How Not To Feel Alone On Your 31st Birthday In 2020

Happy Birthday To Me!

Today I turn 31 in the year 2020. The world is chaotic (to say the least). But there is so much for which to be thankful. We have an opportunity in this dark time: we can use this as a pathway to finding our similarities and common ground. We can use this as an opportunity to show compassion toward our fellow human beings. Don’t believe me? I have a challenge for every person reading this.

The Google Autocomplete Challenge

Alright! So, Google Autocomplete works by predicting what phrases have the highest probability of completing your query based on the most common searches by others within your same time zone, general demographics, and country. Most of the time this is reduced to the information that can be associated with your IP address. Remember, your IP address contains a lot of information about your location.

If you’re ever feeling alone, think about the population of the country where you live. I currently live in the United States – a country with a population of 328.2 Million people. Approximately 27% of Americans report using Google as their primary search engine. That means approximately 88.614 Million Americans use Google as their primary search engine.

That means that whatever the statistically most likely predicted completion of a search phrase is results from millions of people searching that phrase.

This means you are not alone. With every crazy question you have for the internet, you are not alone. For these first fifteen, I’m going to be very general. Then, once this concept has been demonstrated, let’s go on a journey. Some of these are funny, some are depressing, some are revealing.

1. “Is it…”

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2. “What to…”

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3. “Does the…”

(If you want to know, yes, the coronavirus test hurts)

4. “Are there…”

5. “Do I…”

6. “Why is…”

7. “Who was…”

Glad to see Americans are learning history?

8. “Did I…”

9. “Where are…”

10. “Am I…”

11. “How to make…”

12. “When will…”

13. “Does the United States…”

No, the United States does not use the metric system outside of scientific laboratories.

14. “How many…”

As you can see a lack of the metric system leads to a lot of confusion.

15. “How often…”

That’s a doozy.

Okay! So 15 questions in and you’ve noticed that Americans are just as confused about our units of measure as the rest of the world and things do seem to be interesting. Plus, if you’ve been sedentary and are questioning while your bowel habits have changed, you’re not alone. Drink more water, eat more fiber, and start going for more walks. You’ll feel better.

These next questions are for those of us that recognize that search histories get a little weird when you’re writing. So, let’s start looking at some of the autocompleted questions related to writing research I’ve seen lately. These get a bit dark and others are truly revealing.

1. “What do serial killers…”

2. “Why do serial killers…”

3. “Why do wives…”

4. “Why do husbands…”

5. “Why do partners…”

6. “Do cows…”

7. “How to fake…”

The search results here made my eye twitch.

8. “How to destroy…”

9. “Why doesn’t…”

10. “Humans are…”

I warned all of you that was going to get dark.

There’s one final search I am going to show you – it leads to one of my favorite poems I had forgotten about and hadn’t read in over 10 years.

“Hope is…”

What is that first search result? See below.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers (314) – Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

I hope you can hear Hope’s song, and even if you can’t right now, know that you are not alone in searching for it amongst the noise.

What were your autocomplete results like when you searched similar beginning terms? Were they the same as mine? If you have suggestions of other terms for me to search please leave them in a comment 🙂

I am so thankful for your company on this bizarre journey through search engine autocompletes on my birthday. If you enjoyed this post, please share it, like, or comment. Without you, this post would be stored quietly on a server somewhere. Have a wonderful weekend ahead 🙂 With Love – Lo.

Lo Is Domestic AF: Passive Aggressive Smashed Blueberry Lemon Scones

Smashed Blueberry Lemon Scones with a pot of Whittard's Chelsea Garden White Tea

Recipe Inspiration

There is a lot to unpack here and domesticity is something that generally comes with a focus on the family, right?

Today, we’re making gluten free dairy free Smashed Blueberry Lemon Scones.

The “passive aggressive” got added in there because a lot is happening in the United States right now. There are a couple wrong turns with this recipe. I’ll admit that it’s an invention based on this one I created in a way similar to that story about the Ship of Theseus.

All of what’s happening right now in the United States though? That’s where I got distracted today. There’s a lot. I’m trying to hold back because my words here aren’t the ones you should be listening to. Listen to the disenfranchised that are trying to make their voices heard.

Screen grab of https://slate.com/ (10:15PM MT) News & Politics Section

I’m getting ahead of myself.

