20 Pounds of Rice

20 Pounds of Rice

A little over a month ago, before this whole pandemic thing really gained traction in the US, we were having issues with our youngest having unbelievable gas pain at night. So gnarly that he couldn’t sleep, and neither could we. We decided that much like his brother, he has some food allergies that he’ll hopefully grow out of but in the meantime, since he’s still mostly on the boob, I’d have to change my diet.

To be fair, I’m already pretty strict on foods just because I don’t like the way they make me feel. I’ve read so many books like The Whole 30 and Clean Cuisine and Eat 4 Your Type, and I’ve followed so many of the diets for a minimum of 30 days that I’ve figured out how to make a mesh of all the advice and find the thing that works best for me. Safe to say, I already eat super minimal: tons of fruit and vegetables, no sugar, no dairy, no gluten, and animal protein only once a day.

With the littlest kid having gas though I also cut out soy. Helped but didn’t solve it. So I cut out eggs. Helped but didn’t solve it. So we decided I’d go down to a chicken and rice diet for a month, see if it helped, and then slowly start adding things in until we found the culprit (this is what we did for my first kiddo and it was a game changer). At any rate, we made this decision so I went out and bought the huge bag of Costco rice and a couple packs of the organic chicken thighs (because breast meat is dry and gross y’all) and came home eager to get my littlest sleeping again.

Fast forward three days and I was absolutely miserable. I was feeling headachey and body achey and totally miserable. It was too much protein and despite the fact that I was desperate for the calories, I couldn’t bring myself to eat one more bite of chicken. So we dropped it. I went back to eating my regular way, leaving eggs and soy out, and for whatever reason the baby went back to his normal anyway.

The point of all this is that before the pandemic hit we had an enormous bag of rice and a bunch of chicken thighs that no one was eager to eat. We don’t normally eat rice and don’t miss it. We’ll have it occasionally when we go out for Thai or Mexican but as a daily staple it’s not on our home menu. Now, however, we’ve been going through rice like crazy. We make at least a pot every other day. We have it with breakfast and lunch and dinner. And those chicken thighs are slowly getting cooked up and thrown into rotation.

We’ve been finding clever ways to use food that’s been sitting in the back of the freezer and the back of the cupboard (as long as it’s not expired) and it’s been kind of fun…exhausting but fun. I loathe cooking normally, but experimenting with new things has been interesting. One of the best parts has been learning that I can go to Google, type in the ingredients I have and “recipe” and search and all kinds of ideas pop up. Doing this reminded me that I also have lots of recipes in my head from growing up. Dishes that don’t have exact measurements or list of ingredients but are re-created each time by what’s on hand.

It’s as close to “fun” as cooking has ever been for me. And while I certainly don’t want to do this forever, it hasn’t been the worst part of the pandemic for me personally by any means. Plus it’s led me to find other fun things about food and cooking. One of my favorites is on Twitter, a woman named Kaitlyn McQuin @kaitlynmcquin posts every evening about what she’s having for dinner, but not in a here’s a gorgeous picture of the incredible seven course meal I made way. In fact, quite the opposite. Instead she describes what she’s eating for dinner using the most fabulous foodie words and then breaks down and tells you what she’s actually eating and it’s always something like Pop Tarts or Ritz Crackers with Cheeze Whiz. Absolutely hysterical and totally makes my evening every day.

I’ve also learned that my sister-in-law, perfect in every way like a real life Mary Poppins, is schooled in the way to use things before they go bad. This to me is not only a necessary skill but a skill which I don’t possess and have no idea how to garner. For instance, my mom got a ton of eggs all at once from us because we had stopped eating them. Rather than have any go bad, my SIL figured out a way to make what she wanted to make with them and then freeze that thing so that it can be used down the line. I don’t know what she did but it was much cooler than the advice I’ve read about scrambling the eggs and then freezing them to be re-used as actual scrambled eggs later (cause that sounds gross, although I’ve never tried it so I don’t know).

At any rate, this is the sort of thing that makes me go: yes! I want to know that too! But how do you even go about learning that sort of thing? I suppose a Google search would get me somewhere and then revising that search until I hit the nail on the head. It’s just so odd to have to search for something you want to know but you don’t even know what to call it so how do you search for it?

