Monday, November 03, 2008

Scoville Units.

Part One:
Two little habanero plants have been growing in my garden all summer. As the garden gets little sun, they fruited late, and still even have blooms. I picked the biggest fruits still green, and dug up the biggest plant and potted it. I take it out in the sun on warm days, and bring it in at night. I’ve been joyfully watching one of the peppers slowly turn a beautiful yellow. When it was fully yellow, I was going to give it to my friend Alan.

Part Two:
I came in the office during Ryan’s lunch to catch up on email, per usual. As I was typing, I heard Ryan playing with a dinosaur, saying “Here’s your lunch now, eat your leaves!” (We’d been pantomiming feeding the dinosaur leaves.) Then I heard, “Mom, my lip hurts.” “Mom, my lip burns.””Mom, my lip REALLY burns!” One glance at my habanero plant showed that “Alan”, my prized pepper, was no longer on the plant. Wait a minute, NONE of the biggest fruits were on the plant! They were carefully lined up on the pot’s soil. And “Alan”, my prized pepper, was mushed up on the kitchen table. AGGGH! And PANIC!!!

Part Three:
1. Here’s the quote of the day: “Mom, why would God make such bad peppers?”, said amongst mucousy, Turbinado sugar-coated sniffles…

2. Factoid of the day:Yes, sugar does work best for quelling the heat, after we compared it to milk and water. (My experience has been that water can make it worse, actually.) It took about 20 minutes for his pain to entirely disspiate.

3. Lessons of the day:-Obviously, Ryan learned a BIG lesson today about not touching plants that he doesn’t know. -God convicted Mommy that she shouldn’t have put off the poison control classroom unit, as there is more to it than “Don’t touch bad chemicals”. Thank God, he didn’t get any of the oil in his eyes, and he remained as calm as possible. As Ryan put it without prodding, “I’ve learned a big, painful lesson.”

FYI: If this happens to you, or loved ones, grab the sugar and make a paste of it with a little water. Coat the affected areas with the sugar without agitating the area too much, which just moves the oil around. Be patient, and calm. I would assume you would need to call 911 if someone got this in their eyes, but flushing with water is definitely the initial approach.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Mid-Life Crisis

So much time has passed, so much has transpired since my last pitiful post! I'm another year older, (41), and I desperately want to work on my manuscript, but apparently that time is yet to come. What is it time for, you may ask?

Design Time: I've been running my full-service web design firm for a year now. It's flabbergasting to me that the bills are getting paid with this gig, when we used to live on my fat cat salary. Why, why why didn't I listen to Clark Howard back then???

Mom Time: As a result of owning a home business, this is my first summer home with the kids, ever. It is SO awesome and challenging at the same time. I LOVE sitting at the pool, working on the laptop, but I HATE how messy the house has become. I'm a total slob, and having little ones at home all day with me compounds the detritus of slobbiness. It's worth it, period. I hope my kids will have many fond memories of spending summers with Mom.

Music Time: Yes, I'm still playing bass in my brother's band, though I constantly implore him to find someone else who can at least read music. It's lots of fun, and I enjoy it, but I'm not loving the commute to practice.

Taekwondo Time: I took karate as P.E. in college; I continued with it until I almost had my green belt. Then I met a boy...anyway, now that I've got two little kids because of that boy, we're looking for ways to give them constructive activities. My son started first, then my daughter thought it was cool and joined. I couldn't stand the thought of them getting a green belt before I did! Yeah, big mama-san in giant white uniform kicks and jumps amongst the skinny laughing children...

Navy Time: Woo Hoo, Yippee, and then some! I get to be part of a Sea Scout Ship, which I've wanted to do since I was a kid. One of my great-grandfathers was an oysterman, and another was a ferry boat captain. Dad was a naval computer operator. (I had plans of going to Annapolis at one point.) So what are Sea Scouts? Imagine a water-oriented Boy Scout troop, and now imagine girls can join, too! (We have a co-ed ship that's just starting out.) At this point, it looks like I'll be a "Mate" of some sort, who assists the Skipper, or Leader. The only reservation I have is the uniform. If we have to go official with dress whites, I'll look like a Sta-Puft Marshmallow-Woman. Here's the coolest part; the weekend before I got asked to be a part of the ship, I found a Civil War era button on the beach--it turns out it was from a Union Navy peacoat. In my mind, that was a pretty cool indicator that the sea was calling me!

