Tuesday, March 31 2020

swirling oceans of garbage, home depot, and worm sauce

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, my friends. I hope you're feeling strong and confident today. If you're starting to feel a little stir crazy, try to remind yourself that while we can't go to bars, restaurants, and parties, there are still plenty of places to wander outside. Sunshine has a way of clearing your head, doesn't it? And no matter what you're feeling - no matter what you're going through - walking outside into the sun is a good first step in dealing with it.

I had a great day yesterday. This week, the smaller support tasks of ticket duty are already starting to make the time fly. I have a feeling that I'm only a few waking sensations away from typing the words Good morning, and happy Friday. Smaller portions of work tend to do that.

After attending our planning meeting in the morning, I wandered downstairs to join Marissa in the kitchen. I helped myself to a stroopwaffel and a coffee refill. By now, I've been working from home long enough for new routines to emerge. The 10 AM coffee refill and sugar rush of a sweet, melty stroopwaffel might be my favorite novelty. I joined Marissa at the table for a coffee break, then returned upstairs.

For lunch, I cooked a chicken breast in a pan and did my best to toss some life back into the soggy chicken caesar salad that was languishing in cold tupperware. "I'll take one for the team and eat the salad. I can deal with soggy croutons," I said, dividing up the fresh chicken for Rodney and Marissa.

I worked through the afternoon, and around 3:30, Marissa sent me a slack asking if I felt like a walk. I wrapped up work, and wandered into the backyard to find Marissa and Rodney enjoying the warm sun. Marissa left the garage door open, proudly displaying the compacted cardboard boxes and neatly stacked styrofoam in the corner. During the quarantine, Madison has decided to close their garbage drop-off center, and that decision continues to vex us. But needless to say, I was glad that Marissa tamed the growing, swirling ocean of loose cardboard into something more manageable. "Thank you for cleaning up our swirling ocean of garbage," I said to her. "That was starting to stress me out." Marissa flashed a smile and flexed.

We went for a walk around the block, and after finishing out the work day, we all jumped in the car headed for Home Depot. Marissa sent me idiot proof instructions and screenshots, directing me to the wood slats she needed to build some frames. After dropping me off on the curb, I wandered into the store, mindfully navigating my way to the correct aisle while doing my best to avoid people.

I found the correct label for the slats she needed, but the labels didn't perfectly line up with the stacks of wood, and the tall beams were shuffled together. Somebody who knew what they were looking for probably wouldn't have a problem with this - just look through the stack and find the proper slats, right? Well it may come as a shock to you, but I am not very handy. In that moment, the entirety of my woodworking knowledge was contained in a screenshot of my wife's phone.

I grabbed eight slats of wood, and moved them to the table. I began sawing the first beam. I had trouble getting the saw to cut, and I began to feel self conscious. From the corner of my eye, I could see another burly, flannel clad guy sizing me up as I struggled to cut the thin beams. I grabbed another saw, proceeding more forcefully. The wood snapped in half.

"I think I did pretty good," I said to Marissa stacking the slats into the car. "They were all jumbled together, but I picked wood that was the same color..." my voice trailed off, as I noticed I grabbed several different shapes of slats. There were four small ones, three big ones, and one that looked nothing like the picture Marissa sent me. "OK, so maybe I didn't do so well."

Marissa studied the pile of slats. "No this will work - you got at least four of the slats I need. I can work with this."

I nodded in gratitude. "I can run back if you don't have enough - now I know what to look for."

"Nope! I got what I need - and I can still use the others for something," said Marissa. Hasn't it been said that a true craftsman never blames her inept husband?

After returning home, we released Rodney into the back yard to burn off some energy, and Marissa and I retreated into the kitchen, where I began cooking dinner. After my misguided adventure in Home Depot, it felt good to be back in my natural environment.

Dinner was pasta with meat sauce. I love making meat sauce. We seem to always have the right ingredients and spices on hand, and at this point, I'm pretty sure I could whip it together in my sleep. As I stirred blended tomatoes into the fragrant beef and herbs, Marissa watched Rodney out the window.

"Here he comes," she said, smirking. "He's got something."

Rodney stomped up the porch steps and ran to the door, flinging it open.

"MAMA. LOOK! I FOUND A WORM," said Rodney. He held out his hand. Unfurling his tiny fingers, he revealed a single thin earthworm resting limply in his palm.

"Nice dude," said Marissa trying to minimize her disgust. Rodney turned toward me, holding out the specimen.

"That's awesome dude. That's a nice one," I said kneeling down beside him. "Hey - question for you. Would you mind if I added that to the sauce?" Rodney stared back at me, visibly confused. I remained committed to the rouse.

"Dude, we could always use the extra protein. And it's red sauce, you'll never know the difference. C'mon dude... waddya say. Worm sauce is lekker."

"NoooOOO danks," chirped Rodney, pulling the worm close to him in a balled up fist. Marissa and I erupted into laughter and Rodney skipped away.

"Called your bluff!" I shouted after him. Boys our gross, but mark my words - I'll never be out-grossed.

We ate dinner together on the deck. Bundled up in sweatshirts feasting on oven warmed bread and pasta with meat sauce, we had no problem braving the chilly evening air. It was worth it, just to be outside for a little longer.

Thanks for stopping by this morning. Have a wonderful Tuesday. I'll see you tomorrow when we roll over into the month of April.