Category Archives: DIY

What Is Too Thin?

This post is personal. Please forgive me if my tone is harsh; it’s not my intention. Like I always do, I write vaguely at times, use a word or adopt a tone carelessly. Read this with the idea that you’re getting to know me better. If you read it looking for errors or a fight, you’ll of course find motive.

I woke up this morning to find myself weighing 146.9 lbs. I was shocked. I knew my day yesterday had been intense. I walked over 40,000 steps and managed to do 2,500 pushups. Not to mention an insane amount of physical work during the day, too. I’ve always imagined 165-168 as the control setpoint, with 170ish as the upper limit.

I am a little amused that anyone would lecture me by saying, “You’ve lost too much weight.” From my perspective, it is a great compliment. Losing 35% of who you were makes for interesting stories.

I’m sorry you don’t see my weight as normal. That’s a problem.

Not for me. You. πŸ™‚

My cousin is concerned, and rightly so, because she recognizes how easy it is to let a goal turn to obsessive madness. I’m not anorexic or suffering from an eating disorder. There are days when I burn as many calories as an athlete. Work alone is so intensely physical that I look back over the last 16 years and wonder how I managed to be obese so many times. My cousin has earned the right to be the chiding voice in my ear. Her voice is in my head, reminding me to eat a wider variety and more calorie-rich foods in the process.

It was in part due to my cousin that I started doing pushups on June 1st. If you’d told me that I’d do 2,500 in a day 13 weeks later, I would have said, “You’re crazy!” But I did learn an invaluable lesson: there is no upper limit to how many I can do. At the outset, I had to be careful of my right shoulder. Work is intense and taxing. The pushups have largely eliminated the pain. I’m going to do my best to limit myself to 500 a day for a while. Yesterday will be in my head for years, though, because I surprised myself. That can’t be taken away from me when my body finally gets old and surrenders.

In October of last year, I had an epiphany. I saw myself as thin. Explaining the certainty of it doesn’t translate well when I talk about it. While my goal shifted increasingly downward as my vision became a reality, I didn’t plan on going past 170 in my wildest fantasy. While other parts of my life exploded, whatever happened to my head in October didn’t fade. As the months passed, I was amused that people attributed my success to willpower. It wasn’t that. It was clarity and stubbornness. Looking down at the scale and seeing “155” is a fantastic feeling. 146.9 is a bit disconcerting. I’m working on that without succumbing to many bad eating choices: Doritos, thick pizza, cheese, 54 pieces of chocolate, that sort of thing. I eat “unhealthy” food at times. (I hate labeling food as healthy or unhealthy; it’s volume and frequency that are the culprits.)

There are a couple of precursors to my “moment.” In February of last year, I started the process of losing weight, in part due to Covid. Stress took its toll, and I regained most of the weight I lost. Not all of it, thank god. At some point, I replaced the relatively new stove in the house with a bigger, better one to be able to more easily cook batches of healthy food. That drive to finally kick the fat bucket was brewing inside me. I know that reeks of an excuse. In October, my brother Mike died. Thereafter, I thought I had Covid and felt like I was dying. That morning is when the light bulb went off with an explosion in my head.

I often think about what would have happened to me had I not lost the weight. Would I have experienced a health issue? Or died? I know that losing weight during the long stretch of the Covid run saved my bacon on countless days. It let me stop feeling my knees hurt and my back. The converse of that is whether or not the rest of my life would have blown up had I stayed obese. It’s a real question for me. How much did my massive weight loss and attitude change have to do with my marriage imploding? There’s no question that staying so fat was going to cost me a part of my mobility – and perhaps forever. Being so overweight takes away a bit of so many corners of a person’s life. It’s because we gain incrementally and in ways we don’t notice. From there, we realize, “I’m fat. Oh my god.” We choose the hard that we’ve learned rather than embracing the hard of making positive choices.

For anyone who hasn’t experienced it, the feeling of eating healthy and making endless good choices is sublime. It’s a self-reinforcing mandate. This is true for any personal goal.

