Friday, June 19, 2015

Popeye, Olive and me

I have done what any normal person would do under the circumstances.  I have packed a slab of thick-sliced hickory-smoked bacon on my face.  Of course.

That’s what my grandma did when my grandpa had a stye.

Of all the indignities a person must suffer!  A stye!  Really.  A flippin’ stye!

Well that’s just great. 

On the bright side – because there is always a bright side, right? – I am happy this thing rose up from hell and settled on my face after I took my out contacts.  Because now my face is swollen enough to ensure that no contact lens could escape from the slit that was once my eye.  My baby blue.  My window on the world. 

Now, instead of presenting as the erudite person of letters that I am, I look like Popeye!  I’m in a perpetual wink.  I look like Roberto Duran after acouple of rounds with Sugar Ray Leonard!  No mas!

And it hurts!  It’s red and yucky and, and…OK I’m whining.  Let’s get a handle on this thing.  To heck with this bacon!  It’s cold and greasy and pointless and I keep having to fend off the cats.

Oh all right.  I didn’t put bacon on my eye even though I remember my grandpa with a slab on his face swaddled in a tea towel.  What was the rationale? 

We all know that bacon makes everything better, but are there truly healing properties to bacon?  The includes this unsolicited testimony from a woman in Alaska:  “My husband had this cist on his temple that kept getting bigger.  When he had infected his finger once when he was younger his mom had taped a piece of bacon to it overnight and it had drawn out the infection.

“We decided to try it, that night we taped the bacon to his temple and by the next morning the lump was way down, he continued it for two more nights and I am proud to say we were able to stop any scarring from occurring.  I believe it is the salt that does the trick.”

I am skeptical, but who am I to say that the bacon didn’t heal her husband’s cist?  It’s the taping that has me stumped.  Maybe they wrapped his head with duct tape to hold the bacon in place. 

I moved on to Home Remedies for  In their gentle, pragmatic and non-committal way they offer a string of crapola reminiscent of the inventory of ye olde apothecary and snake oil establishment.
Here we go:  Add a teaspoon of coriander seeds to a cup of water and bring to a boil.  Use the solution to cleanse the eyes thrice daily.
Or, add a couple of alum granules to one cup of water and use the solution to wash the affected eye.  Place slices of cucumber over the infected eyelid to reduce swelling and soreness.

You can apply tomato slices to the affected area.  Or a wet tea bag or “paste of potato.”
Maybe you could boil a handful of acacia leaves and pour the liquid over a clean washcloth to use as a compress. 
Alternatively, add a teaspoon of turmeric to two cups of water and boil.  Strain the solution and use as eye drops twice every day.
At the very least, make an anti-bacterial eye wash of dandelion tea.
Here’s what I’ve learned:  None of these will do anything.  Trust me.  The stye comes and goes in its own good time.  You brought it home with your wanton hands and now you have to live with it.
That’s right.  I did it to myself.  The ultimate insult.

I’ll spare you the particulars, but forensic science would show that I touched my eye with my hand.  The hand that had been out in the world cavorting with shopping carts and hand rails in public buildings and God knows what.


WebMD recommends over-the-counter remedies including eyelid cleansers and eyelid scrubs and sundry other items intended to scour your eyelids plum off. 

I bought them all and began applying them in sequence.  They aren’t going to fix the stye either.

So, Olive Oyl and I are just gonna hang out and make the best of it.  Maybe eat some spinach.


Friday, June 12, 2015

Zen and the raisin

If only I had a raisin.

Seems like there’s always something standing in the path of my peace of mind. 

How can a person cultivate mindfulness, one of the primary components of happiness, if there’s no raisin in the house? 

I bought raisins specifically for this purpose!  Little boxes of raisins. 

But before I could settle in to test the “casual” practice of Raisin Meditation – to cultivate mindfulness, reduce stress, and enjoy everyday pleasures – some of the crass male-types in my home consumed my wrinkled talismen.  How gauche!

No Zen state for you!

Oh we have cranberries!  But what good is a cranberry in a situation like this?  Not the same.  A distraction. 

Bananas?  Yes, we have no bananas.  But we do have clementines!  So cute!  And yummy.  But alas, flawed by virtue of their relative size and the simple fact that Greater Good in Action,Science-Based Practices for a Meaningful Life, calls for a RAISIN!

How else can you have Raisin Meditation?  Duh.

This is a perfect example of the difficulties of the modern age.  A person seeking her center, that well of serenity deep within, goes about collecting the necessary items to facilitate a deep, deep meditative state.  She builds a nest of contentment where she plans to delve daily for the requisite period of five minutes required of someone like herself, a casual chaser of sagacity, and her raisins are devoured in a savage act of mindlessness!

Just so you’re aware – if you want actual perception of the cosmos, you have to move up to a 15 minute commitment at the “moderate” level of happiness building, perhaps with a “Savoring Walk.” 

Then of course, you’ll go to “intense,” with one of the strenuous practices unheard of in the 21st Century, like Active Listening.

Forget it.  I will start small.  I live in the real world after all!  Greater Good can’t expect me to drop everything in my modern life and just walk around all day long savoring things!  Yeesh! 

What does it entail, “savoring”?  Relishing?  Cherishing?  Who has the time? 

Don’t get me wrong.  I savor.  I devote precious moments to treasuring stuff!  On occasion.  Just this afternoon I was appreciating my shoe horn. 

