Category Archives: coronavirus

Pantry soup #2 Miso Noodle

By giving root vegetables, frozen corn, and pantry items a starring role, Miso Noodle Soup could be made ten days before the end of the world. The addition of eggs and leftover chicken turned it into a meal. I used homemade chicken stock, but box broth would do in a pinch.

I think I saw a version of this on a NYTimes site this weekend, but I can’t track it down.

Miso Noodle Soup with Carrots & Corn

1 onion, halved and sliced in half moons

1 carrot, diced

1 1/2 c frozen corn

1 clove garlic

2 servings of Japanese noodles (I used somen)

Potful of chicken stock / 2 cups chopped chicken (optional)

Generous 1/4 c miso

* * *

Sauté onions. Add corn and carrots and soften a little. Drop garlic in center and cook for about 90 seconds.

Add broth. Cook until carrots done, about ten minutes.

Meanwhile, cook noodles in a separate pot. Fill bowls with chopped chicken and noodles.

Also, hard boil two eggs, peel and cut in half.

Mash miso in separate bowl with about a cup of the hot broth. Pour back into pot and cook gently for a few minutes.

Pour over noodles and chicken. Top with eggs. Add salt to taste.


If I’d had scallions, I would have added them — both for color and spice.

As it turns out, I would have rather had more corn and no chicken, but I had a carcass to strip from making the stock, so it made sense to use it.

Definitely a meal I would make again, maybe experimenting with additions like ginger, cilantro, and jalapeños.

In other news, those who suggested that grass was a misguided idea with a dog and shade were right (Mo!). K’s sod was beautiful for a season, adequate for another, and destroyed now. I’m extending the beds by a couple of feet and dreaming of gravel walkways.

Isn’t that what quarantines are for? Digging up your backyard?

Shadows and light

On Dog Walk #1, I listened to The Daily podcast and heard about the proper, sensible approach to the pandemic: the Hammer and the Dance. The Hammer is the lock down. The Dance is the gradual opening in controlled ways.

Discouraging in and of itself and also discouraging in that a sensible approach isn’t possible with this president.

And then there’s the ongoing federal heists of PPE taking place on tarmacs. These thefts have been called ‘mafia style politics’ and compared to Soviet-style corruption It’s way worse than the federal government leaving the states on their own and not helping. It’s way worse than price gouging and outbidding the states. It’s out and out theft of supplies that the states have sourced and paid for.

This article makes me think we need a word beyond “OUTRAGEOUS:” New York Magazine.

On lighter notes:

I’ll be posting another Pantry Soup tomorrow. Also, I determined that a huge piece of lavender linen that my cousin, Ginny Mallon, sent me will make a fine robe. To follow along with Jude.

And finally, I finished all 55 masks that I’d committed to making. Plus three for next door neighbors totaling 58.

What about after?

After the pandemic recedes, no one believes we will return to normal. But the question is, what will be different? Is hand shaking a courtesy of the past? Will people with colds wear masks from here on out? Will we treat our homeless population with more dedicated resources, since if the Mayor of LA could find them 600 beds in the middle of a pandemic, surely he can later — when the homeless are left with only their own set of catastrophic conditions?

Today, standing at the counter eating a grapefruit that had withered in the fridge for weeks, I thought: this, this change will come with me. A withered grapefruit that I would have thrown out without a second thought once upon a time turned out to be delicious.

Underneath its toughened top, lay the most succulent wedges of citrusy goodness.

I like to think that after this weird and trying episode we will be better somehow. More inclined to deprive ourselves in service of the greater good, less wasteful, less eager to go shopping, and more kind to the cashiers and phlebotomists and mail carriers in our lives.

I did listen to the podcast that Grace recommended. It was moving and provocative, featuring an interview with the author of a book called, “Die Wise.”

To be truthful, I need to listen again to really let it in. But anything besides Pod Save America or Gaslit Nation is good these days. My consumption of news has dropped precipitously in service of mental health, she said about to go watch Nicolle Wallace.

What behaviors or ideas do you think might stick when this crisis is over? Or, maybe the better question is, what do you hope will stick?

A quiet day

Two friends came by to pick up masks. One brought an exotic jar of honey filled with pistachios and hazelnuts. The other brought a pot of pansies. How thoughtful and nice! With B, we sat there on chairs outside and talked for a while. It was chilly but so great, this ordinary thing. Visiting.

Now that I have a schedule for writing, the tension about making masks has virtually disappeared. I’m about halfway through my list.

I miss the boys today. Somewhat acutely. Though not religious, we made a big deal out of Easter. Baskets of chocolate, an elaborate spring dinner, statues of rabbits on windowsills.

Adios and Happy Easter!

Tomorrow I’ve been invited to my first-ever Seder. By Zoom, of course. Here’s an incredible prayer that a Jewish friend sent round.

Some happy smiles, one ghoulish

From the study where I zoom, a few smiles to brighten the end of your week!

You might see the little critters and images on the shelf under the lamp. You might also notice Anthony Bourdain near the rocker and behind the red box, a treasured piece by Saskia. Who inspires you?