Ingredients and Supplies

If you’re going to make this recipe with me, you’re going to need to gather some ingredients – no specific brand should be necessary:

  • Frozen Blueberries (Costco sells big bags)
  • Lemon Juice (There’s a theme here)
  • Cup for Cup Gluten Free Baking Flour (I use Namaste from Costco)
  • Baking Powder
  • Salt
  • Stevia In The Raw or equivalent (I’m not sponsored, but I might have a Costco problem)
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Almond Milk (Okay, we’re calling it a Costco solution)
  • Coconut Oil (Costco non-polar solvent)
  • 1 Egg
  • Vanilla Extract

Supplies To Grab:

  • 1 Large Mixing Bowl
  • 1 Medium Mixing Bowl
  • 1 Small Mixing Bowl
  • 1 9″ Round For Your Great Idea
  • 1 18-muffin baking tin
  • Muffin tin liners
  • Whisks
  • Measuring cups / Kitchen Scale
  • Measuring spoons

While you look for those, I’m letting Jacob takes over. [You will continue to see Jacob’s thoughts in italics]

It’s weird how normal everything seems here, in Montana. I worry about the future of the United States and I have absolutely no idea of what that means to me, to us, here. The steady increase in violence from our government is terrifying. I wonder when it will reach here (or if, but I wonder if that’s too hopeful). But we’re in a low population density state. I can’t yet decide if I’m glad or disappointed that everything that’s going on is so far away.

Namaste flour blend, wet and dry ingredients, bowls, whisk, masher, baking supplies, etc.

If you’re following along, then you may have noticed that we have liquid ingredients and dry ingredients. I bet you can guess what I’m about to do next.

For your dry ingredients combine the following:

  • 2 cups (0.47 l) of the gluten free flour blend
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 6 tbsp (75 g) stevia in the raw (or whichever baking stevia)

I whisk those together until evenly distributed and get distracted again.I want the protesters to return home safe and alive at the end of this storm. Refocus. Regroup.We have liquid ingredients too. Whisk together almond milk, lemon juice, vanilla, and egg.

  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) almond milk

You may see something that looks a little like curdling. It’s almond milk, lemon juice, vanilla extract and egg. Don’t freak out. Keep calm and carry on, etc.

Measure out 1/2 cup (120 mL) of coconut oil (soft and pliable, not hard), then look everywhere for your pastry cutter. Once you find it, cut the coconut oil into your blended flour mixture until homogeneously incorporated. While I’m doing that, I definitely got distracted again.

I’m Distracted Again.

I keep reading about the violence and the destruction of these places I know and am from.

As a Virginian and a former resident of the city of Richmond, I’m okay with the statues put up by the Daughters of the Confederacy being toppled. Make sure to check out everything else they’ve funded there too in their efforts to glorify the former capital. I hear protesters succeeded in getting the major to agree to remove that obelisk in Birmingham.

Statues and museums can be replaced by new, better statues and museums that discuss the same history. Maybe these new ones won’t be meant to remind an entire portion of the population that white people still have power in the South.

I don’t consider those protesters violent.

They are not taking life, and they are not injuring anyone.

https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=3181002298674653&set=a.111248442316736
This pretty much sums up my some of my opinions.

Wait, what are those protesters doing?

They’re calling for the destruction of the property of a racist group of mental troglodyte white women that have been financially linked to the KKK and of other monuments to the glorification of the Antebellum Era. They’re destroying the property of the same people that ensured my parents had to explain that it was called “Martin Luther King Jr. Day”, not “Jackson Lee Day”. They’re destroying the property of the same people that earned property/money through slave labor, then retained it after the Civil War. As far as I can tell, that means that any protester descended from a slave is therefore destroying property that is theirs by inheritance.

If they succeed, they will be making the South a place I want to move home to.

Just. Saying.

We’re Making Scones, Right?

We slowly pour and cut in the liquid ingredients until a homogenous dough is formed. Now measure out heaping cups of frozen blueberries.

This is when I read multiple stories about the police initiating violence with unarmed peaceful protesters. I read about the police killing David McAtee – a man who was well known for feeding them for free. I get distracted by the Rose Garden speech and get hit by nausea. I am reminded of how the police initiated violence against Virginia State Delegate Lee Carter of the 50th District during a peaceful protest. My friends and family (and their businesses) are right there, and I am so far away. I think of my friends that I worry about every day because Virginia police pull them over regularly for driving while black.

I miss the days when it felt like, over time, the world was becoming a better place.

Scones. Focus.

Using a wooden spoon smash the blueberries in as I gently mixed them into the scone dough.

I tried not to destroy them, but during my distraction the blueberries melted. I try to form them.

Next I have my round pan ready to form my scones. Supposedly, I do this by transferring everything to the pan, then cutting it with a knife after it has sat in the freezer for a bit.

Baking The Scones

I prepare the pan by cutting out parchment.

I put the pan in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to help it firm up.

I give up on the first idea after transferring all the dough into the pan. I have no idea how I’m going to separate it with a knife. I try, and I fail. Then I realize that I forgot to preheat the oven.

