I have a book that a reader sent me a year or two ago – and I apologize but I don’t remember who sent it – It’s about a guy who took it into his head to semi-retire into the Alaskan outback, near or above the Arctic circle. You know, just go out there and build a cabin and live.
Now, that’s more-or-less the plot of Into the Wild, and I think we know how that story turned out. But this older guy, Richard Proenneke, wasn’t some overindulged and suicidally starry-eyed kid. He was an old Alaska hand and actually knew what he was doing. He built a cabin that was a literal work of art – after he got old and retired from retiring, it became a tourist attraction for really hardy tourists. It makes the Secret Lair look like a particularly disreputable shed. And he made nearly every part of it from native wood or stone or bone – hell, he carved wooden door hinges.
Every single thing he had that he couldn’t make himself had to be flown in on a little bush plane and it could only happen a few months out of the year, so space and weight were real factors. And I was looking at the photographs reproduced in the book – Proenneke was a photographer, and my only complaint about the book is there aren’t enough photographs – and in one shot of the cabin’s interior I saw…a roll of paper towels.
And I had me a chuckle. Now, here’s a package of six paper towel rolls, which I just bought today…
It doesn’t weigh hardly anything, of course, but it’s bulky as hell. I suppose you could open the package and distribute the rolls around the plane, but my point is that if it needs to come by bush plane, you’d have to really want that roll of paper towels. Seems like there are more important things to which you could devote that plane space.
Except maybe there aren’t. When I was first alone out here, experimenting with ways to make due with virtually no income and really studying the difference between a want and a need, I learned that the line between the two is not always clear. Some commodities, while of course you can get along without them in the sense that you won’t actually die, are themselves so useful that it almost doesn’t matter. It’s not a question of life and death, it’s a question of quality of life. Indoor plumbing: Have I ever wasted a moment wishing I hadn’t devoted all that precious Lair space to an indoor toilet? Nope, not so much as a millisecond. To the best of my knowledge, and leaving poisonous spiders out of it, nobody ever died from using an outhouse as I originally planned. But a flush toilet is just such a massive improvement that, if you’ve got the water pressure, only an idiot would decide not to go ahead and dig for a septic system. Electricity’s the same way: Not a necessity of life, but look at all the things it makes possible.
Those are big things. There’s a myriad of little ones, like paper towels. It’s good to pay attention and learn what those things are, because it’s the little things that mark the difference between living and just surviving.
PAY ATTENTION – my personal motto.
I’ve found in my years that had I paid attention (or more attention) perhaps things would have turned our better or differently. Perhaps not.
But almost always were worse for having not done so.
Some of you may remember I often wear a built-up shoe, due to my leg disability. ( AKA ‘Ed’ – the really big shoe!)
And I wear ‘diabetic’ socks (because I’m diabetic) and use a ‘sock thingy‘ to put them on (because some ‘normal’ body bending is prohibited.
In recent years, because of my various limitations, I’ve discovered I prefer the use of a raised toilet seat. When it is necessary for me to, uh, sit.
I had one at the old house, but it was made for a round toilet. J’s home has the elongated model toilet. So, when I moved in here, it was necessary to purchase a properly-sized version. Which I did, at a pharmacy in East Phoenix.
Time has passed, as has much bathroom use. And, in spite of repeated attempts to keep the new device clean and sanitary, it has become worn and not-so-much. (I know – TMI!)
It became time to purchase a new version.
Of course, this is not as easy as it sounds!
First, a visit to the many (five) local drug stores didn’t work. Either they only stocked the round models, or none at all.
AHA! How about Amazon or Ebay? The purveyors of all things via shipping to one’s home? Numerous choices, brands, models and prices abounded. Some marked ‘may fit some elongated seats’, others round only. And some cleverly worded to advise they fit the round models, but may fit some elongated with some modification. Further research was required.
And the current seat wasn’t getting any cleaner! 😦
I spent many hours reading purchaser commentary. Many of which were of no help.
And pricing, unfortunately, was also a consideration. I am on disability, and spending over $200 to raise the whole commode with a shim was not an option!
But, my patience and research skill were finally rewarded! We received the new, properly-sized (and clean!) seat yesterday! Obtained at a reasonable price.
I will just have to be more diligent about keeping it clean…
This is probably brule’ for those of us who are ‘gunnies’ and carry with regularity, but is still interesting with regard to how those in the federal law enforcement circle views such things.
It IS nice edged weapons are included!
