Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Nothing Is Normal And Karma Doesn't Work

It's been 4 1/2 months of hunkering down around here, and I've prided myself on how well I've handled it. I've gone running almost every morning (I know! Just a mile, but still...), I've taken my yoga class on Zoom twice a week, we've been cooking up a storm and eating healthy. I mean, if anyone needs tips on how to live the pandemic lifestyle, just send them here, right?

Chicken shawarma - yes, I AM awesome

I think that all ended today. When I woke up, it was raining, so I skipped running. Anna needed the basement family room for a work call, so I skipped yoga. Went to Costco, bought all sorts of chips: potato, pretzel, pita - you name it, we have a huge bag of it in the house now. Sampled some when we got home. Took a nap. I mean, why not? Life's gone to heck in a hand basket, and all that exercise lost me nary a pound anyway.

And then there were these:

Oopsie, that bag seems to be open...

Way back in April, I realized that -- 2020 being what it was -- we wouldn't be able to do our traditional Easter egg hunt in the neighborhood's courtyard. BUT, I thought, when this is all over, we can make up for it.

So, yeah, I went to CVS the day after Easter and picked up several bags of Easter candy at half price. It might take a few months, but someday we'd once more see all the neighborhood kids running happily through the grass, looking for chocolate.

It was a nice idea that kept me somewhat sane, all right? I mean, we're all doing what we can here to survive. So I put the chocolate away and thought, July. We'll do this in July

But July came and went and nothing happened, because 2020 is awful and no one is allowed to have any fun and life as we knew it has ceased to exist. The candy sat in my pantry.

So today was the day that I just dug in (after my nap) and started eating these. Or, to put it another way, today was the day I lost all hope that anything would be anywhere close to normal anytime soon. I like to think that this is healthy, this facing of facts. Also, it's delicious. Sorry, kids!

Speaking of CVS (I mean, we were, sort of, right?), Anna came home the other day and said, "Some old guy was yelling at the cashier in the new CVS because there wasn't a sign on the old store telling him where the new store was. So I told him he couldn't talk to people that way."

Anna spent years waitressing and bartending. She sticks up for anyone working a service job.

"Did he stop?" I asked, alarmed and proud at the same time.

"He turned on me and yelled, 'Who do you think you are?!?' and stomped out of the store," she said.

End of story. Only, it wasn't, not really. Later that day, Larry took me on our after-dinner forced march. It's usually still hot out in the evenings, and it's humid as heck, but we go anyway, because otherwise I'll just sit around doing something non-productive, like eating other people's Easter candy. "I did a good deed today," Larry announced as we walked. "I was leaving the dry cleaner's and I saw an old guy peering into the windows of the old CVS and looking confused, so I told him it had moved a few doors down to the corner."

I stopped and looked at him. "An old guy?" I asked.

"Yes!" Larry said. "He was really grumpy and said, 'Well, why don't they put a sign up or something?!?' and then he stomped off to the new store. But it still feels good to have helped someone." 

Or, rather, it feels good until your wife tells you that the person you helped? Turned right around and yelled at your daughter...

Friday, July 10, 2020

When COVID Hands You Lemons...

OMG, I MISSED YOU. I just...I don't know. At work I was processing 6000 words a day, and I think I needed a vacation once I was laid off. So I've knit and I've sewed (masks, of course, what else?) and I've deep-cleaned the house and weeded the yard and generally recovered from a whirlwind 17 months of never, ever being quite on top of anything.

It felt good.

I like how this looks all seamstress-y

This month we shelled out the big bucks (well, all right, $6.99) for Disney Plus and watched Hamilton with the rest of America. I was worried I wouldn't like it because every time I tried to listen to the soundtrack on Spotify, my brain would get tired. I mean, there are A LOT of words in there, people. But we all ended up loving the movie (or whatever you call a play that is filmed, I don't know), it was fun family-bonding time, and (unfortunately) Hamilton will always remind me of this stupid pandemic.

Bonus: now I can listen to the soundtrack and understand it, just like all the cool kids.

Remember all the bread-baking (and eating) that was happening here March through May? That bread was our butter-slathered emotional support food through the early months of the current health crisis. So, as it turns out, our summertime emotional support food seems to be lemonade, a half-gallon carafe that sits in our fridge and is constantly replenished (by me, of course, who else?).

