Prepared for marriage

“The Proposal (Survivor’s Club Book 1)” by Mary Balogh –

“But those who are most obviously in love and well suited to each other often do not withstand the first test life throws their way. And life always does that sooner or later. Think of poor Flavian and his erstwhile betrothed as a case in point. When two people are not well suited and know it but are in love anyway, then perhaps they are better prepared to meet any obstacles in their path and to fight them with all the weapons at their disposal. They do not expect life to be easy, and of course it never is. They have a chance of making it through anyway. And all this is pure conjecture, Hugo. I really do not know.”

Start reading this book for free:

I read this wrong at first and initially disagreed, but then I realized how absolutely right it is!

Illsuited applies not to the heart of the relationship (love, affection, sexuality, etc), but to those incidental things that get in the way: health, age, social status, finances, etc.

My husband and I are stronger because he’s old and broken. I feel sorry for young couples who are hit out of left field by the unexpected.


‘I’m constantly asking: Why?’ When mass shootings end, the painful wait for answers begins. – The Washington Post

Toward the end of their interviews, Reid asked Holmes what he believed caused him to kill others. Holmes boiled it down to hard numbers: 45 percent was caused by his belief in the point system, another 45 by the feeling it would prevent his suicide, and 10 percent by his broccoli-like hatred.

Reid, however, said he found those answers lacking.

“You could call them excuses in a way, because they don’t make sense,” he said. “People break up with their girlfriends every day; that doesn’t mean they become killers. They struggle with depression and impulses; that doesn’t mean they become killers. These things are associated with the action, but they are not predictive.”

Reid is a forensic psychiatrist who clearly has no clue how mental illness works.

This sounds exactly like OCD to me, except instead of checking the locks 3 times or washing hands for exactly 45 seconds to prevent bad things from happening, Holmes was certain that killing people would save his life because he knew the alternative was him committing suicide, something he knew he didn’t want to do.

While this seems like an unsatisfactory answer, it is one that shows that there is a way to prevent future attacks of this type. OCD can be treated.

Now, I’m sure that some people are thinking, “well, such bad thoughts can be shut down; they’re a choice.” Uh no. They’re not a choice. People don’t get to choose what their obsessions are or what works or doesn’t work (for them).

I have a problem with songs (and thoughts) getting stuck in my head for hours on end. Hours. But I randomly found a trick that works to stop the repetition: I’m a Little Teapot. Yep, somehow this nursery rhyme a) doesn’t get stuck in my head and b) is capable of shutting off whatever has been on repeat when nothing else has.

You may be thinking, “well, I get songs stuck in my head all the time!”

For days on end? 

With no relief?

Where you happen to stumble upon one thing that brings you quiet for a little while?

This forensic psychiatrist has unintentionally shown exactly what’s wrong with the current system: we don’t recognize universal symptoms as universal when it’s easier to assume that there must be a deeper problem.
 I get why this happens. We don’t want t stigmatize all OCD as the same. We don’t want to stigmatize the issue. And that’s fine! That’s great! There are many many different flavors (from mild annoyances to severe “I can’t live like this”)!

But ultimately, it is all the same. And it needs to be treated as such if we want to move forward as a society. Not because a handwasher and door-lock-checker can suddenly become a serial killer (actually, since these are coping mechanisms they’d be less likely to “snap”), but because everyone deserves to live in peace and while we may think of handwashers and door-lock-checkers as quirky and harmless when compared to people whose coping mechanism is murder, neither group gets to live in peace. Both are slaves to their obsessions. That’s not fair to them.

What makes the Parkland shooter different is that everyone in his life knew he was troubled and wanted to gwet him the help he needed.

But their efforts were stymied by red tape. The type of red tape that seems to stem from a lack of money invested in mental health care.

Calls for putting more police officers in schools, arming teachers, and installing bullet proof glass and metal detectors all strike me as reactionary. They are all things that will respond to the next shooting, but will do absolutely nothing to prevent it. 

I think such money would be better served by creating an in-school suspension system that focuses on mental healthcare rather than just shuffling troubled kids along. And there should be a seemless transition between graduation and adult mental health care. Cost should be no object because anyone asking for help for themselves or a loved one should receive it. Period.

