Moments to Myself

Maintain heat, keep an eye on the food.

“Dad can you help me?”

A text from someone.

Back to the food, while one dish cooks, prep another.

“Dad…”

Two days of cooking, one long trip to bring someone replacement pants, and I finally have some time to myself. I know that sounds bad, as in, I have not had any time to myself…boo hoo. Nothing like that, more along the lines of feeling like I have been doing so much other stuff that I have not taken time to myself. Thus, no boo hoo, more of a whew, cooking and mowing the lawn have kicked the crap out of the still working off a winter of nothing me.

Bentoing is in full swing. Our refrigerator is packed full of goodies. I am not exaggerating either. Each time I make something else I have to spend five minutes arranging everything to make room. There are four types of chicken, three types of cauliflower, two types of carrots, a ton of rice and cold noodles, tamago, and at least a dozen other dishes in there waiting for hungry people or me to pack a bento for Barb. Once I find some place in the fridge 7.5 pounds of pork shoulder is getting turned into pickled pork for red beans and rice, pork for asian dishes, and pulled pork because pulled pork is yummy.

All of the cooking is tiring. And hot. I hope I have sweated off 10 pounds. I have not, but the summer is young. Between rounds of cooking, what is a round of cooking you ask? When I dirty up all of the cooking utensils the cleaning crew, kids, come in and clean up. While they clean, I figure out what is next, then back to the kitchen. They are tired of cleaning dishes. I told them they get a break…I lied, in a bit I will be making sauces. 🙂

Around the cooking, is cleaning, mostly mowing. With almost 2 acres the lawn must get mowed…when the lawn has been watered via rain and is not mostly brown or completely weed grown. This time, much to my chagrin, weed grown. I have a mowed almost 2 acres, took three days, and most of it is brown. I am not a lawn person, in fact if the weeds didn’t look so weedy I would let the lawn grow for the whole season in the hope that next year there really was green grass. Alas, mostly weeds until rain arrives in force. Scattered rain for three days is not what our lawn needs. Just the humidity.

Here I am after two days, sore, tired, happy belly, awesome smelling house, a fridge full of food, and I have not done much for myself. What is stuff for me? Writing, painting, and reading. Oh I forgot, a few smaller projects, such as the list of games I would like to sell or trade which I keep meaning to do…but…you read the last few days. Once I get that out of the way, back to working on Puddles and Whiskers and painting some miniatures for the new version of Warhammer 40k.

 

Home To Chaos

We made a conscious decision to stay at home or at least as close to home as we can stay today and probably tomorrow as well. Typically, when Barb has a day or two off we go out so she can see the world beyond her counter. However, we have over the last few weeks seen a lot of the world beyond her counter and the world at home has suffered. Thus, we aim to correct, meaning clean and organize, the home so that the next time we go out to see the world beyond her counter we do not have to come home to chaos.

Two comic cons has seen an influx of posters. Sad thing was we went to both saying, “Not a lot of posters.” Not because we are lacking wall space, but because posters mean having to purchase poster frames and that means measuring posters and trust me when I say no poster ever fits the available frames. I bet if we could take all of the extra spaces around the posters on our walls we could put many of the new posters into frames.  Alas, we cannot, thus measure, go to the store, and hope to find enough frames and enough frames that are close enough.

The cons also saw a much desired and needed increase in reading material. Before we left, I cleaned and organized all of the bookshelves. I know I should have waited until we got back. In my defense, we rarely found books, let alone a lot of books, at previous cons. Which is probably why we found tons. Between the comic books, graphic novels, novels, and oversized books I am or was in the process of attempting to keep on row of books from falling off a shelf with one hand while trying to simultaneously create a space and insert new books into place. Yes, my books are organized.

Games. Why did we purchase games at comic cons when we have games and brought games with us to con? Part of me thinks that we like to carry large, awkward, and heavier than when we arrived bags. The other part of me says, some games were unique, some games were games we were on the fences about and with the sale price were worth trying, and others, the smallest amount, were just so cool looking that we had to get them.

