Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Burned up

Note to self: Use the utensils provided instead of fingers to reposition hot items. Fingers, and hands, are important in your work and must not be damaged. See into insuring hands with Lloyds of London.

Instead of eating just some fruit and a banana (I already ate those), I decided to make a hot and hearty breakfast. I didn't run into problems until I decided to reposition the organic buckwheat pancake on the plate with my fingers, a pancake I had just taken out of a searing hot cast iron skillet. Even though I touched the pancake for no more than a fraction of a second, it was enough to burn off the first two layers of skin on two fingers on my left hand. I don't have any butter, so I reached for the lavender essential oil, which is what I use on all kinds of burns (including sunburns), and mentally kicked myself for being so impulsive and thoughtless. I actually use those fingers to type. Good thing I'm no stranger to pain and that I don't whimper and cry for more than a couple years or I'd be in a world of hurt. I have to work. Even if I took the time off, I wouldn't be able to type, so it's better to endure the pain and ignore the throbbing pulse in the tips of those two fingers. I've had it worse than this, so it's no big deal. At least it is nice and cool and rainy outside and the windows are open, so the rest of my body doesn't suffer as well.

Two days ago, I turned on the brand new ceiling fan in the bedroom for the first time. It felt so good night before last when I tossed and turned in the sweaty sheets. I had to turn it off yesterday because it was cool and wet and raining outside. I didn't need the breeze; there was plenty of breezy air coming through the open windows, so much I actually shut a couple of them.

We've had so much rain this year the leaves are exploding from the trees in all directions and I can no longer see my mountains through the frame of leaves on the squirrel porn tree. I can't even see the squirrel porn tree because there are so many leaves, so many big, lush, green, and thickly laced leaves. I catch flashes of movement, but nothing else, just the squeaks of pleasure/pain, and the occasional squirrel falling past the window when they get a little too rambunctious and one of them gets knocked out of the tree. I miss the mountains, especially since I get only an occasional glimpse when the wind whips the leaves into a flurry of green froth, but I have to be quick and not blink. Blinking is bad, and sometimes dangerous.

A couple of days ago, when it was hot and a quick sun shower only made the heat muggy and moist, I wished for rain . . . and here it is, for two days running. I hadn't lived here on this side of the Divide and so near the plains before now, but I do know that this amount of rain, such as we have had over the past 10 months, is unusual. I'm not complaining. I love the rain. I love the lower temperatures like a cool kiss on the fevered brow of relentless scorching summer, but I know this isn't the kind of weather common to this area. This is closer to the crisp cool of the mountains near the cabin when the summer sun reaches down with a molten brassy hand only to be cooled by the snow-touched winds sweeping the peaks so the heat is comfortable and not the searing scalded breath of the desert. I like this change from furnace heat to mountain cool the way it has been. I almost wish I had planted some vegetables and berries; they would be bearing fruit by now instead of struggling to survive and retain some moisture in this usually arid clime. There's still time unless this year, like last year, the snows come early.

Beanie said to send some rain her way and I'm doing my best, but my lungs just aren't what they used to be, especially since I'm spending so much more time breathing in and savoring the fragrance of growing green in this riot of flowers and trees. So much green makes the xeriscaped yards around here stand out in stark contrast. Yards covered with rocks and mulch, like littered forest floors, where a skinny twig of a maybe tree and silver green swords of desert grass look like an alien Martian island settled in the midst of all this lush richness, like a little respite for the eyes and a reminder that this, too, will pass as this rainy cycle turns back to the normal desert that sucks the sweat from a body almost before it forms. Everything changes and it should. Too much of the same thing makes me restless to move on and find another landscape to explore and get to know. For now, I'm happy here where the weather changes its mind as often as my sister Carol used to change her clothes.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Ham radio craziness

Yesterday was the annual PPRAA Megafest. I was up by 5 a.m. and on the road headed to Monument by 6 a.m. I promised to help with admissions. When I got there I barely had time to say hello to my friends, and there were a couple of people I really wanted to see, people I hadn't seen in about two months, but no such luck. I think I spoke to one friend for a whole five minutes the entire day.

From 7:30-9:30, I collected money, stamped hands, and gave out raffle and door prize tickets. I joked with people, held a lot of hands, smiled and had a fairly good time teasing and being teased by the guys I know from the ham club. At 9:30, as promised, Bill came and relieved me long enough to head to the VE testing room, which was empty. People were lined up along both walls in the hall leading to the room, but Dennis, the VE liaison, wasn't there. I went looking for him and found him just in time.

Unlike other testing sessions, we didn't have enough VEs and we needed at least three, according to ARRL/VEC regulations. Some guy (Rand) from Franktown sat in with us since he brought his credentials with him and, with Dennis and me, made three. We were busier than a one-armed man in a sheep shearing contest because we had 32 candidates, three of which were women, and one of which was a 10-year-old boy. Only six people didn't pass, but all the women and the boy (who was literally jumping up and down because his dad promised to buy him a radio if he passed) passed. Hooray! for the women . . . and for the boy.

Since the FCC took out the Morse Code requirement in obtaining a ham radio license, exam sessions have been packed. We had 19 at the last PPRAA session in April and 10 or 12 at the MARC session last month, and now 32 at yesterday's session. Most of the people are younger and that's a really good thing and there are usually quite a few in the sessions who are friends or relatives. Looks like taking out the Morse Code requirement has been a good thing since it probably kept people from giving it a shot. I guess when the older hams are gone, there will be a new and younger crop of hams to take their places, most of them husbands and wives, and even entire families, each with a license of their own.

By the time we were finished yesterday, it was about 1:30 p.m. and I was beat. The gym was cleared out and only one vendor was still loading his equipment into his truck. I didn't get to see who won the big prizes (not me) or if I won a door prize (you had to be present and I wasn't) or even look at much of what was for sale, but it was a good day and I'm glad I went, even though there were some disappointments, like not spending time with friends and acquaintances. I didn't get any brats or hamburgers, but one guy was nice enough to get me a bottle of water and it took a few minutes to work the kinks and stiffness out of my butt and legs when I stood up again.

I wonder how many times plans are made with the specific purpose of having the time and leisure to see someone you haven't seen in ages, someone who probably lives in the same town, but circumstances make long visits nearly impossible. Work or responsibilities or schedules get in the way and all that's left is a feeling of having missed a great opportunity. Then again, living in the same town, even with busy personal lives, you'd think one or the other could make the time to meet for coffee or lunch or even breakfast, giving them a chance to catch up and reconnect.

All too often, we are so caught up in the minutiae of every day life that we don't take the time to keep in touch and time moves so swiftly that the idea to call tomorrow gets lost in the shuffle until tomorrow is two or six or ten months in the past. Oh, there's always email, but email, unlike a handwritten letter, is not very personal. No matter how long the email or how personal the content, it doesn't replace a phone call or a handwritten letter or (better yet) sitting down or taking a walk together, a real up close and personal visit. I know people whose jobs require them to spend a lot of time on the phone cringe at the idea of spending any more time on the phone and they just want the sounds of silence, but the people on the phone at work cannot hold a candle to the sound of a friend's or relative's voice. There's something soothing and comforting in hearing the voice of someone you actually like when you can't (and don't take the time to) visit. That voice becomes like a little bit of home like a life line connecting you to simpler times or fond memories.

It sounds contrived, but if you live close enough to see someone, you really should schedule a time to meet, even if it's for 15 or 20 minutes. Take the time to reconnect and share a few minutes together even if you don't talk about anything important (or even if you do talk about something important), but spend some time together. Life is so short and regret takes a lot of energy. Indulge your senses and get the full experience of life; make a memory and see an old friend. Be part of the world and not just a bystander. Even if you're rushed off your feet, don't get to sample the donuts or the brats, and even if you don't spend more than 5 minutes with someone, make the effort. You'll be glad you did. So will they.

That is all. Disperse.