Sunday, December 03, 2006

Only So Many Hours In A Day

With the hours in a day seemingly dwindling, the daylight evaporating before 5PM each day, and the wind picking up and sweeping the cold air through this city, it's hard to find the time to actually stop, look around and think about what's been going on. Despite all best intentions, I have been so thoroughly preoccupied with work and everything else that's been happening, stopping in here has been a challenge, if not a virtual impossibility.

Some of the less significant items on my recent to-do list are seasoning my newly-acquired molcajete, which is a stone bowl which is much like a mortar and pestle. Essentially, what these items are for are for grinding and mixing different food items; the latter, the mortar and pestle, are used for crushing and mixing spices, pestos, spreads and any miscellaneous food items. The former is used, in addition for the aforementioned purposes, for making guacamole. A friend of mine advised me to pick one up so I did; it cost next to nothing, but since it's made of volcanic stone, it has to be prepped, or seasoned, prior to use. So I set about the seasoning process, which instead of taking only an hour or so, wound up taking almost a week. What's involved is, essentially, soaking the bowl in water overnight, scrubbing it down with a kitchen brush (a scrubbing brush), cleaning it, letting it dry, then grinding wet, white rice in the bowl, emptying it and letting it dry, and then grinding rock or sea salt in the bowl, rinsing it out and letting it dry. So, after a week of weeknight activity and overnight drying, I finally got it ready to be used and made my first batch of guacamole therein. I tossed in some salt, some garlic and some lemon and lime juice, and the guacamole was good. All things being equal, I could have saved myself a week of maintenance and prep time and gone straight to a bowl to make the guacamole, but, alas, hindsight is 20/20. I guess the lesson learned is that some old-fashioned products like self-winding watches, fountain pens and manual transmissions have tangible, aesthetic advantages over their newer, more technologically-advanced replacements. Some old-fashioned products, like vcr's and filofax/paper organizers, are far inferior to their modern counterparts in DVR and PDA's. In the case of the molcajete, I suppose it's sort of a mixed blessing; sure, it'd be easier to whip up a batch or two of guacamole in a food processor and serve it in a bowl. I suppose, as I use it more often, I'll have a better idea as to whether the week I spent getting it ready for use was wasted or worthwhile.

In the meantime, I've been regularly touching base with my grandmother, who is living upstate and, health wise, doing decently. For the most part, it's hard keeping touch with a loved one so far away -- speaking of both her and of Kaia -- but since she happens to have a quasi-pre-set schedule, it's hard to actually get her in. So I've been making a serious effort to keep in touch with her, despite the busy signals and having, when the phone isn't busy, to leave a bunch of answering machine messages. I have been planning -- looking forward to, as well -- heading up there to see her, but since things have been bouncing around here workwise and otherwise, doing so hasn't been simple; plus, more importantly, she's bounced around a bit up there, so each time it seems like I might have an opening in my schedule which permits me to consider heading up there, it turns out to be the wrong time to go. Sort of frustrating, although I've -- to my credit -- not divulged that I plan to visit her on any specific day/date. It's already disappointing enough that I haven't gone up there -- telling her I'm going to be coming and then have to renege on my promise would not be fair to her or to me.

On top of that, I'm getting more and more "I NEED IT NOW" e-mails and phone calls, and I am handling all of them without missing anything or not coming through. The trade-off, of course, is that the stuff that doesn't command that sort of urgency isn't on the forefront, and I've been making a conscious effort to address the not-so-crucial stuff simultaneously. In the past, we've been nearly overwhelmed with putting out fires and haven't been able to worry about anything beyond doing that; these days, however, I'm juggling a lot but trying to make sure nothing being juggled hits the floor, so to speak. The one plus is that I have found I am able to keep more and more in the air, and as of this writing, nothing has hit the floor in quite some time.

As for the weather, since snow is approaching this region -- it's about time, it's the first week of December -- I suppose some of my "ho-hum" days might be a result of the increasingly cold weather (and a simultaneous lack of sunshine). However, I'm not so much dreading the coming weather, I'm sort of ambivalent -- it's been in the 60's this past week (in the last week of November) -- and having winter weather in winter isn't the worst thing I could contemplate. On some level, the colder weather helps me write by putting me in the right frame of mind; or maybe it's the lack of sun, or just the increased incentive for staying indoors and being productive in front of the PC rather than outside these four walls. In either case, on some level, despite the fact that it's a pain in the ass, it's cold and the winter sucks, I'm -- for a change -- consciously looking forward to it.

One final note: I have found that the more "Mel Gibson's Apocalypto" ads I see during football and hockey games, the more I wish the guy would just disappear. The movie, as the ad relates, is "the story of one man's heroic struggle to save his family." And each time I hear and/or see the ad, I think of the voice-over, relating the ad for "Mel Gibson's Racisto" -- the story of one man's cowardly struggle to save his reputation.

It doesn't make much difference -- I wouldn't pay to see either of those, or anything else he'll do. But at least he could try and make it interesting.

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