Monday, May 31, 2010

Fire! (or "How I Spent My Weekend")

It started out as a typical Saturday morning. I awoke to the sound of the coffee grinder.  My husband was up and he was making coffee.  Yes!  After lying in bed for a few more lazy I-don't-have-to-get-up-yet moments, I followed the lovely aroma of fresh coffee into the kitchen.

Coffee was poured, options were discussed, and we went about the business of making breakfast. I put the biscuits in the oven and started browning sausage while my husband mixed the orange juice.

Four minutes left on the biscuits and he noticed it... the strange glow on a small section of the oven's heating element. Then there were small sparks.  At first, we both thought it was a spill... perhaps a bit of grease from last night's roast chicken.  After a few minutes we realized that this was no spill.  The element itself was burning.  We removed the biscuits and turned off the oven, hoping that would solve the problem.  It didn't.

Time for more serious measures.  Hubby sprayed it with our handy kitchen fire extinguisher, which resulted in a cloud of chemical dust that quickly spread throughout the house and sent us running to open windows.  It did not, however, put out the fire. 

One final option before calling the fire department was to shut off the power at the breaker box.  That finally did the trick.  We breathed a sigh of relief (near the open window, of course) and then, after the dust settled, continued with our weekend breakfast. Amazingly enough, the food was undamaged and the biscuits were browned to perfection.

After breakfast, my husband and son disconnected the stove so we could safely turn the power back on, and moved it to the backyard. I actually smiled a little as I said good-bye to the last of our old 1980's harvest gold appliances. (Yuck!)

Anyone who has ever used a chemical fire extinguisher, know that the dust gets everywhere. It took over an hour to clean up the kitchen... and I haven't even started on the rest of the house. I am just thankful that most of the bedroom doors were closed. 

Our afternoon plans changed slightly.  We still went to the movies (because I really needed to relax), followed by appliance shopping.  Our new stove will be delivered in two weeks.  Yes, I said two weeks. Our stove is a drop-in model, which is not stocked in any store and has to be ordered. 

Things are going to be a bit different for the next two weeks, but we are not without options.  I can cook meals using the crock pot, microwave, toaster oven, electric wok, charcoal grill, and Coleman stove.  I think we're covered.  It does feel strange to walk into my kitchen and see the hole where my stove used to be, but in two weeks, we will have a brand new stove. 

Now, if I could just do something about that yellow laminate counter top...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Camping at Brazos Bend

I enjoyed camping when I was a kid, and didn't get to go often enough.  I can remember one overnighter with Camp Fire Girls where we held skills competitions.  I can light a fire and cook a pancake like nobody's business, y'all.  And I will never forget the weekend trips to Sulphur with my extended family. Sheltering from tornados in a car dealership basement with other campers - including a man who was wearing only a towel, and later watching my Nana try to burn her bra.  These are the memories of my childhood. 

Scary, isn't it?

When my son joined Cub Scouts in first grade, camping became a regular activity for our family. And, 10 years later, I still love it. 

Last weekend, we camped at Brazos Bend State Park with our Boy Scout Troop.  It was dark when we arrived, but the woods around us sparkled with thousands of fireflies and the moon lit the path to our campsite. 

Our campsite was deep in the woods, so it took a while to haul all of our gear in from the parking lot. Once we were settled, the other mom in our group suggested a quick shower to rinse off the sweat.  Have I mentioned the high humidity in this part of Texas?  The restrooms were about 1/4 mile from the parking area (great exercise opportunity) and, to our disappointment, were not equipped with showers.  It wasn't the first time I've had to settle for a sponge bath. 

It was still warm outside when we turned in for the night, but I was comfortable.  The "bath" had cooled me off and I left the rainfly off my tent to catch stray breezes.  The boys were excited, as they always are on the first night, and stayed up talking late into the night.  As their voices finally quieted, the chorus of snores began.  Sleep was a long time in coming.  One day I will learn to pitch my tent at the edge of the campsite, not in the middle.

On Saturday, the boys cooked, swung from vines, hiked, looked for alligators, learned about Texas snakes and did a simulated space mission.  It was a busy day.  After dinner, the boys put on a campfire program and performed a flag retirement ceremony.  Then we all went to the observatory to see the stars and planets through the big telescopes.  It was my first trip to the observatory and all I can say is... wow! 

The moon and the fireflies lit our way back to camp and we all went straight to bed.  If there was snoring, I fell asleep before it began.

Sunday morning in camp is bittersweet.  I find myself sad to be leaving such a beautiful place, but eager to get back home where I can enjoy a hot shower.

On Tuesday night, we'll be planning our next camping adventure. 

I can't wait!

Friday, May 21, 2010


Yesterday I received Mission #5: Become A Smart Verbal Communicator from Get Organized Wizard. The instructions were to (1) streamline my voicemail message, (2) write a script for leaving voicemails, and (3) write a script for delegating.

I've updated both my home and work voicemail messages to ask callers to tell me what they need from me and to leave contact information if they expect a reply. Rather than playing phone tag, we can actually use the voicemail system to communicate.  Wow, what a concept!

