Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Schwinn 250p- hunting!

Dumpster diving is a unique sport...actually it's a lifestyle in 3rd world countries...
Really it can be considered strange, disgusting or even degrading or on the other hand: life-giving, necessary and essential. 

All I need to know about dumpster diving I learned from my dad. It's a gift, my friends. I was the first born...usually people go all out on sterilized NEW furniture for their precious first baby...but not my parents! My dad hunted the streets for pieces of wood and old furniture. (Granted he did pay for some secondhand pieces too.) My nursery would have caused some moms to was clean and neat though...which is all that mattered. I didn't have a crib, instead I had a rocking cradle bed that my dad I grew up it became a bed for stuffed animals and one day we dumped it during a military move. A part of me regrets that we did.

Today we have some stools, a rocking chair and a couple of hutches that my dad collected from the side of the road and refurbished. It's amazing what a new weave will do for a rocking chair...or paint for a stool...or a new block-counter my dad created and installed on one of the hutches. My parents are frugal...I'm working on it...

There were many other items dad brought home that left when we would move (that's military life for you...can't take it all to Hawaii...) the rest we outgrew. Most notable was the paddle- not one for boats- this was for spanking. I can't BELIEVE my dad jumped into a dumpster to bring home that awful piece of trash. Who would want a paddle?! I bet it was thrown away for a reason by the previous owner...probably by the kid who was spanked with it. My sisters and I were NOT pleased and I do remember trying to hide it on several occasions.

All of this is to explain how life is today. When I see something on the side of the road on "trash night" I get excited. I have to get a closer look. So naturally, this past Tuesday as I was cruising home and spotted something it was a sure bet I was coming back for it. First I needed some muscle.

"Dad, guess what I saw on the side of road just now?!" I exclaimed as I entered the house. "What?" he asked. "An exercise bike!" I stated with a smile and watched as his eyes sparked with interest.
"Will you come and look at it with me?" I asked...pretty sure it'd be a yes. "Lets get a flashlight." he said. It was on. Dumpster diving...doesn't necessarily have to be inside a dumpster you know...

My dad is a teacher at heart. He loves to explain the back-story of everything and share knowledge. He got excited when we parked the car and got the flashlight on the label of the bike: Schwinn. "Oh these are made to last!" he said. Trying it out he turned the knob that controls the amount of pressure you need to turn the wheel. It still worked. However, he was a little disappointed about the small computer part not turning on. "We should leave it, Sweetie." he said. After a little bit of pleading I gave up and we headed home.

Once there I began to describe it to my sister and mom. "It's FREE and I could use a pedometer to track myself on it!" I stated. "But where would you put it?" my mom asked. Then my sister had the brilliant thought: "You could put it in one of your alcoves in your room." she said. I have two small alcoves with windows that are only about 3.5 feet wide. They are VERY hard to decorate and I was still trying to figure out what to put in my 2nd one. This solved the problem! "Come get it with me!" I said- as dad had already gone to bed. "WHAT?! We'll look like criminals!" she exclaimed. Obviously only a few of us get the genetic urge to hunt for things and take what's cast aside... "Oh it will be fine!" I said. "It's dark and it doesn't weigh that much. Let's hurry." Muttering and thinking of outrageous ways that this could go wrong she slid into the car.

"Can they see us??" she asked. "No and the lights are out. Come on, we're already here." I replied. Opening the trunk we examined the bike a moment and then lifted it...or attempted to. I had the "light" end. "Oh it's not that heavy!" I said. Unfortunately, she had the end with the wheel. "Ooof!" she strained to lift it. "It is too heavy!" she exclaimed...and then looked over her shoulder should anyone be watching us. "Switch with me" I said- I was determined to have that bike. And I'm pretty stubborn.

Hoisting the bike into the trunk we realized that a part of it was sticking out. "It'll just have to stay like that. Hurry!" my sister said. We jumped into the car and drove home. Lugging the thing up the stairs we set it near my room. Amazingly the computer had turned on! Thrilled I pushed every button figuring out how to navigate from calorie counting to distance and speed! I have decided that it is probably one of the best trophies I've ever had while dumpster least so far.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ultimate Frisbee- The last trip to the College Station...

