I’m Judging How Much You Judge Me

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My son recently joined a gym where they place a certain amount of emphasis on not judging other people. In theory, I think it’s a nice idea not to be judgy (especially in a gym, where people could be intimidated to work out if they feel like people are watching them and sizing them up).

But as with most things, what starts out as a nice idea can take on the force of religious fundamentalism if one isn’t careful. ‘Hey, don’t comment on someone else’s weight’ too easily slides into things like,

“We’re sorry but we overheard you telling someone that you liked their t-shirt. Unfortunately we have a no judgement policy here, and that was a judging statement…”

In real life we have the power of discernment. When used correctly and judiciously (such a judgy word!) it helps us to navigate the world more successfully. It is quite appropriate to make decisions about things, from what cutlery to use with which course in a restaurant to whether or not to give money to a homeless person based on your judgement. Without judging there would be significantly more traffic accidents (and fatalities!), less if any people hired for new jobs (or at least many less successful candidates), and probably a whole lot of frustrating relationships with the wrong people.

Judging serves so many useful purposes and we do it so many times each day I’m surprised it was ever allowed to get such a bad wrap. It’s as if someone said to everyone in America (or the Western World) “Blinking? That’s just horrid and offensive! People shouldn’t do that! Especially in public and especially around other people!” And everyone en masse jumped on board and said “Yes!! We heartily agree! Blinking Baaaaaad!”

I understand that it is bad form to be a judgemental idiot. But I think that in polite society that sort of goes without saying. Along the lines of yes you can drive but not on the sidewalk and not where there are pedestrians. Yes you may curse in your home if that’s what you do but not in public and not around other people’s children. Yes you may eat stinky food but please brush you teeth and don’t breathe directly into someone else’s face. That sort of thing. Can’t we all just get along?

And for goodness sake, stop judging me!



Why I Won’t Get A Flu Shot


Believe it or not I have no desire to be controversial. In my last post I wrote a disclaimer (I actually said these very words, which I have cut and pasted; you can go back and check: Let me be clear. I am in NO WAY minimizing the horror of genuine attacks against women. I am ABSOLUTELY in no way whatsoever saying it is EVER okay to force any woman to do anything against her will.), which was apparently so invisible that people still accused me of being pro-rape. But okay, onward and upward.

This past week I got a ridiculously high fever. Like 125 degrees high type of fever where you would be afraid you might spontaneously combust, if you could actually think straight, except that you are so feverish you think your dog is your child and your child is an astronaut who has come to bring you a magical space potion to cure the disease that is turning your bones into powder. Luckily I had moments of distraction from the fever where I was able to focus on the shattering pain in my head and the absolute agony going on in my throat.

My fever finally broke some time on Saturday, and with it went most of the headache. But the sore throat hung on like a high school girl with a boy band crush. Luckily we are blessed in my community with an old tyme doctor who makes house calls. So on Sunday he came over to run a strep test. He looked at my throat and said I had a raging infection, but the test came back not strep.

Okay, fast forward to today. What does that have to do with now? Nothing. But it’s interesting? Right? It’s a fun story. Kind of sucks you in as a reader, huh?

Many people ask, “Do you get the flu shot?” And what’s funny to me is that an abnormal number of people I have actually known who have gotten the flu shot (this is real, not anecdotal, and I don’t have statistics…) have actually gotten the flu after getting the shot. Sure medical professionals will say they would have gotten it anyway, or they will get a milder case after the vaccine than they would have had otherwise, but I believe that to be statistically unlikely and probably bogus. At the very least it’s speculative and CYA…


Okay? Is that clear? I’m happy to share what I do and why. I think what I do is sound and rational. I am not ashamed of any of the decisions I make, but I certainly don’t want anyone confusing what I do in my case with what someone else should do in theirs.

The bigger problem I have with the flu vaccine though is the vaccine itself. If the vaccine was just water being injected into your vein and by placebo effect some people would presto! not get the flu I would say great maybe more people should get the shot (or perhaps I would still not get it for my family and still think it was dumb and mind my own business mostly…), but if you look at the shot itself it is troubling in a number of ways. I’m not suggesting you go to anti-vax conspiracy websites. If you look at places like the CDC (Center for Disease Control) or even the inserts of the vaccines themselves, you will find some pretty horrifying things. The list of ingredients is quite eye-opening. From aluminum (thought to cause Alzheimer’s), to formaldehyde (used to preserve dead bodies), to mercury (people have been urged to remove dental filling containing mercury because it is so toxic)- the list goes on, but these are substances that are problematic in general and in vaccines they are being injected directly into a person’s BLOODSTREAM. Years ago there was controversy over an ingredient called thimerosol, alleging ties to autism. Although it was “disproven” thimerosol was removed. But those lawsuits get the largest chunk of settlement money from the pot of money from vaccine settlement cases. And in a bunch of cases thimeresol was quietly snuck back in.

