Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The body's bank account

Rare disease patients often refer to themselves as “zebras” due to the often referenced quote in medical circles “When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.” That is true, but remember – there are many zebras out there, too, and we depend on physicians’ willingness to learn and partner with us to find diagnoses, treatments, and hopefully eventually cures for our rare diseases.
~Anna Hull

I talked before about the spoon theory of chronic illness. Today, I'm talking about another way to describe the difficulty of dealing with symptoms on a daily basis. This was written specifically about mast cell activation disorder, but I'll bet could work for lupus, chronic migraines, and other illnesses that fluctuate. It could also describe emotional energy that people use in a day.

Scientist and mast cell patient Lisa Klimas explains:
The problem is not just that I’m allergic to some foods. It’s that I’m not always allergic to the same foods as I was the day before. Or the same medications. Or the same environmental exposures. My reactions on a given day are the cumulative product of the amount of irritation my mast cells have experienced in the previous day or two. There is always a running tally in my mind...

For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume you have $100 in a bank account. Any activity that can cause mast cell activation has to be paid for. The cost is proportionate to the amount of activation. Getting a splinter: $2. Being hot: $10. Being in direct sunlight: $10. Standing up for 20 minutes while being hot in direct sunlight: $35. Cardiovascular exercise: $40. Arguing with your spouse: $60. Moderate pain experienced in your day to day life: $50. A painful medical procedure: $70. Mild cold: $40.

...You can make deposits into the bank with medications and physical changes. Getting enough sleep: $30. Wearing loose, comfortable clothes: $15. Doing orthostatic manuevers before standing up: $10. Taking baseline mast cell medications on your normal schedule: $50. Eating food that is warm but not hot: $15. Monitoring your exercise and stopping for breaks: $15. Wearing a cooling vest on a hot day: $20. Oral Benadryl: $25. IV Benadryl: $50. Steroids: $50.

So you have this running tally in your head all day long. When you start getting close to $100, you get stressed. You know you can’t afford to spend more than $100. Things that you could have done four hours ago safely are no longer safe. Things you could eat on a day spent relaxing at home inside with comfortable ambient temperature cannot be eaten if your apartment is too hot or if you are in a lot of pain.
She says that people who see her on different days, see her being able to eat different things and sometimes give her trouble for it, as if she's faking. As Lisa says, "WHO DOES THAT?"

"Cost for being around someone who gives you s*** for not always having the same restrictions: $75."

A zebra bracelet for people with rare diseases

Monday, October 22, 2018

Back into orbit

I realize that humor isn't for everyone. It's only for people who want to have fun, enjoy life, and feel alive.
~Anne Wilson Schaef

For Music Monday, something by half•alive that makes me laugh. Hats off to the those vintage jackets in the latter part of the video:

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Creating Short Fiction

One of the great rewards of a writer's life is that it lets you read all the books you want to without feeling guilty.
~Damon Knight

Wanted to let you know about a book I just finished: Creating Short Fiction by Damon Knight. If you are interested in writing short stories, get your hands on this! So much good advice, plus exercises.

Thursday, October 18, 2018


In string theory, all particles are vibrations on a tiny rubber band; physics is the harmonies on the string; chemistry is the melodies we play on vibrating strings; the universe is a symphony of strings, and the 'Mind of God' is cosmic music resonating in 11-dimensional hyperspace.
~Michio Kaku

Connective strings today.

photo by michael davis-burchat

String Theory Relationships
by Kelli Russell Agodon

The essential idea is this — the man you love is connected to you

no matter what, but he’s also connected to the woman

     down the street with the small dog that barks at the lilacs,

      and she’s connected to the cashier at the market who’s a bit rough

with your grapes, but he thinks you’re ten years younger than you are

and he gives you free saltwater taffy and calls you

      darling — but he also calls her darling, and her dog

      darling, and the man you love along with the grapes.

The essential idea is this — all objects are composed of vibrating anxieties

— everyone wants a window or aisle seat and no one wants to sit...

read the rest here


photo by Alexander Baxevanis

A short poem from Alicia Ostriker:

The secret shape of this book is a parachute
all the lines leading to the person hanging there

drifting on the wind and always falling
waiting for the mists to clear


[Thought that would be a good prompt -- "The secret shape of ________ is a ___________"]

Friendly Fairy Tales has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Brenda!

If you'd like to join the Winter Poem Swap and you haven't yet, email tabatha(at)tabathayeatts(dot)com.

Chahakobi ningyō

How curious it must have seemed that these craftsmen, witnessing the wonders of the Western mechanical clock, should take the same mechanism used to create such a creature of utility, and fashion from it instead a tea-serving doll.
~Chris Field, Tales from a Tea-Carrying Doll

Today we're looking at a type of karakuri (automated doll) called chahakobi ningyō (bearers of tea). They walk forward until the tea cup is removed, then, after the tea cup is put back, they return to their starting point. A chahakobi ningyō can take a year to make!

