Monday, December 27, 2010

Money Monday: December 27, 2010

Wow. A whole year, almost gone already.

We’ve made a lot of progress around here. I’ve used my paycheck like a club. And guess what? Bills can’t duck, really. So if you decide to do something like that, you’ll find that whatever weapon you choose to hit them with will connect.

And if what you’re doing is dedicating almost an entire net paycheck to them, well, that’s a mighty big club, right there.

But it hasn’t just been cash I’ve been using to pay down those bills, either. I’ve paid for it with late nights and long weekends, with heavy lifting and hot stoves, with sunburns and blisters.

With Tylenol, and heating pads, and sometimes a long, long hot shower into which I wept because god-god-god, are you KIDDING me, I have to go do all that again, today?!

I’ve paid for it with all the stuff I didn’t buy for us, with making do and making things last and over-dyeing “ruined” clothing and putting patches in the oddest places.

I’ve paid for it with all the rewards I may well have ‘deserved,’ but chose to give a miss.

I’ve paid for it with creativity that sometimes I thought was about to just run out on me.

I’ve paid for it with exhaustion and the occasional feeling that it was goddamned unfair, really. Everybody else gets to {whatever}, but me? Ooooh no, me, I hafta {whatever}.

In the rare times I had the leisure to think about it much, I really didn’t think it was worth it. Especially in the early part of this year, when progress was painfully slow and it seemed like every month had a “oh, wait, no, can’t make any big payments this month either, because etc. etc. etc..”

But here we are, at the end of the year. The garden is sleeping under a winter cover of weeds; I’ve been focusing on the long-neglected inside lately. Lots of organizing, and cleaning, and finishing up those last few things that needed canning or drying or freezing.

The pantry is bursting at the seams, with sauces and soups, with grains and vegetables. The freezer is still nicely full with Ashley’s steer and Cheyenne’s hog. My laundry room is packed with supplies from EcoStore USA, ready to allow my laundry water to pour back into the garden next year, when today’s rains are long gone and our drought status returns to ‘elevated concern’ levels.

The pace has slowed, considerably. (Recent holiday madness being set aside for a moment.)

Today, I spent a little time looking at what I’ve actually accomplished over the last twelve months with all this huff and bother.

There’s the purely quantitative stuff, sure. We’ve whacked a good forty grand off the outstanding balances, altogether. We’ve got a nice little pile of emergency cash, to tide us over any blocked sewer lines or paycheck gaps.

But there’s something way more valuable we’ve gained, something intangible, something that is hard to really explain.

But it goes like this: Right now, I’m coming to end of my current contract with MegaBank – it expires February 10. I have no idea if my manager has any intention of extending the final three months possible, or if we’re going to be shaking hands and parting ways in seven short weeks.

Thanks to the firm MegaBank policy that says a contractor can only be on deck for eighteen months total, and then must take a six month sabbatical before being eligible for rehire, no other department is likely going to pick me up for merely three months.

Here’s what I’ve gained with all the crazy I’ve inflicted on myself this year: I’m not worried.

I’m really not. My desire to know one way or the other has more to do with curiosity and trying to plan what-all I’m going to plant next year, and when I’m going to plant it, and whether or not I care to go ahead and have lunch with the overly-eager recruiter from Contractors R Us to discuss their client(s) urgent need for a no, really, SEASONED-seasoned database analyst than anxiety about a vanishing paycheck.

I have options again. I have the precious gift of time. The ineffable feeling that is knowing you’re OK no matter which way things fall out.

It’s a priceless thing to give yourself.

And the only way to get it is to give, of yourself, to yourself. To work for you, and those you love. To do things when you’d rather not, because you deserve the ultimate reward you’ll get. To lift your eyes up and look ahead of today, when maybe you’re tired and maybe you just really want a something and maybe it doesn’t seem fair somehow that somebody else has it and you don’t…to focus on the things you really-really want that are impossible today, but, if I just keep working, if I just keep going, if I just keep trying, if I don’t give up on me.

To realize that what seems like a sacrifice at the moment is actually an investment in tomorrow.

It’s been a hard year. But a very, very worth-it year, too.

I’d do it again a hundred times.

