Friday, July 31, 2015

Hoping I Get Properly Zipped into My Zipline

I'm going ziplining tomorrow!

Did you hear that? I got excited just looking at the videos at Canopy Tours NW. I've gone climbing on cliffs. I've rappelled those cliffs. Exciting. I've whitewater rafted and canoed and backpacked and hiked and swam in all kinds of waters, but I've never leaped off a perfectly good tree into midair.

Oh right. I did leap out of a perfectly good tree when I was about nine. I was too high and I knew it when I leaped. I fractured my leg when I landed. Another time, I jumped off a limb holding the rope swing in our back yard, swung wildly out and back and then hit another trimmed limb and got a nasty round bruise on my butt. I guess I'm not new to jumping out of trees.

But that was when I was a kid. Now, I'm fifty-five years old and even being harnessed in to within an inch of my life, I'm going to feel like I'm nine again, flying through the air.

I hope I don't scream.

I hope this becomes a thing that we do, ziplining wherever we come across a zipline tour. Mike says he's not that interested. There's no skill. Maybe it's kind of like bungee jumping for him, a test of equipment and the focus of the people who hook you onto the line.

Me? I'm in. I'm all in. I'm going to leap.

I'll let you know how it went, okay?

Thank you for listening, jb

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Search for Happiness on TV

Last night, I watched two movies. Mike and Nick were working with a friend on a project to get ready for Boy Scout camp and there were these two movies I knew I wasn't going to get to watch if I didn't take advantage of the time. 'Wild' and 'Hector's Search for Happiness' were the ones that had arrived at the library together. I thought watching those movies would make me happy.

I was excited about seeing 'Wild.' I'd read the book and thought the load of gear and incredible inexperience on the trail could make for a few funny scenes. I thought I would relate. And I had seen a great preview of 'Hector's Search for Happiness.' Simon Pegg. I love watching Simon Pegg.

Plus, since I was making dinner for the guys, I figured a plate of pasta and a glass of wine would make me happy too.

I started watching 'Wild.'

Unfortunately, the screenplay emphasized redemption from sex with strangers and heroin use. Not my thing, seriously not my thing. I get how being on a trek can cause a redemption, but I'm much more interested in a lower form of redemption, something there in surviving, surely, but more subtle.

Don't get me wrong. Anyone who can come back from a low that low should write a book. They should be proud. They should tell their story so that others in the same situation can see a ray of hope.

It's just that ...

I'm not entirely sure what it was. I guess I just wanted to be entertained on the order of Bill Bryson's 'A Walk in the Woods.' I wanted fluff, fluff with some redemptive power, but fluff still. I wanted to see how someone like the girl I had been years ago could go for a long hike and be redeemed even if she hadn't taken the heroin road. I wanted to see myself on that trail.

When I read the book, I managed to see myself on the trail.

There was a time when I was twenty three years old that I was sent on a business trip to Phoenix and I decided that I was going to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back while I was in the right state. I had a spare weekend after the training and my boss even said he'd pay for my rental car for the weekend. Those were the days, weren't they? I hadn't asked for my boss to pay for my rental car, but he paid for it anyway.

And then I proceeded to hike sixteen and a half miles in my Keds to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back in one day with two cans of Dr. Pepper and two Snicker's bars in my jacket pockets. Those were the days.

Mike likes to use my example as a what-not-to-do when planning for time in the wilderness. I told him he should. But every time, he points out that I did it with perseverance and managed to get back up the trail. There was redemption in hiking that trail. If I could hike a mile deep into the earth and back in one day, I could do anything I set my mind to doing.

But the movie 'Wild' wavered back and forth between the kind of redemption I knew and something much more sinister. That movie did not make me happy.

So then, I fed my guys. A plate of pasta and a glass of wine later, I started the second movie. I almost never have either, let alone both carbohydrates and wine. I should have known better.

After the guys went back to work, I was alone again and feeling a bit fuzzy. Hector definitely worked better for my tastes in movies. Simon Pegg's character was a psychiatrist who wondered what made people happy. He was living a seriously ordinary life and it made him wonder, at first about other people's happiness and ultimately about his own.

I loved this movie. I sat in my muddled state and made a list of things that made me happy as I watched:

walking on my hands in a pool
watching Nick's left eyebrow
touching Mike's beard in my hands
looking at sunlight on water
watching Teddy run
walking in the forest
standing ankle-deep in an ice cold river
looking at Nick's feet
writing things down
feeling Mike lean in when he hugs me

Oh, I could go on and on and on. I really am a pretty happy person as long as I'm getting enough sleep. When I'm sleep deprived, my sunny life can be seriously worrisome. But that movie made me think about what makes me happy.

I loved this movie and waited for the happiness to hit me as the movie was coming to a close. It was a very good movie. It was a bit fluffy, redemptive, and I love watching Simon Pegg.

But it did not make me happy. Why not?

It turns out that watching a movie by myself can not make me happy. I can be happy enough watching TV with Nick and Mike. I can snuggle with Mike and stare at Nick's big feet, but watching alone doesn't cut it. So why did I waste my time? I'm old enough to have known that by now, but I did it anyway.

