Pizza

A home made pizza.

There are a lot of people discovering cooking during The Strange Days. I say discovering because many were not brought up cooking. That feels foreign to me. I have been cooking since forever. And I’ve never been afraid of the kitchen. After all, it’s food. The worst thing that can happen is an expectation isn’t met. It’s still likely edible. It’s quite sad that people think food either comes out perfect or burnt and inedible. Too many cooking shows and not enough time in front of a stove.

We have made pizza on Friday evenings for years. This week, it was Saturday. We had bits and pieces around the kitchen from our latest delivery from a service that specializes in reducing food waste. I like pantry cooking. “What do I have?” It’s a great way to start a good meal.

The pizza was fantastic.

So was the meal I made up Sunday when my mom came for a visit. Grilled potatoes, corn, and sausage. Mushrooms sautéed with onions in butter. Tomato and cucumber salad. It was all perfect. Mostly due to the high quality of the ingredients and not so much to the expert application of heat.

Cook more.

Cruisin’

The head unit of an IC-7100 radio tuned to 14.074 MHz.

Right. Wrong blog again.

When I first got into the ham radio hobby, I was living in PA. My dad talked me into joining PCARS which was the club where he was a member. I regularly attended nets put on by local clubs, but when I went to meetings, I felt really out of place. I would join the PCARS net using EchoLink which is a way for hams to use the internet to reach distant repeaters. The club was always welcoming and very friendly.

When we decided to move, I figured I would get to enjoy some of the events in person. We were never able to make it out to an event when we were out of state, but it should have been easy after the move. But, of course, nothing worked out that way.

Every year, the radio guys get their mobile rigs together and head out to an A&W. They park in an adjacent lot and mill around talking about mobile radio. I have a radio in my Jeep! I want to talk too! Because it was outdoors and the prevailing demographic in the club is older, I asked my dad if he wanted to go. He was definitely on board. We talked my son into going by promising a root beer float.

The three of us drove out to the A&W. We got our floats. Masked, we stood around at a respectful distance from one another and talked about EME (Earth-Moon-Earth) transmissions on 40m (a radio “joke” thing) and the tower work that was starting up for various members as fall enters the collective consciousness. It was my first club event. Just a bunch of people standing around a parking lot talking about radios. Not much. But it felt “Normal”? It was good.

I know that I won’t go to an indoor event – that’s just out of the question. But for something like the cruise in, it was definitely worth getting out of the house. It was something I didn’t know that I needed until I was there. Being mindful and conscious of emotional needs is a difficult thing.

Smoke and Fire

A lit Zippo lighter

In a calendar year, I might consume a maximum of five cigars. My wife considers this a crime and a personal attack on her olfactory nerve, but that is far from my intent. I can’t really say that I have a strong palette. As with most things, I am a dilettante at best. But there is something peaceful in a good cigar. And I only get the good ones. How do I know that they’re good? Because people whom I trust to know these things say that they are. I usually pair it with my go-to bourbon and make an evening of it by the fire.

There is something meditative to the consumption of such a sinful item. It can take two hours properly enjoy a cigar. And those hours are usually silent. I could use that.

The truth is, the weight of the current reality is pushing the buttons of everyone I know. The New Normal isn’t pleasant. Everyone feels trapped. So we reach for things that might have some level of comfort associated with them. I don’t know that anything really helps in the long run, but every year is made of days that we must survive.

For what it’s worth, Perdomo Lot 23 are quite nice. Hat tip to my buddy Joe for that one.

Wildlife

Three Deer.

It’s not a cabin in the woods, but now and again, we get our share of deer to add to the groundhogs, chipmunks, squirrels, and birds. It does remind me of how quiet our place is compared to where we were living. Far less urban, though not rural by any means.

Finding Rhythms

An island on still water shot from a boat

I got to the reservoir at about 7:30 AM on Saturday. The water was glassy. There was no wind. But there were plenty of trucks and cars parked in the lot. The people at the park were predominantly men. That’s about as far as one could go when describing them. It looked like a random sample of men who live in Ohio.

Some of the trucks were badly beaten and old. Some were brand new SUVs. The boats were a mix of cheap kayaks, grandparent garage canoes, beaten row boats, and highly rigged bass boats with new electric motors. The rods were everything from improvised garage sale finds to some very high end carbon fiber setups from Orvis. And here we were at the reservoir. A body of water that is an equalizer in the way that only a park can be.

There were a few groups of two men – never more than two – standing and sipping coffee from paper cups or mugs while slowly dragging on cigarettes in the silence of the morning. No one spoke above what was necessary to communicate with their fishing buddy. I slipped into the water and wondered if anyone else was seeing what I saw.

No one can travel safely in the USA right now. A significant percentage of people wouldn’t have the means even if they could. So we gather what we have at hand and come to the water. We push off, paddle, and cast. I’m not sure that anyone who was on that reservoir at 7 or 8 AM on a Saturday even cared if a fish bit. I know I didn’t. It was the practice and the silence that brought us there.

It’s almost impossible to think about anything other than the moment in a fishing kayak. Casting erases all past and future. There is only the path of the line and the gentle sound of the lure or fly touching down. That’s all there is and all there can be. The world is small, defined, and finite. It is all the things it can’t be when the gear is hung up to dry in the garage.

For me, all of this feel permanent. What I’ve seen I can’t unsee. I’ve found a way of letting go of what I “endure” as my part of the contract. I don’t imagine I’ll forget that as we all settle into The New Normal.