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Painting as an anti-anxiety/anti-depressant

Sometimes blogging makes me think too much and I need a break. Sometimes exercise is impossible due to injuries. The Salvation Army has saved my butt during several dark Alaskan winters by sponsoring an arts and crafts project called Transformed Treasures.  They give participants $50 worth of Salvation Army coupons in order to transform 3 items from their stores and then they are auctioned off in the spring. I have completed my three just in time to start rehearsals for a show.

As an unmarried woman without children I am conscious that I can not make my job or my blog or my home or my hobbies my life. I am an amateur at everything. Many people frown on this but it is my credo that if I stop loving something I should take a break from it. If I feel that something is taking on too much significance in my life, in that I am making it more important than my recovery, then I need to step back.  Obviously I can’t give up on everything. That’s what depression wants, so I have lots of alternative interests.   As an over active person, painting allows me to sit down and pursue something that has much more process than endgame.

In the past, I have painted sneakers, (trainers for you Brits) and  lamps in tribute to women artists. This year was just a fun bit of steampunk and Doctor Who. I have never painted reverse on glass so this was a great process of making mistakes and living with imperfection. Everything used was non-toxic. I especially liked aging the letter holder with acrylic paints added to watered down isopropyl alcohol and applied with a hand pump sprayer. What fun, and it looks like mold and patina.

Here is the distressed steampunk letter holder. The internet is great for finding old bills of lading and dirigible pictures to decorate with.

distressed steampunk letterholder Jcullinane Transformed Treasures

Old School is new school again. Get off line. Write notes and letters.

Here are my Doctor Who plates. Who knows why I love this show so much? The multiethnic cast? The great British actors? The broad themes of human struggle and humor that echo the original Star Trek?

DoctorWhoDarlekplateJcullinanetransformedtreasures.jpg

I’m not really sure if there is a market for a Darlek dinner plate. I believe a child or diehard adult fan would appreciate it. It looks a little angry but perhaps angry dinner plates can be a new thing? It’s therapeutic to make something that speaks to oneself and hope that the spirit moves someone else. Even though it is not a terribly original idea, it’s still an odd one and I am proud of that.

The first piece I made is the Tardis plate which is a bit rough around the edges as I was just learning to paint on the reverse and get the lettering right.  But it does have transparent windows which are cool.

DoctorWhoTardisplatejcullinanetransformedtreasures

It looks like the Tardis is falling rather than flying but she often does that. I believe it will be a nice plate for fish sticks and pudding dip.

I’m happy to be giving these away.  I just hope I spelled everything right. If not they don’t have my name on them. I feel a bit less anxious but that could also be all the chocolate I’ve been eating. Bon Appetit.

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Survival Guide to The Anchorage Fur Rondy Experience

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Unfortunately, Fur Rondy has nothing to do with this:

fabulous furries

https://lifehacker.com/all-hotel-guests-should-behave-like-these-furries-1820990478

These particular “furries” left a large tip at the hotel where their furry convention was held.  “Fur Rondy”, alas, is about dead pelts and 2000 people running with 20 reindeer. Oh also there are many dogs pulling sleds with people on them. It’s a two week season of  sunny spring madness which forces all Anchorage residents to change the way they drive to work as well as to attend at least one officially sanctioned “Fur Rondy Event.” If you don’t wear a Fur Rondy Pin downtown, (where you will find it impossible to drive anyway), a “cop”, usually someone from The Lion’s Club, will falsely imprison you until you buy a button for bail. I have only been arrested in this way once and it was by a friend. It does not go on your record unless you are publicly drinking or smoking pot at the time.

This year I attended several Fur Rondy events which explains my current state of exhaustion. We get 5 minutes more sunshine each day and the sun no longer cruises the horizon but sits about 45 degrees above the edge of the earth bringing us a dose of solar energy similar to a niacin rush. If you have bipolar disorder you may want to take out some trip insurance.

I cross country skied over to Campbell Airstrip to watch dog teams zip by, attended a skating party with  hip hop remixes of all the pop songs of my youth. I crammed our company van onto a skinny path parallel to the Iditarod dog trail to make sure the older and less physically snow- able folks we care for had a chance to take part in the fun. My backing out of the parking space got the most (nervous) laughs.

