Disbelief

I just couldn’t do it yesterday. I might have. I had a couple of train rides, into the city, and then back again. But I was sleepy, and bored, did the KenKens in the paper and the crossword on my phone. So, once again, Thursday, I didn’t get it done.

The pandemic rages on.

The CDC is trying to offer some new advice about mask wearing, having lost so much credibility back in March of 2019 when they said we didn’t need masks. At the time, the Bacon Provider didn’t believe it, he said it was obviously airborne, and he bought a box of N-95s; we still have a few left. Later, some said the guidance was because the previous administration wasn’t prepared to tackle a public health emergency, and there weren’t enough masks to go around. More recently, the CDC issued guidance that vaccinated people could go without masks. Now they are changing their recommendation, but it isn’t clear. When I drove south earlier this month, I saw people clearly happy to go without a mask, because they’d never worn one, and never intended to.

My doctor’s office still requires you to wear a mask. So does the local pharmacy. But sure, Republican congressmen, do a lot of anti-mask stunts, to pander to your base. Make it political. Ok. It’s good for you, and no one else.

Captain, who thinks thunder is going to get him, beds can be made more comfortable by digging, and someday, he will catch the shiny.

I cleared my schedule Thursday to go to the dentist. I picked a train the night before, reset the login for the app you can use to buy tickets. Before I left, I made a haircut appointment for Saturday (the first since November of 2019), and called the vet I hadn’t heard from who was supposed to call me about that ultrasound. It was his day off. I repeated my request to send a report to my vet.

We no longer have annual passes for the parking lot, so I had to pay at the kiosk. The kiosk was just confusing enough that I managed to buy two, one-day parking passes, good for that day, and that day only. As a family with a bunch of little kids approached, I offered them a free parking pass. They were all wearing masks–even the baby in the stroller–and rushed past me without so much as a “No, thank you.” Like I shouldn’t be taking to them.

Once on the platform, I checked the screen for the 11:24 southbound train. It was not listed. I asked a woman sitting on the bench nearby. She said with amused puzzlement that, well, it was listed there just a minute ago. The next train wasn’t for an hour, which would not be in time for the dentist appointment. I would wait on the platform. Either it was coming, or it wasn’t.

An announcement: the 11:21 northbound train will be arriving at 11:31.

No word on the 11:24 southbound, and still no one else seemed alarmed.

When the train arrived, all thoughts gone of it ever not arriving.

Once on board, I had to figure out a seat for myself facing the right way. Half the seats on a MetroNorth train face one way, and the other half face the opposite way. That there are people in this world who can sit and ride a train backwards is almost incomprehensible to me.

Traffic into the city is reported to be back to pre-pandemic levels, but the trains run half-empty. Instead of ads in the train cars, there are posters reminding riders that we are required to wear a mask, we should try to stay six feet apart, and we should wash our hands. At White Plains, a trio of aging bros gets on and stands the whole way into the city. They talk about travel, and snow, and one of them keeps pulling down his mask when he wants to make a point. He pulls it back up when he listens.

Jorts

Because it took us so many days to get home from Eggi’s breeding, it was easy to put it out of our minds. Eggi seemed to be back to herself, certainly. We had a dog show to think about. I had written instructions from my repro vet to seek an ultrasound from a known, reliable veterinary radiologist, and to schedule it for 28 days post-LH surge. I called the office of a different repro vet, who is not as far from Bedhead Hills, thinking he would be a good backup to have in place in case of emergency. He came highly recommended from two of my trusted dog friends.

I made the appointment several weeks in advance, knowing as I did that the practice was very busy. All the vets are very busy now. The day of the appointment I had not slept well the night before, percolating with anxiety dreams. Eggi was hungry, but she was not looking very pregnant to me.

We left for the appointment at the front of the wave of bad rush hour traffic. Pushing along, we hit a slow spot, as cars weaved around some large pieces of tire tread, and I did not see the dead baby bear resting peacefully in the middle of the highway until I was almost on top of it. It looked like it was sleeping on I-84.

Schwartz thinks he is the main character in every story.

We showed up on time for our visit and because of pandemic restrictions there were signs in the parking lot saying to call to check in and stay in your car. So we did. A smiling vet tech who seemed about 14 came out with a clipboard. She pronounced the dog’s name, “Ugly?” and had the procedure wrong,  asked for a credit card and took my dog away. I sat in the hot car trying to steady myself for disappointing news.

