Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Tale of the Killer Jalapenos

Last night, my husband and I nearly killed ourselves (or so it felt).... with JALAPENOS.

Here's the deal--he had a carry-in dinner today at work to prepare for, and he wanted to make these amazing jalapeno things. They're stuffed with a seasoned cream cheese mixture, then wrapped with bacon and baked to a crisp, yummyness.

The only problem is that apparently we are at the PEAK of jalapeno season. The peppers are a beautiful, deep, glossy green. We knew these were going to be rather hot--Colin chopped one into some salsa the other day, and it was quite spicy.

We nearly died, just trying to cut them open, clean out the seeds, then stuff them with cream cheese. My eyes were burning to the point where tears ran down my face. We both fought bought after bought of coughing and sneezing. Colin (who did all the cutting) tells me that his fingers are still burned, even though there is no longer any oil on them to transfer. Essentially, he has minor chemical burns on his fingers. I did the stuffing and still got enough oil on my hands to transfer to my tongue when snacking later, even after several washes including baking soda. My sinuses ached.

I tried one when Colin brought the remains back home from work. I nearly choked, it burned so much. I could completely understand why no one ate more than one of these--I couldn't even finish ONE.

Read Any Good Books Lately?

I did. Yesterday, on my break at work, I started Exile's Honor by Mercedes Lackey. I've been a fan of hers since I was about 14 and my mom discovered her books. They are fun. This one puts one of the minor characters from other books (Herald Weaponsmaster Alberich) in the lead, focusing on how he came to be the character we know from later books. If you've never read her books, try starting with either Oathbound and Oathbreakers (collected as Vows and Honor by the SFBC), or with Arrows of the Queen.

Anyhow, back to my experience with this book. Like I said, I started it on my break. I came home, watched Sunday's Meet the Press while eating dinner, then stretched out on the futon in the dining room and read from roughly 7 ish to nearly midnight with only a couple of brief breaks (one to go to the store for munchies, another to help my husband prep food for a carry-in). Then I got up this morning, checked email briefly, and finished the book by 1015. It has been a really long time since I let a book just take over and felt only the slightest bit of guilt about reading something so fluffy. BTW, I like fluffy, just not all the time. And the guilt was not because I should be reading something else, but rather because I should be doing something else. Luckily, those other chores can get done later today.

Monday, July 25, 2005

I Hate Insurance

Actually, I love having insurance--I just hate dealing with it. As I'm sure Don would agree, these companies can be major pains in the butt. If you've been keeping up with me, you know that I recently started a new job (or rather, took a more permanent role at an old job) and I now have health insurance. It was effective July 1. My husband has dropped me from his insurance plan (once the paper work goes through). Supposedly, my insurance company sent out my ID cards July 15. But there's an incredibly high chance these were sent to the office of my store's owner (which is 35+ miles from the actual store), and he doesn't know if he's received them, and definitely hasn't gotten them to me.

I've already canceled one appointment (twice) waiting for this card. I have another appointment tomorrow which I will not cancel.

As I found myself saying repeatedly today, I hate people--mostly stupid people, but that still leaves a lot. The administrators of my insurance are rapidly climbing the dumb list.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Lazy Sunday Morning

Yes, I'm feeling lazy this morning. That's why we skipped church (although we do feel slightly guilty about it). But I've had a really good cup of coffee (even if it was hot enough to slightly curdle my milk), and there's a delicious sausage smell coming from the kitchen with a promise of accompanying pancakes. I have a generally sucky shift tonight (1-10 pm), but it's with cool people, so I can deal. We'll have fun.

Friday night was nifty... we took the kayak out to Thomas Hill Lake (which is attached to the local power plant) and boated over to a nice little beach where we built a fire and had steak-on-a-stick, pepperoni, cheese, and some pears as our supper, along with a beautiful bottle of wine. While the lake is a little muddy and close to bath-temperature, it was good to float in the water a little then get out to cool off. We wore Lily out, and she was slightly disturbed that Colin would swim out with her, "chasing" her in the water. Boating back to the ramp in the dark was...interesting, but Colin kept his night vision pretty much intact (where I was reading Foundation and Empire aloud by flashlight), so things were good.