But, I don’t want to go crazy!  Over meditate.  There are bound to be dangers there, right?  I mean you can’t go totally OM without some repercussions.  You have to develop a tolerance!

Better to start small and build on your success, right?  Baby steps.

So, casually, “by increasing awareness of internal mental and physical states, mindfulness can help people gain a greater sense of control over their thoughts, feelings, and behavior in the present moment.” 

Thus, Raisin Meditation.  I’ll buy my Sun Maids – hide them in my sock drawer! – and I’ll be ready to transcend.  

Let’s review the process:  Oh good.  A simple, eight step system that will send me on my way to nirvana.  Or at least on a Savory Walk.

So here we go – Raisin Meditation: 

Step 1.  Holding: Take a raisin and hold it in the palm of your hand or between your finger and thumb.  Check.

Step 2.  Seeing: Take time to really focus on the raisin; gaze at the raisin with care and full attention.  Oka-a-ay. 

Examine the highlights, where the light shines, the darker hollows, the folds and ridges, and any asymmetries or unique features. 

I don’t know.  That’s a lot of seeing.  But whatever.

3. Touching: Turn the raisin over between your fingers, exploring its texture.  Maybe do this with your eyes closed if that enhances your sense of touch. 

I can see why a private place is best.

4. Smelling: Hold the raisin beneath your nose.  As you do this, notice anything interesting that may be happening in your mouth or stomach. 

Interesting?  It will take more than one raisin for my tummy to take notice.  Can we cut to the chase here? 

Yadda yadda yadda; 5, 6, 7 and 8 – placing, tasting, swallowing, and following.

Wait – “Following”? 

Step 8.  Following: See if you can feel the raisin moving down into your stomach and sense how your body as a whole is feeling after you have completed this exercise.

Hungry.  Enlightened maybe, but hungry definitely.  

Friday, June 5, 2015

How to save $99

A smarter you is only 15 minutes away!

Aha!  I have been wondering where she’d got to, my smarter self.  She slipped away back in ’92, round about the time Apple stock was selling at $6.00 a share and Nike at 52 cents. 

Of course Blinkist doesn’t really mean it that way.  Smart Carolyn isn’t across the bridge and down I-80 in Berkeley.  The teaser in their online ad implies if I give them $99, and read the non-fiction book summaries they send me, my noodle power will expand in 15 minute increments.  Wouldn’t that be nice? 

It’s a clever new service that reads non-fiction books so you don’t have to.  They’re like Cliff’s Notes for the 21st Century person who is too preoccupied Tweeting about Instagram to pursue learning on her own. 

Yes, it’s just like back in high school, except now, instead of escaping a death march through The Scarlett Letter, you can become superficially familiar with the cutting edge concepts in science, business and technology others have devoted their lives to exploring.  You’ll know just enough to bluff your way through a casual conversation over latte and a scone.

It’s perfect for busy know-it-alls.

As a dummy and someone drawn to the quick fix like a teenage bride to Hamburger Helper, I’m tempted.  But $99!?  Maybe it’s smarter to hold onto my C-note.

Here’s why:  Blinkist says they read more than 1000 of the best in nonfiction and business books each year, then reduce them into “powerful, memorable distillations” for schmucks like me, so we can Evelyn Woods our way through them and claim we know stuff.

But let’s be real.  With 50 new titles and 40 new audio versions – their “fresh weekly releases added for you each month” – I’m pretty sure I don’t have time for this shortcut.  Just scanning the lists would constitute a detour off my highway of retired bliss into a quagmire of book selection.  It’s hard enough picking which T-shirt to wear each day!  And really, don’t you have to read the rundown to choose the book?  Rather defeats the purpose.

And honestly, if past behavior predicts future success, I concede.  There will come a reason I do not read the abstracts of the books I wish I’d read but really don’t wanna.  Case in point:  My Netflix queue is backed up with a cache of erudite yet unwatched documentaries downloaded from 1998 to present, that I cannot bring myself to delete. 

If only good intentions could boost your IQ! 

And here’s a red flag:  Blinkist doesn’t say how much smarter I’ll be.  That’s an important detail.  Is the formula $99 a year x 15 minutes/number of synopses of arid material deemed too desiccated to digest the old fashioned way = 25 points of intellect?  Or what?

My cost-benefit analysis leaves me dubious.  See, I’ve been through this before.  Just the other day I was promised that I could “get these abs in two weeks!”  The headline on the magazine cover was accompanied by an arrow pointing at the bony midsection of Gwyneth Paltrow. 

BTW – She has one of those non-committal belly buttons – is it an innie or an outie?  I don’t like the looks of it.  She is distressingly long-waisted.  Maybe it’s because her bikini bottoms are drifting lazily south, below the skeletal remains of her baby bump. 

And how does she get those abs?  “Having sex and laughing,” according to a completely out of context quote from her interview in Women’sHealth magazine. 

Well, let me just tell you that Mr. Plath – who is retired now as you may recall, and home all the time with not quite enough to occupy himself – and I are laughing and laughing and…well, here we are, 10 days later, and I don’t think I’m getting those abs. 

Just sayin’.  You can’t believe everything you read.

So when Blinkist promises I can “Learn more, do more, be more—and still spend less time reading;”  I say, I’m doing that already.  Except maybe for the “being more” part.  I mean really.  How can you be more? 

I say you can’t.  You can only be what you can be.  In the philosophical sense of course.  So.  There’s my smarter self. 

And I still have my $99!