We’re in that stage of the wintertime where, quite frankly, torpor has set in. We move slowly, only stepping it up to a hustle when there is some sort of deadline. Yesterday I had a friend coming over for tea, and I hustled to make a sourdough apple coffee cake that never disappoints. Somehow I skipped adding one cup of flour to the one cup of sourdough starter, yet nothing looked amiss until I pulled it out of the oven a few minutes before my guests arrived. As it sank lower into a flat round in the iron skillet where it normally plumps out the top, I knew instantly what I skipped. It tasted surprisingly normal, but was just missing that certain crumbiness one expects out of coffee cake.
Taking a quick squint around the living space at the end of this day, I see plenty of evidence that we have been selectively industrious. There are a lot of projects littered about the living room where the girls listen to Audible stories while they craft. This includes embroidery, beading, knitting, and some fabric scraps that appear to be hanging out just in case they are needed. There are stacks of storybooks, as well, and some fifty states worksheets that Addy is working on with colored pencils. We have numerous school books strewn about, because we have not finished out our week of lessons and will conclude them tomorrow.
We are behind. The preposition dangles there, needing an object. Behind in our housework? Our obligations to keeping our floors clean? Our educations? Maybe it is that we have gently released our normal expectations of what staying ahead looks like, so that the “behind” feeling only niggles at us a little bit. After all, who makes the rules?
Early on in the week I picked up large bags of produce so that they would last awhile. Today we discovered that a huge bag of carrots, and a quantity of pink grapefruits and navel oranges got stowed in the freezer section of the extra refrigerator downstairs. Oh dear. Nobody remembers who put them away. I suppose the thing to do is to learn a lesson, but I am not sure what. PAY ATTENTION? FOCUS?
We are also ahead.
On Wednesday we ladies had a field trip in Erie while the guys went skiing. We checked out some of the mom and pop places including a crepery with no dine-in facilities, but the coffee shop next door welcomes people to eat crepes at their tables. It seemed an interesting arrangement, but preferable to eating crepes out of styrofoam shells in our vehicle. We visited a 3 story ramshackle thrift store that was recommended by a friend, and we discovered a candy factory that was established over 100 years ago. In pre-Covid days one could watch the process of candy-making on equipment that dates to the early twentieth century. So now we know a few places we want to revisit, as well as some we didn’t have time to explore.
We are a tiny bit ahead on the domestic scene. Addy and I did all the laundry today, even folded and put it away. We are ahead by a number of felt animals that the girls are cranking out as fast as their clever little stitching hands can make them. Gregory is getting ahead by ripping out the tile in the upstairs bathroom, and if you know about demolition therapy, you know that this is a good thing for a young man with excess energy. I got ahead by twenty-five pounds of clay thrown into forms that are not mugs, which is a special therapy for me.
So today I didn’t do any rushing. I just lived. The sun shone briefly and I thought that would be the time to take a walk, only it was so cold that I quickly walked back inside the house.
Alex has moved back to Bedford County and is working at the job he had before we moved up north. In a funny twist, he is renting an apartment in the house where Gabe lived before we were married. He talked me into downloading Snapchat before he left, and we have a streak going, if you know what that means. I am ever so grateful for technology to be able to stay in touch.
The pandemic seems to be giving us a bit of a break in this area. The crowding in the hospital is not as acute, and the stress on the nurses is letting up a little. Since the beginning of the year, Gabriel has been assigned to a blessedly normal cardio ICU.
I don’t follow the news much, expect for scanning the titles for oddities that make me laugh or shake my head, which is almost the same thing. In the past week I saw that a company in Hong Kong is planning to mass produce humanoid robots to “safely” care for the ailing/elderly in these unprecedented times. If I were an elderly person in a care facility, and a plastic person came into my room to help me, I would run straight to Jesus right then. That isn’t even a little bit funny.
There are some on the Safety First Front who are suggesting that double masking may be better than single masking, unless it makes it too difficult to breathe, in which case you should always choose adequate oxygen as the safer way to live.
There was an article about mulching that I read with interest. Apparently in Washington state you may not legally bury loved ones on your own property. Unless they are composted, that is. Once they are mulch, you may spread them around your shrubbery, but you cannot bury them to compost naturally. Who thinks these things up?
I also noticed that the earth is warming up, probably because the air is cleaner since the pandemic lockdowns. Never mind that this is a not-so-charming about-face from the narrative only a year ago when the earth was warming due to pollution.
On the food front: Kraft made a limited edition pink mac and cheese for Valentine’s Day. You could enter to win some, but I wasn’t really tempted. Also, hot chocolate bombs really are the bomb. We know because we tried them. Messy, not nearly as easy as the tutorials look, but delicious. Probably that would be a great thing for you to try this weekend, and you can pick one of the thousands of tutorials to coach you.
I just read God Knows My Size to my girls for our read-aloud. They are old enough to process hard things, and it brought us face to face again with a God who knows us all personally. When we read the chapter where Sylvia’s family received a box of clothes in exactly the right size for her, I kept choking up as I read. Rita finally marched across the room and set the tissue box beside me.
I bought a fat notebook full of writing prompts to boot me in the rear this year. It is a sort of memoir, and it makes me squirm a little with the preoccupation that is All About Me. Still, it is a good way to bring up reams of stories from my not-so-long life. It’s funny how random things come to the surface and suddenly connect to other random things, as if Someone was in charge.
In fact, that is where I am staking it all. Pandemic, fallen humanity, robots and all that mess cannot separate us from the LOVE that is holding all things together.