Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Randomness

A large part of what has had me so MIA lately is that I’ve shifted to a new team at work. I feel like I got a really lucky break on this deal, all things considered. There has been a lot of upheaval and movement in and around our department, and frankly I saw the writing on the wall - in pretty big letters, too - that I was so going to end up being poached out of my chair.

This is one of those things that I find hard about contracting sometimes, especially in a department like this one where there are lot of individual teams doing lots of different things, but we're all under one umbrella. You don't always have the ability to say, "Um, no please!" when someone charges up and yells, "Congratulations! You're going to be working with Satan on the Inferno project! Isn't that awesome?!?!"

It wasn't so much that the options were "bad" or anything (well...there were a couple...heh...yeah, this one time a couple of people were standing around talking about how they needed to find somebody to fill this position on this one team, and I suddenly realized that I was literally slinking down further and further in my chair, practically lying under my desk, trying to become invisible).

Which is why I was jumping out of my chair yelling, "I WOULD LOVE TO!!!" when the offer to move a couple rows over came up, because it was like not-leaving my current team. My new team is both a heavy consumer of and provider-of-stuff-to my old team. You see the beauty of this, right?

We’re basically one system – soooooo, when I'm continuing to run my usual daily statistical monitoring scripts and eyeballing the batch reports and kicking the BA in the shins and hissing, Yer bank id changes are showing, dude!!!!! ...I’m just heading off our potential errors by catching theirs before they happen.

See? It all works out.

And, I get to keep watching my previous teams collective backs. SCORE!

I’m funny that way…the work may be interesting and all like that, but the thing that gets me out of bed in the morning when on the whole I’d rather just stay put, or gets me to log in when I’m just not feelin’ it right now, is usually something along the lines of, “I need to make sure nobody on my team is going to look bad today.” I’ll even overcome my intense dislike of confrontation and {gasp!} argue with people, if I really think one of my BA team is going to get raked over the coals if I don’t head off whatever it is I see coming.

The one thing that bothered me most about seeing that ‘I am so going to get yanked off this team, any second now’ feeling was the thought that I’d be leaving my team without another ‘me.’

You know – an OCD/ADHD squirrel who just pounded back a plate of glazed doughnuts and a six pack of Red Bull…?

Because what team doesn’t NEED one of THOSE around, am I right?!?!

Ahem. Anyway. Yeah. It’s been a crazy couple weeks as I’ve been settling in and trying to ramp up on all this new stuff.

Meanwhile in other news…you know one of the cool things about working near the Ferry Building? Far West Fungi.

They have stuff like this.
Which is a mix of lion’s mane, crimini, shitake, oyster, and golden enoki mushrooms.

Which can be put with stuff like this.
wild rice mix
Which would be a wild rice mix I picked up for fifty cents from the Extreme Discount Cart at the supermarket

And a little of that.
Yeah, onions and celery go in EVERYTHING…along with butter and chicken stock.

And then you end up with this, which is a mushroom and wild rice soup.
wild rice and mushroom soup
Which was awesome and we had to beat Eldest away from it to get any

And finally, in other-other news…I started seaming the baby blanket last night.

Oh, come on…you know…the baby blanket?

From, like…a…while ago? For my neighbor's baby? The one that got here almost two months ago now…?
It is taking approximately three thousand years to seam each section. And it is still in the upper 90s out here all day, and I strongly suspect it is at least 327 degrees in my bedroom, which is where I do most of this kind of stuff, and in related news, this is a surprisingly warm blanket…feh…

And this-time-I-really-mean-it-finally-finally…I have an Important Tip on choosing appropriate viewing material for while-seaming-a-baby-blanket brain-candy: Do not pick an anime show that is in Japanese with subtitles.

Unless, of course, you speak Japanese.

Which I am seriously tempted to try to learn to do (thanks to my recent rediscovery that I love anime), even though I have had precisely zero luck with learning any language other than English apart from about five words in Spanish, a few phrases in French and a couple cuss words in Vietnamese. I can read a few Welsh words and phrases, but cannot speak them to save my life and would not try to because even those of us who are experts at embarrassing ourselves don’t necessarily want to, at least not all the danged time.

