Friday, August 13 2021

chicago, sleep walking, and the beetle cannibalism tax



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Dear Jounal,

Good morning, everybody. Grab a seat, it's journaling time.

Today has all the makings of a terrific Friday. I don't have a single meeting on the calendar. Marissa and I are getting a baby sitter tonight and checking out a local beer tasting. We're also heading into a football weekend, and I guess subconsciously that may have been why I poured this morning's coffee into my bright blue and orange Bears mug. There's a lot of things to look forward to, and that has me feeling good.

Sip. So how was the week? I've only been back at it since Wednesday, but I've been busy catching up with things at work. Meetings, emails, writing, and reading - I only popped out of my bedroom office a few times yesterday. Each time I made a trip downstairs, I had to carefully step around Rodney's construction project on the bottom landing.

"What are you building here, dude?" I asked.

Rodney, wearing nothing but a pair of Paw Patrol briefs, rose from his squat to explain. "This is Chicago," he said. "It's where the Blackhawks play."

"Oh, is that the United Center?" I clarified.

"Yeah," nodded Rodney. "The United Center. It's where the Bears play too."

I stifled the urge to factually correct him. Even if Rodney doesn't have the details down, we should just be grateful that the early Chicago sports indoctrination is taking root. His "United Center" did make an aesthetically pleasing design, symmetrical and level. I didn't mind stepping around it all morning.

chicago

Interesting design, questionable location

Late that day, I found Marissa laughing to herself in the dining room. "Our son just hurt himself in the dumbest way possible," she opened. Rodney was playing with Miles in the living room. From around the corner, Marissa heard a sharp thud, followed by vigorous tears. She found Rodney cradling his face, hiding a fresh cut between his nose and his upper lip.

"He was pretending to sleep walk," said Marissa.

"What?" I balked. "What do you mean?"

"You know - he was walking around with his eyes closed." She raised her arms and shuffled forward to demonstrate. "Then he bumped into the corner of the fireplace."

I'll admit, that's a silly way to hurt yourself even for Rodney's standards. Between his missing tooth and now the bloody cut across his lip, if Rodney still looks this banged up when he starts Kindergarten next month, we may have to field some uncomfortable questions about his home life.

Rodney is at a fun age, isn't he? Right now what I'm enjoying most is that he's finally old enough to carry on a real conversation. After work, the two of us went lazily roller-blading up and down the sidewalk. He was interested in what Marissa was selling on Facebook marketplace.

"We're supposed to wait for some lady who is buying a chair from Momma," I explained.

Rodney and I began to riff on the subject. "What if instead of a lady, it's a baby," I suggested. "And he comes stumbling out of the car with just a diaper on."

Rodney wrinkled his nose and laughed. "Yeah, or what if a squirrel comes out of the car," he said.

"Or an old man," I added. "Then the old man, the baby, and the squirrel all start fighting over the chair in our front yard."

We gave the old man, the baby, and the squirrel their own silly voices, and we were laughing so hard that I almost let Rodney trip on his roller blades.

In other news, lately we've been teasing Spidey for his haphazard burrow project. Yesterday while cleaning out his water bowl, I got a much better view of what we've been calling his Mount Crumpet. Seeing the whole ensemble in view, I couldn't help but admire it. The dirt he threw on top of his bark forms a gently sloping ramp up to where the corners meet the lid. Sure - his methods may appear unorthodox, but I can't deny that he's incrementally making the setup more and more cozy with each iteration. He's still got that random hole in the corner I don't understand.

mount-crumpet

Spidey's Mount Crumpet

Since the last debacle where we tried to handle him, I feel way more comfortable taking his lid off the enclosure. I practically had to pry Spidey out of his box, and that confounds any suspicion I had that he would make a break for it. Once a spider settles into an enclosure, the last thing in the world they want to do is run out of it into the scary unknown.

One shelf below the spiders, my worms and beetles are chewing through leftover vegetables and wriggling around in oatmeal. But I have to confess that the beetles are really starting to annoy me. With almost two whole months in a comfy enclosure, they have yet to produce any offspring. I read that darkling beetles can lay hundreds of eggs at a time, so what's the hold-up?

Out of frustration, I went digging around in the box last night. I flipped over the egg carton for a closer look. I watched a male beetle mount a female beetle, some PG-13 beetle stuff happened, then the female beetle sauntered over to the corner of the enclosure to deposit eggs. I watched two complete cycles of this, ruling out my "all dudes" theory.

I have to conclude that the beetles are just eating all the eggs. Maybe I have only two females and they can't lay enough eggs to offset the beetle cannibalism tax. Just to hedge my bets, I set aside two more worms into isolation - maybe I'll get lucky and add two more females into the mix.

I don't find the adult darkling beetles very affable. They fight. They're petty. They're selfish. They're horny. Maybe they wouldn't need to have so many eggs if they just learned to be content with fresh carrots and oats.

That's what I got today. Thanks for stopping by, and have a good Friday.