When the vet tech returned, she told me the vet would call me, but congratulations, she’s pregnant. “Only one puppy, though,” she added. “Possibly two.”

I texted my husband, and hit the road. Having not met the vet, seen a picture, or been reassured, yes, really, I didn’t believe it. I waited a few days for the promised call, and it never came.

How am I supposed to believe a vet I haven’t met? Who hasn’t called? How do I protect myself from what might be disappointing news, especially now that I’ve had my hopes raised?

Eggi, who believes in cuddles, sometimes thinks the floor is lava, worries about strangers.

The dentist says my teeth look ok. She asks what’s new, and I tell her stories of my dogs, of picking a stud, of doing a breeding in a hotel room, of sitting in hot cars in the parking lots of various vets. She tells me she wants me to write a book. I say I will have to change all the names, to pretend it’s fiction.

I catch the 2:10 back to Bedhead Hills.

When I get back to my car, I discover that someone (or something) has taken a big shit in the narrow space between it and the next car. It seems fresh, or at least the big shiny green flies on it think it is.

Fellow believes that he is missing out on something

Today, my repro vet’s assistant calls to tell me that they received an emailed report about Eggi’s ultrasound, a blank PDF page with no masthead, and two sentence fragments: one stating that they confirmed finding one puppy and another indicating I should get a follow-up x-ray. It was so completely non-standard the assistant wondered if it was even real.

Today in May

This May, in the Second Year of Our Pandemic, 2021, was especially long. Certainly, it was a lot longer than May of 2020, of which I have no memory whatsoever.

I do not have any tattoos, but if I were to get a Commemorative Coronavirus Pandemic tattoo, it might be this:

A friend who lives in Europe told me recently they are anxiously still awaiting their vaccine. (Between writing the first draft of this post and publishing, I am happy to report they’ve now had their first jab).

The day before, I saw a Facebook post from someone I know here in New York who complained that “the whole world is brainwashed” above a posted graphic saying, “the unvaxxed have to wear mask to protect the vaxxinated.”

I am disturbed and haunted by it.

I can unfollow this person on FB, but I will still see them in person and regularly in real life. Someone with pets! You know, beloved animal companions, vaccinated for rabies, distemper, and West Nile?

One of my brothers is taking a break from social media; he’s missing out on the vaccine selfies, the proud graduation photos, the puppies, the ads for washable rugs and knitted sneakers, the hot takes, the old memes, and the bad news.

My mother was the sort of old school reader of books about social courtesies who believed that good manners dictate that one not point out another’s bad manners. The 21st Century extension of this rule is that one might abstain from commenting on a bad take.

I try.

The bad take in question had some enthusiastic support from friends and family (insert cringing noises here), and some genuinely concerned replies from mutuals, who hate to see a seemingly nice person humiliate themself on a rude, science-denying, loud, public fart.

I scrolled on, closed Facebook, and tried for days not to think about it.

I have not stopped thinking about it.

The brainwashed believers in a coronavirus pandemic? Includes me, and every other intelligent person I know. Brainwashed people with advanced degrees. Vaccinated as soon as they were eligible. Helping people in their lives find appointments. Anxious to get 80% of America vaccinated. Brainwashing isn’t real, but science is.

The vaccinated people still wearing masks? Me, at times. My husband, too. Out of a desire not to expose people who haven’t gotten their shots yet. Out of habit. In deference to 27,504 hospitalized people in the U.S. Out of a desire not to make anyone else uncomfortable. Out of an abundance of caution. In memory of 594,051 dead Americans. As an example.

The meme they shared? From someone who is getting attention for their contrary takes (with an extra grammatical error to own the libs). From someone who could be themselves vaccinated. Definitely something that we could use a lot less of.

I wish I could stick with my instinct to ignore the post. I record it here for my future self. To remind me of the time when the vaccine was becoming more widely available, when still not everyone had it yet, when it wasn’t something you could just ask each other about, when it wasn’t clear if enough people were going to get on board, when we didn’t know if we were ever going to be getting past some people wearing masks and others disliking it.

My brother who has gone off Facebook is happier without it (for now).

Me? If no one in my life is going to graduate from something soon, maybe I’ll have to make some puppies.

