Tag Archives: water

A watched pot never boils……

I am here to shatter the universal truths of wives tales all across the globe. Today I write to declare that the saying “a watched pot never boils” is particularly egregious in its wrongness.

If you have ever made pasta or boiled eggs, you know well the malady that ensues when said watched pot boils all over the burning-hot-water-place.

In fact, pots with angry liquid bubbling inside their defenseless walls must often been watched to keep children, starving husbands, and small animals safe.

But no more.

I heard about this neat little trick and feigned disbelief at its simplicity. Dare I believe? To save you all the roller coaster ride of eternal hope and possible let down, I tried it out myself. And, yes, it works.

All you need is a wooden-handled spoon or spatula that is longer than your pot is wide. Watch and be amazed.

And please, no comments on how dirty my stove top is. I am saving the children, starving husbands, and small animals of the world from being burned by bubbling hot water. I cannot be busy with cleaning. There are only so many hours in the day.

Update from Yesterday…………the recovery of a twice wet blackberry

It worked! My phone works. I am going to give you the steps I took just in case you find yourself in the same predicament of dropping your phone in liquid – twice….

In case you missed yesterday’s post – I dropped my phone in my soda – and then in an attempt to get a picture of what a stupid thing I had done, I dropped my phone in diet Coke a second time. Yes, that was in fact more stupider.

In order to try recovering my poor, poor phone, I immediately pulled it out of the cup and dried as much of the phone off as I could.

Then I took off the back and took out the battery.

Then I paper toweled every piece I could.

Then I blew into the keyboard portion and dried the back off. You’d be amazed how much soda came out this way.

Then I cursed at myself for being a little dumb.

I put the battery in and tried to turn it on – no luck. And now I understand that this was exactly what n.o.t. to do until you are pretty comfortable your phone is as dry as it can be.

Then I put the pieces of my phone in uncooked rice – this is supposed to help pull out the moisture. I left them to set for several hours.

Then I thought about praying but realized there is an oil spill, starvation, and much bigger things on his radar screen – I just might not make the top one million on the list of things that require God’s immediate attention.

So, I did the Scarecrow Dance from Wizard of Oz – you know the one – “If I Only Had A Brain”.

I tried to turn it on again. And some of it worked. The rolling ball would not work and the “N” key read as a “J” key and the “F” key read as a “C” key – but this is progress and I am not a super duper speller anyway – people just might not notice.

I cursed myself again.

Then (because my son had a flash of brilliance) I used the Dust Off can of air that you can use to clean your keyboard and blew air through every crevice on the phone I could find.

After that, I left the phone unassembled on the counter under a light over night.

Then in the morning I reassembled everything, took a deep breath, and waited. And it worked!

And then I pretty much repeated the whole process over again.

Diet Coke and Cell Phones Don’t Mix…………..

Apparently. Wanna know how I know? That’s right – after lecture upon lecture of telling my children how not to treat their cell phones – after speech upon speech about the dangers of liquids and cell phones – after insisting that they put their phones in plastic bags anytime they are going to hold their phones and even breathe near it, I decided to carry my cell phone like this…..

Oh wait, I tried to recreate the visual for you (because that went so well on the first go round) and guess what happened. You got it. My phone fell into my soda again. Dammit and yes, I am apparently a complete moron – either that or I just love you so much and I wanted to protect you from making the same mistake I did that I was willing to risk life and cell for you. Let’s just go with that. Smooches.

Obviously there is not a picture because I had to put down the camera to rescue my beloved phone from my soda (again) and so I will just have to explain what happened. I drink a lot of soda – that is a problem to address for another day – but I like to drink it out of  plastic cup – so yes, I am an idiot and a little bit of a redneck. Great combination right. Hubby is a lucky, lucky man.

So anysoda, when I move from the kitchen to my office I like to make just one trip. I usually put my blackberry over the top of my soda and very carefully carry it the 4 and a half feet to my office. And it has worked well almost every time. But if you own a hand held electronic device you probably know that it just takes once.

And yesterday was that once – or at least it was the first once. My phone dropped in my soda for the first time. We just all signed up for a new plan when we returned from India – so yep, it is my new phone – and, go ahead ask me if I got insurance. Why would I do that when I am so careful with my phone? I am a professional cell phone protector – I have given speeches on protecting phones from the dreaded wetness and I have trained small children in the ways of cell phone safety. I don’t need insurance – do I? argh. Maybe. But that did not stop me from n.o.t. getting the insurance plan – don’t have it.

