Monday, June 7 2021

errands, dinosaur bones, and cool spiders

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Happy Monday. I write "happy Monday" every week, but this morning if you could hear me saying those words you would hear extra sarcasm. It's hard to be enthusiastic about exchanging a weekend with beer, family, and sunshine for a work week of ticket-duty, on-call, and outage fallout. We've got a busy week ahead of us. I go on-call at 11 AM this morning. Friday's incident left our team with lots of clean-up and paper work. This morning, I'm going through the motions. My morning routine proceeded like a blithe out-of-body experience. I think I'm subconsciously stretching out the final minutes of quiet before I have to plunge into work. There's never been a better day to live out the words fake it 'til you make it, or maybe today's version is fake it 'til you feel like it.

Sip. It's not time to start work yet. Before I get to any of that, I have exactly 34 minutes to tell you about all the fun we had yesterday. It was a big day for errands, and going to places like Target and Home Depot are already feel normal again. It takes a lot of momentum to leave our house. The dogs have to go outside and head upstairs into their respective crates. Miles needs a full change, and he needs to be fastened into his car seat. Rodney sits by the door waiting for confirmation that he has his left and right shoes on the correct feet. But after completing the long, tedious checklist of prerequisites to leave the house, running errands becomes fun again. Who doesn't love wandering around in a air-conditioned store with a cup of coffee in hand.


Our first stop was Target. We had to buy Rodney a new pair of shoes to replace the crocs that Minnie chewed through. Marissa sat him on the floor, dropping a pair of flip-flops, strappy sandals, and water shoes in his lap. I added a fourth pair to the pile - a tall pair of leather cowboy boots just to confuse him. Rodney picked them up and gave me a goofy look.

"What's wrong with those?" I said, pretending to be sincerely interested in them. "They would make you look like a cowboy, it would be awesome."

"I don't want to be a cowboy," said Rodney quietly.


We needed a new ottoman for the living room too. Our living room ottoman sees a lot of action, but the wide pee stain from Minnie was the coup de grâce that finally demanded a replacement.

Our next stop was Home Depot. We had a whole outdoor planter to fill with dirt, and we'd also pick up a big haul of herbs and flowers to grow this summer. We had terrible luck last year, so our bounce-back strategy is to go for more quantity from fewer plants. This year, we went all in on basil and cherry tomatoes. "It's the caprese summer," said Marissa.

It started to get really hot in the afternoon. Heat radiated off the blacktop like a solar cooker. Flocks of sweaty, tired weekend warriors wandered the cramped aisles. Rodney sat on our wide, flat rolling cart with his plastic grabber claw holstered in his t-shirt. Marissa brought the cart alongside a pallet of dirt and began to load the bags up. With the hard part over, now we could enjoy picking out flowers and plants.


Back at home, Rodney and I would join Marissa outside while she filled the planters with dirt, relocated the herbs and flowers, and mowed the lawn. Rodney and I helped in our own way. I followed his lead, and we both found a dry, craggly spot in the grass to look for dinosaur bones.

We scarfed down Portillo's for dinner and cleaned the house before bedtime. After the kids went to bed, I caught up on chores and made a loaf of bread. Just before our hard cut for the evening, I heard Marissa's panicked voice calling out from the basement.

"Can you come look at this spider?" she yelled. The cry for help came moments after I slithered under a blanket on the couch with a beer. I sighed, getting back up on my feet.

"Look at this thing," she said, pointing to the wall. A large, intimidating spider blinked back at us. I ran upstairs to get a plastic catch cup and a thin envelope. The spider assumed the attack pose, lifting its front legs up in the air. We shuddered.

Given the spiders size and eerie tan color, we decided to save it until we could identify it. Could it have been a brown recluse? How often do those things bite, and what's the worse that could happen?

It turns out I didn't have all the facts with brown recluses. The maps vary, but most of them say finding them in Wisconsin is rare. Plus, the spider we found was way too big to be a recluse. The color seemed right, but it was about three times the size and it lacked the distinct dark violin shape on the back. I think what we had here was just a big, angry house spider.

Once the spider had a chance to calm down, we took some pictures. We decided it wasn't dangerous, but I kept him in the cup overnight so we could show Rodney the next day. Marissa tells me that Rodney gave her special instructions to let him know if we ever find (1) cool spiders or (2) dinosaur bones. The boss is going to be very happy with us.


Remember that pee stained ottoman? We plan on taking it to the dump later this week, but in the meantime we just set it along the wall on the deck outside. Ziggy, seeing the new piece of furniture, seemed to think we were donating it to the dogs. She claimed the cushy outdoor seat like a queen to a throne.


How regal, Ziggy. Too bad your new throne bears a hidden pee stain from your sister. Ziggy, you act like you have it all figured out. You puff your chest out and give everyone in the backyard judgemental eyes just because you're sitting a little higher than the rest of the pack. But you sit on a throne of pee - well-deserved for our chump of the week.

Thanks for stopping by. Happy Monday, everyone.