Sunday, April 26 2020

lawn mowers, marker spears, and bib mountain




posts/2020-04-26.jpg

Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Happy Sunday. These days, our weekends are deeply relaxing, but just so brief. This morning, I’m trying not to think about the fact that our Sunday is already halfway gone. Perhaps that’s yet another undesirable effect of the stay at home order. Maybe without a change of scenery, the weekends feel faster.

The weekend has flown by, but it has still been relaxing nonetheless. After finishing up my entry in the morning, I joined Marissa and Rodney on the front porch. Rodney was having his fill of outdoor toys, bouncing from his bike, to his skateboard, to his scooter, and sometimes all three at once. Meanwhile, Marissa had found hidden motivation to mow the lawn for the first time this year. After she lugged the old lawn mower out from the back of the shed, I slinked over to her in my flip flops and pajama pants to help her start the engine.

I gave the ragged black chord a few pulls. The engine coughed. I set down my mug of coffee on the sidewalk and studied the machine.

“It’s been in the shed all winter, that can’t be good for it, right?” said Marissa as I aimlessly searched the body of the lawn mower.

“I’m not even sure what I’m looking for,” I said in frustration. “I don’t really know how engines work. What’s the problem, as you understand it?” I asked. Marissa squinted at me and shrugged. I sighed and took another sip of coffee. With no better theories between the two of us, our best idea was to pull harder.

I set my mug back down on the sidewalk, and after planting my flip flopped foot on the back wheel and gripping the thin black chord with two hands, I gave a sharp, explosive full body twist. The engine sputtered, showed signs of life, then puttered to a halt.

“OK that was close, now I think you gotta do that thing where you squeeze the lever on and off while holding the wheels off the ground,” I said. “I remember doing this last year, it’s a weird combination of things.”

I composed myself, and summoned another full body twist. The engine roared, and this time, Marissa squeeze the lever up and down. She found the magical combination of forces, and the engine’s puttering gradually eased into a sustained roar. I raised my hands over my head in celebration. And so our old craigslist mower gets to play another season after all. Marissa coasted away, and I reclaimed my seat on the front steps to watch Rodney play.

After Marissa finished her yard work, we headed inside to eat some leftovers, and soon after followed quiet time. Rodney, who was freshly showered and fed, was in prime condition for a long play session in his room. Marissa was free to paint in the basement, and I got to work on my late side project.

A few hours later, I caught something out of the corner of my eye. A long spear of markers stuck end to end was peeking out of Rodney’s room, extending across the hallway into ours. Carefully fishing the long spear across the hallway, Rodney reminded me of a crafty prisoner trying to snag the key-ring to unlock his dungeon cell.

The weight of the spear snapped, sending the markers rolling to the ground.

“Ah dang it,” said Rodney. I turned away from the computer and laughed.

“Do you want to come out now, dude?” I said. “It’s almost dinner anyway.”

Rodney and I made our way downstairs, and being pretty late in the day, I started on dinner. I prepared some meat sauce from a package of pancietta, a diced up onion, and some blended tomatoes. Marissa fixed a spinach salad with some oranges and sunflower seeds. We ate dinner on the deck as the sun went down before heading inside for dessert. Marissa handed us each a bowl of vanilla ice cream, decorated with two small peanut butter cups. Without hesitating, I plucked a peanut butter cup from the bowl and popped it into my mouth. Marissa looked at me in horror.

“You’re not going to mash it up?” she asked.

My chewing slowed to a halt. “I see now how that would be a better idea than just eating peanut butter cups, then proceeding to eat plain vanilla ice cream.” Marissa and Rodney laughed as I casually slid the peanut butter cup out of my mouth, casually smashing it up in the ice cream like nothing happened.

Following dessert, we put Rodney to bed. We read a book, and after a round of questions about the day, Rodney once again tried turning the questions back on me.

“I have so many questions for you,” he said shrugging under his blanket.

“Oh yeah? Let’s hear em,” I said with my hands on my hips. Rodney raised a finger to his mouth in thought.

“What did you play with today?” he asked. I was surprised. Usually this line of questions is just yet another scam to pad the bedtime routine with extra minutes. But the mere fact he asked an actual question caught me off guard.

“Good question, dude,” I said. “I guess I played around with code today on the computer. And then we played outside together - that was fun!”

Rodney nodded. “Dada, I have more questions,” he said.

“Yeah? Let’s hear ‘em,” I replied sitting at the foot of the bed. Rodney paused, staring up at the ceiling.

“I dunno,” he finally said.

“Yeah, there it is - OK, g’night dude,” I laughed.

Marissa and I spent some time in the evening going through our stash of baby gear. We set up the kitchen with breast bumps, bottles, and finally took on the onerous task of organizing our collection of bibs. Marissa dumped them all out onto the table.

“Why do we have so many of these things?” I exclaimed. “We have a mountain of bibs. This is bib mountain.”

“People like giving bibs as gifts,” said Marissa. “There’s a lot of cute ones out there.”

“Yeah, but we have… at least a hundred here,” I laughed.

“The good news is that a lot of these are vies and can probably be tossed,” replied Marissa.

We sorted the bibs into piles - functional, cute, funny, and trash. Slowly, bib mountain was eroded into a much more manageable stack that could neatly fit in our drawer.

“Are you worried we’re not going to remember how to take care of a baby?” asked Marissa. “While I was getting his clothes ready, I couldn’t remember if you’re supposed to put a onesie on underneath infant pajamas. And that got me worried about all the other things I may have forgotten.”

I nodded and thought about the question. “Nah, I think it will all come rushing back,” I said. “Sure, I don’t think I could, like, list everything out in a fact sheet. But it’s all instinct. You’ll make the right call while you’re holding a baby and not over-thinking it.”

Marissa smiled. “Yeah I think we’ll be good,” she said.

Thanks for stopping by this morning. Enjoy what’s left of the weekend, and I’ll see you all tomorrow.