Wednesday, November 24 2021

feeding the animals, greek food, and the turkey dice game

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Happy Wednesday. At the moment our house feels quiet. Rodney's bus driver Marissa enjoys a well-earned day off from the daily commute grind. Rodney shot out of bed an hour ago and optimistically leaned out into the hallway, hoping to add his own flair to my morning routine. I brought him a bowl of captain crunch and a glass of milk, and it appears that bought me enough time to write. We're hot on the heels of a Thanksgiving break, so let's get on with it. Let's get this journal off the presses at let the coffee flow.

Sip. As we're about to slip into the busy holiday season, how are you feeling? Shopping for Christmas presents in a supply shortage and traveling to visit family in a waning pandemic, I imagine some of you might feel like Minnie did while accompanying Marissa on an errand to the art shop - well-intentioned, but a little in over your head.

"That's her everything is fine face," said Marissa, looking at the picture from over my shoulder. "Scary store. Underground. Danger around every corner."

All things considered, we have a pretty easy Thanksgiving week. Today I have a handful of meetings and an engineer training session. Tomorrow, we're packing the car up and driving to my parents' place, and we'll return sometime on Friday. Marissa and I remembered that this is the first Thanksgiving in three years that we didn't have to worry about a turkey, and that alone really simplifies things.

For us, getting ready for Thanksgiving just means making sure the animals are fed. Ducky will get a last minute binge of mealworms and roaches before switching over to the fat reserve in her tail. The spiders got their own Thanksgiving feast, save Spiker and Venom who are in pre-molt. Leo pounced on a mealworm earlier this week and chowed it down to the stub in two sittings. Karta turned her nose up at a mealworm, but was happy to split a fat superworm with Glassy.

Spidey was complicated. I dangled a mealworm into his enclosure. He eagerly sprang from the mouth of his cave and pounced. He picked up the worm with his hairy pedipalps, but he didn't bite down. The next morning, I found the worm in the same spot - he had abandoned it. I shook the worm with the tongs, and Spidey came running out with the same charade. He pounced, picked it up, but saved his bite. His body language said I don't want to eat this, but I don't want it to go to waste.

Frustrated with Spidey's indecision, I fished a cockroach out of the bin and dangled it into his enclosure by its wings. Spidey recoiled in horror, slapping at it with his front legs and darting into his cave. By a fluke, the flailing cockroach at the end of the tongs scooped up the mealworm with his dangling legs. Before I dropped them back into their respective colonies, I took a moment to appreciate how lucky that mealworm was - spent the night with a hairy tarantula, survived a frantic encounter with a desperate cockroach, then dropped back into his home. I could imagine that worm has some good stories to tell the others. Not to mention, I'm sure the encounter was weird for Spidey. A magical flightless cockroach manifested in his home and carried off the worm he was saving for later.

In other news, we got takeout last night. Lately, on nights that we don't feel like cooking, Rodney and I take on the role of the family's food delivery drivers. Not only does this save on the bill, but the two of us also get our own evening adventure out of it.

Most of the good restaurants in town are on State street, a walking and biking exclusive road that juts out of the capitol square. It also happens to be the beating heart of the campus night life. Rodney and I arrived a little too early, so we went for a walk. We took in the clear night, the crisp winter air, and the energy of downtown Madison. We ducked into a miniature Target and bought some drinks. We wandered up and down the street until we found the small Greek restaurant where are food was waiting. They smiled and waved us out the door.

Back at home, we woke Marissa up from her couch nap to a lavish spread of Mediterranean food. We had chicken, lamb, pita, Shwarma, with lentil soup and tzatziki sauce. We ate wildly in silent awe of how every combination of food and sauce tasted distinctly amazing.

After dinner, Rodney introduced us to a new game they played at school. He rolled out a sheet of paper with twelve numbered turkeys. We each acquired our own colored highlighter. He instructed us to take turns rolling the dice, coloring a single feather on the corresponding numbered turkey.


"But wait, how do we get turkey number one?" asked Marissa quietly. I shrugged and we both laughed.

Isn't it such an adult impulse to clarify things? Even in a game led by the whims of a five year old, we still found ourselves asking questions to clear up some of the nuances. This just added to Rodney's small power trip. Feeling the rush from the temporary authority over his parents, he began to riff on his own rules. He gave each of us one of the dice. He told us all to switch colors in the middle of the game. In a subtle expression of growing boredom, I drew a sixth feather on one of the turkeys, then drew a bright blue line running from my nose down to my neck with my highlighter. Things kind of devolved from there.

At least the turkey dice game was on point with the theme of Thanksgiving. And speaking of which, this is the final entry until Monday. I'm taking some time off for the holidays. Be safe, eat a lot of food, and have a great Thanksgiving, everybody.