I’ve blogged about Fur Rondy before. At first I took the event at face value, as a winter carnival.  It’s actually a spring fever/Mardi Gras/Equinox, anti-suicide intervention thing. Fur Rondy screams, “Get out of the house you the people who have chosen to live in unfriendly climes!”  Folks wear over-the- top fur hats and coats because they’re going to have to put them away pretty soon. It’s a time for outhouse races, blanket toss, ice bowling and Duck Tape costume balls.  This is Anchorage at its goofiest and least costly as many events are free or at least free to watch. It’s not cold enough to kill you and there aren’t enough tourists for the locals to want to kill you. Reminder: everyone is carrying a firearm except for you and maybe those Keystone cops.

I tend to stay out too long and have too much fun which means I suffer sunburn in the summer and near hypothermia each winter.  It’s probably safer for someone like me to live in a town that serves wine and cheese at indoor events instead of hot chocolate and cookies by a trash barrel full of flaming logs on an icy wind ridden lagoon. But we all find places we feel at home whether wearing real or fake fur. I keep trying to escape but I just can’t seem to find a weirder place. I do hope there is someone clever enough to schedule a Furry Convention during the Rondy next year. Just think how comfortable your  Fursuits will be!

 

Impress your friends with a winter ice cream treat!

Got some friends held hostage by Trump’s demands? Host an ice cream party with your neighbors/community and find out what they need help with! Could be a group temporary loan, some sneakers for their kids or a ride to the doctor or church. Ice cream and commiserating also help if financial resources are unavailable.

Here in Alaska, WE LOVE ICE CREAM! Baked Alaska is basically an imitation of melting permafrost! But have I got a treat for you!  I served it last night after running/jogging a ridiculous 5k in zero degrees. It was such an Alaskan experience. They lent me used Ice Bug shoes to run in, just in case I wanted to purchase some later. Icebugs are shoes with screws in the bottom and they were absolutely outstanding.  I usually just wear strap on spikes but they constrict my shoes and also fall off randomly on bumps.  I am scared to see how much these Icebugs cost but was assured by a friend that they also have a guy at the store who will just drill some spikes into any of my old running shoes.

There was no real group start at the race. People just moseyed off and we followed them hoping we had the right turn around spot since there were only about 20 of us running in the dark. The cocoa and the free tee shirts from runs which happened 10 years ago were appreciated.

Anyway here is the ice cream.

icecream

This is what you do to make it even more delicious. Make some mini pancakes. Put  this delicious ice cream on top and drizzle with maple syrup. You could serve these at a restaurant and charge $8 and people would be loving it. But then I am someone who can eat a pancake anytime of the day.   I guess I would call this a  “Maple Heap”, ( you could even sprinkle chopped up maple sugar soldiers or put a Canadian sugar Maple leaf on top).   Perhaps marketing it as a “Vermont Landscape” – Maples and cows or “Over the River and through the Woods?” How about a classy French name like “Un Miracle Erable?”

The taste is like Christmas morning or Apres Ski in New England.  I don’t recommend it in the summer as it would be too sticky but you could eat it while watching “White Christmas” or “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

If we fed President Trump one of these he would forget about his damn wall for a minute and say, “Outstanding!”   If he ate a couple of gallons he might even pass on to eternity.

We eat lots of ice cream in Alaska because of the fat. I am skinny but I like to have a small roll of fat on my stomach just in case I need to avoid being the first one in a group to freeze to death. I would rather not be cannibalized but if I must be at least let me have something besides bone and sinew for my friends to feed on.

It is refreshingly cold today as well. Minus something. Nothing impressive. Minus twenty is the threshold for no physical exertion if unnecessary.  We are not there yet.  Tomorrow I go back to work from my mini staycation. It has been a great chance to meditate on my post holiday Seasonal affective disorder and my positive response to increased outdoor time and exposure to friends. I highly recommend these to anyone with emotional fatigue. And ice cream!

 

Anxiety Woman tries every peppermint product of the holiday season!

BE MERRY!  The season demands I comply. Peppermint disappears from the shelves like eggnog and its predecessor pumpkin spice. It dies a cruel death even though you and I know it will bloom in every crevice of free soil come June.  I need PEP to get through the winter. PEP smells good and it comes with sugar and chocolate. It is spirited!

Although I do worry a bit about diabetes, I worry more about depression, Donald Trump’s impact on my life and my own sanity so this year I tried peppermint. Lot’s o’ peppermint.  Here are the results.

Product number 1:  Peppermint cocoa or mocha.

