Wednesday, March 07, 2007

News from the home front

Over the last few days I have gotten back in touch with some of the joys of staying home--not of being semi-employed, just of being home when I'm not sick.

At the top of the list is slowing down. Although, I can manage a deadline push or a blitzkrieg house cleaning with the best of them, it's not my preferred pace and I would rather take my time. I'm a putterer. I like to walk. I like to take naps. I like to sit and read or listen to music. At home, I get to give the cats a large part of the undivided attention that they think they are entitled to. I think multi-tasking is one of the worst ideas of the last half-century.

When I'm home I get to cook more. Most nights, our dinner consists of either leftovers from something I roasted or stewed on Sunday, or of a single pot dish that I can slap together in a half-hour. Not that these are bad meals; I have an extensive repertoire of tasty quick meals. But it's not as fun to prepare those as it is do take my time fixing something with layered steps and filling the house with competing yummy smells. Yesterday, I roasted a chicken, taking time to properly brine it and flavor it before tossing it in the oven. That means I started about noon. Today, I'm simmering red beans for my clever wife's Puerto Rican rice and beans recipe.

I get to watch the neighborhood go by when I'm at home. Like the cats sitting on the back of their chair in the living room, watching the bad birds in the yard, I can watch the traffic and the neighbors from my desk.

This noontime, as I sat taking care of some e-mails, two black kids came running up the street. There is a Boys' and Girls' Club a few blocks from here with after school activities. They were headed that direction from the direction of the main bus line through the neighborhood. They got playing some boy game of chase, hide, and ambush and stayed near my house for about fifteen minutes, diving behind bushes and parked cars. It was hide-and-seek, but they were too old to call it that.

After a while, I decided I needed a bell pepper for the beans and put on my hat to walk to the store. As soon as I stepped onto the porch, it started to rain and three police cars pulled up. The cops all got out. The youngest one had his gun drawn. The rain had already made me decide to delay my trip to the store, and, if something bad was happening, I wasn't going to abandon my house and cats, but I knew it would look bad if the old hippie guy stepped out of his house, saw the cops and rushed back in. So I put on a big act of putting my garbage cans away and then loitered around the porch to see what was going on.

Eventually, I overheard enough to gather they were responding to a call about a possible burglary. They didn't seem to know which house was being robbed. They peeked over a few fences and under the big black SUV that was parked in front of my fire hydrant. I began to suspect that someone had seen two young Negro males lurking in the bushes and called the police. A fourth police car arrived. A tiny car from Parking Enforcement came by to see what the fuss was, but didn't ticket the SUV. No one asked the old hippie on the porch if he'd seen anything.

Eventually, the police lost interest and went away. The cat went to sleep on his chair. The rain had stopped, so I went to the store. When I passed the Boys' and Girls' Club, I saw the two kids from before chasing each other around the building. I wish I had that much energy.

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