Sunday, February 9 2020

alices party and the resin tent

Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Sunday. After a busy Saturday of traveling and working in the basement, the whole family slept in this morning. I woke up a little past 9:30, hearing Rodney rustling toys and books around in his bedroom. By 10, we were all on the couch watching YouTube and eating omelettes, and so far that's the mood for today.

Yesterday was a great day, but a busy one. Before jumping in the car to head to Alice's birthday party, Marissa could be seen on the kitchen floor trimming the dogs' nails, and Rodney was busily darting around the play room packing his backpack with toys. I was packing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the road and clearing out our fridge of any especially volatile leftovers. We hit the road, and after putting in Kelly and Jeremy's address into the GPS, we congratulated ourselves for the perfect timing. Our ETA was twenty minutes before the party would start, allowing almost the perfect amount of time for a coffee & potty stop in my old stomping grounds of the Streets of Woodfield.

We parked, and with Marissa remaining in the car with the dogs contently snuggling in the back seat, Rodney and I walked hand-in-hand through the busy mall parking lot. We found the bathroom in the back corner of the cafe. "Dude, I used to clean this bathroom every single night," I said, helping Rodney use the potty.

Rodney and I waited in line, ordering two cups of coffee and a birthday cake pop. Rodney politely thanked the Barista, and climbed up onto the high chair beside the bar. Returning to the car, I smiled handing Marissa the cup of coffee. "I sprung for something special," I said. "Something that you can only get here." They had Jamaica Blue Mountain on the menu, and it had been too long since I got to taste what I would confidently call the most perfect coffee on earth. Mellow, fruity, nutty - it tastes like the inside of a leather suitcase smells, or like how it feels to ride in a limo. As we got back on the road, I reminisced with Marissa about how lucky I felt to drink one of these practically whenever I felt like it while working at that store.

We arrived at Alice's house. Kelly greeted us by the curb, holding a handful of items that they had accidentally taken home with them when they stayed at our place. "Here, we have stuff you left at our house too," I said, retrieving a phone charger from my coat pocket. "We'll probably do this every time we see each other," I joked.

Kelly and Jeremy's house was already buzzing with family. Herb and Beth were hanging around, Kelly was in the kitchen, and Alice had already stolen Rodney away to play with toys and jump on the couch. Seeing our dogs, Frankie excitedly waddled over to us, leaning in for a kiss from Ziggy. I helped myself to some beer after finishing my coffee.

More family started trickling in, and after greeting everyone, we found seats in the living room. Becca, Ollie, and Ziggy played in a frenzy while Jo-Jo stoically looked on from the sidelines, her chest puffed out like a body guard, staring blankly at the wall.

After opening presents, little Frankie commandeered Alice's new orange dinosaur toy. One by one, she would pick someone sitting on the couch, waddle over to them, and growl as loud as she could, which from a baby like her, amounted to just a silly little gurgle. We egged her on, recoiling in fear and sending her in another direction. All the while, Jo-Jo still stood stoically, making the whole thing even funnier.

After eating some chicken pot pie, I followed Rodney and Alice into the basement. Almost as if she needed a break from the craziness of her own party, Alice jumped onto my lap and handed me a story book. "Is this Giraffes Can't Dance? Alice, I LOVE this book," I said enthusiastically. As I read, I mixed in some Dutch words, as I normally do with Rodney, but it was extra funny since Alice would look at me with wide eyes and correct me. "Not olifant," she said. "Elephant". She corrected me with perfect diction. "Oh oh OK, I sorry," I replied. I followed Alice and Rodney upstairs, where we enjoyed a homemade Dinosaur cake made by Sarah.

After bidding everyone farewell, we packed the car and hit the road. My eyes started to get heavy after an hour of driving, so Marissa agreed to take over for the second leg. We stopped at an oasis. As Marissa waited in the drive through at McDonalds, I took Rodney inside to use the bathroom. In a slight oversight, I left his shoes in the car, and while wearing only his socks, it proved to be a bit of a challenge helping him use the bathroom without touching the floor.

Rodney was in bed by 9:30, and after a quick break outside, I changed into some work clothes and joined Marissa in the basement with a box of black garbage bags. We set aside last night after the party to tear down the old resin tent - a large structure made up of PVC tubing and clear plastic tarp taped together. Marissa hacked down the tarp with a pocket knife while I cut and wiggled the PVC tubing free.

Next came the table, which was caked with a thick layer of runoff resin. On top of the table, latex gloves, paint sticks, and empty plastic cups were adhered to the surface. Once removed from the resin tent, it actually looked more like an interesting art exhibit than something we were just trying to get into the garbage.

Marissa tried to saw the table in half, but there was too much resin to cut through. We instead bent and broke the table legs off, and together carried the table out to the porch.

Finally, we had to deal with the floor, pieced together with that black spongy material you might see in a day care or in a school gym, only it was also adhered together with runoff resin. I spent the rest of the night hacking, cracking, and tearing it free, stuffing the pieces into garbage bags. At 11:15, we declared victory, sinking into the couch. That may have been the hardest I've worked all year, and after a whole day sitting in the car, it felt good to move, work and sweat.

"I felt like a kid waking up on Christmas morning," said Marisa today. I too took an extra minute to happily wander around and check on our work. With the demolition complete, today is the easy part. After running some errands and picking up lunch at Portillo's, we're going to set up the new resin tent, which will use a much more practical collapsible curtain. Between finishing the tent and shoveling the fresh snow that fell last night, there will be no shortage of work today.

Hope you have a great Sunday. Let's soak it up before the beginning of another busy work week.