So what's the meaning of all of this? Am I kindred spirit to the balding man who buys a red sportscar? Only time will tell. :)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Manuscript.

I know I've been woefully silent, the scourge of true bloggers. That's because:

1) I don't consider myself a "blogger", who keeps a weblog of my cool activities, I write short stories instead


2) I got laid off. (Insert self-righteous little "so there")

So, during the time that I'd planned to start my manuscript for a real, live book, I spent my time scrambling to establish my own design business and trying to bring in some real moolah. Thank heaven, it worked. I have a dependable stream of income from a crew of clients that keeps increasing by word-of-mouth referrals. God is good: time to get back to living, instead of scrambling. I think I'll test-drive stories up here as I collect and refine material, so I think Fred deserves an update to his entry, for one thing. More on that after we do our annual search for the dear little woodcock.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Part One, Exhibit A: Writing Therapy.

A forthcoming post took way too long for me to write, though I hadn't expected it to. I think I've developed a barometer of sorts, that determines how near and dear a topic is to my heart. If I write a piece fairly quickly, it means I find the subject mildly interesting (or want to cop a laugh off my readers). On the other hand, if I write several paragraphs and then get writer's block, it means the subject is too personal for me to glibly pen and post. I seem to have a hard time writing about parts of my life, or people in my life, that I care deeply about.

Maybe I've found a new way to prioritize the elements that make up my life? I could write about the people I know, and the things I do, and see which topics stop me cold. Perhaps I'd find that I don't give a hoot about something I'm angsting over. Conversely, I may be neglecting someone, or something, that makes a tremendous difference in my life.

Consider the upcoming post: I didn't realize the topic was so meaningful to me until I attempted to write about it three times and failed. It started out as a simple story that evoked emotions within, and then evolved into a completely different story. On the outside, it's a quaint observation of Spring. On the inside, it's a look at relationships, traditions, friendships, and aging. So, I decided to break the original into two. Hopefully between the two of them, I'll do the subject matter justice. Part Two will contain the observation of Spring--read on for the rest of Part One.
Part One, Exhibit B: Fred.
I've known Fred since 1989. We started out as zookeeping co-workers, then moved on to be lunchtime compadres. When I quit zookeeping to go art school, my husband and I made pilgrimages to Fred's house. We'd all go fishing or hiking, or we'd watch science fiction movies in Fred's funky folk-museum of a den. Fred eventually quit zookeeping to become a nurse, and switched the pilgrimage to our house. (We had kids and became less footloose and fancy-free.)

That kind of friendship shouldn't be taken for granted. Most of my long-term friendships have evolved into a benign distance, and I admit it's mostly my fault. But Fred has stuck with us, and we've stuck with him, to the point that he's family. He's in the "Circle of Trust". He's "Uncle Fred". He is loved; by me, my husband, and my children. Heck, if you had told me back in the day that I would have Fred by my side as I struggled to birth a 9lb. behemoth, I would have laughed right in your face. By the time I was ready to deliver my second child, however, there's no one else I wanted around to support my husband and I. Good old Fred hung with us for that less than glamorous scenario, and has since put up with numerous toddler tantrums, in-car marital quibbles, and interactions with our attention-starved dog.

I guess that's why my first attempt was so difficult to write. To know how meaningful the subject is, you have to know how special Fred is. I want you to know what he means to me, and my family. But I'd never thought about what Fred meant to me and my family, until now. So, a post on Fred was well-warranted, before I ventured further into our exploits. So thanks, Fred, for being my friend, and being a friend to my family. (Keep that in mind the next time I flippantly call you a "moron" :)

Anyway, that's all one needs to know, to be in the proper frame of mind to read Part II; Coming Soon.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

We goin' to Disney...

I half shudder with dread and half wiggle with excitement; I am taking the family to Disney World. I could word it that "We are taking the kids to DisneyWorld", but so far I'm the only one obsessing about the details. That's okay, I appreciate having the space to be as much of a control-freak as I want. After all, we're talking the four and six year-old on their first trip to the Mouseconglomeration! It must be nigh perfect.