But here is the good news. I went online and looked for suggestions on Blackberry Emergency Room procedures. Several people suggested soaking the phone in a bowl of uncooked rice (please be sure to use uncooked rice lest you need to write your own blog post) for several hours. I did that and it was certainly working better but not perfectly. My little Bear is a smart little Bear and around the corner he came with a Dust Off Can – you know that ridiculous can of air with a long thin straw that they sell you so that you can clean the keyboard on your computer? Well we blew the heck out of the phone and now it is working. Oh wait, it was working.

If you need to reach me over the next few hours, please email. My phone is soaking in rice again. 🙁  The good news for you is that I am retesting the rice theory  – I am nothing if not thorough – I will report back to you if it works (again).

Beijing – Olympic Park and Panda Bears………

While we were in Beijing, we wanted to see Olympic Park. This was an interesting thing to accomplish.

I don’t know if all tours are run like this in China or if we just got some bad tour mojo….. but …. yikes. Our travel agent planned an itinerary for our day and a half in Beijing. We asked to go to the Great Wall – the section that you walk up and luge down. That did not happen. We went to the wall and walked up but we also had to walk down. That was a big bummer!

He also coordinated visits for us to see the Summer Palace and Ming’s Tomb. I ask you – why would we go to stuffy ole Ming’s tomb when we could see where Michael Phelps made history? Duh? And why would we go to the Summer Palace when we could see the Panda bears. I mean, really. Honestly, if we would have had more time, we would have so gone to Ming’s Tomb and the Summer Palace but time was short and we were traveling with three younguns who love to swim – so priorities, right?

When we got on the tour mobile, we asked to make some changes to our original schedule. OOOOOOOppppps. Apparently that is not acceptable – well, it can be acceptable if you are willing to pay more. Huh? We wanted to change two sites for two other sites. In America, we call that a “no-brainer” – in China it is apparently called an “increase in fees”. Got it.

We were also told that we were going to be charged more money because we were not going shopping. You read that right – n.o.t. going shopping. Huh? We did not ask to go shopping. And, shopping was not on our original schedule. But, now we were going to pay to not shop. Hmmmmmm.

Oh, and our tour guide was happy to take us by an ATM machine so we could pay in cash. Yeah, how do you think that worked out for her?

So, very long, very frustrating story short – we made the changes and only had to pay extra for the zoo fees. Now, that makes more sense.  And hubby had sense enough to suggest insist that our travel agent in Delhi be billed by our guide’s travel agency directly in Beijing – no cash transactions, thank you very much. So nice of you to offer though. tee hee. (Now you know I did not just marry hubby for his good looks.)

We quickly put it all behind us and walked in awe through Olympic Park. It is a pretty cool place. Most of the signage in China is in, well, Chinese – so it was fun to see this sign that we could actually read.

The bird’s nest was huge and fabulous…

And then, of course, the water cube. Unfortunately it was not open – but we used our imagination. 😉 I could easily imagine Bear, Flower, and Angel diving off the same block that Michael Phelps used. Can’t you?

And the fun mascots…

And how can you go to Olympic Park and not take a picture of the rings? You can’t, right?

There were some pretty awesome statues throughout the park. And if you stand at angle with the sun in your eyes and lean to the left and lift one foot up, this guy absolutely resembles Michael Phelps.

Her, not so much…

Not too sure what this symbolizes – but it looked cool enough…

Maybe he was trying to envision the swimming statue as Michael Phelps, too? What? He could be. Or, maybe, it’s just hard to hold a sailboat with no arms.

The sign wasn’t much help either…

Sure, it’s nice information to know, but it didn’t so much help on the interpretation side of things.

Travel in China is different than what we have experienced in the rest of Asia. Truly, not many of the people we encountered spoke English. This lady and her sister were so kind to help hubby negotiate with a vendor for a better price on the stuffed mascots. If you plan to visit China, learn from our mistakes, you’ll want to know this about shopping with vendors in Beijing (and perhaps all of China). It is wise to have money in smaller denominations. Otherwise the vendors are likely to give you counterfeit bills as change. Wanna know how we know that? Go ahead. Take a guess.

We tried to buy her sister a set of mascots too but the only thanks she wanted was a picture with our family.

Next, we headed over to the zoo. Fun Fun. We have seen a panda or two at the zoo in Washington, DC, but the Beijing zoo has at least a dozen of them. And here was another sign we could read.

And these guys were fabuloso!


The pandas also had this wonderful playground.

But this guy was just too tired to play. So cute!

Anybear, we did have a wonderful afternoon and hope to go back some time and see more of the historical stuff.