I make it at home with the cheapest cocoa packet, almond milk and peppermint extract.  I never used to buy the packets because I always have baking cocoa on hand but you  have to put 5 minutes of work into that.  When I buy it at a coffee stand it better be great because I make this all the time and I want a treat. Give me the Goddamn whipped cream please!

Kaladi’s Brothers hot chocolate was too sweet so I could not taste the peppermint at all. Steam Dot was not sweet enough, more like chocolate mud.

The winners:  Starbucks in Anchorage for its  “treaty-ness” and Peet’s Coffee overall because of customer service, ambiance and superlative everything.

Product number 2:  Peppermint ice cream

The overall winner is Tillamook. Both creamy and pepperminty, you can’t beat it.  I couldn’t even find it this year!  I tried others which were just bad. Peppermint oil is very strong and cheap but some places use artificial flavor anyway, yuck! It also doesn’t have to be pink, thank you!

Product number 3: Candy canes

The expensive ones are no better than the cheap ones but I stick with peppermint or crème de menthe. Then there are those gigantic gourmet canes they sell at ACE Hardware. Go expensive if you must get a fruit flavor, pumpkin pie or coffee flavor or make some kind of impression. All the flavored ones at Fred Meyer’s are just citric acid and run off from Monsanto. Look at this $1 pack off the sale rack.

cc

I also keep a pack in my Subaru for earthquakes and getting lost in the wilds of Wasilla. I must have bought them a long time ago as the price reads 19 cents!

19cents

Product number 4: Peppermint chocolates.

This part of the experiment has been most fulfilling. Ghirardelli?– NO!  Too much packaging, too little peppermint. Lindt white chocolate peppermint balls – YES! Know that handsome beardless chef they have on their advertisements? Somehow the chocolate is as smooth and shiny as his face!

lindt

Chocolate peppermint bark from Walmart – okay but chocolate bark from Alaskan Sweet Things – MUCH BETTER. Walmart’s bark tastes like it could have been almond bark or toffee bark and they had some left over candy canes. It’s not even cheap. Alaskan Sweet Things is less smooth- thus less corporate, beautifully colored, tasty and uses -GLACIAL WATER, (perhaps from Anchorage taps).

I confess I would eat any of the above laying around but making your own white and dark chocolate peppermint bark is the best. See’s used to have some white peppermint truffles but I could not find them this year. They are GREAT! Andes After Chocolate Mints and York Peppermint Patties will do in a pinch.  They don’t really say “Happy Holidays!” , more like, “All I could afford was these.”

Winners:  Tie between  Lindt White Chocolate Peppermint Balls and Alaskan Sweet Things White Chocolate Peppermint Bark.

Product number 5: Peppermint popcorn. Yes, it tastes good but it isn’t really worth it because as I get older everything sticks in my teeth.

Default winner: Boom Chicka Pop White chocolate peppermint popcorn

I have a headache now. Too much peppermint, sugar and Bold Italics. So much money and calories spent on research. I panicked and signed up for a “You can be a copywriter” website to increase my income and an Online Dating Site to improve my self esteem.  I wonder what the flavor of 2019 will be. Any suggestions?

Season’s Greetings from Quake Town U.S.A

I propose that Anchorage, Alaska change its name to Quake Town, U . S. A. Our current slogan is “Big, Wild, Life.”  In truth, “Big Moose/Many Gift Shoppes” would be more appropriate. “Quake Town” would capture the peril and uncertainty which most adventure travelers are seeking. Could we meet their expectations? If we have learned anything from the last earthquake I would say YES!  We could provide certificates authenticating quakes which occurred during your visit, conduct bracing earthquake drills at each hotel. auction off broken dinnerware or create desserts of ice cream with broken pieces of chocolate bark to illustrate the effects of seismic upheaval.

Perhaps this appeals to me because it is late and I can’t sleep, not because of earthquakes but because it is nearing the winter solstice.  My mind and body struggle to keep up with the increasing loss of daylight and the greyness of global warming. Yet I persist in attempting to create Christmas cheer. Behold my new lawn display:

pen 2

These exquisite creatures arrived in my driveway anonymously last week in response to my post searching for a light up snowman. Now that is the true holiday spirit! I did not know I needed penguins but now that there are three people living here and a need for both humor and earthquake detection I am convinced that there is a God.  I am the tipped over one. The sheet over the chairs is supposed to be a glacier since they looked a bit sad in the globally warmed greenery of my yard.  Here is a photo of them on active alert – triggered by the motion sensor I have them plugged into!

penguins

I also have a special aftershock detector installed in my bedroom which allows me to travel in time to a place of aliens, Time Lords and Daleks where earthquakes are the least of my worries.

