For our God is a consuming fire.

-Hebrews 12:29

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Story of Stuff

Right this second, I'm supposed to be sitting in a sunny meadow, heavily chilled beverage in hand with the sounds of solid bluegrass filling my ears and soul. I am however sitting in my home office, doing loads of laundry and blogging. Not that this is bad, it's just a deviation from the plan. The plan being to attend DelFest, camp and frolic.

We started out the holiday weekend with great weather and filled coolers (veggie burgers, champagne and fresh cherries - THAT's camping!). We set up tent and gazebo in a barren, dry field at the Allegany County Fairgrounds and got a dozen hours of bluegrass and one night's good sleep under our belts. At 4:30ish on Day 2 of the festival, the skies opened up with the feverish pace of a hail storm, 4 inches of rain in a half hour and wind gusts so strong the side of the tent was lifted off the ground WITH US IN IT!

The entire festival came to halt as fields of tents ripped from their spikes and eventually landed into the mud. Ambulances came on site to check for injuries after the lightening strikes and felled trees. The husband and I were soaked through from inside the tent from rain pelting sideways and water seeping up from underneath. It was a certainly a scary experience. Thankfully, to my knowledge as of this writing, no one was seriously injured.

We did get home earlier than anticipated. While the festival went on, there was no place for us to sleep or stay out of any future sun. The metal of our gazebo posts was whipped into pieces, and we marched through the calf-deep mud on our exit to put pieces in the trash....which leads me to the second part of this entry.

Knowing we're going to need a new gazebo, I started looking for sales. Got to thinking about the thousands of campers who were also going to need new tents, folding chairs and other equipment molested by the storm. What about all the old equipment heading to the landfill? What of all the funds spent to acquire new, hopefully inexpensive stuff? So I did what us librarians do so well - I started researching consumption and its effect on our environment. It ain't a pretty picture (neither is the campsite pic posted above), but it's one we all need to be familiar with so we can change it!

I'd like to share one finding with you. It's a cute and informative 20 minute video about our stuff and the unconsidered impacts of our cheap acquisitions. I'm also encouraging all readers to incorporate some/all of the "another way" tips into your overall consumption mindset. As for me, I'm going to scour craigslist for a used gazebo, despite the sales I saw at Sports Authority. It's a small, but immediate start. Here's to more mindful and less overall consuming!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Feline Fiascos

*sigh* I hate to say it, but it's true. The past few days I've felt more like MalaiseyDaisy than my Blogger alterego's AblazeyDaisy. Armed with amazing weather, a wonderful weekend in Florida with family and friends, an upcoming holiday weekend...of what have I to feel 'cresttrodden'? (That would be another result of a recent word mash.)

Not having anything substantive to rest my woes upon, I choose to fault the atmosphere. I've been huffing too many toxic fumes. This Monday, walking into our home after a long weekend away, the husband and I were greeted with the unmistakable stench of cat piss. Our boys apparently had had their fill of us being gone and expressed themselves accordingly. No matter that we have cat sitters come in each day to feed them, scoop poop and offer playful love. Our cats will not allow any cat sitter to pet them or offer up affection. They hide underneath beds and wait anxiously for us to return.

So for four days, they went without pets, scratches or fluffs. The only problem is that we don't know exactly where they did this piss business. The smell is potent, but any evidence had already dried. To try and track down where I should focus our destinkification efforts, I was down on all fours sniffing every inch of carpet, pillow, sofa and hardwood on our first floor. While thick in the air, neither of us could pinpoint the peepoint.

We laid down Arm & Hammer carpet fresh and vacuumed same twice. The windows on both house ends have been opened for cross breeze effect. And yet the odor remains. Ironically, a friend in NY emailed me today for advice about his new cat. This cat has been peeing all over the house whenever he's not around. We've not had this problem with our boys since they were kittens over eight years ago.

The worst I've ever experienced cat malcontent was right after I moved to the DC area in 2000. Both cats had endured a two day drive in the Jeep and being indoor cats, they weren't used to all the chaos. One of the first mornings in my new digs, I was welcomed to the day by a cat peeing on me while asleep in bed. My brand new quilt, sheets and me were all covered in angst inspired urination. I responded by wetting a towel and wringing it out on top of the ill-doer cat. He wasn't happy about my reaction, but no golden shower repeats occurred.

Unfortunately, we weren't around to see which was the offending cat. I'm betting if we'd been home, nothing would have happened. My advice to my NYer frieind was to do what we're doing: wash stuff, air out and hope for the best. That's probably good advice for a lot of life issues.