What he said………..

It turns out I am in good company in the blogosphere. The U.S. Ambassador to India has a blog too – it’s called Roaming Roemer – yep his name is Timothy Roemer and he is certainly roaming all over India – to places that most of us would never know about or be able to find. He is rolling up his sleeves and getting his hands dirty – and sometimes getting them clean. Tim Roemer is advocating for better education, cleaner water, better opportunities for women and children, and so much more. Check out his blog and you can see the real work that is happening in India and how America is being allowed to participate in it. It’s interesting stuff for sure!

Guess who’s coming to dinner…………..

Sometimes it is so hard to put words to this Indian adventure. Yesterday was one of those days.

Flower’s birthday was last week and so, of course, she got chicken pox. We had to postpone the party and she was so sad because she had a really fun time planned for her friends. I joked that we had a whole week to make it better and make it unforgettable. Well, unforgettable it was. We hired a camel and an elephant and a guy to fill up 1,300 water balloons. Unforgettable indeed.

Just in case you are wondering – 1,300 water balloons last for about 2 and a half minutes in a full-on water balloon fight. But those knuckleheads didn’t miss a beat – they started a mud fight when the water balloons ran out. Yes, there are some parents who probably aren’t exactly happy, happy with me.


What made me smile the most was seeing our guard and our driver on the camel. Let’s just hope they don’t ask for hazardous duty pay.

Just another chapter in this crazy, crazy adventure.

Holi Colors Batman…………..

According to my family, the Indian holiday Holi is a chance to get dirty. It’s a free pass to make a big arse mess. It is the holiday of throwing colors and squirting everyone you see with a water gun without fear of consequences – yes, even your siblings (but not necessarily your mom  😉 ).

It is my understanding that when you throw colors on someone, it clears the air of any animosity that might have existed between you. Yes, that is all kinds of loverly!

Of course there is more to the story than simply permission to make a mess – According to Wikipedia, “In Vaishnava Theology, Hiranyakashipu is the king of demons, and he had been granted a boon by Brahma, which made it almost impossible for him to be killed. The boon was due to his long penance, after which he had demanded that he not be killed “during day or night; inside the home or outside, not on earth or on sky; neither by a man nor an animal; neither by astra nor by shastra“. Consequently, he grew arrogant, and attacked the Heavens and the Earth. He demanded that people stop worshipping gods and start praying to him.

Despite this, Hiranyakashipu’s own son, (Prahlada), was a devotee of Lord Vishnu. In spite of several threats from Hiranyakashipu, Prahlada continued offering prayers to Lord Vishnu. He was poisoned but the poison turned to nectar in his mouth. He was ordered to be trampled by elephants yet remained unharmed. He was put in a room with hungry, poisonous snakes and survived. All of Hiranyakashipu’s attempts to kill his son failed. Finally, he ordered young Prahlada to sit on a pyre on the lap of his sister, Holika, who could not die by fire by virtue of a shawl which would prevent fire affecting the person wearing it. Prahlada readily accepted his father’s orders, and prayed to Vishnu to keep him safe. When the fire started, everyone watched in amazement as the shawl flew from Holika, who then was burnt to death, while Prahlada survived unharmed, after the shawl moved to cover him. The burning of Holika is celebrated as Holi.

Radha and the Gopis celebrating Holi, with accompaniment of music instruments

Later Lord Vishnu came in the form of a Narasimha (who is half-man and half-lion) and killed Hiranyakashipu at dusk (which was neither day nor night), on the steps of the porch of his house (which was neither inside the house nor outside) by restraining him on his lap (which is neither in the sky nor on the earth) and mauling him with his claws (which are neither astra nor shastra).

In Vrindavan and Mathura, where Lord Krishna grew up, the festival is celebrated for 16 days (until Rangpanchmi in commemoration of the divine love of Radha for Krishna). Lord Krishna is believed to have popularized the festival by playing pranks on the gopis here. Krishna is believed to have complained to his mother about the contrast between his dark skin complexion and Radha’s (Shakti or energy that drives the world) fair skin complexion. Krishna’s mother decided to apply colour to Radha’s face. The celebrations officially usher in spring, the celebrated season of love.

There is alternate story detailing the origin of Holi. This story is about Kamadeva, a god of love. Kama’s body was destroyed when he shot his weapon at Shiva in order to disrupt his meditation and help Parvati to marry Shiva. Shiva then opened his third eye, the gaze of which was so powerful that Kama’s body was reduced to ashes. For the sake of Kama’s wife Rati (passion), Shiva restored him, but only as a mental image, representing the true emotional and spiritual state of love rather than physical lust. The Holi bonfire is believed to be celebrated in commemoration of this event.

