Wednesday, October 28 2020

cleaning my cutting board, daylight savings, and rodney's dance



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Happy Wednesday. It feels good to already be here in the middle of the week, doesn't it? Per Marissa's recommendation, I put in for some time off at work. About three weeks from now, she's having another virtual art show over the weekend, and I'm going to take off for the three days leading up to it. I'll mildly help out, but mostly I expect to just loaf around the house and hang out with Rodney. I'm already looking forward to it.

I absolutely killed it with the chores this morning. I finished the dishes, wiped down the cabinets and the counters, swept the floor, and I cleaned my heavy wooden cutting board.

For most of my tenure as a home cook, I think I've been cleaning my cutting board wrongly. My first hunch was to scrub it with the hottest water we have in our kitchen sink, but the rough treatment seemed to make it unhappy. The wood dried out too much. Looking pale and unhappy, on the driest winter days it would even start to warp and split.

I think I've cracked the code. My dad used to tell me that taking care of wood is the same as taking care of skin. At the time being a pale, pimply, ashy teen, I didn't know what to do with that bit of advice. But something clicked, and now I see the wisdom in that analogy.

To make the analogy even weirder, I think washing my cutting board is a lot like giving a kid a bath. Hot water is better than cold water, but the water can't be too hot. The soft side of the sponge is better than the scratchy side. Don't leave it under the water for too long, and when you're done, dry it down immediately and leave it to sit comfortably on blocks with a generous coating of mineral oil.

Luckily, like skin, wood also heals. I cringe thinking about how I used to carelessly flip the wooden board around my sink under scalding hot water, but I'm grateful for tools that are tough enough to outlast your mistakes.

Sip. When was the last time you washed your cutting board? How are you feeling today? It's a beautiful day outside. Lately, I've really been enjoying how the sky goes from pitch black to full daylight in the hour that I wind up for the morning. But with daylight savings around the corner, I suppose that serendipity is all about to fly out the window.

Let me get on the record with this: daylight savings is stupid, and we should just knock it off already. And it doesn't seem like it would be that hard to stop. Just put out an urgent news bulletin or an emergency notification. Send out an amber alert text to every phone in America that says daylight savings sucks, we're not doing it anymore.

At least this is the good one - the one where we get an extra hour of sleep. The same hour we forfeited last spring. See, it's kind of like a tax return, isn't it? Only it's the same amount of money every time - like a no interest loan given to nobody for absolutely no reason.

Sip. Had to get more coffee, there. Daylight savings got me unexpectedly riled up, and I'm in need of a topic change. How about we talk about Marissa's dinner?

Marissa made chicken curry last night, and it was delicious. She was having so much fun in the kitchen, we even temporarily lifted my Tuesday night kitchen ban.

"Chef John says that the way to make good curry is to toast the spices ahead of time," said Marissa. I leaned over the stove, letting the warm aroma of turmeric and cumin fill my nostrils. She would go on to add garlic, chopped chicken thighs, broccoli, and heavy cream.

"I decided not to use coconut milk," she said. "Think that's OK?"

"Definitely," I said. "Not into the coconut milk. Cream tastes way better."

After much anticipation, we sat down at the table to dig in. The bright yellow sauce covered the chicken and white rice like a heavy, steamy blanket.

"Oh, it's spicy," I chuckled. My nose was wet, and I spun around in my chair to grab the napkins off the shelf.

"It is spicy," said Marissa. "Sorry about that fam."

"No, it's delicious," I said. "Just unexpected. But perfect for a cold day like this. What'd you use?"

"Cayenne," said Marissa. "I did a whole shake. A confident shake."

Rodney was not a fan, but with the help of some creme fraiche, he soldiered on and finished his plate.

After dinner, we had a zoom session with my family, and before getting Rodney ready for bed we gathered in the bedroom for workouts.

Evening weekday workouts have turned into a whole family affair. At first, it was just something I started to stay in shape for quarantine, but Marissa and Rodney joined. Monday through Friday, we do pull-ups with a pull-up bar underneath my closet frame, then push-ups and sit-ups on the hallway rug. Rodney shows up for comedic relief in between sets.

"Wait! We have one more," he said after we got up. "Momma, dadda, one more workout." He stood stubbornly in the upstairs hallway, blocking us from leaving. He waited until he had our attention.

"You have a workout for us?" I asked.

"Yeah," said Rodney. "Do this."

Rodney slightly bent his knees. He stuck his butt out behind him. He balled his hands into fists. He began to gently pump his arms, like he was piloting skis, swaying from his left to his right.

Marissa and I watched as Rodney carried out his strangely coordinated dance. A smile spread across Marissa's face. I bit my fist, trying not to laugh.

2020 10 28 rodneys workout

"That's great, dude," said Marissa. "Can I try?"

The three of us stood side by side, doing Rodney's strange little dance. We looked like a motown troupe. We looked like back-up singers.

"Thanks for the suggestion, Rodney," said Marissa, still withholding her laughter. "How about we add this to the workouts?"

"I think... I think that's a great idea," said Rodney out of breath.

So the routine is pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, and as of late, a funny little dance that Rodney invented.

Thanks for stopping by today. Hope you have a great day today.