March 28, 2021

Contemplating the return to "normal"

This past year has slowed down our lives quite a bit, hasn't it?

Yesterday, I went to the empty office, as I usually do every Saturday since this whole pandemic began to change our way of life, to handle those pesky tasks that can't be handled from home.

As I walked through the empty halls, I reflected.  I remembered the recent tweets about missing the children who where back in school, the same people who complained while they where stuck at home with entire families for a year.  I get it.  Having the people under your feet while you try to work and having to home school at the same time; must be extraordinarily difficult; luckily this has not been a problem for me.  But that time spent together was also a boon, as parents don't usually get this intimate look into their children's lives spent at school - and I think some people are realizing that as we edge ever closer to returning to "normal."

Yes, there was a whole year lost.  BUT what did we gain/learn?

We leaned in hard to our immediate family.  We remembered how precious our little families are.  And, how VERY precious those who weren't in our immediate households know, those that aren't exactly family...but yet, they are.

I also learned that the "go, go!" pace of life is stifling; much more stifling than living a more quiet, slow life.  I learned that slowing down to watch the peony bloom and then die back in our backyard is pretty amazing.

I learned that life doesn't necessarily need to be lived primarily in an office.  In fact, when I went into the empty office yesterday, I was only there for forty minutes.  Yep, less than an hour.  Which tells me, but most likely NOT HR, that I can do the majority of my job with minimal time in the office.

I understand that I am not the majority of most of the people I know.  Many of my co-workers are very social and are pining to go back to the office.  But, I imagine, that most of them are also dreading having to wake up at 4:45 am (that's what time I used to get up in order to read the paper, have my coffee and get dressed) and head into the office at the crack of dawn.

I DO miss being able to go out to eat with my friends and colleagues.  I DO miss browsing in a store for no good reason.  Shockingly enough, I don't miss it nearly as much as I thought I would though.  I DO miss going to the movies, plays, concerts, etc. I miss hugging my friends, I miss visiting with them minus the masks.  I miss seeing Man-Child more often...but to be honest, now that he has a new girlfriend, even if everything went back to normal tomorrow, I probably still won't see him as much as I would like.  I would dearly love to have someone cut my hair.  My last cut was in December 2019 where I, famous last words?, said, "Oh the length is fine, I just need a few layers up top." I miss my shoes and some of my clothes - even though we went business casual a couple of years ago and business wear was frowned upon (you weren't embracing the new company "culture" if you insisted on wearing business wear) but I'd sneak in a few of my favorites now and then.  I miss all of those things.

But, when things do go back to normal - I believe our office is hoping to open up at the end of April - I will miss going out to check on the peony's progress as it begins to bud during the day.  I will miss witnessing it open up in an explosion of blooms and going out every other day or so to snip one or two to keep me company as I work.

I will miss being so very productive, work-wise.  When I'm in the office, there are SO many interruptions...phones ringing that need to be answered, random people stopping by to chat or, perhaps, they have something they need to have handled interrupting whatever I am currently working on, pointless (mostly) meetings, dealing with the very few people who made my work life a living hell on a day to day basis (this may have been the best part of the last year; next to zero contact with those people) etc.

I cannot lie, I will also miss having the ability to get a few things done around the house without having to cram it all into the weekend.  Have a minute?  Throw in a load of laundry.  Have another minute or three?  Dust or vacuum the living room.

As crazy as he sometimes makes me, I will miss having lunch with The Husband just about every day (we work too far apart for this happen during a "normal" work week).

Both The Husband and I received our first round of vaccination last week - so when things DO open up completely, we should be safe.  But, as we have both discussed, after all this time neither of us is in a rush to do everything all at once - our routine has been altered and we are seeing some benefit in this un-asked for altering.

As a matter of fact, I have tickets for a concert that was re-scheduled from last year to next month (honestly, I think it will either be re-scheduled or cancelled soon) and even with being vaccinated, if it's not cancelled/re-scheduled, I do not think I will feel comfortable attending...despite the fact that I absolutely love this artist.  If I have to kiss that money spent good-bye, so be it.

So yes, I am looking forward to life returning to "normal" (will it though?  Or have we been changed forever?  These are questions that have not yet been answered.) and will also mourn some of the blessings we had during this past, very trying, year.

March 16, 2021

A mystery...

 On Sunday, The Husband decided to make a large pot of black-eyed peas for the convalescent neighbor two doors down.  And then suggested that I should make some cornbread to accompany his offering. I agreed; particularly since cornbread is a no-brainer recipe.

I pulled out the cookbook - despite the recipe being a no-brainer, it is NOT one that I have memorized, unfortunately.  As I turned to the page where this recipe resides I was met with a surprise.

The entire page was gone.


How?  Where?

This book is at least thirty years old and is coming apart at the seams.  Literally.  So, I pulled everything out of the cabinet where the book resides hoping that the page had somehow fallen out and landed behind something.


