Week 4 2017

“I must be in control” were the words she finally uttered when I asked her the fifth or sixth time why she couldn’t let things go until she heard the right response. 

Let me step back a few steps…

During our heart to heart discussion we talked about the things that bugged her about me and she mentioned that she didn’t get the sense that a lot of times she feels that I was not “getting” what she was telling me. I of course did and told her I had always understood and if I didn’t I would have asked. She continued her rant about me not understanding, “no you’re not getting it!”

Now I’m a grown man in his early 50s and have lived in the US since I was 4 years old. So although English were not my first language it was the only language spoken and written in my house growing up. I graduated in the top 1% of my class, so I think I’ve mastered the basics of the English language. 

I retorted, “please explain calmly why you say I’m not getting it?”

She started tearing up in frustration and had difficulty explaining her feelings. She finally responded, “you’re not saying the words I expect you to say.”

WTF! 

She really had a difficult time understanding that I was hearing and understanding what she was saying simply because I didn’t respond with the words she expected me to utter. Are you kidding me! She needed me to say it specifically the way she thought someone would respond. 

Hmmm. Is this a Mars vs Venus thing…

I’m no expert, but maybe it could be. You’ve probably seen the video folks have reposted on Facebook about the relationship guru where he talks about the different ways women and men think. One of his lectures spoke exactly about a couple where the man (husband) washed the dishes after every meal and when asked why by the wife, he said he didn’t like dirty dishes. The wife went crying to this relationship guru. When asked why she was upset, she told the guru what her husband had replied when asked about the dishes. The guru was perplexed and asked the wife what was wrong with that. She replied, “I wanted him to say he did the dishes because he loved me.”

So I guess S is the same way.  She wants to hear the specific words before she can accept that “I get it”. 

As I’ve heard my mom utter these words most of my childhood and throughout my high school…”Lord give me strength!”

I continued on a pathway of inquisition on why she needed to have the response in the fashion of which she thought she needed to in her head. I kept pushing and asked about other means of communicating, like actions over words. Some people say one thing but do opposite of what they actually say. 

I read that in a lot of people and at first I had thought them to be hypocrites, but in reality they better communicate with their actions. I saw a lot of this behavior in the church my mother took us to when we were little lads and lasses. So as I grew older (not necessarily wiser), I learned to weigh what people said to what they did. Their actions really spoke louder than their words. 

Back to S and my heart to heart…

Our conversations continued and I turned it back to her and her kids relationship. I again pointed out the screaming matches and that I don’t understand them. Why the screaming all the time. I get you need to scream some times when it’s appropriate but every conversation ending in a screaming match is not healthy. 

She finally admitted that she is probably doing damage to her kids. A breakthrough…probably not. At least not yet as the years of this behavior cannot be reversed in a snap. 

I planted several seed though, that perhaps the screaming matches between her and her boys were because she was expecting them to say or respond in the way she wants them to. Another seed planted was that her family (that included her girl and her parents) would probably never respond like she wanted them to. Then finished off with, “and I probably won’t either”. I reminded her we are all different (not right or wrong) in the way we interact and communicate with each other. 

One other things I learned and am still confused about was her conception of giving up her power to someone else and then trying to get it back. That’s why she says she has to be in control and continues until she gets the right response. Hmmm I don’t understand what she was trying to say and will bring that up in different, and much later discussion with her. 

When I was younger, I was also a bit of a control freak so I kind of understand the need to control situations, but unclear about the giving up of power and then trying to get it back. I’ve since learned from my naive, ignorant younger years that if you try controlling a situation especially involving people, you’ll never obtain true control as we cannot control nor should we control individuals – it’s like trying to control an avalanche headed your direction. You can only control how you react to it. 

I actually, verbatim said those words and she almost stopped to correct me but then hesitated and instead said I was right. So maybe she got it that by controlling how she reacts to situations, she actually becomes in control. 

After a few more dialogue exchanges she was done with the deep talks and quite frankly so was I. Like I said it’ll take some time to change behavioral patterns that stem back to when we were children. It took me some time to get where I’m at. Apparently her own mother did a lot of emotional damage to her as she is now doing to her kids, specifically to her boys. 