All evidence to the contrary aside. Ahem.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Slow in coming, few in number

It has not been a banner year for the tomatoes. The romas are producing heavy yields of heavy, dense-meated fruit.. but only three plants survived through flowering.

The Black Krims are covered with green tomatoes, all of them developing cracks around their tops ...and if we can just get a few more good, hot days and the persimmons and cornucopias live up to the promise of crazy quantities of hard, green ones they gave now...I may have to revise my 'rotten year' assessment.

And until then, enjoy the special glow that (almost) only children have - aren't they awfully pretty?!?!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Taking off the training wheels

I tried to reply to this in the comments from this morning, but it got too lengthy. (Me? Lengthy? Never!) Anyway, you know the number one reason I feel I absolutely cannot continue the ‘modified plan’ for Danger Mouse the way I am for Boo Bug and Captain Adventure?

It’s this. The first week of school, I put $60 into her lunch fund. I KID YOU NOT, less than a week later – she skitters past me, stopping just long enough to blurt out, “Oh! And! I’m out of lunch money!”

“No, you’re not,” I said confidently.

“Well, the lunch lady said so, and I had to have cheese and crackers for lunch,” she tells me.

Uh, wha-now?!

MUCH. PRODDING. LATER., I learn that my beloved idiot of a child has blown through $60 buying French toast sticks and fruit snacks for “everybody,” plus getting cash-back (!?!?!) at the register of her middle school for the ice cream truck later.

(I’m sorry. I need a moment. I am still so @^*&@ing pissed about that last one. IN WHAT REALITY is that even possible?! I MEAN, I KNOW, it’s middle school, blah blah blah responsibility blah blah blah growing up etc. etc. etc., BUT LORD LOVE A DUCK, that is just…ARGH!)

Needless to say, I called the school the next day and said, “Yeah, hi, I’m Danger Mouse’s mom – can we put a block on her lunch account so she can’t purchase the a la carte stuff?”

This is what we did at her elementary school to keep her from doing the same exact thing, minus the cash back part which they were not STUPID ENOUGH to allow.

{collects self…deep breath, and hooooold for a moment…long slow release…OK! moving on!}

The fact that she couldn’t do it didn’t teach her a damned thing. The instant she discovered that she could do it, bam. Her lunch money burned a hole right through the floor of the cafeteria.

And now? Now? We are in Middle School. Which apparently is some kind of magic ‘all-grown-up’ place where the same kids who three months earlier couldn’t be held accountable for wiping their own noses are suddenly more than capable of handling all their own responsibilities without anything by way of adult intervention.

Which is why they responded to this with, “Oh, hell to the no. SHE has to take responsibility for HER OWN actions.”

And I looked at this kid of mine, starting to wear bras, about two seconds from having to arm-wrestle her big sister for the box of menstrual pads, and suddenly…it hit me, hard, that this kid, this same kid who had just done this incredibly brainless thing, this too-smart-to-be-so-stupid child…was never in a million years going to be “with it” enough to make a lunch in the mornings. Or remember the lunch. And I’ve been out of the house for three hours before she leaves for school – it’s out of my hands.

She’s going to be going without food from dinner the night before until 3:30 the following day, every day, because this is how she is, she’ll never get her act together on this, it’s just not how she is, it’s not her nature, and hang on a second…why do we take that ‘as read’ with her?!

I sat there in this tunnel of past and future rushing by me, counting up all the various ways we’ve tried to impress the concept of budgeting on her; all the times we’ve walked her through how this stuff works, slowly, carefully, with charts and graphs, with budgets and ‘tell me what $7 plus $5 is,’ with real money and pretend money.

And always, always, having to bail her out. Having to wrestle the money out of her hand, slap her upside the head and say, “What did I just say?! You cannot spend this whole thing at the first churro stand you run across!!!”

We intervene. Every single time. We go back to the charts. We explain how 2 + 2 ends up as 4. We talk it to death. We have different color cards. We use different kinds of money-markers. We talk until we’re blue, and the instant we hand her money again?

The instant you take your hand off the brake, she is full speed ahead, and damn the torpedoes.

It’s like giving an ADHD squirrel a plate of frosted sugar cookies for snack with a Red Bull to wash them down, and then trying to take it for a walk on a leash made out of embroidery floss.

