Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Sewer Pit of Despair

In keeping with my new Food-centric Way of Life, my Garden plans have expanded from "do nothing" to "plant vegetables". Of course, either plan is likely to have the same outcome, as my gardening abilities rank right up there with President Bush's ability to manage this country.

Hope Springs Eternal, and maybe a seed or two will do likewise.
But before I get to start in on committing Planticide, it's high time I addressed the Fallout from last year's Side Sewer Adventure.

When we left off our Exciting Tale, our heroine had successfully returned to the land of a working sewer line, when the unfortunate discovery was made that the neighbor's sewer line was leaking, and water (?) was accumulating in the lowest elevation Sewer Pit.

After some consulting between the sewer contractor and the inspector, they determined that there was really nothing they could do if the neighbor didn't want to fix the line.

Flash forward several months, and the Sewer Pit sank several inches to become an unsighly blight on my front median. I dithered about what to do. I festered with annoyance at the neighbor. I finally called Seattle DPD.

The friendly person in the 'sewers' section first wanted to transfer me to the rat-on-my-neighbor hotline.

"Let's assume for a minute that I don't want to report my 90 year old neighbor with a broken hip," I said. "What else can I do?"

I could practically see Mr. DPD Employee scratch his head. "Well," he said, "4 inches really isn't all that much."

Let's pause to let that one sink in.

"It's probably just loose dirt getting washed away, so it should be fine if you fill it in and plant grass."

I assume he means the lawn type.

So that's my little project. Topsoil, grass seed, and a little fertilizer later, I'm ready to watch the grass grow.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

When will we return to our regularly scheduled programming?

What happened to the Bathroom Momentum? I hear you ask. No doubt you realize that Ballardia progress, once fast & furious actually progressing, has Stopped.

Well, for starters, I do have a Day Job, with business trips seemingly calculated to cause the maximum amount of chaos, and for that I thank you, American Airlines, for leaving me Stranded at LAX overnight without luggage because you sent it off to Terminal 3 rather than putting it in Bag Claim where the rep said it would be, and after my complaints that an Airline employee should retrieve said bag and deliver it to my hotel, your supervisor could only offer me a complementary Men-centric toiletry kit containing Men-scented deodorant, shave cream, razor, toothbrush & paste, and a comb only suitable for short, straight man-hair. Rant to American - how about putting something useful in there, like a Tampon?

End rant. Back to project.

Now that I've finished the tub enclosure and am able to indulge in Cleanliness in the privacy of my own home with my Woman-centric personal toiletries (and tampons), the Urgency of the tile job has faded.

And in my copious free time, in which I normally spend fixing Ballardia, I now have a new hobby. Feeding myself.

Having had a plethora of rather odd symptoms for ages, which I won't outline here in graphic detail (sharing 'tampons' was quite enough information for one blog entry), I finally decided to Do Something. And "Something" started with doctor visits with rather unhelpful advice of taking More Drugs.

I don't like taking meds for the simple reason that I want my liver to focus on more important things, such as processing my alcohol consumption. So I was left searching for Another Answer, which came in the form of food allergy testing.

The food allergy testing required a simple blood test, plus another 3 day Unspeakable Test conducted in the Privacy of my Bathroom Project, which I will also not outline in graphic detail. After waiting 3 weeks, the results came In.

May I have a drumroll, please.

The results showed that I am allergic to probably 50% of my caloric intake - all dairy, eggs, wheat, and sugar cane. Oh, and lest I think I could substitute in something else for these products - I'm allergic to soybeans, almonds, and bananas too. I don't consume these things anyway, but they would be handy Alternatives to things I ate in my Diet of Yore.

The simple act of going to the grocery store turned into an Adventure filled with Drama and Intrigue as I read the labels of Everything, hoping to find some miracle food that I could both eat, and would actually want to.

After a week or so of futile searching, I turned to Cooking, thinking perhaps I could make myself something that adheres to my new restrictions. I checked out stacks - STACKS - of library books on wheat free, dairy free, egg free, taste free cooking. Rather than try Risky Subtitution, I used recipes which conformed exactly to my requirements. I chose the recipes which specified 1/2 cup rice flour & 1/4 cup Tapioca starch & 1 tsp Xanthan gum, not simply "1 cup gluten-free flour". And I followed the recipes Exactly.

And this was the result. Imploded muffins with a dense, gelatinous mass at the bottom of the muffin cup. Brownies which Martin called Chocolate Brownie-like food product. Cornbread that went straight from the skillet to the garbage.

I always thought I was a reasonably good cook. I can bake, broil, grill, saute, sear, steam, pan-fry, poach, etc., really I can. Martin is the envy of all most some of his friends. But cooking without eggs, dairy or wheat? This appears to be as much of a stretch as getting American Airlines to keep their emergency repairs from interrupting my Travel Plans.

So when will the bathroom tiling resume?

After I've successfully made edible baked goods. Or when American retires their aging MD80s, whichever comes first.