Thursday, December 03, 2009

Planning and Procrastination

I prefer procrastination, personally.

It really can become a fine art, if practiced with enough tenacity.

Kind of a sick, heart thumping sense of accomplishment to sneak something in under the wire that isn't half bad. Actually, most of my best work has been done while on that adrenaline rush of oh-my-goodness-I'm-going-to-flunk-my-college-class-if-I-don't-make-this-good-and-get-in-turned-in-two-hours-from-now feeling.

But that really only worked when I was young, had no children, and a whole lot fewer responsibilities.

Life moves a WHOLE lot faster these days. How can I procrastinate when life won't slow down enough to let me?!

Then something said in Sabbath School really got me to thinking about the whole concept of planning and such.

I guess planning for things isn't so bad - it just depends on what it is and what my attitude is like during the whole long process of planning and executing the plan. Like planning a menu for the entire week, for instance - not the kind of planning I enjoy.

What if I got to Wednesday and didn't feel like spaghetti? Then what?

Weddings, birthday parties, special occassions? Now that's more like it.

But, like I said, life just keeps on trucking along at breakneck speed and one minute I'm getting out the sprinkler and the next I'm searching for missing gloves. First day of school, anniversary, birthday, birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthday, New Years... my vision is getting blurry... somebody stop this train!

And then I did something crazy.

I invited Colby's family up for Thanksgiving at our house.

Seemed like a good plan and since I extended the invitation in October I thought I'd have plenty of time to get the house clean.

Until the week after that I started pulling up carpet. And painting. And building a hearth.

That was NOT the plan. Renovating, cleaning AND cooking?! Oh dear.

In the end I delegated some of the things, gave up on cooking and went straight for the store-bought pies, and accepted that there was no way it was all going to be perfectly clean.

Especially when I couldn't stop randomly noticing things like how the insides of the cupboards looked like they hadn't been cleaned in years and then dropped the broom to scrub the insides of those for half an hour.

'Scuse me while I tend to my random OCD cleaning spree here, back to normal messiness in a week or two, I promise.

On top of all this, I volunteered to provide the mashed potatoes to Josh's school for their annual Thanksgiving hot lunch the week before the holiday. Not much planning to go into that, right?

Just have piping hot mashed potatoes for 60 people promptly at 11 am. I considered procrastinating, but the thought of serving half-cooked lumpy 'taters wasn't too appealing.

I lost count of how many potatoes I peeled. It took two rounds of filling my biggest pot full to brimming, but unfortunately my little hand-held egg beater couldn't handle it and fried itself shortly after starting the first batch.


Okay, lumpy potatoes it is.

I got there on time, walking in with one very full container of mashed potatoes weighing me down with another in the car.

Five pairs of eyes swung around on me as I walked in.

It's so... great... to be the "new mom", I thought to myself as I pasted on a smile and set down the container on the nearest table.

One lady looked me up and down and took in the sight of the steaming mashed potatoes before squinting furiously at me.

"Are you Lisa?", she demanded. "Are you THE ONE who is bringing the mashed potatoes???"

She took a step closer.

I nodded solemnly, already wondering what I'd done to make her think I was responsible for her yellow cheerios. Was I standing in the wrong place?

I stepped back, knocking the row of coats and backpacks askew.

"How many potatoes did you do? Did you forget we needed enough for 60 people?" Her eyes grew bigger as she glanced around the tables and muttered under her breath about needing 30 pounds of potatoes, NOT a single casserole dish of potatoes.

"I have more!" I gasped out while skirting the edge of the room and fleeing out the door before she resorted to violence.


No wonder there are never many volunteers for this thing.

Standing next to my car in the cool autumn air I put two-and-two together.


Right. Anyway, I realized she is the same person who called me up a few hours after I'd written my name on the volunteer sheet.

The conversation went something like this:

"Hi, Lisa? This is so-and-so. I see you have volunteered to make the potatoes for the lunch?"


"How will you do it? I mean, will you be able to make... ALL.. the potatoes by yourself?"

"I'm sure I'll do just fine."

"Last year we had... let's see... we did 3 bags of 10lbs. of potatoes. Are you sure you'll be able to handle that?"

"Yes, I'm sure I'll have enough." Here I'm thinking of the big bins of potatoes, hundreds of pounds worth, sitting in my garage, waiting to be eaten.

"Do you have a ..... " and here she named some sort of cooking implement I assume is used mostly for cooking roasts, I dunno.

"What's a.....?" I replied.

On the other end of the phone I heard a deep sigh. I think it was then I convinced her that I was going to definitely come up short. I probably didn't even know how to make mashed potatoes. I was going to need close observation.

A few more minutes passed of her repeatedly asking if I was sure I was able to handle the making of mashed potatoes and me attempting to assure her I was, indeed, capable.

I grabbed my other container from the car and stepped back into the school.

Whew! She was gone!! I smiled wanly at the other moms, and they smiled back with understanding.

And then she came back in.

She looked over my two containers of potatoes and huffed.

She brought in an enormous pan of stuffing, then went back for the creamed corn, the rolls, the turkey, and the gravy.

Suddenly she changed her tune. Why? I have NO IDEA.

"Lisa, those potatoes look WONDERFUL!" she gushed at me.

"What?" I was a bit incredulous. The question just... slipped out...

"All of these potatoes? That's SO much work! How many did you peel? How many pounds did you have to do? They smell SO GOOD!"

"I.. I don't know how many...." my voice trailed off as she started turning to the other moms and gushing to them about how wonderful my potatoes smelled and how much work it was, maybe they should split it up between two people next year so it would be less work...

Ooo-Kaay then. Wow, I thought. She's got some control issues!, I glanced around at the dishes she brought... about 75% of the meal came straight from her kitchen.

It was almost time to start, so we took our "assigned" places behind the tables and got ready to serve.

I got to serve the potatoes and the gravy.

There were plenty of potatoes for everyone, even enough for some to have seconds.

When it all died down and the kids went back to their classrooms to get ready for recess, the moms who served got plates of food and stood around the coats, chatting and eating. I got a plate of mashed potatoes, stuffing, and cranberry sauce.

It was all delicious. The tiny little pumpkin cupcakes were yummy. The potatoes were a little cold by then, but still edible. The stuffing, though... the stuffing was suberb.

The best I'd ever had.

But it was brought by the crazy lady who was STILL gushing on and on about the mashed potaotes and I was trying to avoid her as much as possible, though I did call across the room and compliment her on her stuffing before wandering into the doorway of Josh's classroom to look in on him.

I turned back just in time to hear one of the other mothers ask for the recipe, and I leaned in, listening intently.

"Well, there's the cornmeal muffins that I get from such-and-such bakery, you know, the one over on the other side of town off of Avenue Street? I know it's a long way to go, but I just HAVE to have these muffins, the stuffing just isn't the same without them!"

I took another bite.


"And then there's the celery, and the onions... I use those little vidalia onions you get at such-and-such market..."

Another bite.

"But the secret is the sausage!"


I darted into the classroom and spit out what was left of that last bite.

SAUSAGE?! Who puts sausage in their STUFFING?!

I tried to remember if I'd seen Josh take any stuffing. I couldn't remember. I know he refused the Turkey, he's certainly not shy about refusing any meat offered to him. But the stuffing?

Well, I guess he's not vegetarian anymore. But don't tell him, he'll pass out.

I'd never tasted sausage before. As far as I'd known the only time I'd ever had anything of the sort was when I was a toddler and someone gave me a pork rind and I ate it with gusto.

My mother was furious.

I guess we'll survive.

But will definitely be on the lookout for Miss Crazy Pants Sausage Stuffing from here on out.

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