumers who agree with you. I can abide a business that is run like that, but then make it clear and upfront you're a right winger and don't act like you're a hippie … and vice versa. Hobby Lobby, for example, was always upfront about being a Christian outfit with Christian and heavily rightwing, traditional ideals, so I wasn't at all surprised when they went all anti-birth control. I was though totally surprised that my favorite coffee bean roaster, people who seemed to be on the down-to-earth, laid back hippie end of the scale ended up being the sort of folks who describe abortion as the “killing of precious innocent babies” and compare it to the Holocaust. I can't possibly unknow that now, and so I also can't possibly continue giving them my money.

I guess now I have about two weeks to find some other beans to grind in my fancy grinder that taste as great to me. If it takes longer than that, I'll just go back to buying Target brand French roast until I find what I'm looking for in a bean roaster. And this time, I will actually be doing a bit of light research to see to whom I am giving my money.

In closing, I will make a rare statement on my position on the subject of abortion. I am anti-abortion and pro-choice. Abortion is not a universal good, but at this time it is a universal necessity. I would like to see far fewer of them, and it would be great to create a world where they were only needed in cases of dire situations. The answer to the question “How do we have fewer or no abortions?” is actually not as difficult as people make it out to be.

Higher levels of education lead to fewer unplanned pregnancies (and fewer pregnancies in general). As does comprehensive sex education (someone needs to teach people how to use and care for their body's sexual side). Easy access to reliable and easy to use birth control would also go a long way to lowering the number of abortions (and yet pro-lifers are oh so opposed to it too). We just haven't had the political will to make these things happen, because these things are hard. Outlawing something is easy. Outlawing things doesn't make those things go away. It just makes them more dangerous and difficult.

And no … the fact that abortions happen is not at all like the Holocaust. I had living, breathing, educated, hard working relatives who were tortured to death in Nazi death camps, so that particular line of argument doesn't fly with me. If anyone ever said such a thing to my face, I'm not sure how I would react, but I am certain my usual happy-go-lucky and laid back demeanor would disappear in an instant. Thankfully in this case all I've had to do to resolve my anger was to write a blog post and stop buying a brand of roasted coffee beans, so no arrests will be necessary.

Note: I've edited out a lot of details, because I don't feel up to dealing with any hate mail on the subject of something that happened last year. If anyone local wants to know more, ask me. Or use your Google Fu. There is, in fact, enough information in this post (and with just a slim amount of knowledge about me) to find it on your own.

Dear Tech Evangelicals

Short version: Get a life and stop yelling at me about my technological devices, and I will stop thinking you are a crazy, angry asshole.

I know you love your cellphone/computer/tablet/widget. I get it. It's a wonderful thing when you have a piece of technology in your life that you love owning and using, which brings you more pleasure than grief, and which does the things you need it to do when you need it to do them. Everyone should be so lucky. Few things suck worse than owning a cellphone/computer/tablet/widget that makes you want to pull your hair out with frustration. I too know the joy of owning a cellphone/computer/tablet/widget that makes my life better and not more aggravating. Everyone should own technology that makes their lives better by whatever definition of better they set for themselves.

My cellphone/computer/tablet/widgets happen to be made by a company called Apple. Many of you own cellphone/computer/tablet/widgets made by other companies. In most cases, the only reason I know what variety of cellphone/computer/tablet/widget you own is because you tell me how much better your cellphone/computer/tablet/widget is than my cellphone/computer/tablet/widget at every available opportunity. Often, you will –at length– list off tech specs for your cellphone/computer/tablet/widget AND MINE and insist that my life would be better, if only I would see the light and switch to your preferred cellphone/computer/tablet/widget.

This wouldn't be so frustrating (and sometimes aggravating), if I were asking for advice on what cellphone/computer/tablet/widget to buy … and if said unasked for advice didn't quickly devolve into foam-speckled ranting about the evils and downfalls of my preferred cellphone/computer/tablet/widget and the company that makes it. It can't be healthy carrying around all those suitcases full of hate. See a therapist, unpack that baggage, show them on the doll where the bad corporation touched you, and work through that negativity. In fact, expending so much emotional energy attempting to convert others to your preferred cellphone/computer/tablet/widget makes you seem just a little unhinged.

