Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Meat Sack and the Objects in Space

I'm not a very spiritual person. Although I think I am an empathetic and compassionate one. Mostly. I primarily consider humans to be meat sacks that do their worst to others (sometimes intentionally, mostly not) and then move on to another plane or maybe just dust. Meanwhile, we surround ourselves with and collide with objects. We somehow feel emotions, too. Grief at losses. Anxiety. (I feel anxious when forging new relations. Then I step back and say, "Wow, that's weird, why?") Joy, of course. But where does that come from?

I took the photo above a couple of months ago on a rare solitary walk. Usually, my husband, aka Forrest or FFP, goes with me. Over east of the Interstate in an area that is rapidly gentrifying, I discovered a recycling yard that had been there for ages. The new Fairmount hotel just on the other side of the highway seemed to rise up from this pile of metal junk.

I haven't written in the last couple of days. My eye had a collision with a tennis ball. Well, my glasses. The eye seems fine but I have bruising around it. It kind of set me back on my heels and I have been doing very little and what I've been doing has been slow. Not that I was really hurt. It was Saturday morning and right after the accident with the tennis ball I rushed home and iced it for a few hours to prevent much swelling. We went out that night to dinner with a school friend of FFP's. They hadn't seen each other in ages. He and his wife were nice. My eye was just starting to look bruised.

It's funny how accidents happen. Friday night we went to a very nice party with good food and drink. I had three cocktails. Maybe kinda strong. Was a little hungover Saturday and just going through the motions thinking I'd get home and drink a lot of water and get over it. We'd played a set and embarked on a second. One of the ladies had forgotten her racquet. The pro shop will gladly loan you racquets, but only kind of crappy ones unless you want to pay to rent a demo. She brought two of these old racquets out to the court. She's a good player and was blaming a few mishits on the racquet. I have two racquets. One is a few decades old. Its sobriquet is 'The Hammer' and it is supposed to help you generate power. I usually play with a newer one that plays almost exactly like the old one. Anyway, I offered to let her try the old one. On the next game my partner (who struggles to serve in the court and whose serves usually bounce hight), was serving. I was playing up toward the net, not really close. The lady holding my racquet who, I swear, almost always hits an angle away from the net person, returned the ball. In that instant, I thought I'd get my racquet in front of my face but I saw a gigantic ball coming right to my left eye and boom! I was sitting on the ground, clutching my glasses. I didn't feel hungover now. Just feeling that eye to see the damage. One wonders: if I hadn't been hungover or if I hadn't loaned the racquet or if we hadn't switched to new balls....

Anyway, I've been lazy. Did a tiny bit of decorating for Christmas. Finished a jigsaw puzzle. Worked a bunch of crosswords, read papers. Barely left the apartment. I did start considering taxes. Paid my property taxes. Paid some bills. I started thinking about the budget for 2020.

Anyway, objects in space. There are so many things that sorting them, cleaning them, considering them becomes a full-time job. It makes me tired. And I'm going to talk about it more tomorrow. Maybe.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Sloth and Tradition

By some accounts, I stayed in the apartment all day and didn't exercise or take a shower because I'm feeling sorry for myself for my injury. But my eye doesn't really hurt. Not much anyway. And really I was in here tackling the holiday tradition of doing one and only one jigsaw puzzle. It has scores of pictures of signs that say, mostly, 'Texas.' It's not too hard.


Sunday, December 08, 2019


I feel like I should always have a picture with these entries. Since I'm not posting an entry of my black eye, I just added this picture with my husband in the lobby of the Fairmont where there are giant nutcrackers, apparently made from cake and macarons. Pushing the boundaries of gingerbread creations, I guess.

I was a little bit productive today. I tidied up and cleaned some surfaces that I was going to put decorations on. I got decorations out of storage but didn't do anything with them. Other than that, I've just eaten (lunch: tortilla with chicken, cheese, guac, and hot sauce and half a banana; dinner: soup and a grilled cheese sandwich). And read papers and watched TV. Oh, and I've checked out the progress of my black eye (it gets worse before better, right, although the swelling is gone).

And that's about it. And I'm going to go back to the TV and newspapers.

