69 days and counting

May 19, 2020 @ 2:53 pm | Filed under: ,

Astonished, I watch people in other states flocking back to crowded rooms and long queues. I shudder to imagine the steep rise we’re bound to see on the charts in the coming weeks. We don’t have widespread testing or contact tracing in place. Hospitals are still desperately short on PPE. An entire TV news/entertainment network goes on blithely lying to its viewers, putting so many of them in danger. The President of the United States is a feckless narcissist who cares more about his own ratings (ratings!) than the staggering numbers of dead and dying Americans.

My feelings about all of this have made it more than a little hard to write posts here. The staggering misinformation campaign that’s costing so many lives—and putting ours at risk, and people I love. The horror of knowing breastfeeding mothers are being separated from their babies (perhaps forever) or having to endure crowded detainment facilities where the virus is spreading, spreading. The sickening cruelty perpetrated by the current administration. The underpaid, underprotected “essential workers” who bag our groceries and tend our elderly. I’m so angry and feel helpless to fix it. All I can do is keep calling my electeds, who are already fighting the good fight.

Our home life is fine, lovely even. Jane is working fulltime from home, Rose has a part-time job and another one lined up (pending reopening), and is due to start classes at PSU in the fall. Online, probably? Derailing her dorm plans, of course. Beanie is finishing up this quarter’s classes at PCC. Wonderboy has been doing school from home since March 12—the day our whole family began cloistering. I’ve been nowhere except the doctor’s office (for a torn tendon in my hand) since then. I haven’t minded much? I fervently miss Low Bar Chorale and my weekly ramen/OMSI dates. I miss working in coffee shops. But my work has been uninterrupted by the pandemic, and my garden is a mellow and happy place, and I’m playing lots of Animal Crossing with my kids (their recent gift to me!), which is a delight.

Not reading as much as I’d like—or maybe I’m reading more than I give myself credit for? I wrote on my Patreon yesterday about how much I’m enjoying Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights, and I’m getting a ton out of B.J. Fogg’s Tiny Habits as well. I’m reading a new Arrow selection to the kids—can’t say what, since the big reveal doesn’t happen until May 28—and we’re all pretty darn glued to it. What I’m missing is some juicy and captivating adult fiction: I haven’t looked for anything lately. Hundreds of options in this house and on my Kindle. That immense ever-growing list of novels I specifically want to read—but I can’t settle on one. My mind is restless and veers away. Poetry works: I’ve read Olav Hauge’s The Dream We Carry almost to tatters.

I might be in the mood for another Riddlemaster reread.

My wretched hand is much, much better (but I still have to be careful when picking things up. I have dropped so many things!) and my nose is almost back to its old shape. I certainly picked a good time for significant facial surgery, I suppose! I’m so grateful the surgery was in the rear-view when the shutdown began.

In bloom: rhodendrons, gloriously. One poppy was unfurling in my back garden this morning—I need to go see if it’s awake! And roses, oh I’m swooning over the roses I inherited from my neighbor last fall—eleven large potted rosebushes, every color.

The peas are nearly ready, and blueberries and strawberries are coming. I don’t have tomatoes yet. There’s curbside pickup at the garden shop; I should look at their order sheet. Our salad greens are just about done—I only planted one round. Still lots of time for more.

Last week I finished a rather big stitching project—a test stitch of an upcoming sampler by one of my favorite embroidery designers, who plans to use it in her next Creativebug class. Whenever that may be! She’d been due to film in mid-April but of course that changed. I loved stitching the sampler and comparing notes with the other three test stitchers. I was mighty chuffed to be asked, I must say!

Now that that’s done, I’m back at work on, oh, four or five other hoops. Including my own secret project (not so secret since I have talked about it on Patreon). Writing about them makes me want to close this tab and get stitching. I’ve got a pile of work waiting for me this afternoon, though.

Work is…really hard, under these circumstances. Staying focused, staying connected, staying sharp. If I read one more post urging us to slow down, take naps, allow more white space in our days, I might scream. Our grocery store workers and hospital personnel don’t get to slow down—they’ve been soldiering on day after day without hazard pay, reusing masks that were never meant for weeks of wear. And for those of us who are fortunate to be working from home, the work is much harder and more intense because of these circumstances. The effort of concentrating is exhausting. The long hours of work are necessary. I’m still paying off breast cancer, and skin cancer set us back another two grand. Boy do I know how to have fun with money or what?

Oregon is moving more cautiously than many states, for which I’m grateful. A slow rollout of Phase One reopenings will happen in rural counties soonish, but not in Portland for a while. I suspect the inevitable spike in cases in other more recklessly reopening states will slow Oregon’s plans as well, and without a robust test-and-trace program I can’t imagine my family (with some particularly high-risk members) will feel able to risk crowd situations until there’s a vaccine in place.

