Monthly Archives: August 2016

Trials and Tribulations

This is one of the first times that I have had several friends with puppies at the same time I have a puppy. It helps tremendously when I find myself with one hand on my hip and the other over my eyes.

Tonight, Inty had finished his bully stick in record time and vanished into the kitchen. I didn’t hear him and when I called him, he peeked around the kitchen island holding a cucumber by its stem.

My biggest lemon cucumber of the season. I noticed it this afternoon and snatched it off the plant. It is larger then I like to let them get.


It was thankfully unharmed. I sent him to his crate for the evening. He stole this cucumber off of the counter and counter surfing is not to be tolerated.

Ahh, puppies. He is in the most obnoxious phase yet. He is not as small and cute as he was when he was a baby. He is large, obnoxious, and utterly sweet. He is moving from cute to beautiful. But, he is still so young. So very, very young.


A Ring Clock – Unboxing

When you order your Ring Clock, they first send you a stack of plastic sizing rings. You tell them your size and they send you rings over and under it. The reason is that your ‘size’ and the ring clock size don’t often match. Many people get a size larger.

I went to a jewelry store and got my finger sized. I decided I wanted to wear it on my thumb or finger. My thumb and ring finger on my left hand are the same size. I do not have tiny, dainty hands. I have long fingers and big hands, normally wearing a men’s large glove. Women’s gloves don’t have the finger length for me. Most girl’s I know are six and seven in their rings. Me? A ten.

My sizing rings arrived ten days after I placed my order. I picked the 11 sizing ring and responded to Ring Clock’s info e-mail address with my size. I added my order number to make sure they didn’t have any problems. I got an e-mail a few hours later thanking me for my actual size and telling me that I’d have my ring clock in two weeks.

It actually took eight days to get it. I am very pleased with the service. The website said that it will be a 6-8 week process. I ordered on August 10th and have my Ring Clock on August 26th.


The box is surprising in its size. What is in it?


The ring is sitting on the charger. A bit of foam is inside of it to help it stay snug for travel. The size is because of the charger base. That is where all of the extra technology is located.


It is made out of surgical grade stainless steel. Its water proof up to 30 meters. They tell you to take it off for messy work like gardening and mechanical things. It is surprisingly light. It looks heavy but it is very, very light weight.



Everything in the box.


We have our ring, our charger, a cord, a plug, and the instruction manual. The ring clock uses a 24 hour clock for its time. The instructions are simple enough. The plus and minus button let you set it. Don’t charge it for more then 2 hours. Don’t leave it charging for days, it will destroy the battery. The charge is good for a week.


Figuring out how to charge it was easy enough. I was reminded of my alarm clocks as a child. When you set an alarm clock there are normally only two major buttons. The longer you held the button the faster the clock cycled time. When I pressed the ring clocks buttons, it started setting the time for the minutes (center ring). I was like, “This is going to be slow,” when I realized that it would need to cycle around an ‘hour’ worth of minutes to move to the next hour of the ring. However, holding down the button speeds up this process and shortly the minute light was flickering by at light speed and the ‘hour’ changed every 3 seconds or so.

The second thing the charger does is let you pick a setting that makes it easier to tell the time. You can press both buttons to change between the two settings.  The first one will cause the hour/minute to light up. The second setting causes the hour/minute+ to light up.

What this allows is when looking at the minutes if it is 37, the 35 + 2 tick marks light up. Instead of just the 2nd tick mark to mark 37. The seconds light up and cheerfully count away.


The ring itself:


It spins. For some reason I thought the three individual bands spun. They do not. The time band is one piece and it spins. There is a mild give to it. If I shake my hand I can feel it move around. It does not bother me. It might bother others.  It spins easily but not irritatingly. Normal hand motions do not active it.


It is thick. It makes wearing it weird. I’m not a ring wearer. I’ve chosen my thumb as the chosen finger but I’m not sure how it will go. The size does reduce the mobility of my thumb when it comes to bending it into my hand. That is not a big deal normally. Of course, right now because I am paying attention to it it has become a huge thing. I am going to give myself a few days to adjust before I move it. My fitbit was the same way. It had been so long since I had worn a ring that wearing it was weird and uncomfortable for the first three or so days. I even had to take breaks. Now I don’t notice it. As the day wears on my thumb is calming down about the item on it.

