There is a kind of "I don't really have to learn to do that" that comes from living with another person for many years. For example, the kitchen dance in our family was well defined. He did the turkeys, I did the sides. That pretty much defined our relationship. It was clear from the beginning that anything grilled or fried was his territory, leaving me the more "girly" arena of braising, steaming, baking. I suck at baking. I know this because I watched my seventeen year old daughter make an apple pie (by heart) last night, for the Golden Globes. And the ease and slap-dashery with which she put it together made me jealous. I am a horrible baker (I'm more roast chicken than Victoria Sponge) and I weigh and pore over the recipe, and weigh some more, and sieve and fret. Minky throws it all in. Literally. Like an opera. She barely weighs. There is a speed and a beauty to her technique, a panache, that I'm envious of.
But back to frying.
making fried chicken for the second night in a row. Tonight doesn't have
buttermilk. Today is a mixture of flour and breadcrumbs and black
pepper and paprika. Today there is a flat sieve over the pan to save the
drops of oil that are going everywhere. Today I think of Jumby using
the deep fryer and making deep-fried parsley and my ignoring him because
I thought, this is taken care of, I will never have to learn this
because he is here.
Similarly when he stacked the
torches (flashlights) in one place so we could find them (in the
bookcase by the kitchen). He took a flashlight out each night to check
on the chickens. Now I take one out to check on the stars.
learned that the bbq needs gas and that deep frying is a sensitive
business and that there's a reason he bought the industrial size
clingaling (plastic wrap) from Costco.
that pine nuts do better in the fridge and that wine needs to be sorted
so that the good stuff goes in the wine fridge so that it isn't ruined.
learned that he turned out all the lights at night when I went to bed
and that by leaving on the heating, the gas bill could be astronomical.
I've learned that wine tastes better in tumblers, like the French peasants do it.
I'm also the best lightbulb screwer inner since Marilyn Monroe, and I've learned to make pancakes (not just bacon and marmalade sandwiches) too. This shit is empowering.
Believe it or not I also chop wood, hang pictures, and check the fuse box. Also: I felt incredibly bad about being angry at the neighbor who complained about the dogs. In fact I took him some wine and apologized for my out of character rudeness.
I had lunch today with a very nice man. A father of my son's good friend, who told me that the reason they didn't have rats at their house was because of their rat terriers. I think a similar thing has happened here. Amilcar has hung me a hammock, looking out over the canyon, between two eucalyptus trees. It's royal blue and pale blue and orange and yellow and it comes from Guatemala. Now we can swing over the canyon in the sunlight under the blue skies and think about what could be and what we have done and all the tiny successes of the year. Sweet, right?