Made My Evening:

“Cultural differences occur in pragmatics, even within the same spoken language. For example, Shirley Brice Heath (1989) spent many hours observing White middle-class parents and African American families who were poor. She found that the adults asked different kinds of questions and encouraged different kinds of “talk.” White parents asked test-like questions with right answers, such as, “How many cars are there?” or, “Which car is bigger?” These questions seem odd to African American children, whose families don’t ask about what they already know. The African American child might wonder, “Why would my aunt ask me how many cars? She can see there are 3.” Instead, Heath found that African American families encourage rich storytelling and also teasing that hones their children’s quick wit and assertive responses.”

–Child and Adolescent Development; Woolfolk and Perry 2015

On rambling speeches that span the gamut of topics and viewpoints, changing perspective and opinion frequently:

Quote from “The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple” by Jeff Guinn –

“No one listening, even those who were the most devoted to him, could take it all in. But at some point each follower heard something that reaffirmed his or her personal reason for belonging to Peoples Temple, and for believing in Jim Jones. As Jonestown historian Fielding McGehee observes, “What you thought Jim said depended on who you were.””

Personally, I’m a really good listener with a very good memory and when someone can’t keep their story straight, I don’t trust them. Ever.

I can allow the fence-riding of a good politician because you can hear their absolutes even as they try very hard not to offend. But the complete 180°s of people who love X then hate X depending on whomever they’re talking to? No.

Does Trump love the NRA or hate the NRA? You can insert as many qualifiers as YOU want, but there’s very little evidence that these qualifiers explain what Trump is thinking. You’ll need as much research on the qualifiers as you do the topic.

My husband can tell some crazy stories about his life as a teenager and then as a truck driver. Stories that while very probable, can’t seem to come from one person’s life (one person couldn’t have experienced so much). Except, he repeats his stories a lot, but not constantly. In the (gosh) nearly 5 years we’ve been together, I’ve heard most of the stories at least 3 times. And the details never change. Nothing gets added or removed (unless the point of the story is different, such as regaling a story about a specific trailer he pulled and driving through the median of an interstate during a snowstorm to avoid the very serious accident that had occurred in front of him; in this case, the median driving was the subplot and thus needed less detail (plus I’ve definitely heard that one before 😊)). 

He never gets uncomfortable when I ask new questions about these stories. 

Have you ever had someone get upset when you ask for more information? Does it feel like they’re trying to change the subject away from the information that you’re asking for? Maybe because they’re making it all up and can’t think of a good answer under pressure?

But most people who make stuff up just to seem more important than they really are embellish their stories as they retell it over and over again, never satisfied with their role.

I’m a devil’s advocate. I can change opinion at the drop of a pin. But this is because I can so easily see both sides of a situation. I don’t ever say “let’s agree to disagree”, but I do say “I agree and also disagree” a lot. [Like, twice between the past two days alone.] I then will usually explain what I agree with and what I disagree with.

Yes, I’m REALLY bad at writing argumentative papers because by the end of it,  I usually have taken the other side…it’s annoying.

I also make shit up on the spot:

Q: “Why did that tree fall over?” 

Me: “Tornado.”

Q: “Really?!”

Me: “No clue, but let’s investigate!

While I do make shit up, I’m also very quick to admit that I have pulled the information out of my butt. My mom is pretty gullible and asks the same boring questions a lot. Saying “I don’t know” and “nothing” doesn’t get very far when I do want to have a conversation with her (meaning: I only give the stupid, sarcastic answers when I want the conversation to continue, not to shut the conversation down–how’s that for irony 😊).

Start reading this book for free:

Citing Sources

I actually enjoy citing my sources! I like sharing where I’ve gotten my information from. Of course, when I’m blogging, I’m not worried about conforming to any particular standard and am content to just link back to my source’s page or add a link to a place like Amazon where you can snag a copy of the book I’m reading (no affiliate links from me, yet).

But, I’m in school again, and I swear I spend more time trying to cite my sources than I actually do writing my papers. And when you think about this, you should be as pissed about it as I am.

There are a couple ways that the majority of schools and publishers expect your sources to be cited. The two biggest ones that I know of are MLA and APA. They’re very similar, but also stupidly different. Oh well, everyone has their preference and I totally agree that all sources should be cited using the same format to make trudging through them simpler.

