Friday, January 1, 2010

Learning by error - basically, Experience!

Here it is - 2010! Ten years have passed in the blink of an eye as the expression goes. Of course, one hopes that with the passing years our minds will gather in more useful knowledge, we will become more tolerant of irritating situations and be at peace with ourselves.

For the most part, yes that has happened to me. My life changed drastically upon our retirement and relocation to Guanaja and we’ve become really more tolerant of life’s little and big irritations. I am continuing to learn and grow, even at my age, but sometimes it is very aggravating - that’s when tolerance comes into play to put one at peace!

Take for instance the preparations I made for our “After Christmas But Not Quite New Year’s Party” on December 29th. I asked about 25 people to come to our house for a get together, mainly to greet part-timers that have returned to the island or people that had come back for visits after long absences! I planned on serving appetizers, soup, homemade bread and chocolate chip cookies. Not a challenging menu, but one that would be easy to work with to serve a large crowd.

I started the day before by preparing the soup. That went well and I was pleased. I then, while cooking the soup, started the French Bread and that, too was going well; I was pleased. I progressed on to chocolate chip cookies and everything was running like clockwork and I was pleased.

Well, the proverbial sh__t hit the fan when just before putting the bread in the oven, I remembered I forgot to put the salt in the dough! I’ve done this before and contrary to what I said at the beginning, I should have learned from past experience and to add the forgotten ingredient that was now HIGHLIGHTED on my recipe card! But, no, I guess because I was doing 3 things at a time and in a hurry, I forgot! Well, I decided I would use the bread as a base for my appetizer and proceeded to place the bread in the oven. I recently purchased a new French Bread pan specifically for the baking of French Bread (2 loaves). Since it is shaped like a curved “W”, it is a little difficult to handle when putting it in the oven.

You guessed it, while sliding it into the oven, it tipped and both loaves fell onto the oven door; well, one fell into the crack between the door and the oven. A few choice words (not printable) slipped out of my mouth as I screamed in frustration. I managed to salvage one loaf, but the other was in such a state that I decided it would be worthless to bake it! I then proceeded to start the whole process over again and make two new loaves. All went well except, for some reason (and yes, I put the yeast in), the bread did not rise as well on the second rising! The final loaves were passable so I at least had bread!

Of course, years ago, I learned a lesson. When I put bread dough into a shaped container so as to have attractive shaped bread to use for appetizers, I got too much dough into the pan and this was the result. I never did that again! The second loaf turned out fine!

Next, after the bread was done, I started putting the cookies on the baking sheet. I had two sheets ready to go into the oven and, in fact, on the racks when I said to myself in my most intelligent way “Hmm, these racks are too close together so I shall move one up a notch.” Not difficult you say, well, normally no. But if you have decided to leave the cookies on the rack while pulling it out and while replacing the rack the angle has a little downward slant to it - you guessed it, cookie sheet tipped sending 4 cookies to the floor and the others sliding into one another. So, I rearranged the remaining cookies, cleaned up the 4 from the floor, threw them away, and continued baking the cookies!

Of course, lessons were still to be learned when later that evening, after completing all my tasks for the next day’s gathering, I made myself a refreshing alcoholic drink! I put it in a shaker, shook and then went to pour it into my glass. Well, the pressure had built up in the shaker causing the liquid to burst forth in an arch and, yes, you guessed it, 1/4th of the drink splashed onto the counter! Grrrrrr. This learning by one’s mistakes had reached their limit.

Thankfully, the party the next day went well. Except for the weather. Up to now we had been having unusual weather for December: no breeze, calm seas, sunshine and no rain! Aha! The day of the party, clouds rolled in, the wind picked up and it rained! Most of the guests showed up and were a little damp from the ride in the rough seas; a few guests did not show because they either forgot about the party (hmm, maybe age related) or were tired from previous partying (guess they were showing their age too) and could not attend. Still, we had a fine group and everyone had a fine time.

Now that the New Year has dawned, I had hoped that this irritation business would abate, albeit for a short interval. Aha! It was not to be.

While in the States this past November, I purchased two sets of sheets for a Queen Sized bed. Our friend, Joe, who put me up at his house had some wonderful sheets on his bed in his guest room, offered to take me to the local store to buy a couple of sets. I bought one set of gold and one set of cream colored sheets, Queen Size.

The first set fit beautifully and, as a matter of fact, the bottom sheet was a little too oversized but very nice. Today I put on the second set of sheets! Do you know what is coming next? Hmmm, the bottom sheet was not fitting quite right and by the time I made it to the last corner it appeared that it would be a battle to the death. Since the bed is an inanimate object, I felt it would be my demise! I struggled and struggled and finally got part of the corner on. There was still a gathering of material that would not go over the corner, so I turned the whole darn mattress so that it was at the foot end. I know, I know, why turn the whole mattress by oneself when it would have been less strenuous to take the sheet off and put it on again? Why? Because it was such a battle to get the darn thing on and once I had it on I was not removing it! After a struggle, I finally got the mattress turned and decided that those people in India who sewed this sheet had made an undersized queen size fitted sheet. I put on the top sheet and discovered that in the queen size package with the undersized fitted sheet they had put a regular bed sized top sheet! At least the pillow cases fit!

Being that I am in Honduras and the purchase was made in the U.S. of A., I am stuck! Guess I’ll have to give the sheets to my good friend as I’m not up to struggling with this again.

So, I may not have learned anything from my mistake this first day of the New Year because, in reality, there is absolutely nothing I can do to rectify it. I did learn that I must take all of these little irritations with a smile and that is why I’m blogging - to make light of the whole matter and, therefore, put a laugh into the situation.

Gee, what can I tackle next and learn from experience?


  1. I can just see your face during each of these fiascos! And I know exactly what words "slipped" out of your mouth! Hee hee!!! I rolled off my chair laughing when I visualized you pouring yourself a drink to relax just a little and it explodes. Hardy har har!!! Remember, I am NOT laughing at you, I'm laughing WITH you.

  2. After 7 years in La Ceiba (part time) I've learned, over and over again!, that whenever you decide on a Plan A, you had better be able to accept Plans B,C,D, etc. Otherwise you'll drive yourself crazy! And, yes, I'm laughing with you as well!