Today was the lowest weight I’ve hit. I got close Monday night after foolishly running five miles. Upon returning, I had to drink a gallon of water and then attempt to sleep. I think I dreamed about a running river, and that made me nervous for reasons that should be obvious.

For weeks, I’ve been in the low 150s. This week has been a barrage of work, running, walking, and pushups.

I get a lot of compliments. Questions. And some criticism. Some people are waiting for me to balloon back up. When I started, I repeatedly objected with, “Let’s see in a year.” The year is coming fast upon me in October.

One morning, the wife of a friend passed me in the hallway. “You look amazing, X!” We both laughed. Yesterday, someone said, “If you lose any more, you’ll dry up and blow away. You look great.” She lost a lot of weight herself for health reasons not too long ago. There’s rarely a day that passes where someone doesn’t notice that I’m thin. Today, a security guard who resembles me was standing by the elevator and saw that it was ME standing there. He thought I was someone he didn’t know. “You need to tell me your secret and how to do it.” He patted his stomach. “I’ll call you,” he said. He’s going to be disappointed when I tell him the big secret is to choose healthier food and to listen to what his body actually needs. “Keep your mouth closed” is a terrible name for a diet book.

On a recent morning, someone asked me in all seriousness, “How did you do it? You’re not sick, are you? Or did you have the surgery for weight?” I told her that it was simply eating well and that I didn’t have a secret. I told her about my friend Tammy, who managed to do what I did and that she was also about my age- and that if she could, I had nothing except excuses. I indeed started doing pushups on June 1st. But I had already hit 150 by the time I started.

“Just don’t lose any more weight, X.” My coworker meant it in kindness.

I have a couple of people in my life who resent that I lost the weight. It’s a bit bizarre to me, even now. I made it clear when I started that I was a bystander to my transformation. While I did adopt a diet that I experimented with, a big part of what happened was as if it happened to someone else while I observed it. All I can is that obsessively following a system yields results.

I’ve tried to avoid being too evangelical about weight loss. Some people do have medical issues that make it impossible or difficult. For those who’ve been less than enthusiastic about what I’ve done, I attribute it to that odd human proclivity toward pettiness. Watching someone do it renders many objections that it is difficult or impossible to be completely moot. With enough motivation to move from ‘wanting to’ toward ‘making it a reality,’ most people can do it. Anyone who decides that it is a ‘must’ will find a way. Or try. I remember a cartoon from years ago. A man was sitting on the pavement, having stopped halfway through the race. He said, “It’s too much. I can’t run 26 miles.” The next panel showed a man with prosthetic legs racing past. The people with the “sitting on the pavement” mentality often don’t appreciate it when people go racing by, ignoring objections. I used to find myself being that type of person, too.

It’s tough to be around someone who steps into a new motivation. Though I never intended my weight loss to be an insult to anyone else, it did happen. This sort of journey inevitably changes a person. A success in one arena drives them into others. Of course, the person is going to change. Sometimes fundamentally, especially as behaviors become habits and a new way of life. A common complaint in relationships is “You’ve changed.” A trite but true rebuttal to that is, “And you haven’t.” We’re not meant to be static. If you’re in a relationship and one of you will transform themselves, my word of advice is to have frank conversations about it – and go to a counselor if you see that it’s becoming a wedge.

One critic insisted that people were constantly saying how ill I looked. That I am too skinny. Relentlessly adamant. They quoted the anonymous “they” to me. When I’m ready to hire a consultant about my choices, I’ll let them know immediately. IF such people care for me, they will find a way to communicate it to me. Since they didn’t, I have to attribute what ‘they’ allegedly said to a polite conversation with my critics. There’s no crime in honestly talking to someone about their weight if you care about them. The bigger sin is not to do so.

So, of course, despite having the tools to show otherwise, I visited a nutritionist. She said, “Oh baloney!” She agreed that some of it is attributable to the fact that I was obese for so many years and that the change was abrupt and substantial. She looked at my pictures at 252 and 232 and then as I am now. “You’re great, X. If you do add muscle, your BMI will seem off. But it won’t mean you’ve become unhealthy. You have to balance your body against more than a simple BMI. If someone still incorrectly tells you that you are underweight, send them to me. I’d be shocked if they don’t realize how overweight most people tend to be now.”