But, here’s the thing. Google Scholar is a search engine specifically for scholarly articles. That means that it’s going to look into every peer reviewed journal it has access to and pull out the articles it thinks are most relevant to my query. That’s awesome! It makes life super easy! But, then you go to the individual articles and you run into problem #1: access.

Most of these journals require paying a membership fee to view. And that’s cool. Many of them have a way to tap into the cookies on your computer and verify that you are a member of a university who pays for that membership and grant you access to the article. So problem #1 is easily solved if this magic works (luckily for me today, it did for all the articles I wanted to use!!)

Which then immediately leads into problem #2: citing these articles.

Remember, I told you that there are a lot of different citation options and that every professor and publisher has their favorite. But regardless of what format a person needs to use, this structure isn’t secret. So, here’s what I cannot understand: why it is so HARD to electronically cite sources. I mean, I’m literally reading an article online and I need the APA citation. I don’t get why there isn’t a drop down menu labeled “cite source” where you can pick “APA” or “MLA” or whatever other citation formats there are. Then, there should be a little pop-up window or whatever that has the citation you need in the format that you need.

The best that is available is to “export” the citation to your favorite desktop publisher or whatever. This makes no sense!

Regardless of the citation format (APA, MLA, etc), it all uses the exact same information: title, author, publication date, journal, book, etc, etc, etc. The difference is incidentals like what order you put this information in. What do you italicize. What get’s capitalized and what doesn’t. It really gets stupid very quickly. But, even assuming that it’s not stupid, this information can be very easily gathered from the meta-data of the article. Like, when publishing the article to the site, the title is going to be written very purposefully. So will the authors names and the publication date. After that, it’s just a matter of having a computer program place all the right bits into the right places and making sure the right stuff is italicized.

Even if for whatever reason it’s impossible for every journal’s website to easily provide the correct citation, I further don’t understand why websites like Citation Machine aren’t as useful as you’d think that they’d be. More often than not when I throw in a URL, I get an error message back. My test for this post (which actually is a page that I need to cite) came up with the usual amount of gibberish. The reason most likely is that the tool is going to the website I’ve provided, which it may or may not have access to (see: above) and is trying to create a citation based on whatever it’s finding on that site: ads, links to other articles, etc. It’s not just reading the article that I want it to read and cite.

There’s a manual entry mode, but it ironically has both way too many and not nearly enough boxes to fill with information. For example, the article I want to cite has like 8 authors. APA requires listing authors by last name, then first and middle initial (if applicable). Citation Machine wants me to place their last name in one box, first initial in another, middle initial in yet another…but with or without punctuation? I don’t even know. This segmentation makes it very difficult to just select, copy, and paste from the article. I’ll do as much deleting as typing that way and a whole lot of page flipping. I might as well copy and paste directly into my document and build the citation from scratch! They’re not hard, just tedious, which is why I honestly can’t believe that in the 20 years that I’ve been using the internet for research, including learning how to do citations, the technology hasn’t changed at all.

I also honestly can’t believe that there’s still, gosh, hundreds of citation styles to choose from with 3 main styles most frequently used. Do we really need that many? Are we really better off with that many?

And let’s be honest about why there are that many: when scientific study was first standardized, there were competing journals which, as part of their egocentric “we’re better than them” mentality, meant that each had their own format for submitting sources. Because heavens to Betsy, how awful would it be if an article published in a psychology journal has a citation in the format that’d be found in an inferior mathematics journal!

Again, I don’t have a problem with demanding a standard format! My problem is that we have so many standard formats that it’s insane!

UVA was never picky. I don’t know if it’s because I stuck to the history department mostly with slight ventures into the English, religion, and philosophy departments, but we were always told to use whichever format we preferred. MLA was the one most often suggested first, so it’s the format I always used. This includes when I wrote my history thesis.

Now at ODU, everything is APA, which is fine. To each their own.

Mostly I just wish that if a specific style is that important then the governing bodies that be should make a decision and pick one and only one for use by all students everywhere. It seems that APA is the structure most often used in journal publications (including the “annual review” put together by UVA’s Environmental Science department), then places like UVA should quit being so lenient about style and mandate APA, too. But as it is, I assume middle school hasn’t changed that much and there is a piece of the lesson plan whenever there is a research project, regardless of the class, that was all about the styles to use to cite sources and how they differ from each other. Yes, I remember getting tested on how APA differed from MLA. Apparently I thought that information was as useless back then as I do today for as well as it stuck.