Pandemic Quilt for March 1, 2021

and, so, like, at some point in February, I was doing my daily “Today is” thing and had the impulse to make the daily data into a quilt.

Here’s what I had in mind: like, you know, where it says “Today is” and then the date, and then the usual data (new U.S. cases, number of dead, number of people vaccinated). I pulled out a bunch of black fabric and a bunch of white fabric and started playing with making letters (which I had never tried), but without planning, or measuring, or consulting advice online, or any other things that might have sucked the fun out of it (or made it better). By the time I had made the words, “Today is Monday,” I was aware that I was not going to be able to lay out the words in lines that would make sense.

So I thought I would also have some room for skulls, which was good.

Anyway, when March 1 rolled around, as we knew it would, pandemic or no, I publicly shared the thought it might take me a few days to finish.

I assume I was being sarcastic.

I finished piecing what I thought of as the quilt top on March 16. It was too large to measure in my sewing room. And it was only vaguely rectangular.

Does a quilt have to be a perfect rectangle? No. Could I have tried harder to make it a perfect rectangle? Yes.

I was a fan of Vine, and I enjoy TikTok. No doubt I will enjoy the next short-form video social media platform, too.

Then I started on the back, for which I had in mind a large skull surrounded by coronaviruses. I did not plan it well, and do not recommend working according to the method that my progress photos, below indicate.

The back of the quilt took up so much of that green fabric (I had many yards of it in my stash), that I had to cut up a pair of unfinished pajamas that I had started to make from it. Every time I start to sew clothing for myself I become so convinced it will be a failure that I never even finish. So cutting up the unfinished pajamas was a typical end for a project of mine.

There are a lot of reasons not to make quilts that are too large. Keeping the top of a small quilt flat is simpler. Small quilts weigh less, and so are easier to move, to measure, and to quilt. Small quilts can be laid out and basted on the floor of a small sewing room. I know; I know. There may be more reasons I don’t even know. My ability to fail to demonstrate my understanding of this lesson is noteworthy. I had to piece together batting to have enough.

I quilted with the green side up because quilting with white thread on a white fabric background is harder to see mistakes. I have a Sweet Sixteen machine for quilting, and I love it. I finished quilting May 4. For the binding I used scraps.

I finished burying thread ends and hand-stitching the binding just after midnight last night, and waited to wash it until this morning. I used five color-catching sheets because if the green fabric ran onto the white during the first washing, I wouldn’t have found that funny at all.

The finished size of the quilt is 87.5” by 102.5” by 83.5” by 97.25.” It’s a quadrilateral. It weighs 8 lbs., 10 oz. It is so big that to take a picture of it, I had to take it outside, lay it in the grass, and set up our tallest ladder.

Shot

Twenty-four hours from now, I pass the invisible deadline after which I can be considered fully vaccinated from the coronavirus. I haven’t chosen my superhero name yet, and I’m wondering if a chambray cape would be too much with jeans.

When I made my appointments for the shots, it was in such high demand that if you didn’t fill out the web forms quickly enough, the appointment slots would disappear before your eyes. Now the shot is pretty easy to come by in New York, and I know it isn’t this way everywhere. We need everyone who can get vaccinated to get vaccinated.

Almost everyone I’ve spoken to about it has that one uncle or sister or co-worker who is being a butthead about getting the vaccine. As the rare American who hasn’t the task of selling the reasonable risks of this new inoculation, I don’t have to internalize the frustration of coexisting with science deniers.

Captain says he gets shots all the time and they’re no big deal.

The day of my second vaccine was very much like the day of the first, with pilates and a horseback riding lesson, back to back.

The second time around I was much less nervous about arriving at the senior center in the Bronx and finding parking but out of habit threw on the navigon. (This is what the Bacon Provider calls it: the navigon. I always thought that “navigon” was the generic term for the category of navigational device or navigation software. I mean, he would know. I just went to look it up and discovered that it was an actual German company that made navigation devices and got bought out by a larger, U.S. competitor, who of course shut it down. He was being funny, and I didn’t know it until now. I like the word “navigon” and think we should use it to mean whatever navigation technology we use, be it software on our phones or the crummy, built-in stuff in the dashboard of a modern car.)

