Salads are bad for your health

At least if you manage to cut your finger half off.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Last night we wanted to make salad for dinner, cutting up a lettuce and tons of veggies and somewhere in this process I cut myself badly. The most likely culprit is the avocado, since they often lead to bad cuts, and the fact that I wasn’t using my usual knife, but acting like I did. Honestly, I can’t tell. The family says the avocado was still on the cutting board. Mr drove me to the hospital, almost threw a temper tantrum because he was not allowed to stay with me due to Covid restrictions, and picked me up again later. A nice doc sewed me up with three stitches and gave me dire warnings about not letting it get infected because though I thankfully missed the sinew, I was close to it.

Well, so much about finally having put up the pool. No swimming for me for the next week at least.

The Art of … Can we talk?

The Art of… started life as The Art of Books back at a time when the numbers for this blog began to drop off. The column did little to change that, so I switched to a more general Art of in a further attempt to stave off obscurity. I’ve had fun with the idea, finding a lot of art that I personally enjoyed, but it hasn’t had an effect on the number of views to the blog. I’ve taken the time to find the highest quality images possible and to add tidbits here and there that make it more than just finding a pretty picture and showing it to you. And still, the numbers keep dropping off.

Marcus did an excellent post yesterday (stderr) about similar problems with his blog, except in Marcus’ case he spends a lot of time researching, referencing and writing quality material that puts my small effort to shame and it left me feeling even more panicked about the losses here. If a good writer who deals with important issues the way Marcus does is losing readers what hope is there for me.

When Jack was alive and Jack’s Walk was still a thing, numbers didn’t matter as much. I knew people cared about Jack and those people became an extension of his family, our family. When Caine died and Affinity became a team blog my first goal was to help keep the community Caine created together. Once the initial loss of readers stabilized, I felt that our team had achieved that. Then I began looking for new goals and the one I settled on was to pass on my love for the simple things in life, to share the beauty that still exists despite the ugliness of our modern life. Jack was my main vehicle for doing that, but another element that had meaning for me was the submissions we received from readers. I loved posting and your art and I still do, but there hasn’t been much lately and that has me worried.

I hate that numbers matter to me, but before I lose all of you I want to know that what I’m doing has some relevance. I’m not an artist and I don’t consider the bits of card making/scrapbooking/paper crafting that I do to be art, but are any of you interested in seeing what sorts of art I do enjoy looking at? Would you prefer if I made changes? For example, instead of ping-ponging around, would a longer view of a particular artist be more appealing? Say a week at a time on a single artist. Or would you prefer I focus on modern artists or classical artists or expand my view of art to include craftspeople, musicians, poets, photographers, buskers, etc.? Have the plethora of well-presented vlogs and multi-media channels made diving into static images boring.

Alternately, I’ve wondered about creating content related to Jinx and Sophie, my 3-month-old kittens. They don’t get out and about much, but they do keep me grounded and with a bit of practice, I could use them to share the simple sort of worldview I shared with Jack. I think. Cats are more sedentary and their worldview is more self-serving, but I might be able to make that work. The internet seems to love silly cat videos, does that extend to getting to know 2 silly cats through stories and snapshots, or is that also better done with quality video production values, which I have no desire to learn.

I’m not ready to go away, but I’d appreciate any honest feedback you can give me.

Hallowe’en Photo Festival of Fun and Fundraising

It’s October, which means that means that Hallowe’en is just around the corner.  The bloggers here at Freethought Blogs will be hosting a Hallowe’en Fun and Fundraising event to show off our talents, including fall photography, and you’re invited to play along. There will be other events happening on Hallowe’en Day so stay tuned to hear about those, but the Photo Festival starts now, so you’ll want to tune in often to see what our fellow bloggers are doing with their cameras.  I’m pretty sure there will be spiders, but who knows what else could turn up. But wait, we want to see your photos, too. All of the photos will be posted under the title above, so they’ll be easy to find.

PHOTO submissions should be sent to affintysubmissions@gmail. com (the address is always in the left sidebar under the percolating head, and the link there will open up an email form for you). If you’re able and so inclined, you can donate to the cause at our PayPal at FtB Defense Fund.

