Flowers in California

Flowers in California

Thursday, November 29, 2012

On Many, Many Small Kitchen Appliances

There are many small kitchen appliances available in the stores.  I caught on to this the first time I saw cake pop makers.  These are not to be confused with cupcake makers or whoopie pie makers or doughnut makers or mini cupcake makers.  There is an individual product for each of these baked goods.  Wow.

In addition to the fact that it could get really expensive to buy all of the available small appliances, I wonder where people are supposed to store all of them.  Even with a huge kitchen, is there really space for blenders and juicers, coffee, tea and espresso makers, deep fryers, ice cream makers, mixers, roasters and rotisseries, slow cookers, rice cookers, steamers, toasters, all the baking appliances listed above and Specialty Appliances too?  Specialty Appliances include hot dog rollers, waffle conemakers, strawberry shortcake makers, churro, quesadilla, pretzel and empanada makers, "Snacks on a Stick" makers, cotton candy makers, Egg Genies, jam and jelly makers, soda pop makers, pigs-in-a-blanket makers, and ice cream sandwich makers.

(I'm not judging people who buy any of these products.  No, that's not true.  I really have it in for people who buy cotton candy makers for home use.  But that's all.)

I can see it coming soon that specialized storage buildings will be constructed and placed outside homes solely to store small kitchen appliances.  Some designers will specialize in the aesthetics, both inside and out, of these new structures.  IKEA will come up with amazing storage systems to make them work well.  Inevitably though, one won't be enough.  I can imagine someone, about to start preparing dinner, sending a spouse out to the storage facility to get the rice cooker and asking them to bring the key for the other building too, in case they want popcorn later.  Life will be very different at that time.

I don't have a great need for many new small kitchen appliances right now.  Our popcorn maker became a fire hazard and I threw it out so I wouldn't mind getting a new (and ideally not flammable) popcorn maker. I had a dangerous accident with a portable blender (It's lucky I didn't swallow a big piece of metal.  Strange story) but the blender is fine.  And while I do love baking, I tend to use baking trays that go in the oven.  Perhaps the oven uses more electricity than the smaller baking appliances but I have no desire to start amassing these items (at least not before I get my shed ready in the backyard).

I wonder how popular these small appliances will be for gift-giving this Christmas season.  And, will more and more of these products be developed or are there just enough (or way too many) now?  I'll go make a smoothie and ponder these questions.  At least I don't have to go out in the snow to get my (almost lethal) blender.  It hasn't gotten to that point yet.



Determining the Value of Our Time

While thinking about a business idea, I arrived at the matter of charging for my services.  I have no idea how to do that.  I have no way of saying "My time is valuable."  For the past 12 years, almost exclusively, I have been out of the workforce and nothing I have done has had any economic value.  Or none from which I have financially benefitted.  So, how can I put a price on my time and contributions?

I'm not writing this from a bitter place.  I'm being honest.  Some people can determine that their expertise is worth a certain, perhaps high, amount and charge accordingly.  They feel deserving of it.  Perhaps the fact that I don't have a certain expertise is an issue.  But I like to think I have some talent.  So, using it and using up some of my time must be worth something.  I don't know what that would be.

Small jobs that I've had with rather low incomes are not the issue.  I believe that I was and am reasonably compensated for them.  The problem is with effort that I have expended elsewhere for zero compensation.  My volunteer work has included writing/editing responsibilities, event preparation (mismanaged, yes, but I tried), baking and some emotionally damaging school field trips.  I know that a lot of other people do a lot more on a volunteer basis.  It's not wrong to do it, and it is by choice, but when we give away so much time and effort for free, how do we turn around and say that our time has value?  We've shown, it seems to me, that it is available to be given away.

Additionally, there's the whole, huge issue of staying home with a child.  I made that choice and I am so glad that I did but I know that I've expended some effort in that area and financially, there has been no compensation.  I don't know that there could or should be but it does make it hard for a parent to know what their time is worth, in an economic sense.

