Friday, April 30, 2010

Speaking of the Little Red Hen...

I came home to see this in my yard:It took me a minute to figure out just what it was, because I couldn't tell which end was which!
Alas, it was one of our neighbor's chickens, and she did not protest in the least when I picked her up.
She even posed for a brief photo op while I waited for my neighbor to answer the door:

The Little Red Hen Syndrome

I have one of those jobs that would not interest you in the least, at least I am PRETTY sure that is the case. So I obtained ten tickets to this very exclusive event, a celebration of my occupation, thinking there MIGHT be a chance my family members would come. Reality set in, and so I offered them to my fellow church members. Not one person even ACTED interested. I gave away all but two of the tickets to a fellow employee, and hesitantly offered the last two to my mom who agreed to come.

Suddenly, the night of the event, people wanted to know about this event where David McCullough was speaking, and would it be broadcast on TV? No, this is the live event for which I offered free tickets. Sigh. Not I, said the cat... My mom, very glad she'd consented to come: "Well, why didn't you TELL me David McCullough was speaking?"

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Big Fat Greek Week

Monday morning I woke at 6:00 AM to finish my conference presentation. I was scheduled to present about 40 minutes away at 1:30 PM. I finished the presentation at 12:15, showered and hit the road by 11:45 AM. While I drove I panicked, "There's no way I'm going to make it!" until I pulled out my iPhone to see where the closest parking was and GLORY BE!!! I was actually scheduled to present at 1:40!!!

I arrived with a few moments to spare, raced to the presentation hall, and even had a few minutes to spare. It went great. I then networked with Pierre from France and Daniel from Israel, then raced home to finish silk screening shirts for our community volunteers who would help out at the booth. After ruining three shirts with the five-color screening and masking on a TINY design, I opted for the one-color version of the more simple design. After a quick trip to the store for replacement shirts, I hurried back home to finish the shirts. Sixteen hours of work later, I climbed in bed.

Tuesday I woke at 6:30 AM and attempted to load chairs, a mirror, an easel, computers, T-shirts, and various other items in the truck for the booth, only my key wouldn't open the lock. I was scheduled to host/chair the developer's conference at 9:30 AM 45 minutes away. Once again, after abandoning the chairs and stuffing all else in the car, I raced off with the panicked feeling: I am NEVER going to make it! While driving I fielded questions and made arrangements at the loading dock for someone to pick up trees for the booth.

I arrived at the conference site minutes before the first session, and briefly networked with a few affiliates. I then set up the AV equipment, introduced the first speaker, and off we went. I sat in front of the speaker with three computers. With one I was recording the session and flipping through the slides for the recording, with the other I was preparing a presentation for the dinner that evening. The third wouldn't connect to the Internet, so I used it to shift some needed files around. I also was corresponding with six or seven panicked individuals via text and e-mail, "A, the files on the flash drives for the Ambassador kits were burned on the drives incorrectly?" "Where can I get a copy of that presentation?" "I can't find the badges to get into the conference center early. Who should I ask for that?" "How do you want the booth set up?"

We had a lovely lunch where we presented awards to the affiliates, and I had a great conversation with my friend from Israel. He had some questions about my faith (he is Jewish), and I was happy to oblige. I then took pictures of the awardees as they accepted their various mementos. After the remaining sessions (carbon copies of the earlier sessions), I raced off (literally) to help with some training in the booth area while simultaneously finding answers to a handful of other questions.

I then went back to get my car, drove to the loading dock, and unloaded several items before hurrying off to find a gift for our principle engineer's wife, Jen, for letting him code on weekends and evenings. I purchased a picture and a Whooey Stick. I then finished the presentation for the volunteer/contributor appreciation dinner at 5:30 PM (it was 5:00) and at 5:30 headed over to the dinner.

They were just inviting everyone to get their food, so I set up the slideshow (looping slideshows are a bit more complicated), during which my manager said, "Now everything is done! You can finally relax!" I mused inside, the everlasting gobstopper of a realist. I slipped out to wrap the gift for Jen and then presented it to her. "This is a Whooey stick, to thank you for putting up with all of your husband's Whooey, and this is a picture of the Salt Lake Temple to thank you for sacrificing so that something great could be built."

I then distributed the T-shirts I had made to the members of the community who were helping man the booth, and networked with several of the community members and volunteers. Our president then walked in. I directed him to a table with some of our spectacular volunteers and introduced him, then while he filled his plate I pointed out the individual who had organized the dinner and several other key individuals. He graciously thanked me.

While one of our volunteers was giving a brief speech, someone asked me where the Ambassador kits were located. I raced a block away to get them, and returned in time to give them out to the volunteers. Fortunately, one of our amazing instructional design guys, Jake, willingly set up lighting and a camera to videotape the volunteers who described their reasons for participating. I jumped in with a brief clip as well. Jake went home to pull an all-nighter to have the video ready to loop on a large monitor the next morning.

