Monday, July 1, 2013

Stephen Kinging the World one Hanging Basket at a Time

Well, our boy successfully completed his belt test--he now has a fancy yellow belt with a black center stripe.  Next test will be for green.  A lot of regret that we didn't keep him in martial arts since those early days, but we never were able to find a school that didn't have that crappy "fight club" thing going on.  A bunch of bad-asses with lousy attitudes . . . and those are the senseis.  Still wish there'd been a place, though.  He's doing great, his kicks are picking up more height, and he's really developing confidence, but imagine where he'd be if we'd been able to keep him in it from age six?

Here he is at six:

Yes, he's the  magical blond with the flying feet of flames.  

I have to say, we love the martial arts studio here.  The owner is great.  Our politics don't mesh, but they don't need to--he's a good man, is patient without being a pushover, and he really does look for the best in his students, then helps them to work bringing it to the surface.  I feel like we really lucked out when we found him.

On the down side, our boy didn't manage to break his second board--the "kick" board.  The folks testing for yellow did, but they were using easier kicks (as they should, they were testing for a lower level), plus they're both already in Taikwondo.  Or is that Tai Kwon Do?  Dunno.  Another young man who was testing for green was partnered with our boy during the test.  Very nice young man, I think the family is Mormon (a comment his mother made about tithing).  Plus they just have that feel to them, our boy noticed it, too, said they felt like they were from Utah.  Anyway, after our boy missed his kick/board-breaking, this other boy also failed to break his board.  

I think it was intentional.  I think he "messed up" for our boy.  I think he saw how troubled our son was by his failure to successfully break the board and so he blew his, too.  I never would have said that to our boy, but he came to ME and told me that's what he thinks, too.  And I said?

There's no way to know, but if he did, that was a terrifically kind thing for him to do.  Hang on to it, and maybe someday you can, to use a tired phrase, pay that forward to some other person.  


We made a few gallons of homemade laundry detergent last night.  Or, actually, we made it the night before, let it sit for 20 hours or so, and then dispensed it into gallon jugs.  It gelled up like squid snot, but hubby didn't mind just getting in there with his bare hands and breaking up the slimy chunks.  It smells like what it is--borax, washing soda, and ivory soap.  If you smell really carefully, you'll catch the undertone of lavender, and that's because we added a little lavender to the mix.  We used some last night on the sheets, and they came out smelling and looking clean, which is all we ask, right?  The cost?

If we use all of the borax, Ivory soap, and washing powder, that will put us down around ten bucks.  For approximately 600 loads of laundry.  

Seems a good deal, and I feel better about the chemicals and such.  I'm considering making powder next time, but it does seem that lessens the savings--adding gallons of hot water really does seem to stretch the ingredients out.  And I don't really mind the squid spit gig--what spilled on the floor mopped up great and cleaned the floor!

Our recipe, if you're wondering, was simple:

1/2 cup Borax powder
1 cup Washing Soda (not baking soda)
1 bar Ivory soap, grated in the food processor

We melted the soap flakes on the stove top in five cups of water, and added three gallons of water to the Borax and Washing Soda.  When the soap was melted, we stirred them all together in a large bucket, covered it, and let it sit for 21 hours.  Then we mixed/stirred/declotted it and poured it into containers through a funnel.  

One small piece of advice--if you're going to use old detergent/colorsafe bleach containers, wash them WELL.  We didn't, and the peroxide from the colorsafe bleach reacted with (I'm guessing) the washing soda and pressure built.  Yes, we caught it before it blew, set it in the sink and let it foam until the reaction was done.  Funny, but could have been a mess, had we put them downstairs immediately, you know?


Speaking of laundry, do me a favor?  If someone says, "I just busted my behind making this because it's something I wanted to do," don't  leave a comment making it clear that you think it's a waste.  I posted about making the detergent, and here are the first two comments I got:

Okay, I need to know that you'll pass on the rest exactly why?  And worse, you've got a better, simpler recipe--you buy Tide at the store?  You know, how about, "That sounds really cool!" or even "Not my cup of tea, but I think it's cool that you're doing that!"

