Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Crisis averted.

If you've been with my little blog since the beginning, you know how much I love and use my bread machine. It makes bread at least twice a week and sometimes more on the weekends if I have time. We rarely buy bread at the grocery anymore unless I get a hankering for some pitas (which I could also make if I wanted to go to the trouble).

Lately, breadmaking has been a little of a challenge. A couple of weeks ago, I went to make my regular loaf of whole wheat bread. I put all the wet ingredients in the pan and when I went to measure out the flour, I noticed it was crawling. Yes. Tee-tiny nearly microscopic crawling things were in my flour. I took everything out of the Rubbermaid bin I had kept all the bread things in, and to my great horror, found that all of my supplies were crawling with critters. White flour. . . wheat flour. . . barley flour. . . rye flour. . . gluten. . . coconut milk powder. . . buttermilk powder. . . all the sugar. . . it all had to be thrown out. Every. Single. Last. Bit. We took the bin outside and hosed it off. Thinking it was safe, we put it back in the kitchen under the table. And guess what?

A couple of days later, there were still tiny crawling things in the bins. We took them all outside, cleaned the floor and the bins with hot bleach water, and having decided out invaders were tiny pharoah ants, we put ant baits in the bins when they dried. Mister packed up his wine & beer supplies with bay leaves, and so far, it seems to have worked. I'm still keeping an eye out for the little critters, though.

Tonight I went to bake a loaf like I usually do in the middle of the week. I put all the ingredients in the pan, put the pan in the machine, set it on the Express cycle, and went about my business. When I went to check on it later, I saw it wasn't rising, and. . . wait. Is it BOILING in there?

Yes. It was boiling. The ingredients hadn't been mixed when I turned on the machine, so it all just sat there in a blob cooking in the pan. I thought, great, now the bread machine's crapped out on us, and we'll have to start buying bread again. I took the pan out to let it and the machine cool off. Mister and I were contemplating going to the grocery to pick up a loaf of bread, when I noticed the BREAD PADDLE sitting on the counter. Then it dawned on me.

I had altogether forgotten to put the paddle in the machine. Made bread so many times I have the basic recipe memorized, and I FORGOT to put the PADDLE in there.

So, after the machine cooled off and Mister cleaned out the pan for me, I started over. And sometimes, that's all you can do: laugh at your dumb mistakes and just start over.

Till next time ---- if you fall off the horse, just dust yourself off and get back on.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Introverts unite!

Did y'all feel the introvert love on Facebook today? Because you should have. Several of us were sharing links about what it means to be an introvert, and how it probably doesn't mean what you think it means.

I always fancied myself an extrovert. I like to talk, I like to socialize, and hey! I love to be onstage. That's all extrovert stuff, right?

Not necessarily.

After all my talking, socializing, and performing, I needed some quiet time. If I didn't get said quiet time, I got really stressed out and anxious and depressed. (Yes, you can be anxious and depressed at the same time, but that's a whole other blog post.) For a long time, I thought this was just me being a whiny unsociable brat, and I pushed through it. Till one day, I couldn't push through it anymore. I needed help.

I went to see a psychologist. My dad had died, and I was depressed about that, and depressed about feeling like I wanted to be alone because I felt like people expected me to be ON and when I wasn't ON, I was letting everyone down.

"Aha," she said. "You're an introvert."

I started to say "but---" and before I could get it out, she said, "Forget what you think that means." Then she explained to me that the term "introvert" had been unfairly misused to the point where it had negative connotations. "It doesn't mean you're a serial killer or a psychopath," she said. "It means that you get your energy from inside. Extroverts get theirs from outside. One isn't better than the other. They're just different ways of relating to the world, and the world needs both kinds of people."

Y'all, I am not exaggerating when I say I felt like a huge burden had magically lifted from my shoulders. I read everything I could about introversion. And when I began to actively nurture myself as an introvert, everything changed. It made all the difference. I'm no longer struggling between the me who likes to be onstage and the me who likes to be alone. I can do both. Woot!

