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Preparation, Preparation, Preparation

"The dinner, like my GlancingKnow Story week beside it, came off like a dream …"

The Muse and I tend to spend the week before any holiday in preparation. The key to holiday satisfaction seems to be paved with Preparation, Preparation, Preparation. We need to secure little nit-picky items like Pomegranate Molasses as well as the over-sized fowl. The Muse takes the lead preparing for Thanksgiving, for she follows recipes and respects her food heritage enough to try to recreate it for holidays. I try to support her efforts by washing pots and pans AND my presence seems to throw off her rhythm, just as her presence in my prep kitchen throws off mine. She maintains a backward sink discipline to mine, for instance, as she insists on putting her dirty dishes into the clean dish sink and vice versa. She blocks off access to the disposal and completely complicates any attempt I might make to assist, as I simply must clean up her organization before I can help clean up her pots and pans, and my reorganizing her organization throws hers into arrhythmia. I'm forever walking on some tacit plot line she's following and so I eventually retreat to the further corners of the Villa and let her have her way. I justify this by saying to myself that I carry the bulk of the prep work on ferial days, so she can carry that weight on festal ones.

Last week, I started a fresh tradition, one with no cobwebs on it yet, the practice of briefly summarizing the prior week's postings.
I called that summary DerivingWisdom more to declare my intention when creating it than to claim credit for actually deriving any wisdom from the activity. I still thought the exercise good for me and hopefully useful for my readers, too. Last week, my GlancingKnow Stories attracted 654 views, about a 15% increase over the prior week, even though I posted one fewer story than the week before. My word count for the week was identical to last week's, just over five thousand without counting the introductions; add another thousand to include the intros. What did this batch mean?

For me they all sorta-kinda explored the experience of preparation. I've spent much more of my life so far in preparation than in actualization. Truth told, few of the experiences I've ever prepared for actually came to pass, and those that did, did not emerge as expected. It's taken me years to begin to comprehend that, to torture Shakespeare, The Preparation's The Thing. Eyes forward, I might miss the stunning significance of the step before what I imagined would produce realization. The trip there turned out to seem vastly more interesting than anything associated with arriving, but I too-often focused ahead rather than just where I toiled. Life is where you are, not where you expect or even hope to be. That's a pretty simple subtext, but a difficult one for me to retain.

Here comes my brief summary of what seems to have stuck for me from the past week's endless preparing:

DerivingWisdom, might have presented itself as my take on derived wisdom, in reflection, it seems to focus much more on the deriving part, a definite preparation step. One man's derivative is another man's (maybe even that same man's) initial step.

SeasonalSourcing explored the preparation step before the actual preparation step. It might be prep every freaking step of every way.

SchlemielTime, I confessed to my fundamental kitchen ineptness. For me, one of the first principles of preparation has become just this sort of confessional where I cop to my probable incapability, then go ahead and do it anyway. The point never turns out to be how prepared I was to perform preparation, but how willingly I allowed myself to engage in the necessary preparation work anyway.

Impending, I described an experience of extreme anticipation and the urge to over-prepare as a precondition for being properly prepared, an important if subtle sub-story for all prep work. Adequate preparation might be an oxymoron.

GivenIn, I explored how developing conditions on the ground might well prevent engaging as intended. The resulting blessing might drive one not so much to give up, but to Give In. Giving comes in many forms. GivenIn might be the most sustaining form of giving, a gift one can only ever give to one's self; no re-gifting allowed.

LearningToPlay investigated another day-to-day example of another pretty perfectly oxymoronic form of preparation. Some things one learns; others, one simply does. However preparation might be pursued, an emergent doing might well best-inform the enterprise.

Once prepared for Thanksgiving, a friend stranded from traveling to family, found himself invited to our table where The Muse (with only the most modest support from myself) presented a panoply of usual and fresh suspects. I suggested that a right proper feast should more resemble a tasting menu than a groaning board, enough of each so that everyone might experience a taste, but never enough to amount to anything like an onerous obligation to gorge. Days of preparation produced a condensed hour or so of supping, supported by a slightly corked vintage, followed by a lazy two hours of clean up and chat, punctuated with a fine pear/hazelnut tart with Armagnac-inspired whipped cream. The dinner, like my GlancingKnow Story week beside it, came off like a dream, seemingly perfectly choreographed and tremendously satisfying with a preparation tail trailing far, far into the shadows behind it.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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