Monthly Archives: May 2009

Practical Joke?

So… do you remember a couple weeks ago, I mentioned the nasty dried salted plums I had purchased one day at lunch? How I was excited because I thought I’d found what my acupuncturist had given me, only to discover that whatever she had given me was vastly different from what I’d ended up buying?

Well, what I did was, I put those things in my desk drawer at work and ignored them. I wasn’t sure what I was gonna do with them, but I thought maybe there was something I could do to save them. I just had to work up my courage. I pulled one out the other day and thought I’d give it another go. My strategy was to rinse the salt off it with water. Should come right off, I thought, and I wouldn’t have wasted the dollar I’d spent on them. You know me and my Money Hump.

It didn’t work. In fact, it fused the salt on it, as if I had used gorilla glue — that salt wasn’t coming off. No way, no how. How on earth do they make those things? On second thought, never mind. Don’t tell me. I’m scared to know. If they can paint a donkey to look like a zebra and stand it on the street corner in Tijuana, then I don’t even want to know how they make shriveled up plums with salt super glued on.

I was just about to drop the bag in the trash can and be done with it and, then, like the proverbial light bulb over the head, an idea dinged into my brain.

I could pull a joke on one of our IT guys! I knew that the particular fellow I wanted to play the joke on would never try those things if I gave them to him directly, but he would if I gave them to the guy whose desk is next to his. So I called up Jason* and asked him to come over to my office. I pulled out the bag of nasty plums and told him the story of how nasty I thought they were and said, “Do you think you could get Ansel* to eat these if you tell him they’re the yummiest things on the planet?” Jason smiled and said, “Sure!”

I handed the bag off to him with the promise that he would call me with the results. Jason called me five minutes later and told me that when he showed the bag to Ansel, he said, “Where’d you get those saladitos? Can I have them?” And nearly snatched them away from him.

A couple hours later, Ansel called me to thank me. I figured the whole thing was a reverse spoof — that they were conspiring to pull a joke on me, that he hated them, but didn’t want me to know. Because, really, how could anyone like those things? So, I walked over to see for myself and he had the bag sitting in a prominent location on his desk with only four of them left in the bag. To prove how happy he was with my “gift”, he took one and popped it in his mouth and leaned back momentarily in his chair with a look of bliss on his face. I shook my head in disbelief.

He said, “I lived in Mexico for a couple years and I love all their candy! Saladitos are one of my favorites… in fact, when I saw the bag I started salivating just a little bit!” he continued by saying, “If you get through the salt to the plum — that’s really good, a little sweet after the salty.” He paused while I gagged at his description, then continued, “And if you get through the plum to the seed, you can break through the outer seed to the inner seed and that’s tasty, too.” He smiled happily as he popped another wrinkled salt pill into his mouth.

All I could think was, they call that “candy”?

Turns out, he actually would have taken them if I had given them directly to him.

I found myself laughing as I walked back to my office… talk about a practical joke backfiring. But… it ended well, because I had wanted to get rid of those things without wasting them. I had also hoped to get entertainment out of it. I accomplished those two things and made someone happy in the process. It was the “happy” part I wasn’t expecting… guess I need to know my target a little better next time.

Have to say, though, I sure do work with an interesting bunch of people.

*Names have been changed to protect the guilty.

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Filed under I feel Amused, Money Hump Building

In Lieu of Love & Loathe…

… I offer a Memorial Weekend.

On Friday I went to lunch with my work friend. It’s been awhile since we’ve gone to lunch together. Part of our routine after lunch is to walk over to Golden Spoon. During that walk, we always joke about “that loser jewelry store” right there, because they were unable to find my warranty information that one time. We always say, “Oh, I’d really love to buy some jewelry, but not from that store.” And then we giggle immaturely.

Except that day, a little girl ran up to the window with her arms stretching upward to touch and trace the name of the store engraved on the glass. She was inside the store, so by running to the window, she was facing us. Her younger sister was three or four steps behind her and she, too, wanted to touch the engraved glass, but could barely reach it. Both girls had blonde hair flaring out behind them and eyes the color of a clear blue sunny spring day. The most darling sundresses graced their perfect miniature bodies and their smiles told me they were giggling, the sound of which I couldn’t hear because of the glass.

What I heard in my head was set to the song of How much is that doggy in the window, except mine said, “How much is that little girl in the window, because I’ll take two just like her, please…”

My friend and I looked at each other and wistfully continued our walk and eventually returned to work.

Tony and I went up to the mountains this weekend. A time of rest that we desperately needed, him more than me. Since he started working his second job, he’s not had a Saturday or Sunday off. Sadly, he worked Monday, so he didn’t get a three-day weekend, the two days off that he did take were good for his soul.