After six years of trying to teach her self-control…I’ve got to start letting her crash, if she’s going to insist on speeding up as she approaches the wall instead of applying a little brake…and then instead of rushing in with the Neosporin and band-aids, I’ll have to just tell her where they are and remind her what to do with them.

Hopefully, by the time she’s having to buy gas (OHMYGAH, WHA?!?!), she’ll be better able to remember to take care of those most important things first, and then have her fun.

(I don’t promise not to nag, though. I can’t help it. I’m like a walking, talking calculator with her. “That’s $6.50…that would leave you with only $39.75, are you sure you want to…I mean, seriously, dude, you don’t even like that color, why do you need to buy…OK, it’s your funeral, I’m just sayin’…!”)

(MEANWHILE, Boo Bug [her younger sister] is all, “Oh, I’m out of lunch money…oh, wait, it costs how much for breakfast at school? Welllllllll, we have plenty of muffins and waffles in the freezer, how about just lunches…and I’ll make a lunch on Thursday because I don’t like the school lunch on Thursday…” Heh. How can four kids with the same two parents all be so different?!)

Sometimes I hate being the grownup

I’m constantly trying to figure out a “good” way to teach the Denizens how money…um…works.

As in, “No, there isn’t a magic money tree in the backyard that spits out twenty dollar bills whenever y’all want something.”

Or, “Just because you saw an ATM receipt that said $387.29 does not mean that I actually have $387.29 that I can spend on just anything right now.”

And the ever-popular, “I know you were innocently looking for mints when you accidentally (ahem) noticed that I have $200 in cash in my wallet, but this does not mean I can ‘totally afford’ to hand over $15 to the ice cream truck for six popsicles that would cost me about three bucks at the supermarket.”

About a month ago, I instituted a new thing: I gave each of the kids a blank checkbook. Every month, I give the girls a $100 deposit (it’s not into a ‘real’ account! don’t hyperventilate! breathe! breathe, people!), and they can also earn extra cash for doing extra chores.

Everything they want or need is then paid for out of this money. If they don’t feel like making a lunch because this is “too hard,” then almost half of their $100 will be going to the cafeteria. If they want a cell phone and minutes to use it with, they’d better think about that before they decide they need whatever shiny thing just popped up on their little radar.

It’s already been a fascinating – and painful – experience.

Captain Adventure is on a modified plan: He has a checkbook, but instead of a big deposit from mommy that covers everything, he gets a weekly deposit based on his ‘checks’ – he’ll get a check for decent behavior at school, two checks for really good behavior, and four for super-extra-awesome. He also gets them for doing well on school work, and for doing his chores. Each check is worth a quarter – and then he gets to use them for the things he wants, like treats from the ice cream truck and Wii games.

Eldest, on the other hand, has had her own real checking account since her birthday in March – Wells Fargo has a ‘teen checking’ that is kind of like a checking account with training wheels. There are no ‘regular’ fees (ATM transactions, low balances, that kind of stuff), and reduced fees for the ‘oopsie’ things (overdrawing the account). There are also no checks, but she has a Visa debit card she can use to get cash and make purchases.

She has been incredibly mature and responsible with it. She keeps careful track of her balance, has been very conservative with her spending, and I believe has bought something like three shirts and five book since we opened the account. She hasn’t come anywhere close to overdrawing it, and is already becoming the kind of customer the banks fall all over themselves trying to acquire. (*sniff!* I’m so proud…!)

Boo Bug still has a heavy amount of…ahem…let’s call it parental advisement. OH yeah. I am totally running interference with her. I’ll make her sleep on decisions, and I’ll even flat out tell her no. You need this first. You have outgrown all of your jeans – we are going to find you a couple pairs of pants before I let you sign up for a twenty year membership on the Pixie Hollow website, kid.

But Danger Mouse…she’s the kid that tends to be the reason I find myself muttering, “I have got to find a better way to teach them about These Things!!”

She lives entirely in Now. Not only is she really into instant-if-not-sooner gratification, she has limited-to-zero ability to remember that there even is a tomorrow…let alone that she’s got something she has to do in that far, far away world.

This weekend, I had to do something that I found horribly difficult: I had to allow her to run through the balance in her virtual account on festival froodideries.