I got really tickled at a job interview I had just after I found out I was losing my job. The ad was for a "research assistant - Master's degree required." Perfect! When I got there, though, I discovered the employer was into personality profiling. He declared me a "double extrovert" and said someone like me wouldn't be happy doing research all day. Some personality profiler, huh? I tried to explain that I love love LOVE doing research, but he wasn't listening. (Whatever.)

So if I turn down a social invitation, or sneak off at a reenacting event for a few minutes, it's nothing personal. If you catch me being quiet instead of chatty, there's nothing wrong. It's just me recharging the batteries so I can keep on having fun.

Till next time ---- here are some of the links we passed around, if you're interested:

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Stuff You Say.

I think every longtime couple/family/group of friends has particular expressions they use amongst themselves that outsiders may not understand. Mister and I have several. One favorite of mine is "He/she needs a consultation with the Pope," meaning the person in question has terrible hair.

How in the world did we get that? I'm glad you asked. It comes from a story the late Jerry Clower told years ago on Riders Radio Theater, about a barber with a bad attitude. A customer came into his shop for a haircut and was all excited because he was going to Rome and hoped he'd see the Pope at the Vatican.

The barber, being a negative soul, told the customer that "Rome is awful, it smells bad, the airlines will lose your luggage, and no way will you get to see the Pope." The customer shrugged it off and went on his way. A few weeks later he returned, again all excited because he'd taken his trip.

He said to the barber, " You lied to me. Rome is beautiful, it doesn't smell bad, and the airline was great. And I did too get to see the Pope at the Vatican, waving to the crowd from up there on his little shelf. While I was walking away, a man touched me on the shoulder and said, 'Young man, the Pope would like to meet with you personally.'

"Well, I couldn't believe it. I followed him up some stairs, down some stairs, through a lot of hallways, and we finally got to the room where the Pope was. The Pope said to me, 'Young man, I felt it necessary to pray with you, and counsel with you, because out of all those people out there in the courtyard, you have the sorriest haircut I've ever seen.'"

That was many years ago, and I've never forgotten it. It's funny how some things like that stick with you seemingly forever, and others just fade off into the ether. Needing a consultation with the Pope became part of our family lore. Apparently there are a lot of folks out there with unfortunate hair, because I find myself using the expression often, especially where Bill Gates and Donald Trump are involved. (Sweet Fancy Moses, with all the money those men have, you'd think they could afford a decent coif.)

Till next time - what are some of your tribe's expressions?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Still Hot.

Some of you know that Mister and I live in an old farmhouse with no central heat or air. That's right - I said I have NO AIR CONDITIONING in my house. This was a conscious choice on our part, because the house and its grounds were otherwise perfect, and the rent was just right. And we really liked the landlords. We do have a window AC unit in the bedroom and cool the rest of our side of the house with fans. Usually this is perfectly acceptable.

Usually. This year isn't usually. Neither was last year, for that matter.

There have been several summers when we rarely used the bedroom AC at all, opting instead for a box fan in the window and saving the AC for only the hottest days, usually in July or August. Our electric bill was about $30, and we didn't think anything of suffering through a few muggy days here and there. I mean, what else do you expect from summer in Tennessee?

And considering we spend a good bit of time outdoors in several layers of historic costuming, the lack of AC helped acclimate us to being uncomfortably warm. I went from getting a headache with the slightest temperature rise to being able to withstand the Southern humidity, at least to the high 90s. But this year is different.

Even in April, when I lost my job, I found myself getting severe migraines just being out in the sun for an hour doing yardwork, because it was already 90 before noon. We had no spring to speak of this year. March was cool and rainy, and then all of a sudden, it was OHAI SUMMER'S HERE. There was no time to acclimate to the warming temperatures, because there were no warming temperatures. It was cool, then it was hot. And it stayed hot. What's more, it gets so humid inside the house that I can't even dry my hair when I wash it.

I suppose this is a symptom of global climate change, but I'm not a climatologist, and I don't play one on the Interwebs. I do know that history has shown that the climate will change when it feels like it without any assistance from us.

Till next time -- I'm going up to the bedroom where the cold air is.