Monday, February 22 2021

the fishtank, the great rat massacre, and a broken window



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, people. Happy Monday. The house felt brighter this morning. Maybe the long winter has me primed for optimism, but I think the air smells differently too. I feel inspired to stare past the mounds of fresh snow on our deck and at least imagine that spring is on its way.

2021 02 22 spring

Clearly, spring is right around the corner.

We're sitting somewhere between winter and spring, but it's also Monday - no doubt about that. It's a quiet morning here on the homestead. Rodney is asleep in bed with his bedroom light on - evidence that he tried to get up and play before the cool & cozy morning got the best of him. Here in our living room, I write over a gentle buzz and gurgle of a new device Marissa installed in the fish tank. The device is round and matte black, like a blackberry phone. It's mounted to the side of the tank. It casts a sinister red glow. Marissa explained that the warm, glowing red pocket is supposed to encourage the algae in the tank to consolidate there.

2021 02 22 red

"I'm afraid I can't do that for you, Obb."

Marissa was self-conscious about the sound at first, but I reassured her that the sound kind of reminds me of those relaxing white noise YouTube videos I fall asleep to sometimes. Plus, we plan to move the operation into a bigger tank in the near future. Marissa explained that bigger tanks are actually easier. With a big tank, you can run a line to a secret compartment underneath which pulls tank water through the filter, protein skimmer, and this new algae compartment. Plus, the current makes the tank more fun to swim in if you are a fish.

Sip. How was the weekend. Are you feeling rejuvenated? Thoroughly relaxed? This weekend, I wasted no time in getting as relaxed as possible. I'm anticipating a pretty hellish two week stint on ticket duty, so this weekend was my calm before the storm. I watched lots of YouTube. I hacked on some code. I napped through the entire Sunday afternoon snow storm. Before I fell asleep, I climbed into bed and read a few more chapters of the Recker immigrant book.

With the book, Marissa and I keep noticing these strange coincidences and similarities. There are touch points where the lives of these Reckers and our Recker family seem to intersect. For example, I was telling Marissa about an event they called The Great Rat Massacre. Pete Zwier's neighbor had a wood pile in his yard that had become infested with rats, and he asked if he could borrow Pete's two rat terriers, Rocky and Junie. So the entire family came over. The kids drank fresh lemonade and ate cookies while Pete and his neighbor prepared for the big hunt. The family had never had a rat problem, so they were excited to find if their beloved pets had the rat killing instinct. They did. The book goes into great detail on how the kids helped shew the rats out of the pile so Rocky or Junie could grab it by the back of the neck and shake it. When it was all over, they picked up a hundred dead rats around the yard.

By comparison, our family's Great Rat Massacre wasn't nearly as bloody. I didn't have two rat terriers to assist me. Working by myself with a shovel, I only managed to claim about two dozen. But we're responsible for the name Recker appearing in a local newspaper article about killing rats, and so the legacy lives on.

Other big news - thinking about getting our new puppy very soon, Marissa and I have changed from "dizzy" to "minnie". The name "dizzy" sounds just a little too similar to "ziggy", and plus "minnie" is a nice homage to the ancestor I'm reading about. Marissa and I saw eye-to-eye, but Rodney had concerns.

"But I want dizzy," he griped while eating lunch. "I like her."

"We're still getting one of those puppies, we're just changing the name," I said.

"No," insisted Rodney. "Dada, not Minnie. I want Dizzy."

"It's just the name, honey," said Marissa. "Same dog - different name."

I jumped in again. "It's like how 'Rodney' is your name. We could have picked anything. We could have called you fart face, but you would still be you."

Rodney scowled. "Hey, I'm not fart face!"

This weekend, Rodney and Marissa built a paper mache volcano. They filled an old cardboard box with crumpled up paper. Using more paper soaked in glue, they formed a hill around the paper, using an empty 2 liter bottle of diet coke for the spout. They painted it an ashy grey, and created a neat dry lava effect with a glue gun.

The sad thing is I think Rodney was so caught up in decorating it that he forgot about the inevitable explosion. He watched TV with the volcano beside him on the couch, which is an honor he only gives to his favorite new toys. To further complicate things, he stuffed some of his toys inside. Marissa and I confirmed last night with a flashlight that when the volcano erupts this week, it may also spew out the new jacks set I bought him at Hy-Vee last Friday.

2021 02 22 volcano

Rodney's jacks set was all over the house this weekend. While Marissa and I were finishing up Sunday breakfast, I was fiddling with the included bouncy ball against the dining room table. Without warning, I stood up and threw it at the wall ahead. It hit a small window pane above our coffee bar and shattered. Without a word, Marissa shuffled away to grab the dustpan. I followed after her groveling.

That window I broke was probably original with the house. It's been sitting in that window frame for a hundred years, undisturbed. It saw the birth of a nation, a developing frontier, and two world wars. And then some asshole in his Sunday robe swiftly ends its life with a bouncy ball.

2021 02 22 window

"You're chump of the week," growled Marissa.

How can I argue with that? I'm chump of the week. Thanks for stopping by today, everyone. Have yourself a great week.