People in the mountain town that we visited were reveling in the glorious weather. Riding their bicycles, walking, hiking, boating, fishing — every type of sunny outdoor activity you can imagine. Creating their little bubbles of happiness by spending time with those they love. There were yard sales galore — an annual event in the mountain town, apparently. Nearly everybody was having one, there were signs on every street corner advertising HUGE YARD SALE and then an arrow pointing to the address listed. We didn’t visit any of them, but we saw many, many signs encouraging us to do so.

Sunday morning we visited our favorite cafe, The Grizzly Manor. Charlie, the owner and cook, churns out pancakes the size of which overflow the plate. Everything on the menu is good and with my penchant for leftovers, one dish can feed me breakfast for a week. Oh, yes, and they only serve breakfast — until 3 PM. The place is tiny, around 24 people fit inside and that’s seating people nearly back-to-back. I asked Charlie how many eggs they go through each day. He said on a normal day around 13 flats (2 1/2 dozen eggs per flat), although he’d surpassed that number for that day and around 5-6 cases of hash browns (there are five 2-lb. bags in each case)…. “and that in a restaurant the size of Denny’s bathrooms.” He chuckled appreciatively at his joke and said, “Yep, Denny’s is where we send the people we don’t like!”

Loaded with good food, we hiked to the top of Castle Rock, which is where Tony proposed to me in October of 2004 and where we married each other in August of 2005. A special place to us, indeed. It’s still so very beautiful with the unending views it offers. Although I have to say, the hike didn’t seem so very difficult as it has in years past. I guess after hiking to top of Half Dome in 2007 my perspective has changed. I felt somewhat humbled, given all the endurance swimming I do, that during the first part of the hike I had trouble catching my breath. I’m gonna go ahead and blame that on the elevation and having a full stomach, because once I found my rhythm, it was all good.

After our hike, we decided to take the sky chair at one of the ski resorts to the top of another part of the mountain and walk around for a bit. The only time I’ve ever been on a lift chair is with 15 pound ski boots and skis dangling off my feet and freezing air nipping at my face. This was much more comfortable and felt somewhat decadent to only have my 5 pound hiking boots weighing my feet and legs. Like nothing at all. It was fun… still a bit chilly, but not freezing.

The other event that marks this weekend is Tony’s grandpa’s 90th birthday (on 5/26). We spent some quality time with family on Monday afternoon to celebrate… it was lovely to see parts of the family which we normally don’t. Ninety years old is certainly an occasion to mark… and to hear the words “Happy Birthday” coming from our nearly three year old nephew, well, it was just plain touching to see an aged face light up, showing the youthful heart within, in response to the exuberant little face who offered the wishes.

And our youngest nephew is at the Wobbler Toddler stage. He’s walking now, wobbly, but he’s got the hang of it. I can’t believe he’ll be a year old next month.

… and so, the weekend is done, we’re back to work already and would you look at that? We’re one day closer to the next weekend already!

Pictures from our weekend can be viewed here, if you wish.

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Filed under I did something Special, I have Family

The Hair Story.

Back in October of 2005, my dermatologist at the time told me to start using baby shampoo and only baby shampoo. Those instructions were in response to my inflamed scalp, which had become so badly inflamed that it was causing my hair to fall out and my lymph nodes to swell.

I was good. I listened to him. Only baby shampoo did I use for about a year. Then I discovered that if I used Scalpicin on my scalp it would not become inflamed AND I could use other shampoos. Then in July of 2006, I added another bad thing to my hair regiment — chlorine damage — I started swimming nearly every day.

So, I started using various shampoos that professed to remove chlorine. Truly, I don’t know if they do or not. But I also started using hair serum (my favorite of which was John Frieda’s Lite formula) to mask the fact that my hair was super brittle from chlorine exposure. Everyone thought it looked so healthy, except I knew differently. And the lady who trims my hair, she moaned in sadness every time she ran her hands through it… “so beautiful, so dry!” she would say.

Then in May of 2008, I noticed something on my scalp. A mole I thought. Right there in the middle of my part. But it had appeared rapidly and would diminish, then reappear in a different shape. It felt scaly to the touch, and itchy. Uh oh.

I made an appointment with my PCP so I could get a referral to a dermatologist — HMO insurance requires a referral to a specialist. My PCP looked at it and said he didn’t think it was cancerous, but not to be alarmed because to get me to a dermatologist, he had to write “suspicious mole” on the referral sheet. I scheduled the dermatologist appointment to occur just before our Hawaii trip last August, but rescheduled it because I didn’t want to be waiting for biopsy results while on vacation. It was bad enough that my pet fish were dying left and right.

