Monday, October 24, 2005


Lately I've been pretty happy about the way Sam & Lily have been getting along. I was a little stressed for a while about him freaking out when she was mobile - grabbing his toys and whatnot - but so far he is taking it pretty well. So well, in fact, that I'm getting a bit edgy about the two of them. He talks to her a lot, asks her what is wrong, gives her toys, etc.. but they seem to be communicating on a much different level now. On Friday, he was baby-talking (or what sounded like baby talk) to her in the back seat of the car - and next time I looked back, the two of them were holding hands and smiling at each other... cute right? Just wait. Yesterday I heard him talking in the living room, and when I walked back in the two of them looked up at me, got quiet, AND THEN BOTH TURNED AWAY FROM EACH OTHER. Sam walked away, and Lily crawled over to the couch. Now I know I'm tired, but I swear they were talking about me. I got this Children of the Corn feeling that I just couldn't shake, and think they may have developed their own secret language. It seems that I have no other choice but to somehow learn their secret babble-tongue, and decipher their plans. At the moment I'm not entirely sure, but I think yogurt is involved.
On an equally disturbing but totally unrelated note, I am completely destroying my hands. Sunday morning I was rushing around setting up for yet another early morning catering gig, and I cut the tip of my finger off. Not a lot, mind you, but enough to leave a fairly good blood trail through the kitchen over to the sink. The good thing is, little cuts tend to hurt a lot, and the bigger ones are just annoying... why? I have no idea. I cut my whole pinky knuckle off down to the bone once while cutting up a peking duck - and it sucked - but I'll take that over a bad paper cut any day. Just the thought of a piece of paper sliding over my skin... eeew. Anyway, I wrap it up, put some tape around it, and I'm on my way. When I get to the gig, there is a bunch of prep to do - but first I throw all of the quiche in the oven and set it at 325, figuring in 45 minutes when I need to plate them, they'll be perfect. I keep working, cleaning as I go, and 45 minutes later I open the oven and realize that all of the towels I brought are wet, and I'm cooking in a house without anything that looks remotely like a potholder. Sigh. I suppose never cooking is a good reason to hire a caterer, but seriously people, you're killing me. In a rush, I quickly weigh my options... wet towels? No, they'll burn your hands anyway, and get water on the crust... Dining room napkins? Too many people milling around. Chef coat sleeves? Sleeves might get stains (have to look pretty), and anyone who walks in might wonder why I'm using my clothes... Well, I figure, lets just try speed... I'm a little hesitant at first... stay centered Joe... worse things have happened... maybe she'll pay in cash, its all good... Deep breath, and I go - grab the first pie plate, toss it on the counter.... Nothing. Do another... nothing. No smoking flesh, no bubbling blisters, nothing. Apparently, I have leathered my fingertips just enough to withstand a 325 degree pie plate. Will I try something hotter? No. No I will not. Will I be a dumbass and not bring enough towels next time? No. No I will not.
On the bright side, I've decided that I'm James Bond. Think about my resume when I contact the CIA - Average Joe that will blend into any crowd, hands completely scarred nubs that will leave no discernible fingerprints, profile that will render me virtually invisible in front of a strategically placed Alfred Hitchcock poster, fluent in child babble language akin to the dialect used by Navajo code talkers in WWII. Seriously, I'm marketable. With the lack of fingerprints alone I'm the freakin Scarlet Pimpernel...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Profound & Beautiful

Few and far between, I know. Hard to get a second to write, and I have so much to say about so little, I don't know where to begin. My three days of hella-early catering are over with, thank god. I discovered a long time ago that I'm not a morning person, and these last few days have certainly proven that...
I honestly don't get how people do it - at four in the morning, my face actually hurts. Not just an "oh, geez I need some coffee and a shower" hurt, but an honest to god searing "get back into bed you stupid bastard" hurt. Plus, I'm as cranky as a thirteen year old girl.
I have to remind people that the business is called Friday NIGHT Out Catering and start charging double if I have to get up at an ungodly hour.
On a positive note, I have temporarily overcome my desire to write absurdly long posts, and will keep this one a shorty. My sister Jeanne is to blame... after reading "Beachbucket" I realized something... I need a few pages paint a picture, take myself back to a moment. Jeanne, on the other hand, can throw up a paragraph every few days and make me feel like she is home again. Turns out, profound and beautiful comes in all shapes and sizes.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Fields of Asparagus