Did I ever mention that when the kids were younger, I would only make lemonade if the temps hit 90 or above? I wanted it to be a special treat and not have the kids begging for it every day, is why. So this is what the pandemic has done - it has made every day a Special Treat Day. YOLO. Carpe diem. Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you may be dealing with COVID and having to wear masks in the house.

Lemonade, anyone?
I spent almost 30 years of married life without owning a nice pitcher or carafe (Larry and I eloped - I understand that those who have normal weddings possess many of this type of item). Instead, I've only had those ugly Rubbermaid pitchers which are, let's face it, totally function over form. What's more, if I wanted to make lemonade, I'd often have to go outside to locate the pitcher because we also used it for watering plants.

All this to say, I have spent years pining for something nicer, more festive, to put lemonade in. Being indecisive, especially when it comes to buying things, I never did find the perfect pitcher (i.e., pretty but unbreakable), but when I was in Harris Teeter the other week, I spotted the item pictured above and thought, Bright-colored lid! Fun shape! Good enough! and brought it home.

This purchase represented the culmination of my long-held dream to (somewhat) elegantly pour liquid refreshment into the waiting glasses of my family, so as I placed it on our kitchen counter, I felt an unwonted sense of housewifely fulfillment. "Look!" I said to Susie, who had just walked into the room. "A nice pitcher!"

Whereupon Susie said, and I quote, "THAT looks stupid."


Friday, June 19, 2020


Hi! Just getting used to being unemployed here - and you? I spent my first day of freedom scrubbing down the "kids" bathroom, which yes, they could do themselves, but they don't and I'm not living like that. My second day of freedom involved going to ALDI and spending over $200 (which, honestly, I didn't even think was possible) to restock the pantry and freezer with everything we had run low on, because seriously, it is no joke having 6 grown humans living and eating in one house.

Today? I received the results of a lengthy experiment I've been conducting. You see, over a month ago, weary of seeing my frightening visage on the screen during Zoom meetings, I panic-shopped for something, ANYTHING, to fix things. I settled on the three items in the picture below. Only, I couldn't help wondering, How do I know if these really work?

These promise THE WORLD
I figured the lockdown was giving me a prime opportunity to do some real research. All these products said that after a month I would see a big difference. So I decided to use them only on the left side of my face.

On the right side (the CONTROL, for those of you who speak science), I would stick with the one thing I already use (and can get fairly cheaply at Costco):

Not sure this makes a difference, either

This morning was the day of reckoning. After my shower, I left my face bare and then pounced on the nearest victim, Anna, who had come upstairs to the kitchen to refill her coffee. "Anna, tell me the truth - which side of my face looks better?"

I wish I had thought to take a picture of her expression when I asked that question. Seeing it, I tried to elaborate. "No, I mean, does either side look less wrinkled? The skin younger? How about around the eyes?"

"You look VERY YOUNG," poor Anna said, trying to back out of the kitchen with her mug.

"No, don't worry! I'm not asking that! Just...it's science. Does either side look better than the other, or no?"

Poor Anna.

The verdict, delivered with trepidation by my cornered daughter? "Not really. Maybe the right side? No, no, they're the same, mostly."

So, there you have it: after more than a month of my using the miracle creams (with Retinol!) on only the left side of my face, there is still no difference between the wrinkles on the left side of my face and the right. Not even under the eyes, which is really a bummer, because there are truly frightening things happening there. The upside, however, is now I can spend my money on items that won't betray me, things that will add true value to my life. Like chocolate, say, with hazelnuts.

I'm a simple person.

Oh, and when I explained the experiment to Anna, she said, "Of course those creams don't work!" This last was uttered with all the insouciance of Youth, unacquainted with the desperation wrought by the ravages of time.

Can I have that back, that insouciance? Because this is when I need it.

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

2020. And 1985. All At Once.

I was standing in our upstairs hallway today, looking at the closed doors of the other 3 bedrooms, each with a grown or almost-grown person behind it and thought, What does this remind me of?

Let's see...people living in their own rooms, kitchen cabinets stuffed with everyone's favorite snack foods (don't touch!), arguments about whose turn it is to take out the trash or whose dish is in the sink, established quiet hours, and semi-frequent communal meals around the kitchen table...

Roommates - that's what it is. Somehow, in the year of our Lord 2020, at the ripe old age of (almost) 57, I have ended up living in a situation that reminds me of nothing so much as a house full of college roommates. WHY?

Oh, yes, 2020. But of course. We're in the upside-down now.

