Thursday, December 29, 2011

If You Can Read, You Can Cook

When I was still having babies and having so much of my time and energy monopolized by them, my older children would sometimes express a desire for cookies or something of that nature.  I would point them toward the kitchen and the cook books.  There were precious few moments of mother and daughter working side by side with mother dispensing pearls of wisdom.  My child would bravely forge ahead on her own (mostly her - I had girl, boy, girl, girl, girl, then boy, boy, boy).  The young cook in the kitchen and mom in the other room tending to baby, but available for questions.  They soon became accomplished dessert cooks.  For some mysterious reason it took them much, much longer to master dinner type cooking.  For most of them not until they had moved out.  ; )

There was a bit of a gap, perhaps due to lack of babies.   Number 6 and 7 don't really cook.  Although they have all baked bread from scratch several times.  I actually did work in the kitchen with the guys teaching bread and biscuits and a few other things. (You handle bread dough like a dog and biscuit dough like a cat.) 

Maybe because of the divorce forcing me to go out to work, Number 8 cooks well. He often fixes dinner - having it ready or well under way when I get home.  (What a guy!)  I need to help get the other guys cooking.  Andrew is somewhat interested now. (Benjamin tried to teach him a few things before his mission, but Andrew was not interested yet)  Now, he recognizes the need to expand beyond "Proctor Place Special" - from his mission - tomato soup and ramon or just the ramon noodles, I guess.  He says he actually likes it.  The rest of us refuse to try it.  He made apple crisp tonight because I over bought a bit on the Christmas fruit. (how unusual)

I have sometimes felt guilty about not teaching my girls and oldest son more personally, but I must say my method seems to have worked quite well as all of them are very good cooks.  The girls, in fact, quite out-shine me in the kitchen and all of them have gone on to cook things I never would have tried.  Including David.  I have never made chicken cordon bleu.  He not only made it; he cooked it in the back of the car turned solar cooker while he and his date enjoyed a day at the beach.

Must stop talking about this.  I am getting hungry.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Fat Lady Didn't Sing

While taking time off to work on my Christmas preparations, I saw part of the Dr. Oz show Friday.  His guest was a woman who weighs over 700lbs and who wants to more than double that to something like 1800 lbs and become the fattest woman ever.  He threw medical numbers at her to try to convince her that she is hurting herself.  She just kept smiling and insisting that she is healthy.  

One:    It was embarrassing. To me!  Her blood sugar, while higher than it should be is better than mine.  They showed a clip of her doing sit-ups.  Multiple sit-ups.  I do not think I can do even one.  I am, it is true, “morbidly obese”, but  she has over 500 lbs on me and in some ways IS healthier.  All I can say is that I ride my bike to work.  I don’t think she could. 

I used to say that if I ever got to be so much overweight, I would give up and join the circus as a fat lady.  Well sadly I got there, but that’s almost average nowadays.  I really don’t want to weigh enough to qualify for the job. 

Two:  Dr. Oz did not address her where she lives.  He has no real idea why she is fat or why she is choosing to stay fat and get fatter.  Or doesn’t think it matters?  

What I think:
A long time ago, she decided that she could never be the ideal weight.  She was fat and ever would be fat and she might as well accept it.  Losing weight is incredibly hard for many of us.  When I try to be good, I maintain maybe, but hardly lose.  Admittedly, I do not try VERY HARD, but I can be careful and deny myself, take smaller portions,  and try to only eat healthy non-fattening things during my perpetual snack attacks at work – and not lose.  If I am not trying at least a little, I gain.  How much easier to just give up.  I think she did. She decided: I am fat, that’s me and I like it.  

She makes money being fat.  Dr, Oz practically did commercials for fat porn (whatever they call it).  People pay to see pictures of really fat women.  They pay to see videos of her eating.  If she were to try to lose weight, it would not only be hard, hard work and deprivation, but she would lose her income.   How could she support herself?!   especially while she was still fat, too fat to get about easily and too fat to make a good impression on job interviews, too fat to look good, but not quite fat enough to be a big fat porn star?  
I wondered why in the world she would go on the Dr. Oz show, but then realized – it was for the publicity.  She was advertising.   Sad for her.  And sad for Dr. Oz, because I don’t think he gets it.  He wanted to help her, but he didn’t seem to even try to understand her.  He was no Dr, Phil.  ; )

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Card Lament # 2

No pretty card to put on your wall.
No tender pictures of a baby small.
No clever verses of meaningful rhyme
From me to you this Christmas time.
No card all, I am sorry to say,
But I wish you well today and always.
Rejoice in the birth of our Savior dear
And may you have a happy new year!