If someone asks me about my cellphone/computer/tablet/widget and how I feel about it, I will gladly tell them the positives and negatives. Occasionally, the love I feel for my cellphone/computer/tablet/widget will bubble forth without prompting in the form of “I love my cellphone/computer/tablet/widget!”, especially if it just saved my butt in some way. What I don't ever feel the need to do is tell other people that their preferred cellphone/computer/tablet/widget sucks and the company that makes it should cease to exist. Furthermore, I don't know the technical specifications of my own cellphone/computer/tablet/widgets, so it's a sure bet I don't know what's going on inside yours. I have better things to store in my brain.

You should spend more time asking yourself why you give a damn what flavor of cellphone/computer/tablet/widget anyone else is using and less time telling other people what cellphone/computer/tablet/widget they should be using and why (unless they ask for advice). All that foam-speckled ranting makes you sound like a street corner preacher declaring the end is nigh and how we're going to hell if we don't follow you to the promised land while owning cellphone/computer/tablet/widget Type G (and not Type A or B or C). Isn't there something more useful to the universe and humanity at large you could be doing than telling people the cellphone/computer/tablet/widgets they love suck?

One more thing…

I'm neither stupid nor a kool aid drinker. Your behavior makes it feel like you think I am too stupid and/or deluded to select my own cellphone/computer/tablet/widget. You should take a moment to reflect on that as well.

New Who

So you may have noticed I haven’t had anything to say about the new Doctor Who season that just started. Well, let’s fix that now. You have to know I have opinions.

The episode itself was kind of crap. Could have had half as much in it and been half as long and it would have been awesome. The fight scene was ridiculously stupid. No tension, and actually nothing much resembling fighting. I’m going to pretend I didn’t see it. The nonstop “Married!” bit seemed pointless after the first three times it was said. We get it already! Vastra going off on Clara was weird and a bit off putting (girl’s been through all this hell over the course of Xmas lunch for Pete’s sake). Some of the effects were really poorly done. Way, WAY too much made of how very OLD the new regeneration of the Doctor is. Um, he’s not that damn old, thank you very much. He’s in my peer group, and we aren’t at death’s door.

I do not, at all, like the new intro theme music. It makes my head hurt.

With that said, there was some good acting. Some moments were spot on awesome, like the newspaper through the window, the hobo in the alley scene, the cafe conversation, the ambiguity of how the cyborg exited the balloon (and the breaking of the fourth wall during that scene), and the bit at the end (which gave me feels). Like I said, the episode could have been shorter and been better. When I find myself mentally wandering off during a new episode of Doctor Who, there’s a problem.

Now on the subject of the new regeneration of the Doctor? Love him. He’s going to be awesome. Capaldi is a fine actor, and he’s going to bring something really fresh and new to Doctor Who. It feels like he’s going to be a lot like a combination of the Pertwee and Baker incarnations, which would bring me endess joy. Something a little more serious (but still crazy). Something a little darker. I can’t wait to see it. I just hope The showrunners don’t screw it up. Do you hear me Moffat?


Is It Over Yet?

On the off chance you've been wondering how Project Bedroom: The Great Decluttering has been going, let me fill you in on recent events.

I took two days off for mental health reasons and fatigue. The last couple weeks I kept waking up and saying I was taking a day off from dealing with household debris (and life in general), and then I wouldn't take the day off. Downtime is important, folks. Getting some rest helped. I woke up today and felt ready to get back to work, but everything was just so frustrating. I was attempting to create perfection when good would do. Seriously, I have been working on the bedroom for weeks, I have gotten rid of so much stuff, and that closet is no longer a complete nightmare. I've done good! Good is good enough for now.

At the moment, all my clothing is put away in the closet or chest of drawers. I still own too much clothing, and I will be thinning it out some more soon. My shoes and purses are in the shoe shelves in the closet and not all over the floor. My fabric stash is in storage bins on the top shelf of the closet, and I have decided that much of it can be donated away. The yarn is in the process of being wound into tidy balls, but for now it's on the floor of the closet in trash bags. I can live with that for a while. It'll get better over time, and much of it will be going away too. So really, aside from getting rid of some more of the stuff in the closet and getting more storage bins for what I'm keeping, the closet is done. So are the chest of drawers. Yay!

