Friday, June 12 2020

driving, lunch in sparta, and tapeworms




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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Let me first apologize for missing the 9:30 AM publishing deadline, which has become the usual for weekdays. I nodded off in bed for a few minutes this morning as I usually do, but unexpectedly I was awoken from my sleepy puttering on Twitter by Marissa, pouring me a hot cup of coffee in bed.

“You? Brewed coffee?” I exclaimed. We have a running joke in our house that whenever Marissa brews coffee, it leads to some kind of disaster involving wet grounds and hot half brewed coffee bar running all over the floor.

“It turns out our coffee maker is… not that difficult to operate,” she said. I have to wonder if fixing our oven igniter gave her confidence. But what a treat to have coffee served to you without getting out of bed. I was pretty much obligated to finish the pot with her, spending the morning chatting, playing with the dogs, and trying to figure out the perfect comparison for what Miles sounds like when he sleeps.

“It’s reminds me of when you take your car in to the mechanic, and you try to mimic what your engine sounds like at a red light,” laughed Marissa. Right on cue, Miles stretched in his crib, and his chattering lips made a EEEK EEK EEK EEK EEK sound as a tremendous baby gas bubble escaped his nostrils.

Sip. How are you feeling this morning? Are you grateful it’s Friday? We were in the car pretty much all day yesterday. It’s funny how much driving can tire you out. Why do I feel so exhausted from sitting in a big comfortable chair and holding a steering wheel for a few hours? Yesterday, we met Mimi and Poppa in beautiful Sparta, Wisconsin for a quarantine style lunch at Culver’s. But before that, let me tell you about the disaster that was yesterday morning.

I foolishly deluded myself into thinking I could do all of the following before embarking on our 1.5 hour drive: shower, change and feed Rodney, bake two loaves of bread, put the dogs in their crates, do the dishes, clean the fridge, clean the pantry, and pack the car. As the morning hours waned away, I gave up on my idea of doing any kind of cleaning in the kitchen, but I managed to get through a loaf of beer bread and get Rodney ready. And shortly after Marissa came down the stairs, we had the car packed, the dogs taken care of, and we were ready to hit the road.

“OK, so we’re going to be late, but it’s not too bad. I think it still counts as a late lunch,” said Marissa.

“We have a problem,” I sighed. “The bread has fifteen more minutes left in the oven.”

Marissa, standing beside me in the kitchen, scratched her head. “You can’t just take it out early?”

“Not unless we want to eat it,” I laughed. “I could just turn the oven off and let it coast.”

“Could it catch on fire?” asked Marissa, concerned.

“I don’t know,” I laughed. “I’ve never done that before. I think it will work.

“Well I don’t want to leave the house all day with a hot loaf of bread in the oven,” said Marissa.

“OK, how about this,” I said. “I’ll take it out ten minutes early, then take the Dutch oven out and cover it. It should coast just fine.”

After standing around for five more minutes, we locked up and hit the road, leaving the house smelling like a fresh loaf of bread behind us. Some time later, we arrived in Sparta, picked up some food from the drive through, and cautiously found a spacious outdoor table. Mimi and Poppa joined us, and after miming some pretend distant hugs, we sat down and ate lunch. The wind was blowing wildly at first. We had trouble hearing the conversation, and we lost a few napkins into the road, but after a while everything quieted down. We chatted, laughed, reminisced, and caught up. We also got to take some pictures and exchange some gifts. It was wonderful seeing them.

“Dada - I have to pee,” said Rodney at the table. I gave Marissa a worried look. The Culver’s dining room was closed, and there wasn’t a gas station in walking distance. “What to we do?” I asked.

“Can he pee outside?” she asked. I cautiously scanned the near empty parking lot.

“OK,” I said rising to my feet. “We’ll go take a walk over by that tree by the empty building.” Rodney grabbed my hand and walked beside me.

“OK dude, this is a special circumstance. Think you can just take a leak here?” I asked.

“Sure!” said Rodney, speedily dropping his shorts and pull-ups to the ground. He squared his stance, and facing our family in plain view, he produced a magnificent high arcing yellow stream. He even gave our laughing family a thumbs up while committing the deed.

On the way home, I listened to a podcast episode about tapeworms, which I was only allowed to do because Marissa was sleeping. “I will literally vomit if I’m awake while you listen to that,” laughed Marissa. I think it was her loss - tape worms are fascinating, and I learned a handful of good fun facts. For fear of turning this into a tapeworm fact entry, I’ll just save them all for the next time you and I are hob-nobbing six feet away from each other at a party, dear reader.

Back at home, I finally got around to cleaning the kitchen, then threw together some pasta for dinner. Cooking around the lack of garlic and tomato paste in our scant pantry, I deviated from my usual pancietta red sauce recipe, using shallots, mushrooms, and reduced white wine. It was an interesting experiment - the sauce had a much cleaner profile. The bread from that morning, sadly, had gotten a little damp from cooling down in a steamy Dutch oven, but I was still able to put it to work by toasting it with some lemon herb butter and cheese.

Yesterday was a good day. Making the long drive out to Sparta was exhausting, but it was worth it to see family, and it’s nothing that a little sleep and a few pots of coffee can’t fix, right?

Thanks for stopping by this morning. I hope you have a great Friday.