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August 16, 1998
a year ago

IKEA Frenzy

I managed to finish what I wanted to write before midnight. I stopped about halfway through an order to make dinner. For the last week I had been wanting to make a mushroom lasagna, and now I finally had the time. I started with the mushrooms, slicing up nearly three pounds of mushrooms and then mincing half a dozen cloves of garlic and chopping an onion. The garlic went into a pan with plenty of butter, until it was fragrant and light brown. The onions followed, and when they were translucent, the mushrooms followed. I sauteed the whole mass until all the vegetables had given up their liquids. I set the whole thing on the back burner, and let it cool.

The pasta sheets were next. I measured out 2 1/4 cups of flour, made a volcano out of most of it, and broke three eggs into the hollow. I beat the eggs into the flour with a fork, gradually worked the flour into the eggs until I had a dough that I could handle. I then needed quite a lot more flour into the dough until it was smooth and elastic and almost stiff. Then I got out the dowel, and started to roll the dough out into a sheet so thin I could nearly see through it. Then I cut 11 by 4 inch strips before boiling a few quarts of water. Once the water was boiling, I cooked each strip for about 10 seconds before dumping them into cold water and wringing the excess water from each strip.

Finally, I cooked the bechamel sauce. A good dab of butter combined with three tablespoons of flour, cooked until the flour was mostly cooked, and then I gradually added two cups of hot milk. It made for a sauce that was cream-like in consistency, and would thicken into something creamy and binding when cooled.

Mushrooms, noodles, and sauce were layered with ricotta cheese and sauteed scallops in a deep, wide dish while the oven was heating up. The whole mass went into the oven. I then sat down for a few minutes before remembering that I had also bought the tiger prawns. So, I got up again, found that the prawns had been deveined, so I just quick-fried them in butter with a mass of garlic. Nearly instant scampi. I then served them as appetizers, while the lasagna was still baking. Yum. The tiny bits of garlic were crisp to the bite, and I had cooked the shrimp just enough so that they were juicy, hot, and sweetly firm.

The lasagna turned out very well. John, Johanna, and I all enjoyed our dinner very much. Johanna had also brought her two dogs, and the three black dogs ran around the yard, around house, and up then down the porch, following each other everywhere. It was kind of fun to hear them stampeding around house, while I finished up the last of my writing.

After we had been asleep for while, I woke to the sound of rain, heavy rain pouring down the eaves, splashing through the gutters, and dripping through the trees.

I did pretty well on Sunday, quite a few people enjoyed what I finally came out with, and it seemed to go well with how Lee saw the passages as well. It was interesting to realize that she had taken the same twist to the passages that I had, and the same interesting mental avoidance of certain connotations of the very word I had avoided. It was odd to get that kind of confirmation, in that way.

So, I survived.

After the service, John and I joined his parents for lunch at an Indian restaurant down South. The restaurant had a buffet, and it looked like we were the first ones in there. The food was fresh, and hot, and by the time we were through the first time they had fresh nan and crisply hot samosas out. It was excellent, especially with the super fruity mango lasse's and two surprising chutneys. One chutney was mint based, and the other was yogurt based, and cooled the palette after all the spicy foods. There were four main dishes, the normal lentil dish, a paneer, a vegetable curry, and a spinach based dish. All of them were fairly spicy, and went well on the bed of fragrant jasmine rice.

After lunch, we parted ways, and John and I went down to the IKEA, which was based down in the Southcenter area. IKEA is a national chain, known for furniture that is very modular, inexpensive, and requires some assembly. They do a pretty good job with the things that they make, and they have a whole lot of household items as well. All the little things that a household actually needs, but so few stores make affordable to buy all at once the way IKEA does. Curtains to trash bins, dishcloths to office desks, egg cutters to floor lamps, they pretty much had it all.

The one thing they didn't have was very much covered parking. We took a few turns around the indoor parking lot before having to go outside into the rain. Because the indoor parking lot only had one entrance and one exit, we had to walk quite ways before we can actually get into the store. Then, the store itself was a mad house. Lots of people wanted to get lots of things, and the layout of the store pretty much forced to flow to go through every single section of the store. Many of the aisles were jammed packed with carts, people, and it was hard to get through without bumping into somebody. An experience that wore on my nerves. I'm not much of the real time shopper, there are reasons I prefer to mail order my clothing when I can, even with the bother of not being able to see or try my clothes on until they've been mailed to me.

But there are a great number of items that were on sale that John then I really did want. Things like a hundred tea candles, a wood and glass candle lamp, a cardboard clock with quartz timing, and a computer desk that would no longer make us sit at a diagonal from the screen. The desk was a beauty, completely configurable, made from woods about the same color as the rest of our furniture, and sturdy enough for the nasty weight of our 21 inch monitor. It was also at a good price, and just light enough for the two of us to pick up and carry out of there. So, we managed to pick up all that stuff and more.

By the time we got home, we were exhausted. I wanted nearly nothing more than to go to sleep. We didn't do that, instead, I brewed some tea, and tried to work on a story with just a pen and some paper. I ended up writing down a few memories that I wanted to keep for myself. That was nice. There are moments, now, when I wonder just how long I will keep this public journal, and if I should just switch to a private writing journal. Thing is, I know enough people that enjoyed reading this that it would be hard to stop, it's an easy way for some people to know what's happening in my life.

It's also a good reason for me to think through each day, and think more about how it affects me, rather than just a grocery list of what happened.

It reminds me of how Raven said that each day can be sacred.

At around 6 p.m. I got tired of sitting, and got on the exercise bicycle and started riding. It was cooler than it has been for about a month, and I did over four miles in less than 15 minutes, and still had energy left to do a number of my knee exercises. I was entirely drenched in swept by the end of all that, so took a shower, changed into something comfortable, and then re-heated penne casserole for dinner. I had John put together two small salads, and we had dinner.

After dinner, we took Fezzik for a walk. I was still sore from the exercises, but it was a good excuse to take my new candle-lantern out for stroll. The light from the candle wasn't quite enough to see with, but it was a good enough light to warn off cars. That was useful, and more than one car slowed down to take a looked at us. The walk is a good time for me to slowdown mentally as I do something simple physically. Fezzik seems to enjoy doing the walk with us, as much for the company as for the activity itself. He knows the way that we are to go, and the familiar routine seems to settle him for the rest of the night.

When we got home, I got ready for bed, and when I was ready I told John, and he came in to give me a backrub. This was the second backrub that he's given me in just this week. After I was finally able to verbalize what I really needed from a backrub, he took the time and the effort to give me real backrubs. Ones where he will use both hands, massage lotion, and take the time to work out my knots one by one. He spent real time on each problem area, and I did my best to give him solid feedback than things felt really good. It really helped, and I got a better sense for just how much stress I'm carrying in my shoulders and back. My lower back was especially bad.

It felt really, really good. I have to ask for them more, and he has said he was willing to give them to me on a more regular basis. I think that reading about Raven's backrubs gave him a sense of just how important they were to me and how much I missed them. So, it is good to get a source so close to home of something I needed so badly

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