Menstrual Cup Mania!!!

WARNING: People who are offended by graphic discussion of menstruation should go read something else.

One of the very first things we put into The Earthling’s Handbook was an article about alternatives to disposable pads and tampons. I’ve often been tempted to write a newer article with even more details about just how fabulous these reusable items are and the new discoveries I’ve made over the years . . . and now, a friend has asked me to write just such an article so that she can show it to other women and change their lives like I changed hers ten years ago! Read more…

Treasuring Each Day

Last Thursday was a tough day for me. Yes, it was even harder than the previous Thursday. It was the day we were supposed to be on our way to Origins, a huge game convention where we see a bunch of our best friends, but instead I was sick in bed. That “coming down with something” feeling had unfurled in the center of my skull while I was writing about tie-dyed socks during my lunch break Wednesday, and by the time I admitted that a cough drop was not enough to vanquish it, I’d finished all the work that really had to get done before my trip, so I went home early for a nap . . . and I loaded up my dinner with infection-fighting raw garlic and various vitaminous vegetables . . . but in the early hours of Thursday morning, the illness abruptly shifted from just a nose-and-throat thing to the kind with hourly violent vomiting of horrifying fluids that are not supposed to leave the body.

Not only did I feel absolutely awful physically, not only was I using one of my scarce vacation days being sick instead of playing IceTowers with my friends, but I was gypping the other two members of my family out of a day of Origins, too!!! It was a huge bummer. I felt so rotten that I couldn’t do much reading or anything to distract myself. I was asleep at least as much of the day as I was awake, but when I was awake I felt a lot of regret and anger and worry about how long this would last.

But there was one lucky moment that improved the whole thing as vastly as it could (which was not very much, but enough to be worth writing about!): a tiny instant of pleasure as I gazed out the window at the neighbor’s ivy-covered brick wall against the blue sky reminded me of how my dad keeps saying that he tries to treasure each day.

My first reaction was, “Yeah, and that’s the one treasurable moment I’m going to get out of this day!” but I went on to recall some advice I’d heard about childbirth: No matter how much it hurts, by this time tomorrow it will be over and you will have survived. Well, that wasn’t necessarily true of my illness–it’s possible to be that sick for several days straight–but most often the “can’t even keep down water” phase lasts only a few hours. I remembered another game convention, GenCon 2003, at which I attempted a recycling project that was way too huge for one person; I remembered sitting in my office on the Tuesday before I left for GenCon worrying about how it would go and then thinking, “Well, no matter how it goes, next Tuesday I’ll be sitting here again and I’ll know how it went,” and making a conscious decision to work with each moment as it came. Sitting on the bathroom floor last Thursday, shuddering and suffering, I reminded myself of all the moments of GenCon that I treasure six years later, some of which have nothing to do with recycling because there are always other things along the way.

I also thought about my secret journey on this summer sick-day that felt similar to that one. Having once endured feeling queasy for two whole months, I could get through this one little virus! But that argument just felt preachy and annoying to me in the midst of this misery–and at least pregnancy nausea was worthwhile, whereas this nausea was perpetrated by some evil germ bent on spoiling our vacation for no reason! I fell asleep angry and had another episode of the day’s recurring nightmare about a really big centipede wearing a jacket–a satin windbreaker-style jacket–the nerve of him, following me around!

In my next rational moment, I talked myself back to thoughts of life’s journey and treasuring each moment and the unexpected lessons and blah de blah, and since I wasn’t receiving the miraculous gift of hearing in my mind the perfect song for my situation, I consciously chose to “listen” to the song “Every Day Is a Winding Road” . Lay back; enjoy the show. Everybody gets high; everybody gets low. . . . I had no choice about whether to catch this illness or not; all I could do was see what was around the next bend. Yeah, I’d rather be at a high point, but crossing the valley is an experience too. There was no knowing how long I’d be sick, but it couldn’t go on forever, so with every moment, every breath, I get a little bit closer to feeling fine. I’ll get up high again soon, and then I’ll be able to look back and see where I’ve been, and the contrast will make my happier days all the more enjoyable.

This all sounds a little trite, but it was surprisingly effective. I mean, having a crushing headache and an all-over clammy feeling and a nose full of slime and regular bouts of violent digestive revolt is AN ABSOLUTELY MISERABLE WAY TO SPEND A DAY and all the more so when you have a specific place you’d rather be! But accepting it as part of life and just riding along looking at the scenery made me about as happy about it as I was going to get. Instead of raging about where I ought to be and how my body ought to work, instead of frantically laying plans for every possible contingency, instead of feeling guilty about failing to fill my role in the family vacation or in the day of life with a four-year-old that was proceeding downstairs, I was just there on the winding road, soaking up the experience for whatever I might get out of it, thinking only one bend ahead. Next step is to rinse my mouth. Next step is to pull up another blanket. One step at a time, I get a little bit closer to feeling fine.