I then needed to load up the ten boxes of flyers and other items that needed to be given out at the booth, and raced off to a party store, arriving fifteen minutes before they closed to purchase leis for our volunteers to wear. I picked out thirty-five leis, and was out the door just before they closed.

Upon arriving home, I was sweaty and smelly, and more than anything, I wanted a shower. Nevertheless, I looked over some material C was planning to present to his managers and supervisors the next day on how to complain correctly. He used edited clips from Band of Brothers and Saving Private Ryan, and as an icebreaker, he showed this video of a very nervous fella who'd been asked to wish Roseann Barr a happy birthday.

At 11:17, after finally getting in the shower, I texted my manager because I realized I had left my morning conference pass behind. She responded and we arranged a time to meet so I could bring the chairs and other items. She needed to arrive early as well to check on some luncheon tickets.

The next morning I woke at 5:30 AM and headed out the door around 6:30. I headed out in torrential rains and wind that played air hockey with the orange cones on the road, until driving became a game of dodge and swerve.

Shortly after 7 I arrived at the loading dock, followed by my manager and then by C, who kindly brought the chairs in his car. We loaded up the items on a cart, and after several attempts to make everything fit in our booth, and the amazing efforts of several team members (including Jake, who arrived on cue with the video AND set it up to loop), we were ready to greet the flood of conference attendees who came in at 9:30 AM. We were training them on our products, stamping cards to enter a drawing for an iPad and to get a free t-shirt; it was non-stop action. I set up the slideshow from the previous evening to run on a second flatscreen TV.

Everything worked like magic. All of that preparation, planning, visualizing the flow of traffic, creating an experience... it all came together like clockwork. All of those amazing team members of mine were there even when they weren't scheduled and they were the stars of the show. They made everything flow perfectly. I was so proud of them, and so grateful.

After a full and fulfilling day, I drew the name of the iPad winner, a woman I had met earlier that day who contributes to our community bilingually! I was pleased she won, and that out of over 1500 entries! I finally left for the day some time after 5:00, arriving home exhausted, I cuddled up with C and Kawi on the couch for a comfy and cozy nap.

Just a FEW more, just a FEW more...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

How to Spend {ALMOST} Three Hours in a Nursery

Have you ever watched a movie or read a book about that enormous, massive monster that nobody can kill? I encountered one today. It was called, Moroccan Mint. I told C I was going to run down to the Nursery today to pick up some herbs for my herb pot. Last year I fatefully drowned all of my herbs except the mint because I forgot to add holes in the bottom of the pot. "No!" He said.

"Why not?"

"Because you need to clean it out first."

"So if I clean it out, then that No is a Yes!" No problem, I thought, five, maybe ten minutes, and I would be on my way!
It was a tiny seedling last spring, but it was this enormous monstrosity that was not about to let go of the dirt without a fight. You know the part in the movie where they finally determine that the only way to destroy the thing is to blow up the ship? I almost blew up the ship to get rid of this thing. It would NOT come out! It was like a giant octopus with tentacles woven across every square inch of that 3' round pot!

At last, after cutting off each tentacle one by one, I overcame the beast (shown here with my sword in the SECOND half of the monstrosity), and I was on my way to my FAVORITE Nursery! This is the nursery where you get to pull your plants around in Radio Flyer Wagons... Kids love this place. I know, because I dodged them for almost three hours.

How, you may ask, is it humanly possible to stay in a nursery for three hours? Well, first of all they have something like TEN HUGE buildings like this one:And then there are all of these shelves lining the OUTSIDE of each greenhouse, filled with even MORE plants!

And then they have all kinds of unusual and wonderful plants.
Purple Verbena,
Fuchsia Verbena...

Velvety black Violas...
King Hearts, which are a dwarf species of a bleeding heart. Maybe a King heart instead of a Queens heart because it is small? I don't know. :D
I can't recall what this one is called, help me out here, if you please...
I then had to ponder what a weeping cherry would behave like as a boulevard tree. Would it put my ornamental pears to shame? I then found some EGGPLANT seedlings, and sweet peppers, and several delightful tomato varieties that wanted to come home with me. Oh, and the herbs... THE HERBS!!! Lovely Rosemary, Basil, and gorgeous colorful painted Sage and St. Johns Wort? I already have Thyme, but who doesn't need more Thyme? It was a fun, gorgeous variety that begged to find a place in my herb palace. I didn't find any Savory, but I did find Curry! Ah, curry! You delightful rosemary/sage look-alike, you! Your leaves smell like my favorite Indian Restaurant, and I can't wait to cook with FRESH CURRY! I did purchase a bit of mint, confined to a tiny, solitary pot, a prisoner of its own misbehavior.

