Monday, February 14 2022

rodney stories, kartas enclosure, and ollies championship

page banner

Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Monday. Hope you're staying warm and motivated enough to get through the (hopefully) final dwindling months of winter. If winter is getting you down, it might time to look to some other distractions.

For instance, you can pick a space in your house that you're unhappy with and clean it. Take everything out, throw out the things you don't want anymore, and put everything away again differently. We did this to Rodney's room over the weekend, but not because we planned on it. Things just got so bad, it sort of forced our hand.

To pass the time while we sorted toys, picked up broken crayons, and snuck scribbled drawings into the garbage can, Marissa and I lightly roasted Rodney for the state of his room.

"Hey dada, I thought you said we don't get hurricanes in Wisconsin," snickered Marissa. "How do you explain all this?"

"Well maybe it was a tornado," I chimed in. "Dude, how do you think a tornado made its way through your room?"


"Stop teasing me," said Rodney curtly. Whether it was because he didn't appreciate poking fun at the state of his room, or simply because Rodney is still afraid of tornados, we took the hint and eased up on the humor at his expense.

Before I get another cup of coffee, I'll throw out another free Rodney story. We were driving back from Hy-Vee with a car packed with groceries. I had the stereo turned down so we could sit in contemplative silence listening to the rumble of the road. Suddenly, Rodney shot out a question from the back seat.

"Why doesn't momma have her own room?" he asked. "Why... do you and momma share one room?"

I nodded, acknowledging the poignant question. "Me and momma are married," I answered. "That's just something you do when you get married. You share a bedroom."

A few more minutes of silence passed. Stopped at a red light before the turn into our neighborhood, Rodney threw out an observation.

"I think I know who I want to marry," said Rodney breaking the silence. I peered at him through the rear view mirrow, trying to down-play my interest.

"I want to marry Michael Jordan - so I can be good at basketball," said Rodney completing his thought.

Sip. Happy Monday, and happy Valentine's day, if that's your thing. We ourselves don't have any plans to surprise each other with gifts or go out to a fancy dinner. "Why don't we just make a cake, and then eat it after the kids go to bed," suggested Marissa. But honestly, we ate so much good food this weekend, adding a cake to the mix just feels like too much. We'll see though, I've learned to never completely count out the possibility of eating cake.

Our long, relaxing weekend began on Friday. I slept in through the morning, then we took Miles downtown for lunch.


Miles beamed, proudly staggering up the parking lot incline on his wobbly toddler legs. But his good mood endured for as long as our short walk to the pizza restaurant did. Constrained to a borrowed high chair, he filled our secluded top floor window facing booth with screeches and whimpers. He slapped warm cheese curds aside. He defiantly batted away the toys we brought from home.

"Why is this so hard right now?" I pleaded. "You'd think just taking one kid would be easier than both of them."

"Rodney entertains him," said Marissa. "Look at him, he's bored with us. He has way more fun with his brother."

We finished our lunch, making our way back to the car in a hurry so we could pick up Rodney from school. The rest of Friday was a blur, and we didn't have another quiet moment until the evening. Getting ready for Ollie's championship agility run, Marissa busied herself making cookies. I was fully in hobby mode, setting up a new tarantula enclosure for Karta, our Mexican Red Knee.

The truth is Karta didn't urgently need a bigger enclosure. I just find the activity soothing, and I'll look for any excuse to do it. I carefully sifted reptile sand with fresh soil until it had the perfect amount of grittiness. Being a desert spider, Karta hates it when the water bowl overflows and runs all over the place, so I filled a "beach corner" entirely with sand, and this would help keep things dry for her. Lastly, she got a fake cloth cactus held in place by a toothpick and a plastic 3D printed Mayan temple.


Dollhouses, model planes, ships in bottles, or - in my case - tarantula enclosures. Why do adults enjoy making tiny things? Do we like the feeling of control? I certainly don't go through it for a spider's gratitude. This rehousing actually gave Karta some stress. She spent several hours cowering in the corner, afraid to explore her new custom habitat.

"She's afraid of the other spider in 'dere," Marissa joked. I hadn't stopped to think of that. All she knows is that she's in a different place - for all she knew she could have been trespassing in the territory of a much larger, harrier spider, and I suppose that would have stressed me out too.


Karta settled in, finally comfortable enough to dig her claws into the sand of her private beach.

On Saturday morning, we dragged ourselves out of bed early to accompany Marissa and Ollie to an agility trial. It was Ollie's championship weekend, and as long as he could finish a run in under 55 seconds with no mistakes, he would be crowned with his first PACH. Not a problem for slow and steady Oliver.

Ollie completed his run, and applause broke out in the small gathering outside the ring. Marissa threw her arms in the air and ran out to the middle of the ring, hoping Ollie would follow her. But Ollie stayed by the gate, and he actually looked kind of peeved by all the pageantry. To him, the applause, the photos, and the awarding of his blue ribbon and personalized jump pole was soured by not immediately getting the dog treat he earned. He'd get plenty of treats afterwards, basking in the glow of one of the highest honors you can get in dog agility.


Congratulations, Ollie. To everyone else, hope you have a great Monday.