Valentine’s Day

Gummy Bears
Yummy gummy bears I can actually eat! (And an adorable candy survival kit we bought to share with friends. )

January was something of a strange month as My Prince was working at a different site than usual and on a different schedule. I, of course, was learning two new jobs at the same time, so there was kind of a lot going on. But the stars aligned as we got into February: I got caught up on my projects just in time for My Prince to be off on Valentine’s Day. We had gaming group that night but decided we’d have a lunch date since we were long overdue.

We started the day at Xfinity. My phone (an ancient iPhone 5c) had long since gotten dysfunctional. Given the employment uncertainty I’d been dealing with, I’d put off getting a new one. It finally reached the point where I couldn’t do pretty much anything with it and since my finances had leveled back out, too, it was time to stop stalling.

Much to my shock and delight, getting a new phone and getting put on My Prince’s plan took all of ten minutes and cost less than half as much as I’d expected. That done, we headed to the outdoor mall that the Bistro we’d chosen for lunch was located in. With lots of extra time, we went wandering.

We stopped in Victoria’s Secret because I needed perfume and, to my shock (again – it was a shocking kind of day), I also found a sports bra that fit (which I needed to replace one I’d worn out) and a super cute bikini that also fit. Given that nothing fits me ever and that both of those items were on my long-term to-shop-for-list, it felt like smashing success. (My husband bought all of it because he spoils me.)

After that,  we stopped at Its Sugar, a candy store, because we wanted to pick up a treat for our gaming group. Guess what I found?! Gummy bears I could eat!! In fun flavors like limoncello! It was decadence. : )

I also found sparkly eyeshadow in silver and teal that makes me happy before we headed over to lunch. Lunch itself was delicious, and it was so nice to be out for a whole day just the two of us with no rush. (And also to be out here where people actually have GF menus and aren’t the least bit put out by the idea.) All around it was a delightful day and I’ve been enjoying the things we unexpectedly found ever since. We really need to plan dates more often!

Cool Histories

If you aren’t familiar with Sabaton, they’re a Swedish power metal band. Fascinatingly, many of their songs are based on historical persons and events… most of which I’d never heard of prior.

I recently discovered, compliments of My Prince, that they also have a youtube channel dedicated to videos discussing the history behind many of their songs!  The videos are fairly short — less than 20 minutes — and amazing.

(Dear modern education system, are you taking notes? You should be.)

If you know anyone interested in history — particularly less well known historical tidbits — send them the link! I know they’ll appreciate it!

(It’s worth noting that despite being a metal band, which may carry negative connotations depending on who you associate with that term, the videos are entirely clean. No foul language, etc.)

Check it out!

Money Laundering Covers

Have you ever walked or driven past a place that never seems to have any customers in it ever and thought to yourself “I bet that’s a front for money laundering or something”?

My Prince and I make that joke regularly about two places we pass in our weekly rounds. One is a business, but it’s in a big, mostly empty space that makes no sense for the type of business that it is. I can also say in all honesty that I have never seen a customer in it. Ever. In more than a year. I have no idea how they stay in business, and I’m fairly sure it’s really just a front.

The second is a restaurant. The people running it are slightly better at keeping up their cover. Occasionally, I will, in fact, see people in it, theoretically ordering or eating food. But I’ve never seen more than one table worth at a time. Again, it’s a big-ish building in a little strip on a busy street that’s just… empty.

Possibly I’m just watching too much X-files and now paranoid, or reading too many the-real-world-is-stranger-than-fiction books, but I can’t help but speculate every time we drive past these spots. Whatever the case, it’s immensely entertaining.

Speaking of X-files, Prime has rudely removed them from the “included” list, so now I’m getting the dvds out of the library and musing on the weirdness of them having only half of certain seasons. I’m also endlessly entertained by the fact that both Mulder and Scully seem to be trying to rival Anakin Skywalker for the sheer number of head wounds they can collect. Everyone’s got to have a hobby, I guess.   : p

Victorian Drama

So, one of my goals for this year was to make time to read some of the “just for fun” books that have been on my list forever that I haven’t gotten around to. As part of that effort, I picked up The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse. It’s billed as a true story of Victorian intrigue and oh my goodness they weren’t kidding.

I’m only a couple hours into the audiobook and it’s delightful. It’s like a Victorian soap opera, gothic novel, penny dreadful, and historical tour of social randomness all rolled into one. It’s an exemplary case of truth being stranger than fiction.

So if you need something odd and entertaining to read, check it out! I couldn’t find it anywhere but audile/amazon, but maybe you’ll have better luck at your library. (Or you can pick up a paperback copy for $3, which isn’t bad at all!)

