Saturday, June 29, 2019

Musings - June 2019

June is the season of cottonwood blossoms floating in the air. And the year the library's catalpa tree decided not to bloom! (I had to hunt down other catalpa trees to admire. Fortunately, in lower Michigan there are a good number of them.) It rained a lot. Many things grew and blossomed. None of which was my garden which I did not get put in yet!

Books: This month was a slower reading month. I had a lot to process on the family and personal life front. I did get 3 books done. Another few of the Lainwich Witch books (Murder Comes Calling and Murder Before Marriage, both digital)  - Book and A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams. The Witch Cozies were obviously lighter reading but A Certain Age was more interesting. (I will be setting it free to the Little Free Library - the new one mentioned below.) 

And those push me over 40 books for the year. I think the goal of 52 is within striking distance.

Gratitude: Purry, sweet kittens. Art brunch with a new and talented artist friend plus the oldest two #NotMyDaughters . (Yes, that's my piece at the top. Guy's comment "You are getting better.") Beach days. Peonies, graceful in all their re-cut glory. Yard bunny. Lawn toads (on the steps). Modern medicine for evil weed itch. Mermaid festival. Escape rooms for birthdays.

Listening: Dave Ramsey. So Obsessed podcast - all of season 1. Side Hustle School. But not really music. I've kind of enjoyed silence and learning in equal quantities without other distractions. It was a strange month. I usually crave more music.

Perfume: Daily, it's been Ofresia by Diptyque. On the weekends I've been rocking Willow and Water from the Library of Flowers. (Reminder - I apparently adore Margot Elena as most of the lines I like - Love + Toast, Library of Flowers, TokyoMilk - are actually hers and recently housed in one website.) I still would like to order Fog (from Michelle Pfeiffer's Henry Rose line). Perhaps soon. Meanwhile Jericho has been rocking my sample of Torn this month. And we discovered at a family event that maybe we should coordinate who wears the Henry Rose... (sillage overflow).

Random: Several random thoughts this month.

1) I found the saddest Little Free Library in the next city over. It's my new mission to improve it. I left 2 books  - the two paperbacks from April - to help early in the month. (Sadder even than the one in town was a few years ago.) 

2) I found out Erno Laszlo made a cream for Marilyn Monroe. It's luscious - and expensive. It's my new covet. (At $275 a bottle - it may remain so for a while. But it's got great ingredients in it.) Also - apparently Jackie and Marilyn used the same face cream? That's borderline creepy.

3) The only bat I want in my house is the one on the Bacardi bottle. That was not the case earlier this month.

4) Did you know, you can grow peonies from SEED? Yep. I'll be doing that!

Recipe: I cooked little but ate well! I had a meal catered by a local chef for an event - and OMG. Everyone should do that once. Or once a month. Whichever. 

I also made pies. It was 13's 14th birthday and he likes cherry pie. No one else does (except me), so two pies.

The other is Quick Triple Berry. (Make a decent crust, mix triple berry frozen fruit with a bit of sugar and tapioca.)

Also, I made my first Chocolate Chess Pie. It seems to have been well received. (Photo documentation 3 hours after making the second one. I had not yet have any, either!)  I started with the basic All Recipes version.  And then for the second, I made amendments. Here's my version.

- 2 cups sugar
- 3 tablespoons good baking cocoa
- 1/2 tablespoon coffee
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 tablespoon vanilla
- 3 eggs (beat each one)
- 1/2 can evaporated milk

Mix well. (I blended the sugar and coffee and cocoa in the blender to superfine them.) Put in a pre-made pie crust or make your own. (I use a flour, butter, vodka version). Then bake for 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees. Allow it to cool thoroughly.

Self-Care: It was NEW SOAP DAY! I'm trying a South Bend, Indiana-based soap line. It's "nice" but not awesome like the Villianess soaps or even Zum. 

But... attention all soap makers. Watch your color choice and saturation. Yes it looks beautiful. But it makes a mess in my shower that I have to clean - long after the memory of my enjoyment of your soap fades.

