30 September 2009

Reason for Road Reflectors

Did you know that there is a purpose to the little stick reflectors on the shoulder of the road? I always assumed they were more useful than counting them when I was bored as a child but I never actually realized how useful they are.

Several years ago my roommate/best friend and I decided we wanted to take a road trip during spring break. Since I was working most of the week we knew it had to be a fast trip so we decided to go see Oregon. I had never been to Oregon before and my friend told me that it was beautiful so we hopped in her car Thursday after I finished work and headed North. We didn’t have any reservations for sleeping and thought we could just pull off somewhere each night and sleep in the car with the sleeping bags we brought. As we were driving into La Grande it started to snow so we decided that a hotel wouldn’t be a bad idea after all.

The next day when we woke there were several inches of snow and we were dodging chains that had fallen off of the trucks in the road. My roommate drove all day as we saw (sort of) Mt. St. Helens and Portland. When we got to the coast my roommate had me drive over the bridge to Astoria because she wanted me to see it but didn’t like the idea of driving that close to the water. That night we were heading to Tillamook to sleep because she thought it would be fun to see the factory there. Since it was dark when we crossed over to Astoria I had no idea what the road was like along Highway 101.

I have driven canyon roads before and been fine at going 50 mph, on this road I was going 30 mph and still feeling nervous. There was a light rain and a little fog and as I made my way along the road cars would come flying out of nowhere with their high beams still on making it impossible to see the road for several seconds. I couldn’t see the road even when there wasn’t on-coming traffic and the only reason I knew when to turn was when there would be a reflector directly in front of me. I realized that I could look for the small patches of light to see which way the road was turning as I drove. My roommate helped look for them as well and we eventually made it to Tillamook. I didn’t realize how frightened I had been until I woke up the next morning and found that my jaw was sore from clenching my teeth. I am glad that I didn’t know how narrow of a shoulder there was on that road (before the long drop-off) that would have just made it that more terrifying.

Overall the trip was a lot of fun with lots of fond memories as we drove over 1,700 miles in three days.

23 September 2009

Imaginary Friends

When I was in third grade my parents banned us from playing the computer or watching television on school nights. I have always been grateful that they did. (My husband already knows that when we have kids we will have the same rule.) During the summer we were limited to an hour a day so we had to find other activities to pass the time.

One of my favorite books is The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley. So one day my friends and I decided to reenact the story. Our back yard wasn’t very big but we had a large silver maple and an apple tree that were great to climb. Because my brother and I were the only ones that read it we told everyone else what happened and what characters there were. We spent hours fighting each other with apple branches in the back yard and honing our “fencing” skills. A lot of bloody knuckles and bruised fingers occurred but since none of us were really trying to hurt the other person we didn’t care. When we got tired of that story we would make up our own stories to play, normally involving dragons of some kind. Soon we were playing the make believe at everyone’s houses. One of the houses was having the basement finished so we pretended the studs for the walls were prison cells. Our bikes became our horses as we would race up and down the street. We probably got a lot of strange looks from the neighbors because my front yard was normally a desert that we were crawling through begging for water.

When I changed elementary schools I also changed schedules so I had a lot of free time on my hands. I decided that I could make my own stories and enact them. I had three years of spending time by myself and playing stories through my head. I would spend hours in the backyard by myself running around seeing my own story play out how I wanted it to. I guess there is little wonder why I wanted to become an author. With all the stories still running through my head, it is a little more difficult to act them out so now I content myself with writing them down although it isn’t nearly as fun.

16 September 2009

Disasters with Cakes

I like to cook. I am not always very good at cooking and sometimes my cooking experiments go awry. When I was in junior high and high school I really developed a love for baking so it became my job to make desserts for family dinner and I received a cake decorating kit for my birthday I started experimenting a lot with cakes.

As everyone knows, chocolate cake with chocolate frosting is the best kind of cake. So for my first attempt at decorating a cake I made a chocolate cake and frosted it with chocolate frosting. I made extra frosting so I could use the cool little tips to make flowers and pretty pictures. The only problem, I discovered, is that making brown frosting a different color is rather difficult and the results are often unappealing. The only color I could make was some strange green color so I looked at the brown and green frosting and promptly wrote “camouflage” across the top since that was what the colors reminded me of. The cake tasted fine but my mother was a little disturbed at eating a cake that had sickly green frosting that tasted chocolaty.

