Monday, February 03 2020

church coffee, marinara samples, and the super bowl



Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! I hope you’re feeling refreshed on this first full week of February. Winter is nearly over - we’re in the endgame now. So if you’re like me and you’re starting to feel the cabin fever, rest easy knowing we’re almost into spring.

Yesterday was a pretty great day. After setting up Rodney on the couch with some food and writing a journal entry, our flurry of a Sunday morning carried us all in the car backing out of the driveway with five minutes before church. We had hot coffee in thermoses and some fragments of a blueberry muffin. Rodney, out of protest for having to wear a button down shirt, made it clear that he would be leaving his coat on and his hood up for the whole day, and he followed through with the activism even while we were dropping him off in Sunday school. Sure enough, he wandered into the gaggle of kids playing in the corner of the muggy Sunday school classroom wearing his thick Carhart jacket zipped to the top, hood up. “What’s the over/under he’s still wearing it when we get back?” I joked to Marissa before we left.

We had a nice church service. Marissa and I snuck in a few minutes late, sitting in the back row drinking coffee. I used to be self conscious drinking coffee in church, but I’ve observed that our church is notably pro coffee. Almost everyone partakes, drinking right out of mugs, bringing in sugar and stir sticks. And now that I’ve gotten over the self-inflicted mental stigma of drinking coffee in a church sanctuary, it’s become one of my favorite parts about Sunday. I mean - come on - is there anything better than leaving your kid somewhere safe and getting to sit in a room for hour and drink coffee, uninterrupted? The sales pitch for church is suddenly very appealing isn’t it?

After church, we stopped by the Sunday school to pick up Rodney. He was still rocking his Carhart, zipped all the way to the top, hood up. And by that time, beads of sweat pooled on his forehead. “He kept it on,” shrugged Miss Maddie, the Sunday school teacher. You have to admire his steadfastness, I guess.

We made our way to the car, and then to Hy-Vee. Rodney and Marissa bought a slice of pizza, and I grabbed a pack of sushi and a diet coke before joining them at a booth in the cafe. I quickly wolfed down my lunch, then made a grocery list for Marissa, punching in each ingredient of her taco tip as she read aloud from a web page on her phone.

Leaving the cafe to get our groceries, Hy-Vee was noticeably busier and difficult to navigate - especially with the big, unwieldy kids seat cart styled like a police car that Rodney insisted on. To further complicate things, a presumptuous sales lady pinned us down by the meat counter and talked me into trying all three versions of the marinaras she was selling. “I don’t know who I’m rooting for in the superbowl,” she said, handing me a third spoonful of red sauce. “My nickname is KC, so I should cheer for the Chiefs, right?”

Back at home, Rodney shed is button down shirt and happily took a nap. Marissa cleaned the living room and crashed on the couch. I remained in the kitchen, starting on the red sauce for pizza, working on a shell script in between stirring it on the stove. More optimizations to my deep dish recipe precipitated out of cooking yesterday’s double batch. I discovered you can preserve the friendly bright red color of the sauce if you simmer it more gently and stir it more frequently. I finally figured out how to knead the dough and sponge the extra flour off the sides of the bowl. I discovered how much easier it is to wipe room temperature butter on a room temperature skillet than to melt cold butter on a hot skillet.

Around five, Alex and Cassie arrived, bringing beer and an intriguing cookie inside of a pretzel dessert. After greeting them and setting down their stuff, I turned to get the game on TV. The process of finding a free internet stream, casting it to the TV in the living room, and configuring the audio so it only played from one device is all so insanely complicated, I’ve actually grown really proud of it. “It involves an Xbox controller, the TV remote, a bluetooth speaker, our desktop computer. Set the TV volume to one, set the computer volume to max…” I rambled.

“Why don’t you just mute the TV?” Asked Cassie. My eyes widened, eager to divulge more of the method to my madness. “Because then you have to look at the blinking ‘tv muted’ indicator on the TV the entire game. Setting it to 1 effectively mutes it without the warning,” I proudly explained.

I got Rodney out of his room, waking him up from his nap. Hearing Alex and Cassie downstairs, he shot out of bed and rushed downstairs, immediately greeting them and showing them his toys. We watched the game, eating pizza on the couch. “This is a special day for Rodney,” I explained. “This is the second meal he’s gotten to eat on the couch.” Rodney gave a knowing smile in his chair with his single slice of pizza and plate resting on his lap.

The Superbowl entertained us this year. The half time show was good, but just weird enough to ensure we’d be talking about it throughout the week. Shakira’s weird face and tongue noise right up in the camera, along with the random shot of her playing the drums stand out to me this morning as the surreal highlights. The commercials were solid - plenty of hits and stinkers, and a good number of very big budget out-of-touch attempts at touching commercials. And of course, the football was great too. We got to see a stellar Niners running game, some good turnovers, and a Kansas City trademark crazy comeback late in the game. “I called it,” I bragged. “The Chiefs would score three touchdowns in a row in like two minutes.”

We bid Cassie and Alex farewell and cleaned up the house, then went upstairs for our Sunday meeting. This week, Marissa and I have lots of exciting work planned. Temporarily moving out of our house to get our floors redone is a stand-out - being only four weeks away, we’re starting to take things more seriously.

This morning, Marissa woke up with a sore throat, so I’m hanging around the house for reinforcements, running interface with Rodney so she can rest up. It doesn’t feel fair that Marissa got sick. It felt like she was still getting over the last one. Gotta love that weak pregnancy immune system, right?

Hope you all have a wonderful week. Let’s get this Monday!