Sunday, February 23, 2014


At least I'm not a monk doing a sand painting.

I'm trying to convince myself to settle into a slow, meditative and disciplined state of mind when I try to cook while crutch-bound. Everything takes a long time. I can manage to carry a dish or two at a time, and it takes three or four hops to get to the utensils. I can grab an ingredient or three, maybe more if some of them fit into the baggy pockets of my People Of WalMart pants. My arms just span the distance from the kitchen counter to the island where I usually do prep, and where the stove and oven live. When no one is watching, I move things from counter to counter using long, sweeping motions, inventing martial arts katas in order to avoid tedium-induced madness (it occurs to me as I'm writing, maybe I do this because it's too late?).

A Rachael Ray 30-minute meal, already a bit of a farce, now takes an hour-plus, but in the process I get to sever the head of an imaginary enemy with a box of corn muffin mix. Ninjas are no match for the sharp, jagged edge of a lasagna noodle (all pasta meals involve some sort of "in-Jeff's-mind" version of Kendo). You don't want to know what happens to the "heads" of lettuce. I "rei" to the cat when I'm done.

Did I mention that cooking on crutches is tedious?

For the record, there is no way any of this happens in front of my very serious, very German wife. I play it straight. Some questions are just unanswerable. I can still choose my internal dialogue, though. I am one with the slotted spoon; use the attacker's own energy and he will strain himself...

I am trying to find ways to let Jay help. He can pour ingredients into a mixing bowl and help to stir, and few things in the house are more fun than the salad spinner. Next I think we'll have him help assemble salads- "Give that one four tomato pieces. Um, yeah, leave that one in your mouth. Well then, put it on mommy's salad. Now put on six carrot pieces." 

He loves to pull everything out of the bottom cupboards and "cook." Yesterday morning I attempted to make omelets for breakfast. Within seconds the kitchen floor was re-tiled with baking sheets and cooling racks. Mixing bowls surrounded my feet. I had been captured and was about to be burned at the stake. 

I tried to bribe him with the promise of food. 

"Honey, do you want an egg?" I tried to make "egg" sound as exciting as the salad spinner, and failed.

"Nope." He didn't even look up. His concentration was unshakable. I had to pull out the big gun, the one I hate to use as a mere distraction. I received the necessary vote of approval when my stomach growled in a way that said, "There are age-old ways to use a skillet, and your wife will be in from feeding the horses soon. Your family needs food. Make it so."

"Jay, do you want to watch Steve, or Joe?" Those are the hosts of his favorite Nick jr. TV show, Blues Clues. My self-loathing lasted at least seven or eight seconds. He settled in with Steve and Blue. 

Upon returning to the kitchen, I channeled the opening sequence of the old TV show Kung Fu. I negotiated the rice paper (baking sheets) like a one-legged Kwai Chang Caine. After reaching the far end, I looked back. Everything was unmoved, in one piece, with no tears (double entendre intended). 

The cat (who is deaf, not blind like Caine's mentor, but still a tad metaphoric) nodded his approval.

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