I miss my librarians.

~~~That’s one hour~~~

Stay Curious

Stay Curious

Some of the good stuff to come out of this whole pandemic: some families are getting closer, some couples are deciding to stay together rather than divorce (I know, this shocked me, too), lots of artists are offering their products for free (NIN say what?!?!), and lots and lots of educational material is now free. It’s a homeschoolers heaven except for the whole being unable to go anywhere or let your kids play with other kids thing.

Anyway, with all this free stuff available I decided to bite. There are only so many times in your life where the things you want to learn are going to be free to you, so even though the amount of free time I have has not changed one iota (I had two kids who stayed with me all day before the pandemic and now I have two kids and a husband who stay home with me all day), I have still jumped at the chance to take two courses that I would be highly unlikely to take at any other time.

Yale: The Science of Well-Being

The first course is one that I didn’t really expect to get much out of but it sounded interesting: The Science of Well Being. It’s originally out of Yale and is supposedly their most popular course. I can see why, it’s all about happiness and why we think things will make us happy that don’t and why even when we know what makes us happy we don’t always do it. In other words, it’s about how we allow our brains to be illogical even when we know better.

I wasn’t really sure what I would think of this course, and I still can’t give it an overall grade as I’m only through the second week of teaching. What I can tell you though is that, so far, it is absolutely fascinating. Totally and completely. I’ve read a lot of books about happiness and seen some Ted Talks and stuff, but this is a really comprehensive course and it’s easy. You can go at your own pace, so if you have six to nine hours free, go ahead and take the whole course all at once. Or, if you’re like me and are lucky to get an hour here and an hour there, take your time.

You have an entire year to complete the course and unless you want a certificate for having taken it, it’s totally free. Even if you’re super happy all the time, I still think it would be a fascinating course. If you’re like the rest of us, mostly happy most of the time, or even someone who gets pretty blue, I think you will get a lot out of it. And if you don’t? It’s better than watching A Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce on Netflix. I promise.

You can find The Science of Well-Being on coursera or through the article link here.

OSU’s: Master Gardener Vegetable Course

The other course I signed up for is a master gardeners course in vegetable gardening. It is being offered through Oregon State University. I am only partway through the very first part of this course so I feel I have no room to say whether or not it’s wonderful. I can tell you that the very teeny tiny bit I’ve done so far is basic and I haven’t learned anything new YET.

Here’s the thing though, I’ve done a ton of gardening. I’ve read a ton of books. I’ve been lucky enough to work with master gardeners on things. So to say I haven’t learned anything new YET just means exactly nothing right now.

If I look at what’s been covered so far, if I had never tried to grow anything before in my life I’d be super stoked right now. The little bit that’s I’ve done so far tells you exactly what to do. There is no rocket science going on. They are literally laying it out for you: do this, then do this, then do this. They are breaking it down and making it so easy that I have to remind myself “it really IS that easy.”

So if you’ve never started a garden before but you’re super into the idea (especially with everyone talking Victory Gardens like this is a war and not a pandemic) I suggest at least looking into the course. If you start it and don’t like it, no big deal. It costs you exactly $0.00

You can sign up for the vegetable course (and other courses, too, I’m sure) here.

Keep Learning. Stay Curious.

I know it’s super hard not to be a ball of anxiety in the corner of your closet right now. I get it. If you don’t like these two ideas for ways to help yourself through this crazy time, there are lots and lots of other ways to keep your brain healthy and distracted. A Google search for “free online learning” or “free online courses” will deliver you a plethora of options. Something is sure to tickle your fancy and then it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump til we’re out of this and on to the next big disaster. I guess what I’m saying is, don’t let the bastards grind you down. Keep learning. Stay curious.

~~~That’s one hour~~~

Beautiful Fragile Temporary

Beautiful, Fragile, Temporary

I woke at 3am to the silence only snow brings. The house had gotten very cold, the wood stove unable to keep up against the chill without someone feeding it every hour. The baby finished his feed and rolled over back to sleep. I got up and peed, fed the stove, watched the snow fall waiting for the wood to catch, the stove to reawaken. The snow was so beautiful, and fragile, and temporary.

Beautiful. Fragile. Temporary.

It seemed a good mantra. It encapsulated how I have been feeling about the world, the people in it, myself.

A stunning blanket of white that makes the sky even bluer, the leaves of the first bulbs popping through the ground so much greener. There have been so many stories of beauty in all this chaos. People singing from their balconies, people assisting others with their shopping, companies and universities and artists giving their products away for free to help people through.

Despite or perhaps because of the beauty, everyone and everything feels so fragile. Anxieties flaring. Even the introverts struggling with the isolation because it’s so forced, so pervasive, no end in sight. The snow had created structures that looked like tatting, like lace or spider webs. Not the typical frost seen on window panes, these were actual structures of snow in between the railing of the deck and the deck itself. Like icicles without the conical structure and dagger-like point. The structures disappeared when approached, unable to withstand the heat from even two paces.

The snow too was thinner that I’d thought and an hour of sun set it all to melting, it was nothing more than slush, completely gone by the end of the day. Like the people dying in record numbers each day.

