Tuesday, March 16 2021

hy-vee flour, hockey, and rest

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Happy Tuesday. This morning, I have the privilege of writing from our newly invigorated winter wonder land. It snowed all day yesterday, thick and wet. The familiar chill of winter settled in the air, and I was back in my favorite hoodie. The clocks may have sprung an hour forward, but the weather makes me feel like we've been sent back a month in time.

But we're here now. It's no longer Monday, and we've got one less day to wait before Friday. Ah, Friday. I for one am looking forward to shutting out work thoughts this weekend. They can wait outside in the March snow for all I care.

Sip. How are you today? How does the coffee taste? Do you ever have one of those days where the coffee seems to run right through you and it doesn't feel like it's working? Yesterday, I felt like I hogged the whole coffee pot. I slammed cup after cup like it was ice tea, and yet I still felt like I was on the brink of falling asleep. The long stretch of meetings from later morning all the way to quitting time didn't help either. We're about to turn over into another business quarter, and that means it's road map planning season. I sat in my chair for so long I felt like a trucker, piloting my bedroom office rig on a long haul to nowhere. Forget coffee - get me a red bull and some cigarettes!

Marissa brought me up my share of the leftover cheeseburger calzone. Definitely a bright spot in the day, as was dinner. Marissa really killed it with the meal, and it was doubly impressive because she had to account for a classic Hy-Vee online order pickup boondoggle. Marissa wanted to make barbecue skewers again, but the brain trust at Hy-Vee thought that a reasonable replacement for a bone-in pork shoulder was twelve individual bone-in pork chops. Marissa marinated them and seared them in a pan, and it turned out really good.

Hy-Vee also sent us back with two bags of Hy-Vee brand wheat flour. I ordered King Arthur wheat flour, and I distinctly remember checking the "do not substitute" box because Hy-Vee wheat flour is practically made of saw dust. They stopped carrying Krang's favorite King Arthur wheat, so I decided to try out the Hy-Vee brand. I just finished working through a whole bag to feed Krang in the morning. He also hates Hy-Vee wheat flour. He's pretty laid back about things, but when your a parent you learn how to read between the lines. The way he slinks out of the jar in the morning, the way he can't even be bothered to rise very far after dinner. I could tell something was off.

So I switched him back onto King Arthur, the unbleached white flour. The lighter flour transformed him into the color of vanilla icecream, but the spring is back. He stinks, bubbles, and plops just like he did as a young colony earlier in quarantine.

After dinner we watched the hockey game. Our Blackhawks are in a bit of a slump right now. We've had some really tough games as of late, remaining in Florida for a double header against the first place Florida Panthers, then a double header against the third place Lightning, and then another double header against the Panthers. They played so well at the beginning of the season I forgot about how many rookies they're developing, and that makes for a really inconsistently performing team. For instance, we are continually mystified at how bad their power play is lately. For the un-initiated, a power play is awarded to your team when the other team commits a penalty. For two minutes the other team sits a player out, and for most teams that means they get two minutes of controlling the puck, taking more shots on net, and in all likelihood, scoring.

Not for the Blackhawks. Mysteriously, we play worse with a man advantage. In fact in the last few games, we've reliably given up a short-handed goal in one of our power plays.

We're in it for the long haul, though. Last night Marissa pointed out how much more she appreciates the longer stride of a hockey season. The NFL regular season is only sixteen games. People are fired and cut based on just one bad performance. But the long fifty-six game NHL season affords more time for experimentation and development. The Hawks are still moving lines around, trying different strategies, and they're even alternating which goalie they use in every series.

I think the reason I really like hockey right now is because I score an excellent evening nap. We mute the TV between periods, and I reliably sail off to sleep from my position on the couch and wake up twenty minutes later at the next puck drop.

After the game, I put Rodney and Miles to bed. I caught up on chores. At 10:58 PM I wandered downstairs into the studio to see if Marissa was ready to watch a movie. I took some time to tour the studio and see what she was working on.

She's still hacking away at her Rest series. Laid out on the table was a set of freshly painted canvases, bright with swirls of deep relaxing blue.

"I'm not sure about these though," she said. She gestured at some paintings she made a few weeks ago. They were darker and blurrier in the foreground.

"I think I was a little overwhelmed and stressed when I made these," she said. "They don't really scream Rest do they?"

"That's OK," I said. "Maybe you need some of that. There's no 'rest' by itself, you have to be resting from something stressful, right?"

After all, doesn't the recent memory of meetings and burnout make Friday night that much more excellent? Doesn't shoveling snow or working outside in the yard make a beer in the evening taste that much better?

That's what I got today. Have a great Tuesday, everyone.