Saturday, May 16 2020

coffee upgrades, dressing like spider-man, and the worst pizza ever




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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. I hope by the time you’ve read this, you’ve caught up on sleep for the week and had several cups of fresh brewed coffee before even thinking of doing anything productive.

Speaking of coffee, the Recker family coffee bar has been upgraded after a yesterday’s amazon haul. We ordered a new carafe in the mail, allowing me to brew two pots in the morning and keep the surplus in something other than some crummy, paint chipped Target brand coffee travelers.

“It looks so fancy,” marveled Marissa as I took the glossy black carafe out of the bubble wrap. “It’s like what they set out at the table at fancy breakfast places.”

The carafe was a smash hit, but the two replacement coffee travelers we ordered are going to be immediate returns. Failing to read the description carefully, I didn’t see that these things carried 24 ounces of coffee.

“Can you imagine how annoying we’d be if we used these in public?” I laughed. “Just a sec - let me get a quick sip of coffee first…”

Marissa chuckled as I raised the gargantuan black tube to my mouth.

“Eh,” she sighed. “One for two - that’s not bad. And it’s not like we’ll be really going out any time soon - we can do without good coffee travelers for a while.”

Sip. Yesterday was a great day. I peeked into Rodney’s room in the morning, and he was holding his black Spider-Man costume - the one he reluctantly wore this past Halloween.

“Dada, I wear my Spider-Man costume today,” he muttered.

“Sure dude,” I replied, taking a seat next to him at the foot of his bed. “Only if I can wear mine too.”

I changed right out of my bath robe and into my full sized Spider-Man suit. Marissa rolled her eyes as I nonchalantly crossed the living room.

“So are we wearing that all day?” she asked, topping off her coffee.

“Well Rodney was supposed to wear his too, but he chickened out,” I said glaring at Rodney. Rodney, still holding his suit by the sleeve, gave it a tussle out of protest. “I’ll wear it until story time.”

Still dressed as the fearless web slinger, I spent the morning catching up on dishes, setting out breakfast, and cleaning up the kitchen. I also gave our bewildered neighbors a good laugh while I was taking out the garbage.

“Places everyone,” I said clapping. “It’s almost story time, and I have a big intro planned.”

With Rodney and Marissa on the couch, I crawled beneath my desk, reaching up to start the Zoom session. I quickly scampered behind Marissa’s curtained closet. I leapt onto the bed and flashed a pose.

“Uncle Alex is dressed like Spider-Man!” I heard from the computer speaker. I leapt off the bed and over Miles’ empty crib, losing my footing on the slick wood floor, but rolling to a smooth recovery.

“Hey uncle Alex, we’re having some audio issues,” said Kelly through the computer.

“Oh no problem,” I said through my thin mask. “I can do it again.”

After story time, I changed out of my costume and joined Rodney outside. The two of us played baseball, rode scooters, and threw down some more chalk walk art.

“Is that Conan O’Brien?” asked Marissa, squinting down at our mural.

“Actually, that’s Rodney. But Rodney asked that I use orange,” I replied.

“And Momma look,” said Rodney tugging at her shirt. “It’s baby Miles!” Rodney pointed down to my doodle of a crying, swaddled baby - complete with squiggly stench lines emanating from his diaper. Rodney pretended to cry with his hands by his eyes.

As dinner approached, I started on the pizza dough in the kitchen. Miles was in a fussy mood, so I took a shift, cradling him in one arm while I assembled the dough with the other. There were plenty of things to amuse him in the kitchen - whether he was staring up at the shiny pans hanging from the ceiling, or I was dangling a plastic ring of measuring cups in front of him.

Marissa, feeling refreshed from a power nap, took Miles, and Rodney joined me in the kitchen just in time to make the sauce. I blended a can of San Marzano tomatoes, adding salt and a few glugs of balsamic vinegar.

“Perfect,” I said smacking my lips, offering Rodney a sample off a spoon. “Let’s pour it into a container.” I turned my back to fetch a container out of our Tupperware drawer. The sound of a loud crack and clatter made me stop in my tracks.

“Ope,” said Rodney quietly. “Dada I spilled.” Rodney, who was following me with the blender, let it slip out of his hand, blended tomato juice splattered on the floor and walls.

“Everything OK in there?” hollered Marissa from the living room.

“Yeah, we’re good,” I shouted back. “Our dining room looks like the beginning of a Glad commercial, but we’ll take care of it.”

“Puppies, clean it up!” yelled Rodney, pointing to the puddle.

Rodney and I sponged up the mess with a wad of paper towels, and the dogs naturally took care of the detail cleaning. “See dude,” I said. “It’s no big deal. And we still have enough to make the pizzas.”

Unrelated to the great Friday tomato sauce disaster, the pizza came out terrible. The bottoms were burnt, the cheese failed to melt, and the sauce remained cooled, pooling up with the olive oil. Puzzled at the outcome, I paced around the grill, holding my hand down by the pizza stone.

“I think I’m going to stop using the pizza stone on the grill - I don’t think it works,” I said.

“Why is that?” asked Marissa. “I think they look OK.”

The stone blocks the heat, and there’s a cold spot right above. I think that’s why the cheese didn’t melt. Look at this -“. I pulled apart a slice to demonstrate. “The sauce is still cold, and you can literally see the gradient of cooked dough and uncooked dough.”

I broke into a bit, pretending I was a flop sweat contestant on Hell’s Kitchen. “Yes chef! This is my family’s recipe for medium rare puffy top, burnt bottom grilled pizza. The sauce is cold and refreshing.”

“HOW MUCH SMOKE IS IN THE CHEESE?” shouted Marissa in her best Gordon Ramsay impression.

“Bbbb-b-but chef, you asked for something smoky. I thought you wanted something smoky,” I said, feigning a cry.

We put Rodney to bed, and Marissa and I spent some time on the back porch. “This may have been the worst pizza ever,” I remarked, “but at least the grill is still lit, and we got a nice fire out of it.”

Thanks for stopping by this morning. Have a great Saturday, everyone.