Sunday, August 16 2020

bolt cutters, swinging a sledgehammer, and getting things done

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. How is your Sunday going so far? Marissa and I pulled a late night last night, a fitting end for such a full and productive day. In fact we got so much done last night, I'm feeling like I've earned the right to be a little lax with my morning duties today, phoning it in with the abbreviated version of wiping up Rodney's spot at the table, brewing a pot of coffee, and setting him up on the couch with Blippi.

One of my Dutch practice phrases from Duolingo comes to mind: Op zoondagen, werk ik niet. Which of course means, "On Sundays I don't work." Never mind that we will still have some stuff to do around the house before closing out the weekend - still true in spirit.

Sip. So what did we get done yesterday? Things kicked off in the late morning by rearranging Rodney's play corner. Rodney, who insisted all day we refer to him as Job-site Spider-Man, helped me move his easel up to his room and his desk down to the basement, making more room for our k'nex roller coaster project that was slowly taking over the living room.

roller coaster progress 2020 08 16

"OK, now it is the longest it will get," said Alex, only slightly lying to his patient wife.'

Feeling good from rearranging the play corner, we applied liberal amounts of bug spray and headed out into the back yard where Rodney and I took our family's new pair of bolt cutters out for a spin. He would follow me along the perimeter of the backyard fence with a small box, collecting the trimmings of the long screws we added through the slats.

This may come across as painfully obvious, but bolt cutters are very good at cutting bolts. I expected them to work, but I didn't expect them to cut the thick protruding screws so easily. The screws fell to the ground with very little effort, like I was trimming flowers or cutting off a metal pad of warm butter.

"How are they working?" asked Marissa from the porch.

"Too easy," I called back. "So when we're done with the fence, we're going to go steal some bikes next, right?" Kidding, of course.

Next up was the barrier. In our backyard, there is a random little gap between the back of our garage and the Burger King fence. When we first moved in, this is where all the rats were living (if you haven't heard that story, I'll happily retell that saga in a future journal entry). As a temporary measure to keep our dogs wandering behind there, we had a plastic leaned up against our garage, pinned in place with cinder blocks.

As a permanent replacement, Marissa ordered a much sturdier vinyl fence segment. After pounding a pair of aluminum poles in place, the fence would slip on over the top.

Pounding the poles in place proved problematic. I chipped Marissa's rubber mallet. I couldn't make good contact with a hammer. I broke three bricks in half and completely shattered a cinder block. Luckily, our neighbors across the street were kind enough to lend us a sledgehammer, which made two feet into the earth seem a lot less daunting.

Marissa cautiously held the pole in place. We elbowed Rodney out of the way and sent the dogs inside. Like a modern day John Henry, I swung a sledge hammer for only the fourth or fifth time in my life.

After tapping the supports in place, fine tuning with a tiny magnetic level, the fence was ready for assembly. Marissa dropped the slates in place and drilled everything together.

"Now really try to knock it down," I said. Marissa lowered her shoulder and gave the fence a final body check of approval.

backyard barrier 2020 08 16

Does this count as "having a house with a white picket fence"?

Later that day, Marissa would by herself add another notch to the world's most productive Saturday, finishing the replacement of the downstairs drain. After cleaning up the overnight CLR soak, she bolted a shiny new drain cover in place.

"Come over here," she said, waving me off the couch with a smile plastered over her face. She jumped out of the way. "TADA!"

"Wow," I exclaimed. "You could almost eat off of it."

"You know Rodney told me that the Ninja Turtles were waiting down there for us," laughed Marissa.

"What? Did he drop his toys down there?" I asked, concerned.

"No, he meant the real ones," she clarified.

"Oh I gotcha," I said. "That's too bad. Because now I never want to open that drain cover ever again."

After putting Rodney to bed, I joined Marissa in the art studio with my laptop. I was finishing up coding a new professional website for my good friend Dr. Ben Parks. Getting a little carried away, I devised an interesting way to dynamically format his list of publications, reading from a simple flat file.

"Let me know if you have any more content changes," I wrote him. "It's super easy, and to prove it, I took a video."