January 22 – Dinner Diary

cooking and dining history

            I also thought it would be a lark to keep a list of the dinners I cook every day.  I have two books that go back to 2018.  These kinds of little records can give me an insight into what was going on in any given year or week.  

            This is also why I decided I needed to blog again.  It was so convenient to look back at the daily diary to see when an event occurred.  I did not have time to make entries for many years and I do regret not having that history on hand to reference.  I am going to try once again.  

 January 21 – Weather Calendars

           

weather nerd

            I keep a daily weather calendar.  I don’t take readings at my house, and I don’t write down statistics.  But I make the effort to write down the official weather report from the local airport.  If it snows, I write down measurement of the snow fall in my back yard.  

            I realized this year that I have been doing this since 1997, 25 years.  The books cover five years.  I just opened my sixth book.  

January 20 – I’m Fickle – Part Two

            The other part of my fickleness is the “I just don’t care anymore” syndrome.  I get this a lot.  It comes from the value I place on my time.  As I go through life, I often think about where my time goes.  What do I want to spend my time doing?  If I feel that something is wasting my time, I dump it. 

            Take books.  If I do not get engaged in a book by page 100, I am not spending any more time on it.  I have stopped reading many famous books that are considered great works of art that I find tedious.  Usually the conversation in my head goes, do I really care about these characters?  If I don’t, then forget it.  If the writer can’t get me interested in 100 pages, then we have a problem.  

            I have said goodbye to numerous t.v. shows for lack of caring.  I will start watching and after a season or two, I just say, I’m done with this.  I have lost interest.  “Frankie and Grace” and “Schitt’s Creek” come to mind.   

            As you can imagine, I have no ability to follow something like the Star Wars saga.  I stopped caring a long time ago.  Sports teams come and go.  I stopped watching football in 1981 and have not missed one second of it.  Will I like the Pens forever?  Who knows?  Chances are that I will stop caring at some point.  

            Does not caring make me fickle?  It certainly is a sudden decision and my feelings do change.  But again, I have my reasons.  Why do I stop caring?   I have no idea.  I just know that my engagement has collapsed and I am moving on.  

            Matt says I don’t have the patience to let the characters develop.  Maybe.  But I have also given the benefit of the doubt to something, say a movie, and I have only wished that I had that two hours back.  

January 19 – I’m Fickle – Part One

  Many, many years ago, 1978 to be precise, I went to a Bruce Springsteen concert with my friend Cherie.  This was Pittsburgh and he was playing at the Stanley Theater.  We decided to go early to stand next to the stage door.  Maybe we could see him.  And sure enough, we did.  

            I had my Instamatic camera with the state of the art square flash bulb.  When Bruce climbed down from the bus, I started taking pictures.  It was just Cherie and me.  He was not that well known yet, certainly not in Pittsburgh, and Bruce gladly signed an autograph while I played paparazzi.  That same year, in December 1978, I went to the Stanley Theater to see him again. I had front row seats.  It was back in the day when you would sit in line for tickets and if you were first in line, front row was yours. Bruce was singing Spirit in the Night and I was standing in front of him, singing and clapping along when suddenly, he ran to me, grabbed my hand, kissed it and ran away.  Good Lord, I thought I was going to die of happiness.  I still have not washed that hand.

            I think it is fair to say that from 1975 to around 1984, I was a huge Springsteen fan.  That is what people knew me for.  I had his posters on the walls of my dorm room and college apartment.  I had a Born to Run t-shirt that I slept in so often that it was nearly worn through.  I had seen him numerous times in concert.  But it was around 1984 that things changed for me.  

            I did not like his album “Born in the U.S.A.”  It was too commercial.  He was too big and it seemed to me that he was making music for the masses.  I don’t know.  It was like a switch went off.  I never saw him in concert after that (with the exception of his appearance at an Obama event).  I bought a few more of his records, was disappointed, and then drifted away.  

            People ask me, what happened?  It is hard to articulate.  But I just knew that he stopped speaking to me through his music.  Sometimes I would get into stupid arguments with friends who were his fans about what I was missing and why I was wrong.  The argument usually went something like, he is Bruce and you need to go where he goes.  But I could not understand why.  Why did I have to accept whatever he put on vinyl?  

            This is a pattern with me.  I said goodbye to the Grateful Dead after Jerry died.  It just was not the same.  I love Bob Dylan.  But there is a point where the guy just needs to stop.  He sounds horrible.  Just dreadful and just because Dylan puts in on a record does not mean I have to like it.  I will sing along with him on many of his records.  Blood on the Tracks is by far one of the best albums of all time. But his current croaking?  Not happening.  

            Now I am afraid that I am going down that path with the Foo Fighters.  To say that I have loved Dave Grohl for years is an understatement.  I mean, that guy just makes me happy.  Foo Fighters concerts are a celebration of loud rock and head banging.  I love it.  I have seen them so many times and I just rock out.  But I have not liked their past two albums.  Am I going to kiss him goodbye too?  

            Matt thinks that I am unforgiving and that artists need to grow.  Sure, I agree.  But maybe they are going places I don’t want to go.  I don’t necessarily see that as unforgiving but a situation where I know what I like.  Just because I like the Foos does not mean I have to like everything they do.  Think of it this way—if I like Picasso’s blue period paintings, does that mean I have to love his cubist work?  I don’t see why.  But to follow the logic that I have heard so often, he is Picasso, you have to like everything he does.  I just don’t buy it.  

