Creative Problem Solving

DinnerThis blog will seem more casual and certainly not serious. I feel like I’m a 12 year old telling someone what I just accomplished. It is at the urging of a friend who said, “Those who have been following you will want to know what you’ve done,” that convinced me to write this.

Our current life is about problem solving, some solutions working out better than others. Some ideas work well, others not so much. But, bit-by-bit we’ve borrowed or created ideas that make life a bit simpler. I think often about the years of coaching OM (Odyssey of the Mind). A friend and I coached our children and others from our local elementary several years in this awesome, creative, problem-solving competition. OM includes spontaneous (name as many things as you can that are red and round) as well as long-term (multiple months) problems, and over time the students became amazingly adept at problem solving. Adults could not help so the students, not the adults, would develop their skills.

Alan has been a bit like the OM coaches in encouraging me to do whatever I possibly could. What I can’t do (yet), he graciously does. Things that have remained pretty much in his domain are hot stove and oven tasks. The danger risks are too great for me in my wheelchair. Anything cooking on the stove is above what I can see. Moving in a wheelchair involves two hands at all times or the only place one goes is in circles. There is no way I would put a hot pan on my lap. Well, this week I made the entire dinner which involved two very hot stovetop dishes. Shrimp scampi, angel hair pasta, green beans, and fresh fruit. Not one ounce of help. 😉

After seeing a unique dresser/desk configuration in a friend’s condo, I noticed that our counter stovetop had a drawer face just below the stovetop. I was convinced there was dead space behind it so when our remodel wizard was here one day, he checked it out, verified that the drawer face could be removed, found some long, smooth sliding supports, built a shelf, and installed a hidden 22”x25” shelf which is at a convenient height for me in my chair. I can work on it once it’s pulled out from any of three sides. Our kitchen is galley style and not large. I discovered some and predicted other things; therefore, concluding this meal could work.

  • If I put a heat trivet on the pull out workspace, I can lift a small or medium size pan off the burner and onto the trivet to check on cooking progress.
  • Salted water can be brought to a boil, (check once sauce pan is on the pull out shelf, trivet), broken pasta can be added, lid can be replaced, and it will continue to cook on the burner which has been turned off.
  • Marinated shrimp will cook quickly, and I just needed to add a couple ingredients to complete necessary flavoring. Again, I could move the hot, sauté pan to the trivet to monitor cooking.
  • By having the shelf pulled out all the way, I could position my wheelchair sideways between that shelf and our sink. After positioning a stable colander in the sink, I could reach the saucepan (water no longer boiling) from the shelf and empty it into the colander in one fluid movement, where it could drain. No need to rest pan or colander on my lap.

Lightweight, microwave dishes with handles and vents have long made microwave cooking safe for me. Fruit, well, that is more delicious eaten fresh. Not only was the cooking of the meal successful, it tasted delicious. This might not seem earth shaking but it sure brought a smile to my face. Enjoy the fun and whimsical things in life. Watch for your blessings.

Shalom, Collene

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9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Shirley Kleinfelter
    Apr 15, 2016 @ 16:01:09

    Thank you for you update Collene, it has been a while. The meal sounds delicious. Your progress is amazing but most of all your attitutude is astounding. God is watching you and smiling the whole time. Love, Shirley K.

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  2. kophoff
    Apr 15, 2016 @ 21:57:42

    After that captivating first paragraph I was ready for something silly or at least lightweight, and this is so NOT! I think this is just fantastic, Collene. You are such a hero. Are you back in Holland now?

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  3. Lori Yaw
    Apr 15, 2016 @ 22:02:20

    SO glad to hear from you and your friend is right, we do love to know how well you are doing!! You are often in my thoughts and prayers! Life in any methodology is a series of goals and movement and course corrections. None of us go on a straight line to our next goal! Bless you!

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  4. Elly
    Apr 16, 2016 @ 10:38:55

    You not only made a delicious meal, you created a moving picture of the process. Can you post a photograph? Brava!

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  5. Flora
    Apr 16, 2016 @ 11:43:06

    Collene – your meal sounds delicious! So happy at what you have accomplished. You are truly a strong and wonderful woman! I continue to pray for you daily!

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  6. eleanor murray
    Apr 16, 2016 @ 13:54:07

    hurrah for you. Always new you were special, Love Ellie

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  7. Kathy
    Apr 16, 2016 @ 15:39:13

    Hooray for you, Collene! I completely love these comments! You are a STAR!

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  8. Donna seney
    Apr 17, 2016 @ 14:14:47

    You made a better dinner than I did the last couple weeks. What is you next problem?? Sounds a bit like Mission Impossible.

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  9. Teresa
    Apr 17, 2016 @ 20:08:18

    Wonderful! Both the meal & problem solving, When I was working in rehab for Stroke and SCI we had a mirror mounted above the stove at an angle so that pots could be watched and heat adjusted without having to touch them. We also had some pots that were insulated on the sides and handles so the only part that really was hot was the bottom and of course the inside once you lifted the lid, however they were also vented so you could release steam away from yourself. You are truly an inspiration! Thanks for sharing this.

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