Oh...and I pulled out the leaf in the dining table and got out a jigsaw puzzle. Because it's a holiday tradition, damn it!

Saturday, December 07, 2019

I Have a Black Eye

That's not a metaphor. It's not a stain on my reputation or anything. It's a literal black eye. Because today I caught a tennis ball in my eye. I had on glasses so it injured around the eye and socket. It's not swollen shut but it's ugly. I won't put a picture here. But I spent part of the day icing my face and then we went out to dinner with people I'd never met (the guy was a friend of Forrest's in school). Then we saw lots of people we knew so I was explaining my eye. I didn't do anything productive today. Tomorrow, maybe I will do some cleaning and decorating and clean off all these things on my desk. Or maybe I'll just sit around and feel sorry for myself. We will see. So, that is all.

Friday, December 06, 2019

Decorations so Bright

I have yet to decorate our apartment. I am telling myself that tomorrow or maybe Sunday I will go to the storage cage and get out our tiny, tiny tree and all the little Christmas figures and spread cheer around the apartment. In anticipation of this, though, I started dusting and cleaning and polishing areas where I might put these decorations.
 First up were the bar console and mirrored shelves above it. I washed all the glassware, polished things up and left it ready to rearrange with the tiny tree and some other Christmasy stuff. Then I wiped down the counter between the dining and kitchen and polished and dusted everything there. I still have more dusting to do.

Forrest and I started our annual Christmas decoration stroll with three hotels. The Line hotel had no decorations. What the heck!

The Four Seasons had little 'gingerbread' cities. Austin, the biggest, had lots of buildings and shops. (I'll post pictures along the way.) The Fairmont had giant nutcrackers made from macaroons and such. Also lots of other decorations. I took the first picture there.

 We were going to do some more hotels and office lobbies and the Capitol but that will wait until another day. We aren't going out of town for the holidays so we will have lots of time. Tonight there is a party at some friends' house. It's too far to walk (in the dark), but close so we can take a rideshare and imbibe.

And so it goes. I still want to write more about the economy and fast fashion and climate change and all my fears. But Christmas and housekeeping. Whatever.

Thursday, December 05, 2019


As I mentioned yesterday, I'm worried about the mighty consumer. I read that the consumer is powering growth, up to 70% of it of the economy in the U.S. Businesses, I guess, are turning out some consumer goods and creating jobs but are they hoarding their tax savings (as opposed to giving the employee/consumers some of it) or buying back stock (making their stock more valuable, natch, and good for investors in that stock). This seems like one of those things that work for a while and then don't.

When I get a Lyft ride for a short distance to a Christmas party  (like we did last night and will tomorrow night), I worry about the driver. They show up in their late model car. Lyft charges me six or seven dollars. They have to drive around, burning gas, putting wear and tear on their (insured, registered, paid for?) vehicle. I give them a $5 tip, thinking this can never work as a business model. Do they have health insurance? They are probably counted as employed. But are they really?

A lot of what these consumers are consuming apparently is cheap clothing. Made by (let's admit it, if not slave at least not union) labor overseas. Shipped to us in big polluting cargo ships. Worn and discarded quickly, apparently, filling landfills. I understand that the manufacture of clothing causes lots of pollution. Some of this clothing is bleached, scrubbed, ripped, sliced, etc. as a designer 'touch.'

We order some of these cheap clothes (and a zillion other things) from Amazon. (In our house, we order coffee beans, oat bran, an occasional book, and a few other things. Rarely clothes.) Workers toil (and I don't use the word lightly) long days at not so great wages to get that stuff to us.

Are the rideshare drivers and Amazon pickers the consumers powering the economy? Or is it the folks who feel flush because their retirement accounts are full of the stocks of companies who bought back stock with their tax-saving windfall? Do the rideshare drivers and Amazon pickers have retirement accounts?

And saving? Is anyone saving? I read that some people are rolling underwater car loans into new loans resulting in things like a $47,000 loan on a car worth $27,000. Apparently, German people are still saving resulting in negative interest rates and, of course, not boosting their economy with those Euros? Saving is good for the individual but bad for the growth of the economy.

