We are sitting in the living room, with our breakfast plates.
“These are the best hash browns ever,” I say after my first bite.
Denny goes into a descriptive of how to make them.
“First you have to chop the potatoes into small pieces and microwave them until they are almost done. Al dente, like spaghetti. Not quite cooked, but almost. Then you heat up the frying pan with oil and toss in the potatoes and stir them so they don’t stick together. At that point you add the spices. I use taco seasoning. You stir it up so that all the potatoes are coated with the oil and spice mixture. Then you add the onions and garlic and meat, that you’ve chopped up before, and cook it until the onions are tender. Usually I just use onions and garlic. Fry it almost till it’s burned, but not quite. It takes patience.”
The secret ingredient today is one left over spare rib, Denny tells me. Denny rolls his tongue expressively around the “r” as he uses the German word for spareribs that sounds like R-r-repschpare. He relishes the sound of German words like Wiener Schnitzel or Roll Kuchen.
Denny found a deal on ribs and baked them earlier in the week.
“I especially like that you didn’t put any sauce on the ribs,” I tell him.
“Yeah, you’re not eating candy. And there’s really nothing missing. They taste great.”
Denny was leery about baking ribs. I suggested honey and garlic ribs, but Denny told me he threw out the garlic. It had shriveled up.
“It can still be used even if it looks like that. I used it the other day,” I tell him.
I gave Denny basic instructions for baking ribs. Half an hour at 400 degrees, and hour and a half at 225. He was surprised how easy it was.
Breakfast is done. I settle myself in the bedroom again. I pick up my reading glasses carefully, so as not to smudge them.
Denny pokes his head in the door, “She’s all fed and watered and now she’s writing again.”
I grin at him.
I hear Denny on the phone, talking to his mom, “I was nearly crippled on that foot a year ago. I can stand on tiptoes now. I can stand on one foot. I couldn’t do any of that before. But it’s been a long haul and lots of work to get it that way again.” He and his mom have something in common. She went to see the chiropractor yesterday.
“I can’t run or anything, because it will damage it right away. But I can do lots of walking. None of that heavy impact stuff though.”
“One of the things I did right in the beginning, when I started working on it, was a lot of stretching. I use these rubber strips, these bands that physiotherapists use. I make a sling and put my foot in it. I hold the other end with my hand and then I stretch my foot. Or I wrap it around my big toe and flex my foot. What that does is it flexes the planter facia muscle. When you walk on it that is the muscle that gets really tight. I did a lot of stretching like that.”
“Where did you get those bands, Rosie?” Denny calls to me.
“I think I got them at Winners.”
“Rosie says she got them at Winners. But Winners is hit and miss. They never have the same stock. But you could find them at a fitness store.”
There is a silence break.
“I go to Costco and buy my pants for $17 and I go to the Thrift Store to buy my shirts, for $4 to $7. That’s how I buy my clothes,” I hear Denny laugh.
“Yeah, when they start to charge you $7 for a used shirt in a thrift store, that’s pretty much, for something that’s already had wear.”
“We made the famous hash browns this morning. I put taco seasoning in it—very low, low salt. Lots of flavour in it. And then garlic and onions. And ribs. I baked ribs earlier this week. I chopped that up and threw it in there. Mmmm was that ever good. And then we had fried eggs with it. And tomato.”
“Oh, you don’t cube it first? I just cube them and spread them flat in a plate and then microwave them.”
“Aren’t they a bit hot to cut at that point?”
There are silent pauses between Denny’s comments.
“See, I don’t burn my fingers, because I cut them first,” Denny chuckles.
“Oh, you like doing it the hard way,” Denny was the one who introduced his parents to this way of doing hash browns.
“Well, just thought I’d drop you a line and say hello. See how things are going. Is Dad outside running around the block? Not yet? Well, you’ll have to ask him what ‘yep, yep’ was all about.”
‘Yep, yep’ referred to a random text message Denny received from his dad as he was on his way back from the gym earlier this morning. Now he is laughing heartily.
“Hi Rosie, from Mom,” he calls to me.
Denny gets off the phone and I learn that his Dad was talking to someone else. That was the “yep, yep.”
“I’ve managed to write a chapter,” I tell Denny.
“I’ve accomplished a lot this morning” he tells me. “Went to the gym. Did the dishes. Cooked breakfast. And now I talked to my Mom.”
Then his tone changes, “It wasn’t a light mist out there this morning, like you said. It was pouring rain, coming down in buckets.”
I laugh. I thought it was mist. I sent Denny out in a downpour. Well, he doesn’t look any the worse for it. And, now, thanks to me, he can boast about having gone to the gym.