At least that's what my Parental Vicarious Mechanism yearns for. In reality, who knows what parts of the trip they will savor or hate? They may end up most excited about mouse-shaped straws in the souvenir shop, whereas I'll be pestering them to notice the details of the "Pirates of the Caribbean." (C'mon, you have to give the Imagineers credit when they put curly hairs on the swinging foot of a pirate!)

I've had many a happy experience in the World called Disney. Heck, we hit the park the first year it opened in sleepy Orlando. We have hilarious pictures documenting each visit from then on; varying hair and clothing styles mark the passage of time. Every vist was always more magical than the previous--including the duration of our honeymoon. Until it was time to leave, that is...

Mom and Dad had gone above and beyond to book us a room at the Polynesian resort. The freaking Polynesian! It was as beautiful and exotic as I'd dreamed it would be. We frolicked from park to park by day, we wined and dined by night. We couldn't have asked for more. Our last day of the trip came way too soon, but we planned to make the most of it by going to the new waterpark, "Typhoon Lagoon". We left our luggage in the resort's secure baggage area to maximize the fun time. We would swoop back to the Polynesian after a day's fun, and hop on a jet plane into the sunset. Or at least, that's how we had planned it.

Yes, we did pack up our bags to send off to luggage storage, and yes, idiot me took off my shiny engagement ring and put it in an unlocked makeup case. And yes, right in full view of the the bellboy. (You should be hearing "dum de dum dum" by about now) We headed out via the resort courtyard, and stopped to watch scads of cute gray bunnies hopping about in the lush grass. Our bellboy skidded his golfcart alongside us and shouted "What's wrong?". At the time, I didn't question it. On hindsight, it's a bit odd wording to pose to two smiling people looking at rabbits. We told him everything was fine, and went off to have another great day in RodentLand.

Fast forward to check-out time. Close-up shot of newlywed opening her makeup case while waiting for the cab. Time-lapse still photos of increasing fear on bride's face as she realizes her diamond ring is definitely not in the zipped jewelry bag within said makeup case. Sickening stomach-wrenching agony as couple realizes their honeymoon has come to a rather miserable conclusion.

From then on, it's mostly a blur of talking to a million people, filling out forms, and discovering that the luggage area is not guaranteed as "secure". We even experienced the privilege of riding to the airport with a resort employee. She outlined the sordid pasts of recently fired co-workers, and mused that the ring had probably been pawned by now. We had a plane to catch, so we numbly headed home to life as a married couple. Without my engagement ring. That we'd purchased together, with combined savings. Which wasn't insured. (We were naive enough to think our renter's insurance had covered it.)

Once home, we made our best effort to see justice done. We called Orlando police to file a report. To increase our despair, they concurred with the resort driver. We were probably too late. What we should have done, we were told, was to get Orlando Police in before Disney security got involved. After the Mouse-B.I. showed up, likelihood of recovery was nil.

The pitiful tale pretty much ends there, aside from the scathing letter my Dad wrote to Michael Eisner. Eisner didn't reply, go figure. My husband and I repeated a process we were all too familiar with; saving up to buy an engagement ring. Adding insult to injury, my mother had recently bought a matching ring since she loved my diamond and setting so much. I had to sit and stare at it any time I was in her presence. It sparkled and glinted in the fixed smile on my miserable face. Gut-stabbing irony Number Two: her diamond fell out of the setting one Christmas Eve as we were power-shopping. It was uninsured. (Mom just hadn't gotten to it yet) Dad replaced it that week. Urggh. Glub.

We've only been back to WDW once since our lovely, yet not-so lovely honeymoon. Thus my half-shuddering with dread. Don't get me wrong; my replacement diamond will set no foot on Disney property. But it's hard to believe in the Disney "magic" once you've had an experience like that. I'll probably eye the sugar-coated castmembers with cynicism. I'll keep all money, credit cards and documents on our persons in pickpocket proof wallets.

At the same time, I want my children to experience the magic untainted. I hope that they'll actually notice the pirate's hairy foot, and kudos if they appreciate the "hidden Mickey" in their souvenir straws. I guess in some way, I'm hoping to recover some of the magic for myself. If we can make this a safe, happy and memorable trip, maybe I'll give the kleptomaniac mouse a little break.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Shaking off the moulder of the grave.