Actually, technically that isn't quite true...
A) I think my last post about the ER (which also involved ultimate frisbee) came after this one...
B) My last semester I spent over an hour in the waiting room of the ER...but that was for a classmate.

Spring 2009

Frisbee, one of the highlights of my week, was in session...and maybe it shouldn't have been.
It was chilly, we were in between rain storms, and the field was MUDDY.
Deterrent to college students who've been in the library all day? Of course not! (Not that I was in the library all day, mind you...but some diligent students had been, I'm sure...)
Mud and cold were only inspiration to keep moving, play harder...and NOT fall.

Unfortunately, several falls and splashes occurred but that game was wonderful!
The cold/wet was so intense that my numb foot couldn't feel the pain.

That night, I knew I'd done something to my hurt REALLY bad. But hoping it would go away, I ignored the pain and went through the weekend. On Sunday I had a hard time finding comfortable shoes...but I solved the problem by only wearing them from the car to a seat in the church and then kicked them off during the service (something I do normally anyway...but it was necessary that day, I assure you!)

Once Monday hit and classes resumed, I realized that this pain was pretty annoying. Hoping it would get better I developed a knack for riding the A&M bus system and found more opportunities to park as close as possible to my classrooms. I admit- I also *ahem* skipped some classes that I just didn't have the energy to walk to.

Adapting to the pain I made it to Thursday night. After the weekly meeting with The Navigators, called affectionately "NavNite," there was an opportunity to play volleyball at our "Rec" (school gym). Unable to turn down this chance to be with people and play a sport I opted to go. Why not? Sure my foot was killing me, but in volleyball you can stand mostly still...

Two hours later I barely had the willpower to drive myself back to my apartment off campus. I crawled up the stairs unable to put any weight on my foot. It hated me, that much was obvious.

The next morning I considered going to class...
As I crawled down the stairs my roommate said "You should go to the emergency room, Hannah. If you can't walk on it, it's probably broken."
By this time I was in so much pain I had no arguments. I managed to crawl into my truck and drive to the Scott & White Clinic. Slowly hobbling from my car to the front desk I asked the ladies:
"I think I broke my foot. Where is the emergency room?"
Why I said it like that, I don't know! You should've seen the doubt in their faces as they pointed in the right direction.
Unfortunately it was almost 100 yards away. I wanted to cry thinking about how many steps that would be, but I was a big girl. I winced all the way.

When I was finally called back to have my vitals checked I barely made it from my chair to the back room. Thankfully, it was pronounced necessary for me to be placed in a wheelchair. I was immediately wheeled back through the ER and down the long hallway, past the gaping front desk ladies (I think they believed me now), and to the other end of the large clinic.

Once the X-rays were taken, I was wheeled back to the other end of the clinic and left in the middle of the ER with my foot up and wrapped. I had the honor of being the only one with a "visible" injury and thus was the object of speculation and some whispering.

At last I was wheeled in to see a doctor. He pointed out the broken area in my foot. I was torn between yelling "I knew it!" and crying.

My FAVORITE part of our conversation:

Sure he gave me a boot to wear for the broken foot and told me how long to wear it, etc. But he was REALLY focused on something else.
I apparently have extra bones in my feet, near my ankles.
He pointed that out several times:
"You know, that's unusual!" He claimed, "I could remove them for you if you like!"

"Um...that's ok."
"Seriously, we could fix that." he said.
"If I've had 'em my whole life, I don't see the point. I can't afford to be off my feet right now."
"Ok, well if you change your's my card." Boy did he ever sound disappointed.

I showed up to frisbee that afternoon...but I was in a boot (I wanted to shock most of my friends. :) Why not?
I became a devoted frisbee cheerleader for the next several weeks!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Elevated Thinking

Driving to work this afternoon (on my way back from a lunch break), I had the radio playing.
I wasn't paying attention to the music- mostly I was focused on the traffic on the road and the fender-bender to one side with no fewer than 7 tow trucks waiting to "flip the coin" and see who got to take the cars.

As I rounded the underpass I noticed a white truck in front of me. It was some sort of utility vehicle and on the back stenciled in black letters were the words "Elevated Thinking."

