My Front Door

I live in a converted barn.  When we first started working on it, I learned about supporting walls.  These are walls you can’t knock down unless you put a beam in, and walls you can’t move.  And walls that need a lot of structural support.

We had a few.  They were the bane of my existence.  There were walls where I didn’t want them to be.  Coming up with a floor plan was daunting. 

Finally, I had a Eurkea! Moment.  I found the floor plan that worked for everything I wanted except one thing. 

The main entrance to my house, the front door, opened into my kitchen.

This is just awkward. 

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The Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

I realize some people will think this is heresy, but the best grilled cheese sandwiches are made with Velveeta.  Yes, I know.  Not real cheese.  Get over it.  It makes a creamy, melty, cheesy, drippy, greasy mouth of complete goodness.  Complete.  Perfect.  The whole is more than the sum of its parts.  I’m talking about grilled cheese perfection.

A Velveeta grilled cheese requires Nature’s Own Whole Wheat Bread – yeah, the cheap sandwich stuff and tons of real butter.  Slathered sweeps of it across the bread and a goodly amount in a hot cast iron pan. 

If the pan is at the right temperature, the sandwich has a light crust that crunches when you bite into it releasing the ooey, gooey melty magnificent faux cheese.  I’m telling you.  It’s all about proportions. 

I had a cheese slicer which I used to make grilled cheese from the original rectangular block.  Two slices.  One is to fill up the top left side of the bread, the second cut in half so that there is a strip down the right side and another across the bottom of the bread.  Perfection.

The cheese slicer broke after a mere 40 years of use.  I was incensed.  I can’t find one that cuts to the right thickness.  I realize they’re adjustable, but evidently, I’m challenged.  I can’t get it right.  So.  I’ve taken to buying the extra-thick Velveeta slices.  I do have to admit, it’s more convenient if an environmental disaster.  However, the proportion of cheese to bread is just slightly off.  One slice is not enough.  Two is a tad too much.   I always go for too much, with a grilled cheese, with everything in life.  And is my favorite word.  I am a maximalist, not a minimalist. 

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My Beloved Sofa, My Beloved Grief

I have a beloved sofa.  The arms are very high.  I sit sideways with my knees bent and my feet on its newly upholstered surface.  I am wearing the ancient headphones – the curly corded ones that plug into the stereo receiver.  I have on jeans and a black t-shirt.  The lights are off except for the china cabinet.  The flames of a dozen candles also shadow the room.

I have a glass of cool Merlot.  A beautiful glass.  A full-bodied wine.

The Cowboy Junkies are filling my head.  And then AJ Roach.  And then Leonard Cohen.  And Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.  The official mourning albums.  Beautiful music, rich instrumentalization, stunning voices all with an underlying sadness.

I sink into the sofa.  I sink into my grief.  Those four CDs have lived in the player for years now.  The official mourning quartet. 

When sadness hits me, my first instinct is to avoid it.  Being busy.  Being social.  Being this, being that.  But I have learned that sometimes I just need to wallow in it.  Embrace the grief, the pain, the memories.

Eventually, the pain lessens, the memories make me smile and the grief becomes the love I can no longer share. 

When we reach the beauty of grief, I will sometimes play Mozart’s Jupiter.  Waving my hands in the air and conducting the invisible orchestra in my head.  Reveling in the joy of the notes.

Great pain can be beautiful.  A terrible beauty, a stark beauty, film noir.  And then it emerges transformed into a different beauty.  One to wrap my heart in.  Almost a joy to behold.