A few days later she was telling me of her morning with her youngest son and that he was going off on her about something. She was repeating how she did not let him get to her and proudly left his anger to him and didn’t join him in on it. 

“Wow!” I said and thought she did get what I was saying. But the hard part of maintaining that stand is the true test of self-control. 

Lesson learned…

She wasn’t the only one who had learned something that day. I now understand more of the road S had traveled emotionally and understand how I need to be cognizant of how her primary communication method is through speaking and that I would need to factor that in my communication style with her. 

The rest of the week was the typical work grind where I worked for the man during the day and worked on my exit strategy from corporate life at night. 

#life #lifeasiknowit #lifeasithappens

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3rd week 2017

I’ve realized one of the things in my current state of being that really drains my energy is working for the man. How did I (we) get ourselves in this round robin scenario where we chase some dream of making it big in the city in some big company or firm. Maybe it happens because we didn’t have any loftier goals other than to make money and get some recognition of some abstract achievement. 

Or maybe it’s because I now have a new president that I cannot believe in or support (sorry I’ll keep politics out of my blogs). 

Would I have done my life over again? No because I wouldn’t have my two great, now grown, children. However, I wished I could have reached my epiphany sooner as I’ve spent my entire working life (about 3-1/2 decades) pleasing management in large companies. Instead I could have found something that I would have been more meaningful and passionate to do as a profession. 

I’m told I do good work. That’s great! I have heard that compliment over and over for the last 30+ years, but now I need something else to drive me. There’s lots of lessons in my life that were presented to me but I didn’t pay any attention to them until the last several months. 

My introspective… 

When I was younger and just starting out in my climb up the corporate ladder, I had met a gentleman (probably in his 50s at the time) who had his own business. I met him through a service he provided business men in downtown Houston. I worked for Exxon at the corporate office at the time. 

Twice a week I would do business with this gentleman. He was my shoe shiner. It wasn’t like those places where you sat in one of those chairs and the shoe shining took place. His business model was simple and yet a unique way of providing service in that he was mobile. He was the only mobile shoe shiner I’ve met to this current day. 

He would go up and down the hallways of our building and ask folks if they wanted their shoes shined. He would shine mine and my colleagues shoes while my colleagues and I conducted our hallway conversations. I didn’t know his name and he didn’t know mine either. On some occasions, he would stop in my office and asked, “Mister, would you like your shoes shined?”, which of course I obliged and had him shine my shoes. I paid him $5 per week and he shined my shoes twice in a week. The thing I remembered the most about him was he whistled while he worked. 

Now when’s the last time you whistled while you worked? I can tell you I’ve never whistled while working for large corporations. Now I’ve owned several business and I don’t remember whistling when I owned them either – well maybe once or perhaps twice when I had a good profitable day. 

In one of our last conversations with my personal mobile shoe shiner, I learned he put all four of his kids through college (all paid for), purchased (yep not mortgaged) his house, and had just bought himself a brand new Cadillac (yep no car payments).  I reflect back on those encounters and wished I had found a passion of something other than climbing some invisible and mostly unattainable corporate ladder. The highest level I’ve reached was Progam Manager over the US division. I don’t think I’ll ever get to the C level for the company I work at today, nor do I really want to achieve that anymore. 

I really want to whistle while I work as I move towards my retirement, which brings me to this week’s update on my side endeavor. 

My food blogging…

My learning for video and short film production is slow going and sometimes frustrating as the big social networks don’t necessary talk and play with each other nicely. My process requires me creating three versions of my instructional videos, one for each of the major social platforms where videos are a means to exposure. 

YouTube is my foundation as I can upload two versions of my videos and then embed them into my food blog site. Of course these videos couldn’t be used with Pinterest as they have a 60 second video length limitations, and in addition to the length limitations, I have to make a different video as the media format is not the same as the format used for YouTube or Instagram. I suppose each has to be unique as that’s their service. But it sure makes it harder for folks like me without a production crew. It’s just me, myself, and I. 