Korean beef, cooked by one of my roommates
You know, that empty nest was so close, I could almost taste it. But now, if I want privacy, I shut myself in my bedroom, which is crammed with not only a bed and dresser but also a desk (I had to give up my office when Brian came home last month) and most of my personal possessions (um, that would be yarn - a lot of yarn). I venture out only to clean the bathrooms (because I am NOT going to let those be like the ones I lived with in college) and to dump strange-smelling items out of the fridge

[Okay, that last item isn't new - I've always done that]

and bitch at my roommates over who clogged the toilet and didn't take care of it. It's the 1980s all over again for me, complete with living in leggings and having really unruly hair. And hearing about Donald Trump in the news all the time, actually...

So! Brian came home mid-May from college, which forced me to clean out my yarn room/office and move everything into mine and Larry's bedroom. I left Brian the pretty glass desk my friend gave me (too big for my bedroom, anyway) and wasn't sure what I would do for a new one, because - as it turns out - every cheap small desk online is SOLD OUT.

Because 2020. Of course. Everyone is working from home.

Susie and I came up with a solution:

Yes, the chair is excellent. Get one.
It's perfect and cute and I can look out of the window as I work. So there I was, all set up to continue working from home, and then...

Remember, it's 2020...

my entire team was told we will all be laid off mid-June. Which means I will soon have no excuse to shut myself in my bedroom upwards of 6 hours a day in blessed privacy.

But I am going to do it anyway, for my sanity, because I am not 22 anymore and this roommate thing is utterly insane, even if I did birth most of them. And I'm keeping the desk. Who knows? Maybe I'll even blog at you more than once a month now.

I'll miss that money, though. Money's nice.

Mother's Day was the best ever, even though I had just lost my office/yarn room that weekend (oh, have I mentioned that already?), because Brian brought home a very special gift for me:

Still can't find these in the store
These were all the Lysol wipes I had sent him to school with, freshman AND sophomore years. I was torn between motherly joy at receiving such a useful, much-wanted gift (because, all together now, 2020) and utter disgust that he apparently hadn't cleaned his bathroom all year.

Brian says he did so clean it. Twice. Okay, then.

Anna made me a gorgeous flower arrangement:

And she also spearheaded a project where the kids put together some photos of their younger days on foam poster board with funny captions. I almost cried with joy. Only, they don't know that even better than the gift itself was listening to them the day before, behind Susie's locked bedroom door, laughing and working on the project together.

Like I said, best Mother's Day ever.

Brian also brought home with him the dorm fridge another friend had gifted us his freshman year. I took one look at it and decided it was the answer to my dreams. You see, the condiment situation around here - which has always bordered on insane - had become completely unmanageable, what with 2 different types of BBQ sauce, 2 types of mustard, assorted hot sauce, the soy sauce that my kids insist we refrigerate or we'll die, and I don't know what all.

So I now, finally, have a separate refrigerator just for condiments, which is utterly ridiculous, but there we are.


Monday, May 04, 2020

Looking At Life Through Red-Colored Glasses

That peaceful nap on the couch? Hasn't happened yet. One blessedly uneventful day continues to blur into the next, so I guess it's like being at sea for a month or so, right? Only with Netflix, of course...

So I thought, Hey, I'll just look at my camera roll on my phone and see what the photos tell me we've been doing! You know, all those photos I've been taking?

There were three since I last posted. THREE. Here's one:

Larry bought me flowers, cheeky devil that he is
That's on my desk. I spend 40 hours a week there. I don't mind, because I get paid and hey, what else am I going to do? Also, it gives me an excuse to go into a room by myself and shut the door, because OMG I was not made to interact with people 16 or more hours a day.

But I lose my office in another week, when Brian comes home. I also have to move a lot of the yarn out of there, since I assume he won't like having his nightstand drawers filled with my collection of fingering weight yarn, and I'm betting the bookshelf loaded with bags of unfinished knitting projects won't exactly be his idea of good interior design, either.

See that plastic tumbler up there? I wrote about buying 6 of those from the clearance shelf at Target 6 1/2 years ago. Last time Benjamin was home, he managed to get 3 of them stuck together and someone ended up throwing them out (not me, I was waiting to figure out how to get them apart). The other three have become oddly misshapen and the only thing we can figure is that our new dishwasher runs hotter than the two previous ones on the drying cycle and is melting them when we put them in the bottom rack.

