March 29, 2010
Greetings from the deep end!
I am a relatively socially inept person who never really grew up and has never really had that many friends. It is only now (at the age of 26) that I have become aware of a few social situations. I have never been the life of the party, I didn't get along too well with my college roommates, and God only knows why Pam was interested in me as I was certainly no charmer. All of that is to qualify my latest observation of the social aspects to modern humanity as being new to me.
Recently I have noticed an annoying little social quirk that I am going to call the "Contextual Relationship". It works like this; in a work setting two people get to know each other and have a certain relationship that is built over time and that both people are relatively comfortable with. They laugh and joke and share personal stories and anecdotes, they have inside jokes and a good feeling of what they can and can't say to the other person without causing discomfort or offence. Now, if we are to observe the same two people when they accidentally run into each other at the grocery store, we find that they are uncomfortable, don't have much to say and what they do say is minimal at best and awkward at worst. Some may even classify the meeting as shy, like the 7th grade dance, boys on one side of the room and girls on the other. This is the contextual relationship, one that is based on and only works in a certain setting. I have even noticed this in myself to the degree that if I know a person from church, I may not even recognize them at the store.
Now, looking back, I can also relate this observation to my childhood. Specifically, remembering having friends at school and being invited to their homes for the first time. It was quite nerve racking as I recall. Not sure what would be expected of me, not sure how their family would react to me. Perhaps this is only a personal problem. Perhaps I am one of only a few who suffers from contextual relationships; whose friendships are bound by a specific set of walls or boundaries. Regardless, I don't like it. I wish to have the same relationship with a person regardless of our surroundings. I would like to be as comfortable with a person in church as I am at work or at the store. I believe that this is a completely irrational occurrence, and that I should do whatever I can to combat it.
Why then, does this contextual relationship anomaly occur? I don't have an answer today. I had hoped that by writing about the situation I would be able to organize my thoughts enough to find the answer, as I often do. However, my brain has failed me. If it continues this behavior I may have to poke it with a Q-Tip. Oops, I take that back, my brain got scared and chose to comply rather than face the Q-Tip consequence. I have thought of a possible cause for the disease, masks. Often one speaks of or hears of the masks that we all as humans wear. We wear our work mask and our church mask and our family or school mask each so that we can be the person we perceive that we need to be for the group of people that are around us. Ah, it all comes together now. The two who are work friends wear their work mask that is comfortable in the situation they find themselves in at work. Then, when they run into each other at the store, they aren't wearing their work mask; they are either wearing their family mask or their store mask or no mask at all. Being caught with the wrong mask on can be quite discomforting, but not more than being caught with no mask at all. Nudity in public is one of humanities greatest fears.
So then, the atrocity that is the contextual relationship boils down to one main cause, fear. If we were all to be able to become ourselves without fear of being disliked or rejected or of offending others, the contextual relationship would cease to be. Each person would have no reason to feel uncomfortable wearing no mask because they would always be wearing no mask. Adam and Eve never felt embarrassed that they had no coverings because they never had any coverings. I believe that it may be a very uncomfortable thing to do, and I am not sure how to go about getting it done, but I believe that if we can all find a way to take off all of our masks and learn to be ourselves all of the time, we can beat contextual relationships. Either that or we will make a pill for it. CONRELATIA, for your contextual relationship disorder, side effects include but are not limited to…
March 25, 2010
- Bamboo Chop Sticks
- Do you have a pile of chop sticks in a drawer in your kitchen? I bet not. I have found that these little bamboo tools are most useful for many things from picking meat from crab legs to cleaning dog hair from the bath tub drain. They are cheap and easily replaceable. Just a few weeks ago I was making a stuffed pork roast that was too small for any of my traditional roasters (of which I have 4). Breaking out my MacGyver skills, I took a bread pan and placed six chop sticks in three "X" shapes so that when placed across them, they held the roast about two inches from the bottom of the pan. When using bamboo chop sticks in the oven or on the grill one must remember to soak them in hot water for about 15 minutes prior to heating. I almost had a little accident there, woops!
