Monthly Archives: February 2012

Homemade hot pockets?

My first attempt at "hot pockets"

I’m probably not even allowed to say “Hot Pockets” because of copyright infringement, am I? What if I spell it “Hawt Pawkets?” What if the pocket of my jeans is actually on fire? And then I put some filling in it, a little cheese on top?

Well, anyway, pirating of colonized bits of the English language aside, I know my peeps love the real thing. And it didn’t seem that hard to do.

Well, as you can see, my first attempt resulted in an explosion. They are more like “Sloppy Joes” (can I say that without risk of prosecution?)

These particular ones contain BBQ chicken and cheddar cheese. I made a basic dough recipe, then rolled pieces out pretty flat into circles, put the filling on, twisted up the edges, turned them over and cooked them seam side down.

Possible errors: Rolled dough too thin? Filling was pretty warm already, so maybe it made too much steam too quickly? Should have somehow allowed more room inside (but the dough was yeasted, so should have expanded to accommodate, and I didn’t pack it really tight…)? Should have baked it on a lower temperature (I did 375) so that the outside wouldn’t firm up right away and halt expansion?

Not sure. But they were hella tasty, I can guarantee that. And maybe if they’re ugly, fewer people will be tempted to eat them, and then, more for me!!!

Gave in… Fingers crossed.

I couldn’t take it anymore. It’s such a gorgeous day outside, and the winter has been so mild, I figured I’d gamble a couple of bucks, go ahead and plant the carrot and radish seeds I bought weeks ago in breathless anticipation.

Sure, they’re calling for snow tomorrow and Monday. But you know, they do that occasionally, and 99 times out of 100 it’s a bunch of hooey.

I may have jinxed us for a blizzard.

Either way, carrots or snow, I’ll be happy!

My Job is Great for a Buddhist

I just realized that everything about my job teaching these continuing education classes is great for the Buddhist path.

One class is over every 12 weeks, with no guarantee that I will get to teach another. The other is essentially week to week, without guarantee.

Talk about being unattached!

I have a lot of control over content. I can tailor it to meet the needs of the particular students I have that week or that semester. In this way I can follow the suggestion of Thich Nhat Hanh when he talks about “Right Speech:” “The truth must be presented in ways that others can accept… Before you speak, understand the person you are speaking to.”

And so in my Spanish conversation class, I can tailor lessons to the needs of these particular students. In the budgeting class, I can focus on whichever topic my current students are struggling with, or spend more time filling gaps in certain areas of knowledge.

There are no tests or grades (unless we decide we want some!) so I don’t have to waste time passing impersonal judgments when I can very well hear and observe in which areas they need more help. My Spanish class in particular WANTS to be learning the subject matter, and so it is just a matter of being available to them and guiding their progress. No need for me to “objectively” evaluate (as though such a thing were possible) and then classify along the spectrum from genius to moron. They are each just a student walking their path, hanging out in class and engaging with the material for a while.

I also have the freedom to be the instructor I feel like being that day, whether I’m in more of an entertainer mood, bouncing around the room cracking jokes, or if I’d rather get more in depth, tie in relevant ideas that give the class a more serious tone and encourage students to reconsider fundamental assumptions that might be unhelpful to perpetuate.

In short, other than staying within the general subject matter, teaching these adult education classes seems to be inspiring a very unattached career. And with no benefits, no tenure, no job security, no 401K or health insurance or any other long term advantage, what better way to live in the now?

Okay, I’m being sarcastic with that last part, but definitely trying to look on the bright side with the rest.

My Dying Computer

Can you become fond of a piece of technology? A machine?

As my computer devolves into a dinosaur (it is from 2006, after all), I realize how much I have grown fond of it. Perhaps laptops inspire more loyalty than desktops, because I’ve never quite felt this way before.

Maybe it’s because it’s a Mac. (Let the fist fight begin.)

But it’s bogging down, getting sluggish, telling me there’s no more room on the disk, and just generally being pathetically annoying.

And I find myself feeling sad, as if it were an old, tired dog reaching the end of its usefulness, even as a lazy companion.

I think if I could afford to buy myself a new one, I could let go much easier! 😀

Still, it’s the first time I’ve ever owned a piece of metal & plastic that I can pick up and take with me, containing all my photos, music, documents, contacts, all the bookmarked websites I like to visit… how could one NOT grow attached to such a doo-hickey?

As I struggle with it in its death throes, I simultaneously want to pour money into maintaining it and put it out of its misery. In a violent way, when it’s being particularly slow and incompetent.

Perhaps when my husband realizes how much I will be using his computer when mine finally breathes its last, he will find the money SOMEWHERE to get me off his desk. Fingers crossed!

Budgeting Class Update: Spanish Edition

Well, apparently I am able to successfully convey information about financial planning in the Spanish language for a couple of hours. I’m supposed to get it up to three hours, but that is going to involve adding topics, I think. Although today’s class may not be an entirely accurate gauge, since my only student was a very bright lady who seemed to simply be experiencing situational difficulties rather than requiring assistance due to personal financial incompetence.  So when I have a larger group and some of them have some questions and need things elaborated, it may be that the material we have will go further.

I look forward to facilitating the first English version next Wednesday.

Death and Taxes

Thankfully I’ve only dealt with the latter today. The former feels like it’s all around me, with these bare trees (can you tell I grew up around evergreens?), brown lawns, frigid air… I want to say I’m ready for spring, but around these parts, that’s tantamount to welcoming the insufferable heat. Not quite there yet. I’ll hang out in the chill barrenness of winter a bit longer.

But the taxes are sorted, anyhow. This e-filing thing is the way to go, I think. I generally DON’T enjoy having machinery and the internet take over my life, but when it comes to red tape, I’m starting to think, bring it on!

