It’s weird that two weeks ago I took a weekend trip and was like, yeah, coronavirus does seem bad, but we just have to be careful and wash our hands. Now, we’re officially sheltering in place. I’m not going to try to recount how things have escalated on the pandemic front in the last week because that’s not really what this blog is for. But I will note that the speed and intensity of how we’re responding to covid-19 is crazy to witness. Even though it feels like every day we’re responding fast and changing our lifestyles, it sounds like officials in the U.S. still did not act fast enough to avoid disaster. It’s stressful enough coping with a novel virus and friends losing jobs, and then you see the president responding to a question about people being afraid by saying it’s a stupid question and insulting the reporter. How do you survive a plague season when the president is a sociopath?
My emotions have been all over the place this week. I spent a few days reading a lot of news, feeling stressed, and manically cleaning before I either got too tired to be anxious or perhaps just moved on and now I’m mostly living my normal life. I already work from home and am recovering from a sprained ankle (preventing me from being too active), so in a way, very little has changed in my personal life. However, I can’t ignore the huge physical, emotional, and financial toll this is taking on everyone. The scariest thing is that we don’t know enough about coronavirus and how contagious or deadly it really is because our government is incompetent. The other factor that I find particularly stressful is that it is going to take a long time to recover from this. Our society is changing. It’s an opportunity, in a way, but of course any change is scary—and this one is coming with causalities.
Here are some things I read or bought this week.
Here are a few things I read online this week. No, these will not make you feel good.
- Amazon’s warehouse workers sound alarms about coronavirus spread via The Washington Post. File under: Amazon is garbage and a threat to democratic society.
- Democrats are being much, much more careful about the coronavirus than republicans via Slate. So, this is alarming. It’s more evidence of our society fragmenting into separate realities.
- The infinite scroll via Columbia Journalism Review. Why reading online is so fucking annoying now.
- Uber and Lyft generate 70 percent more pollution than trips they displace: study via The Verge. Cool. Cool, cool, cool, cool, cool, cool, cool. Alright.
- As gerontocracy looms, American democracy may be running out of time via The Globe and Mail. No matter what happens in November, our president is going to be an old person. That may not be the best choice for these unstable times.
- The diet industrial complex got me, and it will never let me go via The New York Times. Read this only if you want to be sad about women’s relationships with their bodies.
I’ve been doing my part to stimulate the local economy this week. I ordered yarn for two larger projects (a sweater vest and a big, squishy cardigan), I bought books from Capital Books on K (they drove the order to my house!), and I ordered some candy from Andy’s Candy Apothecary because if I’m going to be inside I want snacks and things to do.
I also ordered a bunch of odds and ends to organize the house. Something about staying inside indefinitely really drives me to tidy up (shocking, I’m sure). I finally addressed the long-neglected closets in my office and in the guest/sewing room. I also have plans for my annual-ish re-organizing of my clothes closet. To facilitate, I ordered a few little baskets and some shelf separators, which are kind of like bookends to keep your piles of clothes from tumbling into each other. I also bought a variety of hooks and hangers to organize a lot of closet junk. These have yet to be delivered, so closet frenzy 2020 will continue.
Making Things and Doing Stuff
You would think that I wouldn’t feel much stress about sheltering in place and staying inside because that’s pretty much what I do anyway. To keep spirits high, I’ve been trying to share entertaining stuff (along with most internet citizens). I posted my Collected Essays (1997) to the blog earlier this week, which was a lot of fun both to share and to hear about people’s reactions. Inspired by #derbytwitter, I posted a few videos of play-by-play commentary of my cats’ activities. I’ve been inspired to make more sports broadcast-style clips after seeing this collection of real-life commentary. Perhaps I’ll make some more clips in the coming days.
Given the state of things—being stressed about the impending collapse of social order and staying indoors to avoid plague—I’ve been baking a lot. In fact, let’s just make a list:
- Sweet potato pecan pound cake with maple glaze (recipe: The Harvest Baker). This is pretty much what it sounds like, a dense cake covered in maple glaze like you’d find on top of a doughnut. Delicious.
- Chocolate chip cookies (recipe: the back of the Guittard chocolate chip bag). Total comfort baking and eating.
- Granola (recipe: Adventures in Slow Cooking). I make this granola regularly for breakfast. I like to mix it with yogurt.
- Cheddar cheese bread (recipe: The Bread Bible) and grilled cheese sandwiches. I ran an experiment with this bread and it didn’t exactly work out, but the bread is still good. Normally the recipes from The Bread Bible call for kneading in the stand mixer with a lot of resting in between. I tried putting the dough in my bread machine but the results were … weird. All the cheese in the dough was melted by the time it came out of the bread machine (before I even baked it). Is it a good bread? Yes. Is it what I was supposed to get from this recipe? Probably not.
- Chicken and rice soup (loosely based on this recipe): After cooking a chicken this week, I had plans to make chicken noodle soup. However, I decided to save my valuable noodles for future macaroni and cheese and make chicken and rice soup instead. It turned out better than I anticipated so I’m happy for that.
- Crescent rolls (recipe: Taste of Home): I absolutely love crescent rolls and, when you have a bread machine, they’re not very difficult to make. I baked them to accompany the chicken and rice soup.
- Roast chicken: (using the instructions from the Kitchn). We are out of chicken breasts, but I got lucky and found a whole chicken at Nugget earlier in the week, which was fine by me since then I was able to make broth (not pictured) and the previously mentioned soup.
I’m feeling less frenzied here at the end of the week so I’m sure next week won’t be so kitchen-intensive. Although I am currently making buns for hamburgers tonight so clearly we’re not slowing down all that much.
Kitting and Crafts
I took this photo a few days ago, so my knitting is actually even longer than pictured here. I’m only a few inches away from finishing the body of this shirt. Next I have to finish up the sleeves, which is a little intimidating because I haven’t knit sleeves before, but hopefully it will be fine. I’m excited to be almost done with this and I expect to finish in the next few days! Afterwards, I think I’m going to knit another pair of socks. I also have some sewing I want to do, you know, as long as I have nowhere else to be. I never finished my cat quilt and I have some smaller stuff I want to work on too. Perhaps next week will see some big crafting energy?
Finally, here are some cat photos for your nerves.