Just then I heard the lyrics to the song on the radio:
"And I'm always thinking of you, take a look around you, I'm spelling it out one by one..." More- Matthew West

Those are supposed to be God's words to us in that song. Coincidence that I spotted words telling me to think upwards and heard words at the same time that God thinks about me? I think not.
God sure knows how to get my attention and make me smile! :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Plum Enchiladas

"It is beyond my imagination." (More than I could have imagined, unbelieveable, etc.) This came from the newest addition to our house (expected stay uncertain- I'll explain in a moment). I watched doubtfully as he used chopsticks to eat his bowl of ice cream...piled high with pork salt!
Encouraging him to eat some leftovers had been unsuccessful and if I didn't cook something, he would. I made a batch of pancakes for him, a sister and myself.

Meet Jimmy, a computer science student from China...who has introduced my sisters to the x-box, loves to win any boardgame we play and is addicted to cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. He recently lost his passport and took a bus from Arkansas to Houston to visit the Chinese embassy about the problem. Our cousin in AR had learned he'd be coming to Houston and asked my family to meet him at the bus stop (at 6am) and take him to the embassy which didn't open until 8 or 9am. There was also the hint that he'd probably need to spend the night.

No big deal. We've helped people out before, hospitality is just a part of life.

However, it became apparent that it would not be one night. The embassy mentioned that it needed even more paperwork than Jimmy had brought and that this whole process could take up to 2 or even 3 months!!! Jimmy was given one of my sister's bedrooms and is still with us.

When I walked into the house for lunch on Friday (my Aunt was leaving town and I wanted a last meal with her!) I found the tv on with an aerobic kick-boxing video and Jimmy and one of my sisters were kicking along to the video. Poor Jimmy- he is surrounded by women- even the people in the video were ALL women.

Yesterday, we had a wedding to attend for a family friend. Jimmy had accompanied us to church and we invited him to come to the wedding ceremony (one of us would skip the reception since it was an rsvp dinner-style wedding, and take Jimmy home). He declined going to the wedding and I skipped the reception so that he would not be alone. However, as he was asleep, I hid in my room with a book. I was still shy around him and didn't know what to talk about- plus, I wouldn't have normally had much interaction in a house alone with any of my other guy seemed a little improper and very awkward.

Soon, after I became really interested in my book, there was a knock at my door.
"Come in" I called before thinking.
The door opened and Jimmy poked his head in the room, "Do you want to eat something?" he asked.

"Oh, I am not very hungry, but you go ahead! There are plenty of leftovers in the fridge!"

He nodded and left and after a moment of wondering if he was going to be ok, I went back to my book.
I could hear his x-box music down in the living room and relaxed.
But 30 minutes later he was back at my door, "Don't you want to eat?"

I realized that it was about 6pm and my stomach had been talking ever since his last knock on my door.

"Sure I'll come and eat something!" And I followed him to the kitchen.
It was unavoidable, he was going to cook for me. Jimmy had cooked my entire family dinner on Friday, but I had had a meeting and missed it. I was extremely nervous about what he would make (my sisters had had to keep him from buying fish with the heads still on and other things that NEVER entered our house when they took him to Chinatown on Friday afternoon.)

"What are you going to eat?" he asked me.
"Well it's Sunday, and usually my family eats leftovers for dinner. I think I'd like an enchilada."

I pulled out several containers of food and offered them to him. "There's plenty to eat!"

He told me that he didn't know how to fix up an enchilada and I showed them to him and explained "You just re-heat and add salsa or more cheese."

Frustrated he said "No, I want to cook for you...I will take the enchilada and cook it here (he indicated the wok pan we happen to own) and add spicey to it!"

(The concept of leftovers seems to be something he doesn't understand. The beauty of them is the mess-free meal they give: "re-heat and eat!")

"Oh. I don't like very spicey food, hurts my mouth." I said.
"Not spicey food- I want to add spice (and here he indicated our spice rack) to give it flavor and add vegetables."