For some reason writing with pen on paper is a deliciously satisfying activity, unless that paper has little angry boxes on it and places where I have to sign.

As I imagine the seeds I will plant in my garden soon when winter begins to fade, my thoughts naturally drift to the seeds we will plant with our refund money. What will we grow in our lives this year with the resources we receive? It’s like a fresh game of monopoly all over again, with new opportunities to invest in various areas of our lives.

Very appropriate topic with my new budgeting class beginning tomorrow. I hope that the information and ideas I provide will provide the same jumpstart of resources to make my students’ lives even a little bit better, and to make the year ahead a brighter one.

Marvelous Mismatch

I took my daughter out to the store looking like this yesterday:

Yes, her shirt is on inside out and backwards. Yes, the green and white stripes clash fantastically with the pink and white polka dots.

But she dressed herself!

Sure, if we were going somewhere super fancy, I’d have suggested she pick out something else (those are jammy pants, after all) and I’d have given her some gentle direction to put it on correctly.

But to the store? I was proud that she did it herself, and that she was pleased as punch at her independence.

But first, we had to have a banana muffin snack.

Mmmmmmm...

 

Good times!

Don’t Stab Your Children!

Doesn’t this seem obvious? Does it even need to be said?

No? Then why in the name of all that’s holy do people still pierce a baby’s ears?

Is it for medical reasons? Is it a religious pact with their personal deity? Is it a superstition to ward off evil spirits that lurk around every street corner?

No, it’s so their baby will look pretty.

I honestly, seriously am NOT trying to offend anyone, but I am terribly offended when people cause children unnecessary pain.

Nor do I want to violate a parent’s sacred right to do whatever they want to their child, which is apparently the latest trend. “It’s my choice! I’m choosing!” they shout from the rooftops.

Well could you take your almighty parenting powers and choose to NOT stab your child?

They’re too little to remember! They barely cried at all! Don’t it look pur-tee!”

I am offended by the outright cruel absurdity of this practice, and I’m just done.

I try desperately to hold my tongue and let people perpetuate the asinine status quo, but really, c’mon, which part of “gratuitous torture in the name of beautification of the already perfect” do people not understand?

Would this face be more adorable with shiny bits in her ears?

Would this face melt your heart even more with a cold piece of metal stabbed through her earlobe?

Could her joy be any greater if she was sporting bling?

She’s got herself a little purse to play with, so she’s getting the idea of accessorizing, but what additional adornment could possibly complete this picture? Lipstick? Eye shadow? A fancily coiffed do with hairspray and highlights? EARRINGS???

Or are these children not absolutely perfect just as they are?

You and your choice. LET THE CHILDREN CHOOSE. There is enough pain we have to endure in this world to be accepted, to survive illness, to withstand heartbreak. Don’t add to it by stabbing your little one because she isn’t pretty enough. What a message to give to a brand new being.

“Beauty hurts!”

“People are going to force you to submit to their idea of attractiveness and you may as well get used to it now!”

“I love you but damn, you’re homely. Let’s spruce you up some with this here stabby bit.”

I’m appalled and I can’t keep it to myself anymore.

Selfless Service, Unconditionally

The Hua Hu Ching, as written by Lao Tzu and translated by Ni, Hua-Ching, states very clearly throughout the text that we are to serve the world selflessly and unconditionally:

One who practices virtue and selflessness should not hold any particular idea in his mind about how to fulfill his virtue, for virtue is the very nature of one’s being. One should always be willing to assist others selflessly and unconditionally by offering one’s skills and achievements to serve them. One should be willing to give away the things one cherishes most or even offer one’s life to assist others. One should not restrict one’s service by distinctions of color, nationality, family or social relationships, sensory perceptions, or any other relative condition. To restrict the ways in which one would render service to others to suit one’s personal preference is potentially harmful. If one relates to others and serves them only according to his own design, it is as if he has entered the darkness and can see nothing. By chance he may help some people, but he may also injure others. However, if one does not limit himself by imposing special terms on his serving others, he is like someone with good vision who enjoys the brightness and sees clearly. His influence is purely positive.
One Love.
Love the One in All.
Can we do what’s in front of us but keep in mind the big picture simultaneously?

Sharing

Can you imagine a world of unconditional selflessness?

Can you imagine yourself participating? Agent of Love? Engaged indiscriminately?

“Don’t be mean to me, I’m sick!”

I’ve got this throat cold that my family has generously shared with me. They are so thoughtful not to have left me out!

I know “throat cold” sounds bizarre, but seriously, there’s a knot of something untoward in my voice box. I began to sound croaky about halfway through teaching my class last night.

But this morning, taking stock of my mildly suffering condition, I decided that being slightly ill makes my life better than being completely healthy.

WHAT?!?

I know. The logical conclusion then is that I would want to maintain some kind of chronic condition. Which I absolutely DO NOT.

However, when I’m slightly ill, to where there is mild discomfort such as runny nose, cough, maybe a bit of pain, I eat better. I allow myself to rest. I don’t “should” on myself all day long, beating myself over the head with an impossible to-do list. I am able to simply do the best I can and let go of everything else.

After all, I’m “sick.”

Can I take away from this that I need to find a new way to motivate myself? Because damn, I can get a serious amount of crap done. I can run myself ragged, multitask till I’m turning blue and just generally demand, and not politely either, perfection from myself at every moment of the day. And then beat myself soundly when, inevitably, I do not complete every task, or at least not to my impossibly high standards.

Perhaps I could be healthy and not live like that?

Perhaps I could always be “sick,” if by sick I mean that I am an imperfect human who requires TLC and some consideration once in a while. From my own self, even.

Healthy humility.