Vacation came and went, as vacations are wont to do, and a couple days before my dermatologist appointment, I reached the pad of my finger up to a feel the “suspicious mole” and it was gone. Totally gone. I hadn’t scratched it, I hadn’t brushed it, but it was gone. Figures, I thought. Just like computer problems, the second you call your I.T. guy, the computer fixes itself. In the second before I pulled my finger away and noticed it was covered in blood, I had pondered canceling the appointment. When i saw the blood, I decided to keep the appointment.

The dermatologist confirmed that it wasn’t skin cancer or anything life threatening. He said it was likely a build-up of irritation and he recommended freezing the spot where it had been to prevent recurrence. Except in those two days the spot had completely healed and we couldn’t really tell for sure precisely where it had been. I declined the freeze and said I’d be back if it reappeared. It hasn’t.

Then I factored in the fact that each time I used shampoo it made my hair feel stripped and brittle, I hated how it felt after shampooing. Then I started to think about the fact that it seemed as if I was using ten products to replace the one thing my hair needs… moisture. All my life I’ve used moisturizing shampoo, moisturizing conditioner, recently adding in hair serum (an oil) for the ends and Scalpicin (for dry scalp). Who says scalp oil is a bad thing, anyway? What if the very thing my scalp and hair needs is being produced by my body?

All of that to say, it just seemed to be a natural step to try the “no poo” thing.

Sunday (5/24) marks one week with no shampoo usage. Tony took this picture on that day.

1 week pooless

My regimen: Pour one cup of club soda over my scalp, gently rub it in. Use another cup of club soda which I coil the length of my hair into, uncoil it, and then pin it to the top of my head for about 30 seconds. Unpin it and rinse.

I then use a sulfate free conditioner for the scent. Frankly, the smell of my hair is something that my husband loves and having that for him is important to me. Beyond that, I’m not partial to the natural smell of my scalp. It’s not that it’s offensive or bad, it just smells different than what I’ve become accustomed.

My hair looks healthy, but more than that, it feels healthy and softer. I noticed a difference after the very first day… it feels thicker at the scalp, and resists moisture for the first second or so when being rinsed. When I part it, it keeps the part instead of sliding all over the place. Someone used the word “trainable”, and I would agree with that. I haven’t really had what other women experience as far as “oily days” because I’m not training it to expect less cleanings per week. I don’t really feel as if washing my hair less is an option due to the daily chlorine exposure that it receives.

The only bad thing, so far, is my scalp. A couple times it’s started to feel itchy and I’ve had to use Scalpicin for my comfort. I’m trying to reduce my scalp’s dependency on it, but don’t want to end up with an inflamed scalp, hair loss and swollen lymph nodes. That wasn’t fun.

So, one week of the “no poo” science experiment done… so far, it’s all good. I’ll let you know how it continues to progress!

Click to read updates on my “no poo” journey: Link

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Filed under Hair Can Be a Topic of Conversation

Love & Loathe — 05/19/09

Love:

* Spaghetti. Simple, easy, and loaded with carbs. Yum.

* The gardenia tree in my back yard. I wish I could show you how glorious it is, but 3/4 of its beauty comes from the olfactory senses.

* Dermaswim. A lotion that is applied before swimming to guard against chlorine rash. Oddly, all the dermatologists I’ve seen haven’t been able to figure out the incredibly painful rash I get in certain spots where my swimsuit rubs. It’s gotten so bad and inflamed that, at times, it bleeds. Yet, even though I’ve told them I swim a lot, which means that I get a lot of swimsuit rubbing action, and even though they’ve validated my statement with, “that’s where your swimsuit rubs.” They’ve never correctly diagnosed it. I’ve tried steroidal creams, anti-bacterial creams, anti-fungus creams — all to no avail. A couple weeks ago, I found Dermaswim. I apply this lotion before my swim and, like magic, no rash appears. Problem solved. If I forget to apply it, say hello to painful rash.

* Hummingbirds. I love hearing them chirp at each other and watching them perch while they eat.

* Nights like tonight when Snug doesn’t run away like the hounds of hell are on his heels just because someone walks by him when he’s relaxing.

Loathe:
* Current shoes that are in style — I’m already 5’11”. Do I really need heels that are 3 1/2 inches tall? Does anyone who wears a 9 1/2 (or larger) size shoe? If a lady’s feet are that big, chances are she’s either really tall, or has other things going on, and she probably doesn’t need a heel that high.

