Saturday, December 8, 2012

Note to self

When I am wealthy and an under-employed computer geek, I will invent an app for my iPhone that tracks all the dumb stuff that I do.  There is a reason we should learn from our mistakes; if we don't, they might eventually kill us.  What if we shared our foibles with others so that they can take heed?  Either this is a brilliant idea, or it will be a successful way to counter natural selection and we'll end up with a world full of incredibly stupid people that have the capacity to remember not to do stupid stuff.

Either way, I'll share with you all some of my recent gaffs so that you can learn from my mistakes and ensure the future of your gene pool:

Don't take your contacts out after cutting pepper-jack cheese bare-handed.  Believe it or not, I was actually pretty slow to figure this one out.  Each time I removed my contacts, I was thinking that I hadn't washed the soap off of my hands thoroughly enough due to the slight stinging sensation that resulted.  This piece of wisdom finally dawned on me the day I cubed up an entire loaf of cheese and later that night introduced capsaicin via my fingertips onto my eyeballs.  After several seconds of excruciating pain, I had an eye-opening (ahem) "aha" moment. 

When carrying large quantities (aka a gallon jug) of water in your car, make sure the cap is securely fastened.   Turning is usually required to get from point A to point B. Enough said.

When your MacBook Pro won't boot, don't rely on internet advice to fix it yourself.  A little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing.  One wiped-clean hard-drive later, you will never experience such deep and utter humiliation as in front of a true computer repair expert.

Maybe I should stop here before you question why I elected to extend my gene pool.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating against taking risks or trying new things. I am advising to think beyond the initial task, weigh possible consequences, and admit when things could have been done differently.  

Since I am unwilling to give up my pepper-jack addiction, I will have to be creative in regards to ways to cut it up.  Perhaps if I soak my hands in milk afterwards.....

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Re-finding Perspective

When my kids were young, I felt that I could help shape the way they looked at the world.  I would ask them either, "What was something funny that happened today?" or "What was something that you learned today?"  My kids are now all in their 20's, verging on 30's, and I still love to ask these questions.

My intention was that if I asked them often enough, they would start looking for something amusing, or remember something interesting that happened during their daily activities, anticipating my interrogations at the end of the day. I was hoping that with this mind-frame, it might actually help to influence their attitude toward how they perceive their life.

Now, when my kids call me on the phone, the one thing they can always count on is that I am going to be wanting to hear something humorous or  fascinating that has happened to them.  I'm not sure that this has actually changed the way they look at life, but it does give me something to chuckle over and repeat to my friends.  Some of the best examples of these things was when my oldest son was working as a night porter at a 4-star, dog-friendly, hotel that was often frequented by celebrities. People-interactions at Starbucks and Powell's Book Store, from my daughters, are also great fodder for human interest stories.  

But today, it just struck me that I, myself, have perhaps slipped away from my own philosophy, and am focusing mostly on the frustrations and obstacles that I encounter during the course of my own day! I unload these experiences and interactions on anyone who might listen.  Probably not a positive experience for anyone concerned.  Perhaps this is one reason that I have been unmotivated to even write my blog for the past 12 months. 

This realization struck me so profoundly that I feel that I have found my "muse" again.  Hopefully, I can begin sharing these again with anyone who might be interested. Feel free to check back...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Living nightmares every day

ANYONE who knows me at all, also knows that I do not like to be surprised.  It doesn't take much to scare me and I pity the person who would do it intentionally.  And yet, somehow, Mother Nature has NOT gotten the message.

Tonight, after grabbing the dog's leash and announcing it was time to hit the yard, I walk into the living room to find a toad investigating what plush carpeting feels like on its grody little underbelly.   Some watch dogs I have; they let a poisonous perp hop right by their keen senses and infiltrate my safe and (what I thought to be) secure environs.

I grab a broom and dustpan, uncertain how the extrication will play out.  Up from her comfortable spot on the sofa, my dog is curious and edges closer to see what all the fuss is about.  I shoo the dog with the bristly end of the broom, scaring her so badly, she bumps into the vacuum cleaner on her mad dash to get away, which then turns noisily on as it falls to the floor.  So much for stealthily catching my prey unawares. 