"Oh!" (I was perfectly satisfied with my Mom's chicken enchilada...but I didn't want to be rude and snub his gift of cooking for me. Obviously it was important to him since he had waited 30 minutes to get me down here and hadn't really eaten himself. And vegetables are fine...I mean anything will go with chicken.)

"Sure, go ahead!" I paced the kitchen for a bit as he dragged out all sorts of foods and turned on the stove-top.
Nixing the parsley he had lain on the counter, I went outside to water my flowers.
Hearing the phone ring, I ignored it- I don't like to answer the home phone. However, suddenly Jimmy was bursting out the back door mumbling something and handing me the phone (which had answered itself when he picked it up).

"Hi Hannah!" my Aunt's voice came over the phone. (She had been visiting us the past week and had been the one (along with a sister) to pick Jimmy up from the bus stop.) "I was going to ask if Jimmy's still there but I guess so!" and she laughed.
"Yes, he is. He's inside cooking for me." We laughed at my unenthusiastic tone- I eat a lot of things and try not to be too picky- but eating "mystery dishes" can put me in a panic.

I finished my conversation with her and went back to watering the plants, filling the dog's water bowl, and giving the turtles' bucket a cleaning. (We relocated some turtles for a dear family friend who took them in when they were the size of they were the size of my hand.) I was going to take them to the pond that evening and decided that would be my next chore if my food wasn't ready yet. The waiting was killing me! :)

As I was finishing up, out popped Jimmy with two gallon plastic bags- one with purple cabbage, the other with eggplant. I nixed the eggplant.
"You breaka mah heart" Jimmy said, but I did not change my mind.
Shaking his head, he hurried back inside to his creations...

Unable to stand it any longer I caught the turtles (who were exploring the back porch), placed them in their bucket and headed through the house.
"I'm going to run see my neighbors, I'll be back soon!" I told Jimmy.
Stopping me he asked where the 'floor' was. Eventually we understood one another and I showed him the flour container.

Stepping outside I breathed deeply in the 90+ degree Texas heat. I stopped at my neighbors' house and showed them the turtles- pictures were snapped (the turtles were very clean and had beautiful markings on their skin and shells)- then it was off to the pond.
I ignored the scolding ducks and found a shallow "cove" on the edge of the pond. The grasses had the reflections of sunlit water skidding across them and a group of fish watched me as I gently set the turtles in the pond. The green one (having once been a wild turtle for the first week of it's life) had great instincts and immediately hid herself by the edge. The little black one had been bred in captivity. It had chased and eaten live fish, plants, and bugs before- but never overnight. She was happy with the warm water and drifted in it for about 10 minutes before copying her friend the green turtle. Their names were Yoshi and Donatello (my favorite ninja turtle)...we didn't know they were girls until they were much older.

Content I poured the water out of the bucket, turned it over, and sat on it- watching the turtles, fish, and enjoying the sounds of kids at the pool nearby. How peaceful! A duck with her five ducklings watched me curiously and brought her little brood within a couple feet of me to see if I had brought them a snack. Our neighborhood spoils our ducks and turtles...they get fed several times a week.

Realizing that the sunlight was moving across the water and it was now blinding me, I suddenly remembered Jimmy!
Oh no! He's going to think I can't stand his cooking and I haven't even tried it yet!
Grabbing the bucket I scared the ducks in my dash for home.

Jimmy was not happy I'd been gone so long- 40 minutes! He told me so.
The food had to be reheated.
"I added one of these" he stated and pointed to the plate of plums!
"You put a plum in the enchilada?" I asked, shocked and tickled at the same time.
"Yes, I mean, it will be ok." he said nonchalantly.

I washed up, took my enchilada out of the toaster oven, and sat at the table.
Knowing that he was a little nervous about what I would say and hoping that it would taste good, I dug in.

I was very pleasantly surprised! It tasted delicious! The plum added a sweetness, the cabbage added a nice color and texture, and I don't know what all of the spices he used were but I think he used one of our Lipton tea bags...

So all of this is to let you know that plum enchiladas are divine and I am learning a lot about how to interact with guys when you live with them (never had a brother before...) and how to translate "axe" into eggs and "floor" into flour. If you think of us, pray that Jimmy will be able to find a way to get home to China soon!

Life is NEVER dull.