Because I don’t really go anyplace anymore, it is thrilling and nauseating to hit the road for someplace new. I got on the highway headed south. Traffic was moving at a good clip, and I was listening to a book by Muriel Spark and keeping pace with the other traffic. I had a passing thought about the lack of a plan for dinner.

I did not see the object that hit my windshield, but I did see that it was flung from the tires of a dump truck slightly ahead of me and one lane over. I flinched, naturally, and heard it hit with a sharp crunch. I paused the girls of the Brodie set and let my eyes adjust to see the crack. Isn’t it funny that you can’t listen and look at the same time?

I do not know if I had been on any other errand if I would have been annoyed by the ruinous crack on my windshield, but I was not annoyed. Maybe it was knowing that a new windshield was the one thing that car insurance actually covers with no deductible. Or maybe it was knowing that the windshield gave its life so that I didn’t get my face shattered by a rock. And anyway, I was getting a coronavirus vaccine.

The Senior Center in the Bronx was guarded by a new but similar pair of NYPD and National Guard soldiers. All they wanted to see was the little paper card from last time. I was directed to a chair and as soon as I sat, a nurse in navy scrubs leapt to his feet from the chair across from me. There was no time for chatting or a vaccine selfie. The fifteen minute wait after getting the shot was the only thing about it that seemed to take any time at all. The woman with the enormous bottle of sanitizer who could not stop singing was still there, although she had at last stopped singing.

We grilled lamb skewers for dinner, and made greek salad and pita bread.

I felt a little bit achy the next day; most people I know felt pretty crummy after the second shot, with aches and a fever. I never ran a fever, but I did have some surprising intestinal track issues (which I had thought was a coincidence after the first shot). It took about a week for that to seem normal again.

They came and replaced my windshield on my driveway.

Now that my little vaccine dance card is all filled out, I’ve propped it on my desk in the center spot I save for the MVP of very important papers. Today I was asked to upload a copy of it for the first time. The Westminster Kennel Club dog show, which is in about five weeks, is asking exhibitors to either be tested for coronavirus just before the event, or submit proof of vaccination. The show is closed to both spectators and vendors this year. It is being held in June instead of February, and at the Lyndhurst Estate, in Tarrytown, instead of Madison Square Garden. Fellow qualified to enter, with several major wins, including a Best in Specialty Show last November. He has been going to shows with his professional handler during the pandemic, and it will be the first time I’ve seen him in the show ring in well over a year.

Today in April

April had thirty days in it, this year, which is the second year of our Pandemic, but this week alone it was Friday at least three times. This is why I am posting on Friday, instead of Thursday.

TikTok is great and you should waste time there instead of Facebook.

Shoutout to the 29th, which is painted on a piece of newspaper and is absolutely my favorite of the month. Also, bravo to the coronavirus vaccine effort, which has now produced 101,407,318 fully vaccinated Americans.

Last Friday, the Good

Woman in mask at vaccination center

Last Friday, April 2nd, in the Second Year of Our Pandemic, 2021, was Good Friday, and also a good day.

The night before, of course, I had a stressful dream about how my friend Allison and I narrowly escaped the flood, freed the refugee children from her attic (but abandoned the elderly people), and tried to organize everyone into two large rowboats. I woke up when Allison climbed into the boat I was supposed to row, pushing her half of the crowd of children out into the floodwaters without an adult or a second oar.

I got up early to make my Today is watercolor.

I am very excited by painting with watercolors right now, and have nearly used up an old block of watercolor paper that I received as a gift when I was in junior high school. I am even using the backs.

Then it was time to do the pet feeding dance. Schwartz and Eggi are easy these days (although Eggi is on a bit of a diet because bitches have hormone cycles and boy, does she). Captain had a sour tummy in the morning so I was pressed to add something delicious. Fellow was away for the weekend at a dog show.

cat sitting on yoga mat
Schwartz has his own mat

Then I had pilates with the cat.

Then we had a riding lesson which was very amazing (I mean, riding horses is very amazing. Prehistoric people probably would have eaten all the horses if they hadn’t figured out how to use them as engines, and together we went on to invade almost the whole earth, and then about a hundred years ago we quit on the horses and switched to gas-powered internal combustion and heyo, I guess, sorry about the greenhouse gasses to the whole earth and all its inhabitants).

Then I came home and changed out of my riding clothes and printed out an appointment ticket I found lurking in my email and headed to The Bronx.