IMG_20181210_010919

This suspended Tardis, also a gift, responds to settling tremors by absorbing the energy waves and swaying peacefully to transport my consciousness to another level. I enjoy the new Doctor very much and continued to be surprised how the writers get me to cry at the end of almost every episode.

I have tried some not so successful methods of cheering myself such as commenting on controversial posts on the internet. I do not advocate this unless you just want to wish them “Merry Christmas.” This is what I will be doing from now on so that when I receive emails telling me to “Shut up!” I will assume I have offended their religious beliefs and will apologize profusely instead of continuing an argument.

Also I attempted to make a holiday skirt out of a Christmas tree skirt which is now lying crumpled on my bedroom carpet.IMG_20181204_211620608

Although my waist is closer to 30 inches than 34, I cut the hole in the center to the latter dimension so that the skirt would hang longer and thus created a cascade of unraveling destruction. I may try to use my mini sewing machine to reconstruct the damage much as one might do after an earthquake.

Alas another fail, I attended a party yesterday and in my unbridled enthusiasm ate a wide variety of delicious foods, ignoring my previous experiences only to soil myself on the way home. Too much information?  May you all grow old a bit more graceful than I!

Here are a couple of more successful attempts at cheer.

IMG_20181204_211727839_HDR

My new hat has met with nothing but compliments. $6 at Walmart well spent. I also purchased an outfit for my car which is modest but effective.car

I hope this will bring cheer to little children and those who are children at heart as they see it parked on the icy streets of Anchorage. ’til we meet again, take it one quake at a time!

Anxiety Woman goes to a Gun Show

I was driving to the hardware store this morning to buy a timer for my new “Let it Snow” holiday lights when I passed a sign for a gun show. I have NEVER wanted to go to a gun show until now. I had a few reasons

  1. I read Paul Theroux’s Deep South earlier this year. In it, he visits numerous gun shows to uncover parts of Southern culture with which he was unfamiliar.  I thought I might learn something about Alaska.
  2. There are many men at gun shows!
  3. I’ll try anything once.

This particular show was being held in the common room of a Catholic High School. I was not the only one who thought this strange. Everyone in the parking lot marched in the wrong direction to the church hall thinking- no it won’t be in the high school, but we were wrong. I guess The Catholic Education system needs all the friends and money they can get.

I was only slightly shaky going in, as if people could read my mind. They can sometimes read my hands so I kept them behind my back, like I was visiting a museum. ” It’s just another Holiday fair”, I told myself. “People will be happy to see you. Lighten up”, I thought.

No one was mean to me but there was no attempt to be overly friendly and no Christmas decorations or music.   They could have had some LED Holiday lights made of little pistols or a target practice booth starring Rudolph. It was a refreshing to find such a low tech affair in this season of bedazzlement. The only snacks available were man snacks – hot dogs and chips.

Yes, men.  This group was not diverse.  Everyone who ever visited my online dating profile, (and who was a real person), was in attendance. Lone, unsmiling men with not just a gun or two but with COLLECTIONS of FIREARMS are surprisingly available. I’m not saying these men were dangerous but perhaps authorities should scan my dating hits.

As Theroux noted, no one seemed to actually be buying guns. Everyone was just looking, like at a car lot. At the entrance, the historical guns drew me in. These aren’t bought for killing but for the craft and the provenance. Since this is Alaska, most of the old pistols looked Western in nature although I admit I was afraid to ask. I’m sure people don’t mind talking about things they love but I believe they like selling these items much better. I didn’t take photos either, because then I would have to ask permission and I was just getting by without pooping. That’s my default when I’m anxious. So I told myself, “It’s okay to just observe. Next time, when you’re really in the market for a killing machine, you can be more social.”

I now know what a pepper pot pistol is. It has multiple barrels like this one from http://www.deactivated-guns.co.uk/obsolete-calibre-firearms/rare-b-cogswell-percussion-pepper-pot-or-pepper-box-pinfire-five-shot-pistol-/prod_6305.html#

pepperpot

Army Surplus greeted me next. Ammo cans were available at low, low prices. Next came some more modern firearms and knives.  No poisons or concertina wire, stuff a murderer might want, just stuff for hunting and self defense was for sale.  A few first aid and survivalist items booths came stocked with clotting sponges and Quikclot. One vendor brought some random DVDs, cookbooks, Alaskana and costume jewelry.  I spent an inordinate amount of time at this booth even daring to touch the goods.