The fit is smooth and comfortable. The sizing rings were accurate.


We will see how the thumb fit goes.  I normally use my index finger it spin it. I assume, if it was on my ring finger, I’d use my thumb to spin it to see the time. I think the seconds are the least functional aspect of the entire piece if you wanted an exact time of hour:minute:second. If you just want to use the seconds to count, it works fine.

A Ring Clock – Acquisition

Three years ago on IMGUR, I came across a post about things you didn’t realize that you wanted. There was a nice list but one item caught my attention. I say caught but it does not truly encompass the way my gaze was riveted and my mind consumed.

It was a ring that was also a clock. It was something that I did not need. I had a smart phone to tell me the time. Later, I would get on the bandwagon and buy a fitbit which also told me the time. This ring, that would also tell me the time was not a necessity in my life.

But it was beautiful. It was fascinating. It told the time with blue lights. I wanted this thing that I had no need for.

Investigation led me to their finished Indigogo campaign. It had all the ear marks of reality, but it was not in production. I pushed it away from my thoughts. But, every few months it would surface again. I’d push it away and it’d surface. Then one day their Facebook page said that they were shipping them out to the backers for the campaign.

Excitement hit me. What was it really like? Was it true and not just another scam or failed project? I searched and searched and searched and searched and found nothing. Just a Facebook page with no updates. I found no reviews. I found a few people that said they had received theirs but nothing more.

The little bit of information I found over the following two years told me that it was around three hundred dollars. Supposedly, they were producing them but the only review I could find didn’t sound like they actually had the item. About every three months it would surface and every three months it would die back down.

Then, back in July, the desire to see if the ring clock was real surfaced again. This time, I found a review from A Blog to Watch. It seems that ring clock solicited them. At the same time, several articles started to pop up and I saw that their facebook page had some activity. I finally had some reviews. But more importantly, I didn’t have negative reviews that said the company was a scam.

Which led to my decision to pull the trigger on a luxury item that I have little need for but great desire to get. I add this because the first thing people ask is, “How much is it?”

Cost is a fascinating equation. There was a time when I’d make more or different arguments about it. A luxury good is a luxury good. Getting one will lead people to tell you how the money could be better spent. Often times that ends with the fact that your money should be sent away to another if you don’t need it. It is another area were justification meets endless battle. In the end it is a cost I chose to make and I am quite excited for the item.

The shipment information came from FedEx. I’ve been tracking the package relentlessly. The arrival said that it was supposed to come Friday, but when I woke up on Friday I saw that it had been moved to Monday. I was disappointed until I wondered if I could just go and pick it up. FedEx has the ability to go pick up at a facility and the one where my package was sitting was located seven miles from my house.

I wound up calling them for help. After fighting through a phone tree I got an incredibly pleasant woman that helped me check that the location I thought it was at was the correct one. There are two offices in that area, so I did not want to pick the wrong one. With that done, I decided to bite the bullet and leap into my car to go see if I could get my package now instead of waiting for FedEx to notify me.

One nice thing about living near a major airport is that many things are quite close. The FedEx office near Dulles is a massive complex. The service desk however is a tiny cubby that looks like its tucked in any strip mall. Service was not fast but the gentleman was capable. I got to listen to one mans horrified understanding that he was going to be paying a hundred dollars for his delivery.

My turn came and I was honest. “I had a package held but it doesn’t say it is ready for pickup.”

“I’ll go check,” he responded. Two trips later and my package was in my hand. “It’s international!” he told me. I just nodded but he seemed impressed by it. My package in hand, I wished everyone else waiting good luck and skipped out.



Intuition at Nine Months


There are moments when he looks like an adult. He is as large as one. His first birthday is approaching. But then, we have moments like earlier today when he got a bath. I stood up and walked out of the bathroom, expecting him to follow. Instead, he started to cry. I walked back in and he had one foot on the edge of the tub and looked so overwhelmed. I had forgotten that he has only had a handful of baths so far and he still finds the bathtub slippery and scary, even with the tub mat that I added.


Perhaps this will show his dorkiness a bit more.  “Why are you over there?” he asks. Sometimes I wonder if he cares that I am there. Then he is separated from me and his concern becomes apparent. I’m taken for granted only when he can come and go as he pleases.