This was a Boxwalla month (see picture) and I simply adore the pricepoint that allows me to try luxury products at such a value. This month's set has a summer theme from 5Yina (Lucent Beauty Duo) and I expect I'll be raving about it next month as summer heats up. And again, only the $49 subscription price makes enjoying these luxuries possible because the items in the box are worth more.

The Daily Basics

- Day - During travel, I've been using the Earthwise Resiliency Face Serum for day. (After I finished up that sample of Nap in the Meadow). During weeks at home, I'm using the Juice Beauty line for brightening emulsion, s
erum, eye cream, CC cream. (So, on the Earthwise days, I tried the H2O Serum around the eye area. Not for me. Causes stinging and tightening in that area for me. But my forehead likes it at night!) I've also added Farizad's Veil from the Earthwise Beauty line. I absolultely adore that I can just add it to an oil I already am using for sun coverage.

Night -  All over moisturizer, most nights, is H2O Infinity Renewing Youth Serum (which I got on mega-clearance of $28) and which seems to be running out quickly - which may be good given the season as my skin doesn't love it when sun-stressed. (Makes me red. Fades quickly.) During travel weeks, I've been using the Earthwise Beauty Yasuni Balm plus eye cream samples from DHC Beauty. I've also been using DCH's eye masks - I forgot how much I love those.

Stress: Relationships all take effort. 

Things 12 said: Next year we will be better mermaids.

Watching: The Gifted - both seasons. (Okay, it's fascinating the unsung Season 1 super power of the female mutants seems to be looking fabulous, including make-up, in refuge conditions. Also, dating Thunderbird is bad for your health.) Finished out Pretty Little Liars, Season 7. And whoa. Strange Angel is a little risque for CBS. 

Take-away - Don't forget that you have choices. Good choices. Bad choices. But they are yours to make. Make them with deliberation because they have consequences.

Original musings posts you may enjoy:

All photos by moi! And you can tell...

*Juice Beauty is a staple in my beauty cabinet. I stray, I try other things - but it's my favorite "foundation" (I used the CC Cream) and great skin care. If you like Juice Beauty too, here is a link. I do get a small commission (at no cost to you) when you use these links which helps support this blog.

Skin Care by Juice Beauty

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Sunday, June 9, 2019

La Familia

There was a maternal family event in May, and it was just as soul-crushingly alienating as I feared. It was supposed to be a joyous event for the child I spent her first year living with, who spent every weekend with me when her mother couldn't handle 2 kids so divergent in ages, whom I sat with and spoke to her admission counselor to get her into the higher education program she ended up graduating from, who I talked the same program into taking back on a special schedule after a serious illness. This child who is not my daughter or my niece but something of both.

And it was a family event - except I'm not family anymore - that's blindingly apparent they treat me.

From being told about the event with bare weeks to spare (and having to move business travel plans because of it) when family was told at the holidays months before - to being completely left out of the day-before activities - to being left out of the post-event activities. Which would've hurt less, except - my family sat around the family reception table, where they asked us to sit, talking about the night before (to which I hadn't been invited) and plans for the next day (to which I also wasn't invited). It was all emotionally isolating. I tried to be positive and not start trouble - but I'm sure I failed at the first part.

Side note: And then there was the actual event when my mother's odious guest was astonishingly rude - throughout the whole reception. (It's lovely to be grilled on your marital status and called fat.)

This experience was not different than NOT being invited to other family events since La Gram Russe passed - notably, Thanksgiving 2018, Christmas 2018 and New Years or a certain girl's open house in the past 6 months. I'd been asked to 1 family event in the prior 15 months - Easter 2019 by a sweet cousin. But I had plans as the invitation planning was late. (Family - wonder why I'm not there? Perhaps ask if I was invited.) In the 12 month prior to that, I had to beg to be included in Thanksgiving 2017 that was being hosted in my mother's home. She has chosen time and again her sisters over me - perhaps because I told her until she addressed how they treat me in a meaningful way, I would not attend. Perhaps because telling everyone I'm busy alienates me from them further while preserving her place. Likely. She does worry overmuch about how people think of her.

