Someone asked, what is one thing someone who's learning to cook should know?

Obviously the more interesting comments are listing way more than one. Here's mine:

Watch cooking shows for ideas and instruction but keep in mind that they make it look easy. Do your mise en place so you don't get overwhelmed trying to do several things at once when the actual cooking starts. Learn to clean up as you go or else you'll hate cooking because of the huge mess that you can't deal with until after you eat. Working with recipes is good and necessary but you should also make stuff up. Keep butter in a butter dish on the counter. Mount a tablet to use for recipes and give it its own email address; copy the recipe text into the body of the email and also provide the link. Have a list when you shop but also leave room in your meal plan for taking advantage of things you find on sale or that sound good that day. Get a chest freezer. Get to know all the stores near you and what each of them excel at. Once you're comfortable cooking, meal kits like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron are actually pretty amazing but you should use a calendar to make sure to stay on top of reviewing and possibly canceling each week. One of the most fun things ever is experimenting with leftovers. Be realistic about when you should start cooking so you and everyone else aren't miserable and hungry waiting for the meal to arrive. Taste your food as you make it and definitely before you serve it. Always make all the plates as pretty as possible and keep the ugliest one for yourself. Organize your meal plan and shopping list in a shared spreadsheet and move the items around to match the order you go through the store before heading out. Get takeout at least a couple of times a month. Use, freeze, or share everything; you can't save the world by cutting your own food waste but you can save yourself a lot of money.

(no subject)

They say your perception of time speeds up as you age. Similarly, I feel like I've been watching Smallville forever and now that I'm over halfway through season 7, I'm getting through it faster than ever. A couple of episodes before bed, a couple more in the morning when I can't sleep now and then. What will it feel like when I finish? Will I join a beautiful, infinite white light containing every episode of every show ever made? Will I be banished to a fiery pit with nothing but cable news? Is it just a black void?

Unauthorized dreams

Yesterday I followed the Lifetime Unauthorized Melrose Place Story with the Lifetime Unauthorized Beverly Hills, 90210 story, not realizing yesterday was the 30th anniversary of 90210's first episode. I also didn't realize that I'd end up dreaming about the Melrose Place one, but in my version, they double-casted every role and eliminated one of everyone based on performance in rehearsals right up until time to shoot the first scenes. That's funny because if you've watched season 1 of Melrose Place, you can tell they didn't rehearse, and the Unauthorized Melrose Place Story confirms that.

These are fun and should be watched in the opposite order because that's the order the shows were made in. Some of the casting is the same in both movies but oddly, one woman plays a different agent in each and her role in the Melrose Place one didn't make it onto the IMDb entry.

And the casting of Abbie Cobb as Jennie Garth is the most brilliant biopic casting I've ever seen. She looks so much like her I could barely believe it.


We got away for a bit

Good morning from Anacortes. I dig this place, it's got that "very expensive 20 years ago" thing kind of my like friend Barbara's big house that she moved out of did. You know the one I mean? Like it looks 80s but you know it's not because the stuff wasn't around in the '80s. And there's all this room to sit around at the counter and talk to the person in the kitchen but because of the curved design of that, there's shockingly little work space in the kitchen. 

The really funny part about this place is that there's two king beds in the master and a queen in the other bedroom, plus two large dining tables, so you'd think this is a party rental, but no alcohol is allowed. Not a deal breaker for us these days at all. I'm curious how many people follow the rules, though. 

Just once I'd like to arrive at a vacation rental and have the furniture set up the way I'd have done it. There's an amazing view here and the TV is opposite it, and the corner where the TV should definitely be has a piano instead. And neither couch really faces the TV very well but the one that has access to power for the laptop cord is the one with the worst view. 

The funniest thing was opening a cabinet and finding 17 or so boxes of mac and cheese. I've been craving it something fierce and want some even more after having bad frozen mac and cheese for lunch yesterday. 

(These are from yesterday. I only mention it because one of my pet peeves is when there's any confusion at all regarding if a photo was taken in the morning or the evening.)



2021 plans

I basically grew up on skates, but I mostly left that behind when I moved to Washington. It's just not a very rollerblade-friendly place. I am excited to report that many miles of asphalt are being laid at my favorite Sunday spot, and I decided today that when spring 2021 comes around, I'm going to skate here. I don't even own a pair or pads right now, but I'm looking forward to having some again. I think it's been 18 years or so.


