Racism and poison ivy

During the pandemic of Covid-19 I have had a lot of time to think and read. I have also had a lot of time to spend in my garden.

When I am tired of thinking and reading, I am happy to go out into my big landscape garden and pull weeds. Since it is newly planted it has a lot of weeds. I do this in the morning before it gets hot. This takes up any morning energy I might have for writing, so, as a result, I haven’t been blogging recently–which is just as well, because with all that is happening I feel like I have nothing to say, nothing at all to add.

I really felt I had nothing unique to say about that other pandemic of racism and police violence that has captured our national awareness in the last several weeks on top of, because of, along with Covid-19. Could this at last be a transformative moment? Can the biggest mass movement this nation has ever experienced be sustained? How will that happen?

It was just too much to contemplate. And then poison ivy showed up and became my teacher. Continue reading

Covid-ADD

Week nine.

My daily life has not changed that much since before Covid. I was retired before; I am still retired. I had to plan my own schedule before, I still do that. I stayed home most of the time before, I still do. I visited the gym infrequently, mostly walked for exercise; I now only walk for exercise. I used to enjoy going to the grocery store; now I enjoy shopping online (sort of). I used to dress up a little and go to church every week; now I put on those clothes for the online Zoom portion of our weekly church service. I used to do the NYT crossword every day and I still do that. I still have unlimited access to online books and movies. I used to enjoy going out to eat once a week or so; we now pick up food somewhere almost that often.  I used to see my kids and grandkids about every 4-6 weeks; now I don’t do that but I talk to them more often by phone or Facetime than I used to.

Besides being physically present with friends and family (and that’s big, of course), I can’t remember what I did before that I am missing so much. I can’t remember exactly what it was about life pre-Covid-19 that makes quarantine life feel so different. And yet the feeling is very different. Continue reading

The circling days

Yesterday I walked Ben through the application for Medicaid. That was my one accomplishment for the day, besides putting in another grocery order and making nice greens flavored with smoked salmon along with rice and fried tilapia. I ate too much.

Today, laundry will be my accomplishment. This doesn’t take up much time, however. I hang my clothes on drying racks but I have always done that. Dinner tonight will be beans and veggies cooked with a smoked turkey leg.

We got a new set of face masks that are so superior to the ones I made that I immediately ordered another set. Continue reading

The umpteenth of April

This long month is coming to a close cold and rainy. I can’t get out to finish the weeding today. Maybe I’ll clean upstairs, get rid of the sewing mess I made several weeks ago fashioning our three pathetic masks. We should have another set if we’re serious about using them properly, laundering after each use. Maybe I’ll buy some on Etsy.

Mask sewing isn’t where it’s at for me, the distracting focus. I know that is an oxymoron. What I’m looking for is a way to be sad and determined at the same time. Something to do that feels like purpose. A larger wheel to engage me as one of the cogs rather than spinning in my own space.

What can I do?

This is a status report, Day 47 of sheltering in place. Subtitle, the halfhearted quest for meaning.

We are sheltering a refugee as we are sheltering ourselves. That’s one thing we’re doing that is working out well for all concerned, all things considered.  Maybe we could take in another refugee? We have room. But we are not prepared to go through everything again that we went through in order to shelter this one. So perhaps we could offer space but not sponsorship, if that makes sense.

Yikes, though. How about something smaller?

My husband needs a haircut. There’s a little project, if he’ll agree to it.

Feeding the three of us occupies a large part of my attention. Daily meal planning and preparation and planning the grocery orders that go with that. Because of our different needs and tastes the meals have to be pretty simple so cooking is not always entertaining. My mouth waters at my friends’ Facebook posts of their baking ventures. We’re making bread, which Vic and I aren’t supposed to eat but that’s a staple for Ben. I would really like to try cinnamon rolls, but I would just eat them and I can’t afford that. I’m already gaining weight.

The gardening works for me when the weather is good. I bend over till I can’t anymore.

Grooming—personal and garden—and feeding are daily household tasks that fit only abstractly into a bigger picture. They help but don’t satisfy some need for larger purpose.