One thing about living in Bedhead Hills is that it is 1977 here, so in order to get to places like North Dreadful, where it is 1957, or New York City, where it is 2021, you must also time travel. I do not know precisely why, but going backwards in time is easier around here, and you can do it in your car, but going forwards in time usually requires taking a train. Otherwise, the length of your journey can vary from an hour, to many hours.

I took the precaution of listening to a fully dramatized Hamlet in the car, so there were ghosts and a mad scene and the clang of swords on the Hutch.

I should probably say that New York’s Governor for Life Andrew Cuomo announced that people over 50 without pre-existing conditions were eligible for the coronavirus vaccine in the state in mid-March, but at first I wasn’t able to find an appointment for a shot within two hundred miles. Eventually, I took an appointment that was about a hundred miles away, and then, checking and refreshing the Am I Eligible page on the website at odd hours of the day and night, was able to improve my arrangement, finding something both sooner and closer. And despite the fact that people I know all over Westchester County have been able to get appointments at local pharmacies or at the mass vaccine event being held in White Plains in the convention center, the best I could do was a senior center in The Bronx.

When I arrived in The Bronx, I found myself in the car dealerships/car repair/window tinting/tires neighborhood, where the streets are wide but crowded with rows of double-parked cars, so a driver must proceed like Alice, at the beginning of her adventures in Wonderland, where she follows the rabbit (who is late) down the hole and begins to fall, very slowly, and for a long time. I passed the best parking spot and had to tootle around the block looking for another.

It was then so easy to find a parking spot I walked away thinking that it might not be a legal space to park, but if my car was getting towed, so were several other even larger cars. And owing to the length of the trip, and the time travel, and the meander past the weaving cars requiring new tires and window tinting, I was on the verge of running late myself. It was easy to see where the entrance was, with Stand Here circles on the sidewalk, two ambulances, and a police officer. As I approached the entrance, a very man came from the other direction, striding and swaggering in such a way that even the molecules of air moved out of his way, and as he got closer, his legs got longer, his stride lengthened, and he got even taller, or maybe I got shorter, or maybe both, and, but, so that when we reached the policeman at the same time, I was practically invisible and the much larger man went first.

As the large man stepped to the doors, I was confronted by a surprised NYPD officer, who hadn’t seen me approach, and demanded my ID and appointment ticket. My Westchester friends have relayed tales of going early to their appointments, but in The Bronx there are large signs out front making clear that you cannot be early; you must be within 30 minutes of your appointment.

I followed the enormous man into the building and startled another screener, who let the man go but gave me a stern but muffled lecture about keeping my ticket handy. A man stopped me and took my temperature, and gestured that I was to proceed onwards. I followed the arrows on the floor. A woman with a clipboard said something I did not understand, so I wandered forward and sat in an empty folding chair. A woman at a desk with a computer asked me for something so I produced the ticket. She didn’t want it. She wanted my ID, and she kept it on the desk in front of her while she furiously typed.

Then a National Guard solider in a desert-camo uniform and cap, crisply creased pants tucked neatly into pristine tan boots appeared with a small plastic tray. A nurse in navy scrubs took two syringes, and two cards from the tray, one for me and one for the next person.

The nurse told me to take off my sweatshirt, which I did, and she reached for my right arm. I asked if we couldn’t use my left arm. She asked me which arm I wanted. I said left. She reached out and grabbed the deltoid on my left shoulder, pinching it hard, and told me to relax the muscle, which I attempted to do and no sooner had I made that attempt there was already a needle in my arm and it was done. It didn’t hurt at all.

She slapped a bandaid on me and was gone in a flash

The woman with my ID completed her furious typing and examination of the object of interest. She placed a sticker on me with the time I was free to leave written on it, and with my license gave me a sticker and the precious white card with the details of my Pfizer shot. A sticker. I got a sticker.

I rose with my winter coat bundled in my arms and went to find my way to the waiting chairs, following more arrows and stickers on the painted concrete floor. There, a woman in a traffic safety vest with a lanyard and ID badge wandered through the grid of chairs, singing volubly. She held a gigantic bottle of spray sanitizer, which she applied to chairs after people left.

“You can sit anywhere,” she said, with the same sing-song cadence to every person who emerged.

