Tag Archives: how to

Bang Bang

I decided to grow out my bangs. I’ve been thinking about it the past few years but I expected it to make me crazy so I kept putting it off.

I had bangs when I was a little girl (example). I can’t remember the whole chronology. My hair has almost always been long. I cut it so I could do the whole feathered bangs thing in middle school – what a stupid hairstyle. It only looked nice the day you left the hairdresser or if you had magical hair. I did not have magical hair.

In college I started getting my hair cut by this young stylish woman named Britta. It’s hard for me to figure how this came about since I was always broke and over-scheduled but somehow I drove to downtown Santa Barbara to get my hair cut. I think I felt so terrible about the way I looked I thought this was a good use of my time and energy. It was not. I think I’ve burned most of the photos from that era but if you do an image search for Carol Brady and look at the photos under “mullet” you can get an idea.

For reference, this story takes place in approximately 1985.

The first time I met Britta she thought my name was Pat and I am so socially awkward I didn’t say anything. It turns out Britta is one of those people that says your name 1000 times. “Let’s wash you hair now, Pat. Your hair is so healthy, Pat. I have this amazing shampoo, Pat. How do you like UCSB, Pat?”

Of course by that point it was way too late to say something and obviously when I paid or when I made another appointment she would see that Pat isn’t my name. So I began to develop this story in my head, you know, to save her embarrassment, about how lots of people call me Pat. My Aunt is named Pat. I just thought she knew that. (No one except Britta and this woman at my old law firm has ever called me Pat.) She called me Pat at my next appointment so I guess she decided to just go along with it, too.

Britta came up with the idea to cut a few wispy bangs which I went along with. They were just wisps, why would I object? But every time she cut my hair there were more wisps. And more wisps and then we crossed over and the wisps were bangs. I had bangs.

Meanwhile, decades have gone by. I have no idea what happened to Britta. I have never loved the bangs but I do have a fivehead so it never seemed like a terrible idea. But also they were a pain because if I let them dry on their own they would curl up so I looked like I was wearing a decorative handlebar mustache on my head. I always had to style them.

I thought growing them out would be more terrible but so far it’s mostly painless. They are light enough that if I brush them back with a tiny bit of product, they will stay put.

I will update as needed.

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Cold As Ice

I’m always having these random ideas for things to post but then I forget when I finally sit down to write.

I had this brilliant idea how I would start making notes and save them as drafts in WordPress that way when I opened WordPress there would already be things to write about.

This weekend I saved a bunch of notes and while I had WP open, I found two other draft posts with saved notes. I already had this brilliant idea and completely failed at implementation.

Oh well!

This photo is the office fridge. We have a dorm fridge since there are only two of us. 99% of the time the only items in there are ginger ale and Coke and my stash of sweets which at the moment is a half-finished box of Big Island (dipped!) shortbread cookies and a half-finished special lunar new year box of Godiva chocolates. Colleague brought these to me from Hawaii.

I partially defrosted it once before because we had to move it out of the utility room for a day to fix the floor.

This time I noticed that the ice accumulation had gotten so bad it was bending the plastic on the little tray below. (I don’t know why this fridge even has a freezer. It’s completely worthless.) The problem is that the defrost takes longer than a full work day and I didn’t want to leave it unattended in case water ran everywhere. Sure, there’s that tray to catch water except it was frozen in place. I did have a plastic tub inside to catch the drips and I brought a bunch of towels.

Colleague and I took turns going in there and breaking off pieces of ice. We also brainstormed various stupid (“don’t we have a mallet somewhere?”) and non-stupid (“what if we pour warm water on it?”)(Okay possibly also stupid but we couldn’t because there was no way to get the warm water on the ice unless we set the fridge flat and everyone knows you aren’t supposed to do that.) ways to get the ice out. The problem is that there is an electric cord in there that the ice formed around. At the end of the day I plugged it back in and then restarted the process the next day and by noon we could break off all the ice. Our useless freezer is ready for business again.

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Tired Button

Remember the story about the dead tree planted outside my building? Here it is.

I started this post last night and I’m not sure what happened but I went from tired to dead-on-my-feet in about 5 minutes. I saved the post to draft and got ready for bed and figured I’d read until 9pm. I don’t like to go to bed earlier than 9 because that’s for babies and it also seems to upset whatever fragile sleep rhythm I have.