(from The Firearms Blog)
The guide itself is rather basic, mostly written word of generally common-sense spotting techniques that most law enforcement would look for during any encounter.
The first and basic step is to “determine (the) strong side” which can be determined by looking for cues such as watches, writing, smoking, and other daily tasks.
Then, according to the Secret Service “An individual who carries a gun on their person will periodically touch that gun both consciously and unconsciously.” (I disagree with this, carrying on a regular basis and with training, many concealed carriers will not touch their firearm, but can see how for MOST encounters, this is true).
Perhaps the most interesting nugget (At least to me) is that the “the majority of right-handed people that carry handguns illegally carry them in the right front waist band, loose.” The document then explains that its because doing so is “cool”, seen in the movies” and “where it is most secure and accessible.”
You can see the whole document here, courtesy of Public Intelligence. (6 pages PDF)
I was reminded of walking through downtown Scottsdale (many years ago) after the Az CCW law initially passed. In a couple of hours, I spotted at least nine persons carrying concealed weapons. I’m certain part of the observation was this was a relatively new legal behavior and folks weren’t used to doing so yet. But people tugging up on there waist bands on the right side under their overshirts, and wearing overshirts were a good beginning!
Most cops or plainclothes agents aren’t that concerned with concealment, and get accustomed to carrying many hour a day, and have done so for years.
Having done so, myself, for many years, I’ve the same comfort and familiarity.
And hope you have it, as well!
Neither J nor I cook very much.
It’s not that we are lazy. J. is asthmatic and has back issues (being a stylist for 35 years undoubtedly has something to do with it! All that standing and chemicals.) I have my own disabilities. Standing is not something I do well, certainly, it is never pain free.
But, sometimes we are able to cobble something together.
I had just returned from buying groceries. After putting them away, I decided to fry up all the thick-sliced, hickory-smoked bacon. Why? BACON!
Judy came downstairs and asked I vacate the kitchen so she could work. She had me buy a large round loaf of Hawaiian bread at the store. We had eggs. Bacon. Butter. Half-and-half.
It was time for FRENCH TOAST!!
Here is my plate, shortly before I devoured it. Real maple syrup, and all…
Take THAT, Brigid! :-)
I like to think I have Principles
I like to think I stand on them, and admire those who do also.
Unless, of course, their principles are diametrically opposed to mine!
One would think that working as a county clerk, and gay marriage was upheld by The Supreme Court, and licensing gays violated my principles, that it would behoove me to look for employment elsewhere(?)
The same thing applies to pharmacists who dislike dispensing a ‘morning after’ pill to their customers.
Or going to work at the Walmart sporting goods department, and being told you must sell guns and ammunition. And you are anti-gun.
This just in – an Islamic flight attendant is objecting to be required to serve her passengers alcohol! (as if she didn’t know this going in!)
If working there and doing your assigned job violates your principles – QUIT!
There’s an old saw, emblazoned on many a sampler and kitschy poster, stating “When you work for a man, WORK for him!”
Perhaps the women in the news are hoping to become another cause celebre, and make it to the Supreme Court?
In another lifetime.
I’m certainly not pristine in holding to my principles. I AM human. I worked for a polygraph company (not as a polygrapher) and federal legislation was pending to severely restrict private polygraph pre-employment companies. (It passed). But the boss had us calling in on company time (we were getting paid to do this) in an effort to sway the Congress to not pass the bill.
And, having had some (not all) negative experiences with polygraphs, I privately supported the legislation.
But, I also needed a paycheck, so…
I chose getting a paycheck over standing on my principles.
I was laid-off six months later, regardless, I’m sure in part to the decreased company revenue.
I probably should have quit.
Most of us live with our firearms. They are as much part of our daily routine as shaving, brushing our teeth, picking up our wallets and keys on the way out the door.
But, what if…?
Melody Lauer aka Limatunes recently made a choice to put her gun away for an entire year! Or in her words…
If you could put my blog into a category it would be “self defense.”
To me, however, it’s a little more than that. It’s my story–my unique journey. If others can glean a little from my experiences and thoughts I’m honored, if not, it’s no big deal. There have been times, however, when I’ve purposely withheld parts of this journey from my readers because I wasn’t sure how what I had to say would be received. Or I may not have been ready to put it out into the virtual void. This is one of those times.
I’ve been hanging on to this post for almost two years and it feels like a good time to get it off my chest.