Alright, it's sounding like breakfast brunch is ready. Enough random ramblings for one morning.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Life on the Fast Track

Everyone likes it when they're on the fast track, right? It's exhilirating, and you know you're on your way. Things are going well, and it's just wonderful.

The thing is--when you're on the fast track, things tend to whip by rather rapidly, and you spend a lot of time reacting (as opposed to planning or acting independently).

Work is just spinning along. I've got a 3 day class in August, almost certainly another in October, and a third possibly in December. I'm good at this job. Deep down I know it. I'm going to be able to go places, but I've got a ways to go first.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Daddy's Girl Strikes Again

I got a call from my dad last night. I had sent links to the Always Daddy's Girl post to him and my mom both. The phone call started with "It's not nice to make me cry at work." You have to understand, this is a compliment. It means I got it right. It was true (even when it was technically false--Dad doesn't know how to braid after all...but he did do pigtails). It's one of the nice things about writing--I can do things in writing that I'm afraid will sound silly if I say them out loud. I like to write, and the blog is giving me a chance and a reason to do it. Keeping those mental muscles active.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Always Daddy's Girl

I've always been close to my dad. Always. So, when this month's BfB asked us to write about parenting (or being parented), I immediately thought of Dad. I'm not a parent (unless you count my lovely dog, Lily), but I have wonderful parents and a continuing relationship that grows and changes with the years. Rather than focusing on a single incident, I want to take you through some of the moments that shaped what parenthood means to me.

1980: My dad comes home from Germany (where I was born) after finishing his active duty enlistment in the Air Force (moving now to the Reserves). I'm 3. I CLEARLY REMEMBER going to the airport, and seeing a guy who looked vaguely familiar. Then he hugged me, and though I don't remember what he said, I know he SOUNDED right, and moreover, he SMELLED right. (At the time my father smoked black cherry flavored pipe tobacco.) I remember sleeping in the car with my yellow blanket with the satin ribbon on the way home.

mid-80s: My mom often worked early morning shifts at the hospital, so Dad was responsible for getting me ready for preschool/school. He combed my hair every day (and that was a real chore then, given how thick and tangly it used to be). He would occasionally catch one of my ears in the comb. I was very tender-headed, and he was very kind. He could braid and make ponytails and pigtails, too.

1986: Dad's dad passes away. I remember an early morning phone call, and hearing my dad crying in their bedroom. I was very angry, and very worried, about what could possibly make my daddy cry.

circa 1989: I think I was about 12 the first time Dad and I had a really deep talk. We talked about God, about why he doesn't like churches, about his life growing up in Alabama in the 60s. We talked about my grandpa. I think it was this first conversation where he impressed on me the importance of reading the Bible. He was never pushy about it, but said that if I didn't know the basis, I couldn't argue when I thought people got it wrong.

Summer 1990: I was 13, and we were in Alabama for Dad's 20th class reunion. Uncle Richard took my sister and me roller skating, where I fell and broke my arm. Mom accompanied me through the x-rays, then was going to trade with Dad. Before he got to my room (I thought), they decided to give me the anaesthetic so they could set my arm. If you've never been through it (lucky you!), they put the shot right into the area of the break. I screamed "I want my daddy!" at the top of my lungs, only to discover that he ran the last few feet just as I had started screaming. He held my hand, letting me squeeze while they set the broken arm, then made me let go so he could sit down before he passed out from watching me in pain. Fifteen years later, I will remember this moment with new understanding when I nearly pass out at the sight of my great-aunt who is slowly dying from Alzheimer's.

Throughout the next five years, Dad is a constant source of encouragement to a teenage girl who badly, badly needed it.

Summer 1992 or '93: I have all four wisdom teeth taken out. The general anaesthetic makes me sick and miserable. I go to sleep with Mom watching over me. I wake up with Dad sitting in the exact same spot, not watching TV, not reading (this is truly remarkable for our house), but just watching over me. He is particularly comforting over the next two days while we discover that I'm allergic to the codeine in Tylenol 3. I was unable to keep water down, let alone anything nutritious. He holds my hair, wipes my face, and brings me any number of stomach-soothing liquids. He does not get upset when, once I switch to triple-doses of regular Tylenol and regain my appetite, I eat half the loaf of bread in an afternoon because toast tasted so good.