And then I needed to plan for my planter pots out front. Grasses in the middle surrounded with, um, silver falls, perhaps? Begonias? These decisions should not be made lightly. And then there were the fruit trees. I planted a cherry three years ago, and after yielding seven cherries last year, it is FULL of blossoms.
Two years ago, I brought home a Braeburn apple tree. C thought I had cracked or something, considering we have four apples in the back yard; three old fashioned red delicious and one antique Johnathan:

and four MORE of the same combination in our side field for a total of eight apple trees. "You bought a WHAT?" So far it has only produced one apple. Last year I added raspberry twigs, and this year I am hopeful to eat at least one raspberry. The blueberry ALMOST made it. RIP, blueberry.

Every year we spend oodles on peaches. Juicy white peaches if we can find them, and any fresh, ripe, sweet peach we can get our hands on. And so after studying each peach tree, and finally getting a specialist to consult me on the branching, I left with:
...a white peach and a Carolina peach! I hurried home and started digging.

C documented the effort without any encouragement......while Kawi supervised from a nearby apple tree...

I woke this morning with the satisfaction of sore muscles, and a happy heart to get the wheels turning on someday peaches,Walla Walla onions, sweet peas and pear tomatoes... Maybe next year, a plum? Or perhaps a graft of our very old pear that someday will stop bearing bushels of the biggest and best pears ever.

Oh, I almost forgot! While fighting the herb pot, I did a little prep work for my garden as well, and wouldn't you know, a friend brought over a load of topsoil! After a friendly visit, he and C had a John Deer/TroyBilt showdown:

I found this little milk bucket for under $5.oo. Today it will hold weeds, but tomorrow it will hold the fruits of our labors!
I found a couple of things in my garden that suprised me. First, the grub. Look at those greedy little chompers!
Second, this lacy, lovely leaf! I don't know about you, but this was a much nicer find for me. Well, thanks for reading! Say, how was your Saturday?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Visit to the International Market

Today I visited the International Market.
and saw a very old BMW.
Now, who wouldn't want to buy Dinkelchen?
Or chocolate filled croissants?
I do have a weakness for chocolate and orange, and apparently... seems to be a popular combination of flavors.
Now, this one is a REAL weakness, all kidding aside: Macaroons (with bittersweet chocolate!)
But this is the REAL reason I went there in the first place, here she is: Pizzelles! (Dear Santa, someday I hope to get a pizzelle iron.)
These aren't the same as pizzelles, so don't bother,
and neither are these.
Lady Fingers are the one treat that my brother still craves from living in France.
Interesting brand name, don't you think?
My most beloved dessert is the Crème brûlée.And then there are all of these very unique things at the International Market, like Bog Frogs...

Meatball bubblegum...
Bacon Mints...
And did you know you can fit an entire carbonated soda into a single piece of candy?
Gummy bacon... this is either very popular (since there aren't many there) or very unpopular, so they only order these two at a time.
To add to the gummy bacon, just squeeze this chicken and get some candy eggs! True physiological production, here folks!
Remember these? I think a babysitter once bought these for me. They tasted SOOOO good! I just couldn't figure out why my mom got so mad when her six year old daughter wanted more. They don't sell these in normal stores anymore, for obvious reasons... "Hey kids, get hooked on cigs before you are old enough to think for yourselves!" - Ya know...
Now, it might be me, but the name on this candy didn't make me think of squishy lemon candy. The first thing that came to mind was barbed wire and smoke stacks, although I'm not sure why...
Now don't these brightly wrapped chocolate candies look appealing?

Calling all Ketchup lovers! Now you can have it YOUR way - Dr. Pepper flavored, 7-up flavored, curry flavored, and BLEEEP! er, donkey flavored!
BBQ lovers, don't despair, you can get your Dr. Pepper, too, with A&W for the kids!
Okay, now for the products that I really use: Hoisin sauce - toss that on some chicken - yum!
Mint and tamarind chutney are like butter, especially when served up with fresh nan bread!
If I was rich, I would buy TyNant water just so I could have the pretty cobalt blue bottles to match my cobalt blue dishes. Who knew that the water is ALSO served in gold...
...And RUBY glass bottles! At 3-5 buckeroos a pop, that water must taste spectacular! :D

The first time I had Lingonberry jam was served on a Greek dish prepared by my step brother. It was a meat dish spiraled with pastry, then sliced and served with this jam. I still crave it!
Roses are red, violets are blue, even when chewing them all the day through.
Finally, can't find your favorite flavor of Altoids? Never fear, every flavor is here!

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