Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Dispatches from my quarantine life

Like everyone else, I’ve lost all track of time. I’m pretty sure it’s day eleventy hundred of stay at home, shelter in place, quarantine, or whatever you want to call it. And I have to tell you, we’re having about as much fun here as you’re allowed to have, which is to say, none. I see other people organizing entertaining activities for their family, making sure their kids are keeping up with their schoolwork, mastering bread baking, completing every outstanding home improvement project they can, sewing masks for healthcare workers, and on and on. Meanwhile, I’m doing the important work: I’m testing all our couches for their napability quotient. I’d tell you my conclusions but I’m afraid my family might read this and snag the most desirable couch. But seriously, I am keeping busy. How can I not be? There are always dishes. So many damn dishes! Also, just the other night I went through my bookmark collection and pulled out all of the duplicates. Because that’s a task that benefits everyone, right? But you might be surprised how many store duplicates you find when you have a “little book problem” like I do. And now they are all stacked according to size so I can check for duplicates immediately and not let things get into such a state. By the way, I’ve noticed on my walks that many people have problems guessing distance so some of you could use a task like this that shows you relative sizes. I’m here to tell you that if you are working with a visual distance based on the six inches your husband has always told you about, you’re walking too close to me. But I digress.

If you’re not a book and bookmark kind of person, I’m doing other things too (and how and why do I even know you anyway?). I organized the pantry. I officially know that I have 9 jars of pickles—well, 10 because I bought another jar the other day at the store even though I went *after* I organized the pantry and already knew I had 9 jars. What can I say? I panicked, y’all! I also have a serious mustard problem and my youngest child told me we were almost out of mustard because none of my 11 unopened fancy pantry mustards or 6 opened fancy fridge mustards are the vibrant yellow he prefers. So I’m adding mustard (and probably pickles) to my next grocery list.

Once the pantry was finished, I stuck with the food theme and decided to inventory the freezers. We might have a few too many (the one in the kitchen, the one in the garage that still works okay now that it’s not attached to a water line and that used to be in the kitchen until the ice maker water line leaked and sprayed water everywhere to freeze the whole dang freezer shut, and the stand up one in the basement originally meant for overflow before the kitchen one moved to the garage). Now, with 3 freezers of varying size, it is incredibly easy to put something in one and forget it. The back, bottom, and sides of any freezer are where stuff goes to die anyway, but multiply that by three. So you'll understand the need for an inventory. I cannot even tell you what interesting archaeological finds I uncovered in there. For instance, tonight’s dinner included lamb chops best used or frozen by December 2014. We don’t even like lamb so don’t ask me why they were in there. Those, however, are not even from the lowest stratum in the freezers though. Last night we had stir fried chicken and veggies. Grilled chicken strips best used by 2012 and veggies best by 2010 with the half full bottle of spicy stir fry sauce from the fridge door dating from who knows when. The marinated eggplant and zucchini best by July 2011 that accompanied dinner the other night was a little mushy but edible. And I know most of you would probably have thrown this stuff out, but y’all, I’d rather risk death in my freezer than with coronavirus at the store. Plus, I’m cheap. So there’s that. I also discovered that I have multiple (3 1/2 to be exact) boxes of phyllo dough. Probably all best before the early aughts. But I made an Egyptian Meat Pie recipe found online with one box's worth and none of us got food poisoning so I consider that a win. I do, however, still have 2 1/2 boxes left to use. Does anyone know of any good phyllo dough recipes that use pickles and fancy mustard? Next up is the fridge and I think I’ve seen multiple blocks of blue cheese in there. Also, how do you tell if blue cheese has mold on it? Never mind. You know we’re going to eat it anyway.

Of course, I’m reading during this pandemic although my concentration isn’t as great as I might have hoped, probably because I’m so busy thinking of how to disguise the next oldest freezer item I’ve found in tomorrow night’s dinner. But I am getting some books in. When a friend asked online what people were reading, I was reading a book called Rules for Visiting. I mentioned that these days the title makes it sound like historical fiction since we’re not visiting, no one, no where. His response to the title? “Don’t!” The only rule for visiting is no visiting. And that’s fair. (It’s a good read, though not historical fiction, by Jessica Francis Kane.) I also read Girl Waits with Gun recently and I’m sort of glad I didn’t offer that up to him for commentary too (although it is also a good read, by Amy Stewart).

