Saturday, August 15 2020

bacon, scalable recipes, and the wasp nest



banners/2020 08 15

Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. I hope this lovely Saturday is treating you well. Here on my end, we had all kinds of ambitious outside work planned this morning, but the gloomy skies and constant on-and-off drizzling thwarted us.

"You mean to tell me that we can't work outside, and instead we have to just sit around and drink coffee?" I said, laying on the sarcasm thick.

"What can we do?" shrugged Marissa. "We're BLOCKED!"

And that's the story of how I ended up at my bedroom computer, still sporting my pajamas, staring down at my empty mug silently wondering if I've written enough to earn another refill.

It's been a leisure filled morning, but not one without a good breakfast. Rolling out of bed this morning, I was quick to open up the single pack of bacon in our fridge and lie the strips on a cold pan while I washed some dishes and brewed a pot of coffee. The smell of bacon wafting through the air sent Rodney into a frenzy.

"You make bacon, dada?" said Rodney, watching me sleepily climb the stairs through his cracked bedroom door. I smoothly entered his room, sat down at the foot of his bed, and held out a piece of bacon for him.

"Wil je een stukje?" I asked. Rodney quickly snatched the sliver of meat out of my hand and took a seat next to me.

It's hard to describe how much joy I get watching my son eat bacon. Rodney has always been a modest eater. "You eat like a bird!" is something he hears often at the table. You could imagine my relief when I finally found something that he would eat without constant goading (that wasn't candy).

"Dada, I have more bacon?" asked Rodney. "And I eat it on the couch... and you put Zig Zig away?"

Zig Zig was watching and waiting for us from the upstairs hallway. She licked her chops like a hungry predator.

"Na, we're going to eat at the table today," I replied. "I'll hold Zig Zig so she doesn't steal anything."

Rodney made quick work of the rest of his portion. "Save some for momma," I said.

Marissa joined us at the table and she too began to devour her share. Two last slices remained on the plate.

"Did you get some, dada?" asked Marissa.

"Yeah, I snacked on a few. You guys take it," I replied.

Rodney reached for the last slice and held it gingerly, like it was a golden ticket. He ate it one crumb at a time, tucking pieces in his mouth like candy. At least he appreciates it. If any fell into the clutches of Ziggy, it would be in her stomach before her mouth closed.

"What are we going to do when we have two hungry boys wolfing down bacon at the table?" I asked.

"You're just going to have to make more, Dada," said Marissa.

"How much more?" I exclaimed. "They're probably going to eat a pound each."

Someday feeding two growing boys is something I think about, even if the problem is still a dozen years away. I remember how much food I used to eat in high school, and being on the other side of the kitchen this time, I'm met with trepidation.

I've been using the word "scalable" to qualify our regular favorite home recipes. It's a software word, but it seems appropriate to describe how well you can grow a system and multiply the results. Cookware, ingredients, heat, time, space on the stove - all these things factor into how plausible it will be to keep our favorite recipes on the menu.

Luckily bacon is safe. It's easy enough to let the pan cool, wipe it down, and start another flight as needed. But for now, I relish in having a family that is small enough to feed with only a half pound - a single package.

Sip. How was your Friday? Rodney, Miles and I hung around at home in the morning while Marissa and the dogs got some much needed ring time. When they returned, the dogs exploded into the living room, bouncing from one piece of furniture to the next - their tongues hanging from their mouths.

"They were so happy," said Marissa, returning. "They ran around the ring for ten minutes straight - a dead sprint."

We joined Alex and Cassie at the biergarten for a wonderful afternoon of drinking and chatting, and when we returned home we ordered Tibetan food. I put Rodney to bed, then joined Marissa in the studio.

"Want to do the wasp nest tonight?" she asked.

"Yeah we can do that," I said, blinking at the basement TV screen. "Let me get another beer in me so I can work up the nerve."

This past week, we've witnessed a growing wasp problem in our house. Not your run of the mill yellow jackets, either. These wasps are red. They're the kind of wasps with skinny, alien like waists, dead eyes, and a commanding evil presence. We found one in Rodney's room, one in our bedroom, then another in the bathroom. We decided we needed to take action after one flew by Marissa's head while she was working in the fish tank.

There was a nest high on the wooden ceiling above our front door. Marissa and I stood outside on the porch, cautiously observing.

"I think it's getting bigger," said Marissa, worried.

"Yeah, I think you're right," I said, sighing. "It's definitely active, and bigger than I remember."

"Our poor mailman," said Marissa.

To brush up on our wasp killing knowledge, I queued up a few do-it-yourself YouTube videos. I was expecting at least some insight, but to our disappointment and amusement, each video confirmed our initial suspicion.

"Spray, then run," I chuckled. "That's pretty much it."

Last night before crashing on the couch, Marissa and I stood outside on the porch. She pointed a flashlight up at the nest. The wasps were arranged around a single entry hole in the nest, eerily vibrating while they slept. Standing at a distance, I unleashed the poison. A single wasp fell to the ground and began to crawl away. I sprayed him again for good measure.

"Did you see any other stragglers?" I asked.

"Nope," said Marissa. "I think the rest of them are goners."

"I didn't even have to run," I remarked. "That was almost too easy."

Sorry, wasps. You're fascinating, terrifying, and industrious creatures. But it was either going to be your family or mine. And my species invented Raid.

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a wonderful day.