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Did I just do that?

July 19, 2014

So yeah…I really just did that.  And I’m not sure what all it’s going to take to un-do it.

We were invited to dinner tomorrow evening and when I asked what I could bring, the hostess suggested flan as it would go well with dinner.  I said sure, I could do that.

Never mind that I’ve never made flan.  After all, I have Al Gore’s internets and YouTube, so how hard could this be?

Turns out it’s really not that hard at all.  I found a highly rated recipe, read the ratings so I’d know any good shortcuts to good results, and set about to make a killer flan.

And I’da made it, too, if it hadn’t been for those meddlin’ kids and that dog!  (name that show)

Actually, my problem was not in the prep.  My problem was in transferring a pie plate full of thin liquid into a hot water bath in a hot oven.  When you are trying to keep it level, a pie pan full of thin liquid suddenly begins to jump and tilt and slosh as if it has a caffeine-jacked guinea pig in it.

The tiniest tilt sent sticky liquid splashing onto the open door and floor of the hot oven, as well as the cabinets, stove top, all over the floor, my feet and Mr. Sparky’s shoes.

Guinea Pig: 1, Sparky: 0.

We swiped what we could off the inside of the door and also off the bottom of the pie plate, and then set to putting it back into the water bath.  It was almost in there when I realized that I was surely going to dip my fingers in that hot water.  No bueno.  So I lifted it out, put on a pair of dish gloves, and then successfully set the somewhat less full pie plate into the water bath.

That is when I remembered that it was supposed to be covered with foil.

i will not cry i will not cry i will not cry…

I told Mr. Sparky (who was helping me, or attempting to) to leave it in there.  I grabbed the foil and loosely covered the pan, and we closed the door on the oven that was probably all of about 137 degrees now, thanks to having the door open for three forevers.

And that is where it is right now.

I suspect that the flan in the pan will bake at a much slower rate than the flan on the oven door and oven floor.  Call it a hunch.

The mess is cleaned up, I think, but I won’t be shocked if I find sticky spots in random places.  If I catch the dog licking mystery spots in the kitchen, then I guess I’ll know where to focus my attention.

That better be one darned good flan, that’s all I’ve got to say.

Brain blackmail

July 18, 2014

I know there are supposed to be 24 hours in a day, but I think I’m getting shorted.

I keep getting to the end of the day and finding sometime after midnight that I’ve still not blogged.

My brain says “Oh, it’s past midnight…I can’t possibly do anything now.”

I say “Oh, yes you can.”

Brain says “No, I can’t, and if you try to make me I will play Somebody That I Used To Know over and over on a continuous loop.  Like, for days on end.”

I say “You wouldn’t.”

Brain says “Would you prefer the theme song from Big Bang Theory?  Remember…you don’t know all the words to that one, so there will be a lot of watermeloning.  Verse after verse of watermeloning.  Sound like fun?”

I say “Ok, FINE.”

And then I go to bed, bummed that I lost another night of blogging.

So if you’ve been wondering where I am and why I’ve seemed so sporadic and scarce the past few weeks, there ya have it.

Of modern technology and strange donuts

July 15, 2014

Mr. Sparky and I went out to do some comparison shopping tonight because we are thinking that maybe it’s time to bring our entertainment system, which is a fancy phrase meaning “television”, into the current century.  Ours isn’t so old that it sits in a console on the living room floor with a large vase of artificial flowers on top, but it is old enough that Mr. Sparky can’t see how many miles are left while watching the current stage of the Tour de France because the Tour is broadcast in letterbox format, and our cube, which is as deep as it is wide, is decidedly un-letterbox.  Thus the reason for the timing of retiring the 17-year-old cube.

So…now I finally know what it takes.

I am a dedicated comparison shopper.  I like to exhaust the options because then I am satisfied that I have enough information to make the wisest choice.

Mr. Sparky has grown to humor me in this over the years.

All that shopping, however, left us a tad peckish and in need of sustenance.   This is a fancy phrase that means “we got hungry and wanted some dinner”.

I’m diggin’ the fancy phrases tonight.

We decided to try out the shiny new Panda Express that has suddenly appeared in front of the Walmart.  Neither of us had ever eaten at a Panda Express before, but we both like Asian food, so it seemed like a reasonable adventure.

The place was bright, shiny, and clean.  The people who worked in there were friendly, although nobody was breaking any speed records.  But here’s the deal:  all the food is in large serving bowls behind a glass shield, and the workers scoop it onto plates for you.  And at the beginning of the line, they expect you to know what you want before you’ve even looked at all the options of what you could have.  And there’s no listing on the posted menu to help you decide.

My friends, there should be a law.  They don’t make you do this at Baskin Robbins, and they should not make you do it at Panda Express. A person should be permitted to peruse the options.  I’m just sayin’.  It’s a sure way to cause a short-circuit in the brain of a true comparison shopper.

