Flowers in California

Flowers in California

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Happy Babies

I ate dinner last night in a restaurant with a young crowd.  By young, I mean a lot of tables had diners who had not yet celebrated their first birthday.  One little person might have been celebrating her first week out of the womb.  High chairs were in high demand.  Three and four year olds were the older kids.  My son, at eleven, could play the role of kindly older gentleman.  I didn't see a seniors' menu.

A restaurant with so many babies is not a place that everyone would want to be.  Babies cry, they can throw and drop things, and they don't worry about behaving in ways that lets other diners enjoy their meals.  They don't seem like ideal guests.

Last night, however, I watched a few babies as we sat at our table.  The actions of one in particular surprised me.  Her parents had brought her food from home and she ate it before they were served.  I guess she was happy with a full belly but she also seemed to really enjoy herself.  She played with a toy or two, she drank from her sippy cup (and only threw it on the floor once) and she looked around with a happy expression on her face.  She was in no way a disturbance to other diners and I think she liked the chance to look at all the people and movement.  Her parents got to enjoy their meal too.

For me, it was interesting to be reminded that babies are really happy little people at times.  They can't tell us everything they'd like us to know and they're kind of helpless in a lot of ways but with so many new things to experience, people to meet and life to savour, they find a lot of reasons to be joyful.  The presence of a baby is not a thing to be feared - it is a delight to behold.  I am so glad that we went to that restaurant last night and saw the babies.  They almost made up for the food.


Friday, March 16, 2012

Thanks for Asking

This morning I was walking along an almost bare sidewalk when I came to some ice.  I navigated it carefully although I remembered that it was on a clean, dry sidewalk that I tripped and broke my finger a few years ago.  I don't need ice to fall.

Thinking about the broken finger led me to thinking about the attention the bandaged hand received.  Strangers felt free to comment on it and some were eager to learn the story of what had happened.  I believe it was my friend Kim who suggested I say that I had been wrestling a bear.  Along that line, I came up with the following responses to the question "What happened?"  Please feel free to use any or all of them if you find yourself in a similar situation.

1.  I killed a wild boar with my hands and broke my finger.  The meat was good but I have to wear this bandage for a while.

2.  My goldfish bit me.  Again.  I think I'll have to put him on a leash.

3.  I have a strange affliction.  It's wildly contagious.  I can show you the rash.

4.  I clobbered someone in my sleep.

5.  I did a lot of damage in a fit of rage.  It's my hair-trigger temper; anything can set me off.

6.  Oh that.  A tropical insect crawled under my nail and laid eggs.  The scientists want to maintain the integrity of the site until the eggs have all hatched.  It shouldn't be more than six months.  I don't mind but I do look forward to washing my hand again.

7.  It's an artistic piece I created.  It's won two awards.

8.  I was tortured by representatives of a foreign government.  Believe me, I had it coming.

9.  It was a little home surgery mishap.  I probably won't try that again.

10. A dog with rabies bit me.  Well, the dog has rabies now.  We're not sure who gave it to whom.

I don't have immediate plans for another hand injury.  But, there's a lot of bare sidewalk out there so you never know.  At least I am ready, and so are you.  These answers are somewhat more interesting than the standard "I fell."  Please, don't fall, but if you do, have some fun!  You're welcome.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

37 Seconds

I set the microwave today to heat up some coffee for 37 seconds.  There wasn't much left of this morning's brew and I felt a need to drink some coffee, however foul-tasting and sad it was.  Again, yes, I have a coffee problem.  Please don't judge me.

While the bad coffee was heating, I loaded items into the dishwasher.  They had been sitting on the counter, waiting.  I loaded them up and while there were other items in the kitchen I could have loaded too, the work I did in that 37 seconds made a visible difference.  For me, it did more than that though.

Realizing that doing only 37 seconds of work makes a difference shows me that it is possible to get things done quickly and with less suffering than I sometimes think.  Emptying the dishwasher, sorting out printed photos, doing the laundry and so many other things can seem like big, horrible, impossible tasks until they're attempted.  Once they're attempted, all of them are possible and none of them are that horrible.  Laundry does accumulate quickly but it is possible to have it all done for at least a few minutes.

Getting things done is so nice and realizing we have more time to do pleasant things is great.  There's even more time to drink coffee than I'd realized.  Or perhaps to get the help I need to get over my addiction to that vile brew.  Either way, it's nice to have more time available.


If We Can't Trust Snack, Crackle and Pop...

I saw an ad recently for Rice Krispies that are made with brown rice.  I am not a food expert (although I offered lots of thoughts on the topic in my January 4 entry.  That entry, one of my personal favourites, dealt a devastating blow to the cracker industry I'm sure.  But let's get back to today's topic, whatever it is) but I know that brown rice is considered to be nutritionally superior to white rice.  Up to this point, evidently, white rice was used.  It is good that there will be a healthier version of this cereal available and really good if, as the ad suggests, children will still enjoy the taste and eat the cereal. 