One swipe at the toad and it bee-lines for the open door and the safety of darkness.  How it made it all the way up the steps to the porch and into the house is still a bit of a mystery.  Its not as if I have a lot of toad-food lying about in a Hansel and Gretel-like path of enticement.  Oh, wait.  Yes I do...

Because last week Mother Nature had another surprise for me.  Hundreds of tiny fly maggots all over my kitchen floor which I discovered when I walked in there with bare feet.  "Did you vomit?" my daughter asked when I relayed the adventure to her.

I didn't, but I'll be wearing shoes in the house for awhile, just in case.

It isn't as though I'm a bad housekeeper.  Maggots happen here in Hawai`i.  Especially since most people don't have disposals, keep their kitchen garbage under their sinks, and temperatures hover around the low 80's.  I have to have no shame about my indoor bug experiences.  My mother shared my heroics with her bridge club ladies that afternoon and as they are all laughing and being grossed out, they are probably also thinking, "what kind of a sty does your daughter live in??".

Okay, my heart rate has returned to normal and it is time for bed.  We'll see what tomorrow's living nightmare has in store for me.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

"Run! Run! The adults are cheating!"

Comic drawn by Rachel (age 12)

Isn't it a parent's purpose to teach their children what is right and what is wrong? At least that is the illusion that I have been under for the past 28 years, and counting...

13 years ago I found out that not all parents share this philosophy.  That was the time that I volunteered to chaperone my daughter's 6th-grade weeklong adventure to Outdoor School at the Oregon Coast. 

I think my decision to chaperone Rachel's class was cemented two years before when I was greeting the school bus that my second son was on returning from his week at camp.  The teacher came off the bus first, scanned the gathering crowd of proud and excited parents and walked straight up to me. I had a sinking feeling that things had not gone well.  The exact circumstances are bit fuzzy but I think that it involved my son punching another boy in the face on the first day. Two years before that, when my oldest went to camp, one of the other boys ran into a branch at night and poked his eye. 

So, feeling a bit of pressure regarding our family legacy and to ensure that safety prevailed and trouble was avoided, I volunteered.  It was a time of learning, a time of forming a life-long friendship, and a time of awakening.

And a time of great fun.  We dissected squid (finding their beaks, eyeballs, and ink sacs), took walks along the coastal strand (learning about shifting sand dunes, invasive beach grass, and the wreck of the Peter Iredale), and examined squirming creatures in water samples from a brackish pond.  

We took night-hikes and learned about rods and cones (photoreceptors in the human retina that help you see color), and we sat around campfires listening to stories, singing songs, and filling our clothes and hair with wood-smoke.  I even brought Earnest Hemmingway's, The Old Man and the Sea and lulled the girls with sleepy bedtime stories every night to calm their excited spirits.

Close to the final evening the entire camp (boys, girls, chaperones, teachers, camp workers) played a chasing game - I think it was called Predator / Prey. I distinctly remember that during the instructions it was stated where the "Out Of Bounds" areas were and that anyone who went there would be immediately disqualified.  What was unique and somewhat odd about the rules was that it was the adults against the kids.

Being that my legs are short and therefore not built for speed, I was quickly tagged out of the game.  I got to watch from the sidelines and cheer my comrades on. Until I realized what they were up to.  The adults were winning because they were cheating. They were taking short-cuts through and hiding in the Out-of-Bounds Areas giving them a distinct advantage.

A sense of fairness overtook my allegiance and I leapt from my comfortable log by the fire and ran screaming throughout the panicked children, "Run! Run! The adults are cheating! Use the Out-of-bounds Areas!"  In the end, the tide turned, and the kids ended up winning the game. As it should be.

I was shunned by the other adults for the rest of the week (except Judi, the other cabin-mom, who was my conspirator that night and new life-long-friend). 

Moral of the story? The sense of Right depends on what side of it you are on.  And, grownups can be such sore losers.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The End of Time, er, Summer

Labor Day. Synonymous with The End Of Summer.  Even though, technically, the solstice is a half a month away and the weather is still very sunny and nice, the end has arrived.

