Thursday, September 17 2020

coral, our last meal, and birthday cheese

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Dear Journal,

This is the newest addition to our fish tank. Marissa finally pulled the trigger on a new coral, and it arrived here much sooner than she expected.

"I had to learn a lot about coral in a very short amount of time," she says. "I didn't think they would ship it so soon, but I'm glad it's here."

When I emerged from my office yesterday, she had the entire fish tank taken apart, giving it a thorough cleaning for the new homecoming. The new coral, just removed from the packaging, was sitting in a plastic bowl in an inch of water. I leaned in for a closer look.

"It kind of looks like a little mushroom or something," I said. "Definitely something I could see myself accidentally eating."

"Yeah, I know you use those bowls for feeding KRANG in the morning, just don't accidentally grab that one," warned Marissa.

"Oh good call," I replied. "Who knows what horrors would await if KRANG'S rascally genes were to mix with coral. He would be unstoppable."

If all goes according to plan, the coral will reproduce and cover the entire live rock. But for now, it's just a happy little mushroom growing out of the top.

And now as I'm writing this, I realize that we didn't yet agree on a name for the coral. Personally, I think we should just delegate all naming duties to Rodney. He's been on a real hot streak lately, and I like the names he comes up with: from his crane Hauncy, to his giant green dinosaur Flashla. I would like to see what he can come up with for our weird little alien mushroom coral.

"So if this works out," explained Marissa. "We can go ahead and get another cleaning shrimp. I think the tank is in much better shape."

"Ah, how are we dealing with... you know..." I replied.

"Oh, Stephane is coming back from the vet finally. He won't be red anymore," said Marissa.

I like the idea of reusing names for fish of the same species. It makes it a little less sad when they pass on. Stephane v1's life was brief and tragic, but his spirit will live on with Stephane v2.

Sip. Good morning, everyone! Happy Thursday. Grab a cup of coffee, and get ready to hit the work day. I'm feeling good today. I made a quick run to Mocha this morning to grab some supplementary coffee while we wait for our next mail order. The house is in good order today, and I'm feeling quite satisfied with all the cleaning I got done yesterday.

Wednesday chores are kind of a slog. First I clean the microwave and the stove. And if I can finish that, I go onto gutting the fridge, freezer, and the pantry. Since this is every week, most weeks I sort of "phone it in" for the freezer, just giving it a quick glance, or maybe checking a few expiration dates that are within easy to reach.

But yesterday, I had the impulse to give the freezer a real cleaning. I took everything out and set it on the counter: my five pound double bagged stash of frozen baker's yeast. A single frozen Hy-Vee chicken from 2019. Our eclectic collection of ice cube trays. Even Marissa's emergency Hershey bars hidden all the way in the back.

I'm not sure why, but Marissa likes to keep at least two Hershey bars in the back of the freezer at all times. It's quite a puzzle. I don't know where they come from, and I've never caught her in the act. But there always there, ready to answer the call for any dire chocolate emergencies we might have.

I also found two boxes of instant Zatarans meals in the back. I bought these back when Coronavirus first hit and we weren't sure how hard it would be to get food. The wheels started turning, and a few minutes later, I trudged down the basement stairs into Marissa's art studio with something behind my back.

"This is our last meal," I said cryptically.

"What?" said Marissa, looking up from her canvas. "What are you talking about?"

I held out a large ziploc bag in front of me. I had labeled the outside "LAST MEAL" with a black sharpie. Inside were the two boxes of Zatarans and the two emergency Hershey bars. Marissa snickered.

This year has made me realize how uncertain and unstable things can be. Who knows what we'll be doing six months from now. But now I can take solace that if things go really south and we're suddenly confronted with the end of the world, Marissa and I will have one more romantic dinner of Zatarans and Hershey's chocolate.

After getting our freezer in order, I moved onto the fridge. Wiped down the shelves, moved backups and duplicates toward the back, and turned all the labels out. And making Wisconsin proud, I took another pass at my well groomed cheese drawer. The other day, I bought a little pack of camambert cheese with crackers. I was planning on breaking it out last night as an evening snack, but some instructions on the box caught my eye. According to the box, the cheese should be left to ripen and soften until about a week before its expiration date when it reaches peak flavor and complexity.

"October six..." I muttered, holding the cheese under my arm and unlocking my phone with the other. I counted backwards a week. "September... twenty nine."

The camambert reaches its peak on September 29 - my birthday. I guess that couldn't have worked out any better.

birthday camambert

And speaking of my birthday, we had a close call yesterday. After lunch, seeing two padded envelopes on our front porch, I took a walk outside to grab the mail.

"Dude, I think your comic books are here," I said to Rodney, tearing the first envelope open. I reached inside, but one of the envelopes was not a comic book. It was a pack of Chicago Bears wrapping paper.

"YOU ARE LUCKY," said Marissa snatching the envelope out of my hand. "Lucky that it was just the wrapping paper. You would have been in big trouble if you saw your present."

That's how I got myself banned from opening mail for the next week. Thanks for stopping by today. Have a great Thursday, everyone.