Category Archives: 2020

Pi Day – Not!

NO I DIDN’T HAVE A PARTY WITHOUT YOU GUYS!!  PHOTO IS FROM TWO YEARS AGO – SENT TO ME BY A FRIEND.

One year ago on the day before Pi Day, I read an online column in which I saw the “flatten the curve” phrase for the first time. Even though only one person had told me that they were going to skip the Pi Day party due to covid-19.  But after reading that column, I realized that I needed to get onboard immediately and I started calling and texting people, letting them know I was cancelling.

Like everyone else, I was thinking that we’d have a couple of bad months and then get back on track, so I kept all my Pi Day organizational materials: the list of ingredients that I had bought (and hopefully wlll need to buy again), my timing spreadsheet with what time various pies have to go in the oven and what temperature they need (sorted by temperature, of course) and the little placecards with all the pie names.  All these items are in the drawer in the living room and I see them occasionally and sigh.  And now it’s been a second Pi Day with no festivities in the house. 

Not entertaining has been a huge hit for me during pandemic.  I entertain a lot and I miss it a lot.  You all know that I try to keep my expectations low, so I’m hoping that I’ll eventually be able to have Pi Day fun at my place, but I’m not making plans.  And that’s made me think about other changes that I’ve made that may or may not be permanent. 

I am spending WAY more time texting and emailing than I used to.  I’m spending way too much time farting around on my phone.  I’m doing my Italian lesson (also on my phone) every day – I’m on a 310 day streak and I doubled my lesson time about 4 months back.  For the first time in decades I am hitting the gym more than 12 times a month (masked, sanitized and socially distant).  Pre-pandemic I used to follow several blogs, a couple of chefs, several science sites, husky dogs; I’ve quit following all of them and only occasionally check them out – usually if they pop up in my feed.  Last summer I sent thank you cards to people with great gardens that I encountered while walking the dog.  I’ve started sending birthday cards to people on a Facebook group of stampers – complete strangers and I increased the cards that I made for charity.  Way more gardening and more jigsaw puzzles.

I don’t which of these habits will continue if and when we get past pandemic.  I hope to keep all the good changes (reaching out)  and jettison the bad ones (phone games) and I hope like heck that I eventually get to celebrate Pi Day with my friends and loved ones.  Maybe Pi and a Half Day? 

How has pandemic changed you?  Do you think some of your changes will continue?

I’m Not Hoarding – I Swear

I hate buying toilet paper.  It’s just irritating to cough up cash for something that ends up being flushed away.  The fact that it’s constant doesn’t help and I make it worse by not liking most of the conventional tp.  My preferred is Seventh Generation, which I purchase at my co-op.  It’s unbleached and comes individually wrapped in paper, not plastic. 

I’m not a Costco/Sams kind of person – I don’t have storage space for huge quantities – but for years I have purchased my tp by the case from the co-op.  48 rolls at a time for a huge chunk of change – but this means I only have to be irritated every 10 months or so.  We keep the case at the top of the attic steps and bring down rolls to the bathroom when we need them. 

When toilet paper first became the cause celebre last year, I wasn’t worried; we had plenty.  Or so I thought.  As the spring and summer came and went, I watched our supply dwindle.  Unfortunately, by the time we started to run low, the co-op had suspended bulk orders and for several months I was having to pick up tp on a regular basis.  You’d think I had better things to get irritated about, but you’d be wrong.  As if that weren’t enough, the co-op quit getting the Seventh Generation and what they were carrying didn’t last as long per roll.  Crazy making.

Two weeks ago, just for jollies, I asked somebody at the co-op’s Customer Service desk when bulk orders would be re-instated.  They called the manager out and they said I could again order tp by the case.  Even though I wasn’t crazy about what was available from the co-op, I figured that the lack of irritation would make it OK.  Then about an hour later, they called me from the co-op; the stuff they now carry comes in case lots of 96, not 48.  That would make the price tag close to $200.  Aaarrrggghhhh.  I told them not to place the order.

As I was explaining this to YA, she started banging away on her phone.  “You know, you can get a case of the Seventh Generation at Amazon.”  Calm as could be.  I looked at her phone and confirmed that it was exactly what I wanted, and unbelievably cheaper, than what I used to pay at the co-op.  An additional benefit is that I didn’t have to worry about anybody looking at me funny for getting a case of toilet paper during pandemic.  So now we have the tp I like best and I don’t have to get all worked up and buying more until Solstice!

Is there anything you like to have in bulk (or used to like to have in bulk….)?

a new year – hopefully

YA and I ordered take out from our favorite Chinese Restaurant over the weekend.  I set the table nicely with red plates, chopstick holders and even lucky red envelopes (with chocolate coins).  But our only guest this year was Nimue, who made herself at home on the table. 

This completes my year of no festivities.  Last year I was all ready for Pi Day when the world turned upside down.  I had all the ingredients for my pies, had a to-do list of what needed to be done in what order, including baking times and temperatures.  I even had little placecards done with the names of all the pies.  Then on Friday, the day before, I had to cancel; the pandemic had arrived at our door.

