Tuesday, September 21 2021

napkin drawings, trying to kill marissa, and spideys triangle

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Happy Tuesday. To set the scene here, the house is quiet. Dogs, toddlers, and mothers are fast asleep, and right now my yammering on the dining room keyboard is the loudest thing in the house, rivaled only by the hum of the air conditioner.

We're slowly putting the house back together after having Poppa Wilke this weekend, but we're in no hurry. I even left the temporary air mattress blown up in Rodney's room for an extra night. For a kid who sleeps with a hundred stuffed animals, I'm sure it was a real treat to let the paw patrol and company spill out onto an extra bed for a change.

This week is just about re-establishing a rhythm. Slowly chipping away at chores and finding the groove. Oh, and drinking a lot of coffee too.

Sip. I can already tell that the silly napkin drawing in Rodney's lunch is turning into a family tradition. Marissa and I take turns, and we each have some early hits. For me, it was my dancing banana. Rodney liked it so much that he showed his friend at school, and the two of them laughed all of lunch about it. On the stage of lunchtime napkin drawings, getting Rodney to laugh and show his friend compares to a standing ovation. But we've had some real duds too. Marissa once drew a Corgi sitting in a box of pizza. Rodney didn't even know what it was, and just politely nodded when she explained it.

Or today's drawing - a riff on Rodney's "dinosaur keeper" theme. I was in a hurry when I made this. I was set on making a lego character, but I couldn't quite get the body right. The cartoonish chicken-like dinosaur and the squiggly barbed wire fence added afterwards didn't really help the theme either. This one is definitely going to be another dud.


"But Dada, what was that?" asked Marissa, imitating Rodney.

It's good to be here. Yesterday was sort of a bummer. Marissa came down with an achy cold. She held it off during the busy family weekend, then crashed on Sunday night. The only thing she did yesterday was driving herself to get a COVID test.

"Did you know it's do-it-yourself now?" she laughed. "They just hand you the Q-tip and say 'insert it until you feel resistance'."

"Insert this until you feel a small jab in your brain," I echoed.

She'll probably get the results back today or tomorrow, but in the meantime, the playbook is the same. Naps. Water. Snuggles. Bob's Burgers reruns.

Since Marissa was out of commission, I filled in and completed my first after school pick-up. Rodney came bouncing out of the school building, elbow bumped his teacher, and met me at the gate. He had dark, dirty circles around his eyes.

"Did you play outside today?" I laughed. "You're all dirty."

"I'm not dirty," protested Rodney. "I cleaned myself like a cat." Rodney gave his palm a slow lick and rubbed it on his face, making the dirt circle on his eye wider. I couldn't help but laugh.

Rodney and I went to the grocery store. We made soup for dinner. We watched the Packers and Lions game until the Packers started to run away with the lead in the fourth quarter. Marissa drifted down into the studio and called me down a minute later.

"We are even for that exacto knife thing," said Marissa.

A few months ago while walking through the basement, I stepped on an exacto knife that was left on the floor in her studio. Since then, I've malevolently held the incident over her head as the day she tried to kill me.

"Just look in this direction," she said, pointing my head toward her paint supplies. "Do you notice anything dangerous?"

I stared blankly. I could feel what she was talking about, but it just wasn't leaping to my attention.

"Look at my paints," she said more directly. That's when I noticed it - the steak knife wedged blade side up, still caked with pizza sauce and dried cheese.


"Are you trying to kill me?" laughed Marissa.

I can explain. One night I was helping myself to a slice of pizza in the basement. I wanted to put the knife in a place where the dogs couldn't reach it, and the paint caddy was sitting right beside the couch. I decided to put the knife blade side up so that I wouldn't get cheese or sauce on her things. I just lacked the follow through.

"Falling into a cheese covered steak knife - now that would have been a crazy way to go," I laughed.

In other news, I've learned some interesting quirks about Spidey's species, the Tlitocatl verdezi. I found a field book describing their "sexual dimorphism", meaning physical attributes that make males visually distinct from females. The book said that females develop a sharp triangle on their carapace just behind their eyes. Sometimes females don't show the triangle, but males never do.

So is Spidey a Miss Spidey? I had never thought of Spidey as a female before. Whether it's wishful thinking or bad lighting, I can kind of see the faint outline of a triangle on Spidey's carapace just behind his eyes. We have no choice but to wait for another molt, when his colors get darker and his body matures.


Do you see a dark triangle?

Spidey never stops surprising me. I don't even know how big he's going to get. I read figures on the Internet anywhere between three to six inches. But if Spidey is really a lady, that means she could be in the family for up to fifteen years.

That's what I got today. Have a great Tuesday, everyone.