Home, to You

We chose our first dance song because we loved how it represented us.

The first verse was Jeff. The fourth verse was me. Everything in the middle, was us.

The song was a reflection of our daily mutual amazement that we found each other. It was true every day, especially for me.

When we were dating, Jeff was the light at the end of my week.

When we commuted together, Jeff was the light at the end of my workday.

When he was on disability, Jeff was the light at the end of my commute. He was my home, in every sense.

I’ll be honest with you. Every evening, driving (or being driven) home from Ann Arbor to Adrian, the same thought would cross my mind. I terrified myself wondering; will today be the day that I get home and find him dead?

I would pull into the driveway frightened. I would walk into our home frightened, only to be soothed by Jeff’s voice ringing out or reassured by sonic-size snoring.

Coming home, though, meant more to me than that. Spending evenings with Jeff were what I lived for. We didn’t do that much exciting stuff, anymore, but we never lacked for conversation.

We’d talk about the news, recipes, sports, tv shows. We’d talk about the store, about the book or magazine Jeff was reading, my job or some random fascinating fact that he had just discovered.

Jeff loved the ‘who-done-it’s. Shows like Dr G Medical Examiner, the First 48 and 24. He was loyal to mystery books and tv series, such as Stephen King and House. He loved some reality and ‘reveal’ shows. American Idol, Extreme Makeover, This Old House; but had no taste for Big Brother or The Bachelor. Oh, and cooking shows!

There wasn’t a cooking show Jeff hadn’t seen at least once. Iron Chef, Alton Brown, Paula Deen, and reruns of Two Fat Ladies were a few favorites. Almost fitting into the foodie category, competitive eating and shows about farming, ranked up there, too.

It was impossible not to learn something new every day. It also wasn’t premeditated, meaning that he didn’t set out to find an interesting topic to share. All topics were interesting.

It was fun to listen to Jeff while he was on the phone with my brother, Greg. Their conversation always seemed to turn into a fact-fest in a “one thing leads to another” way, which they both enjoyed. It was also amusing that Jeff could out-talk my brother, as Greg would initiate the conversation’s end with, “Ok, well, it was nice talking to you… I’m gonna go now.”

Jeff was my home and my haven, my teacher and my mentor, my everything for such a short while. For a bit, I’d been envious of those who had him for longer; the ones with longer lists of memories than I.

I’ve come to understand time in a different way, though. It isn’t the amount of time we have, or the memories we have to hold on to.  It isn’t about how many. It’s about the important ones; it’s about the memories that hold on to us.

Quote for the Week: 2019 03 12 It isn’t the amount of time we have jakorte

Listen to:  Home To You

 

 

 

Snow Food

It hasn’t really snowed yet. At least not according to my adaptive measuring Michigan-ness. That would have to be at least 5 inches. We’ve had a few flaky days; an early artistic dusting of trees. Trust me, I’m fine with this. Never cared for snow.

Jeff loved it. “Oh, good!” He’d exclaim. “Cook and cuddle!”

Jeff did the cooking. I was occasionally asked to participate in pre-preparation. I did the most cuddling. Either with a cat or a dog, but always with a book.

Winter Food. Recipes that only warranted their worth in work in weather cold enough. A not-really-needed excuse to fill the house with warm scents and the extra added nostalgic heated residue of a warm open oven.

Chicken Noodle Soup without the noodles, but with finely diced onion, carrot and celery. Jeff was absolutely tickled when he discovered there was a name for that. Mirepoix became a staple shout in our house.

“I’mma making zee mere pawx,” he’d call-out, purposefully mispronouncing in a horribly ridiculous, entirely undefinable accent. He made his own egg noodles, once or twice. Decided it wasn’t worth it. Dumplings and kniffles worked just as well.

Meatloaf and mashed. That’s where I learned that adding cream cheese or sour cream and/or whole cream to the mash made them silky smooth, creamy. There were no lumps in Jeff’s potatoes, unless he wanted them to be there. If he wanted them to be there, it was because he’d decided to make smashed potatoes. “Not the same thing.”