Around here games are kind of organized. There is the cabinet, bookcase, and stacked cubes of must play and are playing games. There is the bookshelves and closest of we played it and may play it again. Lastly there is the never again box and shelf, currently occupied by Robotech RPG Tactics and Oregon Trail. I know Oregon Trail will come out of the box, because we are mad it at for the last game, and we tend to forgive our games. The other one…there forever.

And keep in mind the above is just the stuff from cons that we are cleaning up. There is still laundry, mowing, writing, painting, dishes, and cooking to go.

Frustration

Being a writer and person who takes care of just about everything around the house with a bum arm (getting better each day) is frustrating. I’m not that person to sit and do nothing. On a typical day before noon I have cleaned the house, done the dishes, run to the store, painted a miniature or two, and written a blog post. For the past week I have slept in late, watched a lot of TV (there isn’t much good on Netflix, Amazon, or any other form of electronic media), and tried to find a comfortable way to sit.

Watching the house get dirtier and more disorganized by the day frustrates me. Barb and the kids are doing what they can, but they don’t have the time to take care of the day to day stuff like I do. A good sweep, a good mop, a good vacuum, a good dusting, and a good dose of tidying up, nothing major but enough that I am bothered by it.

Not being able to buckle a seat belt or drive is also frustrating, thankfully this week everything is working out so a friend can pick up the kids from school. The ache and pain, constantly trying to find a comfortable position is also frustrating, I don’t enjoy sitting around for long periods of time. I can read, but only if the book is on table, because holding a book while my arm is in a sling is…yep, you guessed it frustrating.

I cannot cook. I could cook if someone else did all of the prep. Due to schedules that hasn’t worked out well. I also cut myself trying to cut a steak into slices for a sandwich. I stopped counting how many times I dropped the fork each time I made a cut.

Most frustrating of all is the writing. I can somewhat write in a notebook provided the notebook lays flat, I can find a way to prop my bum arm up without undo stress, and the background ache doesn’t, which is almost always does, force the writing out of my head.

I’d love to be able to sit down for a lengthy period of time to bang out more Puddles and Whiskers and Menagerie. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to. The ideas are there. The voices are there. The other arm required for fast typing is not. To give you a scale, each paragraph of this is followed by 5 to 10 minutes of rest and massage.

Hardly a way to create a flow of writing. Like I said things seem to be improving in small steps. I would prefer larger steps and a lot less frustration.

 

It All Started With A Spice Rack

Eighteen inches must mean something different to the people at Amazon than it does to me. Like most things in life, the best intentions are paved to hell with a mislabeled spice rack. Today was one of the days this week where I had five hours to myself to write.

spice-rackThen my long absent spice rack arrived and the day went anywhere but writing. I did manage to print out one of the three things I wanted to work on. So here I am looking at the bits and pieces of a spice rack that even I, a dimensionally and spacially challenged person can tell is not eighteen inches long. But the box says eighteen inches all over it. Did I get the lucky box filled with all of the extra parts on the factory floor?

Looking over the box and the well illustrated instructions on the back, I did not get the lucky box. Searching and reading some more, there it is in tiny print…tiny print compared to the eighteen inches, seventy-two inches. Next thought, is my door long or tall enough? Crap! I don’t know. I can’t tell by looking. One of them does look bigger than the other…girth I always heard it was about girth and here is this length problem and I…

A tape measure, several minutes of construction later, I am moving all of the spices for a fourth time since we moved here. Moving the spices created a empty shelf or two, so I should fill them with kitchen equipment. Well, that looks nice, I should see what else I can fix or organize.

Five minutes before I had to leave to get the kids, one knuckle scrape, and two paper cuts later and I have cleaned the floors, the kitchen, and rearranged the office. Most interesting find, two boxes of nothing but things with a cord or cords themselves. Cords to old video game systems, cords that end in multi-plugs, cords to things I have no clue, but two boxes worth. Who in the hell keeps these things, packs these things for a move? Me.