I did, however, make a choice with reasonable swiftness.  I chose brown rice, some Kung Pao Chicken, and some Orange Chicken.

As we were eating, we began to discuss what we thought of our food, each of us trying to be politely positive.  But finally I couldn’t stand it anymore. The Orange Chicken wasn’t awful, but the chicken pieces were heavily coated in some kind of thick batter and then deep-fried and drenched in a very sweet sauce reminiscent of melted jam.

“It tastes like orange chicken donuts,” I said.

It took Mr. Sparky about two more bites with that very un-fancy phrase ringing in his ears to decide that I had nailed it.

Don’t get me wrong—I like donuts.  And I like chicken.  But if I’m going to have a donut, give me a flippin’ donut, for pete’s sake, and don’t be trying to sneak chicken nuggets in the middle of it.  No dinner entree should be that sweet.  Unless you’re having pancakes for dinner.  I like pancakes for dinner, but we were at Panda Express, not Cracker Barrel.

We left the establishment in agreement that it was ok.  Not bad.  Not great. But ok.

Unfortunately, we also had post-Chinese Food Syndrome all evening.  The trouble with Asian food is that it wears off in about an hour and then you’re hungry again.  I’ve spent the evening telling myself that I had a decent meal, but apparently my stomach thinks it had orange chicken donuts, so where’s the real food?

Oh, and if you go to Panda Express and try that Orange Chicken, you’ll see what I’m saying.  And then you’ll want to munch the rest of the day.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Whoaaa…listen to the (bargain) music

July 14, 2014

I like me a good bargain.  It gives me a sense of satisfaction that I hunted and gathered with excellence, that I conquered Mt. Retail and lived to shop another day.

I really ought to get a special cape for my skills.  It only seems right to have a uniform of sorts.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not cheap.  I like well-made things, beautiful things, things intelligently and creatively designed.  I believe those kinds of things are worth money.  If I don’t have the money, then I will do without.

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that I get Groupon offers in my email.  Every day there’s something new on sale.  You gotta admit, that’s kind of exciting.

I have to say, however, that I’m not sure how I feel about today’s offer.

Today’s Featured Deal is a ticket to see Peter Frampton and The Doobie Brothers in concert together for $22.50, discounted from $43.30.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Peter Frampton.  The Doobie Brothers.

Um…does Peter Frampton know he’s now Groupon-able?

And when did The Doobie Brothers become the sort of band you need a discount to make worth seeing?

Is this better or worse than being consigned to playing Mississippi casinos?

I’m feeling vaguely distressed and confused, in a baby boomer sort of way…





Emotional Hazmat

July 12, 2014

I’m always a little baffled by the folks who read or watch certain things because it upsets them.

The media knows that we’re far more likely to read or view something that has a disturbing, negative headline.  There is money to be made in being critical, manipulative, judgmental, controversial, and downright sketchy with the truth.

We’re quick to take the bait and jump to find out what’s bad, wrong, distasteful, naughty, immoral, unethical, frightening, and downright evil.  It’s rather delicious, in a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad way.

Bad things happen in the world.  There’s no denying that.  And I’m not suggesting ostrich behavior anyway.

But our culture is full of people who feel depressed, anxious, powerless, overwhelmed, sick, and exhausted.  I have to wonder how much of that comes from spending far too much time focusing on what upsets us instead of what builds hope in us.

There’s this passage of scripture in the bible about causing others to stumble in their faith, and it includes causing ourselves to stumble (Mark 9: 42-48).  One of the things Jesus says there is that if your eye causes you to stumble, you should pluck it out because it’s better to enter the kingdom of heaven with one eye than to enter hell with two.

That’s kind of crazy, isn’t it?  If we really followed that, who’d be left with two eyeballs?

I don’t really think Jesus was advocating eye-plucking.  I believe he was employing a bit of hyperbole to make it clear how serious it is to not put ourselves into situations where the end result will surely be a weakening of our faith, a degrading of our health and well-being.

It’s not normal or good to agree that people are bad and the world is a terrible place and that it’s just getting darker, because the darker it gets, the brighter light shines, which means that darkness is always on the losing end.  The only way it can gain “wins” is to get light-bearers to agree that darkness really is bigger and badder, and start dimming themselves to match that terrible belief.

If life seems to be sucking the joy out of you, if it feels painful and overwhelming and you really just wish you could find peace and happiness, then maybe it’s time to declare a fast.  Change the diet of what you feed your soul and spirit.

Consider something new instead.  What builds your sense of wonder?  What awes you with beauty?  What makes you laugh?  What makes you sigh in peace?  What inspires you to be a better person?  What encourages you to make the world around you a better place?  What roots and grounds you in hope and love?