What seems less good to me is that this cereal is only being changed now.  I would expect that food companies know more about nutrition than I do and know it sooner than I do.  If they have known for a while that brown rice is healthier, why have they been willing to produce an inferior product and market it to children?  I think Snack, Crackle and Pop appeal to a young demographic.  The members of that demographic deserve good food.

Perhaps the argument would be that food companies cater to consumer demand and consumers are only now demanding ingredients such as brown rice.  But does a food company bear no responsibility to lead people to healthier choices?  Could they not offer us the information they know and let us make choices?  I suppose it would put them in an awkward spot if they produced various types of food and then explained why some of them were less healthy options.  It would also be awkward if they only produced healthier food and then lost customers who chose competitors' less healthy and less expensive options.  Producing healthier foods may be more expensive.  Consumers' buying habits are a consideration.

Food companies must take into account many factors when making product decisions.  As they are companies, the need to make a profit is one of those factors.  They want us to buy their foods.  While it would be nice to believe that they wish the best of health for consumers, and hopefully they do, we cannot rely upon them blindly to feed us well.  We have to share in the responsibility of understanding food and trying, with the knowledge we have, to eat well.

I don't hold any animosity towards Snack, Crackle or Pop but I trust them a little less than I used to.  Who would have ever thought that 3 cartoon characters could not be relied upon to lead us to healthy food choices?  Who else can't we trust?  Oh no, not the Keebler elves...


Saturday, March 3, 2012

As Is

After deciding that I couldn't pretend to be interested in a classic car display today, I found myself with time to look around some heritage-themed stores.  Products ranged from candies and small toys to large pieces of antique furniture.  Prices had a large range too and some were over $1000.  I bought a notebook.

Before I bought the (rabbit-decorated) notebook, I had been very interested in buying one piece of furniture.  It was an old "Hoosier" kitchen cabinet piece with drawers, doors and a counter space.  It was fascinating.  It was being sold "As Is", was very beat up, and had a broken pane of glass in one display window.  Those were the visible problems - it could have had additional problems that were not apparent.  These issues were not deterring me though and the "As Is" tag had me thinking that the price was good.  I left the store wondering what I should do. 

I decided (I think) not to buy it so I will not know if this piece was a good bargain or would fall apart within a few days.  Assuming, however, that it was structurally sound, I see two approaches that could be taken with an old piece such as this one.

In the hands of a skilled furniture restorer (like my sister-in-law whose skills would make me really dislike her if she wasn't so nice), this piece could become a beautiful piece of furniture with the stain colour-coordinated to furniture in any room of the house.  It would be lovely.

To me, though, this piece of furniture is lovely now.  It is beat up, it has been used and one can only hope that it's not infested with bugs.  But its use and the visible wear and tear enhance its design.  It is interesting to think of how it was used and to imagine the people who used it.  While restored furniture can be beautiful, in this case, it might be best for the cabinet to stay "As Is." 

I don't think I will go back and buy it.  I don't know where I would put it and I'm not looking for ways to spend money.  Some time, though, it might be nice to buy an antique and let its story be told through its rich, worn appearance.  I'm sure antiques have quite the stories to tell.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Give Him a Chance

While having coffee in a Safeway Starbucks today, I began eavesdropping on a young man's job interview.  It was for a job at Safeway.  I didn't have much choice but to listen in - I was sitting there, it was quiet, I could hear it.  I'm nosy too.  There's always that.

One of the very first questions the interviewer asked troubled me.  She asked if there was a reason why the applicant had not applied online.  He had an explanation and regardless of what it was, I have to wonder why the answer to that question is relevant.  He had applied for the job in some manner, the interview had been arranged, and he had shown up.  At that point I would hope that determining his suitability for the position would be the goal.  Unless scheduling is done online, I don't know how computer access would impact his job suitability.

Was the question meant to ask about his living situation - i.e. does he have a home?  Were they asking if he or his family is poor?  I know that computers are common but maybe not in every household.  I don't think it has to matter and if he is qualified and eager to work, I hope he is considered fairly for the job.  Did they want to know if he had any computer skills?  That could be relevant for the position but his application must have been impressive enough to lead to an interview.  Perhaps he could pick up whatever computer skills are required.

A few years ago, the mother of another baseball player in my son's league phoned me occasionally to gather baseball information.  She was making progress but hadn't fully embraced computer usage.  She had paid the fees for her son's baseball, though, and she wasn't receiving the information she needed to get her son everywhere he needed to be.  The coach didn't have an email address for her and he didn't phone her.  While I understand that he was likely busy with a job, family and team to coach and didn't have a lot of time for phone calls, I also understand her frustration.  It wasn't fair that her son was left out because his family didn't use a computer.  He still wanted to play ball, attend picture day and have the option of attending team social functions.

I didn't hear all of the interview today as my coffee companion arrived quickly and we started talking.  The young man sounded confident and he seemed to have had good work experience.  If the job at Safeway is right for him, I hope that he gets it.  I hope that whether or not he has computer access has nothing to do with the hiring decision.