I was making a new meat loaf recipe which involved chiles and salsa, so I decided to make black beans and rice to go with. Both were from new recipes.
Puttering in the kitchen is a nice way for me to fret in a productive way.
I do fret a lot. When I fret, I have a tendency to doubt myself, second guess myself, judge myself harshly, take responsibility for things that are not within my control....it's a snowball effect, and once I get on a roll, man, I can wind up feeling pretty bad about myself. That's what I was doing today: whipping up two new recipes while beating myself up.
Don't tell me that I can't multitask.
I cooked the rice. I cooked the black beans. I assembled the meatloaf. I was trying to get as much of the meal prepartion out of the way as I could because Tim and I had a project. He was picking up two tons of gravel. We already had the landscape paper. We were going to make a parking spot for one of the tenants so that she didn't have to park on the street.
As I assembled the seasonings, one thing that I noticed is that they called for me to use the oregano, cumin, garlic, lime and chile with a pretty heavy hand, way more spice than I was accustomed to using. Boy, the kitchen smelled great.
As I slipped the meatloaf into the fridge to be popped in the oven later, the phone rang.
With a sinking feeling, I went to get it.
A woman asked cautiously, "Debby?"
I said, "Yes."
Turned out it was a woman I knew from years ago. She was packing her Christmas up. She had saved a number of my Christmas columns and she unpacked them every year with her decorations, and reread them throughout the holiday season. Today, she was packing everything back up and was reading through them once again. She wanted to tell me that she loved them still.
What a nice thing to hear, especially when you're at the top of your own shit list.
The amazing thing was that the same thing had happened yesterday: Someone mentioned that his wife had saved a some of my columns about cancer and that they were encouraging while she dealt with her cancer.
It was a nice thing to hear. A nice thing to say.
But the voice on the phone went on. It was a great coincidence, but she was providing health care in one of the houses that we had flipped. We had bought a drug dealer's house, gutted it and put it all back together again. This was probably ten or twelve years ago.
I listened to the voice. She loved the kitchen. "It was the most beautiful kitchen she'd ever seen and the window over the sink made everything so bright." As she chattered on, I smiled to myself. Tim and I had gone at it hammer and tongs about that kitchen. He had a design in mind. I thought it was impractical. I had another design in mind. We debated as I removed old floor tile with a blow torch. He selected a paint color I thought looked AWFUL. We argued about the counters, the appliances, the layout. Ugh. I got the layout that I wanted, so I made my peace with the color. In the end, we had been pretty pleased with how it turned out.
We replaced the old pink bathroom tub, toilet, sink. (We replaced 3 bathrooms in all.) We took the basement back to the studs and turned it into a spacious family room with a kitchenette for snack making, with a minifridge and microwave. We paneled it with a whitewashed, heavy grained barn siding which made it all so much brighter and spacious looking. We put in new carpeting, painted every room. The hardwood floors were sanded down, refinished and sealed.
I thought of all the work we had done on that house, in the end all worth it. It sold quickly.
The voice went on and on, about how much the house meant to the people who bought it from us. How much she loved the house. How much my columns meant to her even after all these years.
By the time that we hung up, my self critical mood had shifted a bit.
It sounds so very corny, but today, my beans and rice needed more spice. My life needed a jolt of sweetness. Both recipes got tweaked today. It felt good to get something right.