The cheap clothing thing is especially interesting (and worrying) to me. More on that tomorrow. Maybe.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

The Mighty Consumer

This is a display of toys, late in the game, at the annual Settlement Home Garage Sale. I hear the consumer is powering 70% of the growth in the economy. And yet there are all these Amazon employees in warehouses and rideshare drivers. How in the world are they making enough to power our economy?

On the other hand, I hear the environment is being destroyed by our lust for cheap, disposable clothing. (More on that later.)

Things aren't really adding up for me these days.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Holiday Pressure

Parties, presents, decorations, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday. Pressure, deadlines. Get those gifts in the mail, make your plans for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve.

Really I don't feel pressure to do much of anything. I resent all the 'last chance' sales filling my inbox for black Friday (extended!) and giving Tuesday. I never give on giving Tuesday. We have an organization here in Austin called I Live Here/I Give Here. They organize this one day of giving in the spring. All kinds of matches and contests arranged. But they, of course, take a cut. I refuse to give in this time. Just say, sorry, I'll give money in a calm and unhurried manner when I am ready. And don't get me started on GoFundMe and facebook giving. I was once discussing online with a local director of a non-profit long ago about the reasons that stymy fundraising. I suggested 'donor fatigue.' You are wearing me out emailing, calling, mailing expensive promotional pieces. Often without regard to what I've already given or committed to give. So, that's my bah humbug of the season.

Today was just the perfect weather for tennis. I had on sweatpants, a sweatshirt and another jacket. Cool and sunny. No wind at all. Never sweated, never took off the jacket. Later in the day, it warmed up and we walked to the post office and the drug store. Barely needed a jacket. Besides doing those errands, I stopped at the grocery store on the way home from tennis. (And purchased salad dressing, salsa, jalapenos, tortilla chips, an apple, two bananas, some guacamole.) I have to drive to tennis because the club where I play is four miles away. I got the bad news that the two younger women we play with on Tuesday are going to quit playing with us to do an activity that they think will make them better players. Ha. My other companion, who is 88, was not pleased but looked resigned.

Except for the shopping errands, I didn't accomplish much today. I'm hoping to do some cleaning tomorrow and then get out some Christmas decorations. Maybe. We have evening plans every other night until Sunday. I just keep procrastinating. There is more time to get these things done, so I take it. I've planned some trips, though. I wonder how many more years we will be up for trips? Especially to Europe?

And that's my ramble. I'm going to get stuck into my finances and bill paying for an hour or so.

Monday, December 02, 2019


How do you manage your addictions? If you don't have any, that's great. (Or maybe they are good ones like a healthy diet and exercise.) My big three are crosswords, coffee, and cocktails. In that order. I can go days without drinking and not miss it. Notwithstanding the custom glass at my neighborhood bar. I really miss the first cup of coffee (or two) if I can't get it, but the others, like the one I'm having now after lunch and at almost two in the afternoon are not so craved. (And since I don't use cream or sugar they are not as bad for me as they could be.) 

But I can't pass up a crossword grid easily. I get up in the morning, excited to make a cup of coffee and work the puzzle in the New York Times. Later in the day, I'm likely to give a whirl to 1-3 others in the other papers we get. Not to mention a Ken-Ken or Jumble or Suduku.  When I should be doing chores, I tell myself I'll just finish this puzzle, then I'll be productive.

I guess I'm addicted to Facebook, too, I'm always putting something on there and trying to start a conversation. (Sometimes it's a picture of my cocktail, crossword or coffee!) I like seeing my friends' activities and opinions. (Although some are frustrating for sure.) 

Sometimes when I feel I've been drinking too much I purposively don't have any alcohol for a couple of days. (My dad used to say that he would stop drinking for a few days to see if he would have the DTs. He was kidding, but he saw plenty of delirium tremors working for the VA for three decades.) 

Sometimes when the "I'm going to get around to reading this pile" of newspapers gets too high, I make myself go through them and not work any puzzles. (I will sometimes cut them out and save them, however! Maybe I'm a hoarder, too.)