- Woks and Peanut Oil
- I have three woks. An electric one, one with a flat bottom for using on my electric range, and one with the classic domed bottom for using on my gas grill. Each one is special to me in its own way. Many people don't like to use the wok because they find it difficult to use. The key is to cook very hot, and I mean 8 on the 1 to 10 scale, hot. Some people know this but then have the problem of smoking oil and burning food. The secret here is to use Peanut Oil on the hot wok. Peanut Oil has a very high smoke point, that is, it doesn't burn. If the oil doesn't burn, and the food keeps moving, the food doesn't burn either. Then you have awesome food with little oil, really fast
- Cast Iron
- Last May, for my birthday, I got my first cast iron skillet. My life was forever changed that day. I have since become a cast iron purist, and have acquired a French oven and griddle. No soap shall ever touch my cast iron, and woe is to any man who tries to use soap on my cast iron. It requires a little more time and some extra steps for storage than your modern non-stick skillets but the difference is well worth it. From searing stew meat to frying tortillas to baking biscuits, cast iron is the bee’s knees.
- Santoku Knife
- The Santoku knife is an Asian style set to the classic chef's knife. It has a broader blade with a snub-nose rather than a gradual taper. As for mine, I got it at Ross. The curve of the blade lends to a very comfortable rocking motion while chopping or mincing, and the scallops on the blade keep food from sticking. Though it shows how much of a nerd I am, this knife is one of the coolest things ever.
I have loved to cook since I was five years old and my babysitter let me stir the spaghetti-os. Oh, how I remember standing on a stool with a giant spoon stirring the little yellow circles in red sauce. A fire had been lit. When I was a teenager, after having made stuffed green peppers or some other calamity...again, my mother said something to the effect of, "If you don't like it you can cook!" To which I replied, "Fine! I will!" If you have read the previous installments of this blog you might recognize this as another favorite game that my mother and I would play. So I began to learn. I, being a modern kid, would sit for hours at a time and watch food network. Learning at the feet of such chefs as; Alton Brown, Emeril Lagasse, and Jamie Oliver. Soon I went to college where I learned to cook good food cheap. Did you know that one batch of refried beans and hamburger can be made into burritos for at least four meals? Or maybe that if you buy a 10lb box of chicken you might anger your room mates for taking up half of the freezer space? You do however, save a lot of money, making your room mates displeasure well worth it, for you.
After Pam and I were married, I took the job of head cook; the families, "master chef", if you will. As our married life went on and a couple years passed, I hurt my back and spent a large amount of time watching mid-day television. There is no such thing as good mid-day television, unless you are willing to watch PBS. I love PBS. If PBS were a thing that I could put in my kitchen, I would put it next to my knife block. It was at this time that I was introduced to other great TV Chefs such as; Ming Tsai, Rick Bayless, Jacques Pepin, Julia Child and the whole gang down at America's Test Kitchen. After my back healed, I went back to work and got busy with life. After a few months, I got really tired and worn out. I took some time to evaluate my life and found that I really had no hobbies. There was nothing in my life that I did just for fun. I watched TV and played Video games but they were hardly restful as I only feel rested when I have physically done something or accomplished something that I enjoy. That day I chose to pursue cooking in a more aggressive fashion. From that point on I would experiment and learn and grow in the kitchen.
Now I spend most of my free time thinking up new ways to cook food. I made a green bean sauce a few months ago that shows promise. I have cracked many of my favorite Asian food recipes. My biggest problems now are trying to explain to my wife why I need three types of flour, four types of oil and five types of vinegar. "Do you want good food or not?" I scream at her, to which she answers in like fashion, "I'll just have ONE box of Mac N' Cheese!" Great. I'm glad all my hard work is being appreciated. I suppose I should be happy with her response, at least I still get to play some of my favorite games.
March 22, 2010
Greetings from the deep end!
It is 10:41pm and Aryll is awake for feeding time, she is four days old and sleeping very well. All things considered, life is great. I wanted to write this evening to get my mind calmed but I don't have anything to write about. There isn't anything on my mind at the moment. I don't have any pet peeves or epiphanies to work out. So then, rather than spout gibberish for a few hundred words and wasting everyone's time, I have chosen to write about…writing.
It may sound weird but I think that writing is a bit like having a comfy office chair. I have a comfy office chair; I keep it in my living room. It isn't really an office chair. It is a green chair with white stripes, or is it a white chair with green stripes? Guess what? IT DOESN'T MATTER! It is a cute chair where I can sit comfortably and relax. Writing, for me, is the same. It is a place to be comfortable, to work out my thoughts and feelings. I wouldn't go as far as to call it therapeutic because that would be admitting that I need therapy. I am not crazy. Who said that? Anyway, I often feel that I get caught up in the craziness of life and don't take the time to really consider the ramifications of what is going on. I don't feel that I take enough time to smell the roses and when I do smell them I don't take enough time to really take in the smell. To notice what it smells like, to notice the depth and richness of the flavor. To touch the pedals and feel how soft and silky they are. See, it is not enough to smell the roses. When you only smell in passing, the experience never makes it past the sensory part of the brain. One must process life to remember, to enjoy, and to experience it. That is why I write. So I can process what is going on. So I can take a better part of current events with me into the future. Too much life is lost when we don't take the time to properly enjoy it. Often I may just write gibberish, and that is okay. It is through writing gibberish that I can relax in the comfy chair of my mind.