Which I knew was going to happen. Before we piled into Homer the Odyssey for a day of fun at our annual Bean Festival, I said to myself, firmly, “Now listen here, Momma I’m Going To Protect You From Everything Forever: You KNOW she’s going to blow it. It is her nature. It is this nature that must be brought under control. She can either learn this lesson now, when it is safe and she doesn’t go hungry or without a roof over her head…or you can go ahead and wait until she’s out there in the Real World on her own and then has to figure out what happens if you spend your entire paycheck the minute you get it, without remembering that you’ve got to come up with $X for rent and $Y for food.”

With this internal pep-talk ringing in my mind, I proceeded to practically have a nervous breakdown as she zipped through her entire balance over the course of about three hours. By the end of the day, I was repeating things like what her balance would be, reminding her that the next ‘big’ deposit wasn’t coming for three long weeks, and listing off the things she had said she wanted or needed ‘more’ like I was an electronic parrot with brand new batteries.

It did no good. She ripped through her cash like it was nothing, and only at the very end of the day, when she was sitting there with a $9 tri-trip sandwich (which she wasn’t going to eat more than three bites of) in her hands staring at $13 left in her account did she realize…that’s another month without the coveted cell phone.

“That’s why I wanted to go there first,” she wailed. “I knew this would happen!”

“Then it’s good that we couldn’t go yesterday,” I shot back. “You have got to learn to think about tomorrow today, kid!”

Which was pretty brave talk for someone who was trying to figure out a loophole in her own system that would allow her to let the kid get the cell phone anyway, huh?

Sometimes, I hate being the grownup. I hate when teaching bleeds over into torturing. I hate watching my kids cry when their own choices come boomeranging back and smack them upside the head.

I hate it when it seems best to let them take a fall and find out it hurts.

The rest of September is going to be ugly for #2. She’s going to “need” things, and I’m sure there will be tears and lamentations that she cannot have them right now. And I am going to be sorely tempted to just…get them for her. BECAUSE AFTER ALL, she is still so young! AFTER ALL, this is hard for grownups! …because after all, it’s not like our parents ever taught us…this…stuff…

…oh…yeah…kinda…my job here, isn’t it…


Someday all too soon, she’s going to be leaving this little nest of ours. She’ll be out there on her own, with a real paycheck, and a real checking account…and real obligations, none of which are likely to give her a free pass on account of her youth, or their own tender feelings.

She’s got to learn how to do this, and so many other things.

It sucks being the grownup. And I suppose it isn’t much fun being the one who is growing up, either.

I just hope that someday she thanks me for it half as hard as I think she hates me for it right about now, as it settles in on her just how many things she traded for an afternoon of new hats and tri-tip.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

To be clear, I have NO idea

I don't know what it is I'm making here.

I mean, I'm FAIRLY sure it is a sock. And that there is some knitting through the back loops and it looks like cables decided to join the party.

But there is no pattern, or overall "theme," or any semblance of a plan.

Except to knit what amuses me, rip it back if I had it, and eventually...there should be a sock.

I think.

This...could be an *interesting* project...

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Morning, Day 4 of Three-Day Weekend

First I stood in my closet staring at the vast array of choices (where ‘vast array’ is pronounced…hang on, must go count…six (6) pairs of pants [including the winning pair currently sagging around my waist], nine (9) shirts, and four (4) pairs of shoes) until I finally (almost literally) shouted at myself to Just choose something, dammit, we gotta go-go-GO!

But wait, there’s more. Which I shall now tell you in ‘picture this’ format.

Imagine if you will that you are my neighbor; and that, inexplicably, you are hanging out on your porch at about 4:33 in the morning when this crazy-haired, wild-eyed thing erupts out of That Hippie House dragging a reluctant “rolling” backpack behind her – only it isn’t so much “rolling” because one of the backpack straps has come loose from its “safety pouch” thingee and is wrapping itself under one of the wheels, causing tremendous instability and becoming effectively a brake.