If I continue to be as active as I am now, muscle mass will increase, resulting in a higher weight without the associated fat content.
I chose 168 as my set point. My job is very physical, and I’ve kept my leisure time activity rate higher than average, too, without going to a gym. I’ve channeled my anxiety into exercise. As the counselor I saw told me, short-term measures are warranted; if they become long-term measures, you’ll have to figure out that, too.

I lost a lot of weight that year, as part of an intense 3-way weight loss bet.

Most of us don’t have a realistic idea of how much we should weigh, nor how many calories we should eat on an average day. I look back at my pictures and shake my head. I missed out on a lot by being so overweight. I can’t get that time back, so it’s on to the next goal of ensuring my habits remain permanent – without risking developing a food issue. They are rare in men who are 54 years old. Food is too damn good and calls me by name like everyone else.

The majority of people around me don’t think, “Ugh, he’s TOO thin and looks terrible.” They think, “X looks normal.” So, if you’re in the minority who feel like I’m too thin, get online or talk to your doctor.

Or get a hobby.

The consensus is overwhelming: I’m at a normal weight, with a buffer of loss and gain comfortably on both sides.

This is how I’m supposed to look, so get over it and be enthusiastic for anyone who can do it. If you love me, of course, you should step in and tell me I’ve got my head up my ass if I continue to lose weight.

To be clear, I’m not talking about my face; whether that’s normal is up for the monkeys to decide.

My weight, though? I’m good. It’s not just my body saying so. It’s science.

In time, people will see this as the new normal. It looks normal, but it feels fantastic to be able to move with agility, walk for miles, do pushups, and run even if I stupidly decide to do so.

There’s always the danger of forgetting the lessons I learned.

One of those lessons is to stop letting critical people get inside my head. They can make fun of my brooches all they want. Just not my weight.

And if I get off track or fail, I proved to myself that my objections and excuses about why I couldn’t do it were all dumb. And that I could do it again. We all fail until we don’t.

No matter who you are, you can do something today. That’s enough, no matter how small. Tomorrow, a little more. The law of increments seldom disappoints.

If you see someone finally get past their excuses? Take the time to applaud. We need it. We’ll return the favor when you succeed.

PS For my cousin: I don’t plan to stay quite this thin. I love you. Please keep an eye on me, though.

Love, x

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Extras…

In Cancun…

Failure? Success!

I made my first bottle of Eau de toilette. Goodness gracious, the missteps I could recount about that! I smell like the red district in New York City. It was a failure. But one I’ll do again. And again. I learned many lessons: if you’re diligent, there’s no reason you can’t make a scent precisely to your heart’s desire. Also, most people might not realize how many unique scents there are, both exotic and mundane. I’m not sure what I made. I’ll let you know tomorrow, depending on whether the building is evacuated.

P.S. Today was the perfect day to do 2,000 pushups. πŸ™‚ Tomorrow, I’ll settle for less than a thousand and hope that no one calls me out for “being lazy.”

An Array Of…

A visit to Sam’s proved valuable in my quest for tomfoolery. The door checker was very adamant I use the Scan-As-You-Go feature. I told him I thought that was for the bathroom. (Is that joke funny?) Among my many feats, I went down the chip and nut aisle and scanned every item on it, about 50 items. And then asked for help to remove “a couple” of things I needed to delete from my app checkout cart. Several people asked for assistance because I still wore my work badge, soft purple shirt, and fantastic Dance Commander brooch. I did my best to help them except for the last guy, who was in a bad mood and couldn’t find the coffee on sale. Without missing a beat, I told him it was all the way in the back rear corner, past the paper towels. Note: it’s not there. But it was the furthest point from me in the store. He walked off, and I decided it would be a good time to leave. I hope he complains about me to the manager! If I don’t get Employee of The Month, I’ll know who to blame.
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The picture of 3 photos is of the upper right corner of my fridge, which I’m loading with photo magnets. Everyone in the pictures except me suffers or suffered from addiction issues. Of the 5 other people in the photos, all but one of them died with their addictions. My sister Marsha is making another heroic effort to right her ship as I write this. Having phrased it slightly wrong when I said “other than me,” the truth is that everyone suffers if they love someone with addictions. Watching someone get on the diving board and stay there and then lose the battle is one of the most painful experiences any of us can live through.

