Saturday, February 13 2021

scones, the perfect jenga game, and scented mineral oil



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Dear Journal,

Good evening, everybody. Happy Saturday. Did you know that this was a holiday weekend? I’m not talking about Valentine’s day, either. It’s a real holiday weekend - the kind where we don’t have to work on Monday.

I found out about the holiday during a afternoon happy hour with some work friends.

“Which one is this again?” I asked.

“President’s day,” answered Rob gruffly.

“Is that the same one as Washington’s birthday?” I asked. We paused, giving time for Rob’s fingers to fly across the keyboard.

“Oh, that is Washington’s birthday,” commented Rob.

“If you ask me, Washington got the short end of the stick, there,” I continued. “Imagine if they turned your birthday into a holiday that just celebrates all the people that served in your position of power afterwards.”

Whatever the reason behind George sacrificing his birthday, the important thing is that we don’t have to work on Monday. And in case you do, sorry to rub it in. Hope you have a good day at work, at least.

Sip. After chasing the perfect sourdough discard biscuit recipe for the last month or so, I’m please to report that I’ve finally struck something edible - even delicious. After letting Marissa and Rodney sleep in, I set out a plate of pastries at the breakfast table. I held a slight, smug smile while they devoured them and cleaned the plate.

The secret was pretty simple. Instead of biscuits, I made scones. Scones are practically the same thing, only there’s no folding or tricky circular cutting going on. All you have to do with scones is mix some sweetened milk into unsuspecting biscuit dough, dump it out onto the counter, and gently pat it into a pizza shape. I played it safe this time around. The only distinguishing flavors to counter the funk of sourdough starter was honey and lemon zest. I think next week I’ll try blueberries and poppy seeds. With scones like these, who needs biscuits?

It’s been a very relaxing weekend. We’re cooped up inside, but we have plenty to do. After reading about how my Recker family ancestors called their harsh Montana winters “a time of renewal, healing, and fellowship”, I feel inspired to find the same kind of renewal and healing while shut-in here.

Easy for me to say. I got out of shoveling yet again. Marissa and Rodney had to trudge into the harsh to take care of the fresh powder that fell last night. Meanwhile I was drinking hot coffee at my computer working on adding a scoreboard, lives, and sounds to my funny little parachute game.

Studying Recker family genealogy continues. Sometimes Marissa and I even quiz each other over the branches in the family tree. Strangely enough, she’s picking up on things much more quickly than I am. I may not have the names and relatives down, but I’ve grown to admire and respect them as characters in a story. Currently I’m reading about their homestead in Montana. They formed a relationship with the nearby Native American tribe. A Native girl who was Minnie’s age even challenged her to a horse raise through the desert. It sounds like something out of a Disney movie, doesn’t it?

Horseback riding was a big theme in my family’s history. Marissa got a kick out of it because she grew up with a love of horses. She took lessons and had regular riding sessions. She recalls she even volunteered her time to tend to the horses on the ranch just for the experience. She’s bugged me about going riding with her, but I’ve always dismissed horseback riding as just silly country stuff. With this knowledge, she might have some leverage finally.

I’d like to give a shout-out to Great Uncle Don. I skimmed a recent email from him sitting in my inbox. It contains a gentle and much-needed correction to my understanding of our family tree, as well as a concise summary of both sides. Even though I haven’t met them in the book yet, the Boxum family line is much more winding and intimidating. I have my work cut out for me. Thanks for the notes, Uncle Don - keep ‘em coming.

It’s been a jenga weekend. We played with Rodney at the dinner table. He had eaten so much candy that he could barely sit still. His hands quivered from sugar induced excitement when he reached for bricks. He wooped and screamed each time the tower fell.

Marissa and I continued to play after he went to bed. We set out to make the perfect jenga game, which we deduced was a tower made by single criss-crossing bricks stacked on top of each other. We also had finished enough beer to actually think this was possible.

“Think about it,” I laughed. “If the tower looks like that, there’s nothing more to do.”

“We’d win,” replied Marissa. “We’d be able to say we beat jenga.”

I came up with an algorithm that seemed promising. I took the edge brick from the highest available row, and no matter what Marissa would have to remove the brick opposite to mine on the same row. The strategy worked for about seven turns, and whether it was by physics or just the table shaking from our revelrous laughter, the lopsided tower finally fell.

2021 02 13 the perfect game

Earlier this afternoon, we did a fun experiment with Rodney. This Ryan’s World experiment featured a glass vase filled with mineral oil, some food-colored water, and alka-seltzer tablets.

I had a full bottle of mineral oil in the kitchen at the ready. I use it to wipe down the cutting board, and I burn it in small amounts to maintain the coating on my cast iron skillets. Why would I be willing to part with a whole bottle of mineral oil? Because I accidentally bought the scented kind, and each time I burned it on the stove, the kitchen filled with the perturbing aroma of burning rose petals. It smelled like a diaper bag lit on fire. It smelled like someone filled my oven with bath toys and turned on the broiler.

So I was happy to part with the scented mineral oil. Rodney dropped in a handful of crumbled alka-seltzer pellets. We ooh‘ed and ahh‘ed as thick, purple bubbles percolated to the top.

2021 02 13 oil experiment

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a great Saturday, everyone.