Normally, I could count on finding some more on the clearance shelf during my regular trip to Target, but that's not how life works now. In fact, I can't remember the last time I was even inside a Target. So the fact that these tumblers have been ruined is all mixed up with the fact that EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT from the time a younger, more carefree version of myself plucked them off the shelf 6 1/2 years ago.

Which explains how I can possibly feel weepy over 3 plastic tumblers that cost me 50 cents each...

Another picture:

Fancy lunch one day this week
Food is all we think about. Not because we're starving or anything, but because it's the only interesting part of the day. We talk about plans for lunch and plans for dinner. It reminds me of when all the kids were little and we couldn't afford activities for them, so cooking was our main source of amusement. Anna made a roasted eggplant and pepper salad for dinner tonight. I marinated steaks and chicken and Larry fussed over his new grill as if we were an old retired couple with nothing else to do. Susie made guacamole for appetizers.

It's weird, all right? Also, over the course of the past year or so, I finally weaned myself from having a month's supply of food at the ready, because, hey, the grocery store is right down the road and I can go there anytime and pick up anything I need, right?

Apparently, WRONG. That's not how life works now.

Larry's excited about the grill, because it is the first one we've owned that we actually bought new. The others were all old ones either left by the side of dumpsters or gifted to us by departing neighbors. So, yeah, new dishwasher, new grill - we're trying to help the faltering economy. I also almost got a new vacuum today, but unfortunately Larry managed to find the sock that got stuck in the one I have, so I missed out on that opportunity.

Vacuum cleaners sound really weird when there is a sock stuck in them.

I'm glad it's working, though, because otherwise I don't have anything to chase centipedes with. Usually I'll send Larry after them, but not if he's already asleep, so that's when I need the vacuum. We did have to wake Larry up this evening, however, because a wasp showed up in Rachel's room and we all immediately started yelling "Murder Hornet!" I mean, it's 2020 - what else could that thing be?

Maybe just a wasp, but he chased it around and it sounded like quite a ruckus in there, because the room was a little chaotic to begin with, and it didn't get any better as Larry tripped over stuff in an attempt to get at the wasp, and it reminded me of the scene in Annie Hall where she calls Alvie over at 3 AM to get a spider out of her bathroom:

Larry didn't manage to get the wasp/hornet/whatever, so now Rachel is sleeping in my office/yarn room, and I'm thinking maybe I'll just look up the prices of studio apartments in the area. A room of one's own is starting to sound pretty darn appealing to me right about now. I mean, as long as there are no bugs...

Third photo - can you guess? Of course you can:

Not tired of it yet

I wonder if we'll still like homemade bread after this whole pandemic/social distancing/shelter in place thing is over or if it will just remind us of this weird, weird time. Like the smell of Lysol, maybe...

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Still Hunkered Down - And You?

I don't even know where to start. One day blends into another, it's utterly insane. I'm working, which makes things seem semi-normal, but there are so many people around! Susie and I figured out the other day that it feels like we're on vacation (albeit a singularly boring one), because the whole family is together ALL THE TIME, and we're subconsciously waiting for the vacation to be over and for things to get back to normal.

But they never do.

All I want is for the house to be empty so I can nap on the couch. That's it - that's what I miss most.

Easter and Passover happened...

We've discussed in this space before how appliances know when you're under stress. I know they know, because that's when mine always break. Kids got stomach flu? Time for the washer to go on the blink! Sweaty, dirty Boy Scout Mulch Delivery weekend coming up? Whaddaya know, the water heater doesn't work! Houseguests on their way? Good-bye, dishwasher!

Let's see...the only time in our lives when it's become imperative to somewhat sterilize our eating utensils? That would be, uh, right now. So it wasn't even much of a shock when we came downstairs one morning last week to find our dishwasher full of water and out of power. That's just our fate, all right?

It was a little more of a shock when I called Best Buy and discovered that they had cancelled the appliance protection plan I had wisely bought along with that dishwasher 4 1/2 years ago. Turns out, once they've repaired it a bunch of times (THREE TIMES IN THREE YEARS), they cancel the plan.


So Larry Googled and YouTubed and lay on the kitchen floor and tinkered with that thing (which, let's be honest, is sort of sexy, right?), but it was all to no avail. And let's face it, I do know how to wash dishes by hand. We've done it before, a LOT. So I pulled my adored Michael Graves dish rack out of the laundry room (because I had known better than to get rid of it) and I switched all the silverware to plastic (because pandemic) and I hugged a half-sobbing Susie and told her we had to be brave.