Holi is a festival of radiance (Teja) in the universe. During this festival, different waves of radiance traverse the universe, thereby creating various colours that nourish and complement the function of respective elements in the atmosphere.

It happens…………..

Yesterday was a very fun day – I hosted a luncheon and invited the people I just don’t get to see enough of over for lunch. I really miss having friends over and it was a nice trip down normal lane – well at least it was supposed to be.

I dumbed it way down and used my grandmother’s very best china Walmart plastic plates. Even the flowers were in exquisite crystal vases plastic cups. We had good old fashioned tacos and seven-layer dip and cornbread and all sorts of toppings. My poor cook was beside himself that we weren’t going to have any Indian food, so he threw in some delicious Indian appetizers. Apparently he has been holding out on me – I had no idea that breaded and fried broccoli was Indian food or in his repertoire. Yummy. Especially when dipped in Hidden Valley Ranch dressing – yep, I brought that from home. Along with the taco seasoning mix and the pecans for pecan pie.

Most expats have a running joke/understanding that nothing is simple here and sometimes (often) it is harder to accomplish things here than it is back home. Some of that might be a little bit of the “grass is greener” (or right now, the snow is whiter) but some of it is simply r.e.a.l.i.t.y. And the hardest part is that you just cannot anticipate where the stumbling blocks are going to be.

Bring on the luncheon. Most things went so smoothly that I should have known there would have been other problems. First of all, the people who work for me were fantastic. They worked their arses right off. Several people asked me who my caterer was – that was a huge compliment to them. Yeah for them and me! The second thing was the flowers. The flower walla opens early – I did not anticipate that and it was a welcome treat. Normally businesses do not open here until around 11am and with everyone coming at 12:30ish, I was worried we’d be cutting that close. Plus the flowers were so inexpensive, extremely fragrant, and absolutely fabulous. Bonus. Bonus.

But then, as I was riding home from school, our driver informed me that we were out of water. Completely out. Yes, that presents an interesting wrinkle when you have 25 people coming over for lunch and lots of wine. He had several theories as to what might have happened. Either there was a leak. Or our cook doesn’t like the guard and was setting him up for being fired because it was odd that of all the days this could happen yesterday would be the day. Or our guard didn’t like our cook and the reverse was happening.  Or the guard just forgot to fill the tank and it was simply an accident. I personally think Mr. Hatfield saw the tables being delivered, realized we were having a party which probably meant more noise, and so he snuck over the fence and turned the spicket on and drained the tank dry overnight. Or. Or. Or. There are more conspiracy theories about this than there are about the shooting of JFK.

Just a side note. Every night at 5pm and every morning at 5am the guard must turn on the water to fill the tank. We have a pretty large tank so for it to completely empty means that it was not filled several times. Or that there is a very big leak. Neither is a great scenario when you are hosting a lunch.

At any rate, my husband’s office was on it. A water tank was ordered to come at 11am.

I also rented tables and chairs so that everyone would have a place to sit down. That all went super smoothly this time too. Which was great because it did not go so smoothly this time. They delivered the tables the night before and came back to set them up at 10am. Smooth. Smooth. The tables were even level – not a given. The tables don’t look so great when they deliver them, but they do clean up nice.

However, there were clouds looming in the sky. Dark, heavy clouds.

One thing I have noticed here is that a lot of events are planned for outside and there is never any mention of a rain date. (In the U.S., there is almost always a rain date for an outside event.) But in India, unless it is monsoon season, it n.e.v.e.r. rains here. Unless I am hosting a party outside. 😉 Then rain it must.

As the guests start to arrive the clouds get darker. And then it starts to rain – sprinkle really – so we quickly move two tables inside and three tables under the carport.

And you guessed it, the water tanker had not arrived.

So, I have too much water outside where I very much did not want it and not any water inside where I very much do want it.

I had to announce to the guests that there was no water inside and that they could use the bathroom but please just throw the toilet paper in the trash can. And the toilets don’t work the same here as in the U.S.  My toilets back home can still function without running water – you just replace the water in the tank on the back and wallah. Here – not so much. I thought I was going to go all Tim the Toolman Taylor on everyone and show them just how this was not going to be a problem. Ha. I put water in the tank and it immediately drained out. Hmpf. But by the way, there were plenty of hand wipes for hand washing. Thank God Martha Stewart was not invited. Or Katie Couric. They would have been very unimpressed.