One thing that is a positive outcome of my food blogging is it requires me to actually cook more of my own meals, which means I don’t go out and eat processed foods at the local fast food establishment and I also control what goes into each meal, where you typically don’t have that option going to a restaurant. The other big advantage is that I can share my meal with S and her family. 

Sunday dinners…

For the last couple of times I’ve been with S and her kids (and sometimes her mom and dad), I get to cook, perfect and create my dishes. As an example, I cooked my Cajun gumbo for Sunday dinner. Her boys are the finickier of her children and they both loved my gumbo. Her youngest took one spoonful and said, “load me up with more of this stuff!”, which is a huge compliment coming from him, who typically does not wonder far away from his normal flavor pallet of bread and Nutella. 

I didn’t have time to make my jalapeño corn bread, which would have been better pairing than the oven French toast I whipped up as a compliment to the Cajun seasonings of my gumbo recipe. My Cajun cousins from Louisiana (if I had any) would have been proud I could still make my gumbo after being in hiding for many years. 

Heart to heart…

Monday (today) marks the one year anniversary of S and my first meeting during our speed dating event. Who would have thought it would have gone this long?

As we approached our first year of being together, this weekend S and I had a heart to heart discussion. We talked about things I do that bother her and in turn things she does that bother me. Now my profession requires me to read people quickly and ascertain the best methods of communicating with them to get our project moving in a forward direction. 

Now because I do this in my profession it tends to bleed into my personal life (as it should) as I’m not a light switch that turns off learnings from work and not apply them to my personal life, and vice versa. 

In my observations with S over our learnings about each other over the past year, I recanted our prior heart to heart conversations about her having to control every aspect of everything in her life regardless if she has control over it. For example her kids, her parents, and me. 

It was an interesting response, which I’ll save for my next posting. Hopefully, if you’re the same way as S is, you can gain some insight into our dialogue. 

Stay safe until my next post…

#life #lifeasiknowit #lifeasithappens

2nd week 2017

Monday morning I awoke before my annoying weekday alarm setting with a rejuvenated spirit not solely because of a good night sleep, which I didn’t, but rather that I had an epiphany last week that fueled me to look beyond the monotony of the day to day necessary tasks to please my corporate bosses. I have been in a quandary for the past two years which could be due to the end of my latest marriage as I no longer had focus outside of work. I guess that happens when you devote your personal dreams and aspirations to something that you thought would be there until your last days and then have it evaporate into thin air. I needed to find a new focus. 

New projects…

I used to develop websites many years ago and when I first started, the effort was high as that was not my expertise. I could have hired someone but I also didn’t want to lay out a tremendous amount of money that after the fact I would have kicked myself because it was something that I could have done easily. 

In this time around, there is a plethora of resources readily available via that invention of the internet and specifically YouTube instructional videos. The technologies have also advanced in that an ancient developer type like myself can literally have the basic website up and running in a couple of hours without remembering the various coding languages, or worse yet, someone with no coding knowledge at all. It’s quite amazing on how quickly we’ve moved from having the detailed understanding of all the intricacies with HTML, Java, and CSS. Thank goodness to the nerds who have developed widgets and plugins!!

My biggest hurdle now is learning the production process of video editing and splicing. I’ve tried several techniques from still photos interspersed with video, using only photos, and using only videos. Also, understanding how to bring background music into the whole process has been a challenge. I’m sure the next attempts will get better and streamlined as the process will evolve and organically come together. I’m keeping production costs low by doing this all via my iPhone and using the various free video, movie making apps. In my next food post, I’m using a voice over feature which seems to be a much easier, efficient process of having photos, videos, background music and my voice all incorporated without it being forced. 

The marketer in me has also come out of hiding and have been talking up my new project by word of mouth to prep for my alpha release. I’m talking up my pet project to folks active on social media which would be my distribution channel. 

The office…

Although I’ve found a new fire to stoke outside of my corporate life, I am grateful to start a new endeavor at work. It’s the same HR role but with a new team, so a lateral move with a different set of stakeholders and team member personalities. The amount of work is also the same as I still have two teams. I’m slowly making my mark by changing the mindset and challenging the two teams to be more effective and efficient which seem to be similar words but implementation of both are slightly different. Processes will be tweaked which could upset the cart as people are not always open and welcoming of change. My first few weeks of observations have been eye opening in that no matter which teams I get assigned, they seem to have similar issues. Same issues different set of individuals. I’ve been doing this for 17 years. Somehow this type of work always finds me. So Here we go again!! SSDD – same sh$&@, different day. 

