Monday, July 18, 2011

The Road

Isn't there a road out there that is paved with good intentions?  Where does it lead?  Well, where ever it goes, I'm on it!  I'm blindly travelling down a path of unfinished tasks, lost thoughts and broken promises.  I bet you're wondering when I'm going to start writing about cooking with my kids again.  At this point, so am I!  Lately, it seems that I have been spinning my wheels but getting nowhere.  As soon as I feel like I am finally crawling out from under my pile of laundry, I look around and remember that I was supposed to do something with my girl scouts a few times this summer, and fill out paperwork for various things, and make arrangements to see my niece and nephews, and then there's keeping up with my kids' various activities.....oh yeah, I pared those down to 3 classes per week between the three of them.  Where is all my time going???  Surely I'm not that lost in laundry!  I mean, there's only 5 of us!  The only thing I can think of, is that I am losing time while at the pool.  Really, there's no other place that it could be..... Or is there?

Summer is the only time of year we really get to get out and drink in all that is around us.  We are fortunate to live in a place that has an abundance of things to do, all under the canopy of spectacular scenery.  This is the time of year when we can meander mountain passes, stop and have a picnic, gaze at alpine lakes, get a little lost, and finally make our way home while the sun sets behind us.  This is the only time of year that that kind of day can happen.  Apparently, that kind of laziness requires a lot of time.  So, while I've been thoroughly enjoying the summer, I've been letting a lot of my responsibilities go by the wayside. 

It's also clear that I've killed a few brain cells at the pool and at high altitude.  I did actually intend to do some cooking with the kids this week.  I had it all planned out.  But strangely, I planned to make a fire roasted vegetable gazpacho.  The most I could let them do was brush the vegetables with oil before I put them on the grill, and hit the pulse button on the food processor.  When it finally dawned on me that they weren't going to be able to participate for safety reasons, I thought I would have them work on the flank steak that was also going on the grill.  Wait a minute.....What?!?!  Why would I ever think that my kids would be able to take part in preparing a meal that was going to be made entirely on the grill?!?!  The only thing I can think of is that my brain isn't functioning properly.  Too much sun?  Not enough oxygen?  Nothing else could cause me to so calmly put my kids and fire in the same activity without so much as a warning flag.  Luckily I came to my senses before I handed my 4 year old the tongs.

More mountain adventures are in the works and the pool still beckons daily, so I'm holding back on making any promises or commitments.  For some reason, this year I feel keenly aware that the lazy days are limited and will be over before I'm ready.  So, I'm hoping to play, explore and splash with my kids just a little while longer before attending to the mounting pressures and lengthening lists that are lurking on the other side of the laundry pile.  I am planning to catch up on my responsibilities soon, as well as spend some more time creating culinary delights with the kiddos.  Something frozen seems to be in order.  It'll be harder to burn them that way!

Monday, July 11, 2011

In the middle

Have I cooked with my kids in the past two weeks?  Honestly, no.  I'm embarrassed to say it.  Not one egg cracked, not one pancake flipped, not one piece of cheese melted.  The closest I have gotten to spending quality time with them in the kitchen was congratulating my daughter on pouring her own milk for cereal without spilling.  Something that truly is worth recognition, but hardly a cooking milestone.  Speaking of milestones, I turned 40 last week, hence my absence.  I would like to say that I am dealing with it well and am aging with grace and dignity, but that would be a bald-faced lie.  It's possible I am thinking that if I just stop moving I won't be middle-aged.  If I stand perfectly still, I can actually reverse time and be 25 again.  If I keep my eyes squeezed tightly shut, the wrinkles will disappear and the sagging parts will become taut again.

Ok, so I know none of that is true.  When I open my eyes and start moving again, I'll still be 40.  I'll still have my crows feet, my smile lines and worry lines, and my parts that have travelled South.  (And let's face it, those parts are NOT at the end of their migration!)  I'll still have to face that approximately half of my life is already done.  Perhaps I'm fighting this natural progression tooth and nail because I don't feel like the previous 40 were used well.  There's very little from my past that is note-worthy.  I didn't find a cure for cancer.  I didn't even try.  I didn't so much as walk a 5k, let alone run one, to help raise money so that others could search for a cure!  I didn't accomplish anything that I set out to do when I was young.  I was going to be a, a vet.....wait, a translator for foreign diplomats.....uh, a high-powered business woman.....a boat captain?.........Nope, I didn't do any of that.  I did, however, graduate from college.  Yep, that's right, I ate up 7 years getting a 4 year degree that I used for less than 3 months.  Hardly something to brag about.  I owned and mostly cared for more cats than I am willing to publicly admit.  I held a couple of office jobs - as a secretary.  I took more than five Japanese classes and learned about 5 Japanese words.  I worked on boats and even learned how to drive them - a little - but never got a license.  I made friends and lost them, had my heart broken and may have broken a few as well, I crashed a couple cars, read hundreds of books, drank too many beers, and mixed a little excitement into a semi-ordinary life.  If I put it that way it sounds pretty pathetic, huh?

Recently I reconnected with an old high school friend who, unwittingly, helped me view myself and my life in a new light.  I hadn't talked to or heard from this friend in over 20 years.  Of course we started with the usual, "What the hell have you been up to?"  Mercifully, getting past the formalities took less than 3 minutes, and then we fell into a comfortable and lively conversation - mostly about our kids.  There was a little of, "Ohhh, how cute!" but the meat of the discussion rested in how profoundly parenthood had changed our lives - for the better.  He got to turn 40 in January and so was also bemoaning a lost and wasted youth.  But, he summed it all up in one sentence.  "If I went back to being 20, I wouldn't have my son, and it just wouldn't be worth it."  It took me a few days for the true meaning of that statement to sink in, but when it did I was blessed with the attitude adjustment I desperately needed.  Life is like a story, with each sentence building on the last.  Without the beginning, there would be no middle.  And without the middle, there can be no end.

I'm still a little overwhelmed with the realization that I'm in the middle of my story, but I'm no longer viewing my beginning as lost or wasted.  It's just the beginning of my story; it's what led me to my middle, and without it I wouldn't have the wonderful life I have today.  So, thank you Pat.  Thank you for showing me the true meaning and importance of my youth.

Sometimes, getting your feet dirty is the best part of the journey.