My cakes became pretty extravagant, although my decorating never really improved, unless you count using white frosting as a base for colors. I made layered cakes (sometimes one layer would be chocolate and the other yellow). I made marbled cakes. I made layered marbled cakes. I tried a couple of times with a bunt pan but decided that it was too big of a hassle. I had the standard cake recipe memorized and could change ingredients around to make what I wanted and I was pretty impressed with my mad cake baking skills.

My older brother was always excited when he saw the large cylinder Tupperware on the counter because that normally meant there was a cake underneath it. I had been watching my younger siblings one night and my brother came home from work and ran into the kitchen because he saw the Tupperware. He picked it up excitedly and stared at the pile of crumbs that I had drizzled runny frosting over. He looked at me in confusion. I was completely embarrassed that my evening’s attempt had turned out so horrible. I replied hotly “Don’t ask. I. Don’t. Care.” The cake tasted fine but I think it was easier to eat with a spoon than a fork and we used it as ice cream topper a couple of times.

I haven’t learned. I still experiment. Now I am into marshmallows and peanut butter variations of cakes and brownies. My husband happily eats everything I cook (but with how much Tabasco he puts on stuff I don’t think he actually tastes some meals). I am grateful though because there have been a couple of times that I won’t eat what I cook. However, the day I make a cake that he puts Tabasco on is the day I know I have truly failed.

09 September 2009

I'm an Armadillo (090909)

My older siblings are a foot apart. My older sister is five four while my older brother is six four, however, this never stopped my sister from reminding my brother that she was still older and tougher than he was.

I was playing with some of my friends in the back yard one day when my brother and his friend, who is about the same height as my brother, came tearing out of the house. They looked around and my brother’s friend ran to the little three foot fence by the side of the house and jumped over it. My older sister at this point came out of the house looking for my brother. My brother looked helplessly between his friend and my sister. With nothing left to do he fell to the ground and curled up in a ball, all the time yelling "I'm an armadillo. I'm an armadillo." My sister, walking closer to get retribution of some kind, looked at him and burst out laughing at the sight of him rolling on the grass stating over and over that he was an armadillo. I still don’t know why he didn’t jump the little fence like his friend. They were both over six feet and it shouldn’t have been too difficult. My brother states that jumping over the fence wasn’t needed because what he did kept my sister from doing anything.

I have never considered myself tall since I am the third shortest of seven in my family. I did learn quickly that I might not be tall in my family but I was certainly tall compared to other families. I was at a friend’s house one evening and was headed down the stairs to their basement. My two friends decided to race each other down the stairs so I jumped to get out of their way. I didn’t think about the fact that their ceilings were lower than my families, especially going down the stairs. I managed to hit the corner of the ceiling with my head. All I remember is finding myself sitting at the bottom of their stairs while my two friends were panicked at the fact I was bleeding. I had so many endorphins that I didn’t care what was going on. I had to get six stitches (I think that was the number) in my head and I remember being glad that they didn’t have to shave any hair off.

02 September 2009

Problems with Age

My husband and I have the same problem but in different forms. People usually think that I am older than I actually am and my husband is thought to be younger than he is. There are days I wonder how people see us as we walk around together.

I have a sister that is eleven years younger than I am. I was really excited when she was born because I was actually old enough to care about what was going on. Since I went to a different elementary than everyone else in my neighborhood I often had days when I was out of school and no one else was. A couple of months after my sister was born, I was helping my mom shop one day, everyone else was in school, and I was holding my little sister so my mom could do what she needed to. The store clerk came up and smiled as he turned to my mother. “You must really enjoy having a granddaughter around.” My mother shook her head and replied. “Actually, they are both my daughters.” The clerk quickly excused himself.

My husband has recently started going to college after a midlife crisis at twenty four. I am cheap and have us ride the bus to work and school since I don’t want to pay for gas or car repairs. We live a couple of blocks from the high school. On my husbands twenty fifth birthday he was calmly waiting for the bus at nine in the morning when a cop pulled up to the stop. He asked why my husband wasn’t in school. My husband told him that he wasn’t in high school but was waiting for the bus to go up to the university. The cop then asked to see my husband’s driver’s license, which after my husband gave to him, he called in to make sure that it wasn’t fake. The cop finally realized that my husband really was as old as he said and handed him back his license.