Monday, March 16 2020

the paint store, mac 'n cheese, and deflating balloons



Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Welcome to the new work week. I’m grateful that even though things are a little dicey right now on the public health front, having a weekend to recoup helped me. Even just the act of not working for two days and returning again on Monday feels normal and refreshing. And I’m not the only one looking forward to getting back to work. All weekend long, Ollie was giving me longing glances, telling me how much he missed working. “We’re back to work tomorrow morning, Ollie,” I said. Ollie cocked his head attentively. “We have a planning meeting at 9, and I have a 1-on-1 in the afternoon…,” I went on, relishing in the joy Ollie feels from me recapping my work day.

If Ollie is my work week puppy, Ziggy is my weekend puppy. If it were up to her, we’d stay in bed all day - except I would get out of bed twice a day to bring her a scoop of dogfood. Or maybe we would just eat cheese balls all day and watch movies, and occasionally peek out the window to yell at somebody crossing our sidewalk. Having a dog like Ziggy around - a dog who maximizes all opportunities to relax, eat, and indulge your impulses - it’s easy to get swept up the spirit of a good weekend. What I’m saying is that in life, you need a dog like Ollie to get the most out of your work week, as well as a dog like Ziggy to get the most out of your weekend.

Sip. Yesterday was a good day. In the morning, I hung out in the living room with Rodney and messed around with my blog. I enjoy playing around with the code that runs behind the scenes, and yesterday I was finally able to finish porting all my custom scripts to a jekyll plug-in. Rodney watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the background. But while getting up to make a pot of coffee, I noticed he had turned off the TV.

“He said the turtles were too scary,” said Marissa holding the remote. “Poor guy, he was just sitting in here with the TV turned off.” I looked at Rodney and pouted.

“Ah dang-it,” I said. “That newer turtles show does get a little scary at times. Pretty much anytime that giant brain in the robot comes out, something way too scary happens.” I turned some YouTube on for him instead. The rest of the morning, I caught up on emails while Rodney sat beside me. YouTube had automatically queued up some Let’s Play Fortnight videos for him, and he was perched high up on a stack of pillows with a box turned upside down over his head holding his hockey stick and cradling his apple juice. A picture of total apocalyptic readiness, don’t you think?

I decided to head out and complete my short list of errands for the day. My first stop was Sherwin Williams. Marissa needed more paint to finish the basement ceiling. I jumped in the car and drove to the small paint store. A quiet, older guy greeted me at the door. I flashed him a picture of the paint I needed and repeated Marissa’s instructions - “It’s very old wood. Four cans of the brightest, most intense primer you got.”

“OK no problem,” the man said. “I’ll just get that on the mixer right away for ya.” The man took slow, shuffled steps into the back room. Standing alone, my eyes were drawn to a bottle of hand sanitizer sitting on his desk.

“I felt like I was in the middle of an apocalypse movie,” I laughed with Marissa later. In my head, I pictured slipping the bottle into my pocket, then hearing a shotgun click behind me, the older man calmly saying I saw that. Put it back, and we won’t have trouble.

Of course I didn’t steal the Sherwin Williams hand sanitizer. The thought was amusing, but I didn’t act on it. The man returned from the back room. “Want me to help you load it into your car?”

“Nah, I got it. I could use the exercise,” I said, picking up the box. The box of paint was much heavier than I expected, but I saved face, propping it on my knee while I wiggled open the door with my foot.

I picked up our lunch from the nearby Subway, then drove home to find my family hanging out in the living room. We enjoyed Subway Sandwiches and cheese balls while watching our church’s live stream in the dining room. After the service, we switched it over to a live news conference being held by the city of Madison.

“They really have it together,” I said. The mayor was confident and concise. The press conference was structured and thorough.

“Yeah, this is the best thing I’ve watched all week,” said Marissa.

The rest of the afternoon, I gave Marissa lots of time to finish painting the basement. And after bearing witness to how arduous of a task that was, I was extra grateful she stuck it out and finished it alone. Later in the evening, she emerged from the basement victorious, her hair and face decorated with large globs of white primer. “We can move the card over,” she announced.

“Hey, we’re all done for the week, and it’s not even dinner yet!” I exclaimed. “We should be proud that we still got so much done around the house.”

For dinner, I heated up some leftovers, hydrating a pot of leftover chicken noodle soup with some leftover beef stock. “So I’m going to have this… well, now beef flavored chicken noodle soup,” I laughed. “Want me to make some Mac ‘n Cheese?” Rodney’s eyes lit up. Together, we made a batch at the stove.

“Watch this, dude,” I said, handing him the wooden spoon and reaching for a carton of sour creme from the fridge. “We’re gonna make this more interesting.”

“No. Rodney don’t want,” said Rodney, holding the wooden spoon in the pot. I dropped in a dollop and stirred it in. “Nah, you’ll like it dude. You’ll barely notice anything is different.” It has been said that I can never make a batch of Mac ‘n Cheese the same way twice. I like to mess with it, adding pickles, sour creme, bacon, hot sauce, and even my own cheese. That will probably get under Rodney’s skin as he gets older.

After dinner, Rodney and I hung out in the dining room while Marissa cleaned up from painting. We found an old package of balloons in the basement, and we were blowing them up and throwing them around the room. “Watch this dude,” I said, pinching an inflated balloon with my fingers, then releasing it to fly around the room. Rodney’s mouth hung ajar in wonder, and he shouted as it flopped to the floor. Frankly, watching a balloon flap around the room, bouncing off the walls and making that hilarious PFFFFTTTTT sound is one of life’s greatest treasures, and it was an honor to introduce it to Rodney. It’s the little things, right?

Thanks for stopping by this morning. I hope you have a wonderful week. Stay healthy and courageous.