Since my reading isn’t as voracious as usual, I’ve turned to podcasts. And I listen to about a million of them. Book podcasts, history podcasts, cooking podcasts, random fact podcasts, and more. Oddly, none of the cooking ones seem to use much mustard, pickles, or phyllo dough and certainly not in combination. I might have to write in and let them know they’re really letting me down. My family mostly tunes them out but I can’t count on that so I am having a hard time finding places to listen to the hilarious and totally inappropriate My Dad Wrote a Porno. Hey! No judgment! I get enough weird looks from my kids already. (But seriously, if you haven’t found this yet and you want to laugh uncomfortably, this is your listen.) When I'm not sneaking off to listen to uproariously terrifying erotica, one of my new favorites is Ologies. If you like to learn about all sorts of topics, this is perfect for you. If you don't, don't worry, I'll bore the snot out of you with facts from it at a dinner party, once we're allowed to have dinner parties again. You're welcome and fair warning.

Since I've told you what I'm reading and listening to during "these uncertain times," what am I watching during quarantine, you ask? Why, I’m watching my waistline expand. I think the calories consolidate in the older food or something. Otherwise I have no explanation. I mean, the Oreos are gone, the Twizzlers are gone, the M&M’s are gone, and so on. Anyway, unlike the rest of the world, I am not watching tv. I don’t know how to turn our tv on and unless the cooking shows are teaching me how to deep fry pickles, I don’t have the motivation to learn. (And I’m just kidding about the fried pickles. I already have a recipe for those. Breaded in pretzels even.)

At this point it’s been so many days, that we’re having more "adventures" than usual. We had a pipe burst in the front yard. I got stung by fire ants moving bricks out of the way when our fence got replaced. I might have tried to claw my skin off for a week but at least the dog can't get out of the fence anymore, constrained by the same social distancing rules we are. I went to Walmart for groceries and saw a lady wearing the now recommended face mask and gloves but also still carrying her dog in her purse. Maybe now's my time to start carrying my dog in my purse.  I mean, she can't escape from me through the fence anymore.  I could be a purse pooch accessory lady. Or not. We’ve taped a square on the floor to see if the cat would sit in it (the last one wouldn’t but we thought we’d test this one) but all he did was sniff it suspiciously. I have no idea why he’d be suspicious living with us! I mean we haven’t owned cats for that many years so his food is all new. I took the dog out on the deck yesterday and tried to give her a little clipper cut. Of course, I was chicken and she was too stressed for me to do anything but clip her top half. So now she’s got the doggie version of a mullet. Business on the top and party underneath. I didn’t want to freak her out too much in one day so I did her furry eyebrows today. They are uneven, to say the least. Tomorrow might be beard day if she hasn’t learned to hide from me by then. I suppose I can always try bribing her with some leftover freezer-burned lamb if necessary. (Actually, surprisingly it didn’t taste freezer-burned but it did taste like lamb, and as mentioned before, yuck, although the mint mustard sauce accompanying it was not bad.  Plus, mustard.) The groomers are going to be so concerned about her when they finally open up again! Or I might find other scintillating things to do here like rearrange my bookshelves, which, to be honest, would likely take me to the end of the quarantine even if it lasts until 2021, or clean out the garage, or go through my clothes that no longer fit (and are getting further away from fitting by the minute) or something else similar that I’ve been promising to do since I bought the stir fry veggies in 2010. Or I might take yet another nap on my preferred couch.

How are you all holding up?


  1. I am rearranging my bookshelves. No need to look for extra tasks. And the internet said that meat lasts forever in the freezer. (Did my own deep dive a few weeks ago. Don't tell the family.)

  2. You are so funny! My quarantask, besides doing homework for my master's class, has been to unpack the "scare" room, which is full of stuff I piled haphazardly in there when I moved her two years ago. I'm also logging all my books on BookCrossing and adding them to my goodreads to be read shelf. My freezers (the little one in the fridge and the upright one) are packed to the gills, but that doesn't seem to stop me from buying more stuff when the opportunity presents itself. I'm up a couple of pounds, but I think it's because my A1C is better--I'll find out for sure next week. The next quarantask I want to handle is finishing my YA novel. Would you ;like to be my beta reader?

    Take care, and keep on making me laugh!


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