Suddenly beautiful, fragile, and temporary sounds like a pretty horrible mantra. And the thing is, I don’t much want to feel beautiful and fragile and temporary. I want to feel confident, useful, and strong.

I want to exude confidence that my family and loved ones will survive this thing. I want my sons to know that all is well, everything is handled, there’s nothing for them to concern themselves with here. Play cars, eat snacks, ride bikes in the driveway; you’ll be back to playing with friends at the library and park soon enough.

I want to be so fucking useful that I’m satisfied with my day when I lay down at night. I want to know exactly how to use the produce that’s quickly going bad and that I won’t be able to replace for at least another week. I want to whip up meals and crafts and family dance parties like some mountain mama caricature of Martha Stewart.

I want my strength to radiate from the inside out such that I can not only hold up under all my own emotion but I can show my sons how to hold up under theirs. I want that strength to extend to my physical body such that I can hold my kiddos for hours if necessary as we sway back and forth and look out at the world.

Instead I can barely lift my arms and hands to type. I can barely wash a dish, or take a picture, or smile another smile to dispel fear. Barely. But I do. I wash the dish after letting my husband cook the meal. I take the picture as my husband sleds with the boys. I smile another smile while my husband holds them in his arms. I type my one hour.

Because the thing is, this too shall pass. This thing that is not beautiful or fragile, is at least temporary. This pandemic will go, and those of us who survive will remember how it was handled, how it could have been handled better, what worked, what didn’t. We will carry this knowledge to the voting booths. We will carry this knowledge to the next disaster. Collectively we will exude confidence, we will prove our usefulness, and we will show our strength.

We are currently beautiful and fragile, and this is temporary.

~~~That’s one hour~~~

Our individual lives are allowed to be big even in a pandemic

Our Lives Are Big

The other day an incredible author, roxane gay @rgay, on Twitter posted that this pandemic has been hell on her wedding planning. She then called that small.

My heart broke.

Weddings are huge. For some people their wedding is the ultimate big event of their lives, the thing they’ve been planning in some form since they were old enough to know that people got married. A wedding even on the smallest of small scales can take a ton of planning (and I know this because my wedding was one of the smallest weddings I’ve ever been to and I planned it all myself while pregnant).

Weddings are supposed to be huge, even when they’re small, they’re huge on emotion and beautify and family and friends and love. And here’s the thing, weddings aren’t the only things people are trying to plan for or have to cancel. All over the world people are changing vacation plans (we were supposed to go to Hawaii, my first time, with our family as a celebration of my life for my stepdad, and we cancelled), wedding dates, concerts, birthday parties, bar and bat mitzvahs, quinceaneras…funerals.

A pandemic is a global thing. It can feel so overwhelming. It affects so many people that we begin to feel that how it affects us shouldn’t matter. People begin comparing: yes, my anxiety is through the roof, but really that’s nothing compared to so-and-so whose grandma just died. Wait, what? So someone else had a relative die and that means your anxiety is now small potatoes? No. Wrong.

Our individual lives are allowed to be big even in a pandemic.

Reread it.

Our individual lives are allowed to be big even in a pandemic.


Our individual lives are allowed to be big even in a pandemic.

You do not diminish in importance or scale simply because something outside of your control rages in size and gains importance. This is not a physics equation of conservation of mass. You have every right to feel all your feels right now. Angry? Good. Scared? I feel ya. Lonely? Gotcha. Guilty? Hold the phone. Ashamed? Stop right there.

Take a deep breath. Now, for exactly one minute and one minute only, go ahead and feel guilty and ashamed because your life matters to you. Go ahead and feel it. I can’t make you stop anyway. Plus, once you’ve run through those feeling of guilt and shame they lose their power cause you’ve let them have free reign. When your minute is up, stop.

What would you say to your best friend if they told you they thought their wedding was a small thing, unworthy of complaining about amidst a pandemic? What would you hope your best friend would tell you?

Allow your life to be big. Allow your life to take up space. Allow your life to be loud.

Your life is valid. Your feelings are valid. You can live your life. You can cry about your struggles.

Your life is big.

~~~That’s one hour~~~

Pessimist or Realist

Pessimist or Realist

I live pretty far away from things, it’s a good hour plus drive to a Costco and while my little town has a grocery store it’s one of those pay three times as much as you would anywhere else because of fuel charges kind of store. Once a week, every week, I used to (in my pre-quarantine days) go down the hill (that’s what we call leaving the mountain) with my kids so we could all visit with my mom for a few hours and have lunch, then the kids and I would go grocery shopping and run any other errands that can only be accomplished down the hill.

