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I'm not much of a writer anymore, but here we go with a journal.
I'm a 62 63-year-old widow living in Madison, Wisconsin, with two adult kids who here go by Kid A and Kid B.
February 24, 2021 at 2:30pm
February 24, 2021 at 2:30pm
The US population is 332,279,753. As far as I can tell, I'm number 332,279,752 in line to get a covid vaccine, and that's fine. (Condolences to that one 62-year-old chick behind me.)

We're having all kinds of trouble here in Wisconsin with the vaccine roll-out. The teachers' union doesn't want in-person classes until all teachers are vaccinated, and other essential workers are next in line. But even the people already eligible, especially people over 65, can't get appointments or have their appointments cancelled. Some older folks are spending almost as much time on hold as laid-off workers trying to apply for unemployment insurance. It's just sad that all these programs, including the Payment Protection Program as well, have so many people clamoring for them that they're completely overwhelmed.

This hasn't got much to do with me personally. I'll get the vaccination when I'm eligible, but am not in a hurry. I'm retired and don't do much socializing anyway. When I leave my own house and yard, it's mostly for outdoor recreation or go to the grocery or kitty supply store. Other retail shopping is online (seeds from Seed Savers and handmade napkins from Etsy currently on order!). I feel bad about not shopping more at small, local non-food shops, but don't spend that much money in the best of times, and just about never have money for things like restaurants.

I'm pretty sure I had covid a few months back anyway. Kid B works with some jackass who thinks the whole thing is a joke and is always working with his facemask down. Kid B has a pretty high threshold for frustration, but has made it clear he has no use for this person, who also keeps trying to pick fights with everyone about politics. Both of us got mildly sick, hopefully enough to lend a bit of immunity.

I do hope vaccinations are more available in June, because Kid A may come back home then on his way out west. He's in Austin, TX now, but plans to go back out to the west coast for another summer/fall of fighting wildfires. Not that Wisconsin is exactly on the way from Texas to Oregon, but I'm hoping he'll stop by anyway.
February 16, 2021 at 9:53pm
February 16, 2021 at 9:53pm
I've been getting down to business about learning how to cook.

In the past, I've had so many problems with finding recipes, but not being able to make them work. Or trying some kind of food item on the infrequent occasion that I get to a restaurant, and then trying to get home and copy it, and failing miserably. It's time to fix this mess, and no better time for it than during this vast and boring pandemic.

Cilantro has always been a puzzle to me. When someone else puts it into food, it's fantastic. When I try putting it into a recipe, it tastes like soap. Even a frozen pizza with cilantro on it would taste great, but anything I tried to use it on would taste like shampoo on toast. I was wondering if it was some kind of a curse. It turns out most people enjoy cilantro, but scientists have figured out that a small percent of us get the taste of soap from cilantro. It's in our DNA.

But there's a way to deal with this: by chopping, mooshing, bashing, blending, smooshing, overcooking, and generally just torturing the hell out of cilantro. It works! Not a dominatrix fantasy at all, just food science.

Mostly, though, I just can't pay money anymore for stuff like prepared pasta sauce, salsa, salad dressing, etc. I got lazy for a while because of coming home late from work and hungry, but now that I'm retired, there's no more excuse. Saving money is pretty important right now.

But the real blessing is in the learning.

Example: I had my first tostada a couple years ago, at the airport while waiting for a connecting flight back home, after saying goodbye to my dad. It was some kind of chain restaurant in an airport, nothing fancy, But I'd never had a tostada before, and it was delicious. Well, after I got home I tried to replicate it, and it came out disgusting. I used all the same ingredients, but it just did not work.

Turns out that to make a tostada, you need to toast the tortilla. Apparently that's why the call it a tostada. (DOH!) That made all the difference. Food science!

So now I'm on a roll. No more growing lemongrass and tomatillos in the garden, only to have them go to waste because of having no idea how to cook them. No more spending extra money for pre-made spaghetti sauce. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to make wine.

We does what we cans.
February 12, 2021 at 9:48pm
February 12, 2021 at 9:48pm
Heading into a second week of frigid temperatures, and I'm feeling a little claustrophobic. The only time I got outside today was shoveling the most recent snow. It's been below zero a lot of the time, just sneaking up to a few degrees above zero in the middle of the day.

Between the pandemic and the weather, I don't know when I've spent so much time in the house. Not since the kids were at the infant/toddler stage. So many places are still closed or curbside only, and when the streets and sidewalks are covered with ice anyway, it's hard to know what to do except say "Aw, chuck it!" until the whole situation improves this spring. I'm relatively unaffected, but even so I'm just so ready for the whole stupid pandemic to go away. And it can take February on its way out.

The frigid weather thing that really drives me crazy isn't the snow or the below-zero temps, it's all the static electricity. Just wearing clothes makes sparks on my skin. And the fleecier the fabric, the more static. I can't even pet the cats without small doses of electrocution on both ends. Especially the ears. (Theirs, not mine.) Pet a cat in this weather and it's like their ears have miniature Roman candles shooting out the tips.

It's a long winter, but I'm betting things will be much improved by April and May. Our elders used to claim situations that suck build character. We could use some of that right now. I hope they were right.
February 2, 2021 at 6:31pm
February 2, 2021 at 6:31pm

Fathertymme's recent post "Three Score and Ten + Day 167 got me thinking about how we package and put away our memories. I'm getting old and have experienced a lot of things. He was talking about how hard it would be to put 2020 into a box, and oh holy smokes yeah, that's so very true. But he also got me thinking about how memory is the least equal of places.

What if we could put every year of our life into a box? Honestly, we remember very little. And the things I remember best are probably those memories I'm most actively trying to avoid. It's impossible to Kon-mari life. Memories are more likely to haunt than to spark joy. But we do end up stacking those memories in boxes, year by year, age by age. We have some power to arrange.

There would be one locked box for life before five, and sides that obscured 99% of what's inside. The little tiny bit visible would be precious.

Each elementary school year would come in a flat box, sparse but sparkly. Reading Cricket in Times Square! My neighbor Julie skipping into my third grade class and helping me understand how to play the game and give teachers what they want! Learning violin! Alexander Lindsay Junior Museum!

The boxes between ages twelve and seventeen would look sort of like broken pizza boxes with nothing left but oily cardboard and disgusting bits of burnt crust.

Age nineteen through twenties boxes would be wet and not able to keep their sides squared. Something yeasty brewing in there.

Around the age of thirty, the years started packaging themselves in proper file boxes. While I remember little about my own childhood and have never known much of anything about my parents' marriage, I could write an encyclopedia about my own marriage and children.

The year my husband died would be one of those tidy file boxes with an elephant sitting on it and crushing it to smithereens.

Since then, the boxes have been less about me and more about themselves. 2013 may have been a box full of meaningless trinkets, and 2018 was full of grievances. But if maturity has given me anything, it's been the ability to look at the box from outside, rather than feeling trapped in it with no way to get out.

I'm afraid 2020 is a box that will sit precariously on all our shelves, mine included. It's shaped all wrong and looks unrealistically heavy, like something that might someday throw itself down on our future heads.

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