Christmas Card Lament

It takes a year to get here.
It’s something we all know.
It’s no surprise it’s coming.
At times it’s seems too slow.
Yet again it gets me. 
I find myself behind.
Some years better, 
Some years worse,
I get myself in a bind.
This year sets a record
Even for me, I fear.
I haven’t manage a single thing
For Christmas cards this year.
No good excuses.
No good reason.
I just blew it
This Christmas season.
It’s not that I don’t love you.
It’s not that I don’t care.
I certainly love Jesus.
I am just inept.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Drain, Drain Go Away OR When It Drains, It Pours

For some time now, we have been having minor drain problems with the garage sink into which clothes washer drains.

Part of the problem, we know, is lint and pet hair from the wash clogging the sink.  So we have a rubber lint catcher which sits in the drain to catch lint, pet hair, etc before it enters the pipes.  We clean that out every load.  Sometimes a couple of times in the middle of a load.  Still the water backs up until the sink is full and sometimes beyond - flooding the garage.

But it is not just that.  When we clean out the lint catcher or sometimes even remove it, the water starts to flow down the drain, but after several inches stops or significantly slows.  Indicating a clog somewhere down the line.  Sometimes we have to stop the washer and wait to keep the water from over flowing.  Sometimes we don't, but should have.  : (

Today our friend Ron Brown came over and ran a 20 foot long or so snake down the pipes from the garage and also from the outside cleanout.  Found nothing.  He put the sink back.  Alas, perhaps a gasket is missing or something, because now there is a slight drip under the sink.  We temporarily put an old ice cream bucket under the sink to catch the drips.  No big problem.

More fun!  Suddenly the washer is not draining.  This has happened before.  I just tell the washer to try again.  It does and life goes on.  Not this time.  It spun, but did not issue forth water.  Water leaked from under the washer.  Still more water on our already wet from flooding floor.  Benjamin discovered that if he took the hose out of the sink and lowered it nearly to the floor that water came out.  Bucket by bucket he emptied the washer.  When it was nearly empty, the washer again spun and spit out water into the sink.  So, he set the washer to spin out and rinse again.  Will it work?  Oh the excitement!

So, now we have a drain that doesn't drain well, but does drip  and a washer that may or may not spin out the water.

I have purchased untold amounts of liquid drain cleaner and poured them down that and other drains. Thinking that was the responsible good homeowner thing to do.  It has not helped the laundry drain. I don't know if it has done any good with the other drains - my particular concern being the bathtub drain to deal with the copious amounts of hair and soap scum that gets beyond what I can clean out by hand.  So far, no problems there (count your blessings and knock on wood).  But one of my friends says that at best I am wasting my money and at worst I may be damaging my pipes.  argh!

And like I said, the garage drain remains very, very slow. I fear I must call in a professional plumber for that drain.  My house pipes are not very old.  We completely re-piped not long before the divorce - one of the few things actually done for the house with money borrowed for house repairs (and mostly used to buy a then brand new Prius for the then head of household). 

I may also need to invest in a new washer.  I long ago got tired of throwing away money on the maintenance plan for the washer and dryer (which now sometimes squeaks, also not good).   I am thinking that a few years of a maintenance plan is enough for a new appliance and that when I replace the washer, I will get one that catches the lint and stuff like my previous one did.  I am not looking forward to 1) shopping for an appliance or maybe two (I am not a super smart informed shopper) and 2) depleting my savings.  But!  I do have some savings and should be able to flat out buy a basic washer (and dryer if need be).  : )

I hate to draw from my not very large savings, but what a blessing to be living now so that is the option instead of adding to the (now non existent except for larger than it should be mortgage) debt load as under the old regime! 

I still have no retirement savings, but I no longer live in debt.  Wonderful! I am struggling to pay even for community college for my guys to take even a handful of classes and I will only be able to pay a fraction of Benjamin's mission costs.  But inch by fraction of an inch, I am becoming (hopefully) financially secure. Not rich, mind you, but debt free (except my mortgage and 2 credit cards that I pay off every month) and able to meet minor (very minor) emergencies.

What a relief after after living through a period of getting several calls a week from debt collectors for debts I didn't even know existed, going through a bankruptcy and then a few years after paying that off with a surprise inheritance discovering in addition to house and car loans that I knew about another $30,000 in secret debts and rushing headlong towards another possible bankruptcy.  All the while scrimping on almost everything to get by.  This while my husband was earning very good money (but spending better and not on his family).

So I whine and complain and worry a bit about money, but life is so much better now.  If I am careful and blessed, I will remain solvent.  NICE

Still, I would rather that the washer emptied and the drain drained.  Just glad the toilets work! and kitchen and bathroom sink and tub!

Washer problem persisting.  Looks like I get a new washer for Christmas!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thank You Mysterious, Sneaky, Overly Generous Friends and Family!