I then rifled through the cookbook itself, thinking maybe the page had fallen out and I had mindlessly shoved it back in randomly without remembering it.


Then I remembered, Bonus Daughter had asked that I send her a copy of the recipe about a month or so ago and that page was in the book then.  So I was able to find that email and re-create the recipe; but the question still remains...where is that elusive page?  It's not a random piece of paper with ingredients listed that might have been tossed without a thought.  It's obviously part of a book with multiple recipes on both sides.

Having recovered the recipe, I set the question of where that page might be aside for a moment while I set about making said recipe.  The recipe which I planned on doubling, knowing how many people are in that household.

Which then had me looking around for the second cast iron skillet.  A skillet that is rarely used but was one that I KNEW we had.  As a side note, yes.  A cast iron skillet is perfect for making cornbread.  Of course, you can use any kind of pan; but I prefer to use a cast iron skillet for cornbread.

As I was relaying the news of the missing page to The Husband I was rummaging around looking for that second skillet when he asked, "What are you looking for now?"  I told him and he responded that he had no idea where that skillet might be.

I stopped rummaging around, looked at him and said, "So, you are telling that what we have here is that someone came into this house with the express purpose of stealing that page from the cookbook AND a skillet? "

Mr. Smarty-Pants responded that maybe they were looking to open a cornbread store.


I still have not located that page but The Husband finally admitted that he may have tossed that skillet for some ridiculous reason (HIM, the one who NEVER throws/gives away ANYTHING) - but, it is important to note, he blamed it on ME.  Saying that I'm always saying that we should get rid of things we don't use.  Which, is true, but I don't toss unless it's actual trash.  Otherwise, it gets sent to Goodwill.  And I DO use that pan.  Now, where on earth is that page?!  It's a mystery that will plague me until either I die or find it.

March 7, 2021

Notes from the bunker...

 As you might imagine, life around here has been very quiet - which is welcome after our last brush of excitement, after all that I figure I need to embrace the boring existence.

We have had the tree service out for an estimate and are still reeling from the sticker shock.  I mean, we KNEW it was going to be high...but not quite that high.  But, seeing as this particular company has the equipment to pick up all the trees, feed them into a chipper and drive all the remnants away in one day - well, when you look at it from that angle the estimate seems accurate.

We are hopeful that they can get us on the books for later this week.  Because between you and me?  I'm tired of being flabbergasted all over again when I open the blinds each morning.

My friend's husband was scheduled for shoulder surgery last Friday.  I used this as an opportunity to finally break down and try The Lazy Genius' Absolute Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I have shied away from this recipe for several reasons.  One, because I'm pretty happy with my own recipe.  Two, the dough needs to chill for at least 48 hours.  And three, and this is the big one, the recipe calls for browned butter.  I have never even HEARD of browned butter prior to this recipe.  And it sounds intimidating since, apparently, it can go from browned to burnt fairly quickly.

Now, with all these reasons to NOT make these cookies, why did I choose to go for it?  Mainly, because I kept hearing how amazing these cookies are and I'm trying to move beyond my comfort zone in the baking arena.

So I started the dough last Wednesday afternoon.  And I cannot tell you how much I stressed while browning the butter.  I certainly did not burn it (YAY!) but I have a sneaking suspicion that I didn't brown it enough.  But I powered through and put the cookies in the extra fridge to rest for 48 hours.  

Friday afternoon, I pulled the dough out and started baking.  I cooled the first batch and did a taste test.  Well, that really isn't a fair taste test because ANY chocolate chip cookie warm from the oven is ALWAYS good.  

The true taste test came on Saturday when I had a cookie with my coffee as a treat.  The taste of the cookie IS awesome and I cannot dispute that it is a good cookie.  But...I prefer my chocolate chip cookies to be a little crispier - she prefers a chewier each their own.  I think next time, I may make my usual recipe and add the browned butter and see what happens.

At any rate, I sent a big batch down the street to the convalescent and his family and left the remainder at the office for the few people who still go in on a daily basis.

The Husband spent this morning making some food to send down, as my friend is in the trenches, keeping her husband (who has to keep his arm immobile for the next six weeks before he can even think about rehab) comfortable and keeping three children alive.

When I called to let her know we had some food for them, she informed me that all the cookies are already gone.

Once the older two boys showed up at the doorstep to retrieve said food I was told, "Mom ate all the cookies*.  She** wonders if there might be more?"

Unfortunately, there is not.  But I may have promised some treats soon as, obviously, these were a hit two doors down.

I had mentioned my stress over the browned butter on Twitter and friend responded with the news that browned butter in peanut butter cookies is amazing.  After this experience, I can see how that would be outstanding and will be trying that soon.

*I know for a fact she did not.

**I think the "she" in this instance may, in fact, be the boys.