Meanwhile, how could you stay too mad at these guys? So much cat to love. Such big bladders to ap'pee'se.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Frommage Homage

What do you call a low-key, yet celebratory outing? It's a "Happy Congratulations" event of course. The husband has finished his last Masters level class! A sure call for high cheese intake, multiple wine pours and al fresco enjoyment.

I love Virginia, and this odd chill of spring. Soon, it will be too hot to trot, and I'll be too pooped to pop outside. So, I was revelling in this evening's loverly outdoor air. We ordered a three cheese plate at the dairymazing Cheestique. Per a waiter error (the Dante and the Comte cheese order sounded a lot alike and he brought the wrong one), we got a fourth cheese for free! HAPPY CONGRATULATIONS to me!!

Oh yes, a Happy Congratulations to you too, husband for three years of hard educational labor. In your homage, I offer you frommage.
(and a Florida vacation this weekend).

What do you and your S.O. do for a mild, mid-week Happy Congratulations?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Coffee Creamer Crackhead

There is a ghost in our house; more specifically our refridgerator. He's followed us all the way from Florida. I'd be really pissed at him right now, and I often am. But as I type, it's early evening and I'm not in need of the crack he pushes. Confession: I am a user. Daily, often several times a day. It's a habit I have no desire to break. I'm addicted to flavored coffee creamers.

Back to the ghost. I'm convinced this cheeky bumhat bastard is also a creamer junky. Only he's got a preference for a certain brand name: International Delight. Only International Delight (ID) delacacies will do for this high end ghost druggie. For whenever we stock ID in our fridge, he gleefully glides into the container, takes his drops and then slides away all doped up. The entering leaves no trace; the exiting is clearly the work of a ghost on a HFCS high.

The creamer sticks all over the place, trails out the back end of the packaging and leaves a sticky, sugary residue across the bottom of the jug. This happens even after you wipe up all the creamer from the outside of the jug. These pics were taken one morning after I'd just sponged off the entire jar!
I mean, if it's not a ghost partial to ID creamer, what else could it be? It couldn't possibly be a pure packaging defect. This problem has been around for at least three years.

I know this b/c I never used to drink the sweet smack until I was married, and we're coming up on our three year anniversary. I remember shortly after moving into our first house, everything was clean and freshly put away. I went to add ID to my morning coffee and popped back the container top. Creamer blew up in my face, flying all over the cabinets and onto my clothes. As it was pre-coffee in the a.m., I was BIT-TER, but I chalked it up to my morningtime mannerisms (translated: klutzy) and started cleaning up the mess. Later, ready for cup #2, I went to the fridge for the ID. Pools of creamer were surrounding the bottle, and it was stuck to the fridge shelf by its own product.

No matter that I'd earlier sponged off both jar and shelf. When the husband went to get creamer the next day, he too was greeted with a sticky shelf and a puff of wet product in the face. The next grocery run, we decided to purchase Coffeemate creamer. I doubt it was because of any genius level calculations that put ID creamer and poor packaging (I mean creamer ghost addicts) together. We probably just liked some new seasonal flavor like Pumpkin Spice. But Coffeemate does not attact ghosts, and Coffeemate does not leave your kitchen or your clothes worse for its wear.

Why am I blogging about creamers and ghosts now, three years later? Because I recently had a coupon for ID creamers, so I opted to NOT get our favorite Coffeemate flavors (currently Sweet Italian Creme and Tiramisu). Rather, I saved one buck on two ID standbys (Irish Creme and Vanilla). So I've had a fresh reminder of the ghost phenomenon. It MUST be a ghost situation. Surely no company would continue to produce the same crappy packaging for over three years.

In the wake of a recent creamer-to-face fiasco, I angrily dashed off an email to ID explaining the issue with their package. I left out the ghost part assuming they'd be unable to assist with any exorcisms in our home. I also explained that I would NEVER again, not even with a coupon, buy their product; not b/c of the quality but b/c I was tired of having to do new loads of laundry and wipe down countertops every time I wished to have my morning joe.

They responded the next day with a generic email of sorryness and indicated they had a TEAM of people addressing the problem. A TEAM? For THREE YEARS? What kind of mental engineering giants work at the ID company? A later email came today and I'll quote it here:

"Thank you for your recent e-mail to International Delight®. We appreciate your interest in our products. We are aware that there is an issue with the lid leaking, and the package has been redesigned. The new design should be available by the summer of 2009. I have gathered some information from you and forwarded it to my marketing and research team, just to let them know that consumers are still experiencing this. We aplogize for the inconvience this has caused you.Thanks again for contacting the Consumer Affairs Department.Sincerely, Tietia McDonaldConsumer Response RepresentativeRef: N901688 "

Well, Hallelujah! This summer I can finally rest easy that our fridge ghosts may be gone. Of course, I doubt I'll have to wait until summer, b/c I'm not looking to purchase any more ID creamers in the future. I've had 50 too many early morning messes to bother with a summer of '09 reunion.

