Uphill challenge of the week

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*Breathe*

*Stretch*

*Limber up*

I have a challenge ahead of me today.

A challenge that is not for the weak at heart, mind or body.

I must prepare my body with deep warming up exercises.

I must focus and prepare my mind for the calm.

Ooooooohmmmmmmmm.

Yes. I must be steady. Balanced. Yet, with catlike reflexes.

This will be my greatest challenge in some time.

Later today…for three hours, I am babysitting a one-month-old baby.

: Cue scary music! :

One of my dearest friends, who is very grateful to have finally given birth to that watermelon sitting on her bladder, has been able to quickly get her little one onto a nice schedule.

And so da mama is going to get her hair cut and colored today. Yes, she’s *ever* so happy to be able to color her hair again (as you know, you’re not supposed to do that when pregnant).

So I was all too happy to say yes when asked to come sit with the tiny princess.

But I’m no stranger to this game. I’ve got godkids and twin nephews and lots and lots of friends with kids.

I know what deep waters I’m wading into.

While I’m confident I know what to do…I’m also pretty sure I can’t plop kibble in the bowl then walk away to go read a book like I do with The Feline.

And so…wish me godspeed on this very dangerous yet important mission!

Join Me at The Center of the Bell Curve

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Over the weekend, I was playing a new online jigsaw puzzle game I found. Fun!

At the beginning, you are presented options, Easy, Medium or Hard.

I picked Medium.

When I buy salsa: mild, medium or hot?

I pick medium.

There is a really fabulous coffee place here in the Bay Area where they will add cream and sweeten your beverage to perfection.

When they ask me “how sweet would you like it?”

I reply “medium sweet.”

My shoe size, 8½ is neither very large nor very small. It’s somewhere in the middle. (and always sold out of the good styles)

My dress size is the same as that of the “Average American Woman”

I have medium brown hair. Neither light brown nor dark brown. Just there in the middle of the brown range (thanks to my hairdresser, it’s also more brown than gray).

I live “mid-Peninsula.”

We live a middle-income existence.

When they took my blood pressure on Friday, it was average. As was my temperature.

I’m even starting to take a look at being middle aged.

My god, why am I so blastingly AVERAGE?!

I wondered, while I did my medium hard jigsaw puzzle, who picks “hard” on this game, HOT for salsa, really sweet for their coffee and lives on those wispy ends of the bell curve of life?

Probably someone like Richard Branson, eh? Or that Steve Irwin guy before he passed. He probably could solve the “hard” puzzles.

Ah well. Actually, sometimes life’s not so bad from the fat part of the Bell Curve.

At least I’m in good company.

Yipes!

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So I was reading my mom-in-law’s blog, Musing by Moonlight, and her touching post about the March of Dimes and the fight for preemie babies.

Since my own beautiful twin nephews were preemies, I chimed in the comments about how one of the best ways to help preemies is to donate platelets, also called apheresis.

So, it’s been a while since I have donated, and since I like to practice what I preach, I called to make an appointment at my local blood center.

They said “YES! Can you come in today!?!?!”

The holidays are a tough time for both blood and platelet needs.

Here is my public service message:

Please, please, donate blood or platelets if you are able!

Here’s my “I’m just a big candy ass” message:

Today?!?!?!? YIPE!

While I’m always glad to donate platelets, it never stops me from being very, very skeered!

However, whenever I give platelets, as they flow out of my veins, I always imagine that the person who receives my pretty little red blood cells will wake up, healthy and strong and craving the hell out of green chile chicken enchiladas.

My donation to mankind.

Name your favorite kitchen gadget

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Last weekend, I went to a book signing by Wona Miniati who is a coauthor of The Trader Joe’s Companion, a fun cookbook with easy recipes.

Wona made a couple items for the audience so we could see some of the recipes in action.

As she was squeezing a lemon, she began to wax rhapsodic about the citrus juicer she was using, like this one:

She told us that it was her absolutely favorite ever kitchen gadget. She made it sound so enticing, it makes me want one!

And it got me to thinking…what is my favorite kitchen gadget?

Well, besides my Moka Pot for coffee (oh sweet love):

And my juicer (I was just singing to you this morning):

Which aren’t really cooking gadgets, they are more for making The Delicious.

