Thursday, January 09, 2014

A Small Reward For My Effort, Please

Oh my Foo.

I want a pat on the back. No, a massage, and candlelight dinner. I need recognition, and praise, and gentle waves of soothing affirmations.

I have been entering phone call labyrinths, traversing the paradoxical and enigmatic underworld we know as customer service. These are dark and mysterious places, where nothing is as it should be, and no one has an actual heart beat. I will spare you the gory details, the senseless messages, the circuitous trails, the red herrings, the deceptions and subterfuge... we've all been there, on hold, punching in numbers, creating passwords, hoping to find the key that opens the next chamber!

It's just one more instance, one more mind desiccating experience to make us feel helpless, indignant, angry, and to wonder... why have we surrendered reason and elegance, human engagement, to these massive and soul-less, coddled corporate institutions? And did you know the NFL is tax-exempt? That's a non-sequiter, sort of, but good grief this is an absurd reality we've come to live in.

I'm sorry. I've been meaning to focus on light, on gratitude, on beauty, because my foot-stomping frustration never gains me relief or satisfaction. Happiness, and celebration, at least, enhance in me the courage to keep moving forward, the will to try again, to spread some good.

Oh my Foo, you are good. You are a soothing tonic, and... an imp, but at least I can call you an imp, and scold you to your furry face and put you in the garage when you have been unreasonable, and then you come out repentant and good, and cuddly.

No more phone calls, today. I will turn my effort to laundry, which now seems almost appealing, welcome and wholesome.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

The Best Rice Pudding

The hens are really warming up, and egg production is rolling! I don't think we are at peak production, but there have been enough to share, and that's fun to do. The colors, even the shapes, make me happy. Is that odd... to be charmed and delighted by colors? And the very dark ones, the ones laid by a Cuckoo Maran... they're very round, like a golf ball. It's adorable, for some reason.

I wasn't going to post today, because 1. Supposedly I am cleaning out the office; trying to find my office, actually. And 2. I am a melancholy baby. Maybe it's the long bout with a cold, or missing my extended family. It could be the feeling that I should be doing something else. Anything else.

But then I remembered rice pudding.

Have we ever discussed rice pudding? I love rice pudding, but eating it feels like a game I cannot win. I wish it would taste and smell and feel like the first rice pudding I tried. It was 1970-something, in a full on hippy-palooza potluck barn dance school party when someone insisted I try her rice pudding. The pudding was steaming hot, and served from a hand-thrown clay baking dish... earth tone glaze, and heavy, deep sides. The smell of cinnamon warmed the cold night air. Nothing will ever taste like that first rice pudding. It was dense, and probably made unapologetically, without shame: eggs, cream, whole milk, butter, sugar. The top had caramelized, or glazed over... what's it called when the milk makes a skin on the surface, and it bakes like a custard, sealing in the the moist pudding? There were raisins, too, I think. Or maybe not. It wasn't runny, it wasn't dry. It was only sweet enough to be a dessert, but not so sweet that it masked the flavor of the rice, the spice, the creamy warmth. The rest of my memory is more of an emotional longing, a sensory and dream-like recollection that is as much about how I want to relive that moment, as the likely reality. I believe it was the best rice pudding I have ever had. I have not found its equal. I wonder if I should even try.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Physics :: Bridge Building

December 30, 2013

Max is in Honors Physics. It's his favorite class. A lot. Over break they got the assignment that is legendary: Bridge Building. Every year a new bridge challenge is presented by Stimson, with new rules, new limitations, weight and dimension specs, and designs that are not allowed. Stimson hands them a bundle of balsa wood... a total of 51' of slender sticks of wood, and some tips about soaking the wood, and which glues work well.

So. I wanted to put in a word about helicopter parenting, which I think is kind of laughable at this point, because even if I wanted to "help," I would never be able to help This activity is well beyond my expertise in anything. To my credit, and for the sake of full disclosure, I will admit to letting him use my salt, and my bathtub, and hovering around saying things that were hopefully encouraging: Pretty. Ooh. What would you like for dinner?

January 1, 2014

Max doesn't need helicopter parents. In fact, he's my role model and inspiration. Diligent, studious, disciplined, on time, on schedule, self-motivated.
(I think he avoids reading CB, because of outbursts of maternal observations, such as this. Sorry, son. I could say more, but I will restrain my declarations.)

His own concept and design, and this is the point where I understood, and we agreed, it was going to get challenging, because without written plans, or a pattern, he needs to build a second face, the same as this first one. The difficulty in this is getting the wood to behave the same way... not easy with changing air temps, and humidity etc.

January 3, 2014

January 5, 2014

The second face complete, he sets up blocks to help steady the pieces he is attaching.

January 6, 2014

Complete. He brought the bridge in, small, and pretty. I think it's pretty. It weighs about 7 grams. And on Friday Max's bridge, and all the physic's class bridges, will face a rite of passage... a terrible destiny... they will face troubled waters.

Alex, and Eli, built their bridges in 2011, and then their bridges were put to the test: Holding up a bucket that is gradually filled with water, until the breaking point.

I found this wrenching, yet beautiful. Alex says it was good. Alex's bridge (3:57) made it to the finals, when a bigger bucket and more water test the bridges. I think we need to charge the high speed camera and go see some more bridges over troubled water.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Five Good Things

Alex and Max brought home a curbside Christmas tree for the goats. They love pine needles and bark, nibbling and browsing like dear deer. The tree smells so marvelously of pine, and nostalgia, I had to resist the impulse to bring it into our home and hang lights on it. Such a pretty tree! Now it's cinched to the bare branch we have standing in the goats' yard. Our intention was to make the goats happy, but we have discovered that all the animals are enjoying their evergreen. The bunnies shelter and nap underneath the dense branches, the goats nibble at it, and brush against it, and the chickens flap their way up to the high limbs and peck away. Seems there's more than one way to re-use your retired Christmas tree! And lucky us... Michal and Kellie donated their pretty pine to the goats!

Good Things...

1. Except for lingering coughs, we are nearly mended. {I am stating this rather bitterly, since the school break is over, and we missed far too many chances to play!}

2. There are new toys and pretty things to use and admire... candle making, soon, and something with a Dremel!

3. The children never complained... happy homebodies that they are!

4. There is rain in the forecast.

5. More eggs! One is as round as they come, and chocolate brown. Lilikoi, our Buff Orpington laid an egg that's almost pink! It's a warm, creamy color with white spots.

I haven't quite settled on an official New Year resolution, but I think it will include appreciation. Gratitude makes a very good starting point. Have you some good things to share?