An older man circled the chair in front of me, and was encouraged by Safety Vest to have a seat anywhere. He sat. They must have exchanged other words, but I was a little lost in my own head. The ceiling was very high, with frosted glass panels set into a frame, so the enormous room was filled with natural light. I wondered what the enormous room of the senior center was normally used for; table tennis? Safety Vest told the man in from of me, “Jesus is my boss.”

He replied, but I couldn’t hear him, and she said, “I’ve been singing and dancing my way through my whole career in New York.”

When it was my time to leave, Safety Vest came to me, looked at the time on my sticker, and said, “If you feel ok, you can go.”

I looked her directly in the eye and burst into tears. I had to explain that I was fine, just emotional. A year ago, we didn’t know how long the pandemic would be, and vaccines were something people talked about as something hopeful, something possible, but a big if. I’ve felt so much worry about when the vaccine would be available to us, and so frustrated with trying to find an appointment, that here I was, crying tears of relief. “We’ve had a lot of that today,” she said, and went back to singing.

I exited just behind the every tall man I entered behind. His great strides slicing through the air had gotten him his vaccine only a moment before I got mine. On my way back to my car, I saw a big pile of poo in the grass, and I do not think it was from a dog.

On the drive home, Hamlet was captured by pirates.

Today in March

March of 2021 was very, very long, but perhaps not as long as March of 2020, which has had, as of this writing, 395 days in it.

I did not miss a day of recording the date and the coronavirus data in March. March 1 is not pictured here because I am still working on it and when it’s done it will get its own blog post. I still regret not starting this activity sooner, but my current thought is that I should have started way before March of 2020. I should have started in March of 2011.

I thought it was the 16th two days in a row, which was weird, and avoidable, and a pretty good demonstration of why I do it at all. I had a lot of headaches in March. I had hot-dog puppet fingers one day and drew them and someone I know wants that drawing as a tattoo.

Isn’t it weird that the 31st of March is a day? Seems like it could give a day or two to February, in fairness.

Today in February

This was the longest February of my life. I ordered four too many jars of dijon mustard from Fresh Direct because someone else keeps putting the groceries away while I keep trying to replace what I could not find. I am sorry to say I had to decline eight or eleventy-seven and a third invitations to Zoom events, because I knew I’d forget to join anyway. I stared for many hours blank-eyed into the void of space between me and the pantry, scrounging together dozens of meals with listless resentment. I stood barefoot and amazed by the hundreds of snowstorms that rolled through Bedhead Hills this February, and the dogs enjoyed most of the thousand mile marches on snowshoes through our speck of woods. There were ten thousand and one migraines for me, and a hundred thousand interminable Tuesdays, and of course I was ever so busy ignoring eight hundred fifty three thousand spam phone calls, deleting a million and six unwanted emails, vacuuming up twelve million thirty two thousand five hundred of those dead orange ladybugs, and I do not exaggerate about making ninety-nine million attempts to check the New York State covid-19 vaccine portal all resulting in no appointments available, unless you are willing to travel 400 miles for one, life-saving shot, and then do it again a few weeks later.

Oh, and the other thing is I kept up with the daily coronavirus data, and made one of these every day.

Lemme know if you need some dijon mustard.

The Next 50 Books I Read: March 2020 to February 2021

March 2020

  • No Visible Bruises, by Rachel Louise Snyder
  • The Night Watchman, the first book I read by Louise Erdrich, whose work is so engaging for me that I went on to read 12 more this year
  • Out, by Natsuo Kirino

April 2020

  • Lost Children Archive, by Valeria Luiselli
  • The third part of the Wolf Hall trilogy, Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror & the Light, the ending of which was spoiled for me by an interview with the author I heard on public radio a number of years ago

May 2020

  • Network Effect, by Martha Wells
  • The City We Became, by NK Jemisin, the most right now book I read this year

June 2020

  • Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
  • Midnight in Chernobyl, by Adam Higginbotham
  • The Daughters of Erietown, by Connie Schultz
  • Death in the Air: The True Story of a Serial Killer, the Great London Smog, and the Strangling of a City, by Kate Winkler Dawson
  • Elmet, by Fiona Mosley

July 2020

  • The Dinosaur Artist, by Paige Williams
  • Meet Me in the Future, by Kameron Hurley
  • Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  • Becoming Duchess Goldblatt, by Anonymous
  • Shame Pudding, a wonderful graphic memoir by Danny Noble
  • Murder in Little Egypt, by Darcy O’Brien