There are no bystanders to addiction.
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It’s nice having a metal door. Not because it heats up to 180 F in the summer. Or prevents most people from being able to kick it. No, I like it because I can fill it with photo magnets and nonsense.
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The purpose of the picture of me against the brownish wallpaper background is two-fold: to show the brooch I wore today and to give publicity to someone’s kitchen wallpaper. I’m not standing in said kitchen. I took a picture of me standing near the trail and transposed myself onto the wild wallpaper background. The brooch inspired a lot of comments: Is it a pilot’s insignia? Was it a repurposed military medal? My go-to response was this: I’ve been promoted to Dance Commander. Whatever you do, DO NOT go to YouTube and watch “Dance Commander – Electric Six.” I love the song, but I’m guessing 103% of y’all won’t. (It’s more than 100% due to the number of my social media friends who have multiple voices in their heads.)


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The picture of the two pennies was the second brooch I made. I gave it to my Director as a gift. If the joke is too thin, it’s this: “Here are my two cents worth.” It might come in handy in conversations.


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The picture of the broken watch is sentimental. I broke off 1/2 of the band and attached a brooch clip on the reverse. I couldn’t bring myself to discard the broken watch. The phoenix in me told me to give it new life – so I did.


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The fuchsia-colored bird metalwork is something I had made by Married To The Metal on Etsy. I painted it when I moved here. If you’re interested, you should look up the word “Onism” on “The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.” It’s delightful and an apt reminder while I live inside this box. It is where I discovered the word “Sonder” and many others that are a delight.


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The picture of the edge of my deck is my color tile project-in-the-making. Several of the neighbors probably think of me as some kind of artist because, most days, I’m on the deck painting a variety of things that look out of place. The apartment simplex has a variety of people: dealer, disabled, dog people, and probable serial killer. I have a lot to shoot for if I want to become the most infamous resident here. To be accused of too much color and art would be a glorious compliment.


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I went outside and picked up a lot of trash. I quit, though, because my neighbor Bill got angry when I tried to put him in a trash bag. Please take a shower, Bill. Joking aside, I find myself picking up the mess here often. It’s not my job, but I hope I never get to the point where such things don’t register in my brain; doing so will mean I’ve accepted my environment. There are several things about this place that are very much in need of handcuffs, flamethrowers, or eye-rolling. While I was out, I managed to place another prank in plain view. Just call me Prank Sinatra.
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A FedX truck barreled into the parking lot while I stood outside, relishing the breeze. The driver had salsa music blaring. For southerners, ‘salsa music’ isn’t music you listen to while you eat Tex-Mex, by the way. The driver was surprised I greeted him in Spanish. I love watching drivers pull up and always hope they need a signature. They can expect a lot of interesting scenarios with the crowd who lives here. Barking, sometimes even from actual dogs, suspiciously-folded window blinds, and a strange cast of characters.
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I have to go choose among my 17 colors of paint and see what needs brightening now. I know I don’t. I hope the mood lasts. Last evening was a challenge for me. In closing, I’d like to add: no, Marilyn, I don’t have a cat yet, although I suspect I ate a bit of cat food in the cafeteria this morning at work.

Love, X

Tuesday’s Brooch

I was given this Jesus pendant as a little surprise.

Since I received a bit of advice from Erika, who has a lot of jewelry experience, something many people don’t know, I chose it to be my first DIY brooch. Amazon and Hobby Lobby provided my first essential kits to get started. Anything can be a brooch if you’re sufficiently motivated. That’s fair warning. πŸ™‚

I ordered a simple soldering kit to learn to make them properly. You’ll know when the kit arrives, because you’ll see a post of me being surprised I melted my fingers or stuck the soldering iron on my cheek accidentally.

