Thursday, March 19 2020

sandwiches, water bottle bowling, and dolphin brain



Goede Morgen, Mensen. As always, I hope you’re feeling well this morning. We’ve almost completed our first full week of social distancing. It’s Thursday, and we’re getting close to the weekend. If it makes you feel any better we’re supposed to get a few days of rain, so quarantine or not, chances are we’d be spending time indoors this weekend anyway. So we can basically take a break from thinking about the quarantine this weekend. I’ll be looking forward to catching up on chores, taking a long nap, and maybe even finding some time to code.

This week, I’m making a real effort to not go to the grocery store so often. Paradoxically, this means I spend more time in the kitchen prepping food and putting things away. It’s been difficult keeping up with things, but if my other alternative is just scrolling through twitter and feeling angry about what our President is doing, then I’m probably better off thinking about chores and work.

Yesterday was a great day. I had a quiet work day, spending most of my time crafting a technical proposal, with just a few meetings sprinkled throughout. I ate lunch at the table with Rodney, heating up a leftover bowl of stamppot and making him a PB&J.

Around 4, after reviewing Chef John’s video, I headed downstairs to advance my homemade no-knead Ciabatta loaf to its new stage of evolution. My dough ball had been sitting in a bowl for 18 hours, and it was time to scrape the sticky sponge onto some plastic wrap dusted with flour. I stretched and flattened the dough into a flat oval and turned it over onto a silicone mat, covering it with a towel for another two hours.

Our plan was to order some takeout - something light so we could fill up on bread. Marissa punched in our order from one of my favorite food carts. She closed her eyes on the couch while I practiced my water bottle flips with Rodney. About 45 minutes later, Marissa’s phone chirped.

“Got an email from Grubhub. They said the restaurant never confirmed your order.” read Marissa from her phone. I paused for a moment and stared at the ground. “I bet they’re closed,” she said.

“Well what’s the point of Grubhub if they don’t know what’s actually open? We can’t just try another place and wait another 45 minutes,” I complained. Rodney, blissfully unaware of the discussion, was still wearing his night vision goggles backwards over his mouth like a gas mask, circling my legs and swinging his mechanical claw.

“Let’s make sandwiches,” I suggested. “We got turkey, cheese… I’ll figure out the rest.”

After baking the bread and frying some leftover bacon, I took the ingredients over to the cutting board. I cut the loaf into slices. “These slices might be kind of hard to work with,” I laughed. “Are you OK with extremely skinny sandwiches?” I asked Marissa.

I swiped one piece of bread with mustard, and on the other I used a mixture of mayo and artichoke pesto leftover from last week’s pizza night. I topped the sandwich with turkey, bacon, and mozarella cheese. I cut a portion for Rodney and cubed it. As I moved his portion of the sandwich to a plastic plate, it fell apart forming a loose mound of ingredients.

“Here’s your sandwich, dude,” I said placing the plate on the table in front of Rodney. “It’s not a mistake. It’s deconstructed,” I said wagging my finger in the air.

We finished dinner, then gathered in the living room. The day before, Rodney asked if we could go bowling, and Marissa promised that we would figure out a way to have bowling night inside the house. She set up 10 half empty plastic water bottles on the rug. We gathered in front of the mantle so she could explain the rules.

“OK fam,” she began. “We don’t have any rules. The plan is to make them up as we go, but the important part is that whoever wins gets… a prize!” Marissa revealed a plastic bag full filled with Hot Wheels cars - the ones we set aside for Rodney as a toilet training incentive. “You can pick one car out of the bag if you win.”

We each took turns picking a bouncy ball, baseball, soccer ball, and a plastic ball out of the pile and throwing it across the living room at the pins. We had difficulty finding something that was actually heavy enough to knock over our pins. I even tried “throwing” Rodney, picking him up by a leg and an arm and pretending to shot-put him across the living room. He picked up on the bit, rolling across the living room carpet like a log.

The soccer ball worked the best. Rodney ran up to the pins, placed the soccer ball directly in front of them, and knocked them all into each other using a hockey stick. “Rodney wins!” yelled Marissa. We ran around the living room and shouted.

We put Rodney to bed after letting him pick a new car out of the bag. Marissa and I quietly jumped into our own work for the evening. I had lots of kitchen chores to do, so I made a batch of rice as well as some more sandwiches - this time, adding olive oil and balsamic vinegar into the mix. I also found a better way to cut the bread. “I had a realization,” I said to Marissa holding the loaf. “I think you’re supposed to cut Ciabatta through the middle. It was sort of dumb to cut it into long, skinny slices!”

Later in the evening, I was standing around Marissa while she was fishing something out of the back corner of the basement. “It’s kind of neat how the ‘chilly basement’ is only a Midwestern thing. We’re probably the only region that has that.”

“Well they don’t really have basements anywhere else in the country. They would flood,” replied Marissa.

“I’m sure they have some basements. No matter where it is, you can build the house on a hill and it won’t flood,” I remarked.

“No I’m serious - look it up.” Insisted Marissa. “They have like no basements in the south. There are no hills - it’s too flat.”

“OK,” I blurted out. “True or false. The earth is a bumpy sphere.” I raised my voice to match the enthusiasm of our play argument.

“I’m with you,” replied Marissa.

“OK, and for any given square of land, there’s a high point and a low point. So there must be a hill,” I continued. Marissa nodded, growing more impatient with my belabored point.

“And if you build a house on top of that hill - no matter where it is - your house won’t flood. So you can have a basement,” I concluded.

Moments later, we were upstairs at the family computer - Marissa paging through search results. “Why there are no basements in the south. There!” Marissa read aloud.

“Nah, look here,” I corrected. “It says they cost a lot of money. So - c’mon - somebody probably had enough money to build a basement in the south.”

“Well I’m sure there’s a few…” said Marissa.

“That’s what I was trying to say,” I interrupted. “You can’t just totally rule it out. You said there were no basements in the south.”

“I didn’t say it was impossible!” defended Marissa. “I’m sure there’s at least one.”

I rubbed by eyes in exhaustion. “I think at some point, you said you can’t build a basement in the south. I would know - you’re the one who has dolphin brain right now.”

Marissa paused, furrowing her brow. “Dolphin brain?” she repeated.

“Yeah,” I said, laughing nervously. “You know how dolphins sleep with half their brain? You got half of your brain going to that little guy down there.” I patted her belly, studying her face to see if I crossed the line. Marissa shook her head, and finally broke into a chuckle. It was a mistake to call her ‘dolphin brain’. I crossed the line, but luckily, Marissa chose to laugh instead of getting offended. “That’s amazing,” she laughed.

Thanks for stopping by this morning. Hope you have a wonderful day, and don’t call anyone ‘dolphin brain’.