I want to tell you about my biggest “break-through” year in self defense. It was a year I learned more about how to defend myself, increased my confidence, improved my overall skills and expanded my horizons. I learned how to manage fear and angst and to trust my instincts. I learned how to manage medical emergencies, have fun and express myself in many other ways. This was one of the best years of my life.
It was the year I put my gun away.
My journey, my work, my goals have all been a means to build confidence in myself, not a tool. I chose a tool to aide in my journey, not to define it. I sought to be well-trained with a tool, not ruled by it. Guns, to me, are tools to master in a long list of other tools to master (including my sewing machine).
I have always wanted real self-defense solutions, not crutches or bandaids, platitudes or false security. So when I felt my gun was becoming a crutch I decided it was time to get rid of it–or, at least put it away for awhile.
I want to tell you about why I felt compelled to put it down and why I picked it up again and why I always knew it would find a place on my belt again, when I was ready.
While my husband and I were packing for a much-needed vacation to a place without reciprocity I felt nervous at the prospect of having to leave my gun behind. I started thinking about all the “what if” situations and wanting my gun.
I hated the feeling.
It exposed everything I’d wanted to avoid about carrying a gun in the first place. It exposed my weaknesses and my fears, my shortcomings and false security. I showed me I wasn’t confident that I could protect myself without my gun. I was using that gun as a means to “feel” safer, but that didn’t make me safer. It was becoming a cliche I wanted to avoid.
I honestly evaluated myself and decided it was time to rip off that bandaid, throw out the crutch and walk on my own.
You should really go and read her whole essay. It does turn mindset on it’s head.
(Truly, I cannot believe it’s been Twenty Years!)
There are things that are good to remember; things bad to remember; and things important to remember.
The crummy part of all this is sometimes my brain is not too good at discerning which is which, or what goes with what.
My character (being flawed and neurotic as it is) has a tendency to default to the bad.
A shrink, I’m certain, would say it’s all about low self esteem, negative messages from childhood, etc. The reasons don’t matter.
Twenty years ago, today was the accident in which our daughter Molly was killed.
I was driving – this makes me ultimately responsible, as I was The Dad. The Protector. The fact the other driver ran the red light while speeding is of no consequence.
I carry a sidearm. I’ve done so for 41 years. Long before I even met Molly’s mother, I chose to do whatever I could to protect myself and my family and friends. It’s a roll I haven’t taken lightly.
And I took my assignment as Protector even more seriously when I became a father. It’s what father’s are supposed to do!
We were making a left turn from 44th Street, East onto Thomas Road. A little after 1 PM. Going to Monkey Wards after an earlier visit to Famous Footwear @ 20th St. and Camelback. Saturday’s with 12 year old daughters meant shopping! The signal didn’t have a left turn arrow back then. It was just like in the movies – in the midst of completing the turn, I sensed something was wrong. Based on the estimated speed of the other car, we were pushed across the intersection in about one-tenth of a second.
And many lives changed forever.
I’ve no memory regarding what happened next. Nothing to recall on the witness stand months later. I was told I regained consciousness enough to give my estranged wife’s phone number to the ambulance guy, when I was asked if there was anyone he could call.
I had early drugged hospital memories of being on board a ship(!) Not enough consciousness to ask why I was on a ship. Turned out, with one (now re-inflated) collapsed lung and the other half filled with fluid, County Hospital had me on a pneumatic bed which kept hissing and rolling, to keep fluids from settling in my damaged lungs. Ribs pushed into a lung. Broken collar bone. Broken arm. Tube up the nose, and IV morphine/ativan drip.
My sister, wife and friends were there, being supportive and keeping loving watch as much as they could. Not wanting to answer the obvious question: Where was Molly?
In my few awake moments, I remember asking about the funeral, desperately wanting to be well enough to attend.
My wife was told Sunday morning there had not been any brain activity, and had the courage to disconnect life support. Had our roles been reversed, I don’t think I would have had the bravery. I am forever grateful to her for this. A number of folks benefited from her decision.
The funeral was that following Tuesday. I was largely unconscious in ICU at County for another two weeks.
Ultimately, after being moved to Good Sam, being given Tylenol in lieu of the morphine/ativan drip (!) and weeks in the regular hospital and rehab, I was able to walk and breathe again.
I was deeply depressed and pretty much just counting the days.
Until I could pay my respects.
That came weeks later.
I’ll say it again, as long as I take breath – Tell your family and friends you love them, right now!
Because you may never get another chance.
AND be an organ donor.