It's probably not difficult to get an idea of what to charge for various (writing, memoir, editing) services (tell your friends!).  The issue is in believing that I deserve any money at all.  It's hard to find a cause and effect between effort and reward.  I've done things, my husband has earned money, I've earned small amounts of money and somehow we've gotten by.  The whole thing looks a little murky to me.

I guess the key is to realize that everyone's efforts, whether expended as volunteers, parents, or in the workplace, have value.  When we volunteer or raise children, we forego financial compensation.  When we return to the worplace, in whatever way we do that, we should be properly paid for our efforts.  Our value has not diminished (and may have increased through our diverse activities) because we have done some work for free.

Thinking about all of this, I have a new appreciation for the unpaid work that so many people do.  It is valuable.  And everyone's time is valuable.  It's very hard to put a dollar figure on this value but I guess it can be done.  Coming up with a wish list of purchases and then dividing it by hours worked probably isn't an ideal formula.  It might be a good place to start though.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Few Random, Unsolicited Thoughts

Over the last few days I've had some thoughts.   And, while I apologize in advance, I feel a need to share them.

1.  Sometimes, the sweet smell of baked goods emanates from the local grocery store.  One day, recently, I smelled fish instead.  As I considered this in my mind, I came up with a product that would smell sweet AND fishy.  Called Cupcake Surprise, it would be a delightful cupcake with the bonus of fish in the middle.  Chosen correctly, the fish would offer antioxidant benefits inside a sweet treat.  Isn't your mouth just watering?

2.  I went into a store today and discovered a simple way to learn how kind people can be:  Bleed!  Unbeknownst to me until I went to pay for a smoothie and a wrap, I had a small cut and a surprisingly large amount of blood on my hand.  My son helped me complete the purchase and I tried to clean up the mess.  Soon enough, the man behind the counter offered me band-aids.  He was so nice!  As a result, I will make a point to patronize his store again.  And if I once again have an open wound, all the better.

3.  If someone had told me when I woke up this morning that today I would help a Furby toy work through some issues and develop a better outlook on life, I would have been baffled and confused.  I'm still baffled and confused (about this and many other things) but this happened.  Interactive toys are very interactive now and Furbies respond to how they are treated.  As well, some come out of the box rather cranky and need a lot of support.  I was able to supply that support to one young friend's Furby.  That's something to put on the resume.

4.  My family may have to move out of our house to make room for all of the reusable shopping bags we have.  Sadly, I often end up at the checkout desk without a resuable shopping bag.  Refusing to come with me on shopping trips, I think they stay home and plot the takeover of even more areas of the house.  I'm quite scared.

5. A kitchen product catalogue arrived in our house. My husband has gotten to the point where he knows that buying me anything to encourage or help me in the kitchen would be an unwise move. We've been married 20 years; let's give up on me ever having an interest in cooking (although I do love baking). I suggest he avoid the kitchen area of the house when doing any shopping for me. Unless he wants to get me a Shark mop to clean the floor.  Oddly enough, I would love that.

6.  I went into a store and saw a Christmas tree that would be the perfect size for my rabbits.  Really?  It's gone that far?  Oh I hope not.  What is it about this season that makes buying something ridiculous like that seem like a good idea?  Why is it that doing and buying everything suddenly seems like the right thing?  I hope we can all find more meaning in the season that that.

7.  A few days ago, through (almost) no fault of my own, I was locked out of my house even though I had a key.  I could explain more fully but I won't.  Thankfully when I phoned my son's school to give him a message about an alternate place to go after school, I kept the story short too.  I would prefer to have staff at the school think, simply, that I locked myself out and not that I am a disturbed person who feels compelled to explain stories in the most minute detail for no particular reason.  They don't need to know that.  (That's why I have a blog).

Happy thoughts to all!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Going Back to the Beginning

I decided to do some renovations to this blog.  They won't be anything major and they won't involve a lot of drywall dust (thankfully).  In doing so, I tried to rewrite the "About this Blog" section.  Finding that a bit of a challenge, I went back to the first entry for guidance.  It's from March 10, 2010.  It still holds true in describing this blog.  If there are any suggestions for further renovations, please let me know and I will consider incorporating them (as long as they don't involve new drywall).  Thank you.
And thank you for reading even one entry in my blog.  It means a lot.
And So It Begins...