As soon as we have the schedule for the Hallowe’en Day event, I’ll point you to it, but for now, why not pick up your camera and go outside and see what you can find. They don’t have to be current photos. You can search through your stash, too, but fall is a gorgeous time of year, so why not get outside while you can. It won’t be long until Winter arrives, dragging Covid with it, which means a lot of isolated indooring. Ugh. Don’t waste this opportunity to get out for a walk before that happens.

Today, the Photo Festival of Fun starts with a submission from our regular reader, Avalus, who has sent in a deadly dragonfly to start things off. It looks to me as if this guy is camouflaging while waiting for an unsuspecting fruit-eating bug to happen by, so he can gobble them up. Wham! Avalus then tortured the berries by making them into jam, so this harmless-looking photo is anything but.

Dragonfly with Blackberries  © Avalus, all rights reserved.


It’s September Fun, Fun, Fun(d raising)

Freethought Blogs is creatively trying to raise funds to pay off the sizeable legal bills incurred in the fight against the SLAPP suit brought by Richard Carrier. SLAPP claims are nuisance suits, intended to shut down free speech by making it expensive, so even though we “won,” we still have large legal bills to pay off.

That’s where you, Dear Reader, can help. We need your donations, and we’re prepared to earn them! We’re hosting a series of events, The Carnival of Curiosity, beginning on Friday, September 25 and running through the weekend of Sept. 26 & 27. You can click the link above or on the large banner on the top left side panel to see the schedule of events, and we’re sure that you’ll find something that interests you. It’s going to be a full weekend of festive fun, and any donation is helpful. If you’d like to contribute, you can do so at

In addition to the Carnival of Curiosity, several bloggers are having auctions with all proceeds going to the fundraiser.

  • Iris at Death to Squirrels is auctioning off a chance to interview her or be interviewed by her.
  • Marcus at Stderr is auctioning 4 of his beautiful art pieces.
  • William at The Bolingbrook Babbler is auctioning a PDF collection of Babbler articles from his pre-Freethought Blog days that looks deliciously interesting. He is also planning to read an excerpt from his in-progress book  The Rift: A Bolingbrook Babbler Story if donations reach $200.00, and if donations get to $500.00, he will read it live.
  • TD Walker at Freethinking Ahead is auctioning a half-hour creative coaching session via Zoom.

Doesn’t all that look like fun? You bet it does, and we want you to join us and make a donation if possible. More events may be added, so be sure to check for future announcements.

Hater’s Obsession: I Feel Like a Fucking Celebrity


In the grand and probably small scheme of things, I’m pretty much a nobody. I have no illusions about being a prolific writer, an inspiring activist or an amazing artist, despite doing all three of these. When everything is said and done I’m a middle aged woman with a nice family, an exhausting job, a couple of interesting hobbies and some really good friends with whom I hang out on a small blog.

Yet, over the years I seem to have picked up some amount of obsessive haters, with an interesting overlap between “gender critical feminists” and plain old slymepit misogynists, all seeming very obsessed about whatever stupid thing I write. Now, I’m the first to admit that I like a good verbal fight and can be 80 grit abrasive bordering on asshole (ok, maybe full asshole), but as a rule I generally don’t follow people I disagree with around. Like follow them on Twitter. Or keep reading their blogs and then comment on whatever they write in my own space. And to be honest, most of them and those arguments will drift from my mind. I will remember whether the interaction was positive or negative, but please don’t ask me who said what in the comments section on some blog or other in 2016.

But apparently I manage to inspire that kind of behaviour in others. After Marcus posted a note “On Trans Issues” on his blog, multi-nymed commenter [apparently not steersman, edited]/steppenwolf/RojBlake/DavidinOz used the occasion to complain loudly about how horrible I’ve been to him (without me having participated in that thread at that point), “kicking him from Affinity for a statement of truth elsewhere” when I don’t even have admin privileges, I did try to refresh my memory on what exactly happened, googled a few things and look and behold: Only the correctly spelled version of Giliell (did they all sleep through their Sindarin classes?) alone yields 9(!) pages of search hits on the apparently defunct slymepit, where people still think that calling me “fat” counts as some sort of argument when I would simply say “yes, I am”.

