Thursday, February 13 2020

midwestern manners, potato hype, and pictures of my sink



Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! I hope you’re staying warm on this uncharacteristically cold February morning, and that you have a warm cup of coffee on hand. I’m feeling pretty good today. I’m grateful to be here, and I’m grateful that we’ve almost made it through the week.

Yesterday was a busy one - a very social day. At work, I just joined a new Engineering on-boarding team. Once this thing gets going, every month we’ll meet with a batch of new engineering hires in Madison, present some introductory material, answer questions, and hang out with them. Yesterday, we met our team and spent some time going over the prepared curriculum. Alex, Julia, and I are tasked with talking about infrastructure and tooling used at Zendesk. Apparently, at some point in the week we were supposed to read over our slides in preparation of a dry run, which all three of us forgot to do, but I think he held it down pretty well for a first run through.

For lunch, I walked just off the square with my team to pick up a sandwhich at Cosetta. I treated myself to a provalone and proscuitto sandwhich on foccacia. While waiting in line, Fong offered me some of her chocolate chip cookie. “Nah, I’m good. Enjoy your cookie,” I said waving her off. Fong looked at me, puzzled. “Are you sure? It seems like you want a bite.”

“Alright, I’ll have some,” I said, breaking off some of the cookie. “Thanks.” Overhearing the exchange, my manager chimed in. “You see, Fong, for some reason in the Midwest, you have to offer something to somebody twice before they feel comfortable taking you up on it.” I laughed at the poignant observation. “I do that all the time,” I laughed. “Also, when somebody bumps into you, as a midwesterner it’s your duty to say these exact words: OPE - sorry lemme squeeze right by ya.”

I hacked on some code, then jumped on the bus home. Marissa was in the dining room pouring over tax documents. She had met with a tax consultant that day, bringing Rodney along for the errand. “It’s been a tough day,” she said resting her head on her hand at the table.

“Why don’t we all go to Hy-Vee? I think we could use a family grocery trip,” I suggested. We climbed the stairs and woke Rodney up, who sleepily sat up in bed. We jumped in the car, and after making our way through the slushy parking lot, spent some time leisurely picking up potatoes, green onions, bacon, and other groceries we needed.

Back at home, I got to making dinner. I settled on green onion, bacon, and kale hash. “I’m betting that I can make crispy potatoes in my Dutch oven,” I told Marissa in the car earlier. “They stick to cast iron, and my nonstick pan isn’t big enough. I think the Dutch oven will work.”

The Dutch oven did not work. As with my other attempts, the tiny cubed potatoes sizzling in bacon fat adhered to the bottom of the pan. As I tossed and turned them, the layer of golden, crispy potato thickened, coating the bottom. I hissed in frustration, trying to salvage the hash by loosening it up with some chicken broth. “Sorry about dinner,” I said defeated, serving a bowl of goopy hash with a fried egg. “My Dutch oven theory was debunked. We currently don’t have a pan that can do crispy breakfast potatoes. I need to step up my crispy potato game.”

We ate dinner. Marissa sliced some pineapples and strawberries. We sat around the table talking. “I’m trying to figure out where we want to put things in Miles’ room,” continued Marissa. “It has that sloping ceiling, and I don’t want you to bump your head on it while changing him.”

“That’s easy, I just won’t change him,” I teased. She went out, drawing out the room in her head and vocalizing the options for where to put the changer and crib. “And I don’t want to put the crib by the window…” she said, her voice trailing off.

“Why? Snipers?” I interrupted. Marissa chortled. Catching her in a laugh with her mouth full, I continued. “Birds of prey?” She laughed a little harder. “Ah I got it - you’re afraid of laser pointers.” Marissa hit her fist on the table, chuckling.

We wrapped up dinner and transitioned into clean-up time. I pumped up some DC Talk in the speakers while we put Rodney’s toys away. Marissa put Rodney to bed, and I crashed their story time just in time for Rodney to read his own version of The Paw Patrol Helps a Space Alien to us. Then Rodney joined me for evening push-ups and sit-ups. He laid on the floor next to me, wiggling his head up and down and flopping around the floor.

Rodney went to bed, and Marissa and I went outside to look at the snow. I picked up a snowball, heaving it as hard as I could towards East Wash. I slipped and fell on my ass. Marissa laughed. We went inside to get started on chores.

I caught up on kitchen chores, cleaning out the fridge, doing the dishes, and wiping down the stove. I had one more leftover potato from dinner, and as the dogs were standing around in the kitchen, I decided to have some fun with them. I held out the raw russet potato, holding my breath and staring at it with anticipation. The dogs picked up on the excitement and started to circle. “Puppies… do… you… want… a… POTATO?” I said, running backwards into the dining room and letting them follow. The dogs started to excitedly jump.

“Dogs are kinda stupid, huh?” I laughed. The potato hype experiment worked all to well. After rolling it on the ground, Ziggy scooped it up in her mouth and ran it over to her bed to jealously nibble on her prize. “Honey, she can’t eat a potato. Take that away from her,” said Marissa.

“Ah, just let her have a victory for a few minutes,” I laughed. Ziggy was busily chewing on the skin. “Actually she’s kind of waling on that thing now, I better take it away.” Ziggy angrily followed me into the kitchen as I dropped the gnawed spud into the garbage. As a consolation, I threw a fist full of goldfish crackers onto the ground.

We worked the rest of the night. After chores, I helped Marissa carry the old faux wood panels that were in the art studio outside and into the car for disposal. We reconvened in the kitchen to make a snack. Marissa was melting some chocolate for strawberries. Afterwards, I rinsed the bowl of chocolate in the sink. “Here, why don’t you take a picture of our sink,” she teased, gesturing at the pooling brown water. I heartily laughed. “Yeah, the picture didn’t do it justice,” I replied. “I got a few comments from people saying it looked gross, and I’d have to agree.”

I think I have a special connection with our kitchen sink, since I do a lot of thinking while washing dishes. I’ve come to associate the white cast iron, the hot water, and bright kitchen light with alone time, and that’s difficult to capture in a picture.

“You could just take a picture of the sink every day,” laughed Marissa.

“Oh could you imagine?” I replied. “Dear Journal,” I said mimicking an entry. “I think I’m just going to turn this journal into a photo blog, and I’m only taking photos of my sink from now on. Here’s a pic from last night - we made mac ‘n cheese.

Hope you have a great Thursday today. Thanks for reading.