I'm sure any maternal family reading this would say "It was K's day and NOT about you!" - yes, it absolutely was. And so I kept my peace. 

Here's the thing, I came for K but I'm D-O-N-E being treated like an after-thought and then being punished and reprimanded for feeling hurt by that lack of consideration you extend to each other. I honestly don't think it's a concerted effort - more the death by a thousand careless cuts. The reason being - none of you care. Each cut highlights a lack of connection. It started with one aunt, who seemed to need to continually demean me to elevate her own family, but there are others. The flighty aunt who sent my birthday card with my cousins' - which meant for more than 8 years I received my card 5 months late like the afterthought it was - and in person belittled anything I felt sacred. The mean comments on my appearance by another aunt (the bar drunk) from the time I hit my teens on, as well as her dogged insistence that I am wrong about everything up to and including the color of the sky! And then there is the aunt who claims to be Switzerland and does not ever defend me and or stop them. Her excuse is always -  "That's just the way they are" - no, that's the way we, as a family, have allowed them to become*. The finishing touch is my mother's silent acceptance of her family's treatment of me. The same way she accepted her husband's mistreatment of me. Always her reputation among others before me. 

My mother's acceptance of what her family said to me and how they treated me- always a ready excuse and a reason I needed to understand/accept their poor behavior, just this one time - normalized it until I didn't expect any better treatment for myself from anyone. For years my mother's silence towards their behavior equaled acceptance and allowed the treatment to become normalized by me and within the family...and then escalate. She never noticed; she certainly never intervened. We have reached a plateau where friends I bring to family events - with zero prompting or preparation from me - comment on how badly they treat me. At this point, there are too many cuts. There's no way back because none of you see what you do. In your minds, it's somehow always me.

Family - ha! La Gram Russe never taught you what family is. She taught us to survive. So here it is, the definition of "Family" is caring and support. You have not done either for me for more than 40 years. You follow each other on social media - but not me. You buy each others' business products - but not mine. (Mother - you figured out online dating and how to stalking your sister's ex on Facebook - but can't figure out how to order the book I wrote? I sent you a free copy. I can see it's been 3 years and you still haven't downloaded it - my sales page updates me with contacts. That book and my others are also on this blog, so don't tell me you lost the email. Great job on the support, mom!) When you see me, if you ask me anything about my life at all, you ask closed-ended questions based on incorrect assumptions. I know I'm the one who communicates for a living, but basic adulting skills would teach you how to interact with people better than that! Y'all must be a joy at parties. It's good that we're a pretty people, you need the help! But my Southern gram taught me pretty is as pretty does - and I see in your actions what you are.  

As a family, your interest piques when you see me or when you need something from me. I'm the call you make when you need a plan or to get someone out of a sticky situation or clean up a legal mess. And have been for more than 20 years. That's my action - saving your various selves from everything from childcare to FBI issue and through to legal help. La Gram Russe called me the family sheriff. Did you know that? She saw my role and how you treated me.

There's a Hawaiian forgiveness act I've been reading about. It seems graceful. I think I'm a bit spiteful in the application of it, but this is what I've got for Ho'oponopono:
- I'm sorry  - I was never enough for you to see me as a person in my own right and value that person
- Please forgive me - for needing you to be to me what you were to each other
- Thank you - for teaching me what family should never be
- I love you  - enough to set you free from the apparent burden of being my family 

* Something I recently read that resonated with how my maternal family has grown to treat me - "Every now and then, a group of people assumes the traits and behaviors of sociopaths. Maybe one person in the group completely and permanently lost their doughnuts several decades prior, and slowly, each member of the group learns that playing along with this singular menace is the only way to survive. Eventually, the members of the group are so utterly confused and gaslit by each other that they enforce the will of the group and nod along with bizarre opinions until they can’t even remember what it means to think logically or have free will or behave like other regular human beings on the face of the planet." - Read it all by clicking here.

Family, next situation or mess - find a new number to call. The sheriff has left her post.

Other posts on my attempts to deal with the family situation:
- Gifts and Expectations
Message in a Bottle (aka the impossible aunt)

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