Larry, however, was not going to go gentle into that dark night of listening to me nagging everyone to wash their plates and to stop using so many knives, gosh darn it, and WHO LEFT THIS POT IN THE SINK? So he ordered a dishwasher.

I told you - SEXY. Both him and the new dishwasher...

THREE RACKS - it's glorious

Google Photos is doing its level best to make me feel awful about our cloistered situation by showing me pictures every morning from three years ago, when Susie and I took our epic train trip across the country. And all I can do is marvel at the fact that we rode on a train with dozens of other people and we traipsed all over San Francisco and Seattle in the middle of crowds of people and we didn't even think twice about how dangerous all that social contact could be.

Tell me, how could 4 short weeks (well, long weeks, really) have warped my brain this much?

Sea lions aren't very good at social distancing
We're still baking bread almost every day, because why not? Luckily, my recipe only requires 1/2 a teaspoon of yeast, but I was starting to run low and was thinking I'd have to grow my own soon if I couldn't find some. Which, really, I didn't want to do, because I'm too busy spraying disinfectant on everything and yelling at people to wash their hands.

But a small pretzel bakery in my town - that isn't selling a heck of a lot of pretzels right now, I guess - decided to sell its extra yeast (for a handsome profit, but oh well, I'm supporting a small business). So Larry and I walked over with our masks on and they handed us a Ziploc baggie with 3 oz of yeast that I had paid for ahead of time on Venmo, and it felt for all the world like some very illicit sort of deal.

But now I can keep making bread, which somehow makes me feel as though I am accomplishing something. And then I can keep slathering it with butter and shoving it in my mouth, which tricks me into thinking that all is right with the world.

It's a pretty cool trick, right?

Friday, April 03, 2020

The New Not Normal

Everyone okay? I mean, really. Things okay?

I'm fine so far, if you call wandering around the house several times a day with a Lysol wipe in my hand "fine." I swear to God, the smell of Lysol wipes will always remind me of this weird spring.

Anyone else here shocked at the number of items your family touches with their hands during the course of a day? Just me? Never mind then.

Spring continues apace 
I still have a job, and it's telework anyway, so my life is a weird combination of normal and oh, so NOT normal right now. It's a little hard to get work done with all these people home all day, plus my efficiency is definitely impaired by my compulsive need to reload the Johns Hopkins coronavirus map every 15 minutes or so.

A neighbor and I set up a neighborhood Facebook group so sick or elderly neighbors could ask for help shopping or just anyone could ask for a single item without having to make an extra trip to the store. I know! I'm practically the Mother Teresa of the COVID-19 era, right? But it was the only thing I could think of to do about any of this. And it seems akin to holding up a fan to try to blow away a tornado.

I've developed a little ritual of shoving a piece of still-warm homemade bread slathered with butter into my mouth once a day. It just feels like the right thing to do.

We're baking an awful lot of bread 
Anna's here! She had been hunkered down in Tunisia for about two weeks, teleworking from her cute little apartment, but suddenly the Embassy offered repatriation flights with a now-or-never warning, and she decided she couldn't go 3 or 4 (or 5!) months without talking to someone, anyone, in person.

She might be regretting that decision at this point, I don't know. It's hard to be an independent adult and suddenly find yourself living in your parents' basement. She's handling it pretty well, though, I'll give her that.

Theo is teleworking and isolating in his own apartment. But first he spent two weeks teaching people at his office how to use their laptops to telework from their homes, which means he was in close physical contact with well over 200 people just as we started being told to STAY AWAY FROM PEOPLE.

So we told him we'd see him at Easter. Maybe. It feels odd telling your own (grown) kid to stay away. This all still seems like a weird dream, doesn't it?

Also, he's apparently got the patience of a saint. These people he was helping were all my age or older and very confused about the teleworking thing. One guy took his laptop home and didn't understand why it didn't work the way it did at the office. It didn't work at all, actually. Because he didn't know he had to connect it to a wifi network in his house.

There were a lot of stories like that, and I loved them all, because these people made me look like an honest-to-goodness tech genius by comparison.

Cooking a lot of dinner, too

I've made 3 batches of chicken soup. I figure we need to have it on hand in case anyone gets sick, because that will be the cure.

Humor me, okay?

But no one we know around here is sick yet, so there's this eerie feeling of waiting that reminds me of when I was 4 years old and my friend and I ate the ENTIRE bottle of chewable vitamins, so her mother (after she recovered from the near heart attack we had just given her) dumped ipecac down both our throats and sat us on the edge of the tub, where we waited to throw up.

