All the Pieces

And there was still a sweatshirt splattered with barbecue sauce waiting, forlorn and forgotten, in the downstairs bathroom sink…

When I work things out just right, I can manage a day where AFTER I work a full shift, I stop on the way home and get groceries, all from a list that I wrote out the day before, not deviating by more than a couple items. I get everything trucked home, cold stuff put away, pantry stuff put away, fruits and veggies on the counter rearranged just so. The kids are home or come home from school and occupy themselves. Daddy makes them an after-school snack, makes himself some lunch, and cleans out the cat’s litter box. Kid the Elder, after only a single request, unloads the dishwasher. Kid the Younger departs to play two doors down with an instruction to return before dark, with which he actually complies. There is trading of Pokemon cards that seems to proceed equitably enough up until the very end. All the while I prep and cook and organize for what amounts to four (different) dinners, four breakfasts, two lunches, diced carrots/celery/bell pepper/onion for salads or whatever, and some leftover Swedish-style meatballs with the ubiquitous barbecue-and-grape-jelly sauce. I have, at various points in the late afternoon/early evening, had a crock pot, the toaster, the toaster oven, the oven, the stove and the water kettle in operation, several simultaneously. Only one cup of tea was consumed, albeit with two tea bags (PGTips, thank you ever so much). Only one load of laundry made it in the washer (and still needs to be changed over to the dryer) – it’s the load containing the aforementioned barbecue-splattered sweatshirt, the only casualty of the day. The cat is around but not underfoot. I get the dishwasher mostly re-loaded after dinner is eaten and defer the washing of the pans to the Daddy. Now I am on to writing this blog post, the first in quite some time to make it all the way out of my head and into an electronic form.

And I wonder throughout: Was this productivity possible because my phone died while I was on my way home and I didn’t even bother to plug it in until the majority of the activity above had been completed? Or was this just one of those days when I was motivated by the anticipated intensity of the remainder of the week, knowing I’ll need to be on my best footing in order to not go skidding crazily off the rails by the end of the day Tuesday? Or might I have finally worked out that eating out is mostly pointless because 1.) it costs a ton of money and 2.) I don’t often enjoy food prepared by restaurants anymore and 3.) I really like cooking. Oh, and 4.) I really like eating, especially my own cooking.

When I started composing this post in my head on the way home from work, I had this whole metaphor thing worked out – about jigsaw puzzles versus crochet, quilting versus knitting, and why I’m not keen on doing the former of either pair but will spend HOURS engaged in the latter of both pairs… It had something to do with what my brain perceives as a kind of chaos inherent in jigsaw puzzles and quilting while intuiting an internal logic for crochet and knitting that makes far more sense to me. If you work it right, you can literally turn a single piece of “string” into a hat, a scarf, a bowl, a bag – all by putting a certain number of stitches in a certain order.

That line of thought arose from a mentioned I made to a co-worker today that I don’t care for jigsaw puzzles because I don’t have the patience for anything that fiddly. She laughed and told me she finds that funny because she’s never met anyone who has the patience to fiddle with a spreadsheet full of data, getting the formulas just so before turning it over to anyone else for their use. Those musings, which wandered through my brain as I drove from work to the grocery store, felt like something… But I don’t know how to connect them to my cooking activities. Mostly because cooking feels like the exception that proves the rule. Because, while cooking needs to be done in an order, just like crochet and knitting, it can also diverge wildly from the “pattern” and still become something perfectly edible, which puts it more in a category shared by quilting.

My brain’s trying to puzzle the metaphor into a deeper, more meaningful state and my body is offering the opinion that I should retire to the couch, pick up some knitting, and watch the NCAA Football National Championship game. The quarterback for the opposing team (because our household favorite is in the game) went to the same high school I attended 25 years ago, so I feel extra duty bound to bear witness. I hope our team wins, of course, but I’m satisfied that I’m the one who’s really won this day. (I’m sure I’ll be even more chuffed with myself when I remember to take my food with me to work tomorrow!)