Thursday, May 7, 2009

Five Minutes of a Glorious Afternoon.

It was a hot one. A relative scorcher for early May in Minnesota. The sun beat down turning car interiors into saunas and baking the spring sog out of turning lawns.

Jack was reveling in the day. He stood before the spouting stream, took a sip, and stepped back. He moved in again, testing his cold water chops a bit longer before abruptly darting outward. One more venture forth, and he tipped his whole chest into the sparkling, babbling water. The front of his black tee shirt soaked, he ripped it off and flung it to the heavens. He threw his six-year-old body to the ground, reveling in his own half-naked abandon.

The other patients sitting in nearby chairs at the dermatologist’s office looked a mixture of amused and perplexed.

We hadn’t even managed to register yet, and the drinking fountain had already prompted this much trouble. It didn’t improve considerably from that point on- particularly when he burst into another patient's exam room during their consultation, before the nurse or I could catch him...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Epic Fail Annals: Lara Grills.

I have a picture I'd like to share with you. It's on my phone. It's a picture of my grill all fabulously aflame. You probably won't see it because I can't figure out how to get the image from my phone to my computer. I don't have great technical skills. I don't have great skills where grilling is concerned either.

Some backstory: we have a gas grill that Nathaniel uses with regularity. He's pretty good at whipping up steaks for himself and the kids, and my requisite portion of white meat chicken. I once attempted to "get the grill ready" for Nathaniel while he was en route to the house. I even had his phone presence to guide me through the process. My efforts resulted in a disaster that left Nathaniel with temporary facial alopecia. I swore I would never use the gas grill again. He did not argue against my pronouncement.

Fast-forward to today. I wanted to grill. Nathaniel had to work late. I figured I'd be ambitious and haul out the old weber grill. I was pretty certain I'd used it successfully some years ago, and it was safer than that gas-powered bastard.

I was making hot dogs. I had Match Lite charcoal and a lighter. It seemed a relatively foolproof endeavor. Ha. Ha. HAAA.

I pulled the grill a safe distance from the house. I opened the bag of charcoal and stacked
the briquettes in an admirably delicate pyramid. I realized, smartly, that I probably shouldn't directly light the charcoal with the cigarette lighter I had as a catalyst for flame, so I looked around for something dry and brittle to use as tinder.

I found a stick. It wouldn't light. It would burn, but it wouldn't flame. I tried another. Same thing. I found some paper in the yard. It melted. It did not light. I tried a crispy leaf. I burnt my hand, but my grill remained virginally cool. A husky stem from one of last year's mammoth cosmos. No. Nothing. Complete failure. I began to wonder how anyone even started a forest fire in the first place. Ten minutes elapsed and I had failed to light the freaking Match Light charcoal.
I angrily announced to the kids:

"If you are ever lost in the woods with me, we will ALL DIE!"

Noel snickered.

Finally, the grill was lit. I admired the tall, lapping flames. It should be smoothing sailing from there on out, I thought.

Something didn't look right.

There was nowhere to put the food.

After a moment of puzzlement, I realized I had piled and lit the charcoal on the top grate.
I figured I could just pull the grate out quickly, like the old tablecloth trick, without even disturbing the pyramid.


I pulled the grate away, sparks and ash plumed upward, and the entire pile of briquettes tumbled to one side of the bottom grate.

"Okay, I thought, I just need to grab my tongs and tidy the pile."

The tongs weren't long enough to evade the tall flames still dancing up from their ashy pillows.
I looked around, wondering what I could use, and spotted my large garden shovel. I picked it up and proceeded to rearrange the coals, while Noel shouted that I was NOT "supposed to do that with Dad's shovel!"

The coal situation under control, I proceeded to attempt to replace the top grate and accompanying hot dogs. As I lifted the grate, the dogs began to swing from one end of their querulous platform to another, as if executing some sort of cruel, taunting log roll. One fell onto the ground and I cursed it audibly. I replaced the grill cover and went into the house to let the remaining Hebrew Nationals cook.

Ten-or-so minutes later, I returned to check on the hot dogs. They were not even REMOTELY done. Somehow the opening on the grill cover had gotten knocked closed and the whole apparatus had subsequently cooled down. I pushed the hot dogs around rapidly as though that would somehow help the not-really-cooking process along, loudly dropped some derivation of the F-bomb, looked up to realize an elderly pedestrian was staring at me, and then darted into the house.

I did eventually manage to heat them to an acceptable temperature, but the hot dogs did not develop crispy skins or juicy middles, and by the time they were "done", Noel had begun asking if we could just have beans for dinner.

Long story short: Lara can't grill, but she can screw up the process like no one else. It's good to be exceptional.