Really, I just don’t see how we’re better off as a society when we have competing citation styles. And if we only had one, it’d make my first comment about having the citation easily accessed from the article page or book (imagine finding the proper citation on the title page of a book!) all the more easier. Wouldn’t making citation easier make it harder to accidentally plagiarize?


Turkey “BBQ” Sandwich

Hubby won me a turkey during our bowling league’s Fun Night before Thanksgiving. Since we go to our families homes for Thanksgiving and Christmas we had no desire to cook the turkey back in November or December. I cooked it today because I really needed the room in our freezer last week :-).

I knew that this turkey was going to last us a few days and I didn’t even bother planning any particular meals with it. If it gets eaten plain, that’s fine with me. Hubby went to Portsmouth earlier this afternoon to take a new heater core* for my car to his friend’s house and then was sidetracked by that friend and an errand for another friend, so he’s eating dinner out tonight. I’ll be surprised to see him before 10 pm.

So, knowing that he wouldn’t be home for turkey meal #1, I decided to play around. I love the combination of cranberry and turkey, so it was immediately obvious that I would take one of my 2 cans of whole berry cranberry sauce (at one point I had 3 because I kept forgetting I had it…) and mix it with some shredded turkey. I learned with my 1st can that I definitely prefer whole berry cranberry sauce when it’s cooked (I’d used it as a condiment and it was way too much berry).

I have cooked with whole berry cranberry sauce before, baking pork chops in a dish with the sauce “spread” over top. It was nice, but the sauce tended to disappear, though the berries remained. After tonight, I will be working on the technique so that those pork chops work better, because there is so much potential for perfection!

So, without further ado, let me show you what I made:


Believe it or not, these BBQ sandwiches are just shredded turkey cooked in a can of whole berry cranberry sauce and served on a biscuit. That’s it.

I have been having a horrible time with pre-made BBQ sauces recently. They’ve all been way too sweet for my liking or have some kind of weird after-taste. I grew up on cheap pre-made BBQ sauces, so I really wasn’t expecting my taste-buds to have changed. I guess I’ve had access to so much restaurant quality Carolina BBQ that a heavy dose of sweet ketchup based sauces no longer works for me. In any case, this cranberry sauce is perfect. It’s able to satisfy my sweet tooth while still having plenty of acidity to satisfy those taste-buds. My only regret is that it doesn’t have any “heat”, but I’ve been cooking for people who don’t like spice for so long that I don’t even have a spicy-component in my spice rack.

I think I will put some red pepper flakes on the grocery list. We had some at my parents house from some recipe my mom wanted to make and I found that if not too much is added to a mixture early in cooking  and there was going to be plenty of liquid and stirring going on, the heat from the pepper flakes spread across the whole of the dish and mellowed out to some extent. You got just enough heat to be interesting without setting your mouth on fire, even when you ate an actual flake. I miss that in my cooking.

*So, about my heater core. Two weeks ago, I was driving home from the bowling alley and I noticed that my windshield was foggy, despite my defroster blowing fine. But it was night and I didn’t think much of it. There was a weird smell, though.

Well, the next morning I was driving to work and my windshield would not clear. Period. I’d wipe it with my glove and it’d immediately fog back up. I could barely see in front of me. I had no idea what was going on. And it still smelled weird. But I remembered something about using AC to clear a window when it’s fogging on the inside so I switched it to full cold and still on defrost and after wiping the window again with my glove, it stayed clear and I could safely make my way to work.

At work, I asked my dad (who is a coworker) if he knew why a windshield wouldn’t defrost and kept fogging on the inside. He wanted to check whether my defroster was actually blowing on the windshield, so we went out to my car. My defroster was blowing great, but he watched it fog up when I switched it to heat again. He was confused until he put his hand on the windshield and realized that there was something coating it. Then, he got out of the car while it was running and we immediately saw that it was “smoking”. And, of course, there was the smell, which was sickeningly sweet. I think it was me who brought up antifreeze.

