Sunday, April 19 2020

marissa's gallery, food ruts, protests, and baking



banners/2020 04 19

Dear Journal,

Good morning, friends! I hope this Sunday morning finds you well, and that you take some time to relax, eat a nice breakfast, and drink plenty of fresh coffee before starting the day. If only Rodney heeded that advice. The only thing he seems to be interested in eating are last night's fresh peanut butter cookies that were sitting out on the counter. Then again, I was the one who caved, and put it on a little plate for him. Global pandemics, lockdowns, a dangerous and unpredictable B-rated celebrity leading the country through it all - compared to everything else going on, peanut butter cookies for breakfast hardly sound crazy.

We had a great day yesterday. Kicking the morning off by getting the house ready for Marissa's art show. As she scurried around the house putting the final touches on her gallery, I set up Rodney's room for a special edition extended quiet time, grabbing extra toys and even setting him up with some toddler radio on Pandora. Rodney was so eager to spend time in his room, he practically shoved me out the door.

Before the gallery began, Marissa and I chatted. "What if I just casually referred to you as fatso? Or what if we suddenly started screaming at each other, I threw something, and then we just went right back to normal?" I laughed.

Marissa smiled. "It's fun to think about, isn't it? So many people show up to these things, I understand the temptation to do something weird just to watch the reaction."

But Marissa respects her Instagram followers too much to mess with them for her amusement, and I stayed on my best behavior.

And speaking of which, I thank everybody who hung out with us in her live virtual art gallery. The words of encouragement went a long way, and we had a lot of fun putting this on.

After the cameras turned off, Marissa breathed a sigh of relief, crashing on the couch with a handful of Easter candy. I joined her on the couch, flipping through YouTube videos.

I eventually climbed off the couch and got Rodney out of his room, and the two of us wandered into the kitchen to make dinner. I had started another loaf of bread, but it wasn't working out. The dough was too gummy, and no matter how much I slapped it around in flour on the counter, it wasn't getting even close to the smooth, shiny, rubbery surface I was picturing in my head. But Rodney happily helped me grate cheese on seasonings onto the failed experiment, which luckily masked the unappetizing, dried-out dough.

"I think I'm in kind of a rut," I said to Marissa who found her way into the kitchen with us. "The last few loaves of bread I tried haven't worked out, and quarantine grocery shopping is really starting to get to me. I'm really struggling to find variety." Marissa found a seat on the counter and continued to listen.

"It sounds like you're just at a low point, and that's OK," she said. "Let me know if there is anything I can do."

I had already begun to make red sauce from blended tomatoes, ground beef, and onions. I held my head over the Dutch oven and inhaled. "Red sauce is my aroma therapy," I said.

Sensing my unrest, Marissa hung out in the kitchen while Rodney fiddled around with kitchen utensils. Specifically, he was trying to skewer chunks of our burnt cheesy ciabatta bread at the end of a turkey baster. The spaghetti finished, and we ate together on the back porch before heading inside.

"I'll put him to bed tonight," offered Marissa. "Go for a walk or something."

Taking Marissa's advice, I suited up in a mask and gloves and walked to the nearby liquor store. Since I last visited, they've added even more protective measures. There were large planes of thick Plexiglas in front of each register, and the store was covered in signs that tactfully advised customers not to browse. I hurriedly grabbed a six pack of beer, a bottle of tequila, and a cold bottle of water for Marissa.

When I returned, Marissa and I hung out on the back porch. We both had the coronavirus on our minds.

"I read about the Spanish flu today," she said. "Did you know that they threw parades in big cities when they thought it was over, and that actually brought about the worst part of the outbreak?"

"That's terrible," I responded. "And did you see these protests happening? It's ridiculous. Can you imagine protesting a virus? These people! It's like if your house caught on fire, and you were to stubbornly sit on your couch and refuse to let the fire infringe on your freedom," I angrily shouted. "But it's worse! Because it's hurting the people around them! If only it was just their house burning down!"

The protests have me feeling discouraged, disappointed, and angry. There's even one scheduled for Madison. I don't know what's compelling people to protest a virus. It has nothing to do with personal freedom, for God's sake. Suck it up, and do your part in keeping the people around you safe.

I took a few deep breaths and calmed myself. "I'm worried I'm going to drive by the protest while it's going on and recognize somebody. Madison is not a very big town. I don't think I'd be able to look at person in the eye anymore."

Marissa and I relocated to the kitchen. In preparation of my grocery trip tomorrow, we cleaned out the fridge and cabinets and built a grocery list. She also baked a batch of peanut butter cookies. Together, we hung out in the kitchen, chatting, baking, and snacking on cookie dough. The first batch came out of the oven, and overcome by an impulse, I grabbed the bag of sugar and began dumping them on the cookies.

"WOAH. WHAT ARE YOU DOING," said Marissa, turning on her heels to stop me.

"I'm sorry," I said apologetically. "I just had an impulse. I feel very strongly that these cookies should be covered in sugar."

Marissa paused and bent down to study the cookie. "You know, the sugar is sticking pretty nice. And it makes the fork pattern look much prettier. OK do the rest of them. That was a good call."

I smiled and kept pouring sugar.

"It was risky!" she snapped again. "But a good call..."

We started another batch of bread, too, copying the recipe from Bruno's youtube video on homemade French bread. Spending the night in the kitchen hanging out and drinking beer put me in a good mood and gave me enough resolve to try again.

"Let's not put any bread on the grocery list. I'm banking on us figuring it out," I said. Marissa nodded.

"And if it doesn't work out, we always have speed bread," she said.

Thanks for stopping by this morning. I hope you have a good day today.