I'm blogging. Wow.

So, for all of you who are reading this, hi. I will go over a few things today to explain why we are here. It sounds so formal. It won't be.

First of all, I feel a need to express what's in me. Whatever that is. Maybe we'll find out.

Second, I want people to feel connected. If there's something about me that can help other people on their journeys, I want to help them. I want to share. It's not nice feeling isolated, like you're the only one with a problem or concern or experience. I know.

I don't want this blog to be all heavy though. I have a sense of humour. You'll see that. I enjoy laughing and I enjoy making people laugh. I'm a big fan of Gary on Spongebob Squarepants. He's an exemplary snail. I have, at various points in my life, set up a room in my house specifically for sock matching and, on a completely unrelated note, I have named a pumpkin. The sock matching room didn't help. And despite the love and affection I bestowed on my pumpkin, it succumbed to cold weather on Halloween night. Steve became compost.

I'm a Mum, a friend, a daughter, a neighbour, a reader, a wannabe writer (I love writing) and, oh, there must be more. I have some neurotic tendencies and I don't keep the cleanest house. I mean to though. I'm in a Book Club and I'm trying to lose weight. Those last 2 items are rather contradictory because we have really good food at our Book Club meetings. I love to bake and am repelled my cooking. I bought a slow cooker. My husband used it once. We know it works.

So, that's my first blog posting. Stay tuned. Please come back. We'll have fun.

Thank you for reading.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Thinking about the World's Cuddliest Rabbit - And Other Pets Too

My rabbit Theodore enjoys being held.  If he needed (more) t-shirts, I'd get him one that says "World's Cuddliest Rabbit."

I met the cuddliest rabbit in the IKEA parking lot.  His previous owner and I had agreed to meet there for the transfer.  We'd talked on the phone and, evidently, I met the criteria for a suitable new owner.  There wasn't a thorough background check.

Upon seeing Theodore, I didn't really want him.  He was bigger than I expected and somehow didn't look like he could ever be my rabbit.  On the phone, I had tried to ask questions so that I could make a good decision.  Once the whole chain of events had started though, it was very unlikely that I would refuse to take him.  Once I saw a bunny sitting there, needing me, it was even more unlikely.

I took Theodore home and he was wild and crazy at the beginning.  He charged up the stairs, he chewed cords and he was somewhat difficult to love.  Fortunately, he calmed down and set his sights on earning the cuddliest rabbit title.  Now he can bask in that glory.

While the young man who gave Theodore to me seemed to like him and to know him well, he gave him to a stranger in a parking lot, for free.  This animal, while bigger than some rabbits, is really so small and defenceless.  He had and has so much love to give and there he was, sitting in his cage, at the mercy of someone who wanted to get rid of him and someone he didn't know.  Is that the best we can do for an animal?

I was in a pet store today, buying food for Theodore and little Powder.  I stood and watched a beautiful rabbit.  He or she was playful and seemed happy.  I wonder what its life will be like.  I wonder if someone will buy it and take care of it for the rest of its life.  It's possible.  But I've been to the Humane Society, looked up classified listings, acquired a rabbit in a parking lot.  I know that rabbits and other pets often end up needing new homes.  I know that pet owners are not always committed to animals they purchase.  I know that people don't always afford animals the care they deserve.  A happy ending for that rabbit is not guaranteed.

My instinct was to buy the rabbit I saw today.  That's not the answer.  I'll just become The Crazy Rabbit Lady (I know there are bets on for when that will happen anyways) and that won't be good for anyone.  Instead, I will take care of my pets and quietly seek ways to encourage responsible pet ownership.  Animals have so much love to give.  They deserve lots of ours in return.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Window on the Past

My husband and I were out for a drive the other day and he bought a burrito.  It looked good.  He pulled over and parked to eat the burrito in a quiet and interesting neighbourhood.

As he ate and I sipped some coffee, I noticed a window in an older house and my mind went back instantly to my grandfather's house.  There must have been similar windows in that house but I don't remember them well.  He died when I was nine; it's been such a long time.  I do remember my grandfather and I'm glad of that.