A chahakobi ningyō in action:

Karakuri, circa 1800
photo by PHGCOM

Tea-carrying doll by Shobei Tamaya, replica from book published in 1796
photo by Daderot

Other tea posts

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

An Invitation to the Arts

The arts empower. The arts give a voice to the voiceless. The arts help transform American communities and, as I often say, the result can be a better child, a better town, a better nation and certainly a better world. Let’s champion our arts action heroes, emulate them and make our communities everything we want them to be.
~Robert L. Lynch

A guest article by Lillian Brooks today focusing on helping children with learning difficulties be excited about the arts. Take it away, Lillian!

Getting Children With Learning Difficulties Excited About the Arts

For children with learning difficulties, the arts can be like brain training and therapy all rolled into one. The list of benefits is a long one: better language skills, improved problem-solving abilities, more confidence, reduced stress, and more friendships, to name but a few. OK, so you’re sold on the idea. Now, how do you get your child interested, too? Here are a few different approaches you can take.

Set Up a Hobby Room

Visual arts, like painting, drawing, and sculpture, are very beneficial to children with learning disabilities. As PBS Parents discusses, visual arts help kids to process concepts that they struggle to express in language, and help them develop their creativity. However, a big concern you might have is the mess making art can create. The solution is to set up a hobby room. Cover surfaces and the floor with sheets or plastic mats, and let your kids create without worrying about the mess they will make. If you don’t have a whole room to spare, you could set aside a corner of one room to use, and keep sheets and mats stored away when not in use.

Have Sew Much Fun

Are you short on space for a hobby area—and short on patience for messes? Don’t worry. Your child can still participate in visual arts with nothing more than a needle and thread! Weaving has been shown to be particularly soothing for children with ADHD, but no matter your child’s abilities, creating basic sewing projects, such as adding buttons to garments and making pillowcases, can be a calming, mess-free activity. If your child has sensory issues, be sure to let them pick their own fabric and other materials. Many children with learning differences prefer soft fabrics over rough, scratchy cloth, so take a field trip to the craft store to let your little one find their favorite material to stitch into something beautiful.

Buy a Musical Instrument

Many children with learning disabilities thrive in the field of music, due to it being a nonverbal communication method. It is also superb for brain development because not only does it sharpen their auditory skills, it also helps develop hand-eye coordination, while the pattern recognition developed from interpreting sheet music carries over to reading skills. It’s no wonder, then, that music can have benefits for children with learning disabilities, including reduced aggression, better communication skills, and improved psychological well-being.

Start by asking your child what instruments they might be interested in, and take them to a few trial lessons to see how they get on. Many clubs give you the first lesson free to see how your child takes to it. If they like it, get them an instrument of their own to practice with.

Take Them to a Dance Class

Dance can help children to develop their motor skills and coordination, and it’s a great option for kids with excess energy. You can find dance classes that cater specifically to children with learning difficulties or with special needs in general. Such classes often have less of a technical focus and more of an expressive focus, encouraging kids to convey whatever they are feeling in that moment. This Huffington Post article describes what these classes are like. Alternatively, you could take your child to a conventional class, which will focus more on things like technique, accuracy, and precision. Classes like this are great for building memory due to the complex steps that kids must remember, and they often come with a chance to perform on stage.

Go to Performances and Exhibitions

You might be able to inspire the desire to create art in your children by taking them to see some great art or performances. Most galleries have free exhibitions at various times of the year, or you could take them to see a live performance by a dance troupe or a band. Try to find something that’s age appropriate for your child or that they have an interest in. Six-year-olds might not appreciate the nuances of “Swan Lake,” but they may love a contemporary street dance performance. Likewise, many children get interested in drawing by copying comic book art featuring their favorite superheroes.

Get your child involved by asking them about things they’d like to do, but remember that they won’t know what they like until they try it. Be prepared to spring a few new ideas on them—at the very least, it will be an interesting new experience for them. If you’re persistent and willing to experiment, you’ll soon find something that they like.

Photo: Pixabay

Monday, October 15, 2018

It Runs Through Me

She told me that the groove is mine
It will take us through the night
And where I’ll go
Can’t explain I’ll never know
But it’s beautiful
~Tom Misch

Feeling good this Monday morning with Tom Misch feat. De La Soul:

Thursday, October 11, 2018

A day becomes a story

Listen to the foam of my voice and I will pour it for you,
all the tiny stories in one intoxicating stream,
catching each other’s sparkle,
now, before the taste disappears.
~Lesley Wheeler

Seagull Egg by Sonse

A poem by Lesley Wheeler today.

Inland Song
by Lesley Wheeler

In some kind houses the doors
never quite shut. Every table
hosts a bowl of eggs—wooden ones
or striped stone, cool to touch.

What could grow in an egg like that?
A day becomes a story becomes a bird,
a lost seagull who shrinks each time
I describe him. Watch him fold

his filigree wings, crawl into
the shell. His song wasn't much,
but he tries to swallow it,
as if he can retreat...

read the rest here


Writing the World for Kids has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Laura!