She stops on the porch, drops her keys (for the third time that morning, by the way), picks them up, starts to lock the door behind herself, then WHIRLS! in an attitude of PREPAREDNESS! …because she’s pretty sure she just HEARD SOMETHING that was probably a BIG MEAN DOG that has gotten loose and is about to CHOMP on her CALF…(or possibly, it is the beginning of the Zombie Apocalypse and the first of the diseased flesh-eaters is upon me…you know, either-or…)

And then this itty-bitty cat streaks across the lawn in a blur of fur and with its cute little collar going “tingle-ringle” as it goes. It’s just a cat, pretending to be a big, mean dog (or apocalypse-heralding zombie, either way) – which is a thing they do whenever it would make a human look completely idiotic, which is also a thing they do.

To which the harridan mutters, “{unintelligible} cats!” and almost shouts, “DON’T YOU POOP ON MAH GREEN BEANS!!!” after it as it claws its way into her backyard, but fortunately remembers that it is 4:33. Wait. 4:34. Crap-apples!

At this point, the grumbling hag starts lug-dragging the bag – still with the strap wrapped under the wheel because attention to detail is, like, the first or second thing on her resume – to the back of the car, across part of the damp-with-morning-dew-which-would-be-a-lot-more-poetic-if-it-weren’t-so-flip-flammin’-early lawn (this little detail becomes downright hysterical in a moment, trust me), pops open the trunk and throws her bag in there.

It stands there, upright, in stark defiance of the laws of mathematics, which state that a trunk with X” of clearance won’t be able to shut if an object (X + Y)” (where Y > 0) high is standing in it.

So she gives the bag a gentle nudge to tip it over. Which it does not do because please see references to “backpack strap + around wheel = brake,” above.

Eventually, she gives it a vicious shove and sure enough it topples over and also the car trunk playfully (and rather briskly) swings downward and whacks her on the back of the head, which is a thing it does in order to make her look like an idiot.

Which is obviously not that hard to do, if an inanimate object can do it – repeatedly.

Which the car does, about three times a week on average, with this same exact “ha ha, I swung my trunk shut unexpectedly on your head, ha ha!” thing.

Third or fourth item on the resume: Fast learner.

a-HEM. Moving on.

SO THEN, she picks up the keys (what, you didn’t  just know she dropped them again?!), rushes around the side of the car (4:35, GAW-DAB-BLAME-IT-ALL-TO-HECK-ARGH!!!) opens the car door, throws herself wildly into the driver’s seat, muttering and swearing and raising all kinds of Cain about broken-this and busted-that and crap-arsed-the-other and why can’t anything ever just work around here, cranks over the ignition, throws the car into Fly Gear, slams a foot on the accelerator and, as the car begins a rather enthusiastic exit of the driveway, is screaming inside, “…AND FURTHERMORE, WHY DOES THE ACCELERATOR FEEL…allfunny…?”


You want to know why it felt funny?

You really want to know?

I’ll tell you why it felt funny.

Because the idiot in question is NOT. WEARING. SHOES.

See?! I told you the fact that I’d stomped across the damp, morning lawn was funny!

Now, I can’t explain why it was that the cold concrete (1), and the damp lawn (2), and the more-cold-and-rougher pavement of the driveway (3) did absolutely nothing to penetrate the Cloud of Distraction that was apparently gathered around my bunions, but the weird ripply-feel of the accelerator under my socked foot was like a huge neon sign going “Warning, warning, woot-woot-woot, something is not right, repeat! Something! Is! Not! Right!!”

I can only say that I'm glad it did, because what I would have done if I had gotten all the way to the station and then discovered my lack of footwear...I really can't begin to guess. (But suspect that some form of hysteria would have been involved.)

So then I ran back into the Den, dropped my keys on the porch again, considered kicking the door in to save time but decided I’d probably only break a toe, picked up the keys, jammed one into the lock, shoved open the door, RAN up the stairs {thumpa-WHACK-thumpa-WHACK-thumpa-WHACK!}, grabbed the first pair of shoes that came to hand, ran back DOWN the stairs {skip-thump-skip-thump-skip-thump!} (<= that’s my bum hip, by the way – I go up stairs kind of heavy every other foot, but going down I use the banister like a cane and essentially ‘skip’ every other stair when I’m in a hurry, which probably looks damned funny), skidded back toward the door and WAITASECOND!!!!! {sound of tires screeching to a halt on painted concrete – schreeeeeeerrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeekkkkkk-k-k-k-k-k!}

…that’s my coffee…!

Sitting on the desk!

Next to the door!