He is still not calm. When we were trying to take pictures two bulldogs walked by. I grabbed his collar as he exploded into a screaming, roaring, bouncing, lunging disaster. I could only sigh in embarrassment and hold on as he looked like a dog aggressive demon.

“He is only nine months old,” I told them. “He is also very friendly. It just looks like he is insane. He want’s to play.”

They let their dogs approach and he threw himself down and sniffed faces, wagged, wrapped himself into a pretzel of sweetness and begged them to play. Calmer but not calm. Not indifferent. One day he may be. But right now, dogs are the most exciting thing in his world.

Nine months is a tough time. They are puppies in dog bodies. They know a lot but not enough. There is poor decision making and little self control. Even going potty can be an exercise in frustration as concentration on the deed is rare.

Puppies are hard. I’ve finally had to crate Inty after his last foray into trying to get to the girls to harass them. Any attention is positive attention for him and that includes the girls screaming at him and biting him.


I no longer brush my hair

I have met a few women that do not know what color their hair is. They have died it so long (normally blond) that they have no idea what color it is. For many women with lighter colored hair, their hair darkens as they age. For those who have embraced blond and various light shades the hair they had when they started dying it and the hair they have now may be quite different.

I always thought it was strange that they did not know their hair color. I admit I felt a bit snotty about it and their obsession with being blond. What I never did was compare it to my own hair routine. I defined the straightening of my hair as taming it and keeping it neat and presentable.

What I did not think about was the fact that I do not know what my natural hair texture is. I have straightened my hair or had it straightened since I was around eight to ten. I remember going to a salon in the city, I suspect Baltimore and having to go down steps to enter. I remember being twelve and having it done in a salon. I spent years having it cared for every week. I remember the theme of the black beauty parlor and how much I hated it. For a while my mother found a lovely woman who did hair out of her home. But that was not to last forever.

For a while in college I let it grow. Finally, it became to much and I straightened it again after almost a year. I wish I had left it alone. I had a friend then, a white young male that had little interaction with black people. He assumed my hair would be course like wool. I made him touch it one day when we were walking. He was shocked at how soft and fluffy it was.

But I straightened it again and went through my life defining it as how it would look straight. Long, straight hair. That is all I ever wanted. It was what I never had. It requires work. Weekly salon trips. No walking in the rain. And when I was in my twenties I rejected all of that. I refused to avoid the rain for my hair. I wanted to own my hair.

I started to straighten it myself. That, I considered was ownership.

In a way it was. I did my own hair on my own schedule. It never thrived like it did when I was at the salon. I didn’t have the tools and products to keep it straight and flowing. But, I was tired of salons. I was tired of being teased. When I came home from college my mother took me to one place and they spent the entire time going on about my nappy head and how sensitive I was. I wanted to know why I was paying people money to insult me. I hated the environment. I had nothing to share. It was several hours of torment and by then, I was tired of being the target of vicious tongues and arguing with peoples endless desire to give me curls.

My hair has never thrived under my own care. I can get it looking okay for a few hours. But its never made it past my shoulders before it breaks. I have to keep it back in a bun for work anyway. Eventually, I accepted that long hair was not for me and it was another flaw about myself that I had little control of. In many ways I was thankful that I had given up on my looks long time ago. I’d have driven myself crazy.

But it took my own aging, my mother’s frustrating hair thinning, and an article about black women and their propensity to baldness and hair thinning to make me look at what I was doing. It would take another few months before I gathered the courage to do a simple thing.

I stopped straightening my hair. In that moment I threw away a dream. I would never have the long, straight hair that I desired. In it, I developed another one. Maybe I could grow an amazing curling mane instead. Maybe, because I had abandoned hard core hair processing as a teen and only lightly used straighter every 6-8 weeks, I had not damaged myself beyond repair. Maybe, I could come to like the hair that I had been given.

But, I had never really met that hair.

I remember being very small and my grandmother dragging a brush or comb through my hair. I’d squeal and cry out and she’d scold me for being so tender headed. I remember my babysitter brushing my hair. I remember running from people trying to comb or brush my hair because they so often hurt me. In this, I developed an understanding that I had very bad, nappy, unappealing hair.