Adding a healthy handful or two of ground sausage to the ground beef made meatloaf heavenly. Oh, there was goulash and paprikash. Chili and scratch biscuits, too.

Jeff made bread by hand. When I say ‘by-hand’ I mean by hand – hand kneaded, no bread maker. Glass Corning Ware mixing bowls of proofing dough were common on Friday night. The very first he tried was rye bread, chosen for my tastes. It was deliciously denser than any I’d ever had; heavy and filling. Thickly-sliced slabs, steaming warm from the oven, slathered in butter – mmmm.

Maybe, snow’s not so bad after all.

Quote for the Week: 2018 12 11 Recurrently inherited cooking basics often arrive jakorte

Life’s Like That: Rice

Making rice isn’t for the faint of heart. That’s because of the whole don’t lift the lid thing.

Watching my pot not boil, I have time to think. I’ve been studying my life, lately. Trying to determine self-worth against a fear of no-worth. Trying to remember to trust God.

I snicker, and Blu answers questioningly. If I’m standing here because I can’t trust the outcome of my rice, how can I trust Him on things bigger than potential burnt grain? I snicker again, and Blu huffs a sigh, curling back into cat-nap position.

Right. They’re two different things, aren’t they? Umm, are they?

This is what happens when I can’t lift the lid. I compulsively stay nearby for rescue and the sake of safety. Puttering around rearranging cabinets, wiping out drawers, my Fitbit faithfully paces steps in my galley kitchen.

A boil over would singe my last nerve tonight. After a 7-hour seasonal cleaning marathon, I’ve realized I’m not done, but my body is. Treadmill time doesn’t create kneel-stand-stretch-pull-bend endurance.

I gauge the roil. I re-read the instructions and unsurely determine its time to turn down the heat. The timer is active, but I am not.

I’m still standing there thru the simmer, and its not looking good. There seems to be too much water. At least that’s how it looks thru the lid. I’m determined not to burn. So, I wiggle the pot in lifted circles; ‘stirring’ within the rules, not lifting the lid. It’s not any clearer what’s going on in the there.

At 12 minutes, it suddenly is. Clearer. Now a slurry of milky roiling water and slightly swollen rice nubs, this feels like the dangerous part. The critical point where I really want to stir the pot. I swirl the pan again, and lament that nothing’s significantly moving. Then, it hits me: not much water – that’s a good thing, right?

At 9 minutes, I recant. Maybe its not going as planned, according to the assurances of preparation materials so blithely plastered on paper. 3 easy steps. Except for the don’t lift the lid part.

Guess that’s life though. Standing over a watched pot, hoping everything will become clearer once the process is complete.

6 min. Yeah. Life’s like that. Your focus has to be just right to see thru the condensation. Rivulets riot with your view.  Concentration required comes with a headache from peering over the heated coil, red-face full of radiant heat.

3 minutes. I can still see simmering just below the surface of swollen bits. Ugh. There’s still liquid; disappointment.

2 minutes. Dear God. I hope this doesn’t burn. Technically, it’s not part of my Keto plan. I do reasonably plan to only eat small ¼ cup portions at 5 carbs each. 35 minutes of my life has now been poured into the procedure.

1 minute. A burn now would be a waste of a full 40 minutes, and waste even more time dealing with the mess.

I’m nervously watching the timer. 30 seconds.

It’s time to lift the lid away. Everything is fine, if ‘fine’ means slightly sticky rice.

Life’s like that. All about timing. Whether you’re waiting on rice or God.

The relief is nice, but short-lived. Success over shadowed by nausea, I quickly evaluate my situation, pull the pot from the heat, find a seat and dangle my head below my knees. All the extra effort, sweltering over the course of experience, worry and watching did not change the outcome.

Will I do it again? Probably.  The same way? Probably, maybe. My treacherous mind still believes in the future possibility of failure. Which, directly connects to my Matthew 6:25-34 struggle. Not worrying seems irresponsible to me. But, that’s another blog.