There are things I could and should be doing as chair of our church’s outreach team. They depend on communicating by email, phone, Zoom, or whatever technology we can muster and master. Our mastery and access, however, are not equal. People don’t respond promptly. Requests and invitations get lost in the ether or in the endless email chains. Confusion reigns. Everything that was hard to do before—agree on and plan projects, budget and raise funds, decide how funds should be spent—is harder than ever. While the needs may be increasing exponentially, we don’t always know where they are. We haven’t laid down clear procedures that work well without face-to-face meetings and the weekly fellowship times between worship and Sunday School where you can collar people and ask them to do stuff.

One of these days when my energy is up I might rethink church logistics for the pandemic age, something besides the video worship service and Zoom sharing and prayer. By the time I get around to that, however, we may be able to meet again. Oh I wish. I am starting to hate the technology. And committee meetings are not what I want to do when church meets face to face again. I want to sing in glorious four-part harmony. I miss our singing.

I’m feeling a lack of real church.

I’m feeling a deficit of the inner resources, psychological and spiritual, that are necessary to keep going in these difficult times.

I see it in my need for distraction, in my restless, halfhearted quest for purpose.

I see it in my wish for things to be the way they were; in my resistance to change and difficulty.

I see it when I sit to meditate and can’t stay quiet and empty my mind for a mere twenty minutes because the waves of grief and anger start rolling through.

I understand why people drink too much. I understand why people just want to get out again and go to stores and bars and movie theaters and restaurants and the beach even though the virus is still out there.

I’m sleeping a lot, when I can get to sleep.

We want to stay asleep. We would like to sleepwalk through life as if nothing had changed. We are not ready to wake up to reality.

That’s how I am today. How are you?

IMG_4346

The azaleas are pretty even in the rain.

I lost a job

Everybody has lost something in this pandemic.

If we weigh our losses against others’, some of us could easily discount our individual losses, especially if we have been taught to count our blessings. I am alive, I am well, I have enough to eat, I have friends and family and the means to communicate with them, and I am financially secure. And it is spring. So why am I feeling sad today?

The universal experience of loss gives us an unprecedented opportunity to explore the nature of loss and mourn together. Okay, let’s have a cry now. Or a scream. Or a community howl. Or a banging of pots on porches. For everything we have lost.

Name your losses. I dare you. Think of at least one thing that you will probably never get back, even when this is over. Continue reading

Cheers! Day 31

Sun is shining but it’s 39 degrees. I have to get out today nevertheless.

The only thing that really cheers me up is getting out and weeding around all the new plants and shrubs in my backyard which, in turn, cheers a bleak street landscape.

Sometimes cooking helps, though I am getting tired of that. Tomorrow we will bake muffins for a change from bread. It is nice to have someone around who wants to bake and can eat things like bread and muffins. Continue reading

Beware pickup and delivery

I have been on a driving moratorium while we’ve been sheltering in place. The last time I got into a car was four weeks ago tomorrow. But I broke my fuel fast today. I went to a grocery store.

I know, I’ve said that I’m happy to get my groceries delivered. But there are certain things that my regular grocery, the Meijer store where I’ve shopped for years, doesn’t have. The main one is my favorite breakfast oatmeal, Better Oats Steel Cut Instant Oatmeal with Flax Seeds. Original. That is, unflavored, unsweetened. I don’t know why Meijer doesn’t have the unflavored kind. I’ve asked for it repeatedly, to no avail. So I always get it at Martin’s, another local chain. Continue reading

A new normal

The first stay-home directives I remember came with a date that seemed impossibly far away. Three whole weeks! That date was today, April 4. Now the orders, or certainly our intentions, stretch into the unknown future. Staying at home has become the new normal.

As the first-hand reports come in from the front lines, this order does not seem burdensome. Continue reading

Yesterday and today

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in its petty pace from day to day.

Yesterday I taught Ben how to bake bread. He is now in favor of baking all our bread, just as the stores are running out of flour.

Yesterday I made masks for the family, custom fitted to each of our shnozzes. Vic’s was a challenge. They may reassure our neighbors that we won’t cough on them, but I doubt we’ll wear them on walks unless we get The Directive. Continue reading