Unfortunately, there are still random piles of crap all over the house. Some of the crap just needs a new home, like the board games and knitting patterns I'm not getting rid of. Some of it just needs to be thrown in the trash bin. I've decided the solution to the problem of random piles of crap that need homes is the den. More specifically, the bookshelves in the den. They contain a lot of books I don't especially need to own anymore. Books I will never read again. Books that are so outdated as to be useless. Books people gave me that I never wanted. Many of these books could go away, and I wouldn't miss them. And if they go away, I will have homes for knitting patterns, and board games, and the books and magazines that are currently stacked in the living room and under my desk. You know, the things I like and use regularly.

I hadn't planned to declutter the den right this moment, but as always, one thing leads to another. In order to reclaim the rest of the house, I must do something in the den. Luckily, the only thing in there (on my side anyway) is books. I'm going to be pretty brutal. If it's not ancient, or arts/crafts/cooking related, or one of my all-time most meaningful and important books, or in some other way is irreplaceable and/or outstanding and/or utterly useful, it's going. Some things will be replaced with ebook versions. I have a Kindle and an iPad upon which I now do 90% of my reading, and I like ebooks very, very much. What do I like best about them? They don't take up an entire room. My house is too small to hold so many books that aren't being looked at.

So tomorrow, the sorting of books will begin, and hopefully, I will get that all done tomorrow. And then all my knitting patterns and various and sundry other arts and crafts books/magazines and all the board games can have a home … and my house will almost be back to normal. Actually, better than normal. I have seriously tossed so much stuff since last fall, and organized so much stuff. My home is far from being anything like the ones you see in home decor magazines, but it's looking a lot less like a madhouse these days. Eventually, the Box Room will be converted into my studio, and then all the creative madness will be contained in one room, behind a closed door. Bliss!

First, I have to finish the current decluttering mess I've made, and then I want to make the bedroom into a wonderful, restful, and lovely place. I've been dreaming about having a wonderful, restful, and lovely bedroom. I am ready to have it! Ready! Right now! Right after I decide which bedroom furniture and paint colors are THE ONES. I'm hoping to decide that this weekend. Sunday is going to be a long, long day. I want to do Ikea and Home Depot all in the same day. Hope the husband is up to it! Hope I'm up to it too!

Don’t Skip Steps

I slept through my alarms this morning, and when my brain noticed the sunlight in the room, I popped up and remembered I needed to put out the grocery box. Unfortunately, I'm only good for two things before having coffee: stumbling to the bathroom and stumbling to the kitchen to make coffee. There's not really any obstacles between the bed and the bathroom or kitchen, so those are relatively safe journeys to make when one's brain is not at all engaged yet. Stumbling to the living room and then the front door to manhandle a large green box onto the porch, on the other hand, is filled with obstacles, in the form of cat toys, furniture, and quite often cats.

Had I stopped in the bathroom first, a visit that always ends with the splashing of cold water on my face which facilitates brain engagement for coffee making, I might have made it to the front door unharmed, but no … I bounced down the hall, built up a head of steam, and entered the living room. Not only was my brain not engaged, I don't even think my eyes were open yet. I have no actual recollection of my journey from bed to living room doorway.

Want to know what will wake a brain up immediately? A toe that's been broken twice before slamming into the solid wooden leg of a couch at full stumble force. I uttered a quiet “ow” and took two more steps before the pain travelled up my mostly asleep nervous system to inform my brain that a quiet “ow” was a serious understatement. I crumpled into a ball on the floor, grasped my right foot, and unleashed my entire multilingual vocabulary of curse words.

After determining I hadn't yet again broken that toe, I hobbled to the front door and put the damn grocery box out on the porch. Then I hobbled back to bed and declared today another day off. Any day that starts with brutally smashing one's toe probably isn't going to get better. Why risk it?! Besides, I stayed up far too late last night drinking cocktails and watching stupid movies, so a few more hours of sleep were necessary anyway.

Now I'm having my late afternoon morning coffee and getting ready to wind a few balls of yarn while trying to ignore the throbbing sensation in my foot. My toe isn't broken, but it is NOT HAPPY. Going forward, I will never again skip the necessary brain engaging steps of a bathroom pitstop and coffee making, unless the house is on fire. Maybe not even then.