I was reading a story that took more than 2 brain cells firing against each other so I had to give up. Instead I picked up a romance novel that doesn’t need more than 2 brain cells firing against each other and I couldn’t concentrate on that either.

Bob said the last thing he heard me say was, “I can’t make it until 9.”

Here’s a close up of the dead leaves.

Then I woke up at 11:30p which usually means that I’m doomed. I was thirsty and had to get up. But I guess I fell back to sleep because the next time I woke up it was 6:30am. We’ll see what happens tonight.

Here are the new trees planted across from the bus stop. Since it was hard to see, I helpfully tried to highlight them, and then, still not trusting the viewer, I used the big glowy arrows. Maybe I should go back and type “tree” on there, too.

I think my hit youtube series would be to record me going through my tortured Photoshop steps to do the most simple things. Photoshop teachers could use my videos as tips to avoid and the people who work at the Photoshop factory could watch my videos in the lunchroom and laugh their faces off.

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Valentine’s Day Miracle

I finally retrieved my wedding ring. I dropped it in the couch last weekend and I either haven’t had time or haven’t been in the mood to deal with it. I had all my tools assembled in the living room.

Sheesh. I feel like MacGyver. The crevice where it was stuck was too narrow for almost anything. It was so tight that once I got my flashlight in there so I could see what I was doing, I couldn’t do anything else. I tried a piece of sturdy wire. I tried the vacuum. I tried feeling all long every corner of the couch to see if there was a way in. I finally moved it from the wall and tried tilting it back and forth.

Did I mention it’s a giant heavy couch that dual reclines using a motor? When the kids delivered it they told us it was the heaviest thing they had to deliver. I unplugged the motor so it wouldn’t turn into a sad Darwin award story. But then I started rocking a heavy couch back and forth to tip it on its side. Then I crawled underneath it. Apparently it wasn’t my day to die from something completely stupid.

I’ll omit the long boring details but I finally found that it had dropped to another couch level underneath but still no way to stick a hand in and grab it. Also, because of the angle I could either point a flashlight at it, or try some tool to grab it, but not both at the same time. There were a couple more rounds of couch rocking. I eventually used my sturdy wire wrapped around an extra long chopstick (I have no idea why I have these and what they would be used for — maybe a wok? Which I don’t own) I managed to scrape the ring to a corner where I could grab it. Yay!

I have not learned my lesson and will continue to fiddle with my ring.

I also found my glasses! But first: I used advanced Google search to find the post so I could link to it and got this:

HA! It’s like Google knows me. Here’s the post where I lost my glasses in a wind storm.

But probably I didn’t lose them in the wind. There’s one area of the yard that gets very little rain or sun and has lovely dry soil that the cats can’t keep out of. I had raked up a bunch of leaves and debris around that area and I checked it yesterday to see if it was working and I found my glasses. I was probably leaning over the debris and they fell off my head or I sometimes wear them with one arm stuck in my shirt. I washed them off and happy to have them back.

And my plot against the cats appears to be mostly successful. There is one little area where it looks like they found a work around. Cats are evil.

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Oops, I Lied

But only because this is a really great travel tip.

When you are at a border crossing going in either direction and the border agent is looking at your passport and asking you questions: tell them you are going to visit your 90 year old Aunt. You will have your passport back in your hands and be sent on your way in a flash. I’m going to guess this will also work if you say you are going to visit your grandchildren.

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Baking Disaster # 32,471

I thought I killed my sourdough. After years of taking care of it, it got wedged in the back of the fridge and I neglected it. When I finally took it out it had a weird chemical smell and I dumped it.

Later I found out it was fine and with a couple of good feedings it would be good as new. Or good as old. You only have to throw it out if it gets mold or weird stuff growing in it.

When I was in California in February Auntie gave me some more starter and I fed it this weekend. I decided to bake a loaf of bread. I’ve done this a lot. I use the regular no-knead recipe and throw in a dollop of sourdough.

This time my sourdough feeding was more liquidy than I usually do. I fed the sourdough in my bread mixing bowl and I was too lazy to wash it. Honestly it occurred to me that this was a terrible idea as I was doing it but I did it anyway. I just scraped out most of the sourdough for the fridge and made the bread in the bowl with the remaining sourdough.