Yet Butterflies and Wheels isn’t much better (and if anybody needed confirmation that Roj Blake is steppenwolf, he made the almost same comment about me “trashing” Caine’s legacy there under Roj Blake verbatim). And now, since I know you’re reading, let me just say this: get a life. Seriously, you’re all grown people obsessed with whatever a nobody mummy blogger on an obscure blog who is happy about five nice comments on her bird pictures says. Oh, and to answer your question, Acolyte of Sagan: I am a fully licensed teacher for grades 5-13 and what I mostly teach my kids is basic maths, reading comprehension and writing skills, and that “retarded”, “gay”, and “girl” aren’t insults. I hope that satisfies all your questions, because I sure won’t answer any more of them.

A Lawyer Talks About Lafayette Square Gassing

I have never seen LegalEagle lose his cool on camera, although I did not watch all his videos.

I have also never expected to live through a deadly pandemic and USA coming apart at the seams at the same time.

Life is full of surprises. To all our USA readers – please stay safe. Our hearts are with you, although we cannot do anything to help.

Teacher’s Corner: School’s out for Corona

Sing to “School’s out for Summer”.

The ministry of education has finally acted and from Monday on, all schools and daycares are closed. Which is good and necessary. You want to know why schools need to be closed? Here’s an easy example: the primary school next to our school has two suspected cases. They share a schoolyard. One kid is the younger sibling of one of our 7th graders, the other one is the kid of one of our colleagues. Which means that if they are confirmed I may have to go into quarantine. That means no leaving the house. At all. No, not even taking out the trash. It has to be stored inside until we’re declared clear. You aren’t even allowed to put out money for the delivery service, that is considered contagious. Friends and family would have to put food on our doorstep. Oh, and no outdoor crafting.

Not closing schools would mean the kids could spread it, even undetected. I could pass it to my kids, who go to school in a different county. The cycle starts again. Of course this also brings a hell lot of problems for parents of younger kids. I already offered to take in a friend’s kids (should I be declared clear).

What I’m really salty about is how all this happened. Closing schools has been discussed for weeks. We could have had weeks to prepare. But last night the government still said that schools will stay open in order to “ensure quality education”. This morning, the news already reported that we’re being closed down, but until 10 o’clock or so we had no official information. Then we were told to prepare material for the kids, with 40-50% of them already missing. We do have an online platform, but it hasn’t been introduced properly and not all kids have the access codes now. We can only hope that they share the code among each other. I expect phone lines running hot.

On Monday we’ll have a meeting where we hopefully get some instructions. These are not holidays and of course we’re expected to do something for our money. What we can do will be seen.

Those news brought on another run on the supermarkets. Thankfully I only needed food for the weekend. OK, I admit, I stocked up on fish fingers, chocolate and coffee. Well, and crafting supplies have been ordered…

Welcome to Pandemia

As we’re all fretting and worrying, here’s the thread to do so.

I’m currently somewhere between annoyed and worried about other people. The neighbouring region in France was declared an outbreak area yesterday. Of course the kids have come to school in Germany all the time including today and we have quite a couple of kids who live in France (it’s 500m from school, many people take advantage of the lower French taxes until they notice that they also get lower French social pay…). As of tomorrow kids and teacher who live in France can no longer come to school for two weeks.

Actually we’re all just waiting for schools to be closed down completely, but we’re also asking ourselves what our politicians have been doing. Because it’s not like these scenarios  were unpredictable. Any somewhat competent administration should have discussed “what if”, decided on triggers and measures and therefore have their plans ready. Instead what we get are reactions which take precious time. Not to mention that we tend to get our information from the media, not the ministry of education.

Well, at least you should get some resin project pictures.

Personally I just told both my parents and my in laws that we’ll keep our distance. I’m not worried about me, Mr. or the kids, as we’re not risk groups, but very much worried about my mum and my father in law who probably check all the boxes on people with high fatality rates. Of course my mum thought I was overreacting…

So, share your woes, fret and complain, be annoyed with the powers that be.

Jack’s Walk – an Admin Note

Evening at The “Pink” Posada, Manzanillo, Mexico ©voyager, all rights reserved

It’s hard to admit that you’re not coping well, but today’s walk is an admission of sorts.