Also with flu vaccine the batches are mixed up the previous season based on which strains they think will hit the following year. So let’s say last year they thought this year they thought this year we would get hit with strain A and R and J. They put those three into a batch- even though in nature, by the way you will never find a mutation of ARJ- and then have a whole load of ARJ. But what if the flu this year was actually AMT? So when you get vaccinated at BEST you may only have a 1/3 chance of it working even if the vaccine works perfectly and it doesn’t make you sick… Or a 0/3 chance- but you think they tell you that? They just need to get through that batch! So they offer gift cards and meal vouchers and oh you good Samaritan we will even give a free vaccine to a poor kid somewhere for every vaccine we put into you!! You big hero!! (By the way, have you seen these new ads for the HPV vaccine? With the sad eyed kids asking their parents- the viewer- “Mom? Dad? Why did you let me get cancer? How come you didn’t vaccinate me?” Oh gee, maybe because it’s a relatively new unproven vaccine and I would rather have 10 million safe sex talks with my kid before I would roll up their sleeve for your vaccine? Anyway…)

The point is that vaccines are always a cost benefit analysis. My grandma’s father died in the flu epidemic of the early 1900s. She grew up petrified of dying of the flu. You could pretty much ask her to inject bleach into her veins to prevent the flu and she would do it. So in her nursing home when the doctor makes his rounds and asks if she had her flu shot she nods in that trusting way that only very old people do and smiles trustingly into his very young eyes and says, “Oh yes, Doctor!”

And when anyone asks me if I’ve had my flu shot I shake my head derisively in that way only someone of my generation would dare to assume is weighted with meaning and say, “You’re kidding, right?”

Because I would pretty much never vaccinate.

Is This Offensive To Women?


There is a giant statue of this famous photo at a large intersection in a city near where I live:


The other day on the radio I heard a debate about whether or not this statue should be removed due to its OFFENSIVE nature.

Say what?

Yes. This famous photo, published in Life magazine in 1945 (after WWII) shows the exuberance of a soldier returning home from the war. It captured the spirit of happiness and joy in the air at the end of years of war and stress, and the gladness of our soldiers returning home.

Can you guess why this might be offensive? I searched my half-asleep mind for an answer. It’s a game I sometimes play when listening to talk radio. I attempt to riddle out what the guests might say before they say it. But this one had me genuinely puzzled. Was it just an anti- military sentiment? No. Was the man armed and it was anti-gun? No. Was the woman immodestly dressed (although that shouldn’t raise any eyebrows, especially in the summer, but I was really stretching…). No.

Apparently there was a level of concern that this statue would encourage sexual attacks against woman.

That’s right. If there is a prominent statue of a man GRABBING a strange woman and kissing her, it might encourage random man to just GRAB random women and not only kiss them, but perhaps ravage them in other ways.

Let me be clear. I am in NO WAY minimizing the horror of genuine attacks against women. I am ABSOLUTELY in no way whatsoever saying it is EVER okay to force any woman to do anything against her will.

But to suggest that this rather innocuous statue would incite a man to a sexual assault seems a bit thin to me.

It reminds me of other examples in society where there is “zero tolerance” of things that become absurdities.

The child who gets kicked off the school bus for making a shooting gesture with his hand because the school has a no weapons policy and there is zero tolerance. As if a hand can ever be loaded or confused with a real gun…

The kindergardener who gets expelled under the sexual harassment policy for kissing a girl on the cheek rather than spoken to and educated because there is zero tolerance for “sex crimes”- oh, and the police were also called on that one because that is school policy and a report had to be filed…

The list goes on, and unfortunately there are many real ills in society. But to treat everyone like a potential criminal element just waiting to be unleashed on the population is a bit of overkill I think. It’s sad that we have to be so vigilant about such things. But in this case I think people have gone overboard.

I’m really curious to know what you all think. Is this statue objectively offensive, or is the PC patrol working overtime?

Fields Of Sunflowers- If You Plant Them They Will… What?


