Tuesday, October 15 2019

cookies, land, wisdom, and laughing

Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. It's raining just a bit outside. And judging by my clock, the sun came up around 7:20? I wasn't paying too close attention. I was too busy drinking coffee and watching Strongbad emails, which is just a wonderful way to wake up for the day, and I recommend you try it sometime.

I needed the extra ramp up time this morning. Last night was a long kitchen work binge of cleaning up from dinner and baking a batch of French heart cookies. It was my first night being off call in a week, and lately I like to celebrate those by spending extra time in the kitchen.

Baking is intense. Making those cookies, I thought by now I'd figure out some way to outsmart the recipe - like folding and cutting the puff pastry in a way that allowed you to make the cookie with no effort, but so far the best way I've found to make those little heart cookies is to just battle it out. If the hearts are too long, they tip over in the oven and come out lopsided. If they're too small, they burn. If they have too much sugar, they burn. And sometimes, worst of all if they come un-sticked they turn into these weird little bean shapes and don't look very appetizing. On top of that, the oven needs to be around 450F, so the kitchen gets hot. I usually handle them with heat proof gloves and a pair of chopsticks. I don't think there is a trick to these cookies. I think it's just patience & practice - blood, sweat, and parchment paper.

Yesterday was a pretty hectic day. Our surveyor finally made it out yesterday to look at our yard, so last minute I had to work the afternoon from home. We were so eager to see the property line, it took a lot of effort staying focused. I joked with Marissa that I just wanted to sit in a chair on the front lawn and watch him, but we did our best to give him his space. He put a few pins down, but had to take everything back and run it through a computer to get the exact property line. Still, it's already not looking ideal. The property line evidently does run in a somewhat diagonal line from our house. Definitely not as drastically as my neighbor claimed, but it's not an untouchable victory for us. I was feeling pretty down about it, but after the work day sitting down at our dinner table, Marissa came to my aid. It's really special when people who are close to you blow you away with wisdom. Marissa drove the conversation, talking about how we can't control everything and about how growing up is choosing the more mature reaction in moments like this one.

Feeling a lot better about the whole thing, we all took a trip to the grocery store. Family grocery trips are great. You would think that with all the fun we have shopping together that the trips weren't very efficient, but we actually get in and out of the store pretty quick, since Marissa just entertains Rodney while I find the items we need, and Marissa and Rodney conspire to get away with extra snacks too. Among the usual weekday dinner paraphernalia, we scored some red velvet cupcakes and a tiny pumpkin carving kit that Rodney wanted to hold.

For dinner, we had some kale roasted in bacon, rice, and a baked sweet potato. I also cut up some cheese, just to remove any doubt that there wasn't enough protein on everyone's plate. That morning, Marissa had asked for sweet potatoes as the secret ingredient, a lot like they do in Iron Chef, and I had joked "what if I just made pasta or stir-fry something and served an out of place sweet potato on the side?"

Marissa gave Rodney a bath, then handed him over to me for the bedtime story. Rodney picked a book off his shelf that I didn't recognize, and as I read this book with Rodney in his bed, it got stranger and stranger with every page. The book was about this mother who loved her kid, no matter what. The first page was very nice - the boy was two, and every night she would crawl on her hands and knees into his room and pick up the baby and sing to it. But on every page, the baby got older and the mom would still do that. By the time I got to the mother picking up the teenager I couldn't help but laugh, and by the time I got to the page where the mother was driving to the "great big man's house" to crawl into his room and pick that great big man up, I was laughing quite a bit, and Marissa joined us in laughing on the baby monitor. The weirdness of the book was lost on Rodney, but I think he appreciated the laughter. I chucked the book on the floor and we read from an old classic, Bedtime with Blippi.

I cleaned the kitchen while Marissa did some painting. Around 10:30, she made her way to the dining room to work a bit on the computer. I tempted her with the cookies that didn't turn out - the ones that either broke in half or unfolded from cute little hearts into bean shapes. We reconvened sometime around 11 to finish watching Matt Damon Buys Some Animals as I have been calling it. It was a decent movie for the first hour, albeit Matt Damon's false modesty is a little hard to sit through sometimes. For the first hour of the movie my teasing was met with scorn, but then the movie gets really stale and drawn out, almost as if it refuses to end without spoon-feeding us several extra platitudes. "This was an hour long movie with an hour long ending," I joked. Marissa finally jumped on board. It was past midnight, we wanted to go to bed, but every time we expected the credits to appear, Matt Damon launched into another nostalgic monologue. I paused and saw we still had 6 minutes left, and Marissa and I burst into laughter knowing we still had that much filler material to get through.

Well talking about all this got me in a good mood. This morning I'm working from home so I can talk to the surveyor. I'll head into the office around lunch. We have a busy work week. We have a team presentation on Wednesday, a bunch of peer performance assessment stuff to write, and since I'm off Friday I'm trying to wrap up all my project work by Thursday.

Hope you have a wonderful Tuesday, and thanks for reading.