I had the Jesus pendant on the window sill facing the kitchen, displayed.

It wasn’t until two weeks later that I discovered that it was actually a directional double image locket; one perspective Jesus, the other Mary.

Not to stretch the comparison, but I wonder how many other obvious surprises are hidden in plain sight.

The fact that I’m kind of a doofus for failing to realize it’s actually a visual illusion shouldn’t be a surprise.

It’s devilishly difficult to photograph these!

It’s the first brooch I’ve ever made, at least in an attempt to do so properly.

Love, X

PS I’m not a Christian, but I love the message, even as I continue to fail to remember to do unto others.

I Have An Addiction (Humor & Admission)

Yesterday, I put up a 4-shelf system behind my metal front door. It’s wasted space and ideal to display curios, knick-knacks, or bric-a-brac. (If you like the hoity-toity French word for small pieces of goofiness on display.) Give me credit for using a neutral color. My inclination was to do a series of bright resonant colors.

I’m using the bottom shelf to display my favorite brooches. I guess I have a brooch addiction. What kind of 12-step program is available for such an affliction probably would be really fabulous.

For those with discerning eyes, yes, that is a pregnancy test on the far right. No, I’m not pregnant. I put that odd curio there to catch people off guard. In case they aren’t already on guard just strolling through the front door. It’s akin to the fun I have by putting underwear on the door or on the floor in plain sight. Since my friend Marilyn insists I’m circling the crazy drain, I see no point resisting filling this old apartment with a variety of easter egg surprises. (The apartment simplex has a few surprises I’ve put up – and as far as I know, no one has questioned them. It’ll be interesting to see how far I can task this long-term project before being called out. πŸ™‚ )

As for the real confession, lately I’ve been taking puffs of small cigars. The first puff always gives me a buzz. No, these are not the cannabis kind. Despite what you’d guess by reading what I write, I don’t do drugs – and they don’t do me, either. Today is the day I stop taking puffs. This is one of those small habits that most people keep a secret, especially if it’s one they are about to give up. It’s a bit ridiculous to reveal that I’ve been doing it. I hate secrecy, which is ironic on several levels. I have no problem confessing such stupidities. I’ve found that if you don’t confess things, even the small ones, people’s idea of you grows increasingly disparate from reality.

I’m painting more tiles and attempting a wall rack. The wall rack is already a bit of a mess.

As for my small first-world problems, people I love are experiencing real heartache and the kind of life surprises that really hurt. I have hope that all of us end this day with more love and peace than we started with. It’s a small ask, one bordering on prayer.

Love, X

Of Burned Food, Shadows, And Gratitude

Y’all signed up for this, so in deference to Ron White, who quipped (paraphrasing), “I know I have the right to remain silent, just not the ability.”

It’s a great thing that I love burned food. I made homemade pizzas (though you wouldn’t like the way I do…). I set Alexa for ten minutes. That’s what I thought I said. Because I mumble worse than a child who got caught pilfering cookies, I evidently said “twenty minutes.” The smoke alarm didn’t go off. I bought one of those new-fangled kinds that gauges the luxury of the residence. Mine evidently thinks I’ll be better off if the place turns to cinders. Though it’s a ‘smart’ device with built-in wifi, it calls 7-11 instead of 911. That’s a joke. I think it’s a joke. Flavor Flav once said, “9-1-1 is a joke in your town.” To that, I’d reply, “Yeah, until you need it.” And all of us eventually do.

Saturday, despite having great conversations with three lovely souls, I found myself doing projects to fill the quiet: colorful ones designed to invade both the interior and exterior of my old apartment. I keep hoping I’ll fill it with enough brightness to drown out the shadows. Don’t get me wrong; I’m so grateful for having my health and sanity. The latter is currently on hiatus.

One of the people I talked to told me that she found herself busy with projects when she was in my situation, filling time with movement and results. She said she could see through the tightly-slitted blinds of my writing that I was experiencing the all-too-human sensation of loneliness, and doubly so given my nature.