* How so many people I love and care about are really struggling with various difficulties right now. Emotional, financial and just stuff… and it just always seems that things load up all at once.

One Last Thing:

I’ve been following a few blogs and reading stuff on the ‘net about going pooless. Over the years I’ve tried hundreds of shampoos, literally, and have never been happy with how any of them leave my hair feeling, except one and I can now only find that one on the Internet. Which really bugs me because of the cost of shipping, handling and all that. I wish I could go without shampoo, except I swim every day. Chlorine won’t come out with just a baking soda mix. But I tried it, just to try it… and I hated it. My hair looked fine, but it felt tangled and woolen. Ugh.

And then I read on a long hair forum about how club soda deactivates chlorine. And it cleans hair of dirt. So, I thought, why not? $.79 for a 2 liter bottle of it?

I thought I would hate it. I was prepared to hate it. But I don’t. Today was my second day using club soda in lieu of shampoo and I love it. I am still using a sulfate free conditioner — not ready to give that up yet. But here’s the bonus, the last two days I’ve not had to use detangling spray or hair serum to get through it with a comb.

I’ll keep you updated on how it’s working out for me.

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Filed under Hair Can Be a Topic of Conversation, Love/Loathe

When He Thinks of Me…

The Scene:

On Sunday, my husband had just arrived home after a day which included church, running errands, working, hanging out with his Little Bro and probably 10 other things I can’t remember.

The Conversation:

Him: Hey sweetie, I have something for you!

Me: You do? What’d’ya have for me?

Him: My Little Bro and I went to Barnes & Noble after the movie…

Me: Uh huh?

Him: And I saw this book and I said, “No way! I have to buy that for my wife!”

Him: *pulls a book out of a bag*

Me: *blink* Oh my word… you’re the best Sweetie ever!

A book entitled “What’s Your Poo Telling You?”

Isn’t that just something?

So, ya know, if your poo has been mystifying you lately, please feel free to ask away…

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Filed under Best Husband

Story of a Little Boy.

Saturday and Sunday mornings during the summer, I usually get up around 8:30 and go swimming for nearly an hour in one of our community’s pools.

Swimming is my time to think, dream, work through problems. If I can find my rhythm, which I usually do, my body feels like a well-oiled machine as it slips through the water. It feels beautiful. More than that, when I swim outside, I get to enjoy the beauty of the sun as it’s just barely making its way over the tops of the trees that hover around the pool, casting dappled light over half the pool. The birds are out gathering their food or taking sips of water. The air is still crisp, which makes being in the pool seem like a warm sanctuary. Best of all, though, is that normally there aren’t any people. Most people don’t start arriving until around 10 AM.

There is a family who lives up by the big pool in my community, I’ve seen them a few times before. The dad brings a kit for testing chlorine levels and is very militant about checking the levels and announcing to his family of two little boys and his wife whether the water is safe or unsafe. They usually arrive just after 10 AM. If I’m running late, I usually see them there.

I remember a particular Saturday that occurred last September in great detail, because most of this post was originally written, but saved as draft, after that experience.

The younger boy, maybe 4 or 5, ran over to the jacuzzi and went to hop in. His dad was hot on his tail and proceeded to berate the child. Telling him things like, “Dude, you know you don’t go in there! Look at the water! It’s green and yucky. How many times have I told you, when the water’s like that you don’t go in. Look, sheez, it’s only at 85°, that’s disgusting!” The little boy sniffled and walked over to his mom for reassurance.

The older boy did something and the little boy retaliated, just in time for his dad to catch him, but not his brother. His dad hit him in the middle of his back with his fist, a place he couldn’t reach to rub the pain away, causing (I assume) a charlie horse. His little back arched ineffectively to avoid the pain and the little boy started to cry. The dad berated him, yet again, telling him to behave, not to bother his brother. He was sent to time-out on one of the chairs.

At that point, I finished my laps and went over to shower. The mom and older boy got in the pool, the younger boy slowly joined them where laughter and giggles ensued. The dad got in the pool and swam over to his wife, the youngest boy was holding onto his mom. As his dad approached, in excitement, he let go of his mom and swam to meet his dad. Somehow, something happened that his dad popped him with his elbow in his face. I’m not sure what was hit, his nose or his eye, there was no blood, but his hands were covering both and the crying was immediate and loud.

I should note at this point that it was an accident on the dad’s part, at least I hope so, but also, that the little boy’s crying was authentic. It was real tears, from real pain.

