Category Archives: Life

General life topics

Mean Cuisine

I would like to propose a new show for the Food Network; “Kitchen Swap – Iron Chef Edition” where top professional chefs and their picturesque TV kitchens trade places with random normal folks and their overused overpopulated suburban kitchens; Watch as Bobby Flay spends 25 minutes trying to find which drawer someone has hidden the good spatula in. Watch as he struggles to navigate the kitchen tripping over dogs and dodging Nerf bullets. Meanwhile watch as I casually prepare a full weekend brunch sipping a cocktail in the fully stocked kitchen with not a single interruption or distraction to be had. Ok perhaps more of a personal fantasy then a show pitch but it might help me to appreciate cooking again.

It had actually crossed my mind (albeit a quick sprint across the mostly vacant frontal cortex) to make this a cooking blog instead of a,… whatever this is. I could have been the next Pioneer Woman, minus the ranch, cattle and womanhood. I could have posted pretty pictures of culinary creations if I were actually capable of taking pictures half as good as the Pioneer Woman and if said creations weren’t just modified versions of stuff the Pioneer Woman has already posted.   “Ranch House Chili” lacks a certain credibility when coming from a computer programmer living in the suburbs. In all honestly I actually love to cook and have made a few recipes my own over the years or at least have waited out the fame of the original chefs enough to make my claims uncontested. The real problem comes in the form of 6 painfully picky eaters. I mean to the extent that 90% of their diet can be defined as ‘carbs and cheese’ with the remaining 10% being pure sugar. I can spend 3 hours preparing a delicious Coq au Vin only to have the kids push it aside in disgust and ask for seconds of the butter noodles I made as the side,… and then proceed to inform me, butter dripping from their chins, that the noodles would go great with frozen chicken nuggets, which in turn gets a boisterous roar of approval from the others, the very same boisterous roar of approval that my deluded mind somehow thought I’d hear for making the savory homemade chicken with a sauce reduction. “They’re both chicken for god’s sake!! Quit your bitchin and eat!” screams my inside voice, while my outside voice says with just a dash of bitterness “Fine! Eat your butter noodles, but don’t expect the Ranch House Chili tomorrow!” To which they respond with another boisterous roar of approval.

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Dog Gone

Along with the four kids our combined family also came bundled with two canine additions; a brilliantly high-strung Border Collie, Meg and a dumber than a doorstop Siberian Husky, Maya. While Meg has her own assortment of doggie quirks (number one of which is her singular devotion to Nicole to the extent that she will pine miserably by the front door until her raison d’être returns), the many annoyances of Maya are much more difficult to catalog. We could talk about the “husky tumble weeds” that drift freely about the house requiring us to strap on a vacuum cleaner like the Ghostbusters and chase down the offending hairballs, or perhaps the way she sleeps on her back until roused by a convulsive burst of gagging snorts followed by a long series of sneezes.   But by far her single biggest doggie quirk is the fact that she’s not much of a dog at all; she doesn’t come when you call her, has not an ounce of loyalty and is driven solely by self-interest; basically, she’s a large, dumb cat. She is not a member of the family sharing our home, she is a ward of the state imprisoned within our house.   Given the choice she’d run wild without a backwards glance. She plots constantly for her escape and has succeeded on multiple occasions. We’ve met more neighbors through prisoner exchange then we have from PTA, and block parties combined. Unfortunately Maya comes equipped with both the old school dog tags and a sub-dermal GPS tracker that both direct the little convict back to our front door.   During one such prison break she was taken in by a nice family of dog lovers including one little girl that was hoping and praying that Maya’s owners would never find her. How many times since then have I regretted picking her up or thought about going back to make a little girls dreams come true. I thought about it when Maya peed all over the entryway the morning I was rushing out the door for a business trip. I thought about it when Maya started treating bathroom garbage cans as her own person smorgasbord.   I thought about it when Maya got sick repeatedly all over the house, 90% of which landed predictably on carpet.