Within a few hours I had a bowl filled with bubbling “dough.” I left it overnight and in the morning tried to shape my loaf with what was actually a wonderful sourdough batter. When I took that baking class the teacher managed to make a loaf with really wet dough so I thought I could do it. But mostly I just swirled sticky batter all over my kitchen counter until I got mad and scraped it into the trash.

I’m sure when we get home tonight it will have taken over the trash can.

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How To Do A Holiday Newsletter

If you’ve ever opened mail in December, you’ve probably received a multi-copied holiday letter from a friend or family member. And for every one you’ve liked, there are probably five that you thought were dreadful. Most years I start my holiday newsletter over Thanksgiving weekend. I read over some of the previous years and look at my calendar and make notes and look through photos and then try to whip out a quick first draft. Then the following weekend I can finish it up and get it ready for posting/printing.

After doing a newsletter for 15 years I’ve decided I’m qualified to pass on some tips.

What’s the point of a holiday greeting? Generally to make a connection with people. Signing your name at the bottom of a card does little to further this goal. If you’re a terrible writer, super busy or would prefer to spend your holiday time doing other things, consider the photo greeting. You don’t have to have kids or pets to go this route. Just find a fun photo of yourself, take it to your local photo processor, order up a bunch and send. Easy.

If you want to go the multi-copied letter route, take some time to figure out what you want to say. Avoid making a list of your activities and accomplishments. If you’re going to do that you might as well copy a page from your day planner or send out one of your annotated grocery lists. No one wants a list of your children or grandchildren’s purchases and activities either.

Wrong: “We traded our Jaguar for a BMW, chartered a yacht for a 28 day Mediterranean cruise to celebrate Madison’s perfect SAT scores and our son cleared 7 figures on the housing development he completed after years of litigation over the so-called wetlands destruction.”

Avoid use of the word “continue.”

Wrong: “Wilford continues his weekly shuffleboard classes while I continue to be active with the Daughters of the Confederacy and Baking league.”

Instead, try to tell stories and use lots of details. Try to create a picture of something you did.

Right: “The highlight of our cruise was the twilight disco where we danced with an Elvis impersonator while the blazing sun set into a clear, blue sea.”

Don’t feel like you’re limited to events of the past year. Tell an old family story.

Use an informal conversational voice. Writing in a monotone isn’t in the holiday spirit.

Life is made up of all sorts of events and a holiday letter doesn’t have to ignore tragic events. Use your own judgment on how to approach this.

Avoid a list of your health problems. People care about your fitness but don’t need all the gory details of every replaced valve, removed organ or impaired function.

Avoid the temptation to write something that rhymes or is written in the voice of a pet, child or someone who died. I suppose this can be done cleverly but unless you’re super confident that you’re good, I wouldn’t do it.

Don’t (and I’m totally guilty of this, sorry) make it too long. No one wants to have to set aside an afternoon during December to read your holiday newsletter.

When it’s time to put it on paper, use a simple layout with an easy to read typeface. Don’t go crazy with the fonts or font colors. Include pictures. People like pictures. Or drawings. Or make a collage. I should note here that I put mine online and make paper copies that I can hand out or send to people who aren’t into that Internet thing.

If you’re a bad writer, consider doing a page with pictures only. Write a few explanatory captions. If you’re bad with computers, use photos and tape and take it to the local copy shop. Another idea might be send a holiday recipe with a story about it. There are no rules so you should do what you want as long as it’s not something that would embarrass your family. Even then, do what you want. It’s your stamp.

Finally, don’t worry if you send it after xmas. People love mail and no one will judge your for sending it out late.

If you have anything to add, comments are open.

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How Not To Forget

I study yoga with two different teachers at two different studios. I alternate buying a classcard from one and then the other. One I like because we focus on deepening our practice and the other I like because we focus on a more challenging practice. In a perfect world it would be fun to do one of each class every week but coming home so late twice a week is a little much. Each yoga studio has a slightly different routine, location, parking, time, etc. The studio I’m going to right now asks me to bring my own mat.

Normally, I keep my extra mat in my car. (You know you’re a real yogini when you keep a mat in your car.) However, for whatever reason I didn’t have it in the car and during the first half of December between holiday and trip preparations, I totally forgot my mat twice.

The second time I borrowed a mat that smelled like something died on it.

I will not be forgetting my mat tonight.

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