Not to apologize, but yesterday we left early and spent the day up in Grafton with Cheri’s mom. I hadn’t been up in two weeks, and I was truly amazed to see how far the disease had progressed in that time. It was hard, to say the least. So, there wasn’t much time or energy available afterwards to write a column. Hopefully, you will enjoy this next week’s creative work.
I started out this morning with a hot cup of coffee, sitting at the dining room table, checking the various news and weather sites around the area. It’s actually kind of a rare thing to have something that is drastically different from the norm on the news, but I like to check it out anyway.
So, as I sit at the table, with my beloved across the table, working as always on her schedule of patients for next week, inevitably the question arises: what do we have on the menu for evening meals? It’s still a functional remnant of the hopefully-over-and-done-with pandemic, but the idea of creating a menu that everyone will like and everyone will eat, that has the slightest bit of imagination to it almost makes your brain hurt first thing in the morning. It’s like when you were in school, and while eating breakfast before leaving home, the shocking thought runs through your brain – you are having a quiz today, and while you had the entire weekend to study – you didn’t. Now, those tons of hours have shrunk into a precious number of minutes that are already supposedly used up with getting ready and getting to school and all that mess.
Can you feel that in the pit of your stomach? Do you remember that sense of almost insurmountable work your brain has to do? That’s what it’s like when someone asks, “What are we going to eat this week?” You see, if I just have to select some meals I’d like to have, that can usually be over and done with in a couple of minutes – but every time you add one more person into the mix, like a wife who likes variety, and one son, and then another son with their peculiarities of meal selection, it’s like you almost can’t win. You see, I like hot dogs, and could have them every week. I also like frozen burritos, and grilled cheese sandwiches and steak. And barbecued chicken. And some other things. But, apparently, there exists a national meal law that says you are forbidden from having the same foods two weeks in a row. When I was in seminary, I would boil up some noodles, pour in a can of tomato sauce and some minced onions, and all would be well. I could eat that maybe three weeks in a row, with no pressure to my decision making lobe.
I can’t do that now. I get the comment, “I’m not feeling that tonight,” or “Didn’t we just have that two years ago?” Now, I know what you are thinking, that if they aren’t satisfied with the menu at hand, they can fix a meal. Nice try – but it’s a foolish concept. When you turn over the reins of the kitchen to them, what ends up is that we have to buy $100 worth of exotic and never-used-twice foods, from spices, to special meats, to sauces that involve anything that is incredibly expensive. No – they don’t buy it, and you can guarantee it will be too spicy for Cheri to eat, and is way too gourmet for even my palette. Even worse, they will hand me a recipe for a meal this week, and beyond the thirty different ingredients, none of which we have at home (who uses avocado oil?), there are also about 45 different involved steps which will take the better part of an entire afternoon to prepare. This is far different that putting butter on two slices of bread, putting some cheese in between and grilling for about three minutes.
So, no – that’s not a good option, although Cheri will sometimes quietly ask them to find some recipes they might like, as a way of getting some buy-in. But when that means having to fix goose pate, wrapped in prosciutto, and served on saffron rice, I just know it’s a disaster – an expensive disaster – in the making.
Well, this morning, we went through the exercise of picking out some meals. Hamburgers on the grill, marinated chicken on the grill, store-bought frozen lasagna, and soft-shell tacos – not a bad menu, although I have also learned not really to share it with the sons before the food is purchased, or we end up with having to do major (read: expensive) changes. How about macaroni, tomato sauce and minced onions?
Well, Cheri and I will go grocery shopping later on this morning. We will not invite the boys to come, because they don’t believe in a food list – they believe in “putting things in the cart that look good and tasty, and the folks will pay for it…”
So, they don’t come, usually, which saves us tens of dollars.
As I read back over this column, it sounds as though I am just a cheapskate. I’m not – I’m frugal. It’s hard to splurge on one meal, when it seems as though you are splurging on 7 meals in a week. Well, however we make it work out, we will at least have food to be served, and stomachs filled, and we will make it through another week, until we again have to ask the question, “What’s for supper?”
Intentional grocery shopping is like everything else – without it, it’s all accidental, and usually becomes a true mess of sorts….
Word for the day: pertinacious. Pronounced per-tuh-NAY-shus. You right away have an idea about the word, because it sounds like what it does, sort of … to be pertinacious is to be perversely persistent, or tenacious, or unyielding. A pertinacious person adhere to a plan or purpose of design, with no exceptions and not debate. It comes down the line from the simple Latin verb, tenere, which means “to hold.” When you hold through everything, it is pertenere, and the experience of it all is to be… pertinacious. Of course, from this word, we get “tenacious,” but we also get “tenure,” or the right to hold a position. Pertinacious is always a virtue when I do it – when you do it, it become just a pain…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.