Quote for the Week:

2018 09 09 Life_s All About Timing rice or god jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Rice: Cook Covered

Rice: Cook Uncovered

Rice: Cook Sticky (On Purpose)

 

Talk Turkey to Me

The first time Jeff used the turkey fryer, it was awesome. He followed directions,  precisely. No matter he was outside in the snow behind the townhouse and not too far from a neighboring house. It was quick and juicy and we vowed we’d never succumb to long-cooking turkeys again.

The second time, there was a little clean-up disaster as Jeff tried to return the used oil to the plastic jug. Unfortunately, the roiled oil was still too hot, melted the jug and ruined his boots. We were both very glad he was wearing full coverage foot wear and not his usual winter sandals.

The third time involved 2 Jeffs and a plan to cook chicken wings out of the way of the freezing wind, in a garage. For some reason, it took an awfully long time to heat. So, they waited and waited and finally decided to check out the problem by lifting the lid. The result was a flume of combustion that blackened the garage ceiling and singed eyebrows. The temperature gauge had not been in contact with the oil, so it was plenty hot and smokin’. The result was a heavily burned, super hot pot that ended up coming to rest in a big pile of cul-de-sac snow.

The fourth time, breaking in a recently purchased new pot, the turkey didn’t cook all the way through in some spots. Could have been the pot needed to be seasoned first; could have been we bought the lower grade peanut oil at a discount store, rather than the good stuff at Cabela’s.

The fifth time, nearly a year later, we took it along with us to a family gathering. To fry the main course turkey, of course. Apparently, the new pot must have not enjoyed the infield at MIS and/or disliked living in the shed. Because, as oil went in, oil came out, creating another slick situation.

So, off we turkey trotted off to Meijer, returning with a new pot, more oil and an ugly pair of fish slippers Jeff planned on bring to his family’s Christmas exchange. I’m not quite sure which brotherly direction it went, but one of them had either chased Jeff or been chased by Jeff with an actual fish head.

After attempt #5 and negative incident #4, the fryer was unceremoniously and unsadly retired.

Optimistically, we opted for a smoker….

Quote for the Week:

2017 11 14 when frying a turkey for the first time jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Turkey Fryer Fire Song: by William Shatner (video)

Turkey Fryer Safety:  by State Farm (list)

Turkey Fryer Reviews: 2017 Top Picks

Bonus Picture: First Time!

Jeff Turkey Fryer (2)

 

 

Photo Essay Interlude …

Because old printed pictures tell a good story ….

First, the entire 8 foot by 8 foot Michigan Hot Sauce Club store! (See “Club?” blog)

Hand stamped spirals, hot pepper curtain, plastic shelves, and register counter.

2017 10 24 MHSC Store Layout jakorte

Next, the continuation of the driveway corn experience! (See “Canned” blog.)

We cooked 3 – yes 3 – pots of corn. Canned some plain, some with green peppers, chili peppers, onions and celery.

2017 10 24 Canned corning jakorte 10 24 2017

 

Plus, Jeff’s sense of humor and creativity – cabbage and cookies!

2017 10 24 Jeff took this picture cabbage

Stay tuned for next week’s blog: Stockings

 

 

 

 

 

Micro Snowball

I have “The List.” People laugh at it, accidentally. I never show it to anyone, on purpose.

When you’re me, or anyone else who has to do it all by themselves, you’ve had plenty of experience wondering where the time goes. You also know exactly how long each chore should take. “Should” is one of those operative words; an ugly estimate based on past experience or those methodological time-saving articles in magazines that scream at you from every newsstand or browser launching pad insisting whatever-it-is really shouldn’t take that long.

So, on Friday afternoons the listing starts. Actually, it’s perpetual, but I get down to the real nitty-gritty when the weekend looms. Dedicated intervals for rising, grooming, eating, cleaning, showering, chore-ing, bringing down laundry, bringing up the paper towels, kitty maintenance, cooking, walking, mail clutter, advert clutter, email clutter, garbaging, bill paying, budget monitoring, gassing up, shopping, volunteering, all seem doable. Weekdays, I’m a Generalist. Generally, I should empty the dishwasher that cycled on Sunday.