But now, as I watch it grow in. I don’t know. If it is dry, it is hard to comb. As a child I am sure it was often dry. Hair care had made many advancements since the 80’s. As I transition from straightened hair into my natural hair, I find that I randomly have dry patches that need to be oiled. If I run a comb through it, it hurts. Once I oil it, it is fine. For you see, my hair is dry not oily.

My natural hair is also thicker. The straightening process is brutal and it strips the outer layer. Hairs are interesting and why it curls seems to depend on the way keratin is deposited over the hair. Straight hair has smooth and even deposits. Curly hair has random, causing the level of curl.

I wash my hair to hydrate it and apply fresh oil. I’ve always found the need to wash ones hair because it gets oily fascinating. I wish my hair got oily. It’d be so much easier to manage. I have the dry hair genetic lottery as well.

All of this means that I am relearning my hair. A few weeks ago, I noticed the hair at the nape of my deck had become longer then it has ever been before.  Its never made it past and inch and it is now the length of my index finger.

I also had to stop brushing it. I gave my brush to my mother. I’ve used a balless pin brush for years because it didn’t catch my hair like ball tipped pin brushes do. Now, I use no brush and stick to a wide tooth comb. Brushes don’t get along with the spiraling curled texture. It will also just encourage the hair to turn into an afro instead of the spirals I am hoping for.

“I don’t brush my hair.” It is an odd thing to say, but true. I also don’t know how I will look in a year or two. How long it will take for me to have a curly mane or an afro of epic proportions.  For now, I pull it back in a bun still and struggle to accept this new look. My hair is no longer neatly slicked back, but softly fluffy. It is still neat but that fluffiness will turn into curls and from there?

Garden Thoughts: Late August

I’ve been savoring my third day off with one more to go after my long, rampage of working. My plants are doing well. I hacked down the tomato plant that was supposed to be a ground cherry. It was a very nice plant but I had placed it in a very poor position for what it turned out to be. I had expected a bush and planted it as if it were a bush. It was in fact a sprawling tomato plant and it smothered some of my carrots and herbs.

I also hacked down the remaining cabbage and romaine plants. It has been to hot and the leaves are no longer pleasant to eat. I’ve asked my mother several times over the last month to do it and she keeps forgetting. I finally took care of it and should be able to plant a bed of winter lettuce.

Tomorrow, the Brussels sprouts are coming down. The sprouts themselves are looking a bit tattered and the plants are very large and in the way. I’m not sure they are worth growing outside of a greenhouse environment for me due to cabbage moths.

I also don’t need 20 tomato plants. I think 10 will do next year.

My attempts to create a garden I could walk through on my deck failed. I’m going to retry next year with more focus on my layout and what we do and do not eat along with what takes up what type of space.


Why I Walked Out of Jo-Ann’s Fabric and Craft Store

Aging has been on my mind. Over this summer I’ve developed some clusters of silver hair that leave me pondering my mortality.  With my hair growing our naturally and the base developing an unfamiliar spring, those strands no longer hide under the dark surface. They creep up and visit and remind me that I am thirty-seven.

With age comes many things. One of mine has been my understanding of myself and my history of working with the public. It took me a long time to accept that I did not deserve to be treated poorly by people. I was always that person who would dip their head and accept how other’s treated me. After all, those people were not part of my every day. I didn’t need to get into screaming matches with them or make them respect me.

But, what of culture? What of politeness? Everyone does not always have a good day. Nor do I expect everyone to be my friend. But rudeness? Should it be tolerated?

Last Tuesday, I dressed for work and went to get into my car. As I crouched and slid into my seat, I heard a pop and felt cool air wash across my thigh. I sighed. My work pants always pop their inner seams. I wear men’s pants and they do not agree with my non-man thighs. Mixed with the fact that like many clothing made by uniform companies, no expense was taken, the single row of simple stitches fail me about about six months. This was not the first time, nor will it be the last since we switched to this brand four years ago.

I went inside. There, I switched into another pair of pants and headed back to my car. I again entered my car and again heard a pop. This time I sighed. One more pair of pants left.

The third pair held. With this weekend off after working two weeks in a row, I decided to run some errands. One was to get some thread to fix my pants. I have thread, somewhere. I didn’t feel like finding it. I decided to get a meal from Not Your Average Joe’s and to swing by a Joe-Ann’s that was a bit past it.