January 25, 1996 (the day before I turn 19): I call Dad at work--
"Hi Dad"
"Hey, kiddo, what's up?"
"Dad, are you sitting down?"
"Yes, why?"
"Colin asked me to marry him this morning."
"And I said yes."
"No, Dad! I'm not pregnant!" (muffled laughter from my college roommate, Nikki, who is barely awake across the room)
"Have you talked to your mom yet?"
"No, she wasn't home."
"Let me prepare her for this. Call the house around 7 tonight..."
Long story short--he helped me navigate and negotiate with my mother and grandmother to eventually get the wedding I wanted (rather than maybe the one they thought I wanted). Also, he helped keep Mom from completely freaking out. Within the past 6 months, Mom had turned 40, had her oldest (me) move away to college, and now I was announcing my engagement. Although things were rocky for a while, Dad helped us smooth it out and remember what was really important--that we all still love each other just as much.

August 17, 1996: My father gives me away at my wedding. We all cry at various points. I remember thinking how wonderful it is to have a father who is not afraid of tears, especially tears of joy. I find out later that he has also been part of the "conspiracy" to get both my maternal grandparents to attend and to agree to behave themselves for my sake.

March 1998: We are visiting my parents over Spring Break when we get a call from Colin's aunt that my father-in-law has committed suicide. While Mom goes to the package store for some Wild Turkey, I bully Dad into giving me one of his cigarettes. I say bully because he never wanted me to smoke, always discouraged it. Years later, he will congratulate me on managing to quit, even though he has not been able to (yet, Dad. yet.).

May 2001: I dedicate my master's thesis (on Stephen King) with these words: "To my father, who always told me that smart was beautiful, and to my husband, for making me believe it was true."

August 2001: I wake my parents in the middle of the night (even later for them than for me), with the news that my mother-in-law has committed suicide. The next day (a Sunday), Dad calls his boss and announces that he will be taking a few days off. The following day, he drives halfway across the country to be at my house and stays to support us through the memorial service before heading back to Georgia.

November 2004: I announce that I'm going to quit my PhD program (eventually quitting the academic world entirely). Dad's (and Mom's) only concern is that I be happy, and that I not totally give up on teaching, since it would have made his grandparents (both teachers) so proud. I find, in time, that there are other places to teach than just in a school. And I discover that one of my greatest teachers about life and living was right in my own home.

The most important lessons my father has taught me (in no particular order):
  • Be yourself. Anything else is not worth the ulcers.
  • Be kind.
  • Kids can tell who's on their side. (And yes, he was always in their camp.)
  • Jellybeans can make miracles.
  • Children should be allowed to get DIRTY.
  • God wants us to think.
  • READ--I can't even put into words how important this was in our house. Reading truly has shaped my life in ways I cannot measure.
  • Seek and find your own personal relationship with God and come to terms with Him.
  • There is no such thing as a fair fight. One person will always be better prepared or equipped. Know this and be prepared to act on it.
  • Don't miss a chance to tell people you love them.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Knitting Progress

I guess this post will test just how easy it actually is to use the Blogger Images thingie.

I've been on a knitting kick lately. I just finished this baby afghan (for a friend, not me):

And then, there are my "hippie socks". These are
actually my second hippie pair--since I've found places in Columbia where I can buy "real, live" sock yarn (fingering weight, if you're curious). I thought these colors had a great "beachy" feel to them, and the yarn automatically makes the stripes, so I don't have to sit here and carefully switch yarn after yarn.... blecch! no fun! After these, I've already got a pattern picked out for another baby blanket...for yet another friend.

God's Politics

Everyone needs to read this book by Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners magazine. If you are a Christian, it challenges you to reevaluate your political decisions in light of the prophetic calls of the Bible. If you are not a Christian, it will offer you some theological leverage to use with politicians who want to claim the faith without necessarily making the tough decisions it really calls us to make.