Tuesday, January 4 2022

donuts, pretend food, and wainscoting

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, my friends of the blog. It's Tuesday. There's frost on the windows and snow on the ground. It's another quiet winter morning on the homestead, and the only sound that accompanies me writing at the keyboard is the dribbling of the fish tank behind me. The quietness feels inviting, and I think it's time to write.

Sip. Oh, that's good. At last, our regular brand of coffee. Marissa and I still order our coffee from a place in Rockford, but coffee by mail is a dangerous gamble. Sometimes the four pound box doesn't arrive at our doorstep in time for the next morning, and I have to buy temporary bags from Hy-Vee to hold us over. These are the darkest coffee drinking days. This package arrived in the nick of time last night. I sleepily cut the package tape and neatly arranged the bags of coffee in our wooden cubbie. The electric blade grinder whirred, and I sighed with relief catching the first familiar whiff of Rockford roast in the air. Coffee is good, but your favorite coffee is always the best.

Now that I'm finally armed with my favorite coffee, it's very good to be here. We'll kick things off with a workout update. Marissa and I have been exercising under Greg's guidance for two whole days, and I'm pleased to report that I feel like hell (in the best way possible). Each time I shift in my chair, I discover a new muscle radiating with its own tiny universe of soreness. It's the type of soreness that burns when you stretch it, but at the same time it sadistically makes you want to keep stretching in that direction.

Yesterday, seeing our workout was only thirteen minutes, Marissa and I naively expected a lighter day. After all, how much exercise can you accomplish in thirteen minutes? It turns out a lot. Max speed bursts on the stationary bike, lunges, and planks wrung sweat out of my body, and the thirteen minute workout left me lying in a wet puddle on my bedroom floor like a scared, newborn foal.

Leading up to this program, Marissa and I started this running joke where we rhetorically propose ridiculous goals to Greg with a whiny voice. Greeeeeeeeeg, I want to lift a bag of water softener salt with just my abs, or Greeeeeeg, I want to look like a playable character from Streets of Rage - you get the idea. But now that the harsh reality of this exercise program has set in, we've taken the joke in a darker direction. Greeeeeeeg, my body is radiating with pain. Greeeeeeeg, I'm a broken shell of a human being.

In other news, our Internet was down yesterday morning, so I wasn't able to show you more photographic evidence from our relaxing new years. We're going to change our tune from griping about my new lifestyle of penitent exercise to fondly remembering the indulgences that led me there. We made donuts on new year's day.


These are oliebollen, Dutch donut puffs. They're an excellent choice for New Year's Day, because no matter how much partying you did the night before you could probably still handle microwaving some milk, cracking an egg, ripping open a yeast packet, and slopping it all together in a bowl. The best part is you can go back to sleep for a whole hour while you wait for the dough to rise. The creamy batter balloons into a fluffy, goopy dough that you can scoop out with a pair of spoons and drop into a little pot of oil.


The night before on New Year's Eve, Rodney accompanied me while lighting the grill. You'd think a five year old boy would be eager to help his dad light something on fire, but Rodney was more interested in setting his dinosaur Baby Shellvin up with some outdoor seating so he could enjoy a cardboard steak from the Blue's Clues kitchen.


With clumsy sleight of hand, Rodney cracked open the door and flung the steak into the kitchen like a frisbee. "Dada, look! He finished it all!" he said in feigned surprise.

Watching Miles and Rodney explore the Blue's Clues kitchen set makes me think of my sister Kelly, who complained to me that kids never use pretend food for what it's meant to simulate. You'll almost never see them arrange the plastic plates and utensils, cook a cardboard omelette on the pretend stove, or make paninis with plastic bread. Kelly keenly observed that to kids, everything in the pretend kitchen makes a better projectile. They will throw the plates like frisbees, roll the plastic fruit under furniture, and stuff all the fresh panini ingredients into the floor vents. What place does an orderly kitchen have in the anarchy of a child's imagination?

In other news, Marissa is doing some work on our dining room. She's applying "wainscoting" to the walls. For my fellow simpletons, I learned that means using a nail gun to attach pieces of wood to the wall to form an aesthetically pleasing pattern.


It also means that the air compressor and the nail gun were in full operation. The roar of the compressor and the exploding pop of the nail gun sent the dogs upstairs in fear. Minnie pawed at my office chair until I invited her to sit in my lap. I had to leave to get groceries, so I handed a scared Minnie off to Rodney in his bedroom.

"Can you hang out with her dude?" I asked, leaning into his room. Rodney gave a thumbs up, and Minnie bounded over a pile of legos and leapt into his bed for refuge.

"We just hung out," said Rodney. "She's my girl. She walked around in my room, and she didn't even poop in it."

Hey, have a great Tuesday everyone.