I go to this store fairly regularly. I’m not a regular client by any means. I’ve picked up some yarn and thread and fabrics to do things like make my Minmatar Cosplay jacket. This time I found a set of metallic needles and some black thread to put my pants back together. I wandered through the cross stitch and then, mother in tow, headed to check out.

There was one person at the register. Another came to help due to the line that started to grow behind me. I went to the register and I was proud of myself for remember to pull up the Website on my phone for a discount. “Oh you have your phone?” she said to me and takes it from my hand to wave it in front of the scanner. Now, that scanner could come out of its holster and scan my phone in my hand but I decide not to say something. In the back of my mind, I know how unhappy that would have made by husband had we been in the same position. Still, no harm came of it and my total came to six dollars and change after I saved $1.67 with my coupon.

Now,  every store has its own card processing machine. The one at Jo-Ann’s was somewhat old. I swiped my card and then had to slid it into the chip reader. More and more stores at activating their chip readers and I find it is sometimes a spastic dance to figure out how one will pay on any given day.

The touch screen was small. Small enough that I wondered if it was a touch screen and decided to use the Yes and No buttons. After I inserted my card and used said buttons to select the debit option, I typed in my pin. The machine then asked me if the amount was correct. I hit enter.

Nothing happened. “You have to press yes,” she said.

I obey and press yes. Nothing happened.

The cashier spins the machine around and starts to press the yes. She snaps, “You have to do it like it tells you!” and starts to press the machine and makes a big exasperated huff. “You can’t use the buttons!”

For a moment I stood there and blinked. For that moment, I stared at the green enter button that had worked as a yes and my now frozen transaction. “It has to be done right,” the woman continues to mutter. She had taken my card from the machine. I reached across the counter and slid my card from under her hand and picked it up.

“I don’t think I’ll be buying anything here,” I said and left. To my mother I said, “Maybe she was having a bad day. Maybe she doesn’t want to be on a register. There are a hundred reasons why she snapped at me but not a single one where I should tolerate it.”

Six dollars and some inconvenience. For that, I stood up for myself in a simple way that won’t change the world but it will remind me that I value myself.

Mid August Garden

The garden is doing fine. It may be doing better than I am. This summer has been one of my busiest ones for work. Topped with not one but two stretches of time where I had to do schedule readjustments to cover for co-workers on leave and I am very, very tired. As I step down from a fourteen day stretch of work, I realize that I need to do some serious fertilizing in the next few days.

But things have been going well.


I picked the potatoes! Almost seven pounds of potatoes this year. I think they didn’t care for the heat. I had a good number of rotten ones in the dirt. The problem with where I placed the potatoes is that they sit above the air conditioning unit. That gets them hotter. It’d probably be a place for peppers? I think I will try that next year.


I’ve spent more then one day off saucing tomatoes all day. They were coming at a rate to fast to eat. Eventually, everything wound up in the pot.


I cook it down and freeze it. Once I have more time I’ll arrange meals around the sauce.

We are in a mild lull. The heat of July made for little fertilization. However, as we’ve entered August and the average daily temperature has plummeted


As always, the back of the deck is looking a bit wild. I have still had to climb to pick tomatoes. Thankfully, my mother does most of the daily picking. If she did not, I’d have missed a lot of ripe fruit this year and lost it to the birds.

Drifting into adulthood

It was always an assumption that I’d keep up with the changes in the world. I’m tech savvy after all. It should have been my lack of connection with popular culture that alerted me that I would fall behind.  I didn’t notice it because it did not matter to me.

There were plenty of alerts. Meme’s meant little to me. People would recite a popular one and I’d be blank. My lack of interest in movies and television was another hint. It took failing to communicate with some people because they saw the world through movie quotes, for me to start to catch on. It took shopping for a short for me to finish figuring it out.

I was no longer on the cutting edge of society. Does it make me old? Or, is this how people become old and grumpy?

It started with skinny jeans. I still do not understand them. much comes from my discomfort with my own appearance.  I do not have the body that I want. I’ve also never cared for tight clothing, I expect from the same reason. The mid-2000’s was when I stopped being able to find pants to wear. As the years have gone on this has become a battle to find pants that are not stuck to my skin. I also learned that it is a fad that won’t fade. The fashion industry has struggled to push people past skinny jeans. At least I am not alone.