It feels like that.

We've gone biking to our favorite sandwich shop and bought sandwiches there, even if people did breathe on them as they put them together. We decided (maybe stupidly) that it was worth the risk. I mean, they are REALLY GOOD sandwiches. We walk miles every day, because we have to get out of the house and we definitely need exercise. To counteract that daily homemade bread and butter...

3 weeks ago, I thought I would go nuts not being able to go anywhere or see any of my friends, but it turns out I really don't care. It's just not fun going out anymore. Inside the house, I can pretend things are sort of normal. I mean, except for that Lysol wipes thing...

Going out, though, it really hits you - NOT normal. The masks (yes, I have one), the 6-foot distance rule, the uneasiness at the grocery store. It just feels better to stay home and chew on slabs of buttered, yeasty goodness, you know?

I feel guilty making jokes right now, because this virus is affecting people I know, as is probably true for anyone reading this. This all feels like an ugly, slow-motion roll of horror that you know is heading toward everyone you know, but the only way to stay somewhat sane is to keep living your life as if everything is normal (plus, uh, those Lysol wipes). Even though it's most emphatically NOT normal. Not at all.

Hence, homemade bread. Chicken soup. A few tepid jokes. That's all I've got right now, and it really isn't enough. It's all just a little tiny fan trying to blow away that tornado. I'm sorry.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Is This Real Life? Or Is It Just Fantasy?

A lot can happen in a week, right? We went from not being able to imagine keeping our kids from being with their friends to OH HELL NO. Thank goodness for Google Hangouts is all I can say about that.

But, truly, anyone of my generation who grew up Jewish feels like we trained for this. We didn't read all those books about kids hiding from Nazis without picking up a few pro tips for being confined to close quarters for an extended period of time, right?

Also, being raised Jewish means having been trained to rate absolutely everything on a scale of hunky-dory (10) to hiding from the Gestapo (1), and this latest blip so far probably only lands at, oh, maybe a 7. I mean, we don't have to keep quiet all day, we can go outside for walks, we're not fighting over potatoes (yet). And washing my hands a thousand times a day beats the heck out of hiding under some floorboards so Nazis can't find me.

So we're good, right? Tell me we're good.

Here, have a picture of spring:

Remember spring? It's here, pandemic or no pandemic. What's more, a friend of mine went to NJ and brought me back something I didn't think I'd see again for months:

The taste of home
So that feels good, too. Even if New Jersey is, for all intents and purposes, now closed. You know, I didn't even know they could do that.

Susie and I have been baking (just like everyone else in the country, judging from the empty baking supplies aisle). Today was a cheddar-jalapeno version of our no-knead bread. It was excellent.

Seriously, you need to make this
I went back out to the store today in yet another attempt to stock up properly for the apocalypse, and I came back with dishwasher detergent, a baguette, and some bananas. I'm not good at this, people, you know that.

Oh, but Susie made sure we went through the ChikFilA drive-thru this evening to get what she considers to be absolutely necessary:

So I guess we're all set.

And Larry - having observed my total inability to provide the necessities for our family - came home the other night with these, mighty hunter that he is:

The equivalent of the Holy Grail, around here

Sigh. He's dreamy.

I've sneezed twice this evening. Am I dying?

Currently, Larry's working from home, and he has made himself very useful by also taking on the job of nagging Rachel to do her schoolwork. Come to think of it, though, maybe the school will just hand them all their diplomas, schoolwork done or not, because nothing makes sense anymore. And, hey, maybe they'll even cancel the graduation ceremony! Bonus!

As part of our isolation routine, I've instituted a morning event that consists of my playing my "Boppy" Spotify playlist very loudly, just to get everyone (well, every teen) out of bed and moving around. I call it "Pandemic Dance Party," but I'm the only one dancing. If this were a movie, there'd be a sort of time lapse montage, with me dancing by myself at the beginning, but after a couple of weeks maybe one teen would be dancing -- albeit reluctantly -- along with me, and then after a month or so we'd all be dancing together in our living room, even Larry, because being unofficially quarantined is such a family bonding experience.

This isn't a movie, though. This is most emphatically NOT a movie. Here, have some tulips:

That feels good, doesn't it?