More than a year later, I emerge from the grave to keep my blog from permanent death...I stopped blogging because indeed, my other interests superceded my writing bug for a good long time. Knitting and digital photo art were, and are the two main contenders for my spare hours, along with being a Daisy Scout leader and the mom of two.

I don't plan to keep this blog as a daily diary; I never have. However, the writing muse tickles me enough to want to try writing a book. My neighbor has just published his first book, by the way, and guess who illustrated the cover?

He went the e-publishing route...I can't say what publishing mechanism I'll use at this point, since I barely have a manuscript and no proposals drafted. However, I know enough published authors in the traditional world that I'm hoping on collecting some solid advice when the time comes.

Meanwhile, maybe I'll post some new ideas for my manuscript here every now and then, who knows? No, it's not a "weblog" in the sense that most users define it, but it served as a great "story factory and warehouse" for me. Enough said, it's Monday.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Attack of the Muses, Part II.

So, now you know why I ditched zookeeping for art school. You have the basics on my art school training. Now, back to those pesky Muses(behold; rare hyperlinks to the outside world!)

Muse One: Basseopeia
She whispered softly in my ear, "Grab that dusty Yamaha and play it, my dear."
I've been messing around with electric bass guitars since I was twelve years old. Actually, my first "bass" was my brother's hollow-body electric guitar. I figured out if I played it acoustically, I could get a pretty decent bass sound out of the lower four strings. I played by ear, and easily picked out the bass riffs on popular songs by Culture Club, Talk Talk and Michael Jackson. (Gimme a break; it was the eighties, okay?)

In my early thirties, I finally bought a bass of my own.(My trusty Yamaha RBX260.)I started taking lessons, but had to cease when I became pregnant with our first child. (I didn't feel good, and my stomach got too big to balance the bass on.) At that point, I put the bass in a corner, and would only get it out every now and then, when good old Fred would encourage me to play it. I got to the point where I could plunk out a funereal "Knockin' On Heaven's Door", but that's about as far as it went.

The Lord works in mysterious ways, so they say...He moved my big brother to put together a music mission called "Ventana", a great group of folks who hope to use music to reach out to people in need. I'm fortunate that Mike still encourages his little sister to tag along, so I've had the good fortune to participate. I'm slowly but surely learning to play that electrified hunk of wood, with a little help from Mike's friends.

Muse Two: Photoshoppity
"You've used this software since version 1.0; now to the people your work you must show."
I love, love, LOVE digital editing in Photoshop. I really have used the software since version 1.0, and I assume I'll use it as long as it exists. At work, I use Photoshop for creating web graphics, comping user interfaces and prototypes, and for photographic retouching. Outside of work, I love photo retouching for friends and family (and eventually clients?), and entering Photoshop contests. This is my pride and joy, (see original) though I'm darned proud of this and this and this.

Muse Three: Knittania
"Buy homespun and patterns, and needles, you fool! Since all your friends do it, to knit must be cool!"
I got into knitting because my buddy Lisa seemed to have so much fun doing it. I quickly became knitting addict. Having mastered the garter stitch, I cranked out odd hats, neckwarmers and scarves galore. Now that I've completed a beginning knitting class, I expect to crank out less odd hats and perhaps a sweater or two.

I love the tangible quality of knitting. It's so satisfying to have a creative outlet that produces results I can touch, smell and feel. (I am NOT kinky, I swear.) I can play music on my bass, but the notes exist in waveform. I can create cool digital images in Photoshop, but I can't feel them. (Other than glossy or matte paper) By knitting, my fingers can luxuriate in a variety of yarns, from slick and glossy chenille to soft and comfy cotton. I can savor the zen calm induced by the rhythmic clacking of the needles. I can delight in making scarves that my clothes-horse husband will wear, and neck-warmers that my picky daughter prefers over store-bought hats.
In short, I've gotten over the creative snobbery of my youth. I finally allowed myself to pursue an artistic career. I now indulge my interests in music, visual and literary arts, and textile crafts. Apparently there's something inside me, thrashing and gnashing to escape, to be seen and heard. Whether there's a book in my future, a gallery show, or a reputation as the scary old lady who knits sweaters for cats, I can't say.

I'll just keep juggling the whims of my muses 'til something takes to the air in flight, or crashes on the floor and breaks into a million tiny pieces.

Muse of bass playing