When I saw how closely this fern batik approximates teeth and shared it with Elder Son, his enthusiasm at the prospect inspired a little effort.

It is still quite cool here, not expected to get out of the forties today. Rain later.

This little pouch is the second of two. For the boys. Inspired by you all. Threads by Deb, of course.

I’ll leave you with a comment Marti made yesterday, made in response to how full a stripped down life feels. As usual, she spins wonder and grace with her words.

Quarantine dress code

Just so you know, I wear shoes until around four and then I switch to slippers. Because, structure?

On dog walks, of course, I wouldn’t dream of wearing my black velvet loafers. I wear sneakers. On days like today they get wet in pretty short order, but I still prefer them to my clunky waterproof ankle boots.

I get dressed upon waking. That’s a routine I’ve had for years, in part because I bathe in the afternoon and not first thing like most people. It seems more important than ever to stick to that. Sometimes, I take my bra off after dinner. With some satisfaction, I’ll fling it over my head in the direction of the staircase. That’s a tiny departure from routine.

Finn, in his own manner of sticking to routines, ate through the pocket of K’s good Gortex rain jacket two days ago — prompted only by the residual smell of treats. Damn! Do you know how expensive Gortex is? The only jacket I’ve had made of the stuff used to belong to one of the boys. K ordered a replacement, the SAME DAY, which in case you don’t know, is a big departure for him. No shopping around. Quarantine cutting through the usual structures about spending on self? Maybe. At some point in this mask making process, I’ve decided, I’ll ask for donations. If for nothing else, to cover the cost of thread, which as my fellow stitchers know, is not cheap! Also, depending on my stamina, I may ask people to sponsor masks for nursing homes to the tune of $13 a pop. Five residents in a Newton nursing home died this week at a place that’s been asking for masks.

I may make EIGHT today and still have time for afternoon edits. Starting Netflix series “The Stranger” for entertainment — pretty good, so far. Thankfully K is not like me. I cannot write with background talking or music playing, but he can. Ours is an open floor plan.

DAY 28 of containment. Full moon last night.

Email of the damned

I woke at three. By 3:15, I was composing an email in my head to Elder Son, aka the ‘alternate executor’ of both K’s and my estates.

“Rent a storage pod / Put all bedroom bookcases and books in it / Put half the chairs on the first floor in it / Empty basement as best you can.”

“The house’ll show better. Then later, hire a truck to ship stuff you want out west.”

Basement? OMG. Unfinished work is a topic that often keeps me awake, even absent a pandemic. One quilt, in particular, sprang to mind.

It was the less cheery of a pair, both constructed in the unhappy aftermath of Younger Son breaking his arm twice. The second skateboard fall required surgery and meant he started high school with a heavy, itchy cast — not an auspicious beginning in the least.

The Cheery Quilt (finished, below) was made almost as an antidote to the other, with sunflowers in the sky and a bright red house made of flannel plaid with associations to a happier time (Christmas pj’s made for him in elementary school).

The Dark Quilt quilt (above) used a lot of the same fabrics but bleached to represent the joyless aftermath of trauma. This time the house is constructed of deep indigo/ghost white prints to represent X-rays.

Where was it? At 3:45, I trotted down to the basement, determined and curious.

Link to process post about Ghost Xray quilt here. Post about bleaching fabrics and cheerier quilt composition here. Dated 2012 and 2011, respectively (ahem).

The Ghost quilt was in the dresser where I thought it would be. Exultation! But, oh my — how many unfinished projects I had to paw through to find it! I laid piece after piece down on the floor like a colorful cloth sidewalk to nowhere. Or maybe like a path leading straight into a big cloth, working along with Ragmates and Jude?

The Ghost Xray quilt stinks, of course, all the cloth down there does now — so it’s out on the Yew. The Impossibly Large Yew. I flapped the quilt out next to a red blanket that spent the last ten days soaking up rain and freezing in the cold. It had reeked of dog even post-wash. I was afraid it might’ve gone from dog-stink to mildew-stink given the time lapse, but no! It smells like spring. Delicious.

By 4 am, I had careened from concerns about children emptying this stuffed house to my central creative dilemma — finishing work. I don’t want advice or sympathy right now, but it helps to admit this (again) and witness it, maybe with a more balanced lens.

My impulses are good — both the creative and the personal. It feels important to acknowledge this as I beat myself up. There’s a deep river of generosity here. I am passionate about things. I care.

But the daunting business of completing work? Ugh, it really gets me down.

Elder Son’s blanket has, of course, stalled as I pump out masks. I’ve promised about 20 to friends (arg!)

Today, I have to stick to my routine of doing two crossword puzzles — if for no other reason that to let my psyche know that it’s Sunday! Then, maybe I’ll amp up the mask-making a little, to get it behind me.

Then, I need my almost-daily ritual of yard work. MAYBE there won’t be any fucking leaf blowers today, it being Sunday. Yesterday four (FOUR!) crews buzzed and whined their way through very-near-lots, two blowers each. At one point, I put on my ear buds. Next thing you know I’ll be embarrassing myself dancing to ‘Watermelon Sugar’ or ‘Old Town Road’ in full view of the neighbors.

Would that be such a bad thing?