March 19, 2010
Greetings from the deep end!
That is correct. The deep end just got deeper. Aryll was born yesterday at 5:35pm. Within the hour, I had called all of the family, taken pictures of the baby, cleaned and packed the delivery room stuff to go to the recovery room, taken the baby to the nursery to be cleaned and get her initial inoculations and warmed up as she was too cold. Within that same hour, Pam got cleaned up, ate dinner and walked down to the nursery to see Aryll. The reader, at this point, is probably saying something like, "Did I read that correctly? Did he write WALK? Pam shouldn't be WALKING!?!" Yes, yes I did. Pam has been more normal today than yesterday or for the last few weeks. By the time we went to bed last night, Pam was happy and walking around and taking care of the baby and worrying about me and Xander. (Pam quote at midnight, "My arm hurts from playing Wii the other day.") I was tired and shaky and crying and sore. Am I the only person who sees the injustice here? Isn't it the mother's job to be tired and sore and actually use the recovery room to…I don't know, recover? Isn't the dad supposed to be helpful and rested and at the top of his daddying game? So here I sit, on the recovery hospital bed, playing the schmuck. Once again, my role as protector and provider has been thwarted by Pam's awesomeness, for which there is no charge. So with that, here's to Pam, the mommy of the hour.
March 17, 2010
So, there I was, cold tired, not sleeping well...6:30 am. Xander begins to cry. Not a tired cry, not a hurt cry, not a dirty or hungry cry. No, those are all cries that can be answered, things that can be fixed. This was a non-commercial cry. The kind when a kid sucks in a breath, cries until the breath is gone, takes another breath and repeats...indefinitely, almost a yell rather than a cry. "What's wrong Xander?" we ask. "Waaaaah!" he replies. For an hour and a half before we went to work this morning this went on. I want to know, why we are spending all of this time teaching him words if he isn't going to use them.
Its days like this that I thank God for the day care people who can take him so I don't have to (if I had to spend the day with him only one of us would come out alive). And its days like today where I find myself flat on my face in prayer for them. I don't want to get a phone call that says, "Hello, Mr. Brown? We can't take care of Xander anymore. Your boy is crazy and we want no part in his insanity." Oh what a bad day that would be! They are, however, getting paid. What about me? More importantly, what about Pam!?! Who is paying us? Xander sure as crap isn't. THIS IS NOT A FAIR EXCHANGE PEOPLE! The least the boy could do is get us a really good coffee from time to time. At least the caffeine buzz might take the edge off of the nervous tics that have begun to show.
I am a parent. I am one of those whose thankless job goes on and on and on and on and o... We are the zombies at work. We are the grumpy commuters. We are those whose cars were once full of soda cans and fast food wrappers but are now full of sticky spots and crushed up fish crackers. We are ushering in the next generation. I can't wait until Xander is a bit more grown up. Then I am going to wake him up at 6:30 am every now and again and scream into his ear, "Waaaaaaaaaaaaah!" To which he will reply, "What's wrong Dad?" And all I will respond "GET ME SOME FREAKING COFFEE!"
March 15, 2010
"It's okay honey. The baby will come when she's rea...OUCH!" I must be the only man in history to get hit by his pregnant wife. Well, I haven't actually been hit yet, but if I am not careful Pam is going to lay the smack down. It will hurt. I'm not trying to be annoying. I'm just an impatient person who is trying very hard to learn to be patient. My wife is eight point five months pregnant and IMPATIENT. So much so that she has no patience for her impatient husband who is trying to learn to be patient and thinks that she needs to learn to be patient too. Oops, sorry. My bad! I forgot that a pregnant woman can do no wrong.
There are some other things I forgot too. Like, there is a child inside of her. I don't think that I would want to be patient if I had a six pound alien pushing on my bladder, ALL DAY LONG. I probably wouldn't put patience so high on my list of priorities if I had a six pound bowling ball trying to split my pelvis from the inside. Did I mention that babies like to kick and punch and stretch from the inside too? Yea, they do, I think that would make me really angry. I would hit my husband if after a long day of suffering trying to create and sustain life all he could say was, "its okay honey. The baby will come when she's rea...OUCH!"