So. Every day I take some time to catch up, to stay informed about what’s happening beyond my home, good and bad. And then I make a list of things that are lovely. A nuthatch at the suet feeder. Rilla’s oat bars cooling on the counter. My vigorous, adorable sourdough starter. The masks my friend Ramona sent. My friend Ben leading hundreds of solitary singers in virtual singalongs every Tuesday evening. The sound of the M*A*S*H opening credits drifting down the hall in the afternoons—Scott is watching with the kids. For me, that’s the theme song of this pandemic.

Oh my friends! I hope you’re staying home, and staying well.

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6 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. tanita♥ says:

    Goodness, your flowers are amazing. I just cannot DO hollyhocks because I thought it was too warm here, and YOU guys can grow peonies and stuff that we can’t… but man, those hollyhocks. Maybe next year.

    I do take your point about the exhortations to relax – but while I believe we have to destress and stop pushing ourselves so hard for output and production that others of us in this society haven’t yet had a break, and are indeed working harder than ever. I do wish we could do something about that – even something as little as closing stores, mail, and everything but clinics and pharmacies one day a week, or at least closing at 5pm instead of trying to pretend that “normal” life is going on, with conveniences open to all hours.

    I envy you your stitching – I can read, and writing is going, though slooooowly, but my crafting life is nonexistent just now (although I did some chalk painting in the backyard the rain is slowly removing). Ironically, the climactic event in my novel is a California kid losing their house to a wildfire – and the abrupt end to “normal” that fires represent to so many. I am hoping as I wrap this up that at least the current uneasiness will seep atmospherically into my novel – but it still feels weird. Still, I’m grateful we continue to be able to write novels not of tragedy, but of survival – which we all need, as the days go on.

  2. Penny says:

    That photo!

    VT is slow opening too, I’m glad to report. My C is in much the same place as your Rose, which is better than my E, who graduated from college virtually last weekend (which was surprisingly lovely) and has her next steps basically halted in place or smashed to bits. She’s working on Plan L at this point, most other plans having fallen through. Hard times for the young – for everyone! We are home though, together, and I am very grateful for that.

    Excellent use of the word feckless, by the way.

  3. Melissa says:

    Read the Ross Gay in 1.5 sittings this morning. Thank you for the recommendation! Wishing you and your family health and … delight. ☺️

  4. Susanne Barrett says:

    San Diego has been opening very slowly, and up here in the mountains, we remain far from the city and with very few reported cases in the backcountry. (Yes, many may not be reported, but…) But, oh, it’s such a delight to be sequestered by mountains!!

    Our governor is wise and winsome, taking excellent care of the homeless by converting empty Motel-6 locations into “Roomkey” places for the homeless to live–with warm meals delivered daily. This way the homeless can be cared for if ill and be socially-distanced. A wise use of empty motel rooms! Of course, not all homeless desire this, but it’s available for those who do.

    It’s the attitudes that are bothering me. The Trumpism of the backcountry, the “my rights are being violated” taking precedence over “love and protect thy neighbor–wear a mask!” Yes, businesses in the backcountry are hurting, and our own Frosty Burger, a mainstay of our town (pop 1500) for forty years, fortunately received the federal PPP approval on the very day they were planning to close.

    I miss working in coffee shops and I definitely miss our library and church, but Zoom is a lovely thing, and Saturday is the only day of the week in which I’m NOT Zooming some kind of church service or activity, so in a way, I’m thrilled. And our Anglican Church is planning to keep on Zooming during the week and some Sunday services too, which will save me a 60-mile roundtrip. 😉 I miss seeing everyone in person, but it’s working.

    Okay, back to Romeo & Juliet at Brave Writer!! I had 98 posts before I sat down on Monday morning to start the class!! Oh, these kiddos are lovely and wonderful, but they do wear me out!!

    Oh, if you want some wonderful Shakespeare fun, stop by the YouTube channel of the Old Globe Theater (San Diego) for their “Thinking Shakespeare Live!” program that aired live on FB last night. Many of the families in my Shakespeare class watched it, and it’s just magical!!! A delightful look at understanding Shakespeare’s language and poetry from an actor’s POV, but set at a level that middle and high school kids will enjoy it, too. Fun, fascinating, and overflowing with enthusiasm!! Go check it out!! 😀

    I’m so jealous of your garden, Lissa!! It’s truly “a thing of beauty [and] a joy forever”–or at least for this season!!

    Susanne 🙂

  5. Melissa Wiley says:

    Oh gosh, I forgot to caption that photo!!! Not my flowers—my neighbor’s. I’m swooning and a wee bit envious, and if I could ring her doorbell and praise her garden to the heavens, I sure would! And I’m DEFINITELY going for some lupines & daisies next spring.

  6. Maria says:

    “Yes. Thank you! What she said!”

    Good read! I needed it!
    ❤️ thank you!