Now this last one brings us to the other joy that is Maya; the expense. Being a husky she is already predisposed to have certain joint conditions, specifically in her hips, that require some additional expenses; supplements, medicine, therapeutic beds, a doggie walker with little tennis balls on the feet,… you get the idea. And I get it too. I’m a dog lover, and dogs can be an important part of the family. But an animal that runs past your outstretched arms choosing the open road over your loving embrace does not embody the spirit of Ohana. I start to ask myself “how much money do I want to invest in an apathetic animal”. This was the dilemma, when Maya started to have difficulty standing, then walking, and then the next day became a fountain of bile. Luckily our local vet is gracious enough to be open on Sundays so the first thing in the morning we brought Maya in for a checkup knowing full well the potential money pit we were leaping into. Our worse fears were confirmed on both fronts and after a $1000 visit the radiologist suspected a possible tumor in the stomach and throughout the intestines. Now I wouldn’t be telling this story if it actually ended that horribly, I may not be organizing a Maya fan club but I’m not completely heartless,… penniless perhaps, but not heartless. So when the vet suggested we follow up with an ultra-sound we reluctantly agreed. I figured that since the diagnosis had no real treatment options we at least owed it to her to get solid confirmation of her condition. In my mind though it was merely a formality. For a fleeting moment my mind danced with the freedom of having a single dog. A loyal dog. An intelligent dog. Not a chain sneezing flight risk. It was a world free of fur drifts, free of unpleasant surprises. It was a beautiful, peaceful, allergy-friendly world. And then it was gone.

After a $500 appointment with the ultra-sound the very same tech that had, only the day before, condemned our overgrown furball to imminent doom gracefully back pedaled with a new theory that maybe it was just something she ate, like a lump of clay or an extra helping of toilet paper. The governors’ pardon on her supposed death sentence. The convict was coming home.

And now every time I see one of those husky tumbleweeds I can’t help but see little money signs; money signs drifting off her body with every step, money signs bursting off her body with every sneeze, money signs littered down the hallway with the shredded tissue paper. Every annoyance that is Maya is now decorated with sad little money signs. Is it too late to make a little girl’s dreams come true?

 

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Start Anew

The packing tap screams out across the final box. And then the silence returns. It is the calm before the storm.  My final moments in the house that I made into a home after the divorce.  When I first moved in to this renovated house it was stark and empty. All the walls were white, all the surfaces new.  There weren’t even mirrors or shower doors in the bathrooms.  It was a blank canvas, which was oddly appropriate coming from my home of 10 years which had been so stuffed with memories and emotions.  That house had the rhythms of life that I had grown accustom to.  My family and the only life I had come to know all evolved in the house I left behind.  And then into this blank canvas. No wife, no kids, no cats, no dogs.  An empty house.  A quiet house. A quiet that was once overwhelming.  A quiet that I would banish with the TV on all day just to hear another voice from outside my office.  I was lost in the silence and emptiness.

As time went on the new routines became a part of me.  The walls eventually filled with pictures of new memories and the house filled with a new life with the kids.  “Daddy’s house” was a new concept for all of us, but we made it work, and learned to love it.

Then eight months ago another change for the better.  A new love and a new family awaits. Nicole and I have found a house to share.  A new home in which to combine our families into one.  One dad with two kids now becomes a full couple with six kids total. As much as I look forward to the new chapter in our life and the incredible memories and traditions we will share as a family, I reflect now on the silence and the quiet house that had once haunted me.  And in a few months from now, when kids are arguing, kids are screaming, dogs are barking and TV is blaring, I’ll look back and think, “what the hell was so bad about silence??!!”

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My Day

How was my day, you ask?  Why how very thoughtful of you?  I would love to tell you about my day.  I would love to describe in vivid detail my heroic actions this morning at the Starbucks drive thru where I helped bring a new life into this world before the paramedics arrived and before my venti vanilla latte was fully whipped.  Or maybe I should start with the ongoing drama I’ve been having at work where our biggest client is involved in a sex scandal with Jim down in the mail-room (along with the back-story of how he used to be Jill 6 months and 3 surgeries ago).  And then there is that hilarious incident with the leftover sandwich and the homeless man that kept petting it like a cat, and nibbling on its face.

Yeah, I would love to tell you all of this and impress you with just how much life I fill my life with.  Like there is just so much that happens to me in a single day that I struggle to edit it down to the juiciest highlights.  Unfortunately though, none of that crap happens to me,… ever.  My commute is a flight of stairs.  My coffee comes from my kitchen.  My co-workers are in another time zone (and lacking both a mail-room and a transsexual). Even the homeless have more interesting neighborhoods to hang out in then my slice of suburbia.

“Wow”, you say “you should get out more”.  And before I can defend myself or fill in the gap with the more mundane details of my actual day, you dive into a colorful account of your day instead.  At that point it finally dawns on me that the original question was rhetorical.

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