And then I’d make a mint selling my memoirs, because I’d be a hunnerd and forty{COUGH!} years old and still out there with a shovel digging up sweet potatoes and c’mon, that’s gotta be worth something, right?!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Today and every day

This Christmas came upon me in that way things often do when you’ve overloaded yourself with Things To Do: It seemed like the dishes from Thanksgiving weren’t even dry yet, and suddenly I was up in the middle of the night wrapping presents because hel-LO, Christmas Eve, and where did YOU come from?!

It did not help that the last two weeks have been full of the kind of stuff that tends to make you neglect even basic personal hygiene, let alone things like ‘decorating the house’ or ‘planning large meals’ or ‘shopping for presents.’

We had a rather important code deploy that went into integration testing on…wait for it…December 22. T’was the deploy before Christmas and all through the team, not a partner was idle, not a voice didn’t scream… (I know. I do not have a career in rhymes.)

I did not (technically) work on Christmas Eve…but I’ve still got forty hours billed for the week. So needless to say, I skidded into said Christmas Eve sideways and cussing. Because much to my surprise, it actually showed up on December 24! I mean you know REALLY. After all, the aforementioned deploy was supposed to have an initial deploy on December 15 (for internal tech team only), but that didn’t happen and then we were supposed to get our deploy on 12/20 but guess what? That didn’t happen either. Nor did the 21st, or the 22nd.

So it seems rather indecent of Christmas to show up right on time. It’s like Those People who don’t get the memo that you’re supposed to always be about twenty minutes (a.k.a., “fashionably”) late to social gatherings, and instead show up Johnny-on-the-spot to everything.

Therefore, this Christmas has gone by in a terrible rush. It has gone by with a huge sucking noise, in a blur of light and movement and noise. (Ooooooooh, the noise!)

People came and went. There were outings. There was cooking – lots and lots of it.

Then on Christmas Eve as we were shutting off the lights and heading for bed (at one in the morning, thank-you-very-much, HO HO HO), we had no cookies for Santa…because I didn’t get around to them. So I dug through the larder, found some tortilla chips and a jar of homemade salsa, broke out the ‘good’ cordial glasses and filled a dark green one up with Goldschlager for the jolly old elf.

I mean, hey. Everywhere he goes, milk and cookies, milk and cookies. A little jalapeno and cinnamon schnapps would make a nice change of pace, don’t you think?

And then three minutes a few hours later, {thud!} {scurry-scurry!} {WHISPER! WHISPER! WHISPER!} {knock-knock} “Mommydaddy? It’s Christmas!”

Really? Never would have guessed

And then there was this kind of implosion. Time took off like a runaway horse. There were presents, and shouting, and running, and candy wrappers on the floor. I made pancakes (I think…at least, I was rinsing maple syrup off a bunch of plates this morning, which usually means something like pancakes happened), and then I was making all kinds of other things. Pumpkins became pumpkin pie (and a lot more pumpkin puree, too). A black-bottom pie was also made, because otherwise The Lady My Mother would disown me. All the little sweet potato “fingerlings” from our sweet potato harvest a couple weeks ago became a soufflĂ© (next year, I don’t care if the kids do hate it, I’m putting the bourbon in…it was OK, but kind of bland without it).

A six pound rib roast from the steer Ashley raised (a very bright-eyed young lady in the Future Farmer’s of America, whose steer I bought at the junior livestock auction at the county fair this summer) went into the oven and became a juicy roast.

Here’s the funny thing: I didn’t plan well (or arguably, at all). At 9:00 this morning, I was still deciding what-all I thought I was going to get done. (A lot of things didn’t. Like, 98% of the cleaning that really ought to be done before you have people in your home.)

Two weeks ago, I didn’t have a single present purchased.

But this morning, there were presents under the tree, neatly wrapped in coordinated paper – each Denizen with his or her own design. (This helps to avoid mistakes when you’ve got a pre-literate or extremely excitable kid in the brood…we can show Captain Adventure which paper is ‘his’ and turn him loose without a whole lot of fear, whereas otherwise every time you take your eyeballs of him for even a second, he’ll be ripping into somebody else’s present in hopes that it’s his.)