Never having been fashionable, it was easy enough to ignore. My years in private school and a natural lack of understanding for why something had to be expensive because someones name was on it had stunted my formative years. Mix that in with not being popular and clothing was about function not form.

Yet, for all my love of technology, I missed one important change. The rise of the selfie. I did not miss it in the way that I did not notice it. I missed what it would do to peoples perception of themselves and their pictures.

I hate my own image. I have since I was a child. Many years I slipped out of the line to do pictures and into the line of completed pictures. I remember in kindergarten crying as I drew a picture of an ugly monster when we where told to do self portraits. For the rest of the year that hideous visage haunted me from the top of the classroom wall where they had all been pinned. I suspect that was the time that I learned it would be better to refuse and be punished then go ahead and suffer for it.

Over dramatic? Perhaps. But, as someone who has never cared for their own face I’ve come to accept that its what I have to work with. That does not mean that I like it or enjoy it. Like forgiveness, acceptance does not mean you are fine with it but that you will move on from it.

However, I never liked pictures or took pictures of myself. I had one of the early smartphones. It had a sliding keyboard. I loved it. I advanced forward, picking my phones off of how easily I could chat with my husband and read books. When front facing cameras became the norm I ignored them as I had ignored webcams. I had no need for it and for some years I could pick phones without it. No longer. Front facing cameras are normal and selfies have become the rage.

The comfort of pictures and the acceptance of selfies had had an interesting result on people. People don’t mind seeing themselves. They don’t seem to mind hearing themselves. Life is recorded moment by moment. They don’t mind looking at themselves. And social media is their world.

I was a face book user a decade ago. I stopped after my father died. How do you tell people, “Oh, I’m cleaning out my father’s home and finding out all the lies of my childhood?” I didn’t at least. While I like my facebook friends they are mostly co-workers who I have little interest in sharing the intimate details of my life. In many ways, strangers would have been easier to speak to. I wouldn’t have to work with them after all.

I never got into other types of social media. I missed the rise of the internet gender wars. I’ve been yelled at a few times in the last year for using words such as girl and boy on dog forums because they are social ideas and not gendered ideas. I consider myself open minded and progressive. I may not understand becoming transgender but if that is what that person needs to do to be happy and healthy, more power to them. But, the attempt to eliminate gender based words baffles me.

Is it old and inflexible? If so, I’m not interested in flexing. And that was when I realized that I was aging. That I no longer accepted things as normal because I grew up that way. That there are people growing up feeling that boy and girl are ‘wrong’ terms to use and harmful to others.

Its fascinating.

I still won’t wear tight clothing.

Or take selfies.

After all… I’m just a girl.

Ancestry DNA Kit – Part 3 (Results)

My e-mail chimed around 0750 this morning. I get up at 0800 so I decided to look at it instead of ignoring it. I had started to wake up anyway.

My Ancestry DNA results were in. I was excited and not excited. How correct would my history, as relayed so far be?

Mel DNA Global Chart

The answer? Somewhat correct with a distressing lack of any natives to America.

I’ll write a more complex breakdown later. For now there are interesting aspects to what I knew and believed and what is.

The first part is that I am a very classic mix of slavery bloodlines. The African ancestry comes heavily from the Ivory Coast. This is of zero surprise. The Caribbean had many plantations and St Kitts, where my mother is from had many sugar plantations. She did her DNA some years ago and came up mostly African with a splash of Scandinavian. The test has improved however and she is going to resubmit her results.

Two more parts stand out that probably come from my mother. The Asia Central area covers Pakistan and Afghanistan. This would be me great, great material grandmother. Then there is Melanesia or the Pacific Islands. That also is in line with my Caribbean background.

But then we leap over and dance all over Europe. I cheerfully sent my husband a message to let him know that I was 22% British. We seem to be made for each other. From there it descended rapidly into the rest of Europe and actually makes sense for my Latino Great-Grandfather who was blue eyed and blond haired and came from Puerto Rico.

My genetics are the mess that I expected but not int he way that I expected. My inheritance breakdown is about 60/40 in the over arcing ‘black’ ethnicity and ‘white’ ethnicity. On paper its a bit less. Paper and inheritance do not always agree. If we ran my brother’s DNA, I expect we’d see lower concentrations of the European bloodlines.  We all do not inherit the same things.

More later!