Dating life…

Regarding my dating lif, I haven’t seen or hung out with S this week due to our La Niña weather where this past week she dumped nearly 8″ of snow at my house, upwards of a foot of snow across the Portland metropolitan area, and even more snow accumulation on the surrounding hills with reported levels of more than a foot and a half of snow. 

I’ll digress a little…

This city isn’t accustomed to much snow and becomes a standstill (literally) if more than 2″ hit the surface. Typically (or should I say in recent years), there’s been only a few occurrences of snow causing this phenomenon in Portland. This season (December 2016 to this past week), we have had at least four weather patterns. Here is a picture of the snow in my neighborhood just outside my front door. I actually love this kind of weather as growing up in Texas did not provide the vehicle or opportunity of having outside fun during the winter months. 

Back to dating S…

So needless to say, S and I have only texted this week which I’ve noticed the amount and duration of that form of communication has continued to diminish as the number of days of not seeing each other have increased. I wonder what would happen if the gap of physically spending time together continued to grow. Would our relationship dwindle? That would provide an insight of the fragility or solidness of what we currently have built over the past 11 months. 

But who am I kidding! I don’t think there is one factor that determines how long relationships last other than the tolerance and commitment of the two individuals to each other. That’s what I’ve learned through my experiences anyway. You can be committed, but if that other person isn’t, then it’s not going to work out no matter how desperately you try. 1 + 0 = 1. Even mathematically it works out, and numbers never lie. 

S and I have a long weekend coming as Monday is a holiday for both of us and hopefully other communication channels would again open up. We’re supposed to go on a hike (or two), weather permitting. 

#life #2017 #beingme

 

2017 – first week

Going back to the big corporate company after being out on vacation for nearly three weeks was very hard on my psyche especially that I have come to the realization that I’m looking for something more meaningful to do with my life. I’m almost 52 and I just woke up. I guess that’s okay as Colonel Sanders started his Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise when he was in his sixties. There’s hope for me. 

Back to the grind…

On the first day back, I had to re-train myself to go to bed early so that I could get up early. Oh I can’t wait to not be awakened by that annoying buzzing sound every weekday morning. 

4:30 AM and the alarm sounded. My goal was to be at work at my desk by 8AM. Actually my goal was to get there early so that I could leave at a normal hour (normal being around 5PM). Prior to my first day back, I had resolved to myself that I would be there before 8AM every day and leave by 5PM, which in so doing would allow me to reach my quota of 40 weekly hours by 4PM on Fridays. This gives me time in the evenings to work on my new cooking blog and other projects I had planned for the coming year. 

The first day, I met the goal of being in the office and at my desk before 8AM. Check! Unfortunately I overstayed my departure by an hour, which was fine as I still had about three hours I could work on my projects. 

It’s weird, or maybe it’s the laws of life that time passes quicker when you’re excited about what you’re doing and when you have a personal stake into want you’re trying to accomplish. I left work, stopped off to buy dinner, reached home, ate my take out dinner, and started in on my projects within an hour. I set my alarm for three hours later to ensure I don’t work too long on my personal projects, which if I did, would snowball into staying up too late, waking up late, getting to the office late, resulting in me not getting to work on my personal projects. 

10:30PM my alarm sounded which felt like it was only 15 minutes since I had initially set the alarm. My goal was to get the new website up, which I did but I really wanted to get further along than I had. I only secured my new domain, secured my hosting, installed the blogging tools, and started in on the configuration of the look and feel of the site when that rude alarm signaled me to stop. It was like my mother talking to my school aged self ordering me, “go to bed.”

It’s funny how you start negotiating with yourself, “what if I did one more hour?” Then your common sense steps in like a good parent and reminds you that you have to work in the morning. Before closing down my project for the night, I jotted down what I had yet to do to get both the site and the social networks up and ready and also established a rough scheduled of the work for the next couple of nights. The scheduled list showed the site would be live and my first blog posting uploaded by Saturday (that’s in three days). 