August 2020

  • Falling Free, by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
  • Magic for Liars, by Sarah Gailey
  • Inge’s War: A German Woman’s Story of Family, Secrets, and Survival Under Hitler, by Svenja O’Donnell

September 2020

  • Safe Passage by Ida Cook
  • Seducing and Killing Nazis: Hannie, Truus and Freddie: Dutch Resistance Heroines of WWII, by Sophie Poldermans
  • The Painted Drum, by Louise Erdrich
  • A Way of Life, Like Any Other, by Darcy O’Brien

October 2020

  • The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse, by Louise Erdrich
  • Bunny, by Mona Awad
  • My Sister, the Serial Killer, by Oyinkan Braithwaite
  • The Round House, by Louise Erdrich

November 2020

  • The Shadow King, by Maaza Mengiste
  • LaRose, by Louise Erdrich
  • Archivist Wasp, by Nicole Kornher-Stace

December 2020

  • Future Home of the Living God, by Louise Erdrich
  • Severance, by Ling Ma
  • The Master Butcher’s Singing Club, by Louise Erdrich

January 2021

  • The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett
  • The Plague of Doves, by Louise Erdrich
  • Shocking Life, The Autobiography of Elsa Schiaparelli, a very entertaining gift from my brother Andy

February 2021

  • V. E. Schwab’s The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
  • My Life in France, by Julia Child
  • The Birch Bark House, by Louise Erdrich
  • Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons
  • Shadow Tag, by Louise Erdrich 
  • Paddle to the Sea, by Holling Clancy Holling
  • Four Souls, by Louise Erdrich
  • Tracks, by Louise Erdrich
  •  Girl, Woman, Other, by Bernadine Evaristo
  • The Game of Silence, by Louise Erdrich

Covid 19.21.3

Every day still blends into every other day.

It is Monday. The cat is hollering. I have pilates. I go upstairs to the room that has space for the yoga mat, but I forget my computer. I’ve forgotten to wear socks. I am scrolling through my email from the instructor looking for the Zoom link. I am late. Two days later I have pilates again. It is still as if I never left the room.

It is snowing. It is sunny. It is rainy and windy. The power goes out. It takes two days to come on again. We panic about the propane. It is sunny again, but very cold. We walk in the woods and see fox footprints. There are two piles of fresh dog shit on the side of the road and they aren’t ours. My bag is full, but I pick up one with the end of the bag, above the knot, and then try to get the other, carrying it awkwardly and spilling it in the road. We dance around it.

Captain

Our neighbors at the Tennis Party house have a huge new generator. I have never met them. Maybe someday they will introduce themselves to my husband, who looks like he is someone. I have reached the age of invisibility.

My other neighbors are back. They were in Florida for a couple of months, but now I can hear their children playing in their yard. Then they are gone. Maybe they are just inside.
It is still yesterday.
It is almost tomorrow.
It is again today.
In April I asked, “How far are we from the end?” I am embarrassed by this question now.

The Wednesdays of January were rather extra: insurrection, impeachment, inauguration, investor revolution. Now it is February but it’s like still last March.

It is Monday, 3:30 pm. I see school buses out on the roads and I want to scream. How many more people have to die for us to do what it takes to stop spreading the virus?

It is Saturday.  It is 10 am. It is quiet. I believe it wasn’t always this quiet but I don’t really remember. I am thinking about eating, not because I am hungry, but because I am bored. It feels like I am in 4th grade, and I am alone in the kitchen, standing barefoot in the pantry, looking at the food. I will eat three bowls of Cap’n Crunch.

I am in the sewing room at 10:45. I’m not really doing anything, but I am sewing little strips of fabric together. I might keep going, and I might toss it in the bin. The clock in the sewing room is stopped. It isn’t really 10:45. It is always 10:45. I can stay in there as long as I like, because time never passes in the sewing room.

Forever 10:45


Airplanes pass overhead and I think about the people inside, drinking plastic cups of diet soda and going on ski vacations.

It snows again, and this time the storm lasts two days and it’s enough to snowshoe in. The dogs sink in the deep snow, up to their chests. I refill the bird feeders and do it again two days later. My efforts to keep the steps clear of snow are another joke.

