Wednesday, February 19 2020

todo lists, banana peels, grilled cheese, and concrete



Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Thanks for stopping by this Wednesday morning. As this February plunges us back into the depths of winter with harsh winds and freezing temperature, I hope you’re still managing to stay warm.

I’m feeling good today. This morning I brewed a double batch of coffee, I skipped showering, and wardrobe wise I’m shooting for maximum comfort and minimal presentation. I’m ready to hunker down and have a productive remote day.

Yesterday was productive as well. When I get to work in the mornings, I usually spend the first half hour of my day making a list of things I’d like to accomplish, but for the first time yesterday I assigned times to work on things as well. I planned the whole day out - work, lunches, breaks, and walks - all the way until quitting time. Setting aside time to work on something makes a huge difference, and I couldn’t recommend it more.

I worked on code all morning, then for lunch, walked over to the novelty cheese shop on the square to pick up a sandwich. I cut the big sandwich in half, bagging the other half to take home later, and plated it up with some pita chips, a fun sized snickers bar, and a diet coke, taking the plate over to my desk to dine while catching up on YouTube videos.

After finishing my lunch, I relocated to a chair in the kitchen to read up on some documentation. I was supposed to do research on another team’s solution for something my team was building, but I went down a bit of a rabbit hole skimming through the rest of their documentation. It’s amazing how differently other teams at the same company can operate. Later in the afternoon, my manager pulled up a chair next to me, spending a coffee break chatting with me about what I was reading. “I’m overwhelmed,” I said. “There’s a lot more information here than I thought there would be, just slowly taking it in, ya know?” Heath sleepily nodded, taking another sip of coffee before heading back to his desk.

Later in the afternoon, I got up to take a long walk around the square. It was chilly outside. The wind was picking up, and the ground was still wet from melting snow, but it felt good to get outside and stretch my arms and legs. I walked around the square and up by the terrace. I spent a few minutes throwing snowballs off the balcony, trying to land one in the lake. It’s much further than it looks.

At quitting time, I wrapped up my TODO list, and concluded the day by re-watching a recipe video for tomato bisque while making a grocery list. I jumped on a bus home, finding Marissa on the couch. She had a bad day - some lady at Home Depot made a passing comment that bummed her out, so I was eager to get Rodney out of the house and give her some alone time.

From the back seat of our car, Rodney brought me up to speed with his day - everything he could still remember, coming out of his deep afternoon nap, anyway. At Hy-Vee, he helped himself to one of the free bananas they set out for kids, but after taking three bites, he decided he didn’t want it anymore. I finished eating it by default as we picked up canned tomatoes, sourdough bread, and vegetables.

At the checkout aisle, I asked Rodney to take the banana peel to the garbage. Rodney dutifully nodded and slipped through the queue of shoppers to the customer service counter, where there is usually a little plastic garbage can. The garbage wasn’t there today. Rodney stood in a circle and spun, before spotting a garbage further back by the doors. He ran over, stuffed the peel in the garbage, then turned to face the aisles. Our eyes met, Rodney waved, then he ran back to meet me. Waving at me before rejoining me in line was actually his contribution to this ritual. Rodney adapts to new responsibilities well. Even in something as silly as throwing a banana peel away in the grocery store, it’s fun to stand back and watch him relish in the independence.

After unloading the groceries at home, I got to cutting vegetables and simmering the soup base in the kitchen. Marissa climbed off the couch and joined me in the kitchen to talk, venting about her frustration with the day. As she reflected, I offered her off-cuts of the Irish cheddar I was grating for the grilled cheese sandwiched we’d eat with our tomato soup. She appreciated the listening ear, and I appreciated the company.

We ate dinner at the table. The grilled cheese sandwiches, which had cheese melted on the inside and crisped on the outside, were another effortless success thanks to my favorite new nonstick pan.

After dinner, we put Rodney to bed, then go to work in the basement. Marissa was laying down self-leveling concrete. We had done two bags the night before, and being more familiar with the process (and armed with a mixing drill attachment dug out of Marissa’s old resin gear), were much more efficient. While Marissa dumped the concrete and spread it with a squeegee, I’d fetch a bag of concrete from the car and 5 quarts of water in a bucket. I’d cut the bag while she mixed the solution, then we’d repeat. We dumped six bags of concrete on the basement floor. It was gratifying watching the smooth, grey paste fill in the cracks and scratches of the basement floor. It moved and blended like a french paste, or that quick hardening chocolate you pour over icecream.

Exhausted, and still covered in concrete dust, we sealed off the basement before heading upstairs to finish chores. At 11, I grabbed a beer out of the fridge and Marissa joined me on the couch with the other half of the sandwich I bought for lunch. I was feeling sore, in the good way. Nothing makes you feel more deserving of a beer than moving bags of concrete around.

Hope you have a wonderful day today. I’m going to go hang out downstairs with the Rodman and make a list of what I’d like to accomplish today. Thanks for reading, and happy Wednesday.