I would, but Monday nights are reserved for creating and accidentally deleting the weekly One Brick Detroit Newsletter. In my opinion, it’s quite a bad design to have the Preview button located three hairs away from the Start Over button. It’s also a bit of a flaw having the Get HTML button located in the near same spot on a different tab.

Tuesdays are devoted to Knabble. It’s rare that I haven’t already formulated an idea, jotted notes or pre-written a rant that needs a kindness modification. It can be crazily comforting to bang out epitaphs, outright curses and words that my feminist, religious, karma-enlightened or easily offended acquaintances would balk at for lesser language. The most time-consuming part of Tuesday nights is the creation of those art slides. The art isn’t that hard; finding something intelligent to say, quoting myself without pretentiousness is a labor. That and making sure the words are in the most appropriate font, on the most appealing angle, and the most firm color.

I took up Chiropractic Wednesdays in July 2013. Nothing feels better after an adjustment than an additional pamper. To me, taking time to read three email accounts, click-through the My Points links, opening every inspiring forward and “just checking” to see if what’s is on sale is on sale enough for me to consider considering its value. I am learning to question everything and calculate if it will or will not add deep lasting value to my place in this world. I can easily pass up flannel nightgowns, mail-order chocolates and trendy clothing. I’m still working on the chicken thing.

Thursday is “Gee its Thursday Already?” day. I walk on Thursdays; and Saturdays and Sundays, sometimes twice. Occasionally, Wednesdays, but there’s no guarantee. Maybe on a Friday; maybe.

Fridays are a true 50/50. Mostly because I am already conjuring up my micro list and knowing there’s only a snowball’s chance in hell that I will accomplish 10 fifteen-minute tasks that evening. The goal is to get through the little stuff. The little stuff always snowballs. Sweep the kitchen floor leads to mop the kitchen floor, but only after clear and wipe down all the counters and the stove and the microwave for any stray stuff my weekday wipes may have missed, and only after dinner because I’m going to make more mess. Dinner has to wait until the ceremonial purge of overripe produce, limpy vegetables and whatever I made a lot of and am now tired of eating. The vacuum sealer sucks because it no longer sucks. It does seal, but that defeats the purpose, which is to remove the air and avoid freezer burn crystals.

In all likelihood, the sweep and mop will roll over into Saturday, after Dance Walk, after the Post Office, after the market, after restocking and after lunch. Vacuuming and laundry are 80/20’s. There isn’t much that keeps me from those, unless a card needs to be made or a volunteer event calls or it’s the one Saturday a month when my body demands a catch-up for late or sleepless nights.

Saturday’s leftover list slides into Sunday. Sunday always includes prepping produce and baking proteins to last the week; running the dishwasher post. It’s also the day I look at The List and realize I have not managed to do those things that I wanted to do after my self-obligations have been met. My grand visions for fun future become dreamy-futuristic next-weekend hopes.

Responsibility is a good thing. I need to hold myself accountable. I need to make a better effort to tackle 1 or 2 little things each evening. “Start somewhere,” isn’t as easy as it sounds. I dislike half-finished anything – chores or crafts or commitments are full-on experiences for me. Ordering – a back-track to a logical start – squeezes me out of time every time. The reality is there are no little things, just a back-log continuum that thrives on relation .

I recognize it’s self-sabotaging to refuse to begin because there’s no predictable conclusion. I also know a snowball when I see one.

Quote for the Week:

planning is easy 10 14 2014

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

A List I Could Live With: http://www.home-ec101.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Home-Ec-101-Chore-Chart-Take-3.pdf

Tip Abundance: http://www.pinterest.com/jeepmaiden/cleaning-tips-tricks/

At Least Cut the Clutter: http://www.becomingminimalist.com/the-simple-guide-to-a-clutter-free-home/