Friday, December 3, 2010

Don't tell me I can't fix stuff.

I just discovered that a dreadful problem hadn't made it onto my "gettting things done" list: the peg from my KitchenSlave fell out last time I used it (it was a pretty heavy bread dough and I was making three batches of lasagne and not paying a lot of attention to it). I am in a COOKIE EXCHANGE tomorrow night. My production of cookies for said exchange depends upon my KitchenSlave working, so this needed to be rectified. Since I tried to fix it already - with dull objects including a hammer - and was unsuccessful, my gut reaction was to call a MAN.
I question this. My mother did this; do I really need to?

Note to self: Think. I may not be able to urinate from a moving vehicle, but I have pretty sound logic and teach science and should be able to figure out a basic peg-in-hole problem. Don'tcha think?

So, this time I braved taking off the entire head of the mixer, looking at the hole with a flashlight, and finding some set screws. It appeared by looking at the hole of the mixer head that when I was pounding the peg, it was hitting the BOTTOM of the hole into which I was trying to force it.

The BOTTOM. Logic dictates that this means I needed to get the head of the mixer farther DOWN on its base. But it was ALREADY all the way down.

So I sat on it.

I sat on it and pounded with my ergonomic hammer, and thirty seconds later it was fixed.

Don't tell ME I don't know how to fix stuff. HOO-AAH.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Why I love Damsons

Admittedly, I don't need all of the Damson jam I make out of my neighbor's plums every year.
It is more of a color experience that I just can't turn down.

I've never seen any other fruit turn so dramatically from one beautiful shade of purple to another. It's one of the few jams I make where I am smiling the entire time. Damsons are stunning. And they make fabulous jam, too.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

There's a SAUNA in here!

I have spent over 20 years in locker rooms. Anyone who has been a competitive athlete learns this about locker rooms: You go in, you suit up, you get out, FAST. After practice, you strip down, you shower, you dress, you get out, FAST. Life is too short and your schedule is probably way too tight for any dilly-dallying in the stinky locker room.

But I just joined a new company five weeks ago. It does not have a stinky locker room, it has a lovely gym with beautiful locker rooms, hair dryers, thousands of clean towels, and big mirrors. Just yesterday I rode my bike to work for the first time, and in typical athlete fashion I tended to my own business and as I was getting into the shower I noticed a big door with an unfinished wooden frame at the end of the aisle of showers.

THERE'S A SAUNA IN HERE! I shouted, for everyone to hear and yet nobody cared, nobody knows me, everyone is minding her own business just like me. THERE'S A SAUNA IN HERE! NOBODY TOLD ME THERE WAS A SAUNA IN HERE! Laughing, I walked into it and sat down.

It's a dry sauna (lots of signs spelling this out), and it's about big enough for a good party. Huge. All heated up with nobody in it, and now I have this wonder to look forward to: in December and January, when it's dark and cold outside, I will ride my bike to work and sit in this sauna and warm up from the inside out. Even though I'm back to the grind of a full-time job, it has its perks. All of the free drinks I could possibly want, and a dry heat just waiting there for my poor cold fingers and toes.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


There happened to be a field trip that coincided with my birthday this year (February 23rd). It was to iFly Adventures on the peninsula, and I had actually read up on it last year - it was started by a guy who left HP at about the same time I did. It seemed like a really interesting idea, to create a wind tunnel that people can free fall in - the effect of skydiving without the airplane.

I signed us up. Ben - my cliffhanging, No Fear child - was so excited he could hardly hold still in the car. Tanner - my sweet, amiable analytical - got quiet. I - driver that I am, and natural program manager - tossed all of the risks around in my head for 25 freeway miles.

Here is a synopsis of my fear-induced mental game:

I'm over 40, hell, I don't need to prove anything to anyone. Why am I doing this?
What if I pass out in the tunnel?
What if I barf in the tunnel?
What if I pee my pants in the tunnel with that silly jumpsuit on?
What if I barf in the CAR? Can I turn around and go home?

By the time we arrived, all spit was gone from my mouth, seemingly never to return. I sat through the educational seminar, helped kids get suited up, got my own goggles on good and tight. Sat in line a good long time watching other people do this (mostly kids, of 25 people only 4 parents flew), what went well, what went wrong. My blood pressure was not what I would call stabilized. My chances for any kind of control were slim, but I had this: I could tell the instructor exactly what I was and wasn't willing to do.

When he finally came to bring me into the tunnel, I gave him this dictate:
1. I do NOT want to fly up into that cone.
2. Do NOT let go of me.

We're good, he said, through the roar.

As soon as I was aloft, all fear drained. I arched my back, held my head up high, and it was one of the most wonderful, exhilarating moments ever. I am, after all, a fairy; flying should be natural. I would happily go back again, and no risk planning necessary.

Tanner, on the other hand, clawed to get out, gave the guy a real run for his money, and will never be talked into going back.

Ben was Superman.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Packing for Guatemala

I just wrote up my packing list for Guatemala. We leave Saturday, to the country where I left my clothes and my heart: a land of hard-working, ever-loving people, beautiful countryside, charming children, abject poverty. Hopefully I'll make a tiny dent in the need, by helping rebuild after the hurricane, or translating on a medical team - wherever I am asked to lend a hand.

I spent a lot of time with these two guys on the 2008 mission - we built a 12-foot wall together, to protect the school from thieves.

I laughed when I saw the first three items on my list, check it out:

IDs, money, credit card, bank card
water bottle

A la Maslow's hierarchy of needs, I find self-fulfillment first on my list. Perhaps only knitters would understand this!

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Insanity Begins

First preserves of the year: strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, pectin, crystallized ginger, lemon peel. Not your grandmother's strawberry preserves; these are preserves with KICK.


And I have enough for another batch, yet more proof that God loves me and wants me to be happy.

Tomorrow, 10 lbs of rapid-set, low-sugar pectin will be en route from Pacific Pectin, Inc. (180 miles away). But we won't talk about that. We'll leave that for later in the summer when I need serious, leather-couch therapy. For now, I'm just happy that this first batch is setting and has sealed.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Male discretion

Last week I decided to have my hair streaked, something I hadn't done in quite a while.
As the hairdresser was washing out the solution, Ben exclaimed, "Gross! It looks like banana slugs!"
And I decided he is well on his way to manhood.

I still have 9 years to train him. I had better get moving.

Friday, February 19, 2010

I have mourned

I have mourned the Georgian athlete
whose life ended in a fasterthanbreath collision.
They ran a story that day that spoke of genetics
of risk-takers, born for adventure, their lives
a tightrope walk across the Grand Canyon.
Who are They? And what right do they have
to toss him into a chasm of statistics?

I have mourned the Georgian athlete.
He has a mother, a father; probably
brothers and sisters. The darling of his family,
hero of his neighborhood, success story of his
town, name known throughout his country.
He was young, so hard-working, dedicated,
placing his life in the hands of a Committee.

I have mourned the Georgian athlete.
My eldest son is 8 now. You know him, he has no fear.
He has a mother and father, a brother; he seeks adventure
and the adulation of others. He makes mistakes,
falls a lot, scrapes his knees. He trusts everyone.
I have mourned the Georgian athlete
and I will never forget him, for what he did
he did for us. He did for me.