Monday, May 31, 2010

Casualties of the road

One smashed and battered baseball cap lying in the middle of the highway is not an uncommon sight. Sighting two in a single day as I made my way downtown was a little disconcerting. Oh sure, I've lost my share of gas receipts out the open car window. First, it lifts up and flutters around the cab of the truck tempting me to grab it. Then, it is swiftly whisked out of the moving vehicle by 50 mile per hour gusts that slip inside the car as I make my way down the highway.

Convertibles and open car windows are a logical by-product of a subtropical tourist-destination in the pacific. I've seen everything from ball caps to pieces of luggage littering the side of the road at some point or other. 

I, myself, also lost a hat once while driving. But I had a valid excuse for not picking it up: it disappeared. I was tooling down the road at 50 mph in my Jeep Wrangler, with the top down, just minding my own business and enjoying the view. Then, without warning, the car in front of me decided to slow down to make a left hand turn off of the highway. I was very close behind that car so I slammed on my brakes. An interesting thing happens when you do this in a short, wheel-base car. It starts swerving left, then right, then left as you try to overcompensate for every previous turn of the steering wheel.  I ended up swerving into the oncoming lane and completing a 180 degree turn, ending up nose-to-nose with the car I was trying to avoid. It all happened in less than one minute and when my jeep came to a stop I burst out laughing ; my daughter, in the passenger seat next to me, burst into tears. Yes, there I was without my hat (I never even felt it leave my head), in a near-fatal accident, entirely intact and without any scrapes or dents, staring at two tourists who sat in their car, staring at me, looking like they were in shock.

Maybe it is not so much that my hat disappeared as that I needed to swiftly get turned right-way-around on the highway and just get out of there. No damage done, except to everyone's psyche. Oh well, what is one ball cap in exchange for an undamaged car and no injuries? A fair exchange, to be sure.

I'm hoping those ball caps weren't lost in a similar fashion as mine and that a playful gust just grabbed them off and discarded them on the road. I did whisper a prayer of thanks, once again, as these little mementos raced under my car tires.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Chemistry in the kitchen

Yesterday, as I was brewing up a batch of Goat's Milk & Honey soap, I realized that there is a very fine line between being a scientist and soapmaker. In fact, I would go so far as to compare soapmaking with the lost art of alchemy. 

Alchemy, as you might know, is commonly referred to as the medieval chemical science and speculative philosophy aiming to achieve the transmutation of the base metals into gold. Upon closer inspection of Webster, the second definition of alchemy is the power or process of transforming something common into something special. This term definitely fits the bill!

I take common oils and cleverly mix it up with a caustic solution of something that could burn through skin, nails, and unfortunately, commonly enough, esophaguses; and end up with something that is gentle enough to use on a baby's bottom.

But yesterday's scientific experiment almost went out of control. As I was pouring the lye solution into the oils, something went "kerplunk" and splashed toward me. Yes, I was wearing my glasses, but I dodged back and the splash hit my shirt. Whew. Only a drop of oil. Lately, I've been using a Hot Process making my soaps, which is kind of tricky when using a recipe that calls for milk. You want to avoid getting it too hot. Even adding the lye to the water/milk solution has to be done carefully and slowly as to not curdle the milk.

Anyway, onward I went, pouring all of the ingredients into my huge crock pot, giving it a good mix, and leaving it to start it's chemical process called "soaponificaiton" (the reaction of the oils and the lye). I peeked under the lid every once in a while to make sure it was coming along nicely and when the allotted time was up, I was disappointed to see that the oils were still separated. 

"Oh well," I thought. "I can whip it all back together with my hand blender", which is what I did. I then turned around to assemble my mold, and when I turned back the mixture looked like a boiling, churning, hot, brown, mass, rapidly expanding and rising up and over the sides of the pot, streaming down and splashing across the counter (and my recipe book). I quickly grabbed my potholders and pulled the crock out of the base to try to start cooling it down. Once cooled, I had to hand stir it until it mixed back together. I quickly poured it into the mold and let it be. 

Aah, alchemy. The perfect combination of temperature, ingredients, timing, and luck (I mean skill). Luckily, unlike making gold, soap is forgiving, and the batch turned out beautifully. I'll be making plenty of notes about this batch attempt as soon as I can pry my recipe book open again.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lawn in your loo

This is called the Moss Carpet. It is designed by Yanko Design who's motto is "Form beyond function". Real moss is actually embedded into this mat, and they figure the humidity of the bathroom will keep it alive.

How therapeutic is that?! Fresh out of the bath you can snuggle your toes into the fresh moss; standing naked on your own private lawn.