This morning, I had a good rough idea of what I was going to be making, but no actual plan; what time which thing had to be in or out of an oven or on the stove, what order to do things in, and not a single slice of celery done in advance.

But a few hours later, we all sat down and ate ourselves silly.

And there was laughing and talking, and talking and laughing; the children were happy with their new toys, and everybody found something they liked at the table.

Christmas happened without a lot of planning and coordinating on my part, and it turned out great.

That’s what happens, I guess, when distinguishing a “special” day from a “normal” one becomes difficult, or impossible. Every day we laugh. Every day we love. We ignore each other’s dusty blinds and bland potatoes, we laugh and talk and drink our wine and admire the children’s artwork.

So when Christmas comes, there’s no man-made stress added to it. No terror in the event the wine got corked, or the roast comes out burnt, or the pie crust is inedible. No what will She think if the napkins aren’t folded just so, just right, or the coffee isn’t hand-picked by monks.

We’re the same bunch of nuts on Christmas as we are on June 5.

Which leaves a lot of room for the sacred to creep in, really, in all the moments freed up because we don’t need to feed each other’s neuroses.

So…may the returning of the light at this solstice-time warm and bless you, may the lengthening of days uplift you, may you see the hope of tomorrow, and tomorrow, and the tomorrow after that in each added moment of light we gain as we begin the slow climb from winter’s dark to summer’s light; may your God be with you, and bless you, and keep you well.

I hope your days are blessed, one and all, yesterday and today, tomorrow and always – Christmas day, or doomsday.

Hwyl fawr!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

t’was the toy shopping before Christmas…

In honor of the impending holiday celebrating unbridled greed, gluttony, family dysfunction, mounting debts and other psychoses this most tender and sacred of seasons, I went shopping for Denizen Christmas presents last week.

I had a list! I’d checked it twice! (Actually, I’d been checking it compulsively for two weeks. It wasn’t so much a ‘list’ as a ‘solid block of ink written in a Top Secret Code not even I could understand anymore.’) I knew exactly where I was going, and in what order!

So! I saddled up and headed out and I came home four hours later with a minivan so heavily loaded it was practically popping a wheelie from all the weight in the back-back-back.

That’s right. Fully loaded.

…with fifty pounds of flour! Fifty pounds of sugar! Twenty-five pounds of brown sugar! Shampoo! All kinds of canned goods that were on sale! Plus a few household items (like a silicon oven mitt to help me with that pesky ‘pouring boiling hot water out of boiling hot Mason jars while canning’ thing) I’ve been circling for a while, purchased with 40% off coupons, THAT’S RIGHT!.

…but…uh…not a single…you know…Christmas present.



SEE, this is why I should not ever, under any circumstances, be the one who does the frivolous shopping. I should just go to the bank, take out all the cash I have hoarded up for this most spendy festive time of the year, and just hand alllllllllll that cash to the husband, saying, “Go. Shop. Buy. Whatever.” And then I should retreat to my knitting chair and refuse to look up until it’s all over, and the receipts have been shredded or burned, and the children are all lying around the house in a state of advanced post-excitement lethargy.

Turn me loose on basic necessities, and I am all over it. I can fill up a pantry in nothing flat. I can whip through re-outfitting the kids with new jeans and shirts and whatnot like it was nothing. I can pounce on things like carpet shampooers and nail guns.

But ask me to go blow perfectly good money on useless crap spread holiday joy and cheer by sprinkling my loved ones with completely unnecessary fun and exciting crap-crap-CRAP! toys that will undoubtedly be left allll over the floor so that I’m constantly tripping or treading on them OHMYGAH, would it KILL you people to pick up your blasted Lego’s once in a danged while?!, and, well, obviously?

I have some issues.

Although it’s actually kind of layered issue thing. On the one hand, yeah, I don’t like spending what always seems like insane amounts of money on plastic things that go “beep!” for a couple days before ending up in a landfill somewhere because somebody left it on the hall floor and then I stepped on it.

But then, for added Crazy Points, I also don’t like to cheap out on these things. I’m not going to buy each kid four Dollar Tree toys and pretend it’s the most awesome Christmas EVER!