While I was in Mexico, I had limited access to wi-fi, and rather than struggle trying to find a place to read and post, I gave up and took an internet break, which turned out to be edifying. It goes back to the time my mother was dying last year. Mom suffered constant anxiety and required a lot of support, which her caregivers at the nursing home struggled to meet. Neither she nor I had the funds to hire extra help and I took the task on myself. It turned out that I was spending 6 to 10 hours a day with her, hand-holding, calming her fears and helping with her personal care needs. She was expected to die in mid-August from an acute infection, and in agreement with her Dr., we withheld antibiotics as a palliative measure, keeping her as comfortable as possible, but not treating the cause. As it turned out, Mom beat the infection, surprising everyone. She didn’t recover, though, and her decline took many more weeks until she finally succumbed at the end of October. Each and every day I was there – for most of the hours of the day and many hours of the night. My husband and friends all worried about me doing too much, but I couldn’t see a way clear to change things. I’m an only child and so was my mother and all of our family is in Germany, so there was no one else to help.

My mother suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), and she could be difficult to deal with. Our relationship was complicated, and I was hoping that by being there for her at the end of her life, we could make peace with each other. That didn’t happen. She wasn’t able to give me what I wanted, but over those many weeks, I lost the need for it. I accepted that her BPD dictated who she was and how she related to the world around her. Slowly I found compassion for her and came to realize how distressing her emotional life had been. My care for her gradually became about pure love for a mother who did the best she could despite her own struggles. It was an emotionally complicated time for me, and there were many days that I fought my own anger, exasperation and disappointment. By the time she finally died, I had let go of a shit ton of crap, but in the process, I burnt myself out, and I never really recovered from it.

Being unplugged in Mexico, I had time and space to reflect on a lot of things, and one of the more difficult epiphanies that I had was that I’ve been putting too much energy and time into this blog. I posted my first Jack’s Walk on March 23, 2018, and since then, I’ve been here every day in one form or another. That’s almost 2 years of daily effort, and I’m worn out. It’s also partly my fibromyalgia. I have a good regime in place (thank you, medical marijuana), and I can often ignore the smaller symptoms, but the larger ones still crop up, especially when I’m tired or overstimulated.  Please, don’t get me wrong… I love this blog and the people who populate it. I wouldn’t have come this far otherwise, but Jack’s Walk has been feeling stale and repetitive, and I need a bit of a break from it.

What does that mean? I’m not really sure in the long-term, but for now, it means Jack and I will only be here twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays. In between those days, there might be a post about Russia or Mexico or maybe something else altogether or nothing at all. I have other ideas and maybe taking a break from The Walk will allow me the energy to explore some of them. I’ll still be around every day, but some days it might just be in the background. Charly has thankfully recovered and is posting regularly now, keeping us informed about setting up a new knife-making business and forge with ingenuity and resourcefulness. He’s also sharing with us the art of Bonsai. Giliell still shares her work struggles, her beautiful photos, her art of food and resin, as well as her fearless fight against the Patriarchy, so that relieves some of my stress about keeping this blog alive and viable, which has been my goal since the beginning.

Being a blogger was never something I set out to do; it happened because of the death of a friend, but this blog is one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever been given. I always wanted to write, and thanks to all of you, I’ve been able to do that. Now, I hope to catch my breath and focus a bit more on my real life so that I can keep writing and maybe even improve at it. My final thought for today is one of gratitude. The best part of this blog is the way the world has opened up to me. I’ve made friends all over the globe, and I appreciate all of them… all of you. I’ve always said my favourite thing about this blog is reader submissions, and I mean that. Your comments, the photos you send and the stories you share are what make this a meaningful endeavour for me. I think of this place as a community founded by Caine and maintained by all of us, and it is still my pleasure to help keep the lights on.

Jack says hi and wants you to know that even though he’s just turned 12, he is not over the hill and that he plans to have many more adventures.



Jack’s Walk

See you in March. Photo by Janet B.

I’m leaving for Mexico tomorrow and won’t be back until the end of the month, so after today Jack’s Walk is on vacation until March 2. I’m going to a place called Jocotepec to help a friend pack up her house. She and her husband lived there for 12 years, but he died 2 years ago and Janet moved back home. She’s sold her house there and we’re going down to finish the paperwork and pack up the last of her things. It won’t be all work, though. We have a few interesting field trips planned, including an Iguana Park, a pyramid and a mud bath! We’ll also be going to Manzanillo for a few days because I’ve never seen the Pacific Ocean and we could both use a little beach time. I’ll share the photos when we get home, but you may get the odd Postcard From Mexico while I’m away. No promises, though. I’m ready for a break.

