Thursday, April 23 2020

good news, raw chicken hearts, and lights at the airport

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, friends! I hope you're having a swell Thursday. I feel good today. The coffee is hitting me just right, and even though I'm probably overdue for a haircut, shave, and a shower, I'm still feeling mentally "put together" today.

Evidently, Rodney is also eager to get started. Usually he sleeps for another half hour or so, but today as I was quietly traversing our old wooden steps, he greeted me with his face pressed in the door. "Sleep a little longer, OK dude?" I said, tossing him his first issue of Highlights Magazine that just arrived in the mail yesterday. He's currently having a spirited conversation with his stuffed animals over what sounds like the "hidden pictures" game. Good stuff, Rodney.

Sip. Let's talk about yesterday - shall we? It was a great day, and work went well enough. I had most of the day to myself to attack my work. Currently I'm putting together a page of documentation meant to instruct developers on how to deal with secrets in their application. It's funny - work writing has a way of activating all those old, familiar feelings of procrastinating essays and research papers in high school. If that means anything to you, with this paper I'm probably at the stage where your lazy, rationalizing brain might say something like It's not due until Friday, and I already wrote out all the note cards. The paper is basically written already.

Marissa had a doctor appointment in the afternoon, and she returned with some good news. "So the doctor said we can induce labor. They're going to call me sometime next week to set it up. I can pick a date anytime after May 4th," she said. Sitting on the couch with my laptop while Rodney played, my eyes lit up.

"That's good news," I replied. "I mean, I figured they'd be fine with it. It makes sense to me that they'd want you to induce so they can plan for capacity, but still good to hear them say it."

Marissa nodded. "It's coming up fast. That's like..." she went silent, turning the calendar pages in her head. "That's basically two weeks."

"Two weeks?" I jeered. "Wow, why does it feel like yesterday it was a month away? I didn't realize that I'm that close to taking off of work." I felt a little shallow, realizing that I was momentarily more excited about the hiatus from work than I was about ushering in a new life onto planet Earth, but I was still sharing a head space with high school Alex, and we were procrastinating a research paper.

I worked through the rest of the afternoon, then retreated into the kitchen to start on dinner. The whole chicken which we were supposed to cut up the day before was finally thawed, and I excitedly set out two pairs of latex gloves for me and Rodney.

"Dude, are you ready to do something fun?" I said leaning into his room. "That chicken is finally ready. Want to help me cut it up?" Rodney rolled out of bed, echoing my enthusiasm, following me down the stairs into the kitchen.

"We need glubs," he said, reaching for the basement door.

I stopped him and turned his attention to the counter top. "Dude, I already got them here. Check it out!"

Rodney clambered to the top of the step ladder and leaned over the cutting board. We wrestled with his latex gloves for about five minutes before we were ready to get started.

"OK dude, something important I gotta tell you," I said, taking a more measured and serious demeanor. "Chickens are vies until you cook them. Do not touch anything else if you can help it."

Rodney nodded dutifully. I lobbed the thawed chicken on the counter and cut open the plastic with a knife. Chilly, pink water dripped onto the counter.

"So check it out dude. This is a chicken, do you kind of see where all the parts are? Look these are the wings." I used gloved hands to extend the wings, propping the chicken upright. I cautiously held my arms out like I was flying.

"Wings. Got it," said Rodney, holding his arms out next to me.

We cut out the backbone, lobbing it into a stock pot filled with water. We proceeded to cut out the thighs, wings, and breasts. I put Rodney to work sawing a loose skin flap with his butter knife. I tidied up the workstation, then moved the heart, kidneys, and liver to the center of the cutting board for one final hands-on lesson.

"Check it out dude," I said carefully picking up the heart. "This is the heart, this little thing beats and moves blood through the whole chicken." I held the dark piece of meat out to Rodney. He cradled it in his fingers, but while handing it back to me, it rolled to the floor where a patient, hungry Ziggy immediately gobbled it down. Rodney and I stood there for a moment in hesitation. Ziggy licked her teeth and stared back at us, asking for more.

"You're a wild animal," I scolded. "That's gross, that was a raw chicken heart Ziggy."

"Gross," repeated Rodney.


Wrapping up our prep work, Rodney climbed off the step ladder. I mentally tagged each spot on th counter he touched with his gooey hands on his way to the sink, where I carefully held him up by his armpits so he could wash with soap.

After dinner, we jumped in the car to take a drive. Marissa heard that the Dane county airport set up Christmas lights for drive-in entertainment.

"We're almost there, dude," said Marissa. "Look for the bright lights."

"There it is!" said Rodney, pointing out his window. He caught sight of a bright blue light illuminating an emergency phone on the MATC campus. "Not quite," laughed Marissa.

We arrived at the airport. The runway and airfield was lined with propped up displays of dinosaurs, flying saucers, giant basket balls, and zoo animals. The trees were wrapped with colorful, radiant strings. Rodney stared out the window in wonder.

"I like thinking about the people that were setting this up last week during the quarantine. I bet that was kind of a fun distraction," I laughed.

As we finished our final lap around the airport, we passed a long line of cars waiting to get in.

"Look at how many people are here," said Marissa. "Just to see some Christmas lights. People must be bored."

Thanks for stopping by this morning. I hope you have a wonderful Thursday.