Yep, who knew one could walk into a Lowe’s in February and be looking at a brand new kitchen installed by early June? Demo and installation didn’t actually begin until May so really it was a one month project, culminating with the countertop delivery yesterday. There were a couple reasons to worry, including first when they showed up in an Executive Laundry truck. My three-piece suits weren’t due back from the cleaners until next week, I thought…Next the guys came in and one immediately asked if he could use my bathroom, wearing a pained expression on his face and barely waiting for a response. “Sure,” I yelled thru the closed bathroom door. “The plumber is coming tomorrow. He should be able to repair whatever… is about to be damaged…” Then these guys had to muscle in two 400-lb pieces of quartz countertop, and I tried not to look as they navigated through our new side door and around our new cabinets, making noises that sounded considerably strained. There was a bit of an issue with perfectly straight backsplash pieces needing to fit under or against windows and walls that, after 60+ years of settling, are not perfectly straight. One guy showed me a potential problem and utilizing my still honed cross-cultural skills (they were speaking a lot of perhaps Spanish) I simply shrugged and said, “Imperfect house.” I’ve always found that speaking like a Native American chieftain breaks down any communication boundaries and really opens the flood gates to all sorts of interpersonal exchange. In this case, it was a small chuckle from the installation dudes.
This reminds me of my one recent attempt at cartooning, a little something I drew up during a rare down moment at work which I’ll try to paste in here in post. Can we paste it in in post, Jimmy? Jimmy’s my blog technician and one helluva guy, from Guatemala I think. Jimmy – paste in post? Small comic, big laugh. Ok. He’s cursing at me, I think. Anyway, this is called Sioux Chef and should be self explanatory AND hilarious. Single tear reference and all.
Speaking of Guatemala, I might have been from Latin America in a former life because I have recently hit upon a killer rice and beans recipe that has the kids secretly liking it after many loud proclamations that they don’t. It started with Karen making tacos for the kids and me making rice and beans separately (just one of twelve ways I’m clinging to my independence amidst suburban family life) but then mixing all the leftovers. Now I just make it all together, and I tried calling it my “famous Taco Explosion” dish in an attempt to market it to the under 10 set in my house. They were not amused. But basically here it is: you saute your beef and onions and green peppers, mix in a can of black beans, a taco skillet sauce and a healthy amount of chopped fresh cilantro. Maybe a fresh tomato. I say maybe because it won’t bring the production to a screeching halt if you’re out of tomatoes. Let this simmer for a bit. Then I get the Goya frozen plantains (check your frozen food section) that just need to be warmed up for 10-12 minutes in the toaster oven. Throw the plantains in and chop ’em up a bit. Serve this over some rice you’ve cooked separately, sprinkle some cheddar cheese on top and you will swear on your madre’s abuela that you hain’t never tasted such authentic rice and beans before. The plantains and the fresh cilantro make this dish… so if you’re against these ingredients or indifferent to them in any way, then just adios amigo yourself to the next paragraph please. We have no more call for you in this here paragraph — where serious rice and beans business is being conducted. And concluded. Oh wait, so yeah, you make this dish one night — everyone else sort of just picks at it, and then you have yourself lunch for the next three days too! It’s… what? Not a ringing endorsement? I can’t help it that my family is not Latin American.
So we tried to forego a vacation this year what with the kitchen expense, but we did still manage to steal away for a long weekend to New Jersey, primarily to see Karen’s cousin play his last lacrosse game at Rutgers but also to get a day’s worth of R&R on the Jersey Shore. Turned out me and Isaac were pretty sick — as per usual on vacations — and I had to work a bit one morning to boot. Isaac, who sometimes gets carsick, proceeded to throw up not once but twice in the backseat on the drive down with no time to pull over and get him out of the car first, turning a four hour drive into a six hour comedy of errors. It was also bitterly cold so we managed maybe 30 minutes of looking for shells on the beach before the wind drove us back to the car. But the weather improved for the lacrosse game and we got to see Karen’s extended family who had also made the trip out, and her cousin scored three goals. So not a bad trip in the end.
Isaac’s turning 7 this weekend which means we can’t quite say we have two small kids anymore. We pretty much just have two “kids” now… 7 and 9. There are still some tantrums that take us right back to the terrible twos, but generally they are becoming funny and interesting people to be around. Plus I can always bring up what happened to the cats, if they start acting up. This usually quiets them right down. I’m kidding!! 1) It would not quiet them down, as I would get some very loud indignant arguments about my job as a parent from Sydney, and 2) Isaac would second Sydney’s emotions with a “Yeah!” and a smug head bob. Isaac is a master of body language.
Anyway, hope you all are doing well. Might see some old friends in Baltimore soon during a Peaceworker reunion the weekend of June 13th. Wrote a song for Baltimore right after the recent riots there called “Paint over rust” which is posted at http://www.reverbnation.com/ericfriedman. The day I posted that song was the day Martin O’Malley announced his run for the presidency, which was a bit ironic seeing as how one of the community campaigns that I helped run for him was all about throwing a coat of paint over some dilapidated school buildings. No, I’m not quite that cynical about it — we mobilized a lot of volunteers and brightened up some classrooms and cafeterias and such. And who can forget Crabtown?? We raised a good amount of money for bigger improvements, like new carpets and new windows for a bunch of schools. So I won’t suggest this to be his campaign theme song.
Until next time,