Yeah…maybe think about those things.


Of black holes and silver linings

July 10, 2014

It’s Thursday?  It’s Thursday.  I don’t know what day I think it is.  I just know I lost a couple in there somewhere.

A couple weeks ago I started feeling pain in the back of my right knee.  I had previously had some bouts of stiffness, which made me a little nervous because it was my left knee that I had scoped in January, which meant the arising issues were in my “good” knee.

I was trying hard to just press through, but I was nagged by the thought that things weren’t getting better and my trip to Brazil is looming.  I was further nagged by the thought that this was the kind of pain that preceded last September’s event where I was climbing my stairs and felt a strong and excruciating pop in the back of my left knee…an incident which culminated in the surgery in January.  So on the way to work on Monday I called the office of my Orthopedic Guy and asked for an appointment on Wednesday morning…which they just happened to have. I just had to make it through the work shift and then through Tuesday.

I made it through the work shift.  I didn’t make it through Tuesday.

I was—get this—climbing my stairs…you know where this is going, don’t you?

I collapsed, crying and gasping for breath, unable to bear any weight on my right leg.  I could feel it begin swelling immediately.  As soon as the Sparkette brought me the crutches from the attic, I made my way to the computer and sent a prayer request message to my church folk in our Facebook group as well as another group of praying ladies.  I knew they’d be on it right away.

And boy, was I glad I already had that appointment the next day with the Ortho Guy.

X-rays, evaluation, a big syringe of bloody synovial fluid aspirated from my (thankfully) numbed knee, some cortisone shot in.  Ortho Guy felt this would likely be enough to get me going, given a few days.

I went home, still hurting but hopeful.  Rest, ice, elevation, anti-inflammatories.  Ok, I could do that.

I didn’t count on losing a battle with gravity later that afternoon.  I took a tumble with my crutches, feeling like a pinball ricocheting off everything in my personal neighborhood before finally hitting the floor.  I’m sure I don’t need to tell you what body part took the brunt of that mess.  Poor Mr. Sparky…he’s been present for the birth of all four of our children, but I’m not sure he’s ever heard me scream like that.  I’m not sure I’ve ever heard me scream like that.

After a few hours of care, the intense throbbing finally began to subside.  By the time I went to bed I was taking a few careful steps without crutches.  In spite of the misery of the fall, I was already starting to find some relief from the pain that sent me to the Ortho Guy in the first place.

Today I’ve not needed the crutches.  The pain has decreased significantly, although it’s still touchy and I’ve still got a lot of stiffness.  I’ve been very careful about caring for the knee, and by late afternoon I finally ventured upstairs—one foot at a time like a toddler—for a shower.  It was the first time I’d been up there since I left the house Tuesday morning.

Ortho Guy wasn’t particularly concerned that this was an obstacle to my trip to Brazil, and I’m not either.  I consider it more of a bump in the road than a roadblock.  I’m confident God’s got this.

And this cloud story has a silver lining.

When I suddenly couldn’t bear weight on my right knee, I found out just how much strength was in my left one.  The one that has been weak.  The one that has still bugged me with stiffness.  The one that sometimes gets sore.  The one I haven’t been able to kneel on, or squat on, or push up on.

Whatever I’ve asked of it, it’s done.  Sometimes with shaking and strain…but it’s done it.  A month ago I would never have imagined it holding up this well because of the discomfort I still experienced at times.  It’s good to know that 6 months post-surgery, the healing process is still in progress, moving forward.

Who knows what I might be able to do in a month or two? I would LOVE to be able to be able to get on the floor and get up again without making my knees scream at me.  I had figured I needed to just forget about that, but now I’m getting hopeful again!

There is always something for which to be grateful.  My right knee needed attention and got it in plenty of time to heal before I need it to support me for lots of walking and standing.  My left knee showed me that I can ask more of it.  Mr. Sparky was able to take the day off to drive me to my ortho appointment, which is good because I really don’t think I could have worked the pedals on the van.  The Sparkette was an uncomplaining fetcher of stuff I needed while immobilized.  My co-workers graciously and swiftly covered my shifts for the rest of the week so I can rest and heal.  My church folk and the dear ladies of a tight-knit but geographically separated group started praying for me right away.

I mean, really…what can I say, other than I am blessed?



In short(hand)

July 6, 2014

There are moments she dreams of taking flight, defying gravity as she slips through the wispy blue into the heights of heaven, soaring with the grace normally reserved for swallows and angels and petals blown on the wind.

More often, however, her thoughts turn to the passionate dance of wild fire, the fury of unintimidated flames thundering their light into the darkness and shattering it with laughter’s explosive percussion.

And sometimes, in between the two, she mourns the years she believed all she was told:  that nobody really flies, and fire is too dangerous, and so she should learn to take dictation and get a nice safe secretary job.




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