I’d have to say my absolute favorite kitchen gadget, the one I use for cooking all the time, never lets me down, always on my side, my god how did I ever live without it is…my garlic press (this one is exactly like mine):

Oh man, do I love that thing. *Squirt* and there’s tasty garlic ready to rock and roll.

I have deep emotional ties to garlic.

It might be my favorite seasoning.

Although…it’s a pretty close battle with:

Cumin is the wonder spice. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

I believe if stranded on a deserted island with a head of garlic and a bottle of cumin, I could make knockout food to sustain. I really do!

Do you have a favorite gadget or spice? Let me know, I might end up with kitchen lust!

It’s getting to be that time of year

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This morning, I heard my talking combo smoke and carbon monoxide detector talking to me.

Which caused both me and the cat to jump a mile high.

And then I yelled at it, “WHAT DID YOU SAY!?!?”

The lady inside the detector was kind enough to repeat herself.

“Battery low!”

Ah, whew. Ok. Easily fixed.

But my talking smoke/carbon monoxide detector reminded me of a post from January of this year.

I believe it’s time for me to pull a rerun.

Here’s a link to the original post.

Here are the contents repeated in full. Thanks for (re)reading!

Near and Dear to my Heart

Sit back, I’m about to go on a bit of a rant, inspired by a story I read today in the SFGate.

About six or eight years ago, I was living in a small apartment in the South Bay, in a small eight unit building. The building dated back to at least the 1930’s, if not earlier, and featured this breathing dragon of a wall heater as its only source to take the chill of cold rainy evenings.

I had gone home to New Mexico for Christmas, and my mom, ever the practical one, had given me a carbon monoxide alarm as a gift.

Fine. Whatever. I took it back to California with me where it sat, unused, in the box for quite a while. A year or more, if truth be told.

One day, I was cleaning up the place when I found that thing and figured, “oh well”. I put in the batteries and hung it from my ceiling. Fine. Look at me. Miss Practical.

A couple months later, the damn thing started going off.

I was frustrated. Surely this was defective. Busted. Whatever.

I unscrewed it from the ceiling and moved it farther back.

And the damn thing kept going off.

Weird.

Fine. So after dealing with the piercing noise for, again, if I’m telling the truth here, several months, I finally called PG&E. I knew it would take them *forever* to fit me in, but whatever.

I told them that my carbon monoxide alarm kept going off and could I get an appointment for someone to come out check.

Anticipating at least 30 days before I got an appointment, I was surprised when, instead, the call dispatcher said, “someone will be there immediately” and further, “open all the doors and windows until someone arrives.”

Uh. Ok. Much ado about nothing, right? But at least I’d get quick attention.

Good for their word, a guy showed up within about ten minutes.

He took a reading in the center of the room and said, “I’m going to cap off your gas, you have fatal levels of carbon monoxide in here.”

Well blow me over.

Turns out there was a center tube of metal inside the heater that had slid down when the house settled or from age, and it left a crack about an inch wide that was venting the heater right into my apartment.

The next day, I absentmindedly told this story to a friend at work, and she started crying. One of her dearest friends had died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Her life could have been saved with the simple installation of a carbon monoxide alarm, but it was, instead, lost.

When The Good Man moved into our place, I told him this story and said I will never live in a place that does not have a working carbon monoxide alarm.

I refuse.

I was reminded about all of this today when I saw the headline in the local paper say:

Two Bay Area families survive carbon monoxide poisoning

“The mother said the family started feeling sick around midnight…When their symptoms failed to improve in the morning, they headed for the emergency room.”

That woman’s good thinking saved her family, her kids, her own life.

It scares the crap out of me. Apartments are required to have a smoke alarm, but not a carbon monoxide alarm. They even make dual alarms these days, both fire and carbon monoxide. Easy peasy!

So please, anyone who is reading this, don’t hesitate, don’t call it “some remote possibility”. Don’t put it off.

Get thee to a Wal-Mart or a Target or a Home Depot and BUY a carbon monoxide alarm and install it where you will spend most of your time.

Buy two, one for the living room and one for your bedroom. Just do it, okay?

Thanks. Your life matters to me.