Feel free to share survival tips, people. Baking, dance parties, and being grateful there's no Gestapo is all I've got.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Yeah, I'm Talking About It

Hmmm, seems to me that the last time we chatted was several weeks ago, in that long ago time before civilization was teetering on the edge, before toilet paper became a valuable commodity, and before there was an inexplicable run on cold remedies.

Seriously, there's only so much ibuprofen you need to take. I know this, because I was sick for 2 weeks in February (you know, BEFORE it was newsworthy) with the most god-awful sore throat that had me pretty much pouring ibuprofen straight into my mouth from the bottle, and it still didn't run out.

Brian came home for spring break last Saturday, coughing. "It started as a cold," he said. "It's nothing." And then today - TODAY, 6 DAYS LATER - he says, "No, first I had a fever, come to think of it. A headache, then a fever."

So I guess we're all going to die now. I dunno. I just canceled on a friend's birthday outing for tomorrow, because I don't know whether or not I should be near people. I'm not even worried about getting this coronavirus myself, which is odd, considering my hypochondriacal tendencies. I mean, with that sore throat last month, I was waking up in the middle of the night, convinced I was dying of undiagnosed diphtheria. If I cut my finger and it gets at all infected, I assume gangrene. But a global pandemic? I'm good, no sweat.

I'm so sorry I'm talking about this - we're all so sick of this topic (no pun intended). And now schools are closed, homeschool classes canceled, I'm working full time from home, I can only assume Larry's work will close anytime now - I love my family, but that's a hell of a lot of togetherness, you know? I mean, we've got a good thing going here, but let's not push it.

I did try to stock up on food at the grocery store the other day. I came home with a lot of fresh produce and a few other items:

These looked useful, pandemically speaking

Apparently, I'm no better at preparing for a pandemic than I am at preparing for a blizzard. No surprise there, I guess.

But I've got plenty of yarn to see me through, so I'm set, right?

Sunday, February 02, 2020

A Very Happy Story

So, I'm back, because I realized I forgot to tell you the best thing that happened over Christmas. As has been documented in these pages several times, I have experienced a recurring dilemma over what to get for Larry for birthdays and holidays. I mean, I've only known this person for 30 years and shared my life with him for 29, so how the heck am I supposed to know what he would like to get?

I know, it makes no sense to me, either.

Oh, but this year? THIS YEAR was different. Larry has always been stating wistfully how he'd like somewhat current pictures of the kids to hang up at work (the last set I made for him were all from 2006) and I have mostly been ignoring him because, well, overwhelming - I'd have to get some pictures printed (how do you even do that anymore) and then I'd have to find frames and yikes, forget it, okay?

But this year I clicked on an ad for Mixtiles (NOT a sponsored post) and thought, "I can do that!" All I had to do was upload some pictures to their site and they'd send me 8x8 photo squares that had something sticky on the back that you could hang anywhere. Easy!

Or not...

Folks, I spent hours searching for recent pictures of the kids on my phone and on my computer, begging them for selfies from their own phones, etc. One kid, it turned out, I had ZERO pictures of, except one from prom night, and I only had that because her friend's dad is a professional photographer and took the time to snap some fancy pictures of the girls. Granted, it's harder to get pictures of older kids (especially if half of them don't even live here anymore), but OMG this was ridiculous.

Think he'd like a picture of a strange dog?
By the end, I was slightly nuts and begged Brian and Susie to help, because I could no longer figure out what would look good and how close to crop the photos. And when we did get the order? I was scared to look at it. What if all that work had been for nothing? What if everything looked awful once enlarged? Susie had to take the box up to her room and check it out for me.

PERFECT. They came out perfectly. I had each kid wrap a few, so Larry had a pile of presents. And this was the very first Christmas in almost THREE DECADES that I didn't feel like an absolute loser in the spousal gift department. I mean, GO, ME!

What's more, I now have an unlimited supply of gifts for him - Valentine's Day? Mixtile! Father's Day? Mixtile! Birthday? I bet you can guess!

No more discount Christmas mugs and lone eclairs for my long-suffering spouse, nope, nope, nope! I have attained my holy grail - an affordable gift for my spouse that he will actually like.

I told you - it's a happy story.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Holidays? What Holidays?

We held our annual New Year's party 4 days early, because former neighbors were visiting and they wanted to see everyone. Which meant that, for the first time in 13 years, we didn't have to spend New Year's Eve getting our house ready for a party the next day. This felt weird. We ended up watching a (very bad) movie and then playing Monopoly. And then, New Year's Day? Nothing.

