Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Night of a Thousand Bubbling Purple Cow Pies

Every woman needs a therapy hobby.  Something she can do that is unrelated to both her job and the upkeep of her house that occupies her mind and hands and that produces something either useful or creative. 

In the good weather, I garden and make a variety of canned and pickled veggies. 

In the bad weather, I make bath products.  

The unwitting recipients of the outcomes from these little therapy projects are normally friends and family or co-workers, who are gifted little bags of bath fizzies, lip balm, hand cream or cold-process soap with their Christmas packages.  These recipients normally at least pretend to be grateful for them.  And every year, I try to make something new that I haven’t attempted before. Sometimes these new projects are a big hit.  Sometimes they are an epic fail. I nevertheless dress up the outcomes and foist them on my ersatz Toiletry Victims.

Last night, I attempted to make Bubble Bars, (à la Lush) for the first time, as a friend requested that I give them a try.  There are several recipes available on the web; they vary in terms of both ingredients and ratios.  All the recipes involve mixing some variation on baking soda and cream of tartar together with a powdered detergent and some corn starch, adding a series of oily, viscous or otherwise soapy-like liquids, and then forming the final product into a bar that can be cut up and crumbled under a running bath. Easy, right?

So I measure and mix these powders together, choking as I go, because I ignored the warning that I should use a respirator mask so I wouldn’t choke (because respirators are for wimps). I added a few festive candy flower sprinkles and tiny embeddable paper scraps to help it look festive.  

Things took a downhill turn after that.

The directions read “combine the liquid ingredients and drizzle into the dry ingredients, mixing and kneading with gloved hands to combine thoroughly.”  No problem.  I mixed the liquids together.  They promptly polymerized into a mass that resembled the Ectoplasmic Residue from Ghostbusters. My attempt to “drizzle” the substance resulted in my glopping the wad of goo into the center of the powders (resulting in more coughing).  I then started kneading the mixture, which commenced to expanding at a prodigious rate.  The consistency was sticky enough to pull off one of my vinyl gloves and devour it like a giant purple macrophage that had encountered a hapless amoeba.  I began punching down and kneading with more vigor, in hopes that it would behave like bread dough and give up some of its excess carbon dioxide.  No luck. I suddenly wondered if this was how Lucy felt in the candy factory; I simply didn't have enough hands to contain the growing mass of purple squish.  It quickly overflowed the mixing bowl and began to mushroom up and over the side of the bowl, landing with a series of plops on the counter like so many bubbling purple cow pies.  It began disgorging the candy flowers and paper trinkets.  I was reminded of the birthday cake from that episode of Our Gang, expecting at any time it would start making that “wheep-whoooonnnk” noise, and a rubber boot or the neighbor’s dog would pop out.

Time to set on the stove and stir

I finally managed to gather the entire mess onto a large sheet of plastic wrap and began to roll it firmly.  It deflated enough to form into a log so I could cut it into slices.  I left them on the counter to dry overnight. 

Tonight will be recipe # 2, I think; I’ll keep you all posted.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

To my daughter, on her birthday.

Dear Daisy Mae,

Today, you are 18 years old. 

I have to say that again.

Today, You Are 18 Years Old!


I'm knocked out by what a bright, confident, beautiful young woman you are becoming.  I look at you today, and in place of the awkward, rebellious teen who entered my life four years ago, I see a young lady who can conduct herself in a fancy restaurant, who can plan a dinner party for a dozen friends, who can gracefully help her grandfather in and out of a wheelchair, without making him feel out of place.

In place of the recalcitrant middle-schooler, who would routinely use phrases like, "Mom! I'm passing!  Get off my back!", I see a young scholar who has dreams and goals and who takes personal offense when her best efforts don't product A's. Who is learning to think before she speaks. Who is learning to question and think critically.

In place of the frightened young girl, who looked across the table and said, "No one will ever marry me. No one will love me. I'm not worth it.", I see someone who has learned to build relationships, to bloom under the attention of a young man who thinks she is beautiful in ways she may never understand, to compromise and to nurture others. Who will fight tooth and nail to protect someone she perceives as powerless, no matter what the cost. And just maybe, who has started to love the person she is. Some women never learn that lesson.  Look how far you've come!

You are strong. You are fierce. You are loving.

And still there is a little girl in there.  Who still loves Barbie movies and chocolate milk.  Who is afraid that there are monsters hiding by the garbage cans at night.  Who can't sleep without her favorite blanket and Blue Bear.  Who sometimes just wants to be cuddled.

There are some who look at you and who tell your Dad and me, "You've done a great job". But we didn't do this. We just gave you room to become who you really are. You've made good choices. You have chosen to treat your body and your spirit with respect, in a time when so many girls do not.  You have chosen to take control of your academics and your career choices.  This is all you. Dad and I can encourage (nag), and suggest (nag), and nag (nag), but if you don't believe in your heart that you're doing what's best for you, none of that matters. You have chosen to be successful, and I cannot wait to see the exceptional young woman you will become in the years ahead.

You're not done yet. There's a lot of growing and learning yet to do. But you've come so far, so fast.

And I'm so very, very proud of you.

Happy Birthday.