Merry Christmas, guys! That’s right! I sprang for four whole presents, for each of you! Imported presents! All the way from China! FANCY!!!!!

…just don’t put them anywhere near your mouth, and we’ll have ourselves a rare old fun-time with these bad boys…

And I do want to shower them with stuff at Christmas. I don’t do it the rest of the year. Shoot, half the time they get nothing-or-close-to-it for their birthday, for Pete’s sake. So when we come to Christmas, well, I would like to actually get them stuff they want, stuff that is cool, stuff that makes them go, “AWESOME!!!!”

…except that it always seems to be, you know…pricy. (Go figure.)

And then I end up in this endless cycle: “I’m not paying forty bucks for that! What’s this, hey, it’s cheaper! Oh. Ugh. Lame. Geesh, I can smell the lead paint from here. Back to this thing. This is cool. It’s COOL. It is boss and wicked and whatever other word means ‘groovy’ these days. But…forty bucks. Really? Forty bucks? For one toy?”

And then I’ll stand there like one of Those People in the supermarket, who will spend hours squinting at the nutritional information on the box of Ding-Dongs. And you just desperately want to slap the box out of their hands and yell, “BAD! They are bad for you! If you’re worried about nutrition in any way, shape or form, BAD! BAD! BAD! Step away from the Ding-Dongs! Here! Bag of apples! Box of oranges! Now, git!

So there I’ll be. In Costco or WalMart or Michael’s or Some Other Place With Toys. With a box in my hands. Staring at it. Like, maybe, if I look long enough, and hard enough, I will find actual real gold nuggets in it…which would totally explain the price tag.

I put it down. I pick it up. I put it in the cart. I circle the store a few times. I put it back again. Circle the store again. Pick it up. Stare at the box as if any second, my x-ray vision will kick in.

This can go on for hours, until eventually I’ll drop it back on the shelf in disgust and slink off with my hands in my pockets, muttering to myself.

Add in the fact that Denizens are still young enough to do That Thing kids do, where the thing they just got done telling you was THE thing, the thing that they cannot exist another hour without, the Most Awesomest Thing That Ever Was™, IT, the thing that will cause them to actually DIE of sheer joy…wait, what? That old thing?

Yeah. So five minutes ago. Nobody wants one of those old bags of “pfffffft!” any more! No! It’s now all about this things which is just so “eeeeeeeee!” and “Ohmygah-ohmygah-ohmygah!” and {swoon!!!!!!}.


Well…about all I can say is, thank Dog for Amazon. And two day shipping. I think this is the second year that just about everything kid-related has come from Amazon, and I have to say: It’s pretty cool. The stuff arrives in plain brown boxes, and it’s really obvious if someone tries to peek.

But on the downside, the kids have cottoned on to the fact that sometimes, the boxes that usually contain cat litter, books about how to field dress an elk and other such fascinating things might contain presents.

Which led to the scene earlier today, when there was a ring of the bell and four little voices began shrieking, “It’s the UPS guy! It’s the UPS guy!!!!”, and eight little feet went pounding down the stairs and hallways and the poor man was swarmed by this horde of psychotic children in the grips of a pre-Christmas feeding frenzy.

…and he was delivering a carpet shampooer…

Me? Excited. Because my carpets are gross. They don’t look gross and I’m sure that comparatively speaking, they aren’t really that bad…but lately we’ve had a lot of carpet-related disasters around here and I’ve been forced to use my ‘Little Green Machine’ to get them up.

Nothing will call a “dirt” issue to your attention like seeing black water in the tank after you’ve cleaned an itty-bitty section of carpet you wouldn’t have said looked all that bad. And then COIT quoted me something like $27MM to do the shampooing for me and I was all, “Really?!” and they were all, “Uh, yeah.” And I was all, “REALLY?!” And they were all, “Look, lady, you want the carpets cleaned, or no?”

And I was all, REALLY-REALLY?! except they had already hung up on me so I didn’t bother saying it out loud.

So, I’ve been sitting around waiting for a deal to come up…and finally, it did. I got myself an All-Terrain Steam Vac (the ‘all terrain’ part basically meaning that it can do the carpets and the tile / Pergo) for about half price and sat around looking smug about it for, like, two days.