Most days around here are a little chaotic. Two kids & a little too much work crowd things up a bit....and when there is down time, I really try to cram as much relaxation in as possible. So by Saturday afternoon (after working almost twenty hours on my feet on Friday, and going back into work on Saturday morning) I was ready to lay around completely boneless. "The only thing that will get me off the couch" I thought, "is if the house is on fire".
As luck would have it, I got word from Sam that the fire department around the corner was going to set a house on fire... well, not exactly a house, but a little house-like shed that they built in a parking lot to use as part of their fire safety demonstration. Now I don't know about you, but if someone is blowing something up, setting something on fire, or doing anything with pudding - I'm there.
Relaxing, right? Go around the corner, watch a house burn down, maybe get some ice cream... and I'll be face down on the couch again in no time... dozing away.... perhaps dreaming of someday owning an asparagus farm, sitting on the back porch with the kids looking over my vast expanse of asparagus... warm summer breeze... savory tender tips gently swaying in unison like an endless green crewcut...
So we go. Two parents, two kids, light spring jackets, one milk in sippie cup, one snack in side pocket, two shells, a plastic Triceratops, and a backup plastic Iguanadon in case the Triceratops somehow fails to perform. We get to Berwyn Fire Co. No. 3 a few minutes early, and there is the usual fire safety hubbub - a guy in a dalmation suit, "Check Your Batteries!" keychains with a little picture of a smoke detector, a yellow balloon for Sam, etc... Just in time, it appears, because as we are jostling for position, a fireman is setting up a protective barrier so the seething crowd of toddlers won't get too close to the flames. Soon, the fluttering yellow caution tape is securely tied to the second trash can, and we're officially safe and ready to roll. Sirens sound, and the house bursts into flames. Really big flames. Really quickly. For a small town fire safety day, I'm really impressed... and really hot. Sam is on my shoulders and suddenly still. I look around and everyone is still - toddlers, parents, and firemen alike - caught up in the majesty of huge orange flames as they roll like waves into the sky. For a moment, the Eckert parking parking lot is our own Los Alamos... The firemen spring into action... trucks pull up, hoses unravel, masks go on, and axes fly... then, just as the water hits the blaze, the wind shifts.
What a moment ago was "fun for the whole family" is now "choking cloud of death for the whole family" as great billowing columns of smoke somehow manage to cross over the protective layer of caution tape and envelop the crowd. Sam and I manage to make our way into the firehouse just as the wind shifts again, and we turn to see what remains of the little house as the hoses are turned off - a small pile of charred wood. A really small pile. The lesson of the day apparently, was if a small structure catches on fire, you should immediately call Home Depot and order building materials for another small structure because even if the fire department is seven feet away, there is no way they'll be able to put it out fast enough. As a matter of fact, if you have a small structure, you might want to seriously consider hiring someone to continuously spray water on it in case it happens to ignite.
With the excitement of our miniature Manhattan Project over, I am standing around with Sam on my shoulders looking at the aftermath when another unfortunate gust of wind blows the yellow balloon out of Sam's hands. For those of you who don't know, there is definitely some sort of balloon hierarchy, and with the yellow balloon behind only red and mylar balloons, it is still worth risking your life for. Quick as a flash, Sam jerks his body backwards and flips himself off of my shoulders. In a heartbeat, he is gone, and time seems to freeze. As he falls headfirst towards the asphalt behind me, I have some sort of 80's flashback montage playing in my head. Sam's first words, first steps, first solid food... his first song and our first soccer game play out, and as it occurs to me that we may never get the chance to look out over our waving asparagus fields I reach behind me and find an ankle. I grab, not even sure what I'm holding onto yet, and as I look around I see him dangling from my left hand so close to the ground that his hair is touching the street.
Later, when he has calmed down and we're walking home I panic a little. Too close for comfort, and I think I might make Sam wear a helmet from now on, even while he is outside watering the shed.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Tickle, Cook, Breathe

Days like this I wonder if Sam & Lily's life will be defined in the same way my life is defined. Maybe that is saying it too simply...I know my life is defined by many things, but it seems to be divided into chunks. The farther back I look, the more general those chunks become - yesterday Sam helped to feed Lily, in the last month we went to three birthday parties, in the last year we had a perfect baby girl, etc...
The problem is, I look back and most of the things that come to mind are things I'd rather forget. I remember a time before Rita, before the tsunami, the earthquake, Columbine. Before Thurman, Oklahoma City, Challenger... before the unibomber, before that afternoon in 1986, before BTK, before waking up in a crumpled volvo, before September 11th, before today.
In many ways, my life is charmed, I know. I remember that when I come home to the kids. I walk in the door, or into their classrooms, and for a second everything disappears. In that moment (before I have to carry Sam's wet shoes or change Lily's diaper) everything is warm, perfect... easy.
..and then I forget again. I get so wrapped up some days moving from one thing to the next - rushing out the door and rushing back in, rushing to finish my work and rushing to get them to bed, and even rushing down to the couch so I can sit in the quiet for that extra minute before I fall asleep - that some days I hit a bump and get so completely thrown off course I can't recover. What can you do...
I end up moving on... sometimes sooner than others... and the rush comes back into focus. Priorities - Raise the kids, love my wife, make some money, be thankful for what I have, rinse, repeat tomorrow. Luxuries - Tickle someone for at least one solid minute every day. Be the first person in the kitchen so I can have a moment by myself in front of the ovens when they are a blank slate, full of promise. Breathe in when I wake up, out when I go to bed, and occasionally in the middle somewhere.
Still left with these scars though. Some days I stop to look back and see Thurman, Jules, lives changed by accident, nature or politics - and the memories are like bookmarks or worn pages that my book just opens to when I set it down. odd.
In my head this started out to be a lighthearted first post... got a little off track it seems. In the grand scheme of things, today wasn't a tragedy on any grand scale. More of a shift in direction. One of those days that makes you snap out of the rush... focus on things...
kids, wife, be thankful.
tickle, cook, breathe.
Clicky Web Analytics