Next day I left work around 7PM and had to push an hour beyond the initial sounding of my “go to bed” alarm, which of course resulted in me getting to work the next morning later than my goal, which consequently meant leaving later than the intended departure time. 

S and I had planned a couple of long hikes this weekend so my goal for having all the pieces of my new food blog up this weekend would be in jeopardy of slipping into the second week of the year. It’s not like my food blog were something no one had ever thought of before and had to beat everyone to some imaginary finish line. It was just a timeline I put onto myself. Oh the pressures we add to ourselves. 

Everything happens for a reason…

It turned out the Portland area would be under another deep freeze (the third or fourth in the last month) that extended all the way south to the Oregon and California borders. The weatherman cautioned its viewers to not traverse the roads as they were predicting roadways would be covered by a sheet of ice by Saturday night and well into the morning commute on Monday. 

S and I diligently checked on the declining weather conditions throughout Saturday and both decided to forgo my coming down to her house and our hiking expedition, which we’ll have opportunities to do later in the month. 

So as we continued our periodic weather condition check in, I was able to complete the new food blog site, completed the setting up of the social feeds and links, and posted my first food blog. I never realized how much goes into the production of the videos, and the time to ensure the branding is consistent across all the social platforms. What did I get myself into. It was my first one and there’s always room for improvements. 

Cabin fever…

I’m easily bored and cannot just sit and do nothing. So I also managed to pack all the remaining Christmas decorations into the suspended garage storage shelving I installed before thanksgiving, and moved in the few furniture pieces from the garage into my living room and upstairs areas. These were the furniture items that traveled with me from the big move from Texas to Washington State a decade ago and had just came out of the last storage unit I rented and wrote about a few postings ago. 

Since I bought my house a little more than a year ago, my friends and S have made statements that the house doesn’t look like I had moved in yet. I guess my house is finally getting to a normal lived in state. 

Bad weather preparation…

I’m one of those folks that continue to work on things until they’re done and many of those times don’t think or focus on other things I should be doing. Case in point was the preparation for the inclement weather conditions. 

After I had completed the first food blog posting and rearranged, redecorated my house it finally dawned on me to check if I had rations to ride out the approaching winter storm. Fortunately I would be fine as I’ve previously stocked up my pantry and purchased several containers of water. What I don’t have are fresh fruits and veggies, but of course I have plenty of carbs. 

Hmmm, maybe I should also put more effort into having a stocked refrigerator with fresh fruits and veggies on my list of life changing habits for the new year. After all I now have a food blog and those items would be used to cook something that I could document on my food blog. 

Dating update…

S and I hadn’t seen nor spent time with each other since New Year’s Day and weren’t together this past weekend to hang out and compete two of our 24 planned hiking trips this coming year mostly due to the inclement weather conditions. In retrospect, I do miss hanging out and spending time with her and if it weren’t for the hazardous weather, I would have driven to her house and would have been okay with postponing the launching of one of my personal projects. 

I guess it’s true, absence makes the heart grow fonder. 

According to what we’ve previously planned, we won’t see each other this coming weekend either as she and her oldest would be in route traveling to southern Oregon to visit a college that he’s looking to apply to and possibly attend in the fall. Now another weather system is supposed to drop more snow and ice in the southern part of the state later in the week so perhaps their plans would also get cancelled and I could sneak some time to see her (and her kids) since it’s not the weekend they spend with their father.

We’ll have to see what La Niña brings us this coming week.

#newyear2017 #lifechanging #life #goals

#241 (New Years 2017)

First of all, I want to thank you all for reading and following my first attempt in blogging. I started this project a little more than a year ago and for the most part I posted something new every week day. I did take a hiatus for a few months but then returned to my week day postings. 

Thanks to all of you who either followed and or viewed my blog as in doing so have allowed me to reach a personal goal of trying and succeeding something new. My high school teacher told me I shouldn’t be a writer, but I’m glad I finally ignored those words and tried as this project showed I could write (a little). 

Here are the results of the last year’s endeavor, which I couldn’t have done without you all. 

Again thank you so much for your continued support. 

As for the coming year, I have decided to cut back on the number of posts to at least once a week (I’m targeting Mondays) as I’m starting a few new projects like a cooking channel with an associated blog, as well as a couple of other projects to help me develop my exit strategy from my current corporate life. 

My next venture is to begin my move into the final chapters of my life in where I’m trying to find something more meaningful than supporting “the corporate man” put more money into his pocket, and who really doesn’t have an agenda in life other than to promote a world wide brand recognition. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great company, but I think this aging geezer has had enough. However, before my exodus, I need something that would sustain my livelihood. 

To this end , I’m pursuing other projects that could possibly lead to that next stage in my life. 

Now since the number of posting on this blog would be fewer and less frequent, each post would be longer as it would cover a week long of incidences, personal thoughts, and learnings from my budding relationship with S and her kids. 

Maybe at one point, it’ll be time to reveal who I am (as the relationship continues and matures). But for now, you’ll just have to endure the weekly updates. 

Happy New Year to all. Stay positive and safe in this new year. 

Now to this past week’s update. 

The last hike of the year…

Check out time for the rental house was for 11 AM on Thursday, December 29th and I was worried that we wouldn’t make it as her younger son always caused the family to be late in everything they did. I’ve heard stories of being tardy to school events, as well as other functions where her younger son were involved. Hopefully S would help mitigate. 

I intentionally awoke early before everyone had awakened  to ensure breakfast were cooked and ready by 8 AM, which gave us three hours. Everyone ate breakfast with exception of her younger son. We left his plate out until I had completed cleaning up the kitchen from our breakfast, we had everything we brought packed and ready to be loaded in my truck, had started a load of laundry, and had started the dishwasher. We threw out his breakfast and I manually washed his dishes. What a pill to waste food!

S and I decided the night before that we would take the kids up one of the nearby roads to one of the many trailheads before we headed back to our homes. 

About an hour later, we reached the second trailhead which were located a few miles passed a sign that read: “ROADS NOT MAINTAINED BEYOND THIS POINT “. My truck performed perfectly as she slowly trudged up the snow covered road that looked to have a good 15” of snow. I kept my truck tires in the groves created by vehicles that traversed up the road prior to our ascension.

We all piled out of my truck, with the exception of (you guessed it) her younger son, who decided he didn’t want to hike but wanted to stay in my truck. I made sure I had the keys as to eliminate any mishaps of a male teenager’s mind to cause unwanted mischief. The worst he could do would be to drain my battery with charging his cellphone. 

Prior to our short hike, he did join us for a picture in the snow, and we even enticed him in a snowball fight – he and I against his twin sister and their older brother. 

Of course he declined our last invitation for joining us on our hike. 

The four of us started our way up the mountain road stopping every now and then for photos of either ourselves or observing nature. I took up the rear as I was still favoring my bruised knee. Half way up the mountain road, S finally realized that we shouldn’t have hiked as my knee were not in good shape. I’m glad she actually remembered and realized my bruised knee would not heal if I continued to not rest it properly. She’s growing to think about other folks – a breakthrough in the making. 

The four of us hiked a total of about a mile up the mountain road from where we parked my truck. At our stopping point, there was a mini waterfall that her children ventured out near to and posed for pictures next to its gentle cascading fan of runoff water. They posed while their mother and I snapped pictures, which we later shared/air dropped to them. 

After our impromptu photoshoot session, we decided to start our hike back down the deep snow covered mountain road to my awaiting truck and her defiant, young, ‘focus on me’, teenage son. 

Burger on the mountain…

By the time we had reached my truck, S were walking with me holding my hand just like we did when we first were dating. 

“How’s your knee,” she asked. 

“It’s still sore but I think it’ll be a few more days before I’m back to normal,” I replied. 

“Sorry,” she solemnly murmured. 

I squeezed her hand and said, “there’s nothing to be sorry for. Are you hungry?” I knew I was and figured she was too. I’m sure her kids were ready to eat as well, especially since it’ll take us about an hour to descend this thick, snow covered mountain road. 

“Yes!” She fired back enthusiastically. 

We stopped at one of the restaurants not too far from the rental house, and where S and I had stopped to eat last year when she took me on my first skiing trip. We ordered and ate our burgers, which were much better last time S and I were here last. I paid and thanked the new owners. 

I’m home …

After dropping off S’s’ children at their dad’s house, I drove S to her house, and then I drove myself home. It was great being home in my clean, everything in its place, no infighting, and no piles of clutter. Ah, the wonderful feeling of being back home.  

I thought about putting things away but opted not to as it was about 7PM when I completed the unloading of my truck and dropping its contents in my living/dining area. For one, my left knee was still badly bruised and had been in a bent position for more than five hours, and two, I was exhausted. “I’ll clean up tomorrow,” I told myself.

The following morning there were no annoying alarm to rudely wake me as I had left the daily wakeup reminder off from two nights prior. My living room was still messy from the coolers and totes used during the skiing trip with S and her kids, which would be my #2 item on the many things to do today. Number one on my list were enjoying my morning coffee. 

The New Year’s Eve party..

S planned on hosting a New Year’s Eve party at her house, which we had discussed several weeks ago. Originally the guest list were only her mom and dad, her children, and myself. Of course planning with S is never solid and final until the event actually nears and that doesn’t mean it’s solid – it just means it’s closer to what it could be. 

She wanted me to contribute something to her potluck dinner theme. So I decided I was bringing a crab item, which the final food item was dependent on what was available at the local Asian market. In addition to the crab dish, I would also bring my traditional New Years lumpia, and my version of black eyed peas with ham hocks. 

Preparing my items for S’s party was number 3 on my list today. 

The food prep…

1:45 PM and I’m finally done with putting things away from the skiing trip and on my second espresso. During the cleanup of the ski trip items, I discovered that most of the kids’ snacks were in my possession, which I’m returning as I don’t need to have the temptation of eating the non-healthy snack options. 

Part of my goal this coming summer is to complete a sprint triathlon to which I don’t need to be derailed on the first day of the year. So a care package of the snacks were made and set by the front door as a reminder to take with me when I later headed to S’s place on New Year’s Eve day. 

It was time for tackling the preparation of the food, but before I started I had to purchase some of the ingredients. So out and about on the day before New Year’s Eve day were such a bad choice as I anticipate the traffic would be heavy and there would be hoards of people at the Asian market. Ugh! I was right!

About an hour and a half later, I returned home with the ingredients: pork, shrimp, Dungeness crabs, cabbage, carrots, onion, and garlic. I already had the black eyed peas from a prior grocery purchase, and the left over ham hock, which were frozen and retained from Thanksgiving meal. 

I immediately started in on the creole seasoning for boiling the fresh Dungeness crabs by filling a 10 quart stew pot with 3/4 filled with hot tap water and with my made from scratch creole seasoning. I’m not sure why in my head it always seems faster to cook food than what it actually takes in reality. I think it’s because I don’t take into account the preparation time. 

While the water containing the ingredients of the crab boil were heating, I started the lumpia preparation. 

The water was still not boiling when I completed preparing the first ingredient in my lumpia. So I continued with the next ingredient.  

The water for the crab boil was just beginning to steam so I moved to the next ingredient for lumpia. 

After completing the prep for the third ingredient, the water was just beginning to slowly boil. 

I completed the preparation of all but one of the lumpia ingredients when the water for the crab boil were a roaring boil, which is where it needs to be. I let the water boil for another 10 minutes after which I dropped the first of the four crabs into the creole seasoned pot and then another. The stew pot I possessed were only big enough to hold two Dungeness crabs, which meant that each pair of crabs would take between 20 to 30 minutes not included the 5 to 10 minutes it would took the water to return to a roaring boil. 

A little more than 90 minutes had passed from the time I started the prepping of the creole crab boil seasoning to when each of the four Dungeness crabs were done, and the ingredients for the lumpia were prepared and ready for cooking. Who says I could not multitask!

In retrospect, I could have purchased lump crabmeat but I really wanted the right flavor so I think I made the correct choice in the long run as the crabmeat had the perfect creole flavor I wanted. 

By this time, the 7 PM hour had passed and I still had to roll the lumpia. However, I would cook it at S’s house before her guests arrived as it’s not a dish to serve cold. 

I was done with the rolling of about 50 lumpia rolls around 10:30PM. That’s one thing about this traditional holiday dish – the prep time is long, but the eating time was less than a few seconds. Maybe that’s why my mother only made it on either Christmas Day or New Year’s Day as the preparation is vert time consuming. But oh is it good. 

Before retiring for the evening, I completed the cleaning the Dungeness crab and set them in the refrigerator to cool overnight. I think instead of just plain crab, I’ll make a crab fried rice dish. I’ll make this at S’s house tomorrow before the party. 

I also planned to start the other traditional dish until the morning of the party. According to my plan, I awoke the normal time on party day and put all the ingredients of my black eyed peas in the crockpot and set the temperature to low. 

The overnight bag…

Part of the plan were to spend the night at S’s, so I moved onto wardrobe planning for the next couple of days. I’m NOT at the point of our relationship where I need to have some permanency of having a set of clothes at S’s house. 

So when our plan called for an overnight stay, I would need to bake into my schedule of packing a bag. Now I have gone as far as to be prepared with my toiletry needs in advance, but that’s about how far I have progressed. 

Fortunately, it doesn’t take me as long to pack an overnight bag as it did originally. My bags were packed and set by the front door in under 30 minutes. 

The New Year’s Eve party…

I survived the first family outing with S and all her kids last week. Like I mentioned in the previous posting, it was the first time since S and I have been dating that all three of her children were with us. There were some very emotional infighting between parent and children (the boys and her) and there were some laughter and tears. 

This year’s already starting off better as there were no heated arguments (sort of). There were a couple of moments where it could have become one of those verbal assaults as S asked her father to do something. That argument was swept to the curb, but based on their facial exchanges, it would be resurrected later. There was one other flare up between S and me when I asked her a question about how she wanted me to cook something. She began her go to response of “I don’t know” when I put my hand up to stop her as to indicate “never mind”. 

It turned out S’s guest list grew from her immediate family to include some coworkers. The number of party attendees now became 17. 

6:45pm and none of her additional guests had arrived. In fact, some texted her informing that they would not be attending. Also her daughter would miss the dinner and would be spending the night at her friend’s house, and her oldest was working and would spend the night at his girlfriend’s house after he got off work. So her immediate family in attendance would be her younger son and her parents. 

I’m sure this wasn’t the ideal plan that S had in mind. I’m sure she would have liked it if her kids were home and ringing in the new year with her. What good mother wouldn’t want that. Hmmm, I guess maybe that’s why she seemed a bit on the downside of happiness. I guess if her relationship with them were on better grounds, they might want to hang out more at home, and their house could be the house where their friends would congregate. 

I remember growing up, we were with our parents most holidays and was a common scene of us playing card games or our favorite board game of monopoly. We even had our friends over and played with us into the wee morning hours. 

Our budding relationship…

I think this past week’s trip and the holidays have made S realize that what we had started and had been cultivating for almost the last year has been a good thing and that it could be something longer lasting for her and her kids. 

This was evident on our last night at the rental house when S recanted the conversation she had between her and her younger son. Basically, her younger son likes me and was concerned of what would happen if she and I were to break up. 

Prior to her and her son’s discussion, I could sense that their lives were mostly in turmoil and filled with arguments and more divided than a family should ever be. I have a very strong family oriented focus and truly believe all families are capable of being a warm, caring, and loving unit, especially towards each other. Just because you came from a broken home doesn’t mean you cannot stop the cycle – you own your future. 

Now let’s get this straight. I’m not or would not ever consider replacing their overbearing, fear inducing father. I’m just the guy who’s dating their mother and would be around them as a consequence of dating their mother. I would anticipate that as S and my relationship continues to mature that her children would be okay to ask for my advice on life’s challenges – given enough time. 

#snow #hiking #winterwonderland #newyear2017 #family #relationships #life