And then I wound them up and packed them up again in one box. What happens if one day years from now I find the thing that needs a cord and I threw it away? That’s right, I would have a device with no cord and I cannot take a chance on that…well I can, but I was so in the zone of cleaning and organizing that I did it without realizing it until I went to put the top on the box and had to organize the box of cords.

I know sad. I know, I could have been writing. I know… However, I have a well organized and clean office and house to work and play in…tomorrow. 🙂

Oh yeah, where was the eighteen inches? Turns out width or…girth. 🙂

Musing About Grilling & Life

So where are we?

Well we are here of course.

From the stand point of where are we, as in me and mine…that is another story…

The good and bad news continue to roll in like the tide. Nothing world ending, that we are aware of, but just enough to make for some bumpy surf and set back most of our remaining summer plans. What are you going to do?  We, we try to ride out the bumps and while we ride we do our best to enjoy what we have.

To that end, last night I have three chicken breasts that need to be cooked. However, I was not feeling like cooking after another day of unpacking and screwing around organizing. Going out to eat, an option, but only as a last resort. Given that there was chicken in front of me, not near last option. What to do?

We are enjoying grilling. I am getting pretty good at making cooking fires. Turns out there is a big difference between a fire for cooking and fire for smores. Once I cook the chicken then what? Kids say make chicken sandwiches, great idea except the children have yet to eat a grilled, read non-fried, chicken on anything. Barb has been jonesing for Moo Goo Gai Pan, but that would mean making a mess in the kitchen late a night.

Have I mentioned there is no dishwasher? Not a big deal, except we had one for the last five years, thus the non-dishwashing crowd (everyone other than me) does not see the big deal about making a lot of dishes. I do. While I do not mind washing dishes by hand, another good sideways thinking time for me, I do not have any desire to wash dishes late at night. What to do, what to do?

Grilling the chicken got my mouth watering and the cook inside me fired up (ha). While the chicken cooked it occurred to me that I would only have to prep vegetables for any wokable dish. That right there cut down the number of dishes to something very manageable. Between checking the chicken, Barb and I prepped broccoli, mushrooms, garlic, snow peas, and made the Moo Goo sauce. I have not had an easier or quicker time cooking in a long time. By the time the chicken was finished, I had the wok heated up and ready to go. Five minutes later, dinner.

Living here has been a learning experience, from figuring out how to cool the place off, to how the rain falls into the windows, arranging for garbage pick up (not something we thought about until here), to how to arrange a kitchen for cooking. I have an awesome kitchen set up compared to the last place; still I have to organize everything for ease of use. I only mention this because, it is raining here and the kids, who I asked to let me know if what raining inside, said to me, “we didn’t feel it.” I’m going to guess they were waiting for the puddle to reach them. Ugh.

Finally, to end this rather rambling post, as we get this place organized the table and floor which was home to Rivet Wars for a few days, will be cleaned off of laundry and NAPLEX books for gaming once again. HOORAY!

 

Another Day Of Being Patient

Another day of being patient with the process. While being patient I cleaned out one room from top to bottom. Might as well get some work done while being patient. Are you aware of how much stuff accumulates underneath a kid’s bed? I thought I was, until I lifted up the bed. I am positive that underneath each child’s bed is an extra-dimensional space specifically designed to hold toys. Lots of toys. Way more toys than should fit in the space available.

Even better than a Doctor Who like predicament, there were toys under the bed that based on sheer size alone should have caused some very uncomfortable nights sleep or had the potential to flip the bed over if nothing heavy, such as a child or a whole shit ton of other toys were not on top. It is a miracle that the bed did not slam into the ceiling from the stuff underneath or collapse from the shit on top of it.

Simply, amazing.

