This and That

•June 18, 2020 • 8 Comments
Also, here’s a wreath I’m decorating for Midsummer

I’m reaching that point in quarantine where I keep sitting down to write a letter, or write in my journal, or write a post only to discover that I can’t think of much to write about. My days are reasonably full of activity, it’s just that most of it isn’t very news worthy. I guess that’s good: it’s nice to just have the time to experiment and putter around without feeling like I hAvE tO hAvE sOmEtHiNg To ShOw FoR iT.

Here are some highlights from the past few days:

  • A neighbor left a bunch of boxes out at the curb of things they were getting rid of. So I’m now the proud owner of four spools of curling ribbon, a wall clock, and a set of coasters. I also found a little porcelain statuette of a bride-and-groom that I put in my flowerbed-bed beside the rose plant that I gave the Cumudgeonly Lion for our eight wedding anniversary
  • I made keto friendly noodles on Sunday out of oat fiber and gluten. They actually turned out really well: felt and tasted just like fancy, gourmet fettuccine (I still need to try the spaghetti cutting attachment for the pasta maker).
  • I finished reading “Half A Yellow Sun” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I was reading it for an upcoming book club meeting. Last month’s book was “The House of the Spirits” by Isabelle Allende. Both books were excellent, buuuuuuut both books take place in countries undergoing violent coups and I might *possibly* not be in the best head-space to be reading about that right now, considering These Times.
  • I seem to be utterly incapable of getting any writing done. Like, my brain says it wants to, but then I spend hours scrolling through social media.
  • I found a nice stick on my run the other day and proceeded to use it to help gather up pine resin along the path. And some nice pine cones. I found a nice feather too.
  • The tomato plants are taunting me: the fruit is right there! And it’s almost ready! But not quite yet! Soooon….
Compared to last year I look SO much happier
  • I got out my hammock for the summer, but haven’t really gotten much use out of it yet.
  • I changed out a bunch of dead lightbulbs around the house and now I’m thinking of turning the dead ones into wind chimes. (This is the kind of thing my procrastination keeps throwing at me to help me avoid writing.)
  • I made a keto friendly chocolate chip cookie in the air fryer: it tasted like a cookie but it was the texture of bread. Mixed feelings on this.

I mean, I guess that’s kind of everything that’s worth sharing lately.

Horse Dream

•June 15, 2020 • 5 Comments

In my dream, I was riding a horse through my childhood neighborhood. I think the horse might’ve been gold colored, I don’t quite remember now, but it was definitely massive: a big draft horse of some kind. We seemed to be familiar with each other and just kind of ambled along the street at a leisurely pace. The middle of the street is (was) anchored by a grand, Tudor style house. I looked onto the grass of the lawn and saw a scattering of yellow and black feathers. Bright yellow. Traffic sign yellow. I wanted to collect them: I try to pick up feathers whenever I find them for my Mom, and I’d never seen feathers that color before: certainly not that big- as big as crow feathers.

I climbed down off the horse to pick them up and then climb back up. Sometime between the feathers and making it to my folks’ house the horse became loaded with four other people like a horse minivan. We went into my folks’ garage and I climbed down as the garage door closed behind us, but as I did, something spooked the horse and it began to back up until I was worried it would back right through the door. I caught it by the bridle and managed to calm it down.

Work Space

•June 12, 2020 • Leave a Comment

I’m not sure why it was important for me to immortalize my quarantine workspace, but it seemed like the thing to do.

Austen Times

•June 11, 2020 • Leave a Comment
Out of the firepan into the fryer, so to speak.

I drove my sister, Bean, and her family to the airport a few days ago. As I crested the hill on the Sepulveda Pass, I realized that it was the first time that I’d been out of the Valley since March. In some ways this was a bit astonishing: in spite of the quarantine and the curfews, I haven’t felt particularly cooped up, and I was amazed to realize how much time had gotten behind me without really noticing it.

Then, the next morning, I woke up to learn that the Sepulveda pass was on fire. So it may be another three months before I cross through it again.

At first, I was a little leery of my sister’s plan to take the whole family on a four-hour plane trip back to the Midwest with a three-year-old and a newborn baby to see my folks who fall into a high-risk age category. I struggled to imagine my three-year-old nephew being willing to sit still and wear your mask and don’t take off your gloves and stop licking the concourse floor for the duration of travel.

