Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Of Tony Dungy

     I still remember reading a long article on Tony Dungy in the Indianapolis Star when he was hired to be the new coach of the Colts.  I was very impressed with his commitment to his family and to helping strengthen other families, too.  He also seemed to have a genuine faith.  It was therefore a pleasure to read this article on ESPN.  What a man, a husband, a father, and a coach.  

Of Preparing Pippi

This evening I overheard the following “conversation:”
     “Pippi, Mommy and Daddy are going to be leaving and we’ll be gone for a long time.  But we love you, and won’t forget you.  We will come back.  And we will be bringing back two little boys!  But you will still be our only little girl!”  Perhaps overwhelmed with grief, surprise, or boredom – I’m not sure which – Pippi said nothing.
     Really, I don’t think Pippi really understood any of what Alaina told her.  But she did seem to be especially eager for all the attention we would give her after that.

Shampoo - or Not

     If you’re anything like me, you come across an interesting article or story and think, I could write an interesting blog entry on or related to that story.  So you save the story or a link to it, and soon forget about it.  But there are some stories that you just can’t forget about, and you just have to write about it.  This is one of those.
     I tend to watch shampoo commercials with merely passing interest.  Pretty hair is nice, and I love Alaina’s hair, but it’s not something I’m much concerned about.  But I have picked up that there is some concern regarding what shampoo does to the hair or the scalp or both.
     It was therefore with no small degree of fascination that I recently read a headline calling on people to stop using shampoo on their hair.  The article actually followed several individuals who went six weeks without using shampoo.  Interestingly, the results were dramatically different.  A few individuals loved it and thought it was an incredible discovery.  Others found the experience terrifying (no, really!) and miserable (you can read the article here).
     One of the most interesting aspects of the article was the way in which it chronicled the individuals’ feelings about themselves, and how significant of a role the appearance or feeling of their hair had upon their thinking and their feelings about themselves as a person, especially for those who had a bad experience.  I guess there really may be something behind the expression, “a bad hair day.”  (And yes! as hard as I know some of you will find it to believe, some people had a very positive experience!)

Monday, July 17, 2006

Of Weeding

     I don’t think I have weeded more this spring and summer than any other year.  I’ve just thought about it more (weeding is nice because it’s a good time to think).
     While weeding our garden and flower beds, I’ve pondered how I learned the task.  I could not have been more than four when my parents let me start my “own” garden.  My two most prominent memories are a) planting tomatoes one evening, only to come out the next morning to discover that my new plants had all been cut off at the ground by a cutworm, and b) wondering why my little brother liked the taste of dirt (and he must, if he’d try it more than once, right?)
     But I digress.  Motivated, I’m sure, by my indiscriminate “weeding,” my parents taught me the difference between good vegetables and bad weeds.  Another important lesson: it is very important to get the root out, too.  Of course, it is very easy just to pull the top of the weed off, or to pluck it off at ground level.  Unfortunately, a garden weeded this way will soon need to be weeded again, and the weeds will only be harder to pull the second time.  
     Dirt should always be knocked off the roots, Dad and Mom taught me.  I think this was for several reasons.  First, if the dirt is left on, the weeds will more readily start growing again when they are thrown to the edge of the garden.  Second, usually the dirt in the garden is better than the surrounding soil (due to careful enrichment of the soil through compost and manure), so it is important to keep the good soil in the garden.
     Dad instructed me to use both hands, I remember, because if two hands can be used (especially for small hands!), one is more likely to get the roots.  One should also grab the weed as close to the ground as possible, for the same reason.
     Through experience, I learned the ideal conditions for pulling weeds.  Slightly moist soil is often the best, although dry but not hard ground is also generally good.  Wet soil leads to pulling up massive clumps of dirt that cannot be shaken off the roots, not to mention making a huge mess.  Trying to pull weeds from ground baked by the sun is nearly pointless, as the roots almost never come out with the stems.
     I don’t remember if my parents explained why it was important to weed, although I am guessing they did; they were good about things like that.  Weeding is important because weeds, left alone, will choke out everything else.  Weeds will drink all the water other plants need.  They also grow taller and faster than most vegetables and block the sun, making it impossible for vegetables to grow and thrive.  Tall weeds make it difficult to find produce growing on the plants.  Moreover, a weedy garden looks untended and reflects badly on its gardener.
     I think there are many analogies here to personal discipline and the Christian life.  But perhaps I’ll leave that to my reader or for another time…

Monday, July 10, 2006

Random (Banana) Thought for the Day

I remember a joke/story in which an older man, in response to someone trying to sell him something he could use in the future, commented, “Sonny, I don’t even buy green bananas!”

On the other end of the ripeness cycle, overripe bananas are a problem. Alaina is more – shall we say – choosy in her willingness to eat them; once brown spots appear, it’s too late. I too prefer bananas at less-ripe stages, but will eat them longer than her.

