Monday, November 16, 2015

The Days Are Long...

but the years are short.

Have truer words on the subject of parenting ever been spoken?

Five years ago, I brought home this alien-fingered, round-headed, fat Chinaman of a baby.  I turn around, and 1825 days have passed and I have a goofy, irrepressible, sweet, risk-averse, bit of a scaredy-cat, loved-up five year old on my hands.  One that still wakes up at an ungodly hour and will sneak into our bed.  One that implores us to "make the blankets flat!" every night when we tuck him in.  One that will ask, "will you lie with me for a bit?" still, even when he's on the brink of being asleep.  One that has (unfortunately) adopted my deplorable habit of using "stupid" as a modifier.  One that told me last week that I was the "stupidest dumb mama ever."  One that makes me go berserk.  One that makes me scoop up all his Legos into a plastic bag and hide them out of sight in a fit of berserk.

Sigh.  Parenting is a trip, man.  I'm not sure that I'm getting any better at it, but I am a little dismayed that I've already f**ked up five years.  THE YEARS BEFORE FIVE LAST THE REST OF THEIR LIVES!  I need a do-over.    The fact that I get to do it with Dotytron from high school is another trip.  Last week we celebrated 14 years together.  FOURTEEN YEARS!  Look at what babies we were:

Look at us now:

We went to a newish restaurant, Dandylion.  It's a big, rustic-industrial space - exposed HVAC, marble-topped tables, lots of plants (a bit of a rarity in restaurant design).  That particular rainy, cold, drizzly night it was warm and cozy and intimate.  Despite all the exposed brick and hard surfaces, it wasn't too loud.  They have a very pared down menu.  Three appetizers, three mains, three desserts, and a beer list that's about as long as the wine list.

They started us off with warm, house made sour dough bread and fresh cheese (think, the best boursin you've ever had), with shallots and black pepper.  We were rather unseemly with the speed at which this was consumed.

Smoked scallops (I'm DEFINITELY going to be throwing scallops in my smoker, now), tender and juicy and briny with a celery root remoulade, with sea asparagus.
Raw red deer tartare in endive with horseradish and breadcrumbs. This dish was outstanding.  The scattering of ragged toasted bread was delicious toasted texture against the clean, almost sashimi-like protein of the deer.  It's so much nicer than your standard steak tartare with the toasts.  I loved this dish.  It was so delicious. Unlike steak tartare, which is usually mixed with all the standard accoutrements, you could really taste the clean, slightly tannic wildness of the meat.  

Pumpkin miso risotto.  This bowl was the epitome of earthiness.  The umami of the miso, against the sweetness of the squash - each bite punctuated with barely cooked pieces of bouncy, meaty mushrooms - the deep round flavours highlighted with the grassy notes of the sprouts.  It was like eating the forest floor - in the best possible way.

Duck, pear, and roasted kale. Tender roasted pear pieces, perfectly cooked, sapid duck, with kale that is the essence of kale-ness contrasted with crunchy, popping bits of roasted buckwheat.  

The balance of flavours and textures at this restaurant is so advanced. The chef eschews heavy sauces in favour of a really nuanced, concentrated balance of flavours and an attention to texture that you don't see in a lot of restaurants.  The cooking is very focused, and inventive.  This is a chef who has the vision and skills to practice restraint.  I loved this place and would go back again.  I loved that it wasn't that hyper-masculine "more is more" style of meat-heavy, and just plain heavy-heavy cooking that was in style for a long time.  I loved that this chef had a voice and really focused on the food without gimmicks and without overloading the plate.  The trick was that the cooking is elevated enough so that you feel like you're being treated, without being overloaded with a "concept."  Highly recommend.
We went to visit my sister on the weekend, after a visit to the ER to get Quincess' head stitched up.  The twins convinced me to let them sit on our regular dining table chairs instead of their high chairs, which resulted in first, Lindsay soaking Quincess's upper half with the vinegar-water cleaning spray we use to clean off their highchairs.  Then, halfway through their lunch, I was in the kitchen and saw Quincess fall off his chair.  In Quincess fashion, he of course went head-first and I picked him up and he had a gash on his head.  A small one, but it was deep.  The ER doctors decided to use the glue instead of stitches to put his head back together, because stitches are "traumatic" for the kid and the parent.  In retrospect, I would have gone with the stitches because my kids are very chill when it comes to doctors.  Exhibit A of Quincess falling asleep on the table as they were gluing up his head:

They glued it, plastered it with steristrips, and then because I warned them that his "twin brother is a maniac" they added gauze and tape. Cut to two hours later when we're in the car on the way to my sister's and the Quincess has picked ALL the bandages off and opened up the cut and has blood streaming down his face.


  These two card sharks learned how to play War this weekend. 

 Anyway, we had a lovely time and hung with my family and celebrated my nephew's birthday.  The 
children's museum there, which is the best that I've ever been to, was having some kind of Star Wars-themed thing that weekend so we went on the first day.  The Big Yam and Little Little Cuz totally got into the cosplay and there were a bunch of photo ops with various figures.  Quincess at first said, "No, thanks" to meeting Darth Vader but then later, when a Stormtrooper waved at him and reached out his hand for a high-five, the Quincess misinterpreted the gesture and put his tiny little hand in the Stormtrooper's.  It was friggin' adorable.

We were standing off to the side of this meet and greet and unbeknownst to me, Quincess was quietly doing an open-close hand shy wave to the characters.  They waved us over and we got to jump the queue for this photo.

The wind machine is so key. Such a classy touch. LOL!

It feels frivolous to write a post like this in the aftermath of the coordinated attacks in Beirut and Paris.  I was up late on Saturday night, my mind spinning after an intense debate with my sister, outlaw bro, and the Dotytron on what has been happening on the campuses at Yale and Missouri.  I was thinking about my family, my children, about the chubby guy in his homemade Han Solo costume, about the joy and creativity in this pretend world of absolute good and evil, of empires and rebels.  And yes, while it is frivolous in the face of the atrocities perpetrated by humanity and against humanity on a daily basis, to say nothing of what these events do to reveal the ignorance, fear, and violence that simmers just below the surface of so many (I had an active day de-friending bigots on Facebook, and it was very satisfying), I was also heartened by this frivolity.  Playing dress-up, sincerity, investment, laughter, silliness, and the multitude of tiny moments that combine to make up long days, collected in a blur to make for this rapid succession of short years, is what we're all striving for, and what life is made of.  People will prevail in making and living those tiny moments, and the knowledge of this is profoundly comforting in a world that can seem at times, to be without reason.


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