The City of Oak Park (oh the infamous City of Oak Park…) over the last several months has planted dozens and dozens of fields of sunflowers. I desperately wanted to take at least one photo of these sunflower plantings to put on the blog, but I kept not posting waiting for the photo, and finally just decided to go ahead and write the post without it. I wish I had an idea of how much tax money went to this MASSIVE undertaking, which involved a huge commitment of heavy machinery to tear up perfectly good plots of land all over the entire city, the hiring of many many workers to plant the actual flowers, squazillions of gallons of water repeatedly used in the blazing heat of a Michigan summer to water these massive sunflowers (way higher than corn plants, which during my garden scandal were pointed out as singularly offensive plants), and hours and hours of labor to continue tending to these plants, which although thriving, seem to have no use at all except to obscure traffic visibility in certain locations and to entertain some birds and squirrels.

So the city which once tried to ban actual food, which then talked about community gardens, at some point made an actual affirmative decision (meaning there must have been discussion around it and a conscious decision to move forward) to sink vast amounts of money and resources into a project that, rather than feeding hungry citizens (and believe me, Oak Park has more than its fair share or people below the poverty line and on one or more food assistance programs)has decided to feed crows. Oak Park has devoted land, not to Church groups or urban farmers or to food pantries, who would have been able and delighted to grow food on that land, but to sunflower patches.

Oak Park could have been a shining example to the country or a city that had an innovative program about how to take unused pieces of public land and put it to amazing use to help all of its people. It could have done something for almost no cost to the citizens but tremendous payoff for the common good. With the spirit right now of how everyone is willing to get on board with these types of projects and kids in schools are doing exactly this sort of community garden stuff and senior citizens are growing food for leisure and people are on fire with passion for growing food- and to see these sunflowers, which are pretty and fun as an add-on maybe to other things… But in lieu of what could have been flourishing there?

It truly breaks my heart.

It’s a waste of opportunity and a waste of potential.

So sad.

Again, Oak Park?

Burkini Bans- Or How Many Fools Can You Fit On The Head Of A Pin?

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There is an issue that has wound its way up through the French Courts about whether Muslim women in France could wear something on public beaches known as a “burkini”.  This garment, which looks remarkably like a tunic shirt and leggings, would not be offensive by anyone’s standards, and if the political climate right now was not overly prickly toward Muslim terrorists (and with very good reason), I daresay there would be no issue at all.

Some people would argue that, NO! This is a defense of women’s rights! No woman should be forced (!) to cover any part of her body at all! Women should be free (!) to let it all hang out- both literally and figuratively. And any covering of any part of any woman’s body is a sign of oppression of women.

This makes several critical assumptions, of course. One is that the women who are covering are in some way being coerced, either subtly or outright, into wearing these burkinis (whose comparison to a burka is laughable). One is that a state of semi, or nearly total nudity implies freedom, and is not evidence of its own coercion- either by a significant other, or by societal pressure. That caving into the prevailing fashion of baring one’s flesh in public implies that you are free to follow that trend and not that you feel pressured to capitulate to that trend. And the final assumption is that even if one woman would be truly oppressed by having to cover herself against her will, then that would somehow have implications for every other woman and her status as a free and equal functioning member of society. Which of course if no more true than saying that if one person has to give up caffeine because of migraines then it will put Starbucks sales in jeopardy for the rest of the nation. Preposterous.

It’s an interesting commentary on society that it is almost inconceivable that a woman might actually WANT to cover up a bit. That a woman may prefer NOT to be a spectacle when she is enjoying a beach outing. That perhaps, just maybe, she might want to go to the beach, alone or with her family, and enjoy the breeze and the waves and the water and the calm and not have to be ogled by every man within 500 yards of her as she walks around. Am I saying that all men are gross and predatory? No, of course not. But a beach trip shouldn’t have to feel like a meat market, and if a woman feels more comfortable in whatever she wants to wear, why should someone PROHIBIT her from wearing what makes her feel relaxed? As long as it doesn’t pose a threat to safety, who cares? If it was a white woman in a sarong, would anyone have said something? If it was a teenager in a sweatshirt and shorts, would anyone have minded? Does a maxi dress with a cardigan raise alarm bells? Or an actual tunic top with leggings?

The point is that once again, in the guise of protecting people from themselves, do-gooders have actually attempted to strip people of their rights. Under the heading of protecting women, the French government instead would infantalize woman and say that they are incapable of acting in their own best interests. That it is a more enlightened and wise decision to get naked (or practically so) along with the other French citizens, and to not do so implies a level of backwardness and threat to the moral and civic order which simply cannot and will not be tolerated.

For now, the burkini has been protected. This is a victory for Muslims, yes. But more important than that, it is a victory for people who value their individuality on French beaches. Truth be told, I never let my kids take off their shirts at beaches- for modesty, for sunburn, and honestly, whose business is it why?  It’s my family and if we want to wear ski gear on the beach that’s our darn business. As long as my kids won’t drown in the water we should be able to wear portable igloos or tutus or rainbow body glitter. And the government should mind its own beezwax.