            Does this make me fickle? No.  According to Merriam Webster Dictionary to be fickle is to be “marked by lack of steadfastness, constancy, or stability: given to erratic changeableness.”  The Cambridge Dictionary defines fickle as: “likely to change your opinion or your feelings suddenly and without a good reason.”  I would say I am not fickle because I know exactly why I have changed my opinion.  But nevertheless, I will be marked as fickle for deciding that I am just not that into [fill in the blank] anymore. 

January 18 – Cobra Kai

            I admit it.  I am now addicted to the karate soap opera that is Cobra Kai.  I am always looking for the obscure on Netflix, at least obscure to me.  Turns out this is a very popular show among some group of Americans.  Well, they can count me and Matt as fans.  The show is based on the old movie The Karate Kid (which I am not sure I ever watched in its entirety).  Fast forward 30 some years and the show is focused on Johnny the bad kid who terrorized the Karate Kid. The Karate Kid learns karate and beats Johnny the bad boy bully in a karate tournament.  

The show focuses on life from Johnny’s perspective, what happened to Johnny after he lost. Well, nothing good. Johnny is stuck in the hair band days of the 80’s.  Matt knows all the songs.  I do not.  But it is hilarious to see this guy with a mind set of the ‘80’s in 2020.  Politically incorrect, insensitive, not really understanding computers.  

            We are trying very hard not to binge through, but we want to.  We are moving quickly through the seasons. We have to find out what is happening to Miguel and Sam and Johnny and Carmen and the Karate Kid and his wife and the dojo and the bad guy and it just goes on and on.  It really is just a twist on the soap opera formula.  We love it. 

January 17 – Sourdough Starter

            Back in 2018, I decided to figure out sourdough to make pan de campagne, or country bread.  We usually buy this bread at Whole Foods.  I wanted to try baking it myself.  Baking is a lot of work and requires immense precision.  I am not that kind of cook.  I am an improv artist in the kitchen, eyeballing, instead of measuring, replacing ingredients when need be, or just saying, I could make this better.  You cannot do that in baking.  No. No. No.  You must follow the directions.  I consider directions challenges.  I question the directions and the authority of the person giving me the directions.  When I was a kid I drove my parents and my teachers crazy.  I still feel this way even now.  Take GPS routes.  They give me directions and I wonder why they want me to go a certain way and I deviate if I think I know a better route.  I cannot help myself.

            Anyway, I am not a great baker as a result.  But in order to make the effort I bought sourdough starter from King Arthur flour.  That was four years ago.  Sourdough is a living organism, a natural yeast and lactic acid that grows from fermentation of flour and water.  Sourdough was the basis of baking before cultured yeast and it was used by pioneers and by prospectors during the gold rush. Hence San Francisco sourdough.  All they needed was water, flour and some wild yeast floating through the air.  (You can use the bacteria growing in mold culture if you know what you are doing.) To use the starter, you have to keep it alive or “refreshed.” If you take care of it, it can last for years.  There are stories of families passing the sourdough starter down through generations. 

            So now I have the obsession of keeping the sourdough alive.  It is not easy.  I have brought it back from the brink many times.  When we travel, it can get to the point of no return because it is not easy to explain to a cat sitter how to refresh the starter.  But I work on it until it bubbles back to life.  

            I think I have used it three or four times to cook—pancakes, bread, crumpets (those were delicious).  One other issue with sourdough is that, like yeast, you have to give it time to work its magic.  That would require me to plan ahead and when it comes to food, I am not always ready to do that.  

            Yeah, it is kind of weird. But it is little things in life that are not taken too seriously, that ultimately make life interesting.  Look at everything you just learned about sourdough!

 January 16 – Sundays

   

 I slept until noon.  I have to admit that was not unusual. I am a late sleeper. No getting up early for me. Nope. I am good anywhere between 11 and noon. Anything earlier and I have to set an alarm.

 I wanted this to be a normal Sunday. Normal for me is exercise, then breakfast.  Matt makes the some lovely tea, sometimes a pot. We nibble on something sweet and study the paper.  Before you know it, it is four o’clock and time to plan dinner.  It started to snow this afternoon, so I worked on French Onion Soup.

January 15 – Finally. Sleep!

        No reason to wake up today except to feed the cats.  Matt is able to handle his pills now and not a workday.  Thank God.  I really, really needed some sleep. The excitement today was cleaning the house. Woohoo. I actually enjoy the mindlessness of cleaning. It can be very zen of you let it.

 January 14 – I declare a complete wipe out.  

            End of this week and I am shot.  So very tired. I usually clean the house on Fridays.  But Matt suggested I stare at the TV with him instead.  I was okay with that.  We have been semi-binge watching Cobra Kai.  

January 13 – Empty Shelves

            I went out for groceries today.  Yikes. That was scary.  With the exception of greens that are not popular or that people do not normally eat, such as kale and collards, the shelves were completely empty in the produce department.  Not one speck of lettuce of any kind.  I spotted some Belgian endives that seemed liked they needed a home.  I know what to do with those, so I bought them.  

January 11 – What is sleep? 

            I am bleary.  I did not get anywhere near enough sleep.  Matt is not here and that means I have cat feeding duty in the morning. They prefer 7 am.  Then I had to get to the hospital.  We waited for quite a while for them to decide if Matt could be discharged.  I napped on the couch in his room.  

            Hospitals are not running at full capacity right now.  We were kind of surprised that he had surgery since it was elective, but they went ahead.  The problem is that the nursing staff is stretched thin.  They are responsive but they come in seeming to have been running a marathon.  They are just running at full speed.  I felt bad for them.  Nothing leisure.  Just in and out and trying to keep it together.  That is how it felt anyhow.  They finally decided he could go home. 

            The fun was only getting started.  Matt was on a pill regimen that had me waking up during the night pretty much every hour or two to give him something.  I had little sleep.  Maybe three hours.  

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