Fiddly bits

A few weeks ago, I offered to make pork dumplings for a Chinese dinner. I’d never made them before but found a recipe on epicurious.com. It sounded easy enough.

Cathryn making pork dumplings
Cathryn making pork dumplings

The nearby supermarket had the wrappers. I found naturally raised pork at the farmers’ market, along with organic vegetables to add to the mix.

The night before the party, I mixed up the pork filling, took out the wrappers, and began filling, wetting, folding, pinching.

It took me two hours to make all those little dumplings. I ended up with enough for the party, a bag full of them for the freezer, and extra wrappers.

It was fiddly, but it was also a meditation. Cooking often is. The textures, flavors, and aromas. The chopping and dicing and mixing. Then the alchemy of baking, sauteing, stewing. And finally the explosions on the tongue.

It’s all fiddly, but it’s worthwhile.

Cathryn fiddling around with pork dumplingsA lot of things are like that. I’m an experienced procrastinator, partly because I put off the fiddly bits. When I finally get around to them, they generally turn out to be easily and quickly dispatched. Some of them are even a meditation.

Take sorting the papers in my office, for instance. Robin has learned significant lessons in patience. He only occasionally sighs deeply when he looks at the piles of paper that grow like mushrooms in this office.

To reward him for holding his tongue, today I’m doing the fiddly bits. I’ve sorted through and tossed the magazines I’ll never get around to reading. I’ve attended to every small slip of paper on which a reminder or e-mail or some other fiddly bit was recorded. I’ve crossed off tasks on my procrastinator’s list.

I can’t honestly say it’s been a meditation. But it feels good to have dealt with a whole lot of fiddly bits. Once I began tackling them, the tasks went quickly – though less quickly than if I’d just followed the old advice to handle each only once – each magazine, slip of paper, note. Wonder if I’ll ever learn that.

At any rate, for now the fiddly bits have been conquered, and I’ll head out for a walk with a light heart.

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