Sometimes I think of all the things I'll do when I have all the time in the world. It's a pipe dream that will never work for me because I'm pretty sure that time in my life will be when I'm alone. It might be hard to be happy when I'm alone and don't have any responsibilities. I'd better be careful what I wish for.

Still, if I'm listening to that happiness list I won't be drinking wine and watching movies by myself when that day comes.

Thank you for listening, jb

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Blueberries Are Killing Me

The blueberries are killing me.

I just checked the pork loin and it needs at least forty-five more minutes in the oven. What the heck? It was only a little frozen when I put it in the oven. You know, that squishy kind of frozen when it hasn't defrosted in the fridge quite long enough.

Damned safety people, telling me I need to defrost my meat in the fridge. Blueberries? Right, I was telling you about blueberries.

There's also a blueberry cobbler in the oven with the pork. The pork was supposed to come out fifteen minutes ago and the cobbler was supposed to come out of the oven in about a half an hour. Perfect timing, right?

I am a good enough cook, but I never did get that timing down. You know, the cooks that have the Thanksgiving turkey coming out of the oven just when the yams are smelling up the house and the kid - me - has wrapped the spoon up in the mixer in an attempt to help whip the potatoes?

Yeah, that. I did it. That spoon was suitable for jewelry after I was done with it.

I can make some meals, but there's fifty-fifty potential for hockey puck food when I've been gone all day and am scrambling to get a hunk of meat and some vegetables on the table when everyone is finally home and staring at me, yes me, with those hungry eyes. Tonight, it's not hockey puck food, but it is raw. Raw pork. That's bad. What was it, trichinosis, that you can get from raw pork? So, we wait. We might be eating blueberry cobbler before the meat is close to finished. I'm still trying though. Me. I'm the only one in the kitchen. Well, I'm not in the kitchen, not exactly, but it's me who's paying attention. Me.

To Mike's credit, he made dinner last night and once last week and now and then as far as I can remember when we've all been too busy to be home at a reasonable time.

Mike's dinner was perfect and perfectly timed. It all came out at once. I suppose I could argue that beans and rice don't exactly have to be timed. First, he layers cooked minute rice on the bottom of a microwaveable plate. Personally, I like jasmine rice better, but I have to admit that the minute rice is quick. Still, it always irks me that it takes a whole five minutes for minute rice. Shouldn't they call it minutes rice instead? Isn't there a law about truth in advertising?

So then Mike adds diced tomatoes and sprinkles it with basil. That's the most important part of the layering. See, I always forget and add the basil after the beans and the flavor isn't just right then. The tomatoes love the basil. They really do. Beans? Not so much. After the basil, Mike adds the beans, hence beans and rice. And he tops it with a layer of shredded cheddar cheese, ready to be melted in the microwave. I like a quarter of an inch of cheese which almost makes it taste like beans and rice pizza, but Mike is a little more scrupulous with his cheese. Damned heart attack.

This is one of those recipes in our family that I'm not allowed to mess with. Kidney beans, not black beans. Canned tomatoes and not fresh. And no damned lime juice. Personally, I love the lime juice, but then it would not be beans and rice as we, in our family, know it. It would be something else.

And in the meantime, the blueberry cobbler is done, just bubbly and browned and the damned trichinosis pork loin is still raw in the middle.

The guys are digging into the blueberry cobbler now. Blueberry pie for dinner! Yay!

Thank you for listening, jb

Sunday, July 5, 2015

When Hot Isn't So Hot

I have become a Weather Channel addict. Right now, in my neighborhood, it informs me that it is 87 degrees Fahrenheit. It is supposed to get up to 96 degrees before the day is done. More than twice a day, in this heat, I'm checking The Weather Channel.

I'm dying here, wilting, liquifying. It's going to be 96 today!

Some of you might be used to Celsius. That's 35.5. A few days ago, the Weather channel said we were supposed to be over 100 degrees..... Fahrenheit. I've figured it out, just now. Finally, something about Fahrenheit makes sense.

So, Celsius is more organized. It's linked to the rest of the metric system. It is based on water, freezes at 0 degrees Celsius and boils at 100. Logical. I like to think that Spock would have been a fan of the metric system.

Fahrenheit, on the other hand, seems to be more related to human capacity. At 0 degrees Fahrenheit, humans are pretty uncomfortably cold. At 100 degrees, we're uncommonly warm. We don't make sense even in Fahrenheit because if we did, we'd be perfectly comfortable at 50 degrees. Bummer. We don't make it to comfortable until about 70. Why can't we be consistent?

Because we're human.

So, if anyone tells me that we're going to change to the metric system and we have to learn what 35.5 feels like and remember that we can complain then, I'll be ready to go. And I'll try to remember that I can survive below zero if it's Celsius. Won't that be a hoot? Some of us suggestive types might just get hypothermia in our jackets at 0 degrees Celsius and die just because it sounds so incredibly cold.

But I'd manage after a while and some close calls with forgetting my jacket. And really, 35.5 just doesn't seem all that hot right now. Maybe it makes sense to change in the summer then the climate change record heat won't seem so bad.

Thank you for listening, jb