Not everybody always needs to know that you're above something or you feel disdain or you think that whatever is a waste of time or effort.  Seriously.  Just as, when someone says, "I love Enya," you don't have to respond, "I can't stand her--I think she sounds like a dying moose!"  Truly, you do not have to offer up negative commentary every time someone posts something.  Or even most of the time.  If I had five bucks for every time I've refrained from posting my disagreement/disdain on some bit of idiocy on a friend's wall, we'd be rolling in it.  

Now, just to be clear, I'm not talking about advice or tips or, "Oh, I tried that and it burned down my kitchen."  No, I'm talking about the disdainful, aren't I so funny posts that make it clear how supremely above whatever you are.  Hey, if you're THAT far above it, why on earth would you be blowing the time posting about it?

And, to be fair, I also got some supportive posts.  But the first two rankled just a bit.  Worse because I DO like these folks.  But sometimes the negativity is a real downer.  Or maybe I'm just too sensitive.


Boy, that sure was depressing.  Sorry.  


Speaking of depressing, my younger sister announced she's joining the military.  Or, rather, has joined.  We never knew each other until just a few years ago--she's 20 or so years younger, and such an amazingly smart, pragmatic, realistic person.  I'm not happy about her decision--it scares the hell out of me.  On top of the inherent dangers of being in the military, there are the additional horrors that come with being a woman in the military.  But she's got a lot of student aid debt and a lot of hopes for the future, and those hopes include further education, which she cannot afford.  So I understand her reasoning, and, while I'm no big military fan (neither is she), I'm proud of her for making a decision to improve her situation.  Took a lot of guts.  But man, it makes me sad.


One last thing.  I have a hanging planter with pansies which lived over from last year.  Or, rather, half of it did--the other half the birds have shredded away all the insert fibers for their nests.  So I bought a new planter and insert (larger) and just transplanted the pansies.  This gave me a half-planted pansy container, so I bought a packet of pansy seeds to fill in the other side.  Except they didn't look like pansy seeds.  I know, because I've planted pansy seeds before, I've cracked open the seed pods from my pansies to see what's inside.  Those are small, black seeds.  These?  Were large (think almost peppercorn-sized), bright green seeds.  And you know what?

I planted them anyway.  Hey, maybe they've encapsulated the seeds in little fertilizer pods, right?

Or, speaking of pods, maybe they're something more sinister?  I stood out there, laughing while planting, imagining the Stephen King scenario where the folks from the CDC and NSA have me in a small, white room, and they're saying, "Hang on--you knew they looked mutant, you knew they looked totally wrong, and yet YOU PLANTED THEM ANYWAY?"  End of the world, and all because some dippy housewife from Virginia opened that door and gave the alien species a foothold in her garden.  

Her garden where she enjoys the flowers, the trees, the beauty, and the sky, thank you very much, Mr. King.

Kevin McCarthy in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  Mr. McCarthy (or we think it was him, anyway; he may have been "podded") died in 2010 at the age of 96.  That's a long time.  Turns out he was Mary McCarthy's brother, which is fascinatingly and oddly ironic, considering her politics and the era and their last name.  I love history.  

Just found this article.  So (probably) no freaky pod alien species from my hanging baskets.  Boy, I feel better!

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations, Sean!
    I have confidence that your laundry detergent will work better than Tide. Tide sucks, and I believe it tests below most other store-bought detergents.
    When I made my own soap, I got the same stupid comments from a few people. Not many though, most were positive even if they thought it was not worth the effort. One lady, after I gushed about all of the luxury ingredients I loved to experiment with (avocado oil, shea butter, oils that I infused with calendula, chamomile, lavender, and pure essential oils for fragrance) responded with, "you can just buy soap, you know." Well, you won't be getting a free bar of mine, then! Then there was my dad, who loved my soap but complained about there not being as much suds as he was used to. I explained that it was because commercial soap adds sulfates and removes the glycerin from their soap to make it lather up, and he suggested that I add sulfates to mine. Some people just don't get it.
    Your laundry soap probably won't add much lavender scent to your clothes because it takes a terrific amount of essential oil to survive the washing and drying process, but with the savings from making your own detergent, who cares? You can sprinkle your sheets with lavender, or make a linen spray. Or you can buy those scent crystals, and just use it on the stuff that you spend time sniffing. But clean clothes are what matter, the smell is just a bonus.