Monday, June 6 2022

the malt house, frozen chicken feet, and the pool filter

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Welcome to Monday. I really wasn't sure I'd have enough energy to write this morning, but it seems like a hot shower and a cup of coffee turned it around. Suddenly I feel like sitting, looking at pictures, and writing in the old journal. Did you bring your coffee? Good - let's do this.

Sip. Our time in Madison is coming to a close. I fully expect these final days to slip away in a single exhausting blur. That's why I'm grateful for yesterday - our last friend day in Madison. We opened up a tab at the Malt House and sent some invitations to neighbors and coworkers. We filled up a whole picnic table on their patio, which I think is a pretty good turnout for a drizzly Sunday afternoon. As cars whizzed by at head level on the other side of the bushes, we collectively marveled at how much the neighborhood has changed over the years. When Marissa and I say "we'll visit often," we mean it - if anything, just because we want to see what happens to our street.

Inside the bar, Miles and Rodney had full run of the place. It wasn't a busy day, but the guy posing at the bar for his band photo shoot seemed irritated working around a drooling baby and the chatty five year old.


What's there for a kid to drink at the Malt House? Ice cold lemonade right out of the bar gun. Normally we cut them off after two, but we let them go a little crazy so we could give our favorite bar a good send off. Coworkers, neighbors, and everyone who came out, thanks for the fun evening. Stop by our place next time you have to drive to Ikea.


We spent this past weekend at the new house. We barely made it home in time for our own party. Regrettably, our trusty family car has been on the fritz. Driving there on Friday, we had to hug the right lane of the highway because the "vehicle stability assistant" kept turning on without warning and stalling the engine. What is it about moving that makes things break at once?

More bad news. I didn't succeed in setting up the Internet at the new house. My new house has a coaxial input in almost every room, but mysteriously none of them seemed to be hooked up to the Internet. JR, the very patient customer support system and I spent an entire hour trying each input in the house. JR was so determined to find a plug that worked, it almost seemed like he wanted to deprive Comcast of the extra hundred dollar installation fee as much as I did. But we gave up, set up an appointment for the following weekend, and just embraced another tech free camping weekend.

Miles slept outside in his crib. I bet the cool, evening air felt nice on his legs after sitting in his cramped car seat all morning.


Marissa engaged in a serious bout of landscaping work. She had to clear space for the fence getting installed, hacking down a jungle of thorny branches, sappy pines, and itchy leaves. The commotion attracted some neighbors. First to meet us was Daniel, joining his German Shepard Ramses at the back gate. I'm not sure if I was just feeling shy or really focused on dismantling a metal awning, but I decided to let Marissa take this one. Daniel had a thick Polish accent. He laughed heartily at Marissa's jokes. Marissa explained that we were putting in a fence for our dogs. Daniel turned to his dog Ramses and said "See what you did? You idiot."

For our dogs, they recommended Ramses' favorite snack - frozen chicken feet from the Polish grocery store.

"My friend bought some for her dog, and she trimmed the nails on the foot," laughed Daniels' wife Ania. "Of course you don't need to trim its nails."

Marissa continued hacking down branches, turning the corner of our lot. John, our other neighbor, came out to greet us. "Those are mine," he warned, waving at the bushes Marissa was cutting. "BUT KEEP GOING!" His jovial laugh instantly quelled our embarrassment. John introduced us to his dog Ruby. He chided us about getting rid of our pool, which he jokingly referred to as his "backup pool". He also said his name wasn't really John.

"I'm Janesh," he said. "And Daniel over there is Polish too, but his name is actually Jhanesh."

Marissa battled the landscaping around our yard. I battled the pool. We're paying the fence guys extra to take down the pool and the deck, and to hedge some of the cost we're selling the valuable stuff on Facebook. Armed with a newly purchased PVC wrench, I was tasked with dismantling the intimidating pool filter. Hunched over in the sharp rocks while ants crawled around my ankles, It was challenging finding the right fittings to turn. But I got the damn thing out. The great turning point of the battle was when the towering grey "missile system" toppled. It reminded me of seeing rioters topple that statue of Saddam Hussein on the news ten years ago.


We put the kids to bed. Without any screens to watch, Marissa and I just decided to embrace the home camping weekend and sit around the fire outside. Plus we had lots of extra brush to burn. We ate smores and compared the sores and cuts on our hands.


That's what I got today. Thanks for stopping by today, and have a great Monday.