And I worried about the newborn who wouldn’t have a mask at all. And my sister and brother-in-law who haven’t been getting much sleep lately. And my folks who were suddenly going to have four new people in the house. But everybody involved in the decision decided it was a calculated risk worth taking: my folks were eager to meet the new grandbaby, and my sister and brother-in-law were struggling to find safe, reliable child-care support here in town. It seemed an obvious choice.

So I gave them a lift to the airport. Their plan is to quarantine for a week or so in the Chicago suburbs after their travel to be sure they didn’t pick up anything from the plane before heading to my folks’ house. In normal times, “A week or so” would have constituted the entire vacation- and quite a long vacation at that. Most years I feel lucky to take a long weekend to visit family before hurrying back to work before my paid time off runs out.

Now, in These Times, everybody is working from home. Which really means they can work from anywhere with a wi-fi connection. Which has really shifted the paradigm. My sister and brother-in-law didn’t even bother to make return plans yet: as far as they know, they’ll be there all summer. Summering in the country like characters from a Jane Austen novel. Keeping a discreet distance from one another. Inquiring about one another’s health.

I’m a little bit envious: a part of me wants to seize upon the opportunity to work-from-anywhere and be able to summer in the Midwest for months on end. But also, I’m still feeling pretty cozy here at home: my garden is coming in nicely, I’m making some good progress on various art projects, and I’ve settled into a reassuringly regular routine of work, exercise, and leisure that I just want to savor while I can.

I fervently hope that this Great Pause will force a sea-change in our working culture that will finally allow us to have enough time to live life around our work: options to work from home, enough vacation time to travel meaningfully, enough leisure time for exercise and recreation. I love being productive, driven, hard-working, but I’m so much happier, healthier, and better balanced since this began that I can only hope I will be able to find ways to hold on to it moving forward.


•June 10, 2020 • Leave a Comment
It’s barely visible, but it’s there

On Saturday, I stepped out of the house into the backyard to show my sister, Bean, the nest I’d built and discovered that a bee swarm had taken up residence in the lemon tree. For another person, this might’ve been a horrifying discovery, but I was delighted: I’d always wanted to see a bee swarm.

“WE’VE GOT A BEE SWARM!” I squealed to the Curmudgeonly Lion after galloping in the door of his workshop like a kid on Christmas morning.

I’ve always wanted to learn how to raise bees, but I haven’t quite worked up the gumption to try it yet and I was not-so-secretly hopeful that the swarm might find a spot in our yard that they deemed suitable for colonizing so that I could observe them ‘in the wild’ without feeling responsible for their survival.

There was a wooden box on the patio that had originally held recycling, but currently was empty except for baking soda, bric-a-brac, and a handful of brown and black widow spiders. I cleaned out the former and the Curmudgeonly Lion dispatched the latter with, no joke, a flamethrower, and then drilled a hole in the front wall of the box with a spade bit. I searched around the yard for a place to put it and settled on the easement beside the shed, which was south facing, shady, and not likely to be too high traffic.

I didn’t know what it would take to convince the bee scouts to check it out.

“Maybe put out a shallow dish of water with a rock in it.” Bean suggested. “So the bees can drink from it.”

I set out a metal bowl full of water with a rock in it as close to the lemon tree as I dared to get. Tucked amidst the leaves I could see the “beard” of the swarm hanging from a branch: a very orderly pine-cone shaped mass of bees. The bees were all oriented the same direction in an orderly arrangement like acrobats building a pyramid. I wondered what it must be like to be a single bee in that complex matrix, trying to support the weight of the entire colony.

“An offering of water and rock.” I told the bees. “There’s also a very nice box on the far side of the shed if you want it.”

The bees gave no indication of whether this pleased them.

I had some leftover honey set aside from when I’d decided to try using it to propagate rose cuttings so I watered it down and put out a row of jars with honey-water leading from the lemon tree towards the shed like a little trail of jelly beans. Then, feeling I had done all I could do, I retreated back into the house to stare anxiously out the kitchen window like a stalker.

In spite of my hopes, the bees moved on from the lemon tree the next day to settle elsewhere. So, regrettably my days as an apiarist have not yet arrived, but it was a thrill while it lasted.

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