Northwest Upgrade

A while back, I wrote for Live in Everett about the Grand Avenue Park Bridge. It comes as no surprise that there were delays, but now it's finally open! This map shows why it's such a great new amenity.

The red rectangle is where the bridge is at 16th. Before it opened, you had to go all the way to one of the red circles. Pretty ridiculous to expect people to walk up to three miles to get somewhere that's essentially one block over. It probably wouldn't have happened if the bridge wasn't also carrying drainage pipes, or at least not for many years to come.

But it's here, and it's great. It has a switchback in it since the difference in heights is pretty big, but there are also stairs in the middle so it's optional. On the waterfront side, stairs wrap around or you can take an elevator.





It's even worth a trip or two over the bridge when it's not a shortcut. This morning I climbed it and walked along Grand instead of Marine View Drive for a quieter and more scenic morning even though it was completely out of the way.

No rest for the wicked

I didn't really mean for this to ever become a malady journal but it's here and there's not a lot else going on, so that's where we're at. It's pretty silly how long it took me to realize that sleeping laying down is probably the worst thing for my back right now. I mean, I said over and over that going to sleep sucked and the pain was always worst when I got up, but for some reason not doing that never seemed like an option? Well it totally is. Garrett sleeps sitting up due to GIRD, and he said I should try it. A couple of painful nights later, halfway through the night, I finally got up and went to my spot downstairs. Lo and behold, a much better morning.

I auditioned all our recliners and ended up moving one from our living room into my room. It barely fits, but that's better than sleeping in the living room or lounge where I can't close the door. Steve still insists upon joining me in my room sometimes, but I'd rather sleep alone as much as possible.

It's hard to sleep upright and I get too warm, but it helps, for sure. Garrett needs a new adjustable bed and we're thinking about just getting two of them. Moneywise, the timing's not great, but sleep is one of those things you have to prioritize. Without good sleep, everything else falls apart.

A milestone

Back in March when I suddenly got back pain, it was bad enough that I pursued treatment even in a pandemic. It wasn't enough to just try to take it easy because sitting and even laying down were very painful. It's nice to have learned since then that I'm dealing with different stuff than before because I was especially bitter that my proactive work didn't seem to prevent anything. But maybe it did. My old back pain was due to a bulging disc and recently my doctor helped me realize the new stuff is a different kind of pain. What came in March wasn't the disc type that sends shocks down the leg. Instead my back was completely stiff all the way up and down.

The exercises I got from another fill-in doctor in March helped a lot for most of my back, but the lowest part was still sore. I've been working with a new set of moves for almost a month now, and results are slow to come. But last night I got in bed and wasn't immediately in pain for the first time since back in March. Of course I was still sore throughout the night and all through the morning, but getting in bed and going to sleep pain-free was a wonderful feeling.

I really hate doing two sessions a day on non-walk days and one on days I do walk, but last night was definitely good motivation to keep going. Though it's hard to say for sure if it's all due to the PT. I added a wedge to my bed to use while sleeping on my side and had been on it a couple of nights, so that could be a factor. Nothing to do but stay the course.

Tank Life

As we started pulling into July, month x of n of this pandemic, I decided it was time to get back in the water somehow. Before it all hit, I was in the pool at the YMCA three times each week and regularly visiting the Korean spa, plus another nice indoor/outdoor spa that I unfortunately have only made it to twice so far. I had to cancel a couple of trips to that one due to changing plans.

As of this writing, the spas aren't fully closed, but the precautions at the Korean one include emptying the pools. I'm not sure how I'd feel about spending time in a sauna or steam room with others right now anyway, but the pools are a very nice part of the experience I'd really miss.

Lots of people are getting kiddie pools but I knew that wouldn't work for me. They're not tall enough to bother and just sitting in a little water with nothing to lean back on didn't sound super fun. More importantly, it would probably hurt a lot. Even just the few minutes I sit on my bed at the end of the day checking Instagram before laying down usually leave me a bit sore.

One trend I discovered was people using large stock tanks as small pools and I decided I could use a small one as a small hot/cool tub. Thankfully Google Shopping has an option to filter results for local stores because I definitely didn't want to ship something so large. Here's what I found just 11 miles away for only 100 dollars, and it holds 100 gallons.

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Covid Cutz

One good thing about coming of age in the '90s is being not even remotely afraid of undershave haircuts. A perfect stay-at-home style. Garrett shaved the sides and back for me, and that was my first haircut other than a little bit of neck and ear area maintenance since February.