So, as for my wife...no patience. Where does that leave me? That's right; I get to practice the great lost art of Ninja Patience. That is, I get to be quiet and keep my patience training to myself...and uh...most importantly...keep my mouth shut. It would seem that patience being the virtue that it is, I should practice it with humility and grace, being more comforting to my wife than "helpful". Patience can't be about misery finding company. I must realize that waiting "patiently" while complaining is not actually being patient. Patience is defined as; quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence. I need to make sure that as I practice patience it will serve my wife to comfort her, to calm her, to help her wait out the next few days. Also, it should help me keep from getting my tail kicked by a pregnant lady.
March 11, 2010
It would seem that spring is in the midst of springing. My friend’s cold and snow stopped by yesterday but old man sunshine scared them off. Why is it when a couple of well meaning weather patterns try to get together for a party there is always some "sunshine" who comes along and crashes it? The reader might ask at this point, "are you feelin' a little depressed there big D?" My answer would be a solid "NO!" I'm feeling pretty dang good if I do say so myself. But I am a fairly big guy, and sun (heat) and I don't get along. I was the teenager down on the corner in shorts and a t-shirt during a blizzard at 7:00 am waiting for the school bus. I enjoy cold, because I can always turn the heater up or put on more clothes, but a guy can only get so naked before the police get involved.
Then there is the light itself. I like the dark. I loved winters in BC because I never saw the sun! S.A.D made me G.L.A.D. My mother always used to run around the house behind me opening curtains that I had just shut saying things like, "Do you want to live in a cave?" To which my response was always "YES!" as I turned and ran behind her shutting the curtains again. It was a delightful game. One of my favorites. Right up there with the game called, "Clean your room!", "I already did!" and, "Were you born in a barn?", "MOO!” Mom and I, we had some pretty good times. Who needs Monopoly when you have gems like, "You can't get up from the table until you've eaten all of those onions! I swear you will eat them for every meal until they are all gone young man!" I always, always won that game. He he he.
Oh how I digress. I was complaining about the lovely weather wasn't I? I'm not a total freak; I do understand the niceties of summer and "nice" weather. Seriously though, if the weather were "nice" it would be overcast and 65 degrees Fahrenheit every day of the year. That's all I'm asking for here. Just for creation to bend to my will. That's not too much to ask is it?
However, it is the changing of seasons that denotes the passage of time. So bring it on spring! I can take it! This is how we mark new beginnings, and how we learn to let go of the past, as the winter melts away into new life and the future.
March 9, 2010
Winter camp has come and gone. We had a fantastic time in Buffalo and in the Big Horns last weekend. I believe that it was one of our most successful camps. Caleb Coy brought the word to the kids with a fierce honesty and passion that really seemed to connect in them. I am excited to see what the future will bring with my kids, the Wyoming kids and our future camps.
As always, time passes and life continues on and I now look to "THE NEXT BIG THING". That next big thing will be coming in the next 21 days or so. It will weigh somewhere between six and seven pounds, will wear pink and be called Aryll Marie. For the last eight months, if a person were to ask me if I were excited I would have said no. I would have said something about being nervous that we were having a girl, I would have said "what am I gonna do with a girl!?! I don't even know what to do with the boy!!!" However, time and life (and an unprecedented miracle) have brought me to a place of unmanageable excitement. I do not wish to be "wrapped around her finger" but I am looking forward to experiencing the same growth, adventure and relationship that Xander brought into my life, again...but differently. I realize that no two kids are alike, and that mine will be no exception to that rule. But if Pam's pregnancy is anything to go by, Aryll will be quite similar to Xander. She is the same size and has the same general sleep habits he did. Xander and Aryll both went to youth camps when Pam was at eight months (that is, they both experienced the same volume and music styles at the same point in their development). Aryll rests when Pam drums and gets agitated when she stops, just as Xander did. This gives me hope. Hope that my daughter might like music as much as Pam, Xander and myself. I want my daughter to be an individual and to do her own things and be her own person, but I do not want her to be a black sheep. I want her to love and want to experience the same things that Pam, Xander and I do. I fear that she and I will not get along, that she won't like me, and that we will have nothing in common. This is the same fear I had with Xander. This is my greatest fear as a growing parent, and likely the reason for me not being excited sooner.
This is an illogical fear. Most of my fears are illogical. I suppose that any fear would be illogical, knowing who God is, what He does and how He takes care of his children. How He makes all things work for their betterment. That is all I want, ultimately. To make things work for my children. I want them to have good relationships with each other and their parents. I want them to grow and experience life and love and happiness. I do not want them to suffer needlessly, however, sometimes they will suffer, and I hope that they can learn from it and grow through it. God never said he would keep us from suffering, He never said bad things wouldn't happen, He just said things would turn out well. That is where my final hope lies, and I believe that is why I am now excited about our new arrival, because God will make all things well for me and my children.
