Sunday, August 9 2020

instruments, code, saltimbocca, and our garage



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Hope your Sunday is going well, and that you’re not moving too quickly.

This morning, Rodney was so distracted by the electric piano set aside in the play room that he almost didn’t finish his crappy bar. “What’s that, dada?” He persisted.

“Me and momma got that up here from the basement last night,” I replied. “We’re going to make you try some piano this fall since you couldn’t get into pre-school.”

Without taking his eyes off the piano, Rodney took a swig of apple juice. “Dada,” he said, needlessly flagging me down with his hand in front of my face. “I don’t want to play piano. I want to play violin.”

“You want to play the violin?” I asked, surprised.

“Yeah!” Rodney put his hands to his mouth and bobbed his head, like he was playing an imaginary flute, his fingers fluttering over imaginary woodwind holes.

“I don’t think that’s a violin, dude,” I luaghed. “That looks like a sax. Or maybe a clarinet.”

“It’s a violin!” Rodney cheered. I decided not to die on this hill just yet. The important thing is that he knows what a piano is - we can cover the other instruments later.

After Rodney finished his breakfast, he took a seat on the couch to watch some YouTube. I should have been working on my journal entry or cleaning up from last night’s dinner, but instead I was lulled into hacking on my static site generator. I’ve recently hit the critical point in any side project where it is imminently abandoned or finished. If you had talked to me earlier this week, I would have predicted the former. I was feeling lukewarm about the value of the project, like I was just writing a much crummier version of jekyll. But sometime between my head hitting the pillow last night and my head leaving the pillow this morning, I received an epiphany for a much simpler design, and after cranking away on it this morning, I’m pleased to report it’s a smashing success. The tool I’m working on generates my website a full six seconds faster than the old framework.

My new framework (I’ve just been referring to it as “a sprawling mess of ruby” or ASMOR) just hit a thousand lines of code. I have to finish up the RSS feed generator, copy all my old code for counting words and making graphs, and I’ll be ready for the big cutover.

“I think it’s worth making because it doesn’t try to be so modern,” I said, rambling about it to Marissa last night. “I like websites that are kind of retro, and web pages that feel like real documents. I want to give people a sense that they’re just clicking around on my computer.”

OK non-nerds, it’s safe to come out now. I’m all done talking about code.

Sip. We had a great day yesterday. While Marissa hacked away at the mess in the back basement corner, I took Rodney to Woodman’s for a grocery pickup, then got to preparing dinner. Feeling compelled to use up some random packages of proscuitto that were accidentally added to my haul on the last Hy-Vee pickup, I decided to dust off an old Chef John recipe I tried about a year ago.

The dish is called saltimbocca, which in Italian means “leaps in the mouth”, referring to the hopefully exciting flavor of the dish (as long as it’s prepared well). Working off of memory, I pounded some chicken breasts flat, seasoned them, then between two long sheets of plastic warp I gently tamped a thin layer of proscuitto onto each filet. From there, the filets are seared in a pan with hot oil, left with plenty of time for that proscuitto to form brown crust and get all delicious and crispy.

From there, I made an apple juice & apple cider vinegar pan sauce and served the whole mess on some garlic mashed potatoes beside a cabbage and tomato salad.

saltimbocca

"Saltimbocca", or "meat stuck to fancier meat"

After dinner, I put Rodney to bed, finally joining Marissa’s basement cleaning crusade that had been taking place all day. By the time I was ready to assist, she had a neat stack of cardboard, paint cans, and wood slats ready for schlepping. Making trips up and down the stairs, I piled everything in front of our garage door. Before wrapping up work, Marissa and I made our way outside to put everything away.

With Marissa standing nearby with a flashlight, I heaved open the old wooden garage door, revealing the inside. The faint red glow from the Burger King sign refracted by wavy, murky glass. Moths and other flying bugs scattered from the flashlight beam. The rafters casted long, eerie shadows along the old scratched up roof.

Our garage is a true to form, unsightly Midwestern garage. The quips from Charlie’s newest YouTube video come to mind: spider eggs, wasp nests, rusty nails, and, as Charlie puts it, “enough scrap wood up in the rafters to build at least two more garages”.

Marissa stood beside me while I wrestled with an arm full of long wooden slats. I grunted, trying to hoist the pile all at once into the rafters. Some of the slats slid out of my grip, and I flinched as they missed my face by inches. The wood fell to the floor with an awful clatter.

“Here, how about you stand on this chair and I’ll hand them to you,” said Marissa.

“That’s a better idea,” I said tiredly. “Good problem solving.”

With all the garbage and scrap wood put away, I snapped the door shut. Our muggy, scary, spider ridden garage was once again swallowed up in darkness. Heading inside, we took a victory lap around our newly cleaned corner of the basement, then grabbed a pair of well-deserved beers out of the fridge.

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