Friday, July 31 2020

july, crudités, and breaking up with hy-vee

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, fearless readers. Happy Friday, and congratulations on making it to the end of the work week.

I think today is a bitter sweet marker in the summer calendar. Despite heading into another wide open weekend in the middle of quarantine summer, it's also the last day of July. Things will get a little more serious in August, won't they? An election ramping up. COVID numbers rising. A complicated back to school season.

I also return to work later in August. Being off all summer for paternity leave has been nothing short of magical, and I think tomorrow's month change will be the first whisper of reality to permeate the walls of this jobless summer dream world. My mind set will be a lot different in August, mentally warming up to re enter the work force. I'm looking forward to getting back to work. While I've had no trouble staying busy without the day job, I miss the subject matter, the social circle, and all the routines that come with being a worker bee.

Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. We still have one more night in July, after all, and perhaps it's providence that it falls on a Friday. We have a good day planned - Zoom story time with the cousins, appetizers and happy hour with Alex and Cassie at the Biergarten, and a homemade pizza for dinner - a fun day that will seem even more special over the backdrop of bidding farewell to the comfortable middle of the summer.

Sip. We had a good day yesterday. After attacking my chores for the day, cleaning out the fridge and putting in an online grocery order, I got the morning to myself to write code at the dining room computer. For the nerds in the room, I started hacking together a proof of concept for my own miniature static blogging framework. Jekyll has served me well, and all my customizations work well enough hidden inside a plugin, but the framework itself just feels like it's getting in the way. I'm growing tired of the large set of configuration options I need just to get it to do what I want, and like a field of greener grass on the other side of this fence, I'm starting to pine for something much leaner and more minimalist.

wip blog

Work in progress. In lack of a more creative name, I'm just calling it 'blog' for now.

I have no self control when it comes to coding, and if not for a polite interruption from my hungry family, I probably would have sat at the dining room computer writing code until the sun went down. After shaking out of my trance, we dined on some leftover mixed up sausage, onions, and corn, hash, and Crudités.

While we're on the subject, I'd like to give a shout-out to Crudités. Is there a lazier dish more undeserving of a fancy French name? Just a side of plain, raw vegetables. And when you serve someone Crudités, not only do you get the credit of preparing a healthy side dish, but it's also a great way to clean out the vegetable drawer of off-cuts and other unused vegetable scraps.

"We used to serve a Crudités at the Starbucks I worked at," I said, regaling my family with a story over lunch. "It was literally just like a kids Dole vegetable cup. We had to rip the plastic off and dump it into a fancier glass cup, then walk it over. And since it was on the fancy menu, people ordered it with wine."

"You're crudités, sir," I said, dropping a handful of bell peppers and carrots on Rodney's plate.

"Thank you sir," said Rodney, echoing my stuffy tone.

In the afternoon, we decided to run some errands together. Along with the Hy-Vee grocery pickup, Marissa also needed just a single tube of paint from Michael's. This led us to the nearby strip mall on the east side, which is its own annoying little nightmare for us. For whatever reason, the second we cross into that exact parking lot, both Marissa and I completely lose cell signal. And without the ability to reliably Google a phone number, open up an email attachment, or send a push notification, online pickups can really suck.

We parked alongside the Michaels. Marissa dialed through their automated phone line three times, each time the call dropping while talking to the same lady. We had to drive to the other side of the parking lot to complete the call.

"What's the name?" she said, coming out to our car.

"Marissa. Recker." said Marissa out the window.

"We don't have and order for that name," said the woman promptly.

Marissa closed her eyes momentarily and sighed. "How about Marissa Jensen," she said.

"Ope, there it is," said the woman. "Oh, and you're phone is not working at all."

"How do they know your maiden name?" I laughed.

"It's paypal," said Marissa, putting her phone back in her purse. "I looked into changing it once, but it's just ridiculous. You have to send them government documents or something. Nothing else seemed to require that, but for some reason PayPal thinks they're the center of the universe."

"Some day, we'll take care of it," I said. "It's kind of like you're Frodo, and your maiden name is..." I stopped myself. "You know what, I think I've been using that Lord of the Rings metaphor a little too much. I'll skip it this time."

We parked at Hy-Vee to get our pick-up, and I headed in to grab the hand full of items that Hy-Vee's website said they were out of. After adding my groceries to the top of the pile, I climbed back in the car. Once we were at home, I tallied up the missing items with a receipt.

"What did they do this time?" said Marissa.

"Well, they gave us two extra jugs of olive oil, which is a nice surprise, and one random bottle of ketchup that we didn't ask for," I said. "Also, they missed our water."

In Marissa's eyes, I saw her heart sink. Hy-Vee forgetting our bottled water was a small inconvenience, but it was the capstone in a long line of small, frustrating inconveniences.

"I'll just go back," said Marissa. "I know it's dumb, but I really want bottled water in the house. I'll take Rod."

About an hour later, my phone vibrated. "We're never shopping at Hy-Vee again," read the message from Marissa.

"So I call them on the phone, and the manager says it's no problem," said Marissa after returning. "But then I get there and the lady starts to argue with me. She said that the water's were labeled for someone named Jennifer. I explained that I already talked to the store manager, but the lady said we would have to wait for another delivery."

"Yeah," added Rodney. "Dada, Jennifer."

"I watched the whole thing happen," said Marissa. "A car pulls up next to me, and lady screams over my car to Jennifer, and Jennifer said the waters weren't hers. Rodney made me laugh because he said Momma look! It's Jennifer!"

Rodney smiled in approval.

"So the lady says what I was trying to explain - that the water wasn't for Jennifer, but for me. And she laughs it off and sends us on our way," says Marissa.

"Did you ask Jennifer if she was missing a bottle of ketchup?" I laughed.

"We can't shop at Hy-Vee anymore," said Marissa more seriously.

"I'm behind that," I said. "There's no point in doing online orders with them if they get it wrong, and you have to go back or I have to just go in myself to fix it."

"We'll try Woodman's next," said Marissa. "Did you know it's actually closer to us?"

Broken up with Hy-Vee, The Recker family is single, ready to mingle, and we already have an upcoming date with a new grocery store. Thanks for stopping by today. I hope you have a wonderful day.