The tips for leaving voicemails for other people tells me to leave a detailed message that includes who I am, what I need, if a reply is needed or if there are deadlines, and my contact information.  I will try to follow these tips when leaving messages.  I wonder if the recipients will actually listen to the whole message or just hit delete and call me back.

I don't have anyone to delegate to, so I skipped this part.  Okay, that's not exactly true.  I sometimes ask my son to do things for me.  But, have you ever tried to give detailed instructions to a 16 year old boy?  Yeah.  Unless it's instructions for how to get to the next level of their favorite video game, you might as well forget it.

Another mission completed.  I wonder if it would be rude to forward this one to a few people who could really use it...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Commit for Life

My first donation was at a high school blood drive. I was eighteen. After graduating, I found that the donor coaches would sometimes come to my workplace, and I would happily roll up my sleeve. Boy Scout winter camp usually brings another opportunity to donate.

Without really trying at all, I've donated 22 pints of blood. That's 2 donations away from 3 gallons, people. But I have yet to live up to the Commit for Life promise I signed three years ago. The commitment says that I will donate once per quarter. My average... twice a year.

It's easy to donate when the coach comes to my office, but that only happens once or twice a year. Last year I couldn't donate at winter camp. I was still ineligible from my previous donation... by ONE DAY. I realized that meeting that once per quarter goal might actually take some effort on my part.

Two months ago, I had a day off and decided to stop by my neighborhood Blood Center to make a donation. I learned that they are open until 6:00 PM Monday - Thursday. I get off early enough to go after work. Great! So, I marked my calendar to donate again on May 17.

Yesterday, I drove straight to the Blood Center after work, ready to continue my renewed commitment of regular donations. But I hit another roadblock. My hemocrit (iron level) was 1 point too low. 24 hour deferral. Crap!

The technician gave me some helpful advice on getting more iron into my system and suggested I come back in a day or two. Since the technician was talkative, I asked her about platelet donations. I'd heard about it, but wanted details. I learned that it takes 6 whole blood donations to generate the same amount of platelets that can be collected from 1 automated platelet donation, and platelets only have a shelf life of 5 days so they always need donations. The process takes 2 hours and you can donate every week (max of 24 per year).

I'm not sure if I can sit still with a needle in my arm for 2 hours, but I'm thinking about giving it a try. My appointment is tomorrow.

How about you... would you do it? Have you done it?

Update (5/20/10)

I did it! I donated platelets and red cells yesterday. It was a lot like giving blood, just took a lot longer. I was on the machine for 1 hour, and they told me that it might be longer next time. The only side effect I experienced was a strange tingling in my mouth, and my hand did get a little tired of squeezing the ball after a while. I did not get light-headed at all (which sometimes happens when I donate whole blood).

The best part is that I don't have to wait 8 weeks to make my next donation. I can go back next week if I want. However, the Blood Center recommends waiting 2 weeks, which will work better with my schedule. And I get to watch TV - another big plus, since we still don't have it at home.

I've already marked my calendar to make another appointment on June 2. Anyone want to join me?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Time Flies

When I was a little girl, time moved so slowly. I was always waiting for things to happen: school to start, summer vacation, birthdays, Christmas. (It took FOREVER for Christmas to get here.)

Now-days, time just flies by.

What's up with that?

Did you know that there are only 3 weeks of school left? And Christmas will be here before you know it, y'all!

This time warp thing plays havoc with my attempts at getting organized. There's always something else that needs my attention. And then there's Facebook... but that's a topic for another post.

Fortunately, the last three missions from Get Organized Wizard turned out to be easy ones.

April 29, Misssion # 2 - Detox your briefcase/tote/bag
I removed the papers from my briefcase and filed them, then removed a few excess pens and paperclips. Done. I had cleaned my purse out the previous week, so I focused on my make-up case. Threw away a couple of old lipsticks and some band-aids that had lost their stickiness. Done.

May 6, Mission # 3 - Organize your bill payment
I set up on-line bill pay (not automatic) with my bank over a year ago, and I love it. When bills come in the mail, I go on-line and schedule the payment. I've set up some bills with on-line notifications. I get an e-mail whenever there is a new bill to be paid. So easy and I don't have to worry about things getting lost in the mail. Done.

May 13, Mission #4 - Forgo the freebies
Last year, I discarded all the old kids meal toys and free items that were taking up space. I no longer bring home any of those cute little advertisement freebies - unless it's something that I can really use. When they are offered I either decline, hand it to someone else, or toss. So nice to not have a bunch of plastic "thingies" lying about. Done.

Since these missions were so easy, I added a quick clean-out of my armoire. It was time. The shelves were overflowing with shorts, t-shirts, and sweats, and the doors did not want to stay closed any more. I took 15 minutes and removed everything that I did not like or that did not fit. It almost filled a garbage bag. I took the bag to a local thrift store, along with a box of kitchen items and a hamper full of my son's outgrown clothes. It felt so good to get all that out of the house. And now... I can close my armoire again!

After all my organizing efforts on Saturday morning, I went to my friend's house to sit in the hot tub and drink beer.

A girl's gotta take some time to relax! ;)