Sunday, July 5 2020

swatches, steak, the s-word, and fireworks

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! I hope you had a wonderful holiday last night. It's a quiet morning here on the homestead. Around here, the big news is this new dinosaur themed dog they've added to the Paw Patrol cast, and Rodney is so engrossed that he can't even muster the energy to come bother me while I write.

As we put the house away, Marissa and I are slugging a pitcher of fresh coffee. She's hard at work on these color swatches she's adding to the learning resources on her website. All weekend, she's been labeling and photographing single fades on circular sheets of paper, then organizing them on PDF files.

"So who is this for exactly?" I asked as I stared into the screen.

"So these inks are actually just ink refills," explained Marissa. "It's easy to see what the color will look like as a marker, but it's hard to predict what it will look like in alcohol. Some colors change, some of them separate." I took a sip of coffee and shifted in my chair, listening.

"Like this one," said Marissa. "The website says it's blue, but when it separates on the paper it turns completely purple."

Labeling. Uploading. Cropping. Pasting. These swatches are a labor of love.

Sip. Yesterday, after doing our best to ramp up for the morning, libations from the night before got the best of us, and we crashed on the couch.

"I suddenly feel like I was hit by a train," I griped, trying to massage the throbbing migraine away. I looked at the clock and whimpered. "What are we even doing for lunch?"

"McDonald's," sighed Marissa. "Uber Eats. Please." My eyes widened in amazement.

"That's the best idea you've ever had," I exclaimed. Marissa smiled and turned on a movie for Rodney.

"This will buy us at least an hour or two," said Marissa sinking further into the couch.

After a little bit of McDonald's therapy on the couch, we felt the energy to get dressed and take on a more active Fourth of July. I put Rodney in an outfit and he played outside while Marissa brushed the dogs on the porch. I returned from Hy-Vee with a small grocery pick-up and got to work on our Fourth of July dinner.

On regular days, I don't have a strong sense of patriotism. But if there was one thing that could get me to feel like a gun-toting, red blooded, high cholesterol American, it's grilling out on fourth of July. Yesterday, I went with a pair of New York strip steaks. There's something so pure about a pair of steaks seasoned with just salt and pepper sizzling over charcoal, isn't there?

I left the steaks simple, but I had plenty of fun with the sides. I tossed a bowl of yukon gold potatoes in olive oil, lemon juice, and a fist full of fresh rosemary from our herb garden. They would roast comfortably in the oven for forty five minutes, and while the steaks rested, I roasted some bell peppers on the grill. It was an exciting spread of food, to say the least.

fourth of july feast

Two steaks. One for us, and one for the birthday girl, 'Murica.

Rodney must have had a lot on his mind that dinner. Immediately after we had started eating, he spawned some discussion about our fish tank.

"Hey, how's my shrimpy friend doing?" asked Rodney. Marissa nervously glanced in my direction. I anxiously swallowed a thick piece of gristle.

"Oh, Bruno? He's still at the shrimp hospital, dude," I replied. "The doctor said he needs lots of time there to get better." Even with so much steak and potatoes on my plate, the lies tasted bitter as they rolled off my tongue.

"At the doctor?" Rodney shot back. "AGAIN!" Rodney sat up in his chair, clenching his flimsy plastic fork in his fist. "Aww, man. This SUCKS."

Marissa cracked a smile. I chortled with a mouth of full of steak and wine. "What did you say?" I asked.

"THIS SUCKS," repeated Rodney.

"Alright, cool it on the profanity," I said interrupting. "Don't worry, dude, at least we still have the clown fish."

That wasn't the first time Rodney dropped the s-bomb. He's muttered it a few times during minor annoyances, like when a YouTube video stuck buffering. But the added punch was new. There was another time when Rodney broke our 'no ink on the face' rule.

"Rod, what did we tell you," I asked sternly. Rodney's face was speckled with dark blue ink from a pen, and he turned it away in shame.

"Hey - no pen on the face. Find another way to pretend you're a super hero," I scolded.

Rodney sauntered away, and just as he was leaving the living room, that little phrase slithered out of his mouth.

"This sucks.," he whispered.

That triggered a much bigger confrontation. The once adorable slip of the tongue was banned from his vocabulary until he earns it back.

"No saying that word until you learn respect," I scolded.

"Yes, dada," said Rodney sheepishly. He gave me a reluctant hug, and with sad little steps steps, he shuffled back into the living room.

"Well that sucks," said Marissa quietly.

After getting Rodney to bed, Marissa and I made our way to the back porch. Marissa made her way around the yard watering the plants, and I followed her for the conversation. Fireworks cracked in the distance.

"How is Jojo doing?" asked Marissa.

"Oh she's fine," I said. "She's still in the tub, but she's not shaking anymore."

Another firework was heard, much louder and closer. The red glare was bright enough to drown out the pale light from the unsightly billboard that overlooks our yard. More fireworks followed.

"Hey," said Marissa. "Can I get Rodney? He's probably still up, right? Let's set him up out here with a snack."

It was a lovely idea. We had a great opportunity to instill some good fourth of July memories. And after a day of dealing with the fallout of scandalous new swear words, I'm sure he'd appreciate ending things on a high note with fireworks and a snack.

Marissa returned ten minutes later. She shook her head at me passing the kitchen window.

"Where is he?" I asked.

"He didn't want to come down," said Marissa laughing. "He said he was too tired."

"Huh - that was unexpected," I laughed.

"He picked his head up," said Marissa laughing. "I asked 'want to hang outside and look at the fireworks and have a snack?' And he just said 'nope'."

"NOPE!" I yelled. "Man what a power move. I thought we would have had him."

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a great day, everyone.