I got my quiet morning hours in. Wrote 500 words on a new short story that I realized may just blossom into a very long short or maybe a novella. It’s turning into something I’m enjoying writing because it doesn’t have the weight of my works in progress. It’s a bit of a lark instead of a serious tale. I may decide to post the first two thousand words below. Or maybe not.
But, as the title says … the unanticipated things of this first day of my weekend far outshine the anticipated.
The youngest Princely Midget is going to Winter Homecoming with his girlfriend tonight. Last night, he asked me what I was making for dinner tonight. I told him I didn’t know. See, I thought he and his girl were going out to dinner with some other friends. With the older Princely Midget out tonight as well, I expected a quiet night at home or maybe a dinner out. Apparently, plans can change. She came over for dinner and it was just the two of them. Cue the violinist etching out a romantic tune in the corner.
“I’ll make whatever you want,” I told him.
“Can you make brown butter and mizithra?” he asked.
He loves this dish at Spaghetti Factory, which is another story for another time. I detest the place as it represents the worst example of the Americanization of an ethnic food. He’s my buddy, though, my bumble bee (another story for another day), and sometimes I gotta do what I gotta do. After I sighed, I said, “Of course,” and I began planning the meal — a dish I had never made before.
In the meantime, as mentioned above, I got in some of my Saturday morning anticipateds, and a few unanticipateds.
My brother, who will turn 54 this year, was diagnosed with diabetes when he was 18. He is now, very possibly, the healthiest 53-year-old diabetic there is in the world. When he received his diagnosis he changed his life, becoming a fitness nut, devoted to exercise and outdoor adventures. He backpacks and snowshoes and does crazy things like bicycle double centuries. That’s 200 miles in a day, folks. And for a few years, he made efforts to complete the Furnace Creek 508 — a September “race” in Death Valley that requires its competitors to bicycle 508 miles in 48 hours. Here’s his story of those efforts.
He has decided to do the thing again. As a result, he needs to train for it, and he needs a back-up bicycle, which is where I come in. At the end of this month, he’s going to spend five days bicycling somewhere, putting some miles in and starting the long slog towards a September weekend when he will once again try to conquer 508 miles. I have a bike that he loves and I hardly ride it at all because … insert whine here … it’s just not as convenient as running.
As I’ve struggled with my groin injury and my inability to run, I’ve known for a year now that bicycling would not be a problem. I’ve tried and failed to get back into it. Since the first of the year, weather willing, I have told myself ever week to get out there on the weekend and just start with a short ride. In other words, to get back up on the horse. I’ve always found reasons not to do it.
This morning my brother came over to check out my bike to make sure it was still in good condition and worthy of his efforts. As we talked, I discussed my need to get back on the thing and get some riding in and then I gave him all the reasons I felt I couldn’t. I need to spend time writing, my carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists and how I’m not sure how holding the handle bars over a long bike ride will impact that. Whine, whine, whine.
He left and I went back in the house. I started putting together the grocery list, planning lunch and the ensuing nap, and thinking about how I would fit writing and blogging into an afternoon of cooking for my kid. And then I realized something. I had time for a bike ride. No, not the two hour ride I wish I could do( but, in all honesty, really shouldn’t be doing at this point), but a 45-minute jaunt around the neighborhood. Eleven miles later I was done. And I realized something — I can treat bicycling as I did running. When I was running, as long as I wasn’t training for a half marathon, I was happy with 3-5 miles, 30-45 minutes, several times a week. I need to set my cycling sights the same. Several 45-60 minute rides each week, with a weekend two-hour ride on the bike trail or along country roads, will get me back into some kind of reasonable physical condition.
And here’s where Eeyore steps in. Ever since I got off the bike I’ve been barely able to walk. My right knee has stiffened up massively and I have no absolutely idea why. I’ve actually seen the doctor about my knee and the response was “don’t know, there’s nothing wrong, it’s just one of those things.” There are times like this when I feel like my body has failed me and is in an irreversible decline. Groin injury. Check. Plantar fascitis. Check. Carpal tunnel syndrome. Check. Tennis elbow. Check. Problem in the c-4 or c-5 vertebrae that sends pain signals to my shoulders and chest. Check. What’s next? Yeah, the knee from a simple, unchallenging 45 minute bike ride. Is there any body part left for me to injure?
I remain undaunted, however. I now need to figure how to fit a couple of these rides into my week day schedule when the sun is dropping just a bit too early.
Bike ride over, I shopped, I ate lunch, I retired to my room for my nap. The one that didn’t happen because I picked up my Kindle to read a little more of the novel I was reading. Charlie and Pearl by Tammy Robinson. I will write more about this later and post a link to her blog, but my nap went unslept because of this story. It was one of those truly remarkable pieces of fiction that I needed to read to its end and when I got there, the idea of closing my eyes and sleeping seemed impossible.
So, I got up, did a few things on-line. Did you know that people apparently don’t buy as many books on Saturdays as they do during the week? My sales are down dramatically today from yesterday, but my rankings haven’t slipped that much.
Around 3:00 I started making dinner. On one working leg. Three hours and a few beers later dinner was served.
It began with making the dough for Parker House Rolls. I found the recipe in Bon Appetit a few months ago and they have quickly become the favored bread in Midget land. Maybe it’s the Crisco in the dough, the cup or so of melted butter that finds its way brushed onto the rolls at various stages, or the sea salt sprinkled on top before baking. Here the rolls are before going in the fridge to be chilled before baking.
And here’s the finished product.
In between, I needed to make the pasta. No store bought spaghetti for the Princely Midget and his girl.
A few eggs, some olive oil, a little bit of water, flour and you’ve got your pasta.
Homemade fettucini with brown butter and mizithra. I asked the kids if I could sprinkle parsley on it just to give it some color. Absolutely not.
Included with the dinner was caesar salad with homemade dressing, and salmon.
And through the three hours of preparation, I listened to this fabulous voice. How the hell is she only sixteen?
So, there you have it. My anticipateds for today didn’t all come to pass. Instead they were replaced by things I didn’t know would happen that were far better. A novel I finished reading that brought me to tears several times (it’s been far too long since I’ve cried in the reading of a story) and left me stunned with its elegant simplicity, a newfound story that may find space to grow in the days and weeks ahead that I’m excited to try to write, a short bike ride that told me it can be done, a new voice that fills my head with an incredible sound, lyrics and presence, and a meal I loved to prepare for two special people … oh yeah … here’s the happy couple…
And, no, they don’t normally dress as cowboys. Those going to the dance were supposed to go in matching outfits. So, cowboy and cowgirl it was.
It’s been a good day. Tomorrow will be better.