Thursday, January 28 2021

grandpa recker, the creative process, and mac and cheese

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Before we get started, I'd like to relay some news. My grandfather passed away early this morning in hospice. The news is bitter sweet. We're sad to go on without him, but relieved that he's found comfort. He had a long, full life. Late dementia mercifully kept in the dark about everything that had happened in the past year, and Marissa and I are thankful we got to have a long visit with him before it all started - when his health was only beginning to decline. Marissa fondly remembers picking a picture frame off his coffee table and listening to Grandpa Recker name every person in the photo. His voice trailed off when he got to his brother. He just laughed and said, "And I couldn't tell ya' who that was, sorry!"

What to say about the prolific Alfred Recker? Soldier, union electrician, God follower, poet, eater of smoked salmon, watcher of birds, doer of puzzles, talkative patron of Fudd Ruckers restaurants... Perhaps he is most known for being a hilariously incorrect guesser of Christmas presents. I could hardly do the man justice with just a blurb in a Thursday morning entry. I'll tell you what - I'll go out and find as many Fred Recker stories as I can and get back to you. If you'd like to help me get started, send an email to with "Fred Recker Stories" in the subject line.

Good morning, everybody. Happy Thursday. Hope you have some hot coffee at your side. As for me, I had a hard time rolling out of bed this morning. I couldn't summon the strength to get up and take a morning drive. I succumbed to the temptation, and with my head still on my pillow I again Grubhub'ed some Starbucks from the good 'ol Double Tree hotel. I watched in suspense as the app loaded the order details. The screen read Amber will be arriving with your order soon. I quietly breathed a sigh of relief.

I was worried for a second that I would get Dan again. Madison is a small city and our Uber & Grubhub pool isn't as diverse as you'd think. It was very possible that Grubhub could have paired me with Dan again, and I would have no choice but to wake up my family, get everyone in the car, and leave town without ever looking back. For fear of what Dan the driver might do, my family would enter witness protection. A year from now you would get a mysterious friend request from a Monty Becker and a Christmas card from the Becker family.

With baggy eyes that cried out for a caffeine fix, I leered through the front door as Amber's car parked on our side of the street. She seemed in good spirits. She drove a yellow smart car, and I've always thought those looked so cozy from the outside. I certainly wouldn't mind spending this beautiful winter morning snuggled up in a smart car with a hot cup of coffee. My consumer guilt is attenuated, and the coffee is delicious.

Sip. Lord knows I needed coffee today. We're entering the critical period of art release week. Marissa, who has been feverishly laboring in the studio over several paintings at a time, explained to me that yesterday was pretty much the last day to start any pieces if she wanted to include them in this weekend's gallery. She worked during the day, in the evening just before dinner, and a little extra late into the night. Out of solidarity, I stayed up a little later too. After all, the last thing a tired person needs is a bubbly, well-rested house mate talking their ear off. In this house, we're pack animals and we like to all be on the same page.

In the past, I've poked fun at Marissa for the way she prepares for these art releases. "You commit to way too much, then stay up late to get it done," I would chide. Marissa just shrugs and says "It's classic me."

But it wasn't my place to chastise her for committing to so much and sacrificing sleep. Creative people like Marissa are wired differently than us. Where my life's mission is built on finding the perfect daily routine, I think artists need highs and lows. They need the contrasting seasons of life to get the juices flowing. Sometimes they need to create some chaos to agitate their taste. Personally, I just stay up late because playing with code keeps me awake, and I never get tired of code.

So I'm tired. Marissa will be tired too. But that's just fine, this is a tired kind of week.

Work was great yesterday. I worked with Branden on getting a new vault built out, and we finally hit the sweet spot where all the configuration was finished and we were just watching scripts run. After work, Rodney followed me into the kitchen.

"What do we have here? What we having?" asked Rodney, trying to be casual.

"I'm making mac and cheese," I replied. Rodney went straight to the pantry and began rifling through the middle shelf, looking for a blue Paw Patrol box.

"Where is it?" he asked.

"We're making it from scratch," I replied. I handed him a box of dry elbow macaroni. "We'll get to that - first we need to make a salad."

I don't know if he's just sucking up to me, or if he's just bored, but Rodney has been in the kitchen every night this week. Yesterday he helped me make thing ribbons of carrots for a spinach salad. He proudly brandished the peeler whenever Marissa passed by. "I'm just helping," he said. "I'm good at helping."

Personally, I think he was really just hanging around for free cheese. I left him with a block of cheddar and a block of gouda. I turned my back to start on the base, leaving Rodney to grate the cheese onto a plate. He handed me a suspiciously small mound. Who knows how much gouda and cheddar he snacked on while my back was turned.

We ate mac and cheese and watched a hockey game at the table. It was a good day.

Thanks for stopping by today. Hope you have a wonderful Thursday.