William and Kate say the kids are out of control. Kurt and Goldie are fighting in public and have called off the wedding. Mutant wasps have arrived in the country via Washington – the same as Covid-19. Hillary has just six months to live. Ted Cruz’s father linked to JFK assassination.
Where was I?
I figured that being furloughed would be like practicing for retirement. So it’s been surprising to me that I’m struggling. I’m not as happy as I thought I would be and some days it’s felt like time is stretching out endlessly in front of me. Last weekend I sat myself down (well, figuratively) to try to grapple with my problem.
It didn’t take long to realize that furlough during shelter-in-place is NOT like practicing for retirement, so my expectations were out of whack. Although I had never actually planned my retirement, I did have some things that I wanted to do when I had the time – volunteering was big on the list. I want to volunteer at my neighborhood library, the Crisis Nursery, Feed My Starving Children, maybe the Arboretum or even one of the zoos (although I expect there is a pretty good waiting line for these spots). I know I wouldn’t be a good Humane Society volunteer; not sure I could pass the training and even if I did, I’d probably end up with six cats and seven dogs by the end of my first week. For now, volunteering in person is off my table.
After some thought, I decided that I COULD contribute by making and sending cards. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen few card-making opportunities online in which organizations are soliciting card donations to send to sick kids, folks in essential services jobs and medical personnel and decided that this is right up my alley; I have a passion for it AND I don’t need to leave the house for supplies – I can easily make cards for months without having to get anything (yeah, I know, kinda sad)!
I’ve sent off two packets so far for essential services folks and also a stack of medical personnel cards as well (see photo). When it rains next, I’ll spend a day doing cards for kids. It’s not exactly a new lease on life but I find that I’m feeling a little better this week. I also decided to make garden thank you cards – for letting people know that I appreciate their gardens on my daily walk. And, of course, if anybody needs any cards – I’m your gal – just let me know!
Do you have any favorite volunteer gigs when we’re not sheltering in place?
My next door office mate, Darla, is just a joy. I have written about her several times, and she never ceases to amaze and delight. She monitors the services and care that Developmentally and Intellectually disabled individuals on her case load receive, and makes sure they are being treated appropriately. She has some fairly serious health complications of her own, yet is a fireball of energy with an infectious giggle and a wicked sense of humor. Her latest quest, started, I suppose by the COVID-19 pandemic, is to have all her own end of life decisions and plans completed, and that means buying a funeral plot. Morbid, I admit, but the way she goes about these things is so refreshing and life-affirming.
Darla decided that she wanted to be cremated, and then buried in a plot near New Hradek, the small Czech community where her husband’s family has a farm, 5 miles north of our town. She is from a German-Russian/German-Hungarian community 10 miles to the East, and has no intention of being buried in the Gladstone Cemetery. Her parents are buried there, and she initially thought she could save a lot of money if she and her husband were buried in the same plot, as all of them would be cremated. “How many urns can you fit in a plot?” she asked a local funeral director. “They don’t take up that much space”. He just rolled his eyes at her. (They are old friends). She got somewhat fanciful, and suggested that she and all of her seven brothers and their spouses could also be cremated and buried with their parents in the same plot, stacked like eggs in a double layer crate with the same sort of packaging between the urns. None of her siblings thought that was a very good idea, so she returned to the New Hradek plan, and is waiting for the very elderly manager of the cemetery there to get back to her. It is taking him a while. “I just hope he didn’t wake up dead !” she said to me the other day.
Darla has a very specific directive for her husband if she goes first. He is to rent a coffin long enough so that all her DD clients can view her body and see and understand that she is really gone. Then they can cremate her. I can hardly wait to hear how this all turns out.
What are your plans for eternity? Got any good funeral stories?
I thought last month when the water pipe burst in the wall of my best friend’s apartment, soaking much of the the flooring, that she was one of the most unlucky persons I knew. The burst pipe was one in a long string of unfortunate events in her life. Her issues pale in comparison with another friend of mine who, since Easter, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, had surgery that permanently damaged her vocal cords, and then got the terrible news that her only son, who she had placed for adoption forty years ago and reconnected with last year, had died of the Covid-19 virus. She writes that her life has turned out like a country western song full of bad luck and disaster. She has supportive family and friends, but how on earth do you get beyond these sorts of tragedies?
I don’t know why but I couldn’t help thinking about e e cummings poem, nobody loses all the time after hearing about my friends’ terrible luck.
It isn’t exactly a comforting poem, and I suppose it cold be construed as pretty irreverent, but I think it sums up a need to find hope in the darkest of times.
What gives you hope? Share some hopeful poetry.
It was 75 degrees here yesterday, a nice temperature except for the wind that blew all afternoon. We have wind here. Today it blew steadily from the west all afternoon at 28 mph, with gusts up to 39. We had dust storms in town. My office building is heated with steam heat, and it has not yet been shut off. There is no air conditioning because the hot water still in the pipes. If I opened my west facing window to cool down, I was deafened by the sound of the wind blowing in and scattering all the papers on my desk. I have coworkers with asthma and allergies who suffer when these winds blow like this. There is no containing the wind.
Tell stories or poems about the wind.
I read an article the other day in which the CEO of King Arthur Flour said that baking has become the “new baseball” in this country. Yeast sales are up 300% across the country compared to a year ago, and King Arthur has engaged an extra mill to assist in meeting the demand for its flour. There is enough flour to go around. The problem is that most of it is in 50 lb bags not suited to the average home baker. They are scrambling to get it into 5 lb bags and out to consumers. People are baking out of panic, boredom, and as a way to obtain some comfort right now. I think there has been an increase in the purchase of vegetable seeds and plants for the same reason. I hope that people continue to bake and garden after this is all over. I think we could use more national pastimes.
What would you like to see as “the new baseball”? What are you doing for comfort these days?
In Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook is a recipe I have always intended to make, called Cossack Pie. Until now I have had either not enough time, or was missing several of the ingredients. It calls for cabbage, broccoli, onions, carrot, cottage cheese, sour cream, eggs, a little white wine, spices, and a sour cream/yogurt mix. Oh, and a pie crust. When I came upon the recipe the other day, I realized I had everything except fresh mushrooms, but I did find a can of them in the back of the cupboard. Voilá!
There was a lot of chopping – I spent two hours on this thing – but was rewarded. It was delicious, out of the ordinary, and used up some things that needed using. Husband even liked it a lot.
My California friend Fern recently posted on Facebook something like: Time to check the back of your cupboards, bring this stuff out and do something with it! Here are a few articles that may help in this process:
Food Expiration Dates You Should Actually Follow,
Here’s How Long Those Condiments in your Fridge and Pantry Are Supposed to Last,
and No Flour, Eggs or Butter? No Problem! 23 Cake Recipes for When You’re Missing an Ingredient,
With that explorer’s spirit, I will continue to look through my Moosewood Cookbook and see what else has gone unmade lo these many years.
What have you discovered in the back of your cupboards, or freezer?
Any recipes or ideas you want to share?