Wednesday, April 6 2022

ollie the listener, beef stroganoff, and ancient curses

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Happy Wednesday.

It's a beautiful day today, and you know it's going to be good when we've already cracked 42 degrees this early in the morning. Who knows how long this turn of good weather will last, but we had better enjoy it while it's here.

While getting ready this morning, I flung our bedroom curtains all the way open to let the light in. I was thinking of our poor leapord gecko, Ducky. Yesterday I noticed one of the bulbs in her heat lamp had burnt out. She hasn't left the back corner of her warm cave since. So while we find time to make a special trip to the reptile store, Ducky needs all the warm sunlight we have available to us.

It's a good thing that I'm not a cold blooded lizard. I'm grateful that I don't need to wait for the temperature in my habitat to rise before I can wake up in the morning. But on the other hand, I do need to drink ungodly amounts of coffee before I do anything, so Ducky has me beat there.

I said "coffee" - you know what that means. Raise your mug, and toast to being halfway done with the work week.

Sip. Today's entry features our eldest dog Ollie. Head cocked, ears up, patient eyes waiting for instruction, I wanted to showcase his good listening skills. Ollie's not just posing for a picture either. He probably sat like that for ten minutes while Marissa asked him questions about the piece she was working on.

Ollie is an old soul. He prefers to surround himself with work. By day, he naps upstairs in our bedroom during zoom calls. He lounges around the dining room while Marissa stretches canvases and tapes boxes. He braves the steep basement stairs to help Marissa make new paintings, but he also likes the cold basement floor. Ollie has this calming presence that makes you want to put your head down and focus on something.

How are you feeling today? Did you get some good sleep last night? I got off to bed early, but it was at Marissa's expense. I just learned she has a new routine. Every night, she has to readjust a sleeping Miles and Rodney.

What does that mean exactly? Well just look at how Rodney fell asleep last night.


He pulls his big green dinosaur into bed. He falls asleep in a sweaty heap of heavy books underneath two wadded up warm blankets. His neck rests crooked across two different pillows, and even though you can't see it in the picture he likes to stuff toys underneath his head too. Dinosaur figures, coloring sheets, and other random trinkets from his cache of bedroom toys. Marissa practically has to make his bed again and tuck him in from scratch, all without waking him up.

Miles isn't nearly as complicated. He doesn't have the same access to books, pillows, blankets, and toys. The most trouble he can get into his pulling his clothes off or getting his leg stuck in the rungs of his crib.


But sometimes he still wakes up as we're going to bed - perhaps from all the ruckus of dismantling Rodney's tower of little kid bullshit next door. And if Miles wakes up, he demands a back rub.

"A back rub?" I said in disbelief.

"He stands up and grabs two stuffed animals in his arms," said Marissa. "Then he just leans against the corner of his crib. I have to tickle his back until he gets tired again. I guess it's a thing now."

In other news, we're eating pretty well this week. The truth is while we were exercising every day, we didn't have as much time to cook food and clean up the kitchen. Plus, all the action of selling our house made free time even more scarce. So we gave ourselves a little more grace with ordering out during those weeks.

But we're back on the home cooked meals, and we're eating well this week. Two days ago, Marissa busted out her famous cast iron seared salmon. Yesterday I made beef stroganoff. The recipe was new for us, and it made quite a splash at our dinner table.

I have one remaining question - why did it take me so long to make beef stroganoff? It's cheap, satisfying, and fun to cook. Being my first time, I misjudged the proportions and went overboard on the mushrooms and onions. But all it took was high heat, a little bit of faith, and ten minutes of stirring and it was all melted down into creamy, beefy deliciousness. A recipe can find a quick path to my heart if it's forgiving with the proportions.

One more silly story before we part ways for the day. We've consolidated the night time bedtime story. Before the boys go to bed in their separate rooms, I throw Rodney in Miles' crib and pull up a chair to read to them. Rodney, always with an eclectic taste at the school library, came home with a picture book about ancient Egypt. Occasionally Miles and Rodney get rambunctious and I have to scold them or stop reading to regain their attention. But last night, reading about the scary subject matter of mummies, tombs, and ancient curses, we had no such problems with listening.

We read an entry about Lord Carnavon, the researcher that discovered King Tut's tomb. The people who helped Lord Carnavon retrieve King Tut's treasures feared that the they would be susceptible to the same curses that awaited the grave robbers from ancient times. Shortly after the discovery, Lord Carnavon died from an infected mosquito bite. The book described that in later years, a medical examination of King Tut's corpse showed that the child Pharaoh likely died from malaria.

The book abandons this terrible story with - I quote exactly - Isn't that weird?. Miles and Rodney listened to the whole story without making a sound.

"That was in a kids' book?" said Marissa in disbelief. "That fact... is chilling. I can't stop thinking about it."

"ISN'T THAT WEIRD, KIDS?" I laughed.

Word of advice - if you ever stumble into a Pharaoh's tomb, you should probably leave it alone - just in case. Thanks for stopping by today - have a great Wednesday.