The blueberries are melting more – they are weaker than before – the thin blue wall around their exterior is failing them.

I re-smash the blueberries and scone dough into a muffin pan with muffin liners. They’re still scones – they’re not round scones or nice looking scones.

They’re downright disaster scones for a downright disaster of a day, a week, a month, a year?

They bake at 400 F (204 C) until golden brown. This was about 25 minutes in a gas oven (non-convection setting).

Glazing The Scones

We finish these off with a lemon glaze. 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and accidentally pour the remainder of your bag of powdered sugar into the bowl because… oops.

Stir until no clumps remain.

Stir that up

I served them up with Whittard’s Chelsea Garden tea. This is one of my favorite teas and comforts me because I tend to prefer floral and citrus flavors.

What would I do differently next time?

Use canned coconut cream instead of coconut oil.

To lighten the mood Jacob has a joke to share:

What’s the difference between a hippo and a zippo? One’s really heavy, and the other is a little lighter.

Verdict? At least the scones and tea taste good. Next time: gluten free dairy free pesto risotto with black caviar. Jacob and I will leave you with a teaser of our next dish, warm wishes, and thoughts.

Be compassionate. Be safe. I support you and I hear you. Black Lives Matter.

FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK

ALL LIVES DON’T MATTER UNTIL THE LIVES OF THOSE THAT FEEL THEIR LIVES ARE AT RISK AT ALL TIMES BY BEING ALIVE IN THIS COUNTRY MATTER.

#BLACKLIVESMATTER

What did you think of this installment of Lo Is Domestic AF? Are you planning to try out this scone disaster and improve upon it? If you do, I hope you don’t get as distracted. If you would like to see more of these, please comment below or like this post.

We’re On An Adventure

Rainbows everywhere

Today we did something crazy. We drove from Missoula, Montana to Eureka, Montana and back to give a friend a ride back to civilization from their family’s compound after they tested negative for COVID-19. What a great chance to show everyone this amazing place I live!

I did say rainbows

Beautiful Montana

These are all from today

I am blessed to live in a place of wide open spaces and the optical illusion that creates a bigger sky

Where glaciers collide with clouds

Flathead Lake is always a welcome sight

Flathead Lake is a gem

We hit a bit of rain on our way, but it eventually subsided.

As with any good Montana road trip you have to stop for the wildlife.

Don’t worry – they move eventually

You’d never believe this is one of the major shipping routes across the US border into British Columbia, now would you?

Nearing Eureka as it begins to get darker

Blue sky still visible at 9 PM? Not for long!

Near Trego, Montana the last bits of day find their way into this beautiful night

We managed to catch the sunset on our way in to town

As I’m pleased to share with you some of the magnificent clouds we witnessed about 15 miles south of the Canadian border at the port of Roosville

As we return from Eureka we see signs reminding us to social distance and stay close to home. Missoula County and Lincoln County both have 0 active cases. Our friend safely in tow, they are also high risk, have been isolating, and need to get to Missoula for a doctor appointment that cannot be done over a video chat.

Whitefish looks desolate. There’s no one on the roads here. It makes sense – Flathead County is among the hardest hit in the state – every case that’s been traceable has been connected to travel. Flathead County is where the airport for West Glacier and Whitefish is. We head south toward Kalispell.

So helpful

We stop in Kalispell to charge the car and use a disposable barrier for handling the charging cable. Charging will require a couple of hours.

It’s dark, so the pictures aren’t going to be very interesting for the rest of tonight. We will be safely back in Missoula soon.

And there’s your Montana road trip during this crazy time. The world is a mess. Stay safe – hold your family close.

Publication Announcement!

The above picture was created using https://inspirobot.me/ – it seemed appropriate for some of what the past couple months have felt like

I submitted my first piece of COVID-19 related writing. And…

Stigma Fighters published my poem Alexithymia in 2020 America! Hop on over there and check it out? Leaving a comment and sharing it would be even better.

This is also a good time to mention that I have a poetry collection called “One Hundred Different Skies” coming out in Summer 2020. Once I have the cover art finished I will be making the collection available for digital pre-order.

I’ve already received great feedback from a couple of beta readers and I’m loving all of it. This might sound weird, but I love hearing when someone dislikes one of my poems if they can tell me why they dislike it. I find it really helpful to me because as I’ve been working through cases where someone can tell me why they dislike something, I find that I can understand their viewpoint and am willing to edit and try to rewrite sections to improve the work.

I accept that there are few things harder than editing poetry in the world of writing. But there’s nothing more rewarding than a poem that accurately captures an experience. My beta readers are AMAZING.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read this post and if you haven’t heard it today: you are loved and you are valued.