And then I laughed myself sick at my poor, disappointed kids, who were so sure it was going to be something good, but then it was just stupid vacuum

…especially because they were so disappointed that they wandered off before Mr. UPS toddled back up to the door with the two large boxes full of games and dolls and so forth and so on, mwa-hahahahaha…

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Why I love the ACE train, #534

Just heard over the loudspeaker:

"Now arriving Livermore station. Please gather your personal belongings before exiting the train this morning, watch your step while exiting the train, thaaaank you for riding ACE this morning, aaand have a great day. (slight pause) Even you, Ralph."


I love this train. It's like family.

Groggy, cranky, seat-hoggin' family...
(sent from my Treo)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

December showers

YA KNOW…have you ever had the feeling that somebody (possibly Coyote, or maybe Loki) is just messin’ with ya?

Wouldn’t put it past either of them, either.

Today has been that kind of day. The kind of day where one damned thing after another has just gone improbably wrong.

The van is making a weird squeaky noise whenever I make a right turn while applying the brakes. The light in the closet won’t work. Again. One of the other fixtures has a burnt out bulb. I have a replacement bulb. But I can’t for the life of me get the damned cover off the damned bulb so I can replace it. ARGH.

The Dyson? Has lost suction. Excuse me, but WHAT?! (Probably an overly packed washable filter. But still. WHAT?!)

The cat pooped in the Man Cave, again. (HAHAHAHAHA! Ahem. I mean, wow, what a drag, huh?)

Then the phone rang and it was Danger Mouse asking if I could drop everything and rush over to bring her six dollars for the Secret Santa shop.

I said no.

An hour later, she called back to say her lungs hurt (???) and could I come get her. Only after I picked her up did I realize I’d been played. Call first with something trivial to confirm that mom is indeed home and can pick you up, then invent good symptoms you haven’t tried before but that someone else has had good luck with, and call back. Genius.

Soon Captain Adventure arrived home and, having earned his Wii, got busy building improbably complicated rollercoaster rides for marbles. Eldest got home. Danger Mouse enjoyed a miraculous recovery. Then she wanted to take a shower, and I said, distractedly because I was still working on that last official work email of the day, “Fine, go for it.”

{send!}, and I turned to dealing with the precarious pile of crap on my desk. About half an hour later, Eldest came up and said, “Uh, mommy? Yeah. The, uh, the toilet? It’s bubbling.”

NOW…I’m picturing, you know, a couple big bubbles. I start to say something like, “Why are you bugging me about bubbles in the toilet?” Because, really?

But she heads me off.

“No, mommy? It’s really bubbling. Like, foaming?”


So I charge off down there and sure enough, the toilet is rabid. It is foaming. It is overflowing. The bubbles, they are legion. It is the single most weird thing I have ever seen a toilet do.


I try the plunger. I turn off the water supply. What the hell did these kids…wait. The…it’s…it’s coming from…wait…now, that just can’t be…

I glanced over into the bathtub beside it.

Foam is surging up out of its drain as well.

Oh…now…that can’t be good…

Now, I am no plumber. But I’m looking at this and I’m thinking that clearly, this isn’t a case of somebody dropping a bath bomb into the toilet. It’s more like…like…somebody is draining a bathtub, and it’s getting down but not out and then it…wait…shower, @*^&@ing SHOWER…!!!!!

So I abandoned the sinking ship downstairs, ran upstairs like I was twenty years younger, and started banging on the bathroom door screaming, “GET OUTTA THE SHOWER! TURN THE WATER OFF, TURN THE DAMNED WATER OFF AND GET OUTTA THAT SHOWER, NOW!!!!!”

Because I am cool and calm and collected at times like these, you see. (Well, and also because Danger Mouse is going, “Whaaaaaat?” in that little reedy-dreamy voice of hers, and the water IS STILL RUNNING!)

Then the bathroom door opens, emitting a tremendous cloud of steam, and I find myself staring at…well.

This is one of those moments where you find yourself really wondering about your offspring.

Because…pee in the toilet.

Sinks slowly, ever-so-slowly, draining an unctuous mixture of mud and silt and debris back down the pipe (awesome, I’m sure that’s helpful).