If I had this tiny bit of real estate, I'd have to keep the bathroom door locked at all times. I share my life with two canines who would squat on this square quicker than you can say, "No! Bad dog".

This idea got me pondering, though. I think I could couple this mini-garden with one designed for my walls. A nice fungus collection including mold and mildew with a wispy frame of cobwebs. Maybe I can make my recalcitrant housecleaning work in my favor. "Oh that? That is a new piece I like to call 'Dank Decor'".

So anyway, if they are serious about designing carpet that is only 4 sq. ft. of moss, they should consider installing an entire lawn inside my bathroom. I could get my weed-whacker in there once a week, maybe set up a little putting green. Maybe they could make it out of wheat grass and I could graze on it every morning to get my daily dose of vitamins and minerals. I could nap in there on my personal Field of Dreams. The possibilities are endless.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The straw

Recently, I have been tested to the max. Not in the intellectual or physical sense, but in the psychological and patience sense. Just when I thought things couldn't get worse, one more thing happens to test my ability to hold it all together.

I'll have to be careful about how I put this mini-rant because it could happen that the person (people) involved may read about it and I don't want to offend them. In fact, I won't go into details at all, suffice it to say that my life has been a living hell trying to get something accomplished in a timely and efficient way.

I have been made to look the fool by passing along unfulfilled promises, had my hopes lifted only to be dashed lower than they began, and even at the eleventh hour, I have been let down, yet again.

Meanwhile, I dealt with the stress of bringing 20 new field workers into our team, suffered the debilitating  pain of a broken tooth with a root canal, juggled three contractors and got them to work for promises, and now, finally, my back has been broken. Not literally, but in the camel sense. You know, the final straw. 

I'm not sure why I am suffering from a truly sore back, but I am hunched over like a 85 year old floor scrubber. I think my will has caved in and is no longer providing the stamina that my spine needs to stand erect. Beaten down, jaw throbbing, I am no longer able to hold my head up to say, "Yes, I can"! 

I start out thinking that if they can put a man on the moon, surely I can get these things accomplished. But in the end, one little measly straw, one trivial and seemingly unimportant thing rears its ugly head just high enough to quietly whisper in my face, "No, you can't".

Tomorrow is a new day. Work continues. I'll roll out of bed, brush off the straws of yesterday, and start all over again.

Monday, May 10, 2010

I'm much better now...

I am dedicating today's blog to all of you who keep putting off going to the dentist. I know that I risk sounding a bit like a hill-billy-hobo-schmuck by announcing that I have not had my teeth checked for about, ummm, well, too long. Thus, I spent this last weekend in agony and  paralyzing pain from my broken molar.

Yes, I hate to harp on this subject. And, yes, I could have made an appointment right after the first time I blogged about it. But, no, I never did and I am paying the price ten times over for my transgression.

After digging in my cupboards and searching drawers and shelves, I finally located some temporary pain relief: tablets of 800 mg of Ibuprophen. Hallelujah! But that relief was only temporary. Once you reach a certain pain threshold and try to hold the fort there, Pain often goes for the stealthy Judo move and somehow manages to knock over the fragile barricade of comfort carefully constructed around the afflicted area.

So today, sounding as pathetic as I could (which wasn't hard), I called the dentist. Could they get me in today rather than have me wait an eternal three days for a scheduled appointment? No, but they could help with "pain management". I liked the sound of that.

A quick trip to the pharmacy has now resulted in a fairly happy camper. Vicodin is my friend. As long as I stay away from anything hot, or cold, or slightly either side of body temperature, I'll be okay.

The moral of this lesson? Floss daily. Brush at least twice a day. And, for gosh sakes, go to the dentist and take care of anything that needs taking care of. Your mouth will thank you. Literally.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Washing my truck in the rain

Yesterday I washed my truck in the rain. It must be close to eight months since I gave the old girl a bath and it was  starting to affect my activities in and around her. You know how it is; you go to lean in to grab something out of the bed and, ack, youʻve gotten grime all over your clothes. Or spiderʻs webs are getting so prolific that things you toss into the truck start to bounce back out.

So, yesterday, I was all set to do the deed; bucket of soapy water ready, hose stretched out all around the perimeter, sponge in hand, windows rolled up. Then the rains came. Darn. So, I decided I was not made of sugar, donned a raincoat, and launched into the task. 

The raincoat was a mistake. This is Hawaii, after all. While it kept the wetness from falling on me from above, the heat and humidity quickly combined to form a rainstorm from within the coat producing rivulets of sweat that got me just as wet.

While I was at it, I washed the dog crate I carry around in the back of the truck and washed my two dogs as well. All of us got a good soaking, some of us with soap.