Good-bye slum fridge ghost. You'll have to get your sugar fix elsewhere or check into rehab. It's Coffeemate in the morning for me from here out.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Flow Woes through which I Grow

We're Day 3 into DC Yoga Week. I've managed (to my pleasant surprise) to attend a yoga class at a new-to-me studio each day thus far. I'm feeling great; loving all the breath work and stretching. I will blog about my fav classes and details of each studio in an upcoming entry(ies). Tonight, however, I'm dedicating this post to an extremely important yoga tip I learned mid-session.

This tip is applicable to men and women alike, to all styles of yoga, no matter the time of day or location you choose to practice.

The background: DC is a metropolitan area. Many folks partake of yoga classes. As such, most studios have each student place their mat literally within inches of their neighbor. Unlike yoga offered at a gym, where often there are large classrooms for step, bodypump and yes sometimes even yoga, "crowded" at a yoga studio takes on a whole new meaning. You have to stagger where you stand on the mat, just so you don't smack the person next to you as you raise your arms on inhalation. You are definitely in tight quarters.

The warm-up: Amidst all the warriors, cobras and downdogs, there are going to be times you are nose to toe with the person in front of you, or bum to face with the person behind you. Yoga encourages an openness to both self and others. These accommodations necessitate it.

The ALL IMPORTANT TIP: Do NOT, mere hours before attending such a yoga class, consume a salad whose protein components are hard boiled egg whites and black beans! If you do, be prepared to work out certain muscles that your yoga class was not intended to address.

I'm pleased to say that I managed to complete this evening's practice without asphyxiating the ladies surrounding me. This involved severe contractions of many, often unused muscles immediately below my navel/solar plexus chakra. It is not lost on me that this chakra is also associated with fire. Oy. I'm sad to say that I did not apply the yogic principles of balance (ie. for every muscle contraction, there should be an equal extension). My overall sense of peace and calm would have probably improved. But again, I'll defer to the superceding notion of loving neighbor as self (see Mark 12:31; see also AblazeyDaisy Dos header). The comfort and safety of my fellow yogis triumphed.

Now that I'm back home, relaxing and reviewing the day's events, I'm amazed at my lack of sense. What was I thinking? Well, I guess I was thinking that due to work, I had to eat lunch at 3:30 pm. And, I was ravenous. I was seeking out a healthy, low-point meal to carry me through til the later hours of the evening. The husband had hard boiled several eggs yesterday and they were staring at me from the fridge, so it seemed an obvious go-to for some long lasting fuel. The black beans in my salad are a regular staple. The combo, unfortunately, is deadly.

Now, aren't you glad you know about this tidbit before YOUR next flow sequence??!? I'm off. I've held a certain flow sequence of my own for long enough.

Friday, May 1, 2009

DC Yoga Week

I may be setting myself up for a fall, but not from lack of balance.

This Saturday, May 2nd heralds in DC Yoga Week 2009. The purpose of this themed week is to expose the benefits of yoga to the masses. Classes are offered by many DC studios for $5.00 or free. Being a yoga fan already, I think this is a great opportunity to access studios I might not have otherwise visited, and it pushes my frugality button in the right way. Plus, DC Yoga Week makes a heckuva lot more sense than some of the other weeks we could be celebrating such as:

*Bread Pudding Exchange Week
*National Fairy Godmother Week
(these are unsuprisingly much more difficult to substaintiate)

Not to be monogamous with my week's celebrations, I will admit that we may wish to simulataneously honor these gems complementing the same healthy, environmentally aware notions as yoga:

Ok, back to falling. I'd LIKE to experience as many different classes and studio offerings as I can. With a full time job and living outside the District, this means planning to attend evening classes. While fine in theory, I know myself. I'll start out of the box quick, getting there early to ensure a spot, wearing clean workout attire, prepared to flex, stretch and breathe. But by mid-week, if my past is any indicator of future actions, I'm going to be tired, less motivated and dreading the rush hour traffic. I may be tempted to 'recycle' my yoga wear without running a load of laundry, or other aggregious acts prompting those near me to hold their prana. So, yoga in DC every day of the week may be pushing the edge of my committment.

Yoga is in part about pushing our edges: how long can I hold a pose, will I be able to go further today than I did previously, will I respect my changing boundaries regardless and be present in the moment? Let's just see if I can participate without judging myself. That alone would be an improvement from my typical routine. Well, that and a daily workout of any nature. I'm more of a 3 workouts/week gal. It fits nicely into my laundry routine so I don't have to "borrow" skivvies from the worn clothes bin. Not that I would ever do that. Namaste.