Floors cleaned, which I do believe is a first in a year or more. Try as we might we have never been able to get either child to pick up everything. Something always lingers and then is joined by something else and before you know it a toy party and parental foot trap has filled the floor. Any way, floors cleaned I took a look at the walls…

…one there was a lot of dirt on the walls and one mysterious stain on the ceiling. The wall dirt, easy enough. The mysterious stain, no clue until the children came into the room to reminisce about all of the fun they had over the last five years. And to tell me about the stain I was staring at, seems that a juicy drop (the really sour candy that has a liquid and solid component) container if squeezed hard enough, will hit the ceiling leaving a very mysterious stain.

Then I noticed the glow-in-the-dark stars. There is a lot of stuff I am willing to leave behind, but anything glow-in-the dark is getting moved one way or another. So out comes the step-ladder. Why the step-ladder, because I am not that tall and I had flipped up the beds. Standing there scraping glow-in-the-dark stars and the sticky shit that held them in place for five years off of the ceiling.

But the gist of the story, is that after a few hours of work one room is completely clean. I may be able to get one or two rooms completely clean before move out. But I’m not counting on it. I will have rooms filled with boxes and bags ready to go.

Now if this move will only happen soon.

And PLOP Went The Sauce

Sometimes my version of comfort food is nothing I want to share with other people. Today was one of those days. Its not that the food is bad tasting. It just looks bad and is crap food. I don’t like sharing crap food with other people, yet there are times, such as today when crap comfort food is needed.

Waking up with a sinus headache will do that. Especially when the sun has been out all day without a cloud in sight. Come on sinuses, only cause me pain when there is rain! Alas, no rain, but there has been pain. Sinus headaches keep me at a low threshold for bullshit and motivation to work, but I planned to do one of those things.

Not feeling “it,” I hopped onto the google doc Big Man and I are working on. If I can’t write at home because my writing space is a box labeled Bento Stuff, perhaps I can write online. Kinda. I’m not used to google doc. Sure it looks like Word and yet it does not at the same time and sure as hell doesn’t behave like Word. So, a lot of my time was spent fumbling through the various controls looking for simple shit like how to change text color. Word has it right, a button.

Still not feeling “it,” but feeling better, I moved onto cleaning. The problem with cleaning while packing and not packing is there is a lot of stuff all over the place. Most of this stuff should be packed away, but for whatever reason has not. Probably because I stopped packing. The result is a huge mess that would not be a mess if I hadn’t started packing in the first place. I want this kitchen back. I’m tired of sub-standard dishes coming out of it. However, because we are “moving” I have not gone grocery shopping: move tip #335 try to wind down your food supply before any move, moving food is a pain in the ass, rarely travels well and is often the first thing to be forgotten about until you open up “that” box. Thus, our kitchen supplies are low, which only reinforces the sub-standard fare and my desire to clean up the kitchen to make some non-sub-standard fare.

Except, it took forever to clean up and all us got hungry. I didn’t want a sandwich I wanted comfort food. Comfort food for me is usually something hot. What could I make that I could heat up, not another bowl of hellbroth ramen…I found chicken strips. Better than nothing.

While the chicken fried, I worked on a spicy hot sauce, I did not measure because when making this kind of sauce for myself, I don’t and it would become an issue…

Into a small sauce pot:

Ketchup, about 1/3 cup

Cider Vinegar, 1 capful

Honey, 1 long squirt (yes that is a measurement around here and the amount depends upon your hand strength)

Brown Sugar, around 1 1/2 tablespoons

Dijon Mustard, 1 quick squeeze

Gochujang #3, 1 giant heaping spoonful, estimate 2 tablespoons worth

Cook and stir. Taste…something is off, not enough sweet to balance the vinegar and heat. Grab the brown sugar with every intention of pouring a small amount in, when a glacier sized chunk broke off from the bag and PLOP into the sauce. I am going to estimate around 1/2 a cup. I could have thrown out the sauce, but that is waste and I do not like to do that. Cook it up and…

a great desert BBQ sauce or for people who like thick sweet sauces. No trace of heat. Was it good, yes. Was it comfort food? It looked like a bowl of chicken chunks in blood, so yes from a visual standpoint, but from that HEAT aspect, not in the least…oh well…