I never go without at least one cup of coffee in the morning. But I often drink green tea or just water in the afternoon or evening. Or...cocktails. Or wine. Or beer. I didn't choose cocktails above just because of the alliteration. I drink lots of different things, but first and foremost on the list is my Manhattan on the rocks. (Rye Whiskey please.)

So, am I managing my addictions well? I guess. I probably have some others, too. Jeopardy and some other TV. Reading. (Although I don't find reading as meditative as crosswords. Something about the interaction of it and seeing the finish line.) Walking. (I feel like I have really accomplished something if we go for a walk. If I record it on Facebook with a few pictures, I feel even more accomplished. If we stop for a meal or coffee (!) or a snack, I a crossword at the table!)

It's good to recognize your addictions, their purpose and how to deal with them, I suppose. Most addictions are for escape. If I was addicted to pain killers, I wonder if I could distract myself with the three C's. Probably not. Fortunately, I'm very averse to swallowing pills or taking any kind of drug. I have some low-dose phenylephrine and diphenhydramine that I take to relieve allergies. I almost never take anything else and I hate having to take those. (I take the phenylephrine to fly, too. Otherwise, my ears will not pop and its painful.) I get a flu shot once a year for the herd's sake. 

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Promises and Plans

I like to think that I am one to keep my promises. Even those that I make to myself. I decided a few weeks ago that I should do Holidailies. And here I am on this blog. (Which hasn't been updated since the end of that last Holidailies.) I thought I might kick off writing a few days before the writing and posting to the portal began. But, no.

I have been suffering great swaths of procrastination. I will tell myself that I will get organized, do some writing, do some cleaning as soon as I (pick one)

  • take a nap
  • read and discard the pile of newspapers that's built up around my chair
  • take a walk
  • make some travel and social arrangements
  • go out somewhere to eat or listen to music or visit a museum
I make lists. On scraps of paper. And neatly organized on my computer. But. I don't get to everything on them. The key things get done: banking, bill paying, organizing the calendar. Then it's back to the list above.

Fortunately, I have taken care of Christmas. I sent money to my close relatives in Colorado. Crass, but done. My husband and I decided that we would each get a little bedside lamp we saw at the MOMA design store when we were in New York. He wanted a sport coat and picked a perfect one on sale for Black Friday at his favorite store. We are each getting a paper calendar. He already got a three month up one that helps organize his column writing. I'll get a French page-a-day at the local independent bookstore. (As I tear the sheets off, I'll scribble 'to do' lists on the back!) I may get him a surprise. I may get one. Christmas, done and dusted. I have, in the past, bought gifts (actual wrapped and delivered things) for SO many people. Not any longer. Feels good.

Also, while procrastinating about a lot on many fronts, I have, fortunately maybe, organized three of four trips we will take in 2020 as far as planes and hotels. I still have to review all that, put the confirmations in folders and put all the details on the family calendar.

I'm better at getting things done when I make myself a specific promise. Like writing something here every day. And then there are deadlines. Like all the tax deadlines that are looming now that December 1 is here. Time really gets away from me!

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Last Night and Day One

Early yesterday evening we headed a few blocks in the direction shown as the last rays of the sun bounced off the downtown skyline. We grabbed a drink in the lounge of a club we belong to and waited for our guests for drinks and dinner. I got this shot looking back at the sunset with our building and the new, taller Independent silhouetted in the beautiful colors.
We had drinks. We had apps. We had dinner and acted festively.
That's my picture of the husband and our guests.

This morning was slothful.

I made some computer backups and checked a flash drive with stuff for my CPA to deal with right away in the tax season stuff. I worked the NY Times puzzles and read some newspapers. I drank coffee. Don't I always. I did a few financial things, wrote a few checks. I did an invoice for my husband.

I should have done so much more. But I didn't. We went to a little get together with ham and cornbread and black-eyed peas. I didn't drink the champagne on offer. (Fact is I didn't drink all day. I did eat too much.) We stopped at our local, independent bookstore on the way home. They were having a 20 percent off sale, but for once we couldn't find any books we couldn't live without.

We watched mindless TV and I ate too much, snacking on this and that. I read newspapers. Well, it's a holiday. Tomorrow is also a day. I'll accomplish things, I'll exercise. Or not.