It’s not that I’m always alone, far from it. The universes watches me closely, though, and quite often waits to throw a shawl over my enthusiasm precisely when I’m not expecting it.

I got a call yesterday that was both gratifying and emotional; as with such calls, it took me time to process it and look at it from a different perspective. It’s all in my head, of course. That’s how we experience reality, isn’t it? In our own way, cherry-picking the parts that reinforce what we’re thinking. It varies by mood, day, and person. None of us share the same reality because the voice in our head is the overriding narrative that sometimes drowns out the positive things in our lives. Or at least dims it just long enough to doubt ourselves. I envy people whose narrative is overwhelmingly one of gratitude and acceptance. What a superpower they have. Imagine if Superman walked around convincing everyone that they’re worthy. He wouldn’t need to jump tall buildings.

This is all normal – or so I’m told.

Because I’m lucky enough to have seen behind the curtains of people’s lives, I know that normal is just a word in the dictionary. One of the most normal people I know thinks it’s a great idea to shower about once a week. He doesn’t smell bad, so I’m not sure what alchemy or process he uses to “save water and time” by not showering.

It’s the universe’s perverse sense of humor that catches me off guard. No matter how good my morning or day has been, there is always a risk of unexpectedly getting smacked in the head. Sometimes, it brings joy. Sometimes, confusion. The morning gave me a bit of joy seeing the neighborhood, running without stopping, buying something for a project to help someone else out, and talking to great people.

Lord, though, the shadows.

I don’t want anyone to think I’m on happiness auto-pilot. It’s why I tell a couple of my friends that I understand all too well how our minds lay traps for us and that I understand their coping mechanisms. Short-term coping mechanisms are essential. So many of us make them inescapable habits, ones which shut off the rational parts of our lives.

I took a diamond painting of my cat Guino, the one who owns the house I used to live in – and I painted it vivid red. I changed something of the old and made it my own.

I made a runner of felt-backed tiles and put them on the deck outside my apartment. They don’t serve a purpose, except to add color and juxtapose themselves against the faded boards of the landing. I’m sure my pixie Larkma will appreciate the ornate sidewalk of the tiles. (And it tickles me that people will read the last sentence and wonder what in the hell I’m talking about.)

The burned pizzas were delicious. I didn’t plan to burn them but then wonder why I didn’t do it on purpose. No one is here to ask me what in blazes I’m doing in the kitchen.

Notes:
*To the FedEx guy who got excited when I explained how easy it is to change his name, I hope you do. You’re forty and it is ridiculous to not choose a name you’ll love.

*To the bicyclist who went by earlier, wearing bright pink ankle shoes and a hat that looked like it was a spray-painted magician’s hat, more power to you, sir.

*To the neighbor who thinks no one sees that you sometimes hold the leash and let the dog walk onto the landing to pee, you’re wrong. One day soon, as a joke, I’m going to sneak over there and hang a urinal on the railing, and mark it “For Canine Use Only.” This idea pleases me.

*The best pizza recipe in the world: however you want it. I’m constantly preaching that all food is subjective. All of us eat stuff that would make a college freshman retch into his tiny decorative beer box, the one he uses temporarily, albeit for an entire year, as a bathroom trash can. I humbly ask everyone to stop arguing from the perspective that there is a right choice about food choices. Live and let eat, even if you have to wear a blindfold and a clothespin on your nose. Also, both of these devices might make walking around this world more palatable at times.

*The breeze this morning is sublime and filled with humidity from the rain. It’s scented with foliage and the unmistakable aroma of someone’s massive cannabis habit. I’m not sure that sentiment would work well in an Emerson poem. But it works well for a Fayetteville, Arkansas moment.

*A few of my neighbors borrowed a large screen tv to watch the Razorback game. I’m not a fan. I’m a fan of large TVs, but not college football. They are still happy this morning, being able to celebrate their team winning. I would be a hateful bastard to dampen that enthusiasm. I smile, nod, and say, “…and they won by a huge margin.” That’s the extent of my game facts for yesterday. That’s enough, though.

