Sunday, June 14 2020

a new ball, paella, and beach




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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! I hope this Sunday is treating you well, and that you get one last thorough day of rest before going back to work tomorrow. I’m having a wonderful morning so far. Not only is our coffee filling me with all kinds of energy today, but I’ve also successfully waited out Rodney’s morning Blippi binge. A moment ago, he grew tired of watching Blippi on the living room TV and relocated himself to the dining room for some quiet computer games. So here’s to having a quiet living room to myself.

Sip. Well I’m happy to report that I finally feel caught up in the chores department. Yesterday, after publishing my morning entry, I affixed my cleaning apron and became a one man housework hurricane, all while roasting some Brussels sprouts and finishing up a fresh loaf of bread. This batch had a few generous scoops of grapeseed oil mixed into the dough, which did amazing things for the texture and the flavor.

“Ooh, look at you,” said Marissa passing through the kitchen. “This is fancy.”

I had figured out how to use painter’s tape along the top of the loaf pan as sort of a flour stencil. After letting the loaf cool down, I made some grilled cheese sandwiches, and we enjoyed lunch together on the back porch.

After an afternoon nap, Rodney and I sneaked passed a sleeping Marissa and Miles to leave for Hy-Vee. But on the way, we were diverted off the main road by police cars.

“Uh oh, dude. I think this intersection is closed down,” I said, craning my neck to see over the parked cop cars. “I don’t know how to get around this, we might be a little lost.”

“We’re lost?!” exclaimed Rodney.

“Just a little bit lost,” I laughed, trying to ease his sudden worry. We burned up twenty minutes of shopping time trying to find a detour. After we had parked, I flicked through my Twitter feed to see what all the mess was about.

“Ah,” I said to Rodney from the front seat. “It’s protesters. Too bad we didn’t get to see any of it up close - we were turned away a block before. I see why that picked that intersection, that was really hard to get around.”

Rodney and I picked up groceries. Circling the frozen aisle, Rodney fixed his gaze on a large wire rack filled with colorful inflatable balls.

“Dada! Dada!” Rodney said, his eyes bulging wide above his tiny face mask. As soon as he had my attention, he took a more diplomatic tone.

“Dada, I get a red ball? Zig Zig popped my ball.” He folded his arms, waiting for a reply.

“That’s true,” I said. “Ziggy popped your old one. That was a real bummer. I’ll make a deal with you.”

Rodney raised his eyebrows.

“You can pick out one ball, but no chocolate egg,” I continued.

“But a marshmallow later? Later?” asked Rodney, amending the conditions.

“Sure,” I sighed. “You can have a marshmallow. That’s fair.

After paying for our groceries and heading home, I quickly started on dinner. I made a shrimp paella yesterday.

“I’ve never had paella,” said Marissa.

“Neither have I,” I replied, looking up from chopping an onion. “I’ve never made it, and I don’t think I’ve ever had it.”

And from what I know about paella, it’s a fun meal to throw together. On a tip from Chef John, I boosted the flavor on the store-bought chicken stock by simmering some shrimp shells. The rest of the dish sort of felt like a Spanish pilaf - sausage, vegetables, and spices in first, followed by a cup of rice, then the stock. Lastly, I arranged a pound of shrimp on top of the dish before leaving it in the oven to cook.

“It’s spicy,” whined Rodney as we ate on the back porch. His sippie cup of milk was already slurped clean.

“It’s not that spicy,” I replied curtly. “Just eat it, dude. Spicy food is good for your tummy.”

“What do you think,” said Marissa, “you’re just going to eat crappy bars and mac ‘n cheese your whole life?”

“Oh I bet he’d like that,” I added. “Dude, you gotta keep your stomach on your toes.” Marissa looked at me, wrinkling her nose with a little laugh as Rodney dug his fork back into his paella.

“So I did a terrible job shopping,” I said with a smirk to Marissa. “I… didn’t get anything for our anniversary tomorrow. I think I was really thrown off finding a way around the protest.”

“Oh it’s OK,” said Marissa.

“No steak and champagne, but… you can get really excited about…” I rolled my fingers on the edge of the table, making a drum roll.

“Leftover paella and beeeeeer!” I raised my hands over my head in feigned enthusiasm.

“That sounds pretty good too,” said Marissa.

After Rodney had finished his dinner, he ran inside to grab his new ball. “Oh Dada,” said Marissa. “We have to show you a new game we made up while I was mowing the lawn. Rodney, tell dada what it’s called.”

“BEACH!” shouted Rodney.

“Beach?” I echoed.

BEACH” he yelled, kicking his bare feet to emphasize his point.

“OK, take me through it, kids,” I said squaring my stance in the grass. “How do you play beach?”

Rodney raised his hand to his mouth. “BEACH!” he shouted.

“BEACH!” Marissa shouted. Both turned toward me.

“… BEACH!” I yelled. Rodney threw the ball to Marissa, and she bumped it in my direction.

“So it’s just catch - or volleyball,” I laughed, scooping the ball up from under the lawn chair. “Only you yell… beach

“BEACH!” yelled Rodney.

“BEACH!” yelled Marissa.

“BEACHHHHHHH,” I yelled hitting it to Rodney.

As I put Rodney to bed, the three of us continued to shout BEACH throughout the house, and I even heard a few more from Rodney’s darkened room later that evening. Marissa and I shared a beer on the porch and chatted.

“It feels like we packed a lot in six years of marriage,” I laughed. “And six years doesn’t even sound like that much time. We’re not even close to, say, Jean Valjean’s prison sentence.”

Marissa laughed. “Prison sentence?” she asked, pretending to get angry.

“Just time wise,” I said, pretending to nervously back peddle. “You know, just finding something to compare it to.”

Marissa smiled. “Best six years of my life.”

“Me too,” I said.

Marissa, thanks for being married to me. I’m lucky to have found you, and it has been so fulfilling learning to love you better and growing a family together. I love you.

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Thanks for stopping by this morning. Have a great Sunday.