Since Pi Day, there have been several other occasions when, during “normal times” I would have entertained: my Girlfriend High Tea in May, our neighborhood Memorial Day gathering, a new neighbor welcome party in June, my birthday bash in August, Leaf Pile in October and, of course, the Great Gift Exchange at Solstice.  This list doesn’t include book club meetings or other breakfasts/lunches/dinners with individuals.  I would have always said that I entertain a lot but when everything is listed out like this, I realize that it’s an enormous part of my life.

So now that we’ve celebrated Chinese New Year on our own, we’ve come full circle.  Unfortunately there won’t be a gathering for Pi Day this year either, but I am hoping we can do a Pi and a Half Day in September.  Fingers crossed. 

What’s the most interesting party you’ve ever been to?

Hoarding Grapenuts

I am ashamed to admit it. This weekend I bought a box of Grapenuts when I didn’t need it.  I was hoarding.  It is all the fault of a recent news story that the Post company was having a hard time keeping up with demand for Grapenuts.  People are apparently snarfing them down at an increased rate due to staying home so much.  There is only one manufacturing plant for the cereal. It seems to require specialized manufacturing equipment on which the the Post company has a patent.  There have apparently been Grape nut shortages across the country,  and people are upset.

I don’t eat much cold cereal, but Grapenuts with milk and some golden raisins or currants are a big comfort food for me.  I shudder at the lurid colors of the cereals I ate as a child at the urging of commercials on Saturday  morning.

What were your favorite cereals as a child?  What would you hoard if you thought there might be a shortage?

Hunkering Down

It is supposed to get bitterly cold here this weekend. Husband and I bought all the groceries we imagined needing for Saturday and Sunday on Friday night,  and plan to hunker down, going out only on Sunday morning when we have to sing in the church choir.  If there were more of us we would stay home, but a six voice choir can’t function with two missing members.

We have all been isolated for the last ten months, but there is something strangely satisfying being at home because of the weather. Snow days are wonderful,  in my memory.  It is when my mother made waffles from scratch.

What are some of your favorite snow  day or bad weather day memories? How do you like to “Hunker down”?

 

New Operas

I am not typically a big fan of opera music, but I love the stories they tell. The other day I heard a selection from Nixon in China  by John Adams on MPR. I think it was The Chairman Dances.   I remember seeing a televised performance that opera, and I found the costuming, with all those drab Mao jackets very amusing.

Operas do a good job of immortalizing important moments in history,  and I suppose that Nixon’s breakthrough with China was monumental.  I wonder what the opera repertoire  will be like fifty years from now?

What recent events would you like to see made into operas?  What is your favorite opera?

2020 Annual Report

Today’s post comes from Cynthia in Mahtowa

With the COVID shutdown since March, not much happening, so looking back at my past while anticipating a year closer to 80…

Photos from the ‘60s

From a letter to my friend, Barbara, I wrote from Cape Cod, fall of 1969.

Moratorium Day March, Washington, DC

“It was an experience to experience our government afraid and aloof and militarized. The White House stood unseen behind blinding spot lights while police and MPs stood guard (yet cheerfully/politely asking people to “move” and “don’t let a crowd gather”). Eerie kind of spotlights that say “I’ll get you if you make a wrong move!” The next day for the march it was the tops of buildings that gave the spooky feeling. Atop cornices and behind embellishments were soldiers – with rifles and binoculars. (They were also sandbagged in at the Capitol building.) There were people spread from the Capitol to the Washington Monument and past, besides the curb-to-curb, end-to-beginning people who marched. I would guess that less than half of the crowd actually marched on Pennsylvania Avenue – the parade permit ran out before they could get them on the street. There were many more than the modest estimate of 250,000.

“We also followed the excitement of the Yippies, Mad Dogs, and Crazies as they carried their Viet Cong flags and Agnew effigies through the rally crowd and down the field and street to the Justice Department. The minute they began their march the atmosphere changed from peaceful companionship and cold feet to electrically charged excitement. It made me want to jump and scream, laugh and run. Expectation chills. So we followed. And got close enough to see flying objects and get a face full of tear gas. (Neato stuff!)

“The police were good, but it really was quite frightening to see the numbers of them, the sight of the helmets, shields, gas masks, belly clubs, mace, shot guns in America.”

*Photo is of me on my then boyfriend Roland’s shoulders. The guy facing Roland is Jerry L. Thompson who has become a well-known photographer. The three of us were living with Roland’s mother and sisters at her Cape Cod home. Roland and I remained friends until his death in 2011.

“On Sunday, Roland’s aunt who works for the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations took us on a fun insider’s tour of the capital and offices and treated me to a middleclass tourist souvenir treat – including a photograph* of me in Fulbright’s chair in the Senate committee room with gavels in hand. We also got to read some of Fulbright’s mail (over 2-1 against/some for Nixon) What fun!”

*photographs by Roland’s mother, Dinanda“Didi” Nooney

https://www.brownstoner.com/brooklyn-life/dinanda-nooneys-brooklyn-photos-jill-nooney-interview/

Now to the present…

New bathroom floor, rug, and toilet

 

New French Alpine milk goat, “Fiji”.  Spent the summer making “chevre” and “Cinder Ella” cheeses.