One of the sinks…had…a…towel…in it…? (what the @*^&@?!)

And, in the tub she was just standing in, a fairly disgusting swirl of thick mud all over the bottom of it. (Eeeeeyeah. I’m thinking it’s a blocked sewer line too. Joy!)

I point all this disaster area out to her, my otherwise intelligent child, and she’s all like, “Oh. Wow. Didn’t notice that. Or that. Or that. Or that either.”

And of course, it was Not Me that did all of it. If I ever catch that little gremlin, I’m gonna string him up, I swear I am…

And then, as I’m just sort of standing there embracing the moment…I realize that it’s almost 7:00, and if I don’t move it I’m going to be late picking up Boo Bug. (Oh yeah…thought there was something missing…)

Naturally, there was some Big Event going on at the school. And I didn’t grab my jacket on my way out the door because I was late and eh, it’s, like, three feet from the van to the center.

Unless of course there’s an Event going on at the school. In that case, you have to park five miles and hoof it in…in the pouring rain…without a jacket

Ah, December showers. Lovely, icy-cold December showers…they’re so…bracing, aren’t they?!

(I’d ask “what next,” but…I’m scared to…)

Sunday, December 05, 2010

You know you take your chocolate seriously when... arrives at your house in 50# sacks. (Newspaper shown for scale.)

It cost $140 after shipping...CRAZY savings over buying it in those little plastic tubs at the supermarket. This will last us between 1 and 1-1/2 years, and keeps just fine when stored in air-tight tubs like the ones I get from Emergency Essentials. After scooping into the smaller "inside" container, a vigorous shake will fluff it up to exactly the same pillowy texture as the Hersheys stuff...BUT, this is "natural process" - it has a stronger taste than most "OTC" supermarket cocoa.

(Go ahead, guess what I've been up to this weekend...yeah, that's right: Battening down the hatches in the pantry, which here means "the garage." Biggest downside of my homesteady/bulk-buying ways has GOT to be that EVERYTHING seems to weigh 25-50-75-100 pounds...oy, mah achin' back!!!!!!!)

(sent from my Treo)

Friday, December 03, 2010

A day can’t be ALL bad when it involves mushrooms

(Unless, of course, you despise mushrooms. In which case, the rest of this little note will probably cause you to need to run for the bathroom.)

My dentist warned me yesterday that today might be a little…rocky.

To which I promptly stuck my fingers in my ears and yelled, “LA LA LA CAN’T HEAR YOU EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE I’M SURE LA LA LA!!!!!”

…which in retrospect may be why I woke up this morning with my jaw a little swollen and a lot painful. I mean, talk about just kicking Fate in the eye and expecting nothing to happen, right? If I’d crawled around trembling with fear and hoping for the best but resigned to the worst, and made all kinds of Arrangements for everything and alerted the media to the potential of me feeling like death warmed over, I probably would have been fine.

Instead, I woke up at 3:35 when the alarm went off and basically went, “…moan…”, turned it off, shuffled to the bathroom for pain medication, and went back to bed.

It was what might be called a slow start today.

And I managed to put in three (3) hours working from home before the combination of owies and prescription drugs for same rendered me a drooling idiot who should never be allowed near code of any kind.

Then, just as I was becoming quite certain that there could be no redeeming value to today…guess what?

(What, Tama, we’re dying to know what snapped you out of your drug-induced haze today…wait…you did snap out of it eventually, right?)

(Yes, and I have the renewed throbbing in my jaw to prove it…why, why does dentistry always have to be so @*^&@ing painful with me? Why can I never seem to have a simple little filling that doesn’t even require an Advil, let alone a regimen of pain killers that require military-like timing?)

(Welll, sweetie, if I were to have to take a guess, I’d say it’s probably because you ignore problems in your teeth until something really awful happens, like, I dunno, your tooth splits in half vertically, and only then will you make the time necessary to have them treated.)

(OK, who asked you?!)

(You did, and furthermore…)


Ahem. Anyway. Today, I finally ordered some goodies from Fungi Perfect.

Eeeeeeee! I can’t wait to make the husband get out there and drill a bunch of mushroom plugs into a whack of oak logs…!!!!!!

