Home Life Kitchen Garden

Sixty Nine Days

Saturday Dinner

It’s sixty nine days until what I hope is my last day of work at the home, farm and auto supply store… and “full retirement.”

The paradigm upon which we based our life in Big Grove shifted. We settled here to be close to work, raise our daughter, and live happily ever after.

Our home is older (as are we), our daughter left Iowa after college, leaving us with the happily ever after. The latter has me stuck.

During bitter cold days, I spend most of my time in the living room, the kitchen, the bedroom, or at my writing table. This weekend I left the house once to get the mail. The tendency is to drift toward the last day of work, delaying everything until then. That’s not really an option with the community work I’ve undertaken and plans made. One foot in front of the other, onward I must go.

The ambient temperature warmed 46 degrees since yesterday morning. If I were a bear, I’d sense winter hibernation is almost over. Instead, this human is in between recovering from a week of physical labor and endeavoring to get busy with one of many projects. Today it’s not going as well as I’d like on either front.

I worked on a local version of dal, cooking the first recipe today. Using 1-1/4 cups lentils, three cups of vegetable broth, turmeric, cumin, hot red pepper, fresh garlic and vegetable oil, the first batch came out edible but not delicious. The idea is to replace the pre-cooked version I’ve been buying at the warehouse club with home made. The recipe creation process will take a while because each batch must be eaten: a person can only eat so much dal per week. After six or seven iterations, if I’m lucky, the finished dish might get to the delicious stage.

Last night I made dinner of corn-rice casserole, steamed peas and a mixture of roasted butternut squash and sweet potatoes. Saturdays have been my night to cook so Jacque has a meal ready when she gets off work. When Garrison Keillor was on A Prairie Home Companion, that provided background noise. Now the radio stays mostly off, or tuned to the classical music station. Another shift in the predictability of our lives.

All this is not to say I seek a rocking chair in which to sit until life departs this frame. Not at all. However, the combination of cold weather, bones, feet and back aching from physical work, and a restlessness about living happily ever after has me stymied.

Just as the cold snap is over, and there’s hope the recipe will eventually turn out well, I’ll get going. Sixty nine days out retirement seems unseen below the horizon. Much remains to be done and I feel myself waking and wondering what will be next.

I’d be good with happily ever after, but not ready to believe it’s possible.