I got to practice restraint. Some might say I’m just a coward. I overheard conversations where I chose not to butt in and offer my opinion. One shopper began quizzing a vendor in a loud voice, ” You know what the sole purpose of the government is..?”  I was curious, in a bad way, to know the definitive answer to this one but God showed me the nature of my wrongs. The man repeated the question at least ten times before I moved on. I’m sure the vendor would have liked to have left as well.

Then there was the not so gentleman who was arguing, with a fairly reasonable salesman, about the rights of Native Alaskans/Americans.  He informed us that they were “a conquered people” and “It doesn’t seem fair” to have to pay in order for him to hunt and fish on “their” land. The salesperson did not agree and was trying to educate in a polite way so I left well enough alone.

This was worth the price of admission. I sometimes need to step back and let other people fix things or let them be unable to fix them. Also I need to not complain about being single.  The admission was $5. I paid it because that’s pretty cheap for admission to the enemy camp. Not that these people are really my enemies but at least I got a look at their weapons. I left without an emotional or physical injury and learned that Paul Theroux must have been on acid. These weren’t the folksy, funny people he showed me. Maybe if I spent more time with them, I would have seen this side but I don’t have time to give every white gun owner in town my empathy right now. It’s the holiday season, and that’s all I have scheduled for them.

I’m sure some of you have other insights to offer me. Feel free to share them in the comments but only if they include some humor. If you are short on that I may be sponsoring an Anxiety and Humor fair next holiday season. I’ll have to see if The Catholic Schools have any room for that. There will be lots of Christmas lights, music and much better food!

 

 

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How to keep the holidays real

When it comes to the holidays how we  “keep”  them can be connected to a deep or superficial set of beliefs. This includes beliefs about who we are. Here are some beliefs which influence how I spend the holidays. Let’s get the negative ones out of the way first. It’s a short list but sometimes powerful enough to discourage me from enjoying what can be a very fun time of year.

Negative Beliefs which are probably not based in fact

  1.  I am a misfit. I don’t have the energy for this.  I’m depressed. I can’t figure out what I want to do for the holidays.

2.   Holidays are for families with young children. I am out of place at holiday events. Something is wrong with me because I don’t have a spouse or children. I’m an adult. I should act like one.

3.   This holiday is just manufactured to make me spend money.

Reality checks

  1.  I am unique and I have unique gifts which aren’t always “as advertised on television.” I have to watch my energy but if I only do a few things for the holiday I will enjoy them. I do get depressed when it’s dark and there is no snow but I am also creative enough that I don’t need the weather to be as I want it in order to have a good time.  Many people don’t know what they are going to do for the holidays so they go with the flow. Others feel trapped by traditions and obligations they would rather avoid. I can try something new every year just to mix it up.

2.   It’s not productive to hide my joy under a bucket. I might as well go out and share it. If I set an example that older women can have just as much fun as young folks then maybe someone else will feel empowered. There are many reasons I am single. Being in a relationship and having children is not something everyone gets to do. Live with it.

3.   Holidays can be corrupted by capitalism but someone has to keep the faith whether that’s faith in good cheer and charity or in Jesus or Santa. Halloween doesn’t have to be sexy for me. Christmas can be small. The winter solstice can involve an outdoor challenge.

How I keep it real

Spending time with people is more important than exchanging objects. It’s also nice to make gifts and shopping with a friend can be fun. Don’t beat myself up over gift giving. I can’t make other people happy.

Use winter as a time to clean out garbage, do research on my future. Do something creative most days. That includes making dinner.

Give to people who need it, not just out of obligation. Don’t measure gifts in terms of money spent but rejoice when I serendipitously have a part in getting someone to laugh or get out of their comfort zone.

Decorate, sing, bake. These are activities from my childhood which bring me joy.  Share this joy when possible, and also enjoy my own company. Share with the neighborhood.

Remember if people in Poland can hang their Christmas trees upside down then I can make up my own way to celebrate.

I am on the hunt for some old holiday “blow Mold” decorations that are more often seen on the East Coast, probably a snowman like one of these.

snowman2snowman5snowman3snowman6snowman8

You might think, ” These snowmen don’t look very REAL.” But to me, the joy they elicit is real even though they are made of plastic and they are very low maintenance as far as men go. Happy holidays!