I’ve been circling this for a long while now. There’s a fairly large patch of real estate in the yard that stubbornly refuses to be good for anything.

In sheerest frustration, I stood there late this summer glaring at the lack of growing going there and started smarting off about how maybe, I should just grow mushrooms in it…

And then I thought…huh, I wonder…

And then (this being me and all), I knocked the idea around for a few months. Researched and thought about it and measured the temperature and the sunlight and compared that to ideal conditions and so forth and so on.

Finally, this very afternoon, I bit the bullet. (Not literally though. Biting and me are not on speaking terms right now.)

And I have four hundred assorted mushroom plugs, for lion’s mane, pearl oyster, and shitake mushrooms coming. Plus (because I couldn’t resist it) a start-up kit for what they’re calling “Espresso Oysters” – which grow in a medium made up of guess what?

Oh. You guessed. Yeah, coffee grounds. I have lots of coffee grounds. I usually split them up between the worm composter, the regular compost and direct application for the lemon trees and acid-base berry bushes, but, you know, hey. I could definitely spare a bucket or two to grow mushrooms in. (Also, think of the Conversation Piece possibilities! “Uh…there’s a…is this…erm…did you know that whatever-this-is has mushrooms going in it?”)

I found this picture on the Red Bay Farm website – this is what my “decorator feature” should look like once they get going.

Only, uh, there’s going to be, kind of…well. More than one log like this.

shiitake on a log

I'm so excited, I almost don't care that my jaw still hurts! I sure do hope this's one thing to have a book tell you that you've got the right conditions and all like that, but another thing entirely to actually end up producing food at the end of the day.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Word for today: UGH

I woke up this morning aching. At first, I thought it was “all over,” but it wasn’t – it was “just” my back. Unfortunately, the “back” taking up an awful lot of real estate…it surely did feel like it was “all over.”


And, I had a toothache. Which was no big surprise because a couple weeks ago, I had a tooth split in half. On a biscuit.

I mean, seriously. These things simply don’t happen. And yet, there it is. Although at least I have a reason why such a bizarre thing happened: I had a very old filling that I had been warned was kind of loose and leaky and not doing its job anymore. (At least, they tell me they warned me. Honestly, I don’t really remember anything so urgent being mentioned.)

So it wasn’t just, you know, bite down on a nice, soft, warm biscuit and CRACK!!!

But still. A. Biscuit.

Only me, people…only me…ugh.

And then my plan for the day went completely to hell in a hand basket. UGH!!!

I was going to stop working at 10:00, eat something, clean up a little bit, toodle over and be there promptly at 10:30 (you can see where this is going, right?), and then two hours later (!!), walk out of there with a temporary crown and a couple new fillings and go back to work.

Friends…I never even remembered to send the reminder to my team that I had this dentist appointment today. Or the obligatory ‘work from home’ notice we always send to our immediate team members (at the very least) when we’re not in the office. Because I had an email from my boss that had been sent ‘high priority’ and I opened that before I did anything else and then…well, time kind of did this “whoosh” thing?


At 10:30, I was frantically shoving my arms into my jacket (backwards) while asking if they were quite sure it was still OK because after all, I was going to be a good ten minutes late at this point…and even though I’m pretty sure I kept the hope out of my voice, they made me come in anyway. Dang.

Three…hours…later (ugh!)…I staggered out of there $340 poorer, with half my jaw sore from being open all that time and the other half toasty warm and numb as @*^&@. They’d given me a nice full hit of the anesthetic, he’d touched the drill to the broken tooth and, much to all of our surprise, I’d jumped fifteen feet straight up emitting a shriek like a cougar with its tail in a wood chipper and come down with the distinct impression that by golly, that kinda hurt.

So he hit me with about six barrels more of the stuff, which numbed me to the thighs and also set off a wonderful series of full-body twitches because ephedrine will do that to me. Awesome!

Then I came home and dialed into my next meeting. Late. AGAIN.

…and the anesthetic began to wear off…and I was hungry, because I hadn’t eaten anything yet today…and the anesthetic was wearing off some more…and then about fifteen minutes of meeting went by without me because I was too busy calculating how many pain pills I’d already taken for this and that today, adding up the milligrams of ibuprofen and acetaminophen already in my system and are you KIDDING me, how much worse could it get

And then somebody asked me something. Huh?

