Friday, May 8 2020

routine, oven repair, and squirrels touching food

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Happy Friday, and congratulations on making it through another work week. For obvious reasons, this has felt like a pretty short week to me, but I'm grateful for how quickly Marissa and I were able to slip back into a minimally adjusted routine.

"My morning was absolutely perfect," I later told her. "It's hard to get up early when you don't have to, but I'd like to become one of those people that wake up at the same time every day. And I finished my blog in the morning before Rodney woke up, and he even let me write some code while he at breakfast and watched Dinotrux."

"I had to wake up a few times in the night with Miles," replied Marissa, "but I like that you let us both sleep in and come downstairs later in the morning. And my afternoon was perfect - Rodney was so easy and it was practically already his quiet time."

Well, my timing this morning was almost perfect. It was sort of ruined by a slightly early oven repairman. "The guy is coming sometime between 9 and 11," said Marissa before climbing back into bed behind me.

"It's 8:55 - that's perfect," I said glancing up at the clock on my computer. "That gives me five minutes to finish proofreading this entry, then I can get Rodney out of bed, and the two of us can..."

A sharp knock was heard at the door. The dogs anxiously circled the living room. "Crap," I said getting up out of my chair. I passed by Rodney, who was patiently waiting at the crack of his door. "Stay in your room a little bit longer, OK dude?" I assured him as I passed. After putting the dogs away and throwing on a face mask, I let the repairman in from the front door.

"So what's actually the issue here?" he asked, squatting down on our kitchen floor in front of the oven. I wasn't prepared to explain it to him, and I think it showed. Being in the middle of finish a journal entry and still wearing my damp apron from doing dishes, I was visibly flustered.

"So it wouldn't preheat the other day. I left it on for like twenty minutes, and it doesn't normally take that long. And I stuck my hand in there and felt it was cold," I explained. He began to dismantle the inside of the oven.

"So I took it apart, kind of like you're doing now, and..."

"Did you strip this screw?" he interrupted.

"Um, no. But I couldn't get it off either. I just had to bend that panel back." I composed myself and continued my explanation. "So I took the panel off and tried turning on the oven, and..."

"Did you have the oven door open?" He interrupted again. "It won't turn on while the door is open unless you hold down this guy." The repairman depressed a little button tucked underneath the corner of the oven door frame.

"Oh. Yeah I didn't know that. OK, so I guess all the testing I did was kind of voided. Sorry I can't really describe this better, we just came home from the hospital with a baby, and I forgot you were coming."

The repairman scooted back and flung open the warming drawer. "Do you store stuff in here?" he said, giving me a suspicious side eye.

"Just what you see there," I said, pointing to the two thin pans and my silpat.

"What happens with these ovens is that people put stuff in here, and when the igniter goes to turn on, it shorts on a metal pan instead." He left the warming drawer open and clicked on the oven. After a few minutes, it reached temperature and rang.

"OK, so that's a good tip. I didn't know about that," I said, trying to sound grateful. He began to reassemble the oven.

"Jesus," he muttered. "This thing's not that old - what the hell did you do to it?" he said sharply.

"I... uh, learned to cook on this oven. I've tried a lot of things, and had a few disasters," I meekly replied.

"I can see that," he nodded. "So... are you like a cook or something?" he asked.

"Just a home cook," I replied. "I'm actually a software engineer."

"OK, a hundred bucks," he said rising to his feet. "Cash, check, card - you pick." I went into the kitchen to grab my debit card, imperceptibly rolling my eyes with my back turned. He swiped my card on his iPad.

Wanting to know if this payment was good for a follow up appointment, I broached a question. "So, if it acts up again..."

"Just try the warming drawer thing I showed ya," he interrupted. I gave him an exhausted smile. That wasn't exactly what I was going for, but after the interruptions, teasing, mansplaining, and minor oven shaming, I was eager to politely usher him out of my house.

"Is the oven fixed?" asked Marissa as I sauntered back into my chair upstairs.

"Yes. Well it wasn't broken. He said it was probably a fluke, that I may have had something in the warming drawer that made it short," I tiredly explained.

Marissa went back to sleep, and I led Rodney downstairs to eat breakfast and wind up for the day. Marissa later joined us in the kitchen as we were starting on lunch. Rodney was helping me peel potatoes before announcing "OK, Rodney done in the kitchen. I go watch Dinotrux now." Marissa took his seat on the counter. I dumped the bowl of dried, cubed potatoes into the bacon fat, holding my head over the pan to waft in the smell. "I want to live right here," I said, taking in the aroma of seasoned potatoes.

After an afternoon nap, I rejoined the family downstairs and decided to take Rodney outside while we waited for our food to arrive. My parents treated us to some takeout from a nearby burger place. After the usual sports roulette of baseball, soccer, and hockey, Rodney and I returned inside just as the food was arriving. We heard steps at the front door as the delivery guy plopped our bag of food onto the step and left.

"OK, time to eat," Marissa announced as she rose to her feet. She cracked open the front door and shrieked.

"SQUIRREL. THERE'S A SQUIRREL," she cried. I sprang off the couch to grab Ziggy, leaning out the door just in time to see a squirrel fling a chicken tender out of the takeout bag and scamper away.

"MY CHICKEN NUGGET!" yelled Rodney.

I stepped outside to collect the bag. There was a single tiny squirrel arm bullet hole burrowed through the plastic bag and stryofoam container. I laid out the container on the counter.

"So the squirrel just got to the chicken, the burgers are fine," I said.

"Rodney can share my burger," said Marissa.

"Seriously? The other chicken tenders are fine," I said, probing through the warm mound of chicken and fries.

"We can't let him eat that," said Marissa sharply.

"OK I'll google it," I said consoling her, gliding over to the dining room computer. "What do I even google, squirrels touching food?" I muttered to myself. After some clicking and clattering of the keyboard, I turned to report some convincing findings.

"So obviously I couldn't find anything chicken nugget specific, but I found a thread on this gardening forum about eating tomatoes that have bite marks from squirrels." I scrolled down to page through the top answers, and chuckled, realizing that what I had found was hardly authoritative.

"George says that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger," I read, trying to keep a straight face. "Green-Thumb-Tom says it depends on how hungry you are."

"Why don't we just throw away the food near the hole that the squirrel touched," said Marissa as I got up from the computer. We both stared down at the takeout container.

I removed a chicken tender and placed it on the cutting board. "How about this piece of chicken," I said cutting off the end.

"I'm OK with that," said Marissa.

"And I'll microwave the rest of the food. That feels like... it will sterilize it or something. Marissa and I stared at each other as the microwave flickered and hummed.

"This is a good compromise, because as we all know squirrels are very polite and they only touch the food they intend to eat," I laughed. "It certainly didn't just jam it's arm in the hole and do this." I stabbed my arm into the air and flung it around my head like a helicopter blade. Marissa laughed.

"You're pushing it," she said irritably. "Don't make me think too hard about it."

I smiled. "Here - I'll sample some. That way it's not just Rodney that has to eat squirrel food."

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