March 4, 2010
Yesterday I had this great idea for a blog. I thought that I would write about my ever lengthening voyage into becoming an adult. A great friend once looked me in the eye and said, "One day Derick, you will be a man." At first I wasn't sure what to think about this as it sounded a little like a joke and a little like...mean. He went on to say that the phrase was something that his mother had always said to him. I took it as friendly ribbing and went on about my day. This was seven years ago. Every now and again my mind chooses to bring up those few words and contemplate them. By "contemplate" I obviously mean "chew on them until they drive me past the point of insane to the point of 'mushy brain'". I think, however, that I might know what they mean, or at least what they mean to me. As a 19 year old kid getting ready to leave home for the first time and go to college in another country I thought it was a hit on my adulthood. I thought at that point in my life that I had already arrived. That I was an adult. That all that a person must attain to achieve "manhood" had magically come to me in my sleep the night before my 18th birthday. I now know that I was very wrong, and perhaps this is what my friend was hinting at. That being, adulthood or manhood or even womanhood for that matter (something I know less and less about every day) is not an all or none thing. A person is not either an adult or not an adult but is ALWAYS in the process of becoming...more. I have realized that growing up does not end at age 18, or when a person moves out of their parents house, but continues on through life.
It would also seem that the most grown up people are still children at heart, that is, the happiest adults that I have ever met, are still able to laugh and play and enjoy life as if they were a child. I find this fact particularly annoying as I try to speak of my current ventures to my mother, who is evil and has no sympathy. I had a diarrhea and urine filled diaper blow up on me and my bed at 6:45 this morning (I was unaware that 6:45 came twice a day). Mother dearest has no sympathy...why? Because she is more grown up than me. She has experienced more of what the college of adulthood has to offer. That which kills me is old hat to her. She only laughed and said "I love you." Well, that's great mother, but love doesn't wash the dirty sheets does it? I only hope that some day I am mature enough to laugh at Xander when he calls me to tell me that his little one has helped him to grow up in a similar manner.
One final thought, perhaps adulthood isn't just a trek into maturity but is an exercise in modifying our perspective on life. Maybe growing up is more gaining God's perspective that says no problem on earth is such a "big deal" when compared to his greatness and the greatness of what and who he has made.
March 3, 2010
Definitions are the key to successful communication. Specifically, if I write a word in a context that means something different to me than it does to say, my reader, all communication is lost in confusion or misunderstanding. Why bring this up? Because if I am going to write from "off the deep end" we all certainly had better know what I mean by "off the deep end". If I am going to refer to myself as a, "self proclaimed lunatic", we all had better know what that means to me. Not necessarily by the dictionary definition, or by normal contextual definitions. Just like the word "respect" doesn't mean "do what I tell you when I tell you, without question", though contextually, "respect" often does mean that. When I write the word "respect" I often mean, "look at things from my view point and see that I am trying to do the best I can in this situation the best that I know how". That is one of the great problems with E-Communication. There are no tones, no facial expressions, and no little chuckles in our voices. The reader doesn't know that the writing was done with a sarcastic tone or body language. Things that are meant to be serious are often taken as farce and things that are meant to be satirical are often taken seriously. It is my greatest wish at this moment that the reader knows that while my topics are often serious to me; my writing tone is often sarcastic or satirical.
All of that is said to get to this point...."Off the Deep End". One definition of the idiom is to be "irrationally carried away". I think that it would be safe to say at this point that anyone who has known me for more than a day would agree that I am often "irrationally carried away", or that I live in a state of having been "irrationally carried away". I might even go so far as to say that one day when I was in my teen years I was rationally carried away for a time, then, rather than returning to a, "not carried away" state, I simply became "irrationally carried away" and have remained thus ever since.
It is with this mindset that I write this journal. Not "to" anyone in particular, but rather as an outlet for my "off the deep end" type thoughts as I journey through life.
I welcome all who read this blog to understand who I am, where I am, and where I am coming from. I realize that likely, few people will find themselves interested in the rants of a self proclaimed lunatic. However, having read the writings of many people that I respect, I have found myself inspired to write. So, dear reader, if you dare, please follow me on what will likely become a wonderful and exciting trip into the thoughts of a man who willfully but without knowledge of the consequences, jumped off the deep end.