And then, just as I was actually engaging with my coworkers and providing input (and trying hard not to sound testy), Captain Adventure’s bus arrived.

There’s some good news.

So I shuffle on out there to meet the bus. Which is loud. And gather Captain Adventure off the bus. And he is loud. There is no hiding the fact that I am collecting an autistic six year old off his bus here, not if I can’t be on mute. (Normally, my work day is over by the time his bus arrives; I start wicked early in the morning so that I can be logging off by 3:00, precisely for this reason.) (And also because it can be useful for my teammates who are based Back East, who otherwise find themselves unable to get anything DONE until almost noon their time, thanks to the time starting at 5:00 in the morning is a godsend for them, on occasion.)

But $DEITY decided to throw me a bone right about then: He had all smileys on his card for the day, which meant he had earned some Wii time, which meant I could keep on working for up to two more hours undisturbed was allowed to give him the positive reinforcement that is a vital part of his behavioral therapy program.

So I set him up and darted back upstairs to finish out that meeting.

And then suddenly three people all started sending instant messages at once.

Hey, if I wanted to know what branches mapped to this division…
I’m looking for this account, and, um, do you know where…
What the HECK, man?! Isn’t this supposed to be over here?!?!

…ugh…really, how did I become the “best” person to ask all these things…?

But then, It happened. The thing that made me say to myself, firmly, “You are shutting down now.”

One of my esteemed colleagues said in an email, “Gee, I don’t know where she got that number.” And I started to fire back a, “From our staging table, DUH!!” because, what, you think I just make these numbers up?!

But then I looked at it again and went, …wait…um…why IS that number in our staging table?! That’s wrong!!!

The wrong number had been selected. The. WRONG. NUMBER!!!!

…but, we just FIXED that, didn’t we? Yes, yes we did, we fixed it, we totally fixed it, we did the fix, and I’d already submitted the results and…

So I opened my test script file and ran the test again for reassu-HOLY EPIC FAILURES, BATMAN!!

I was practically breathing into a paper bag. Over18,000 errors. EIGHTEEN THOUSAND ERRORS! Where literally two days ago, there were ZERO! HOLY CRAP HOLY CRAP HOLY CRAP!!!!! What went wrong? Somebody done did something! ACK! SHRIEK! SWOON! PANIC!


And then, as I was trying to figure out how on earth this could have happened, since it meant a serious Process Failure, since it meant somebody was doing crap in production that should never, no NEVER be done there like that…it hit me.

Oh. Yeah. Um? Testing period isn’t actually over yet.

Which means that the fix I’d tested in the user acceptance testing (UAT) environment?

Yeah. It, uh, isn’t in production yet.

Heh-heh. Yeah. Test script is gonna fail in production right now. Because the new code won’t be deployed there for another week. Heh-heh. Eeeeyeah. Still gonna be, you know, doing that thing, where it takes the wrong…from time to time…because there was that group-by that wasn’t getting the true min(value)…whooooo! Yeah. Well. That was…exciting…(and also? ugh…)

Once I finished laughing at myself, I shut down for the night and made some cookies.

Because no matter how ugh your day has been, a soft, warm, chocolate-and-peanut-butter chip cookie surely can’t hurt, right?


(*kidding! haven’t lost another one…yet…)

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Why nobody sat next to me today

Ahem. Yes. Well.

You know how sometimes, something is so "normal" to you that you don't ever wonder what it looks like to somebody ELSE?

About six people started to sit next to me on BART tonight, only to suddenly check their downward momentum and plunk down elsewhere.

And suddenly, I looked at my BRILLIANTLY SIMPLE cable-hook-readiness-aid and thought, "...oh..."

Yeah. It, uh, MIGHT...maybe...look like something...weapon-ish.

BUT COME ON!!! I'm knitting a yarn called "Comfy"!! And I am a JOLLY little thing, because I've been listening to Prairie Home Companion on my I keep LAUGHING, and LAUGHING, and then I go into these nice little flurries of snickering, and...



(sent from my Treo)