The water tanker it seemed was stuck in traffic. Now this is exactly what makes living here hard. There were about 4 different versions of why the water tanker was late. One – it was stuck in traffic. Two – it was actually not stuck in traffic but was not allowed to enter the neighborhood between 11am and 2pm. Three – no one actually remembered to order it so they made up the traffic story to cover up their mistake. Four – the driver was abducted by aliens. So when you don’t really know why something is not happening, it is very difficult to fix it. Short of renting a space ship to Mars, we just had to deal with the reality of no water. And my guests were so gracious – they just rolled with it and filled their glasses a little less full.

The sun ended up making a star studded appearance and we were able to actually eat outside. That was fantastic!

I was not able to get the mister in the picture to sign a waiver so plese do not use his picture. 😎 Yes he is a funny guy.

All in all it was a fantastic day. The food was yummy, the flowers were beautiful, and the company was divine. And the water tanker came just as everyone was leaving. Perfecto!

Ode to an Indian Urn……

If you read this yesterday, you know I found a fabulous window at a craft show recently. Well, the real prize was this….

The dealer told me it was a hamam – a friend of mine (Mrs. Expat) calls it a samovar.  (Samovar is a Russian word that means self brewer and in Russia these were used for tea. Apparently, there is quite a lively debate going on about whether this type of piece originated in Russia or Asia. I’ll leave that debate to the scholars who care about such things.) According to my guy, this was used in Kashmir. In the tube in the center, hot coals were placed and the outer ring held water. People would use this to wash their hands before eating.

Either way, I loved it and immediately thought of more practical uses for it. In the US, we have an island in the center of our kitchen and we host a lot of buffet-style dinners. I just know this is going to be marvelous at the end of the island with ice in the tube and lemonade (or sangria) in the outer ring. I cannot wait to use it.

Being the savvy shopper that I am, I asked my guy if it would be ok to use it that way. My big concern was more honestly whether or not the brass would change the taste of the liquid inside of it. My hubby’s concern was whether or not it would leak – probably because he knows well who gets to help clean up such leaks.

Here is where you have to be careful when shopping in India.

His answer was, “yes, of course. No problem.”

Uh – em. Not convinced, I asked him to demonstrate.

He got his people to get buckets of water and, with complete confidence, they poured water into the outer ring. And that water spilled out of absolutely every single crevice in the basin.

New answer – “we’ll fix it ma’am”. Good answer.

So they fixed it and brought it over and once again confidently filled it with water. It worked this time. Yahoo!

Swimming with the fishes (and sharks)…….

You might remember that we just got back from a vacation in Singapore and that I said there was so much to do. I think we did just about everything – except apparently the slingshot. Dang it – somehow I just did not know about that one. One of the first things we did was visit the aquarium.

In a weak parenting moment, I agreed with my husband that it would be a great experience for him, Bear, and Flower to swim with the sharks in the aquarium – Angel and I decided that they really should have someone taking pictures of their adventure to document it for the ages (safely from outside the tank) so we did not join in on this one…

Yes, that would be my family petting a shark. Thankfully it was a shark with smallish mouth.

And, not just sharks, but eels too. Goody.

Oh yeah and rays. The bubbles coming out of my sons regulator show that it surprised him just a tad to have this ray come swimming right by him.

And this is my daughter telling me to get used to holding my breath while she tries new adventures. Bear and Hubby have the same opinion.

Angel and I snorkeled. I probably have not told you how much I do not like fish. And, in particular,  how much I do not like big fish. And how much I do not like big fish swimming around me. Oh, and they gave us raw fish and shrimp to feed the very big fish so they would come even closer to us. That was simply brilliant. And they let us squeeze into put on these wet suits. Yes, I love my daughter very much and she had a great time.  Actually, it was fun – except for the whole very big fish thing – I did get to pet sting rays. Very cool!

Angel kept asking me why I was not putting my head underwater to see all the really big fish. I simply explained to her that I was having so much fun watching her that I did not need to see the fish. Wink. Wink.

The whole aquarium was really pretty cool. Seahorses always capture my attention.

And jellyfish – especially very cool jellyfish that change colors with the light – especially very cool jellyfish that are locked away in a tank and cannot possibly sting you.

This guy was unusual.

And talk about crabby. Did they really need to combine a spider and a crab? He was pretty dang big too.

There was also a seal show. What’s not to love about a seal show? It was fab.

We are big fans of turtles of all shapes and sizes.

So, don’t miss the aquarium if you venture out to Singapore!