After my end of summer party, S and I planned to continue my Mexican fajitas themed dinner at her house. There were a few pieces of the beef skirt and a few chicken thighs left, which were enough for her, her kids, and her mom and dad.
To be honest, I really wanted to just stay home and clean house and just lounge around. After all, it was a Sunday and my favorite Sunday routine was to lay low, maybe watch a game on TV, and otherwise just kick back. Well it’s the price to pay when you’re in a relationship that sometimes you have to give up your quiet, stay at home, hermit lifestyle. So I agreed to be at her house in the afternoon for dinner, and to help her with some home projects.
I got to her house around 2:30 and was still in my lounging mood. I wasn’t prepared for the household drama that were unraveling. However I had prepared myself for the all so familiar and typical scenario of the house in disarray and in its chaotic messes with the various drop zones filled with kids bags and S’s school stuff. In addition to the normal unorganized and cluttered mess, her youngest son’s rap and hip hop was blaring loudly from his room upstairs that the neighbors two houses down could clearly hear the words in normal decibels.
In the past, I have successfully stayed out of the path of the turmoil but today I felt I was being swept into the edge of the craziness. S was still in her “working in the house project attire”, which was perfectly fine – actually comical as nothing she was wearing matched. She did say when we first started dating that she wasn’t a girly girl. That really showed today.
We talked about what needed to be done the rest of the afternoon, which required us to go to the grocery store, then back to the house to start the cooking of my beans, then in the garage to take down some cabinets, then to the high school to pick up her daughter, then back to the house to finish making dinner.
That’s the typical craziness…
After returning back from the store it became evident I was doing the cooking for the entire clan. This is normally fine, but I’m cooking in a kitchen that is so disorganized and very unfamiliar to me. I really wanted to just make up an excuse to go back home to my peaceful, quiet, and clutter free house .
“No worries,” I thought to myself. “You’ve handled other situations worse than this.” I cleared (or should I say washed) some their dirtied dishes and put them out of my way and started to get the beans on the stove…and that’s when some of the tension started. Like I said, I’m not accustomed to her stove and not familiar with how hot to turn on the stove top. She has one of those electric flat cooking surface with the heating elements under a glass top. I cook on a gas stove.
So I asked S, “What should I turn your stove top to if I wanted to get the beans boiling?” A simple question I thought, and would have expected some answer like, “…for normal boiling, set it between blah blah blah.”
What do I get…”I don’t know” was her response. I looked at her puzzled and I should have left it at that. But open mouth and insert foot and remove any filter. I responded sarcastically with, “It’s your stove! How do you not know!?” My biggest peat peeve about S is her over use of the phrase “I don’t know”.
I guess my inflection was too strong and she replied in a sharper tone, “It depends if you want a rolling boil or not.” I replied with another puzzled look and even less filter, “I’m cooking beans, they need to boil for three hours…and not a roaring boil. Haven’t you cooked beans on your stove before?” I left my response with a look of confusion and thought to myself, “does she even know her own stove!”
After her next response of another “I don’t know” I gave up talking and started fiddling with the dials and set it in the middle range. I set a timer for 5 minutes and said, “I’ll try it here” while pointing to the number 5 on the temperature dial. I turned to her and said, let’s go work in your garage” as I wanted to quickly diffuse that tension.
She recently bought an overflow refrigerator which was to be installed in the garage. It’s not her main fridge so we didn’t need to hookup the water for ice. However we did have to remove the overhead cabinets mounted to the backend of her garage wall that hung too low for the fridge to slide under.
Earlier at the grocery store, I had mentioned I needed to stop by Loews or another hardware store to buy mineral oil as a conditioner to the tree trunk and the birds eye alder I recently purchased. Typically this would be a simple errand I thought I could run later once the beans were in the final hours of flavor melding.
Not sure what she was thinking, but she suggested for me to go to Loews and buy the mineral oil while she unloaded the cabinets. I replied, “I just put the beans on and will need to periodically check on them so they don’t run out of water.” I had my filter on and stopped short of reminding her she didn’t know the setting for regular boiling on her stove. Instead I continued, “Let’s just bang out the emptying and tear down of your cabinets.”
We were better. We quickly emptied out her overhead cabinets, and the alarm sounded. I checked the beans and they were barely boiling. I turned the dial up to 7 and set my phone alarm for 25 minutes.
We continued working in her garage and completed the emptying of the contents of the garage cabinets, removal of the cabinets from the garage wall, and slid her fridge in place. I went in the house, washed my hands and turned my attention to the other ingredients that goes into the beans. My phone alarm sounded and I added the other ingredients as well as another 3 cups of water. Beans take a lot of water.
About that time her daughter called to let her mom know she was ready to be picked up from school.
We left together to get her daughter…
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