The dad immediately responded to his son’s tears by yelling in exasperation, “You can’t just swim up to me when I’m not expecting it! I didn’t see you. Jeez! You’ve got to let a person get situated before you go swimming up to them! I didn’t see you!” There was no apology, no coddling, not even any apparent affection. Just… meanness, excuses and blame placing.

They’d been there less than 5 minutes and I was starting to feel stressed. Beyond that, though, I just felt sad. Going to the pool is supposed to be a fun thing. Something you do during the summer for laughter and relaxation. That poor kid had spent most of his time there crying and in pain and … as best I could tell, he was just being a kid. He hadn’t even done anything wrong to warrant that kind of discipline. Was that even discipline — to hit your kid in the middle of his back and berate him? Worst of all, the tears and pain were caused by his dad, someone who should be protecting and loving him. And what about their mom?

I mean, I received discipline growing up, I certainly got my fair share of spankings and talkings-to. Although truth be told, I was one of those kids who, if you looked at me sideways I was in tears, but still… my point is, I believe I know the difference between discipline and abuse. Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a well placed swat on a child’s behind or firm words… but this was something entirely different.

Watching them, it made me hurt inside. I felt tears welling up and I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. And I’ve asked myself if there were something I should have or could have done? I don’t know… what those kids were experiencing was definitely emotional abuse, but the rest of it wasn’t enough for action to be taken by anyone official because the child wasn’t visibly harmed.

How does one get to the point in their life that they don’t even see the perfection standing in front of them in the form of a beautiful wife and two healthy little boys?

What resurrected the remembrance of this post is that I saw them again last week.

In the eight months since I saw them last, the younger boy has had a growth spurt and is the same size as his older brother. I think he remembered me from last year, because he looked at me sidelong behind his dad’s back and gave me the most beautiful of smiles. Or maybe he just thought I was funny looking. Whatever the cause, I found myself smiling back at him.

The father hasn’t changed, he is still as controlling as he was last year. Yammering on and on non-stop about “you’re being stupid” and “don’t do that” and demeaning stuff like that. But the little one has changed. He’s grown. And there’s also an intangible change that I noticed. He seems more aware of people around him. As if he’s realized there’s a world beyond the controlling person who is his father.

I thought to myself that someday, that little boy is gonna grow up and be bigger than his dad… and someday, I predict that father will have a day of reckoning.

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Filed under Life Encompasses Me, Mermaid Envy

Love & Loathe — 05/12/09

Love:
* Products that actually do what they say they do. After 7 years, the top on my convertible is showing signs of age. I found a small hole, which I patched and there is some cracking. At the recommendation of some people in my Miata club, I bought 303 vinyl cleaner and protector kit. The stuff works. I can see and feel the difference after just one treatment in the flexibility of my top.

* Sweet potato fries. Oh my.

* Capturing pictures, like this one, of the birds who visit my back yard.

* Tony took this picture last August when we were in Hawaii. When I saw it, I was all, “Hey, that woman has really pretty hair!” And then I felt all narcissistic when I realized “that woman” is actually me. Hehe. I am pleased to report that a couple weeks ago, I finally reached my goal of having waist length hair. I know I reached my goal because my hair is now tuckable… meaning, I tuck it into the waistband of my jeans if I’m not paying attention. I can’t wait until it’s buttcrackable! And maybe, if my hair ever gets long enough to hold hands with the Crazy Hair on the back of my knee, I might consider donating some of it to Locks of Love… but not until then!

Loathe:
* I’m presently in what I call “Klutz Phase”. For example, I’m constantly bumping my not-funny bone on things, on Saturday I ran the bottom of the door over the top of my foot, and on Sunday I forgot to put my splash guard/ingredient slide on my mixer. Ouch and oops!

* Being tricked. My acupuncturist gave me some dried salted plums and they were good. I was surprised by that. So when I spotted some in the store today on the “Mexican Food Aisle” (that’s what the sign said), I was excited. Except, apparently, Mexican dried salted plums are different than Chinese dried salted plums. I nearly died from foaming at the mouth before I could evict that nasty thing from my mouth. Yuck.

One Last Thing:
Tony has been watching the History Channel’s new show called Life After People. The show theorizes how cities, landmarks and animals get along without people to maintain and care for them.

It makes me think of my trip back to my childhood home in Oklahoma in 2004, and seeing the massive plant overgrowth on the property that my parents once owned.

Yesterday, when I was leaving work, there was a crow sitting on top of someone’s car, brave and brazen as you please, cawing away at his feathered buddies. The thought ran through my mind that nature will always try to win, and there that car was, probably no more than four hours “after people”… and I was glad he wasn’t on my car trying to poke a hole in the top.

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Filed under Life Encompasses Me, Love/Loathe