Category Archives: domesticity

Back to back days of summer

Plans for patio entertainment on. Then off. Rain storms swept through. Of course now, approaching the dinner hour, it is clearing.

No matter. Another super-focused day of writing under my belt.

A short walk with Finn and K after the second rain. A nearby cul de sac has the most beautiful garden.

It occurred to me while watering the garden yesterday, that we probably have never spent so many summer days at home before.

I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: there is something very grounding about staying put. I don’t think it’s any accident that I have been able to work mornings and afternoons on my book. That has NEVER happened before.

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?

Let’s count

After a poor night’s sleep, I woke discouraged. ‘Why blog? Why tweet? Really, why bother?’ Things that seemed sustaining 24 hours earlier, seemed less so this morning. It alarmed me, actually.

Two cups of coffee and one dog walk later, I feel better. Nothing like a beautiful spring day! The sun’s out. It’s in the fifties. I didn’t have to wear down or a hat!

Let’s keep counting.

Five Zoom meetings this week. Four successful, one marred by a no show. Son #2 had better things to do, apparently. Maturing brain, I failed to teach manners, etc. But better things to do with a visiting friend from Brooklyn — really? REALLY?

Number of times I’ve wondered if DJT is a sociopath: too many times to count. Recent events confirm it. Incompetence, stupidity, and strategic vengeance only explain so much. He has more blood on his hands than all the most prolific serial killers combined (except Stalin, Pol Pot, and Hitler).

Spring robins are back! Saw at least five this morning. ‘Chirp-chirp-chirp!’ There they hop — through the green blades of daffodils, not yet blooming but nodding in anticipation.

Number of sirens wailing during 25 minute walk: three? four?

Number of new cases YESTERDAY in Massachusetts: more than 800.

Number of doctors and other health care workers who recently tested positive in Boston: something like 141.

Number of times I’ve seen a person on the red house porch on Jackson Street in 26 years: 0. Today, a woman with a lap top. “That’s 45 schools,” she says. “AND, all the faculty!”

Number of times I spray Lysol on the keyboard every day, even without external contact: once.

Number of yard crews suffered through yesterday: four.

Number of times I’ve looked for the tiny bottle of Purell that magically turned up out of nowhere and then just as magically disappeared: five?

God damn those elves!

Number of masks finished: 5. Number of masks half done: 5. Number of blog and instagram posts about masks: 5. Number of additional masks I plan to make: 0 to 10.

It’s an act of duty without clear cut benefit. I’d rather finish C’s quilt.

Number of email addresses collected for our hyper-local help chain: 11.

15: number of minutes I will sit and follow the breath today.

3: minimum number of pages that I’ll write. I expect pure ranting today but who cares?

2 or 3: number of yard waste barrels I will fill.

One delicious dinner planned. Fire up the grill!

 

 

March 12, 2020

People opting out of writing class today, including me. We canceled our trip to Quebec at month’s end, which was itself a substitute after canceling a trip to Rome. Even a dinner party for Saturday is likely to be deferred til later in the year.

People are freaking out.

My brother, who is sixty and has two underlying conditions that put him at risk, is an ER doctor. This weekend, he has two shifts at a Long Island hospital with recent cases of coronavirus.

How not to worry?

One son is a security guard who doesn’t even get sick time. If they close the building and force telecommuting, he will be out of a paycheck indefinitely.

K rides the T for about 80 minutes a day. In and out of Boston.

How not to worry?

K’s brother cancels trip to see their father at the nursing home. Visitors allowed, but with restrictions.

During Finn’s and my walk just now, I listened to a podcast about the necessity of local community. Consider getting my street linked up by email so that we can help each other out.

  • Future Primitive:

In other news, I found a manuscript consultant and her name is ‘Joy.’ I spent the weekend muttering to myself, “I’ll be conferring with Joy.” “Joy is going to help me with my writing.” “How sweet to have an agreement with Joy!”

Stuff and non-stuff

A gifted bowl. Milkweed pods sprayed gold by my sister.

Even as the tableaux produces a pang about Noreen (she was rapidly declining this time last year), the simplicity pleases.

A worn wooden floor. An exalted weed. A textured bowl crafted by a friend, lively in its imperfection.

Our relationship to things changes over time, doesn’t it?

I’m always ready to take the decorations down before husband and somehow feel a little bad about that. What does my eagerness signal?

Don’t get me wrong. I love the sweet nutcrackers, the festive wreaths, and the sentimental decorations given to the boys year in and year out. They represent a life lived and lived with some modicum of joy.

They signal the advent of time-outside-of-time.

In other years, the enjoyment of displaying decorations and the pleasure at putting them away ran about 50/50. This year, there was no contest. I felt a visceral relief clearing the spaces. I can almost imagine not bothering with any of it at some point.

I’ll leave you with this shot from Finn’s and my morning walk and a stanza from a poem by Wallace Stevens:

I do not know which to prefer, / The beauty of inflections / Or the beauty of innuendoes, / The blackbird whistling / Or just after.

From Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.