Thursday, March 18 2021

meetings, grandma jane's broken legs, and apple sauce



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody! Happy Thursday. It's a beautiful day outside. If you're near a window, take a break from reading this paragraph and take a minute to admire the sun, the sky, and the scenery. It's excellent, isn't it? The rain stopped. It's not so cold anymore. I think all it took to pull me out of my slump was just a little bit of nice weather. Heading upstairs to get ready, suddenly four or five writing ideas leapt into my head, and I knew that today was going to be a lot better. Perhaps my slump wasn't an existential crisis. Maybe there was nothing angsty, brooding, or formative happening between my id and ego. I think it was just some uninteresting, off-the-shelf seasonal depression caused by a classic midwestern season change fakeout.

Sip. How are you feeling today? Did you have a good Saint Patrick's day? I've been known to enjoy a Guinness from time to time, but the truth is there isn't enough Irish culture in this house to fill a shot glass. We ate paella with apple sauce for dinner. I drank an Amstel and Marissa made herself a gin and tonic. The closest any of us got to actually celebrating St. Patrick's day was Rodney, who enjoyed a bowl of lucky charms at the breakfast table.

I had a pretty decent work day too. Earlier this week, a short meeting over Wednesday lunch appeared on my calendar. The subject read something about an internship, so I assumed I was conducting another technical screen for a candidate. But before I had a chance to get my short quiz together, the recruiter added more context. It turns out Carrie had already been hired. She would start later this summer, and the point of this meeting was just a chance to get to know each other.

I joined the call. "So... you were already hired, right?" I asked hesitantly.

Carrie nodded. I breathed a sigh of relief, then regaled Carrie with the story of how I almost showed up to our zoom lunch expecting to grill her about writing code and designing software.

"Oh, could you imagine?" she laughed. "They told me this was just an informal chat. If you asked me to write code, I would have gone along with it - but I would have thought it was weird."

I took a short break for lunch, and later I found myself back in my office working on a document. Rodney, imprisoned in his room for daily quiet time, shouted across the hall. Our official policy is that quiet time implies being quiet, but I was too curious as to how Rodney was entertaining himself. So I entertained the distraction.

"DADA," he whispered from across the hall. "I HAVE A PRIZE FOR YOU."

I leaned back in my chair so I could see across the hall. Rodney squatted near the imaginary line at his doorway. He held out his plastic drum, which was now meticulously colored with a dried out marker.

"I HAVE A PRIZE FOR YOU," he repeated. I stepped out into the hallway. There were some toys stuffed in the drum, but it was covered with a rubber puppy pad and a decorative k'nex flower.

2021 03 18 prize 1

As instructed, I removed the decorative center piece and rubber lid, revealing my prize. It was one of Rodney's classic wiry k'nex animals, stuffed and contorted to fit inside of his drum.

2021 03 18 prize 2

As he retrieved the crumpled beast from his dark hiding place. During the procedure, its legs snapped off.

"OPE," said Rodney. He, the master builder, was swift to apply last minute fixes.

2021 03 18 prize 3

"Let me see if I can guess what it is," I said. Rodney beamed as I set up the creature on the rug and studied it. "I see legs. A head. Oh, and these must be teeth."

"It's a T-REX," said Rodney out of turn.

"What are we going to call it?" I asked.

"Just... just T-REX," said Rodney.

"But you already have like to other dinosaurs you named T-REX," I protested.

Rodney nodded, searching within himself for a new name for the dinosaur that stood before us.

"How about... Grandma Jane," He suggested.

"Sure dude - that's perfect," I said. "We'll call him Grandma Jane."

2021 03 18 prize 4

If Rodney tells you a story about the time broke Grandma Jane's legs while stuffing her in a drum, don't be alarmed. We fixed Grandma Jane.

Hy-Vee's website was down yesterday, so Rodney and I had no choice but to take a quick trip to Hy-Vee to get dinner. We also had no choice, but to pick up a giant container of cheese balls. These would serve as an excellent appetizer while we waited for paella to finish in the oven.

"Look at you guys," I beamed while Marissa and Rodney snacked on cheese balls. "One of my favorite things about this family is how even keel we are about late dinners."

"We don't care," shrugged Marissa. "We have cheese balls."

We wouldn't eat until 8:00 PM. Over dinner, Marissa and I held a small debate about my first try at homemade apple sauce.

"It's good... the flavor is all there," she said thoughtfully. "But it's too... grainy?"

"Grainy?" I repeated. "You mean like sand?"

"I don't know - grainy." she repeated.

"Fibrous?" I suggested. Marissa shook her head.

I tried again. "Pulpy?"

"YES," she said. "Pulpy. What kind of apples did you use again?"

"I think they were honey crisps," I shrugged. "I really don't pay attention to apples beyond 'red' and 'green'."

"Ah," said Marissa. "I never liked honey crisps. Would you be willing to try making it with fuji's or something?"

"I'd love to," I said. "It was easy. I literally just diced them up, microwaved them, and hit it with a blender stick. Easiest thing in the world."

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a wonderful day today.