When I was at school, I used to end every school day with fountain pen ink all over my hands and face and down my shirt.
~Edgar Wright

Celebrating a month of ink today. Inktober, invented by Jake Parker, doesn't have a lot of rules. Just four, in fact:

There is something magical in seeing what you can do, what texture and tone and colour you can produce merely with a pen point and a bottle of ink.
~Ida Rentoul Outhwaite

For instance:

by Juan Romero

by Roy Blumenthal

Inktober on Instagram
The 2018 prompts
Inktober Art by Poetry Friday friend Michelle Kogan

Wednesday, October 10, 2018


...One has to find a balance between what people need from you and what you need for yourself.
~Jessye Norman

There's so much going on these days that it's hard to balance paying attention with keeping relaxed. Only YOU know what the right balance is for you!

If you're worrying that the country is like a frog getting slowly boiled and you feel obliged to keep an eye on the hands turning up the heat, check out Amy Siskind's The Weekly List. (Also, here are Tips to Protect your Voter Registration and Vote against Hacking and Glitches.)

If you've been watching the heat turning up and you need to take your mind off it, maybe give creative visualization with these free relaxation scripts a try.

You can also listen to creative visualizations, such as this 10-minute one:

And there's always's Josh Turner with Why Don't We Just Dance:

Monday, October 8, 2018


A bad neighbor is a misfortune, as much as a good one is a great blessing.

Neighborhood by Her, a French duo... "When the pair of them came up with the name, Her, they had already written around 30 songs, and realised that a recurring theme was femininity, but also love and women" (you can read the rest of the article here).

Sunday, October 7, 2018


When the first record came out, I'd go down to radio stations pretty much every day to get the record played, and I would walk in and they'd tell us how much they loved the record, but they weren't sure how much they could play it because they were already playing a girl.
~Pat Benatar

Maybe somebody else needs a pep talk from Queen Pat today?

Pat Benatar, Invincible:

Pat Benatar, Hit Me With Your Best Shot:

Did you notice that the Guardians of the Galaxy's ship is named Benatar?

Thursday, October 4, 2018


Welcome! Willkommen!

My son just finished applying to study abroad in Germany next semester, so we are thinking German around here. (He played for the German team last week in UMD's foreign language department soccer tournament. They had their own World Cup -- how cute is that?)

Today, we have a German poem about friendship.

"Ginkgo biloba" is a poem written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe for his friend Marianne von Willemer. He showed her the Ginkgo tree in the garden of Heidelberg Castle from which he took the two leaves pasted onto the poem. [Wikipedia]

Gingko biloba
by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

In my garden’s care and favour
From the East this tree’s leaf shows
Secret sense for us to savour
And uplifts the one who knows.

Is it but one being single
Which as same itself divides?
Are there two which choose to mingle
So that each as one now hides?

As the answer to such question
I have found a sense that’s true:
Is it not my songs’ suggestion
That I’m one and also two?

Translated by John Whaley
Read the original German or other translations here.


Are you interested in sending a poem and small gift to a Poetry friend? We've got a one-time swap coming up.

The deadline for signing up is November 2. Email me at tabatha(at)tabathayeatts(dot)com.


Please share your link here!

Sea Lilies and Feather Stars

Crinoid fossils naturally contain small holes...the fossilized segments became a staple in rosary beading, and are still heavily associated with St. Cuthbert.
~Cynthia Griffith

Marine animals called crinoids today. Crinoids attached to the sea bottom by a stalk are called sea lilies and unstalked crinoids are called feather stars.

Colorful crinoids at shallow waters of Gili Lawa Laut, Indonesia
photo by Alexander Vasenin

Proisocrinus ruberrimus, a Proisocrinidae
NOAA Photo Library

Two Crinoids
NOAA Photo Library

Crinoid on the reef of Batu Moncho Island (near Komodo, Indonesia)
photo by Alexander Vasenin

Feather Star Crinoid
NOAA Photo Library

A stalked crinoid
by Ernst Haeckel

Fossil crinoids in chalk
photo by James St. John

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Come Over Here

It's never the differences between people that surprise us. It's the things that, against all odds, we have in common.
~Jodi Picoult

Audiences from different countries, same fun.


More joy, but across space AND time rather than just space (it's from the 1800s):

from Pictures of Flowers and Birds
by Okamoto Shūki (Japan, 1807-1862)

Monday, October 1, 2018

More '80s

I wanted to be with you alone
And talk about the weather
~Tears for Fears

I needed some comfort music today, so it's throwback time!

Tears for Fears, Head over Heels:

Aztec Camera, Oblivious:

Talk Talk, Such a Shame:

As I was finishing this up, I thought of one more song. It doesn't go with the others, but I loved it at the same time, so dance a little closer, y'all:

Nanci Griffith, Love at the Five and Dime: