Thursday, March 16, 2017

3/9- 3/10 -  2017

Days 9 and 10:

  Playing catch up on my Lenten log, I realize now that if I am going to be so lazy (my prime identifying characteristic) I should at the very least take some notes.  I have been constantly in the search of new ideas for recipes that are both gluten free and edible.  Potatoes, rice and corn are our friends.  We got a circular from our local grocery store and they had a really clever recipe for an inside out Thai salad roll.  Basically it is shrimp and rice vermicelli with cilantro, mint, veg and peanut dressing.  I had to find a gf recipe for the peanut dressing as the one on the store shelf was not, but that was easy enough.  It turned out great.  I ate leftovers the next day and it was great then as well.

  Mario has been a video game nut for a long time.  It was getting to the point that I was becoming concerned.  We knew that once he started school he would start interacting with kids more and hoped that it would translate into more collaborative play at home as well.  It has finally happened.  Mario is all about board games, card games and now, his new favorite game is dominos.  I get it.  It is a classic.  I love that whereas he would just want to plug in and turn into a zombie, now he wants to play games with me.  I will not begrudge him that in the least.  I just have a lot to do and wish Sophia would play with him too.  The age gap between them is becoming more apparent.  One might think that as they grew older it would seem smaller (in proportion to their ages.)  I just have a feeling that puberty will be a major game changer.  Not looking forward to that.  All I can do there is lay down groundwork so they know that they can talk to me and keep me in the loop.... hahaha right.

 I also made a pretty great lemon pound cake from the America's Test Kitchen GF Cookbook.  It was stellar.  Everybody wants it again.  I may just have to accommodate them.

Sunday, March 12, 2017


Day 8:
  I got up a little early to get my mind and body ready for a day on the road.  Once a month I drive to our Redmond OR office to service the vehicle there, perform basic routine maintenance and make sure the office has everything they need to run smoothly.  Fortunately for the Redmond office, their supervisor ( the regional manager) is excellent at her job and runs a tight ship.  My duties there are mostly perfunctory.  That being said, the fleet vehicle is a little old and has had some issues lately.  I was glad to get a chance to check it out.  As always on my Redmond days, I take a fleet truck home and get on the road early to get past Portland traffic and up the mountain before it gets too late.  Some people go batty in a car on a relatively long trip all alone.  I love it.  i like driving.  I like seeing the foothills to the Cascades, all of the tall forests and the snow on the mountain.  I love coming down from the snow and hitting the desert east face of the mountain.  Driving through Warm Springs, listening to their public radio station with its Native American language lessons, notes from the community center, adverts for the suicide prevention hotline and the ridiculously eclectic collection of songs they play from the DJ booth.  One of the few stations where you hear Conway Twitty followed by Jay Z.
  As is often the case with routine actions, particularly ones that take you away from an otherwise droll task, there is a certain degree of serenity in it.  In fact, it really borders on ceremony for me.  I think it may have something to do with the fact that my last real spiritual experience was from the time I worked in the Native American Cedar Bough program as a counselor.  My friend Richard, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation was very open with his knowledge and his friendship.  He shared a lot, particularly with the Non-Native staff and clients.  It really meant a lot to me, being so recently bereaved and having no real spiritual outlet for my angst.  These little trips, where I can turn on the radio and hear the drums beat, allow me to experience the present without feeling like I am trying to steal or appropriate something.
  I got to Redmond in good time.  I followed up with some safety measures after the IT server rack nearly caught on fire the previous week and I checked out the work the repair tech had performed.  I inspected the fire extinguisher, took the vehicle in for a lube service and checked in with the supervisor.  It ended up taking a bit longer than I had planned, but before too long I was back on the road, ready to repeat my journey but in reverse.  It is always pretty cool to me, driving from the sunshine, through the snow and down into the hazy fog bank of the east side.  Having a GPS on board my vehicle ensures that if I go over 70 an alert will be sent out to my boss.  It is a great thing to have cruise control and nowhere to be.

I got home at a reasonable hour.  I stopped in at the McMenamins at Oak Hills and picked up a growler fill.  I got home and started making dinner.  Pizza from scratch, one of the family faves.  This time I also tried an America's Test Kitchen recipe for Gluten Free pizza crust.  I made a little boo boo and put too much salt in it.  Lisette noticed but she really liked the texture.  So I think we have our GF pizza solution, I just need to learn how to follow directions I guess.  All in all, it was a pretty relaxing day.  Looking forward to next time.


Days 6 & 7:

The days run together, particularly when you are lax in your recording of such.  I didn't ave much to say, mostly because things were quiet and routine.  Monday was a pretty clear day at work.  I was able to get some things taken care of before my Boss headed out of town.  He spends a couple weeks a month overseeing the other programs around the country and leaves me to take care of my campus.  In June he is moving to Memphis which will pretty much mean I am flying solo.  Great.  As if working in the basement like a Morlock wasn't bad enough.  Any way, the sun was shining, I got the go ahead to buy some new toys, I got home before everybody else and had some time to just relax and gather my thoughts.  For having such a solitary job in such a quiet location, I sure don't feel I have much time to think and ponder.

Tuesday was not as nice outside.  It was however a bit more eventful.  I realized the pool filters in the pump house were leaking and needed some work.  I was able to finally locate the parts I needed and get everything put back together.  That was my new experience for the day...whoopee.  Part of the problem with having an aging campus that nobody really knows what to do with in the short term means that you have to pick your battles as far as maintenance and how much money and effort to sink into projects.  I am sure there is an analogy there somewhere for life.  We often operate under the assumption that our life is sacred and we should spare no expense when it comes to our health and self-improvement.  In reality, we have to compromise every day.  Some days you eat a crappy hamburger.  Some days you just hang out watching movies instead of going out for a walk or a run.  Some times you let your kids stay up until 10 pm because it is Friday and you don't feel like going full Nazi on them.  At the same time I have to constantly remind myself that moderation is not an excuse to avoid your responsibilities.  At least it shouldn't be.

Thursday, March 9, 2017


Day 5:
  Family Day.  Mario was feeling poorly enough we decided to stay home from church.  It honestly didn't take me very much convincing.  It ended up being a crummy day outside but inside we were warm, clean, happy and together.  Not much more to be asked for on a pleasant March morning.  Sophia, on her quest for cooking experience, asked for me to teach her how to make scrambled eggs.  I have a tendency to over explain things.  In a completely unrelated sentiment, Sophia has a tendency to get anxious when I start explaining how to do things.  I realized today that Sophia learns best as I do, through practice and experimentation.  It is not so much that I don't/won't learn from the experiences of others and take instruction well.  It is more that I find it difficult to conceptualize oral instructions.  Practice allows me to take oral/written instruction and contextualize them.  Everything else is just jibber jabber.  I continue to learn more about myself through the experiences of my children. 

 I got a little work done...but not too much.  I don't want to bee TOO efficient.  I still need a long to do list to keep me up at night.  We relaxed a bit and played Monopoly...because Mario likes money and wants to torture me.  Somehow I, the worst person with money in the world, found a way to win.  Then again, if I could figure out a way to make capitalism into a game, I could probably be a rich man.  As it is, a dominating victory over little kids with 35 years of experience playing the game seems a little hollow.  Note to self:  let the kids win sometimes. 

Started thinking about my next brewing project.  I am thinking about making an IPA.  I really have had limited success with IPAs so far.  There is a first time for everything.  I am also thinking about a cranberry hopped cider.  I will follow up when I have made up my mind.

Monday, March 6, 2017


Day 4:
  Lisette spent the whole day with our friends Chris McLean, his wife Candice, their kids and Teresa Carlton (McLean).  They are getting the home they grew up in ready to be put on the market.  I get plenty of kid time on the weekends, but this was a little special.  Sophia wanted to learn how to bake (I've been on a baking kick recently.)  This may have also been due to the fact that the second and third seasons of The Great British Baking Show just dropped on Netflix.  So I taught her the basics of a gluten free chocolate chip cookie.  There are a lot of great lessons found in one recipe.  She learned about melting butter in the microwave.  There is the concept of incorporating dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately.  I was also able to explain the purpose of gluten in baking and why we use other ingredients such as Xanthan Gum or psyllium husks to recreate some of the functions of wheat and gluten in our GF recipes.  There was basic operation of the oven, how to thoroughly mix a batter and the best practices for making proper measures of dry ingredients.  A lot of info in a little recipe.  I tried to be as minimally involved as possible.  It took a lot of self-control to keep from taking the mixing spoon away from her.  That being said, I had her use a spoon and whisk instead of a mixer.  I thought, "well, she should know how hard it is to do it manually so she can value the ease of mechanization."  I let her go on the scooping and forming.  Everything came out great.  Sophia is getting excited about cooking.  That makes me excited.
  Mario was more excited about spending some time playing games.  He really like interactivity, while Sophia likes independent crafts and outlets for her creativity.  I am not certain yet whether the difference is developmental or traits of personality in nature.  I always thought that Sophia and her sensitivity with her peers at school, resulting in introversion was an outlier.  I have a sneaking suspicion that Mario's quiet nature leads to a degree of social dysphoria.  He enjoys company, but seems at times ill equipped to create a situation in which to find it.  It could of course just be that he likes MY company and wants to play games with his daddy.  I do not begrudge him that in the least.  In fact, I am hoping that it burgeons and I can convince him to enjoy some of the things that I grew to love through exposure by my father.  Hunting, fishing, camping and the like were not really my nature but I have grown to appreciate them.  I think Mario has the potential for that as well.  For now, we will stick to Stratego and chess.  He loves playing.  I know I should probably let him win...but then're a daisy if you do.  And I ain't no daisy.  I ain't no daisy at all.


Day 3:  I had a day full of missed adventure.  Don't mistake me.  I spoke correctly.  It was not a day of misadventure, but of missed adventure.  I had planned to stop in on the Trump rally which I had mistakenly believed to be on Friday.  It was Saturday.  I made a trip out to the Feed and Grain store but got hopelessly lost so I just bailed and went home.  I had thawed out some nice steaks until I was reminded that it was a Friday in Lent and Sophia and Mario were keenly aware of the fact.  Though I really don't care about the meat on Friday rule/guideline for Lent I figured, why spare them this travesty?  It builds character.  Though I would like to joke that character is a trait which my children are sorely lacking, that would just be patently false.  Still, exercising the old punitive Catholic trope of a god that wants us to suffer with Jesus (the literal meaning of compassion = to suffer alongside) is a timeless work of love.  Love of whom?  I still haven't figured that one out yet.  I strongly suspect that asceticism and zealous piety, though in the guise of love of God are also in some ways a form of self aggrandization.  It makes one feel good and proud to be so well devoted to God.  It also helps prop up the notion that I am a "good" Christian or a better Christian.  I think the same traps in which the faithful accuse the faithless of landing are sprung amongst themselves as well...and in spades.
  So we ate no meat.  Actually, I made cheese pizzas for the kids (from scratch) and a veggie pizza for Lisette (with a GF shell) and I made a meat-stuffed calzone for myself because 1) nobody else eats calzones in my house, 2) you couldn't see if was jammed full of ham, pepperoni and bacon, and 3) My hypocrisy only goes so far.  I have quite a bit of experience with pizza making, but I am always looking for new topping combinations.  This time for Lisette I made a green chile, onion, fresh mozzarella and raw tomato.  Solid.

Friday, March 3, 2017


 Lenten Journal Day 2:  I want to help my children see the world as an exciting and uplifting place.  In short, I am willing to lie to them.  I remember as a child that I was exposed to music and art from a young age.  When I heard about six months ago that the Broadway show Matilda (based upon the book by Roald Dahl) was coming to Portland, I knew it was an experience we couldn't pass up.  So last night (3/2) we dressed up, polished off a meal and homework in record time and stepped out the door at the time of day we would usually be getting ready for bed and ventured downtown. 
 Sophia is a huge Roald Dahl fan.  Her Dahl collection is her most treasured and definitely most used set of books.  She has read his complete works several times and was well prepared.

 The show was great for a number of reasons.  Dahl wrote the story, timeless classic.  Tim Minchin wrote the music and lyrics, I love his work.  The cast was phenomenal, especially Gabby Gutierrez as Matilda and Bryce Ryness as Ms. Trunchbull.  Fantastic.  We got there early and had the opportunity to look through the program.  I saw that my high school band director was in the orchestra pit.  I was able to pop my head in and say hi to him during the Intermission.  Jack Quinby is still rocking it.  Very nice.  Mario didn't make it past the first act.  He slept through at least $34 worth of theater, surpassing expectations. 

 In reflection on the show, I realized several of the themes were very poignant and well established.  There is of course the message of recognizing and valuing the gifts granted to us, whether they be our talents or the gift of amazing people in our lives.  There is also the message of courage, particularly in the face of big, powerful bullies, especially those that have a position of authority over you.  The Trump parallel is not lost on me.  I love that Matilda's story that she tells is constantly dark and the hopes of the acrobat and the escape artist are continuously confronted with challenges, loss and tragedy.  Still from that darkness comes strength and love.  I have found that the most profound experiences in my life have stemmed from what I would consider tragedy.  From sad events or from devastating experiences you can easily be destroyed.  The trick is to find a way to peace from those things.  I believe hope and love are the best path forward from tragedy.  They are not a panacea.  They are however indispensable.  

 The look on Sophia's face as the final ten minutes rolled by was priceless.  She was smiling/laughing straight through.  I was so happy that she enjoyed it, as did Lisette and I.  Mario liked the parts he was awake for.  Definitely worth the investment of time and money.  I think the theater will be seeing more of us.  We are already planning our next show.