*I never thought about “Hype Man” being a part of several people’s Wikipedia biography pages. I can’t any college that offers a major in “Hype.” I’m irritated about this oversight.

*People sometimes tell me to cool it and stop writing so many dumb jokes and to shut my brain off for a day. The last time I tried that, the City of Fayetteville offered me a job on the Urban Planning Commission based on qualifications.

*I’d plant more ideas in your head, except I definitely don’t want to get in there and water them.

Love, X

Rainbow Lightning

This lamp was one of many of my side projects. I found the original child’s lamp at a thrift store. It was the one with the ornate and fascinating lampshade that I donated back to the store before leaving. I stripped it to pieces, took off the rough edges, and painted it a nice crazy pink color, reassembled it, and installed a Happy Light bulb in it. If you look closely at the lamp, you’ll see I left the pacifier on the end of the pull chain. I intended to put a firecracker bulb in it, similar to the one I left at my old house. A kind friend gave me one of the bulbs and knew that I would love to experiment with it.

Apps control these bulbs; when you play music, the bulb pulsates, oscillates, and changes color, intensity, and tempo with the music. When I have it on with the LED strips above my kitchen, it probably looks like rainbow lightning from the outside.

You can buy a minimalist lamp base and a bulb like this for less than $20, if such a thing interests you. Everyone should have one for visitors, especially when you’re ready for them to leave. Tell them, “I don’t like night lights. I sleep with this…” And then hit them with the polychromatic seizure-inducing light show. Tell your Aunt Hazel I said, “You’re welcome.”

I wish I could have a place filled with 140 colors, all of them competing. I love sleek minimalist design and color, too; it speaks to me.

But color? It makes me feel like the world matches the inside of me.

I’m calculating whether I can unscrew all the vertical banister rails of my landing and paint them red. “It was that way when I got here,” MIGHT be believable, right? It does amuse me to think about just going wild in this apartment and painting everything. I was promised that the apartment would be completely repainted before I moved in; it wasn’t. I could blame it on the handyman. The likelihood of him still being employed by the landlords gets increasingly smaller as time passes. πŸ™‚

Knowing I took something old and rejuvenated with my energy tickles me, too.

I do hope they appreciate the body outline I’ve created on the floor between the kitchen and living bedroom.

I have more tiles drying outside. One of them is fluorescent green, otherwise known as the alien puke color. It’s lovely.

Love, X6All suggestions

A Bit Of Me And My Day

I wrote a heart-wrenching post and story today. This isn’t it. πŸ™‚

After writing yesterday about coincidences, a couple of big ones popped up, like fish jumping out of the water and into the boat. It’s a bit mesmerizing, seeing unrelated things – and people’s stories – merge and overlap. A couple of these surprise coincidences were related to people having connections that I previously didn’t know about. Another was finding out that people had an entirely hidden life. (Or so they thought. People always know. And once people die, their stories become liquid and slide out of people’s mouths with greater ease.)

For those who take the time to share their stories, it is appreciated. Seriously. As with pictures, I love that people trust me with their tales and (often) invisible biographies. It adds a lot of value to my life. More so now than ever.

I made a huge pot of homemade chili yesterday. The apartment smells fantastic for once. πŸ™‚ I’ll avoid the obvious joke here.

Yesterday and today, I painted several long floor tiles. Yesterday’s were cobalt metallic blue; today’s are deep, bright red. Instead of lacquering the deplorable countertops, I’m placing a series of tiles across some of the sections. I’m using felt on the bottom if such things interest you.

These also allow me to put hot pans all over the place, even if I’m not cooking. It’s essential to keep people guessing.

I also installed a hallway light where one didn’t previously exist. I was so spoiled at my last house. Because I planned, I had extensive photos of the house being built, including all the plumbing, wiring, and extraneous studs and braces in the walls. I have to be extra careful, like a barbarian, in this old apartment.

