Monday, September 21 2020

nacho cheese, a smushed fly, and back pain



banners/2020 09 21

Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Monday. I'm having a hard time focusing today. I had all kinds of free time this morning after finishing the dishes last night. But now, looking at the clock with a little under an hour before I need to jump online for the work day, I'm wondering where it all went. Hopefully, this morning doesn't set the tone for the rest of the day. I suppose the best course of action is to just keep drinking coffee and try to write through the distractions. Maybe my focused, productive self will be waiting for me at the bottom of my third cup of coffee.

My wandering attention aside, it's a great day today. The air outside is cool, and the house is dark and cozy. Both dogs are asleep in bed, happily filling my warm spot in the sheets while I carry on with my morning routine.

Sip. How about those Bears? We had a different kind of game this time, didn't we? When we took an early lead, part of me knew the rest of the game would be slowly and painfully giving up points until it came down to a nail biting final two minutes. But a win is a win, right? And technically, we're tied for 1st in our division, and we're technically undefeated.

Rodney, Marissa, and I watched the game in the dining room while we made lunch. Marissa whipped up some fast guacamole while I made a plate of nachos.

I did something fun in lieu of nacho cheese. I remember a while ago back when our oven was having problems I jokingly prepared "French nachos", which was just a bechamel sauce with melted cheese. Ever since that night I've wondered how good of a nacho cheese you could make with that method.

For yesterday's version, I started with just a two cups of milk on the stove with salt and pepper. I added a whole head of garlic cut in half through the center.

"What do you mean cut in half?" asked Marissa while I was retelling the experiment. I demonstrated with a decorative fluffy pumpkin set out under our bathroom mirror.

"Just right in half, like this, cutting through the whole head," I explained. "Then you just drop them cut side down in the milk."

"So you didn't even peel it?" she asked.

"Nah you don't need to," I replied. "You're straining the sauce at the end, the garlic is just to flavor the milk. And plus I think the peel adds some flavor."

After bringing the garlic milk to a gentle simmer, I made a quick blonde roux in another pan. After letting the roux cool, I strained and stirred in the milk, and just before adding it to the nachos, I melted in a handful of shredded Wisconsin cheddar.

It's neat how you can find traces of French cooking in other styles of food, isn't it? Building on mother sauces. Preparing meat. The ratio of vinegar to oil in a dressing. Keeping a stocked fridge with simple, reusable ingredients. French cooking is just so relentlessly practical.

We watched the rest of the first half of the game at the table while picking at nachos and guac. We've grown to really love game days. And even though Rodney loses interest in watching the game itself, he seems to still appreciate the excitement, as well as the privilege of running around the house yelling "touchdown" whenever he feels like.

"TOUCHDOWN!" yelled Rodney, running into the kitchen. "WE SCORED!"

I leaned into the dining room, peering at the score in the corner of the screen. "False alarm. Just a Rodney touchdown."

After the game, the nachos and daytime beer caught up with me, and I was feeling a strong nap coming on. Regrettably, instead of heading upstairs for some quality ergonomic sleep in a real bed, I settled for our couch.

Our couch, despite being really comfy, is about two inches shy of letting me stretch out all the way. As another complication, Ziggy also jumped up onto the couch to join me. I sailed off to sleep for two hours, waking up to a terrible kink in my back.

I collected Rodney from his room to end his quiet time. "Dada, look what I found," he said, ushering me over to his plastic snack bowl on the ground. "It's a buggy."

Rodney flipped the bowl over, showing me a small housefly smushed in half. "And dada," he continued. "Look what he made on the window."

It wasn't until this morning that I took a moment to appreciate how funny that was. I imagine that the events leading up to Rodney, alone in his room smashing a housefly against his window, could have been something like a art-house film. A tense, single perspective drama of a four year old boy subduing a housefly. How did he catch it? What was his weapon of choice? Was the whole thing over in a manner of minutes, or was this an hour? Sadly we'll never know.

I gutted through my back pain and made dinner, quickly throwing together some pork tenderloin and mashed potatoes. As we finished dinner, I was starting to feel a spasm coming on.

"He would you..." I began wincing in pain.

"I'll put Rodney to bed," said Marissa. "I got you."

Thanks to a hot shower, I was able to prevent a full blown spasm. But I did have to spend the rest of the night sporting annoyingly impeccable posture. "I feel like I'm a civil war general posing for a photograph," I laughed, taking a careful seat on the edge of our ottoman.

We settled in for the night to finish our movie pick, The Way. It's a movie where Martin Sheen walks the famous Camino pilgrimage from France to Spain. It's a decent movie, but a little slow moving.

"Are you ready to finish The Way... to Bed?" I asked.

"You mean The Way... to Boredom?" replied Marissa.

Thanks for stopping by today. I hope you have a wonderful day today.