I can promise that The Art of Book Design will be here every day as usual and I thought that Jack’s absence would be a good time to put up the next part of my Russia series, so there will be 2 or 3 posts published about our stay in Uglich. Be sure to look for those. I’ll see you all in March.

Jack’s Walk – A short Admin Note

Late yesterday afternoon, my mother died peacefully in the company of her best friend and myself. Mom’s been inching toward death since mid-August, and while I’m sad that her life has ended, I’m relieved to have her dying ended.
We’ll be having a short service followed by burial on Friday afternoon, so Jack and I will be taking the rest of this week off. We both hope that you have a Merry Hallowe’en, and we’ll see you again on Monday, November 4th.


An Admin Note about Jack’s Walk

Hey, Bubba, what are all those spots on you?

Umm, what spots, mom?

Jack and I have been walking at odd hours for the last few weeks because I’ve been spending most of my time at the nursing home with my mother. Mom is in the last stage of her life and is expected to die soon, but it’s turning out to be a long, difficult journey for her.  She has a lot of pain that isn’t always well controlled and she’s s full of fear and anxiety. She often calls out “Help, Oh please help” or asks for mommy or daddy and occasionally for me, but when you ask her what she wants or what’s wrong or what she’s afraid of she goes quiet. She’s also developed a large ulcer on her coccyx from the continuous bedrest. Mom is a big woman, about 240 lbs. and it’s difficult to reposition her so there’s no pressure on that area. About every hour I’ve been rubbing her other pressure points to hopefully avoid another ulcer, but it pains mom and is difficult for both of us.

The nursing home where she lives has given us a private palliative care room with a big, stuffed electric recliner for me. The support workers check on us often and have been fabulous with mom, but I can’t say the same about the registered nursing staff. Some nurses are reluctant to give mom pain meds – one nurse insisted that she had to ask for them herself because writhing in bed and calling out for help apparently isn’t good enough. Some nurses forget to crush mom’s pills and some try to give her  plain water without thickener which makes her choke. I’ve asked and asked for that to be written on her chart, but it hasn’t happened. That’s partly because of the long weekend – some of the nurses come from an agency and don’t know the residents, so I’m hoping that will improve this week. Just to be sure, I’ve put a large sign over mom’s bed about what she needs in case I’m not there.

I’m telling you all of this because I’m burnt out and there’s still a lot of road ahead. My fibro has flared up and I’ve got shingles. I expected both those things, but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. I have a chronic form of shingles that flares up often, especially when I’m tired or stressed and right now I’m both of those. Something has to give and unfortunately it’s Jack’s Walk the virtual and Tree Tuesday, both of which I’m putting on hold. The nursing home doesn’t have wifi and even if it did I’m not thinking clearly – it’s taken me 3 days to write this – I’m in pain, I’m exhausted and my mom needs me. So does Mr. V whose heart has been acting up with atrial fib.

Jack’s Walk and Tree Tuesday will be back, but I don’t know when. I’ll try to keep posting a daily book, which gives me something nice to think about, but if I miss a day you’ll know why. I’ll be around and I’ll stay in touch. Jack says gawoof, gawoof in his big boy voice which means see you soon.

Jack’s Walk

Early morning at the park ©voyager, all rights reserved

Tomorrow I’m going to be having my last 6 teeth removed and 2 dental implants inserted. It was supposed to be sleep surgery, but the Dr. won’t take the risk because of the combination of drugs that I take so I’ll be awake, which sucks. I will get nitrous oxide and I have some marijuana oil for before and after which the Dr. says will be fine by him. I’ve been told to expect a few bad days post-op which could mean a bad week or two factoring in my fibro. Why am I telling you all of this?

Well, Jack and I have decided to take a virtual vacation. Starting tomorrow until August 19/19 Jack’s Walk won’t be here. You’ll just have to guess what the Bubba and I are up to. Tree Tuesday will also be absent for the next 2 weeks, but Fungi Friday will be here and so will the daily books. Next week the books will feature a few of Caine’s favourite artists and I know you won’t want to miss that. Giliell will also be back from holiday next week and I know she has lots to share from her vacation in Spain. Those are all good reasons to keep tuning us in.

Jack and old, toothless me will see you soon.