 

 

New Arabian mare, “Antoinette” aka “Toni”(Derby, a friend’s POA gelding who lived here for a year, went to live with a grandfather who wanted to teach his grandchildren to ride.) Also taking riding lessons again! What fun!

 

 

 

New hens: two “Buffy” Orpingtons, one “Heidi” Hybrid & three “Little (Rhode Island) Red Hens.” Plus New (Buff Orpington) rooster, “Neil,” who has already fathered two Buffy young ones. Lovely brown eggs.

Decided to draw again – pen & ink coyote skull sketches to accompany our book club’s Zoom meeting discussing Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History by Dan Flores.  Also bought water color brushes when I couldn’t find my old ones.  First “commission”: a Scottish Highlander cow

Hope you all are safe and well.  And here’s to a safe and healthy New Year!

What were you doing in 1969?  What are your hopes and dreams for the New Year?

 

Keep Calm and Pet Me

I’ve seen all the memes about dogs loving pandemic and cats not so much.  This was true at our house for the first couple of months.  Guinevere is SO happy to have YA and I at home all day long.  More treats, more snuggling, pretty much more of everything she loves.  Even more toys have been part of sheltering-in-place.

At first, Nimue wasn’t so sure about having us around so much.  Then in April she had some surgery that had a good result (not cancerous) but had a long, hard recovery involving the cone of shame and the dog kennel for almost two full weeks.  I thought she would never forgive me for that; the stink eye that she would give me from the dog kennel was really scary.  Then about a week after she was freed from her cone/kennel disgrace, she started wanting more cuddling.  And as the months have gone by, that has continued – whether or not I have any treats nearby. 

She has even taken to hanging around wherever I am hanging around.  The header photo is how she helps me in the kitchen.  Here is her helping me straighten up in the dining room. 

As I type, she’s snoozing on top of the radiator – about six feet away, so she is responsibly social distancing. 

Do you know anyone enjoying pandemic more than they should?

The Yellow Box

Several years back, Teenager wanted to take a jewelry class at a local bead shop.  We took the class together and it was fun.  Part of the cost of the class included a couple of tools and, of course, we purchased some more items afterwards.  For a couple of years, I did the occasional bracelet or earrings; the craft didn’t catch on with Teenager.  I put the tools and assorted wires and beads into a yellow tool box and eventually drifted away from beading.

In May, I found a jewelry kit on sale online from a company I knew; since I was officially looking for ways to fill time during shelter-in-place, I purchased it.  Most of the items I needed were in the kit but I did need one of my tools to adjust the bracelet size.  The yellow tool box was not in the first place I looked.  Or the second.  Or the third.  I spent quite a bit of time over the course of a week, looking and re-looking in what seemed like natural spots and then the unnatural spots.  I’ve done a lot of tossing/donating the last couple of years but I was SURE I would remember if I had gotten rid of the toolbox.  And I couldn’t imagine that I would do that either.  Eventually I gave up, assuming I’d gotten rid of the box, and re-purchased the tool I needed.

Last week, I decided to do some organizing and cleaning in the attic; when I had brought the holiday decorations down, I had promised myself I would do this before the boxes when back up.  YA came up to help me and we ended up really clearing out some stuff and generating a large bag of trash.  At one point I was putting a plastic bin away and realized I didn’t know what was in it.  You know where this is going, right?  As we dug through the box, we found items from last year’s stocking gifts (which I had vaguely missed) and…. drum roll please… the yellow tool box!  Because it was inside the bin, when I had searched the attic in May, I hadn’t seen it.

I can envision how everything else in that plastic bin ended up there, based on my normal habits, but I have no clue how that yellow box ended up there.  Nothing in the box was irreplaceable but I’m happy to have found it, if only because it means I’m not crazy!

Anything you’re still looking for?  Do you have trouble finding things you’ve “put away for safe keeping”?

Tree Trouble

For my entire life, I have put away the holiday decorations on New Year’s Day.  This season I felt like I wanted to jump the gun and it took me a bit to realize that New Year’s has always been a day off.  This year with pandemic and furlough, every day is a day off.  So we decided to put everything away a couple of days earlier than usual. 

We both like a live tree.  But even with constant watering, six weeks (plus whatever amount of time between cutting and the Bachman’s lot) is just too long for a tree to stay supple and resilient.  Taking the lights off always means a mess, especially since I like to “bury” the lights, but as should have been expected for 2020, it was much messier than usual this year.  In addition to the little sprigs of greenery all over the floor, after I took the tree to the curb, the front porch, front steps and front sidewalk were covered with the tree detritus.

Broom, dust bin, trash bag and vacuum just to get started.  Then, of course, dusting is needed on all the horizontal surfaces that have been covered with assorted holiday décor.  Everything is now all put away and cleaned up; the living room and dining room seem empty, sort of naked. 

I wish that cleaning up the holiday was a great metaphor for the coming new year.  While I’m hoping for the 2020 dumpster fire will be extinguished, I think it will take longer than we would all wish for.  In the meantime, at least the house is clean.

Live tree or artificial?  When do you like to put the holiday decorations away?