Though I won’t go into details, some of my overconfidence and previous exposure to violence finally worked on my behalf. I took a risk and confronted someone who needed a reminder of what constitutes civilized behavior. Shockingly, something in my eyes or deadpan delivery got through to him. I don’t know about y’all, but a whispered intention carries much more power than a shouted one. It is one of the few things that my Dad’s meanness resulted in a payoff for me. I don’t invoke it often. I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t foresee a trainwreck if I didn’t risk it. It was a small victory and will add a little peace to a few people’s lives. There’s no need for me to understand the person’s cruelty. Sometimes I forget that. It just needs to stop, and there are times when playing it safe sometimes makes it less so.

My backings and kits to make my own brooches arrived. I’m sure all of you have thought, “X really needs a lot more brooches.” Realistically, it’s cheaper to convert pendants and other items into brooches than it is to buy brooches. And it might be fun. I’ll let you know after I’ve stabbed myself sixteen times. Or tried soldering, only to melt my fingertips. Fortunately, I have insurance for my failures. It doesn’t hurt to have a jewelry expert handy when I have several dumb questions.

In another project, I learned that you can use vodka instead of perfumer’s alcohol when making your own eau de toilette or eau de cologne. In other news, perfumer’s alcohol is a real thing. Unlike perfumer’s alcohol, at least you can drink the vodka if you botch an attempt at making your own eau du toilette. The confounding aspect of this project is that I haven’t worn any cologne or scent since the Jurassic Era.

I got a surprise gift of Ghiradelli Sea Salt Soiree dark chocolates. I’ve been craving chocolate lately. They’re small enough I can’t overdo it. Well, I shouldn’t say “can’t.”

My weird set of stainless steel rainbow bowls arrived today. They are ridiculous. And I love them.

I got an extended free trial of Walmart +, which includes home delivery. I realized how much time and effort I was expending shopping and lugging groceries. Until you’ve carried 22 34-oz diet tonic water bottles and 30+ cans of fruits and vegetables, you don’t realize how much exercise this is. My first order didn’t include any refrigerated items. The next one will.

Fingers crossed and elbows oiled! (That’s one of my phrases, a reminder to be hopeful but be willing to get to work.)

Tomorrow is the anniversary of my wife Deanne’s death. I’m not one to memorialize as much on the “day of.” I’d rather have nostalgic moments pop into my head unbidden. Memories can be like beloved books; on the shelf, waiting. Being divorced has pushed me to take a more complex look at the phases of my life; her death put a sharp boundary and divide in my life. I’m reminded that I survived the turmoil. Part of my secret was not to wait for life to come to find me again. Despite all my trouble, most of my own making, I wonder.

Love, X

The Color Box

I haven’t made a similar box in a LONG time; they take a lot of time, depending on the desired level of lunacy and intricacy. I’ve made them with hidden compartments, lever locks, plain, and in all manner of geometric shapes.

This one isn’t quite finished. It’s about 90%.

This one has a partial wooden dowel structure hidden inside a large cardboard box. The ‘lid’ is a decorative piece I stripped, painted, and attached hinges to. Each side is covered in various pictures: people, places, goofy photoshops, and keepsake memories. All of that is covered by a mile of pristine clear tape.

If you’re wondering how much time I spent getting to this point, you should just think of Stonehenge. After a few minutes of doing this sort of thing, I disappear a little bit into the effort. I don’t concentrate on the final result, in part because I often don’t know what it might be.

Yes, I jittered all the images on the box. It’s a thing that must be seen in person.

It’s not something most people would want.

It is interesting as hell to see, though, like a carnival ride on fire. πŸ™‚

Love, X

The Pixie Door

I decided to install the fairy/pixie door outside.

I think this should serve as a fair answer to the question, “What should I expect on the INSIDE of this apartment.” πŸ™‚

You’ll note that Larkma’s name is on the door, as requested. As for the ladder, duh… Everyone knows that a pixie wants the option to land on the door jamb or climb to it. They are very temperamental.

Demographically speaking, how many adults have a pixie door to their house or apartment in Fayetteville?

Answer: I don’t care.