That’s just my 2 cents.





Freedom To and Freedom From


I was all set to very belatedly address the Michigan Right to Farm Act. Months and months ago someone rather gleefully forwarded me an article about the Right to Farm Act being repealed. A few other people forwarded me similar articles with horror or trepidation. Basically Michigan has a law on the books that protects people who want to raise small amounts of food and such as long as they follow generally accepted safe agricultural practices. So people have been able to grow things (although heaven forbid, not in their front yards! hahahahahaha) as long as they do things like not fly crop duster planes over their neighbors and spray napalm. That type of thing.

But I wanted to just double check before I posted and I found this on a well known fact checking website:


So it seems that the Right to Farm Act is intact.

But it actually doesn’t change what my initial reaction was to the news, nor what I wanted to say in this post.I had an excellent Political Science professor once who explained the difference between Civil Rights and Civil Liberties as Freedom To and Freedom From.

Civil Rights are the freedoms to do something. They are things you are entitled to.

Civil Liberties are what you must be allowed to be free from. You have the freedom from interference in your actions or choices in a given area.

It is a crucial difference, and I still think the best explanation I have ever heard.

Even if the Right to Farm Act would have been repealed, it would not have outlawed private farming. Cities and municipalities still could have allowed private farming within their own boundaries. Just because you don’t necessarily have a “right” to do something, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have the liberty to do it. There is not an automatic corollary. I don’t need a specific right to eat cold pizza for breakfast in order to be free to make the choice to eat that every single morning if I want to. And I don’t need a state right to farm for my city to agree to leave me alone if I want to grow carrots in my yard and maybe even have a road side stand to sell them in season. Plenty of locales, especially more rural ones, have been getting along just fine like this (thank you very much) with or without the state’s blessing.

This is a country built on life in the country, and although as city folk we tend to forget that, plenty of good wholesome people still flourish in that life. So many of us picture America as the hustle and bustle of New York City or the glitz of LA, but the backbone of America is more truly the people who can go out to their garden and pull up some food and trade with their neighbor to make a meal. These people don’t need a bureaucrat to tell them they have a right to do what they’ve always done. They just need the liberty to live their lives.

And that’s what’s great about America.

On being an invalid, but not invalid


First off, hello from Michigan, and I’m sorry it’s been a while. It’s good to see you are all still hanging in here with me- thanks, and I appreciate it🙂

I’m never quite sure why people subscribe to this blog (I don’t mean that in a self-deprecating way; I mean that I discuss various topics and I don’t know which grabs people. Is it always the garden story, or are there other reasons? My secret hope is yes…) I hope that whatever your reason for being here, you will indulge me a chronic illness post- even after such a long  hiatus in posting. One of the things that continues to amaze me in Michigan is the contrast between my life here and my life in Seattle. Nothing inherently bad about Seattle, but there I constantly was reminded of my limitations. There were so many ways that my functioning was compromised there that I often felt… For lack of a better way of saying it, like the walking wounded. My life in Seattle got very very small.

Although it had been in Michigan that I was in a wheelchair, in Michigan that I used a walker, in Michigan that I was a frequent flier in the local ER- in Seattle I felt like an invalid. And while I was contemplating things to write for this post I realized that the word in-vuh- lidd is the same as the word in- vah-lidd. And that’s how I felt. Invalid. Invalidated. Cancelled out.

My life started to be defined more by what I couldn’t do than by what barriers I was willing to smash. I stopped leaving the house (not that I’m a very out and about person, but this was a dysfunctional kind of not going out). I stopped eating (yes, it was awesome to lose weight, until my kids cried and told me they thought I needed to be in a hospital). I stopped doing much of anything not because I was depressed, but because I felt like what I was up aginst in the big sense was just so insurmountable. I could enumerate the obstacles, but I’d rather not.

Fast forward to Michigan.

Last week we went berry picking at a u-pick orchard. I took one of my kids shooting. I can go shopping any time I want, because I know where everything is, I know how to get places, and I am comfortable and confident navigating the roads.

I still have plenty of bad days and I’m on a u-haul worth of medication. In order to do a little I rest a lot. I have a ton of doctors and I have to say no to my kids more than I am able to say yes when they ask me to do stuff.

But I’m happy here. I feel capable. I feel functional (even if that sometimes isn’t objective reality hahahahaha). I feel like I have something to contribute .

And even as an invalid, that is pricelessly validating.


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