In case you didn’t know, antifreeze tastes and smells sweet. This is why it’s so dangerous to animals because they’ll lick it up because it tastes good and poison themselves. My dad was quickly able to put everything together and tell me that my heater core had gone bad and I was spraying antifreeze all over my windshield and, yeah, breathing it in. Yay.

I called Hubby up to break the news and his first reaction was “is your passenger floorboard wet?” It was not, thankfully, but he still told me that he’d pick me up from work with the tow truck that afternoon. When I got off work, I called him to see where he was (slow poke) and he hadn’t left home yet. Sigh. But, he had me check my antifreeze in the radiator (which I’d already planned to do) and when it wasn’t very low at all (I could have touched even with my short fingers), he said I could drive it to his friend’s house so long as I would keep my eye on the temperature gauge and pull over as soon as it got higher than normal, or if I suddenly got a flood on the passenger floorboard. He’d meet me there.

The drive to the friends house was really uneventful. I kept the heater all the way on cold, but not really blowing (it’s a 1997 Explorer, so there is no real “off”) and had no troubles at all.

Now, a heater core isn’t expensive and actually changing it isn’t really complicated. But it is an expensive repair when done at a real mechanic’s shop because it involves taking the dash apart to get to it and Hubby and his friend are fans of removing the front seats to have even more room to get to it. So, there’s a lot of labor involved, hence the expense.

Splitting the paper (2 cards)

One of my favorite ways to be instantly inspired to make a card is by doing a “one sheet wonder” challenge (where you cut a piece of 8.5×11 or 12×12 patterned paper into various sized pieces).

These cards weren’t specifically from a one sheet wonder, but I did get the idea to cut the pieces in half this way from that kind of challenge.

The pink-ish paper is one that was given to me in a swap (it’s hand colored and embossed).

I love the juxtaposition of the really bold background papers and the very vintage/muted styling of these Tim Holtz die-cuts.



By the way…The shadows underneath the dress-form are real. You’ve seen cards I’ve made where I’ve only glued down the center and rolled up the edges of the die-cut to give it dimension. This one is essentially in this style, but it wasn’t done on purpose.

You see, the die-cut had fallen on the floor at some point and I rolled over it with my chair (on carpet). It was practically boat-shaped, but neither torn nor dirty. So, I glued her down and I’m thrilled with the result! Waste not, want not :-).

Since the Simon Says Stamp challenge for this week’s Monday Challenge is “Birds of a Feather”, I’ll be submitting the second of these cards there.

I really enjoy looking through the submissions to these uber-popular challenges and seeing submissions made to look specifically for multiples (such as the MFT sketch with the SSS theme). If I were better at planning, I’d totally do this, but my reality is that I’m working with a lot of really random bits and bobs and I’m lucky if I can find the right stuff to make a card that works for a single challenge. In this specific case, I made the cards without any thought to the challenges running and it was all luck that I made a card that fits it :-). And I’m very cool with that, haha.

By the way, don’t forget that my Giveaway is still open until Jan 31, 2018!

Also, I’m starting to think about which 3 cards I’ve made in January to offer for my February Giveaway, so leave a comment if you have a favorite!

MFT Sketch #368


After 2 weeks of school work where I wasn’t sure which way my head was going, I decided to take a solid Saturday to myself. The cards I made today were either inspired by this week’s My Favorite Things Sketch Challenge #368 or were the result of me sorting through my scraps bin. I’m quite happy with the results :-).

Here is my first card, the one most directly inspired by the challenge:


This image is from one of the random sets of Tim Holtz die-cuts I got via a swap or act of kindness. It’s amazing what adding just a tiny bit of a frame with the dark paper behind the image does.


Quote from “Mistletoe Murder (A Lucy Stone Mystery Series Book 1)” by Leslie Meier –

“I don’t want to be like him. I make mistakes, but they’re not the same ones he made. If Toby strikes out, I tell him he looked good up there. I tell him even Pete Rose strikes out. I tell him he’ll get a piece of it next time.”–Lucy’s Husband

I have a pretty good nose for years. In my last post I suspected this book was set in the mid-80s. Well, Pete Rose got banned from baseball in 1989 for gambling. I highly doubt many dad’s alluded to Rose after the ban.

Start reading this book for free: