#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 

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