Do not watch this movie. Ever.
I mean, we must have done something, but I have no idea what it was. Maybe that was the day we went to the mall and I experienced the Miracle of the Jeans. You see, Susie convinced me to try on the jeans that all three of my daughters wear, and I agreed only because they are the only jeans that come in a short enough length for me to wear uncuffed.

I didn't expect much, because I am extremely apple-shaped and jeans that fit my hips and legs WILL NOT BUTTON around my belly, even with my truly excellent shapewear. Or, if they do button, the waistband digs into my stomach and makes me feel awful. Or they just look like crap. In other words, trying on jeans is a sure way to completely ruin my day, and really, should anyone be doing that on the first day of the new year? No, they should not.

But my beloved JAG jeans betrayed me this year by discontinuing the style that fits midgets like myself. The three pairs of jeans in my closet have holes in them, and NOT in stylish places, so there I was. Desperate. Forced to throw caution and good sense to the winds and risk dressing room humiliation.

Reader, they fit me. American Eagle, high-rise jeggings, extra short. I could weep with joy.

I'll never be at the level of tucked-in shirt, though
So this is the first time in years that I've been able to wear jeans that actually button (instead of my JAG pull-on ones). You know what this means? It means that I won't be walking around in public with my pants on backwards by mistake, that's what.

That link is much more amusing than today's drivel. You should read it.

Oh, what happened to December, you ask? Approximately 6,000 holidays happened. And there were house guests. And adult kids staying. And that early New Year's party I mentioned. All this. It felt like a blur. Because, yeah, there was the job thing, too.

I swear, you'd think I was the first blogger in the world who actually had to work full time outside the house. I am such a whiner.

At the beginning of the festivities-filled month, Rachel had just stopped coughing from the epic croup virus she picked up right before Thanksgiving. Everyone in the house was all Glory, hallelujah! because frankly? It was driving us nuts.

And then? She picked up a new virus, which resulted in her coughing THE REST OF THE MONTH.

We tried everything, including a zillion dollars' worth of my miracle cough drops. She kept coughing. Actually, I think she just stopped last week. Or maybe my wearing those earplugs at night did the trick. I don't know.

So! We started the month of December with house guests, finally managed to get a tree sometime in the week before Christmas (which essentially bore down on me with all the delicacy of a freight train), gifts showed up beneath the tree (thank you, Amazon, even if you ARE evil), and food miraculously appeared on our table Christmas Day. I have very few memories of any of this, and gee, wouldn't it help if I blogged more frequently than once a month?

Side note: Our tree looked pretty pathetic this year. It had some weird sort of duck tail effect with its bottom branches that bugged me every time I looked at it. I was going to show you, but apparently I forgot to take a picture of it. Or maybe I hated the duck tail so much, I chose not to? I can't remember.

Speaking of trees, check out the hat my friend knit:

It lights up!
We had friends over for Christmas dinner, the same friends as every year. Sometimes? Traditions are nice. Although, come to think of it, the tradition of cleaning up my entire house on Christmas morning because we're having guests later is one I could definitely do without.

Also, Uncle Matt and his girlfriend (who has been around since 2012, so maybe I should give her a name already?) showed up. And David flew in from Texas, where he helps build space rockets (that happen to be paid for by my evil Amazon purchases and yeah, I feel a little conflicted about that), and spent Christmas with us, which helped a lot, because he likes to bake. Also, it was nice to see him.

Brian was here, too, home from school for the holidays. He put up with us fairly well.

We had Chinese food for Christmas Eve, because we're an interfaith family. Also, because we like Chinese food. We all went to see the Star Wars movie for Chanukah, because the good guys are like the Maccabees, fighting the evil empire. But without any dreidels, of course...

We're really rocking the interfaith vibe here, I'd say
I worked at my job through all of this, and yes, I WOULD like a medal, thank you very much.

Speaking of my job, I celebrated my one-year workiversary this month, which was not quite as joyful as it should have been, because one of the other teams got laid off, so we're all just waiting for the ax to fall. I told Larry at one point, "Well, if I do get laid off for a bit, it will be great to get a break - I really need one!"

Because, you know, 12 whole months, right?

And then I realized I had said this to the man who has gotten up every single weekday (minus holidays) for, oh, 28 years and driven in to the office to support our family. Almost THREE DECADES. And has never griped about it.

But, yeah, let me complain to you about my 12 months of telecommuting, all right, Larry? It's been hell.