It snows again. I dig out the gates and take the dogs for a walk in our woods. The wetlands are frozen over, ice buried under two feet of snow. We can explore areas that are normally too wet to get through, and scramble over the dry stone wall. We stop and watch a single car drive by on the road. I call the dogs and we head back up the hill.

It is Thursday. I have a dentist appointment at 1 pm. I get a ride to the station and take the train into the city. There is almost no one on the train, but everyone has a mask on. I am wearing a (washable, homemade) cloth mask over a (precious but disposable) N95 mask. I make eye-contact with a man who reaches into his backpack and adds a second, fabric mask to his N95 mask. I am for a moment not invisible. If one more person decides to start wearing two masks because they read this, because they—like me–wanna stay uninfected until it’s their turn for the vaccine, then this blog is worth my effort.

At Grand Central, they’ve put up lot of scaffolding and there are people but no real crowds. Even when you know why it’s so quiet, it seems too quiet. At the dentist they have a device to shower my masks with UV rays while they clean my teeth. My teeth are ok. Nothing seems ok. The dentist and I agree that everything seems so weird. I take the train back to Bedhead Hills

I sit in the kitchen listening to the sounds the dishwasher makes. The unusual bottle-filling noise. The spinning noise. The noise like towels in the surf. The noise a griffin would make as it puked up a hairball. The oven timer goes off. The bread is ready.

It is Sunday at 1:30. I can’t find the new gloves I bought. You know the ones? The ones I put a hole in, the first time I wore them? I don’t know where they are; they’re in a pocket, in a trans-dimensional jacket, in an other-worldly closet, lying in a heap on the floor, tangled with singleton shoes. I find other gloves. We walk. 

It is Friday around 7 am. I feed the dogs and then the cat. The cat has a dining nook far from the kitchen so he can eat in peace. On my way back to the kitchen I grab the paper from the front walk. In the kitchen I do the KenKens and then I write down what day it is. I look up the latest coronavirus data and write that down, too. Then I take a picture of it, and I post it on Twitter. The same four people “like” it; they don’t like it at all.

Back in April I thought it was remarkable that there were about to be a million known cases of the coronavirus in the U.S., and the next day there would be almost 60,000 dead Americans. It might have been remarkable. But it wasn’t. Now there have been more than 27 million cases and almost 470,000 dead Americans. Back in April people were talking about what song lyrics you could sing so you washed your hands long enough. Back in April people were looking forward to kids going back to school in the fall. Back in April the CDC was unclear about whether people should be wearing masks.

It is Tuesday at 10:30. I take Eggi to dog class. I bring three pieces of string cheese for her and only use two. I eat the other one in the car. I think about stopping for gas, but there are two many men at the gas station and the only one with a mask is wearing it around his neck. I drive on.

Last fall, I read somewhere that the prediction for New York was a wet winter but no snow. In the past week we’ve had a spectacular amount of snow, and more is expected. We already live like we’re snowed in: every grocery order includes staples, so we are always prepared.

Eggi comes into season and we have to send Fellow away for a few weeks. While he is gone the older dogs sleep and sleep and sleep. When he comes back, I take pictures of the pets all together to make a valentine.

I send valentines to girlfriends in five countries.

Two rooms away the Bacon Provider is working. Long hours, all on calls and video calls. Even with the doors closed I can hear how it’s going. I creep around like there’s a room full of high school juniors in there, taking the PSAT. I sneak in with a fresh cup of tea, placing it next to him and taking away a half-empty mug. Captain slides in behind me, and settles on the office couch.

It is Tuesday at 5:45 pm, and I get a text from a friend with pictures of freshly baked bread and a question about rye flour. My experience with sourdough goes back a few more years than many people, who picked it up during the pandemic. I am happy to offer advice. I light the candles on the kitchen table for dinner and use the last match in the box. Tomorrow we will realize we are out of matches, and go through the pockets of coats in the closet in search of matches from restaurants we went to in 2019.

It is 2 am. I dream the war is ending. We are just trying so hard to keep everyone together. There are still bullets flying from time to time, but if you crack open the door and call out, real loud, “Hey! Be cool! It’s over; it’s over! Stop shooting!” they do stop, for a few minutes anyway. But the thing is everyone is so used to shooting and being shot at no one knows how to stop and stay stopped.

 It is today. It snowed again last night. I wake up with another headache. It is a new day, but it feels like the same headache.