For extra fun, watch Caitlyn Doughty’s videos on Victorian funerals and death and mourning practices first. (It’s like a book flight! But with videos!)

 

Death Panels

I recently mentioned the audiobook I’ve been listening to about an antibiotic-resistant super-bug and the experimental phage therapy being used to treat it. I finished listening to it last night while doing some food prep*. I was very pleased that in the last chapter the author brought up one of the things I’d been thinking about a lot — that the only reason her husband got the treatment that he did and survived his ordeal was that they had unique resources.

They were both older (she was in her late 40s, he was 70) so they had no children at home. (In fact, their kids were in their late 20s, so they were an asset in many cases.) They were financially well-off, and both still working at jobs from which they could take a sabbatical or extended sick leave and then have waiting when they returned. They personally knew tons of doctors and researchers they could call on for support and who could, in turn, connect them to other doctors and researchers.  As an epidemiologist, the author not only knew how to find, read, and interpret scientific studies, she had access to academic databases through work that most people do not.

To their credit, both the author and her husband have done everything in their power since his recovery to make the kinds of resources they benefitted from available to others of every socioeconomic status.

But I had several experiences during the time I was reading the book that reminded me sharply how vast the health literacy and access gulf is. There are people who have that training and can leverage it, and there are really good and smart and wonderful people who just don’t. Through no fault of their own, those people are much, much more likely to die from problems that could potentially be overcome through cutting edge medicine. (Or even BASIC medicine!!)

The whole thing, though, made me think about when HMOs were the Biggest Evil In The World. (Yes, I know, I’m dating myself here.) The debate was everywhere – on “ripped from the headlines” tv shows like Law & Order, in the papers, on the news, in the political debates. Everyone was furious that “death panels” of doctors and insurers, etc. would get to decide who was worth investing treatment in and who would get cut off because the potential benefit just wasn’t worth the vast amount of time and money that would have to go into their treatment for another few months or years to live.

The guy in the book was 70. If he’d had to face a “death panel,” who would have voted to pay for him to spend nine months in the hospital, a third of that in the TICU? Who would have voted to mobilize global resources for one man? His family refused to give up, and it was just a little heartbreaking to me to think how many other families also would have refused to give up on loved ones in similar situations if they’d realized there even was anything to be done? But they didn’t, because the modern medical system isn’t experimental/alternative treatment friendly and there wasn’t anyone there to tell them, much less help them.

How many people have kids or less accommodating jobs and wouldn’t even have been able to sit with their loved one daily? Have many people have chronic illnesses of their own that would have prevented them from being the rock and anchor their hanging-on-the-verge-of-death loved one needed? How many people would have been permanently financially wrecked by that kind of illness?

This isn’t really going anywhere except that I reminded again about how critically important it is for people to invest in their own health every day, and how essential it is that we hold our government accountable for the crappy job they’re doing with our health system. I am not looking forward to a new election cycle, but I would really like to see American as a nation get our heads out of the fake news hole and put the fire to our elected officials. They need to focus on the things that are important to US, not their own agendas. And, frankly, we need to focus on ourselves more than what everyone else is doing or gabbing about, too.  Sorry for the rant, but everyone please do at least one thing to take better care of yourself today to make me feel better about the state of the world, okay?

*In other news, my new food processor is amazing. 

Basil Plants

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When My Prince and I explored a new (to us) grocery store earlier this month, I noticed that they had fresh basil plants in their produce section. I didn’t get one at the time but kept thinking about them. This week when we went, I told My Prince I wanted to get one.  They were on sale for 2 for $6 and he told me to just get two. (Isn’t he great?)

We joked that one would be for me and the other would be for Arthas, because the last time I had a basil plant (years and years ago), it lived on the floor beside the sliding glass door of our apartment at the time because that was the only place it could get sunlight. I couldn’t figure out why it just wasn’t growing… until I saw Arthas eating my basil while lounging in the sunlight, waiting for My Prince to come home! (He was thoroughly non-plussed by my exasperation, lol.)

Last year we put most of our effort into crucial house stuff – the roof, insulation, that kind of thing. When things got (really) bad at work during fall/winter, I didn’t put energy into much of anything except dealing with that. It’s nice to have the mental and emotional energy now to think about the smaller things I want to do.

Structurally, our house is pretty much perfect, and we’re actually living in it in a way we haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy other places we’ve lived. I feel like this home deserves all the intentional love and cultivation I can give it. (Not that I didn’t love our last house, but it sometimes felt like a black hole. No matter how much we put in, it always needed more. This house needs mostly nothing, and everything we put in seems to pay bigger dividends.)

Buying a couple plants is a small thing in terms of cultivating (curating?) this home the way we want to, but it feels like a worthwhile one… as long as I keep them out of the dogs’ reach this time.  *wink*