I try to remember the good times. The IMPORTANT ONES. It’s what has kept me alive for the past twenty years.
My thanks to all of you, family and friends, for holding me up, until I could stand on my own.
(Commentary has been turned off – I know how you all feel. Thanks, again.)
(If you abhor whining, read no further)
It’s my fault, actually. I had the audacity to turn 62. And, with that milestone came the vultures.
First, my former employer TMCCC contacted me regarding applying for early retirement. I’m currently medically retired due to my contracting lymphoma in 2008. I left active employment in 2009, after six months of chemo.
Obviously, the sooner they can nudge me out, the less pension they will have to pay. And current calculations are not very promising, regardless of my retiring now or @ 65.
So, it wasn’t a complete surprise when my private medical insurance carrier (thank GOD I paid the premiums when I was working!) contacted me to update their information.
This means contacting my physician with regard to my current condition and ability to work.
In spite of the fact I was awarded SSDI and private disability due to having cancer, I have many other conditions which make returning to the workforce problematic. Even though I AM currently in remission! (knock-on-wood!)
Working while diabetic is no biggee, working with the neuropathy (chronic nerve pain) that comes with it – not so much. And the arthritis. There was a time I could stand and sit for long hours. No longer. Now, sitting more than an hour or two is painful. Forget standing and walking much.
Oh, I can (and do) take various prescription pain medications. Which make me dopey and put me to sleep. And still only lessen the pain. They do not take it away.
And my fear is the private insurance company will say, well, you have been in remission over 5 years…SAYONARA!
And the private addition to my SSDI payment isn’t much, but it is 21% of my disability pay. And the total is still poverty level.
I rent a room in a friend’s home, and drive a clunky 2000 Oldsmobile. I lost my home of 18 years, 2 1/2 years ago. I’m not milking the system here.
And now I get to jump through more hoops in hope of keeping that 21%.
Let me preface this post with I
don’t rarely get sick.
I had a minor bout of flu last Summer, for about three days. I’ve not had a cold in YEARS!
I’d like to say it’s because of my healthy lifestyle, but, that would be a falsehood. Because of my various ongoing ‘issues’, I get little exercise, and I eat the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.). Pizza, bacon cheeseburgers, spaghetti (now called pasta), some beer, Mexican food. If I eat veggies, it’s usually a salad, with Italian dressing, croutons and Parmesan cheese.
When I DO become ill, I usually don’t do it half way. Diabetes, lymphoma, skin cancer. And the whole fallout from that near-fatal auto accident some years back.
So, no one was more surprised than I when around Christmas, I began to wheeze upon exhaling. Just a tiny bit, at the very end. At first, I thought it was some fool revving his bike at 0600, while I was blogging(!)
The Winter air quality in the Valley sucks – inversion, ya know!
Then, New Years Eve, I became congested, phlegmy. No sore throat pain, just throat-clearing nonsense. I thought it was a true cold, but, it just appears to be allergies, and reaction to the cold weather (28° F, in Phoenix this morning, cold and rainy New Years Eve Day!)
And this morning started with a minor sore throat and cough!
Guess it’s to the
drug store pharmacy for Guffaw!
I’m in whine mode.
(I know I said at the outset that I wouldn’t use this weblog for therapy, but, hell, it’s my blog, so here goes…)
Why? Not only do I not have any funds to get neat presents for friends and family, but, I’ve no one with whom to share the non-materialistic parts of the holidays. One terrific couple I know gifted me with a cool assortment of cheeses and beers (including Lindeman’s raspberry ale!), and all I could give them in response was a small bag of garlic goldfish.
Hardly an even trade.
I love my sister and her kids, and her kid’s kids dearly, but going to a family celebration alone with certain people in absentia is always painful.
Now it’s the downhill slide from the New Year, to Molly’s birthday, to the anniversary of the accident, in March.
We’re told the best way to get out of this kind of funk is to create a gratitude list. So here goes…
I’ve a roof over my head, and a working car. Thanks to my friends! I’m on Medicare. I’ve disability benefits, which, while in no way am I rich, I can buy food, gas, and pay rent. I’ve a select group of friends, both locally and on the Internet, who help out whenever they can. Many of these friends have gone above and beyond – for years – when I am unable to give back in kind.
This must mean something.
I’m disabling comments for this post. Because, in lieu of giving me an Internet “there-there”, or a virtual hug (or a kick in the pants), please stop for a moment and create your own gratitude list.