Saturday, October 11, 2014

Leftover Symbiosis

This will probably totally destroy my intelligent homeschooling mother credibility, but I really like to play computer games. I know, I'm supposed to restrict myself to intelligent and domestic hobbies while bemoaning the devotion my husband and children have to the screen. But, although I love to read, I don't love to do it all the time. I read fast, and a half hour or so of reading gives me enough mental food to chew on all day. I don't often enjoy reading fluff. I don't like watching TV or movies by myself and I have less than no interest in sports. Although I have the full complement of domestic skills, I am too clumsy to do crafts for the fun of it. Plus, they involve mess and quite possibly the expenditure of money.

Computer games are not at all messy and, if one watches for sales, not very expensive. They may not sound impressive, but despite the specter of people sitting at their screens while they lose their job, families, and sanity, most people do not become hopelessly addicted (and those that do would probably have become addicted to something regardless, addiction being more a function of the mind seeking an anchor than the object that it ties to). In balance, they're like jigsaw or crossword or logic puzzles, or following politics or sports--a nice way to give the brain something to do when the body needs a rest. And for rainy days, long winter evenings, and recovering from the flu or a sprained foot, they are a lot more fun than staring at the wall and a lot less stressful than stupid internet fights or reading domestic blogs where everybody's house is better decorated, meals are better cooked, and children are better dressed.

Last weekend, DOB packed me off to Bookworm's under a diagnosis of an acute case of four children. He and B5 managed to hold down (or up? how many forts are in danger of floating away?) the fort in my absence, supplemented by cold cereal and hot dogs, both rare and awe-inspring treats around here. (Well, hot dogs get mixed reviews.)  I finished up the work project that had pushed me over the edge of frazzlement and then read a Wodehouse cover to cover and then some Sayers. After several hours of no one asking for food while I was trying to document the obligations of insurance carriers, my right eyelid stopped twitching.

And then I felt like a new computer game, so I bought one I'd been wanting for a long time: Reus. You get to control various giants who plant resources on a tiny globe, which is then settled by tiny people. The challenge is helping the little towns grow without letting them become too greedy. The graphics are pretty (and two dimensional, a deciding factor for me, since the tiniest whiff of the third dimension nauseates me). To get things to advance very far, you have to take advantage of the symbiosis built into the game: this thing next to that thing makes more good stuff, but that thing also likes to be next to the other thing . . . It gets quite involved and a makes for a fun puzzle with many possible solutions.

OK, so it is kind of like housework. Such as cooking with leftovers. My current theory is to cook up a big ol' chunk of meat on Friday nights--a couple of chickens, a pork roast, or a ham. (Not beef--the price of beef is insane lately.) After supper the bones go in the crockpot with water for broth. The uberhealthy bone broth fans don't talk about it, but ham and pork bones make a lovely broth that gels up just fine. Then on Saturday morning I can strain the broth, pick the rest of the meat off the bones, and make up a couple of casseroles for the next few days with the extra meat and any beans and such left over from earlier in the week. The broth goes into soup or beans for Monday. Tuesday night is usually pizza with the last remnants of meat and vegetables, which cleans out the fridge and makes easily portable leftovers for our weekly outing, which includes grocery stopping, at which we restock the fridge and have meals heavy on the fresh vegetables and extra frozen meat until Friday comes around again. When it works, it's a beautiful thing of symbiosis. And when it doesn't, nasty things start growing in the back of the fridge, finding their own symbiosis.

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