So what do you do with bananas past their prime? I think the best thing to do with those just slightly past is to make smoothies with them. (Of course, if they’re way past, the only thing to do is make banana bread. Yum!) But here at work I don’t have the blender or other fruit for smoothie option. So the next best thing is to encrust the banana in granola (preferably with raisins). The crunch offsets the ripeness perfectly.

What’s your favorite way of eating no-longer-green (or past your favorite stage) bananas? Let me know in the comments below :)

An Unplanned Run

     Whew.  I’m still catching my breath.  Alaina wrote recently that Pippi’s the best little dog ever.  I guess that’s true, though right now I’m not feeling so warm and bubbly toward her.  Pippi – the little bugger.  Why am I not so happy?  Let me tell you.
     Forty-five minutes ago I was out in our newly fenced backyard (more on that in future posts).  Pippi was carefully checking out the extents of her new play area.  I thought she was in a far corner of the yard, so went out the gate on one side of the house to move the sprinkler.  As I went through the gate and grabbed the sprinkler, I see a reddish-brown blur off to my right.  The next thing I know, Pippi is not inside the fence.  She’s sniffing around the front of my neighbor’s house.  She refuses to come back into the yard.  She refuses to come when I tell her I’m going ‘inside.’  That usually works.  This morning it didn’t.  She didn’t even come when I offered her a treat.  (Did she know I didn’t have one?)
     Apparently Pippi was in an exploring mood.  Checking out Mike’s garage and flowers weren’t enough for her – she had to examine the next neighbor’s property.  And the next.  And the next.  Perhaps my trying to catch her didn’t help; she certainly didn’t want to be caught.  As I’m sprinting down the sidewalk, I’m thinking about the irony of our newly fenced yard and Pippi running free, and wondering if the fence will have been built in vain if I don’t catch her.
     Did you know min pins come from greyhounds?  Pippi was showing off her lineage this morning.  I didn’t come close to catching her in the open field.  The closest I came was once when she stopped to relieve herself (no, I wasn’t worried about playing fair), once when she was checking out a male dog’s posting, and once when she was sniffing some trash bags.  Tantalizing close, but no cigar.  So I chased some more.  I soon gave up much hope of catching her, but just wanted to keep her in my sight.  That wasn’t always easy – she could outdistance me so quickly.
     It didn’t help matters that I was barefoot and shirtless.  I definitely had no plans of taking an early morning run through the neighborhood this morning, especially like that.  I’m sure any watching neighbors either found humor or cause for worry in the situation.  There were no offers to help.
     And eventually Pippi headed back toward home.  I don’t know if that’s because I managed to get on the ‘far’ side of her and head her back this way, or if she just had had enough exercise and, having found spots to answer the call of duty, generally felt better.  I don’t know if my pleading cries of ‘come’ and ‘inside’ finally registered and stirred something inside her little head or if that’s just what she wanted to do.  But she tried to go in the front door of our house with me – it was locked – and then pranced back through the open gate through which she bolted seemingly hours before.  I quickly closed it, but Pippi didn’t even notice.  She was already waiting to go in the back door.  
     And now here she sits, curled up on a blanket at the other end of the couch, sound asleep.  I believe she’s worn out (as am I).  Maybe even proud of herself.  I do love her.  The little bugger.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Jalapeno Hands

I’ve had an unusual medical condition for the past 36 hours, it’s called jalapeno hands.  Sunday, I seeded and chopped 1 jalapeno pepper for some guacamole.  This was not the first time, in fact, two days prior I had chopped at least 2-3 with no ill effects.  I’ve never used gloves though I know they are recommended.  I guess I always felt it was overly cautious.

It started on Sunday evening on the way to church.  I touched my nose and felt a strange burning sensation.  My fingers also seemed abnormal and I touched my thumb to my tongue…burn!  It occurred to me that maybe I hadn’t washed my hands enough after finishing the pepper.  As soon as I arrived at church, I scrubbed my hands and figured all was fine.  Just before heading home, I happened to touch my eye and extreme burning and watering.  It was like my eye was on fire.  

I went home and didn’t notice any other symptoms until I removed my contact lens later that night.  OH MY GOODNESS!!!   After the burning subsided, I washed my hands again and went to bed.  Yesterday, my fingers just hurt, ached, and burned.  It was hard to accomplish anything without pain.  I tried to put my contacts in…even with my left hand, but no way.  I think I’ve burned my eyes at least four times so far.  

Today, my fingers are still burning although they are a little better; I haven’t even attempted the contacts.  The moral of this story is NEVER work with jalapenos without protection – glove, bags, something…  

I guess I’m not the only one who has experienced jalapeno hands although I’m assuming no one experiences this more than once.  Check out these funny stories and you’ll know, I’m telling the truth!