Some time this afternoon amid the visiting and games, my daughter Ruth told me that they had received a package with instructions to remove any identifiers and give the package to me to open without telling me the source. (!)

The note inside said.,
To Barbara
Love Your Friends and Family
Merry Christmas !!! “

You cannot imagine my stunned surprise to discover a scented candle, bath and body lotion, lovely warm slipper socks, a beautiful soft warm throw, AND an Amazon KINDLE!! as well as a sleeve for the Kindle.

Wow! Oh, Wow!

This is amazing and too much. I know this represents a lot of love, thought and sacrifice (not to mention clever planning) - far more than I deserve or could hope to return – even if I knew who the “culprits” are. I have wonderful friends whom I could suspect. But honestly, although my friends and family are rich in goodness, I don't think any of them are rich enough financially for throwing money around. So I am mystified.  Like I said this represents sacrifice as well as a wonderful amount of caring.

Since I do not know who my bounteous benefactors are, I have to be nice to everyone. (So much for this being the perfect stress reduction kit!)  (After I opened the package, my daughter even took away the box and gave me a plain box just in case there were any clues I might detect)

Excuse me, I need to spend a little time with Mark and I am going to spend a little time getting to know Kindle and I should get some sleep tonight.

Any suggestions for Kindle's name?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Some Like It Hot

All day snacking potluck in my unit today.  Great minds must think alike.  Crackers & cheese, baguettes & dip.  

My (East Indian) super brought some vegetable dish & was trying to persuade me to try some.   I had already heard her & a co-worker discussing it so I knew it was spicy.  She said, "Oh it's not very spicy. You should try a little."  I have learned better than that, partly from our dear Laotian friends at church.  “Oh, it’s not very spicy – only a little”
And then, if you are foolish enough to believe them, you burn.  Shall I say perceptions differ and I don’t go for spicy.   

I stood firm against my supervisor, to her disappointment.  I finally announced that I was the token non-spice person in the unit so that we can have cultural diversity.  (We all know how important cultural diversity is in the workplace and that one must never ever harass someone because they are part of a different group.)  That seemed to stop her. 

Later while she was out, another co-worker stopped at my cube with steam coming out of her ears and told me that I do not want to try it.   : )   oh, surprise

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Chain of Thought

There's a lot of complaining going on about the blurred holidays.   Frankly all the complaining bothers me much more than what is happening in the stores.  Frankly, I don't spend that much time in stores.  I think the stores may be a little silly.  I know people who plan/shop/prepare for Christmas all year long - I keep intending to be one of them - without the stimulus of Christmas decor.

Then,too, I am a bit guilty of blurring the holidays myself.  Shortly after Halloween, I start my Thankful Chain.  We have been doing this at home for years.  It is fun to see how far around the (interior) house we can get our chain to run.  We write down things we are thankful for - big or small, "silly" or serious.  But we write them on red, white and green paper links. So they are Christmassy decorations.  And, as my children will attest, I have emotional difficulties taking down the chain.  It has been known to stay up well into the next year until it starts to die a natural death.

This year I have started a chain at work.  My chain at work is actually at this point longer than our chain at home. But then I do spend more of my waking hours there.

Yes, this is my cubicle and you can see one reason I make my minimalist supervisor crazy but she is learning to ignore it or at least not say anything. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

You Go, Girl!

My daughter got a 2 week layoff notice last Friday. Not good news.  Single, homeowner, “mom” to two dogs.
She went to her sister’s house and cried on her shoulder.  She huddled under the blankets and felt sick – she hadn’t been feeling well, anyway.  She had her siblings over for a movie night.  Her sister stayed over with her.  Ok, she felt sorry for herself a little.  On Friday.

Over the weekend she did things that make her happy.  Saturday morning they went to the pumpkin patch with another sister’s family.  Three kids in a pumpkin patch will lift your spirits.  In the afternoon they went to Apple Hill with the guys and me.  Beautiful day.

Sunday she spent some time with friends.

Monday morning was time to get back to work and she hit the ground running.  She is still working her last two weeks at her current job, but she immediately updated her résumé, started making contacts, and checking resources. She has her network on the look-out for her.  By Wednesday she had at least one interview lined up.  

I admire how she is handling this challenge.  A little time feeling bad, some time doing things that make her happy, and then working hard and creatively at job hunting, doing everything she can think of and getting suggestions from others.  

She doesn’t even get irritated with me when I send her far-fetched job opportunities. (I pass on pretty much every job opportunity I hear about no matter what it is to a handful of job seekers in my circle and to employment specialists at my church – you never know).  (at least she doesn’t say so).  

I am impressed by her coping skills and positive fighting spirit, her organization, her hard work.  If I were an employer, I would want to hire someone with that kind of gumption.  (As well as brilliant, keenly observant, fun, detail oriented, responsible, et cetera, et cetera.