Where I cannot drink it after I have left!!

Well, THAT won’t do!!!! (Obviously.)

SO NOW, with much-needed caffeine in hand…I snatch the door open and charge out into the darkness again.

Still in my socks.

Keys held with excessive tightness in one hand.

Coffee mug in the other.

Shoes held by their uppers…in my teeth.

Because they had no laces to loop over a finger or something, and everything was tumbling to the ground because third hand had I none and it just seemed…safer…to carry them that way.


Holy Mother of Mohair, as glad as I am there wasn’t any photographic evidence of this…if I got a penny for every YouTube hit I probably would have gotten from the Hidden Camera Footage on this deal? I could retire, like, tomorrow as a ludicrously wealthy woman.

NOW, if you’re a sane person (like my husband is), you are probably asking yourself, “Why on earth didn’t that lunatic put the shoes on her feet before she left the house again?!” WELL, BECAUSE! It was now 4:38, and the train is supposed to be pulling into the station at 4:49, and it usually takes me about twelve minutes to get from my driveway to the platform. Cinnamon-coated crap-apples!!!!

So I had reasoned (ha! ‘reasoned’! hilarious!!) that I would put on my shoes at the first inevitable stop light that turned red just to be spiteful along the way – which is why it takes about twelve minutes to get to the train station when it “should” take maybe seven or eight, tops.

So of course, none did.

Which is why I pulled into the station at 4:47, yanked them onto my feet (right foot, first time, woo hoo!!), spilled out of the car, dropped my keys (yes, again*), popped the trunk, grabbed my bag, got hit on the back of the head by the randomly-auto-closing trunk (…yes…again…) and then rushed up the platform and got onto the train and got to work.

Where I imitated a reasonably intelligent person most of the day.

I think I’ve fooled ‘em!, she said, sitting at work all "I iz so smarts!!" in a shirt that came pre-stained with Something.


Nine shirts to chose from, naturally I picked the one that had a big old splotch of Something all over one shoulder…

…honestly, why they let me out without a keeper is beyond me...

* OK, so, the dropping keys thing...that happens a LOT in the mornings because I have some nerve damage in the left hand from an old surgery; plus, due to hard-riding mileage I've put on the joints over time, I wake up with hands that FEEL like if I looked at them they'd look like great big overstuffed sausages - but they don't actually look that way. They just look like normal hands. But, they're also usually kind of numb / tingly / painful in different spots (HOURS of amusement, cataloging which parts 'hurt' and which parts are 'just numb' and isn't it curious that the FIRST joint hurts on this finger, but the SECOND joint one is just kind of tingly?), and they don't always actually have the grip on things they say they have until I've worked the life back into them with a bunch of stretching exercises (which come to think of it, must look really bizarre to other people on the train...heh...Invisible Piano! Now with Witch Claws and Kung-Fu Fists of Fury!). Which take too danged long, so I frequently am charging out the door before my hands have actually finished waking up, and hence - I am constantly dropping my keys, pencils, coffee mugs, jackets and anything else my hands have said "No, dude, I've totally got this!" and I was foolish enough to believe them at that hour. C'est la vie. But I do get a little tired of the crash-jingle of my key ring hitting the pavement at times...

Saturday, September 03, 2011

It had to be done

Microwave 2-3 minutes...bake at 450 for 13-18 minutes...pan-fry 4-6 minutes...deep-fry at 350 for 3-4 minutes...

...huh...deep-fry the chicken patty...iiiiiiiinteresting...different...

So OBVIOUSLY, I had to try it.

In the name of Science.

Along with some golden potato "wedges" (fried with just a little sea salt) and zucchini (barely shown some heat and drizzled with Balsamic vinegar). And a little jalapeno jelly for the chicken.

The things I do for science...SUCH a burden...

(yeah, they're pretty good deep-fried...crunchy outside, moist inside...and jalapeno jelly ought to be in every cupboard because that sweet-heat goes so marvelously with so many things...)

You know you are "other directed" when... see a magazine called "Soaps In Depth - ABC" with a description of "in-depth coverage of only the ABC soaps!", and you don't immediately think 'TV show,' you think, 'huh, is that a brand of melt-n-pour glycerin I've never heard of?!'

...I really do live in some kind of alternate universe, don't I...