Tuesday, May 12 2020

charles mingus, hockey with Rodney, and french cooking



banners/2020 05 12

Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! It's good to be here on this bright, chilly Tuesday morning. Today, our little Man miles, who is wriggling around in a bassinet behind me, is officially a week old. As you'd expect, his first week on earth has been pretty uneventful. But I give him credit, he's a fantastic baby. He's taking his tiny responsibilities in stride, and if he keeps this up, I see a promotion in his future.

Sip. Not that I'm trying to make you envious or anything, but Miles isn't really a crier either. When he wants something, he just squeaks, squirms, and spits. In fact, he started to cry last night as I was falling asleep, and because crying is such a rarity for him, I all but sat up from bed in a panic. "What's wrong? What's he doing?" I thought. "Oh nothing - just testing out his lungs, I guess." I have to remind myself that babies cry for no reason sometimes.

Around the house, we don't call him "Miles". Colloquially we refer to him as Charles Mingus. Rodney's baby nickname was "bingus", later morphing alongside his development into bink, binger, and binkiss. So following suit with the convention (and paying tribute to the "M" in his name), we starting calling Miles mingus, and it was only a matter of time before I remembered that there was a jazz musician named Charles Mingus.

"It works - he even likes to make jazz hands sometimes," laughed Marissa. Charles Mingus - our Mingus - still does that thing where he bulges his eyes and holds his long, spindly fingers around an imaginary upright bass. "He has a song in his heart," remarked Marissa thoughtfully.

"A song in his heart, and poop in his diaper," I said, ruining her reflection.

I had a great day yesterday. In the morning, after straightening up the house and getting a jump on Monday chores, I decided to take Rodney outside to do something active. The two of us grabbed a quick cereal bar for breakfast, then took our hockey sticks over to the parking lot behind the community center on our street. Rodney dragged his feet at first - he wanted to play in our narrow driveway.

And our narrow driveway works just fine for hockey if you play according to Rodney's understanding of hockey, which is a lot like baseball. Rodney waits at the end of the driveway with his feet squared and stick cocked back, ready to swing. I gently scoot a wiffle ball down the driveway, and once the ball enters his strike zone, Rodney swings.

"No dude," I argued. "There's too many cars in our driveway right now, and I don't want to hit the neighbor's car. Let's go over to the parking lot."

"Dada noooo," whined Rodney. "Stay here? Please?"

"C'mon, dude," I urged. "Trust me. Just a lil' bit?"

Rodney sighed, and with his arms slung straight down at his sides, he trudge reluctantly behind me. "OK, a lil bit," he whimpered.

We warmed up a bit with some passing, then to break up the monotony, I dumped the ball behind him and ran after it. I let him take the ball, then poked it away again. Rodney laughed and ran after me.

It didn't take him long to figure out real hockey. We used two metal parking posts as goals, taking turns shooting on net, passing, and chasing after the ball.

Rodney is at a great age where he's finally figuring out how to be athletic. Playing with him no longer feels like I'm just killing time with a toddler. He can run, follow rules, and catch a ball thrown at him from across the room with about a 75% success rate, but he's tough enough where the occasional face smash isn't a complete show stopper. He'll simply run over to me for a superstitious kiss to make it all better, then immediately return to play.

After working up an appetite, Rodney and I returned home to make some lunch. I whipped us up a batch of fried rice with pickled red peppers and kidney beans, then Marissa took over for the afternoon shift, hanging out with a very mellow Rodney before his quiet time. Meanwhile, I got started on my IT project for the week - retiring my bedroom computer.

Before the quarantine, I would usually leave my work laptop in my bag, and at home I used a raspberry pi that was stuck to the wall behind my monitor. But after being home for so long, my Macbook has become a permanent fixture on my desk, and I rarely even plug my home computer into the monitor anymore. After much thought, I've decided to go all Mac, which meant I my trusty bedroom computer would be retired to the miniature server farm, where it could live out the rest of its days running menial tasks. I spent a few hours cleaning up my work station and reconfiguring the computer as a server.

I ended the afternoon by finally dipping my toes into the French cooking class that Marissa bought me for my Christmas. In an hour, I finished the introduction, which covered the history of French cooking, the basic tools of a functional kitchen, and an overview of the core ingredients in French cooking. The slow pace of an online course took some getting used to. Up until this point, I've learned everything through cramming five minute YouTube clips into my brain, sometimes even waiting until I was in the Hy-Vee parking - just before buying the ingredients. But YouTube videos can only get you so far, and while it feels strange now, I'm grateful for the chance to slow down and dive deep into the fundamentals of cooking.

"You look tired," said Marissa as I trudged down the stairs.

"I am tired," I remarked, joining her on the couch. "I really packed in the day - I guess I was afraid that without a day job I would get bored. What do you want to do for dinner?"

"Not picky today - you pick," replied Marissa cheerily. We had a frozen chicken thawing in the meat drawer and an iffy sourdough bread experiment proofing in the oven, but my thoughts drifted to the two frozen pizzas resting comfortably in our freezer. They beckoned my tired legs and tired eyes like a siren's song.

"Want to do a frozen pizza day?" I asked. Marissa smiled and nodded. "Great - we're watching something on TV until dinner, I'm exhausted."

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a wonderful Tuesday.