Really, it all worked out very well. By Thursday night I could eat a little bit. By Friday morning I was up and about in a fairly normal way, although still feeling clammy and blowing my nose and coughing. We got to the convention by late afternoon Friday, and the hotel didn’t charge us a cent for cancelling the first night of our reservation (we called, but pretty late on Thursday), and they gave us a room with a refrigerator, which we hadn’t expected to get. I didn’t have my usual stamina, but I managed to do most of the things I wanted to do, including staying up really late Saturday night. By Sunday I was skipping and jumping around with my kid. I’m still not fully healthy, but many moments of my weekend and today have been brightened by marveling at how much better I feel.

If I’d spent my sick day wallowing in negative emotion and insisting that everything was ruined, would I have been sick longer and missed the whole weekend? I don’t know. But even if the duration of this viral infection was preset, I’m glad I found a positive way of enduring the experience, of treasuring even a day that was hard to treasure.

Tie-dyed Socks!

My son, who is officially four-and-a-half years old today, loves colors and enjoys wearing a variety of colors. He was quite annoyed last fall when we went shopping for new socks and found that the choices offered were white, white with gray toes, black (but only thin dress socks), brown (same), and a variety pack of white, brown, navy, and olive–“Why don’t they have any nice colors?!” I told him my college roommate Kevin‘s axiom that in male fashion, your socks should match your teeth, and Nicholas grudgingly agreed to the 10-pack of white socks. At least they turned out to be comfortable socks.

Then some friends invited us to a tie-dyeing party! Nicholas immediately said, “I will dye all my socks!” Read more…

An unscheduled Take Your Child to Work Day

Wednesday night, we had several hours of heavy rain. Yesterday morning, Nicholas and I arrived at his pre-school and found that all the furniture in his classroom had been moved out or stacked in the reading loft, and large fans were blowing across the damp floor. Rainwater had leaked in under the door to the playground and had covered the floor of the entire room. The teachers were holding class in the kitchen (which is also the dining room, so it’s child-proofed) but asking parents to keep their children out of school that day if they could.

I could see how stressed-out they were and wanted to help, but I didn’t have a spare vacation day, and I had a project I needed to finish at work, and I knew Daniel was anticipating a busy day at his job. I told Nicholas I could bring him to my office for the day, but I would be working rather than entertaining him. He said he understood. Read more…

Starting with Something

Here’s one of my secrets to financial solvency: I started my adult life with some money in the bank.

Now, what kind of a tip is that?! Having money is not something a person can just decide to do! I’m just lucky!

Well, yes, this isn’t a money-management tip you can apply when you’re already deep in debt and/or poverty. What I’m thinking about this week-before-Father’s-Day is the enormous advantage my family, especially my dad, gave me by not only supplying my start-up funds but also teaching me how to use money wisely. Read more…

a gem from the 1966 Sears catalog

Plastic Wall Tile

Alabaster…resembles fine Italian marble
37c square foot

Pastel Mist…exceeds government standards
22c square foot
Read more…

Ham Binge!

This is the fifth day in a row I’ve eaten the same lunch: a salad of lettuce, spinach, cheese, and ham.

Wait a minute! HAM?! EnviroBecca is a pescatarian (eats no meat except occasional fish) for environmental and health reasons–ham should not be in her lunchbag, especially not five days in a row!

Hang on. I can explain. Read more…

Hand Towels for a Crowd

Here’s a way to use washable cloth hand towels for a group too large and/or germy to share a towel hanging on a rack:

  • Get a bunch of small cloth towels or terry washcloths.
  • Stack the towels in a box or basket near the sink.
  • Hang a laundry bag or place a laundry basket or hamper nearby.
  • Hang up a sign indicating where used towels should go. This is necessary not only to get the towels where you want them but also to prevent garbage from being thrown in there. You may need to have a sign pointing out the clean towels, too, if your storage method does not make them really obvious.
  • Remove paper towels from the handwashing area–unless there is a high likelihood of people needing them for purposes so messy that you don’t want your cloth towels used in that way.
  • Periodically check the towel supply.
  • When the laundry bag is full, empty it into the washing machine.

I tried this last weekend at Girl Scout camp. There were 37 people in our group Read more…

Eternity in Your Hand

When you hold a styrofoam plate, you hold eternity in your hand.

Plants and animals died millions of years ago and slowly turned into oil. Dozens of machines and probably a hundred people worked to find that oil deposit, bring the oil to the surface, transport it, refine it into polystyrene, produce that foam plate, package it, and transport it to a store.

All so that you could use it for just a few minutes to eat one meal or a piece of cake or a few cocktail nuts.

Then it goes into a landfill. Forever. Long after the party has ended, long after your life has ended, that plastic foam will lie under the ground, unable to return to nature, an eternal memento of the snack you’d probably forgotten a day later.

How’s that for a legacy? Read more…

Agent of Change: What a long, lame Journey it’s been!

When Girl Scouts USA first announced the development of Journeys, they made it sound like they would replace badges. By the time they released the first Journey for each age level last fall, they were saying these are just an *Exciting* *New* *Option* for Girl Scouts but we still can keep on doing badges as well. Now that my Junior troop has completed this first Journey, I’m extremely relieved that badges are still around, because we were very unimpressed with this Journey and the Journey model in general. Read more…