This fact is punctuated by the fact that my daughter left  today to fly to Oregon after a summer of visiting her dear ol' mum and friends from high school. It was so much fun to have her and we blended right in with the thousands of visitors on Kauai, seeing the sights and getting too much sun on the beach. She was able to do a bit of filming (see her YouTube Channel), and the dogs got much more attention than they've been used to getting (or will be getting now that two more hands have left the premises).

But now she is gone. Just me and the dogs. Sitting in the living room on a beautiful sunny day. Why is it so much harder getting motivated to do something when you are doing it alone?

Okay. All that changes tomorrow. You are all my witness to this statement. It may not be New Year's Day and the appropriate time for resolutions, but, dammit, I'm going to add purpose and resolution to my daily activities. All I WANT to get done will BE done. Yes, I can!

Right after this episode of Doctor Who.

Friday, August 19, 2011

God does not have the monopoly on creation

I love waking up in the morning to blue skies and sunshine. THAT is why I live in paradise. 

Today will be a day dedicated to creativity.  My youngest offspring has been visiting and today (Statehood Day and hence a holiday) we will embark on a video voyage. She is on a quest to post videos every week and she needs my help with today's theme: things that make her happy. I, of course, will be featured predominantly in the video; probably third billing to all of her friends still here on the island, and my canine housemates...

I have also been having a creative "challenge" with my two daughters as we work through the year with our "create-a-month" goal.  Every month a theme is set and we must all come up with something that we then share with photos.  This month's theme is "of or relating to anything having to do with tea". Sometimes it has been a bit more vague, like January's theme of "no larger than 7 cubic inches and it has to have yellow in it." One daughter sewed a little pin cushion that looked like an old fashioned hat, the other made a pencil drawing of bananas. Even thought the drawing was NOT done in colored pencils, she creatively explained that, "the yellow is implied."  I did a mini hanging sculpture out of telephone wires.

I'm not exactly sure what will be created today, but my month is rapidly running out.  Last month (themed "must be made out of sticks or twigs") I waited until the last day to make my creation of a necklace made out of bark. No, really. There is a tree here that was used in making rope so I quickly twisted up a string to hang a pendant on. It was pretty nifty until it came apart in the shower yesterday. Not to worry, it had been captured in a photo and luckily we didn't put a lifespan requirement on any of these.

So...I'm off to create!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Yesterday, my neighbor was outside again in his underwear. Standing on his roof, he had a 20' bamboo pole with a saw on the end and was cutting coconuts out of the tree overhanging his house.  "THWUMP" was what brought me to the window.  That was the sound of the coconut missing my neighbor's head and hitting the roof next to him. 

The day before yesterday I saw a woman who I am guessing was in her late 60's walking down the sidewalk. That in itself was not the strange part. The fact that she was dressed as a 20 year old gave me pause. Right from her bleached-blonde long locks down to her mid-baring shirt and short-shorts, she trundled on her high wedged sandals.  It wasn't until I had gotten almost even with her in my truck that I could make out her age. It was such a shock to my senses that I am still having flash-backs.

That same day, I saw a woman jogging down the street but thought she was a man from behind. A week before that a goat stopped by my office and nibbled on my taro that I have planted out front.  On Saturday, FedEx had the US Postal Service deliver a package to my mailbox. I checked every possible nook and cranny for the package that was tracked and reported as having been delivered. I finally found it in the mailbox. Go figure.

I am beginning to expect the unexpected. Where has my safe little world gone with comfortable assumptions?  I guess the answer is that the world has changed and I haven't. Who says that underwear isn't as modest as a pair of shorts? Who makes the rules as to how people should dress or look? Why should goats be fenced? This is a free world, after all.  

But where I have to draw the line is Package Delivery. If I order it to be delivered to my doorstep in a van with great big lettering on the side, I damn well expect it to be delivered that way.  Not way out at the street in a box that anyone willing to risk incarceration in a Federal Penitentiary could abscond with it. Yes, I might just be talking about a new planner ordered from FranklinCovey, but certain standards must be upheld!!

Now that I have that off my chest, I must scurry home to see what new and exciting outdoor activities my neighbor has in mind.