Going back in my mind to that house leads to some sad curiosity.  I have what I think are vivid memories of that place but I would like to go back and verify them.  I'd like to see what the scale of the rooms was.  Would they look smaller now that I am bigger?  Were there various green things in the house?  Was the backyard as I remember it and did the rabbit hutch look like I think it did?  (Yes, of course there was a rabbit house.)  It would be nice, perhaps, to learn the answers.

The window in that one older house led my mind to a place that means something to me.  Other people would react differently or not at all.  We all have our unique histories and we bring them to each new experience.  Something so simple can elicit such a quick response.

I'm glad that my husband stopped to eat his burrito and afforded me the opportunity to notice that house.  It was nice to take a trip back in time and to remember my grandfather.  That window afforded me a nice view.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

On Winter, Acceptance And a Baby in a Hat

I don't care for cold weather, warm clothes, structured footwear, ice and most other things that go along with winter.  I sense that my many complaints would not hold anyone's interest for very long though so I will not expound upon them right now.  Suffice it to say winter is, at best, my fourth favourite season.

While I was in the grocery store today, I saw a baby.  It's hard to know the opinions of babies on weather changes.  This little guy was sitting back in his stroller with a look of quiet resignation on his face.  He was wearing a hat and had a blanket draped across him.  Clearly, he was well cared for and well dressed for the cold day.  But I wonder what he thinks of being covered up with so many warm things when, just a few weeks ago, he might have been barefoot and kicking his feet all over the place.  Now he has a lot less freedom and the burden of potentially itchy fabrics all around him.  I admire his stoicism in the face of such unpleasant changes.

While we learn some things about weather and seasons as we get older, and aren't quite as bewildered by these things as babies are, we cannot change the weather, the forces of nature or the seasons.  Storms still damage and destroy.  The temperature still goes up and down whether we want it to or not.  Seasons come and go as days lengthen and shorten.  We can only react to and deal with these events; we can't decide which ones will happen.

Perhaps, wherever we live, these powerful forces serve to remind us that, much as we'd like to, we can't control everything.  We're all pretty small really.  I guess we have to learn to adapt to whatever the universe brings us, put on a cute hat and grab our blanket if we need to, and make the best of our ever-changing reality.  The baby seemed to have adapted quite well.  I think I should follow his lead.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sometimes the Angry One, Sometimes the Fool

Normally I speed through self check-out at Safeway.  I know the procedures, I've memorized the numbers I need to enter and I learned long ago that I should only take small orders to these desks.  I am not eager to take on self-check out in stores I don't know because I can be, oh, a little awkward when learning new things but at Safeway I know what I'm doing.  You would want me to be behind me in line.

My proficiency in this one activity (everybody has at least one special talent - this is mine) makes me rather cranky at times.  I don't have a lot of patience when people appear baffled or take too long or otherwise slow me down.  Of course no one would know any of this because I still stand there, quietly, but I do rage inside.. 

Today, however, the tables turned.  My check-out routine fell apart.  I confused my Air Miles number with my parents' phone number and then, even when I had figured out the correct number, I didn't know how to backtrack and fix my mistake.  Then when I looked for the card I wanted to use, I couldn't find it so chose to use another.  I questioned the PIN for that card but managed to come up with the right one.  All of this was for a two item order.  That makes it more sad.

I was disappointed in myself as I stumbled through this experience..  Somehow, though, I was unaware that there were people behind me, waitng for a checkout line to open.  And from what I saw, in one horrifying glance backwards, they were well aware of what I had been doing and the fact that I was slowing them down.  I had become one of those people at whom I direct my rage.

In the grand scheme of things, none of this really matters.  Nobody gets delayed in line that long and we should all relax and take a breath.  For me, though, this experience reminded me that we're all humans, we're all fallible, we're all simply trying to buy our groceries and go home.  We're all ok after all.

I will try to be more organized the next time I go to the self check-out line.  And I will probably continue to avoid those lines in stores I don't know.  I will also keep in mind that nobody is trying to torture me by getting confused about what type of tomatoes they're buying.  There are a lot of different tomatoes out there.  It could be confusing.