I haven’t been down the hill in two weeks. I was supposed to go tomorrow because Costco Instacart delivery won’t deliver up here but they will deliver to my mom. She was able to get us some things we haven’t been able to get since all this panic began, things like baby wipes. For our baby. Who poops in a diaper and then we have to wipe it. With baby wipes. Which have 0% alcohol in them. And yet…people are hoarding baby wipes that don’t kill the Coronavirus and for what? But I digress, I was supposed to go down the hill tomorrow to pick up the order of stuff she was able to get delivered to her house for us.

The plan was that everything would be out by the garage. I could arrive, load up my car, wave through the living room window at her, maybe call her cell and talk to her on the phone as we stared at each other through the window. You know, first world tragic stuff. And then afterwards I’d go to the grocery store and see if there was any fresh produce I could purchase since we haven’t eaten anything fresh in a week. But sadly plans got changed around and now it looks like I won’t be going down until Monday.

This sucks, y’all. I was equal parts dreading this trip, because of the grocery store part, and needing this escape from my home and immediate family. And I could say that it makes me a horrible person to say that, and maybe it does, but the truth of the matter is: there is no one I would rather be in isolation with than my husband and kids and also I desperately need to get away from my husband and kids. I need roughly twenty minutes, but two hours would be heaven, of silence. I need to be in my own head while also physically busy doing something (driving would be perfect) so that I can concentrate on my thoughts without concentrating on them.

Did that make any sense at all?

I will admit that for a moment I considered not telling my husband the plans had changed to Monday. I considered saying nothing and leaving tomorrow and getting my time to myself and then coming home and shrugging, oh man, plans changed but I was already down the hill, sorry it took me so long to turn around and get back…. But that would be shitty. Just like when I consider staying in the shower longer than I technically need to.

Because the truth is, if I told my husband, I desperately need two hours to myself he would shrug and say, “go! Do it!” He would have absolutely no problem with it whatsoever. And as I type this out and realize the truth I’ve known but not admitted to myself I wonder why the hell I still haven’t turned to him and said “I desperately need two hours to myself!”

I think part of it is just recognizing that I could have this time to myself if I asked for it, allows me to breathe a little deeper and not be quite so desperate for it. I think part of it is that I desperately want that time to myself and I also can’t stand to be apart from my family for one minute, and especially right now. Seeing them and hearing them and being with them reassures me that they are okay, that I am okay, that we are alive and surviving. So even though I need my space, I also can’t bring myself to take it.

I think the answer is a family hike. We all need to get out and move. We all need some fresh air and some outside time. We can all be together but also be in our heads. Writing that out feels right. Writing that out feels like, “ah, yes, that is the answer.” And so I have just therapized myself through writing. Huzzah!

It’s fascinating to me how often I can be spinning out inside my mind, spiraling into anger or frustration (same thing), not able to figure out why, and then just sitting and writing for a moment allows me the space to work through it. Like earlier at the dinner table, my leg was jumping up and down, up and down, up and down, and my husband asks “nervous?” And I was like “yes, I’m anxious, which really means I’m afraid but I don’t know what I’m afraid of.” And that’s when I had to stop and breathe and realize that I was afraid not of going to the store so much as the store not having what we need.

While the store being out of what we need is a legit fear it’s also ridiculous for us. We live so far away that we are always pretty well backstocked on stuff. And sure, I was supposed to restock our TP supply right as the pandemic hit and thus we are actually running quite low on TP and those baby wipes I was wha-whaing about earlier. But the thing is, we are okay. We are extremely lucky. We have stuff in the freezer and stuff on our shelves. We can go at least one more week just making up random meals based on what we scrounge through and those random meals will be decent.

The bigger fear really is that I fear this will go on much longer than anticipated.

I told a girlfriend on text last night that I expect it will be August before things will slow down. It shocked me when I sent it because I hadn’t realized I believed that until I saw it in writing. But I do. She was shocked. And I texted that they originally predicted it would peak in May but that I think that’s too optimistic. I’m not usually this pessimistic. And then I saw posts about schools remaining closed until Fall and realized, I’m not being a pessimist, I’m being a realist.

Or maybe I just really need to get outside for a hike.

~~~That’s one hour~~~



It’s official, our state is now on lockdown. It’s been less than an hour since it was announced and already people are freaking out. I don’t get it. Why are you freaking out? Did you not see this coming? Italy warned us. The governor warned us. It happened. There was no broadside.

Maybe, being an introvert, this is just not scary for me? Maybe, living an hour from any kind of “city” makes this easy for me? Maybe the fact that we are all still so incredibly connected thanks to phones, texts, and the internet makes this seem like a pretty simple demand of me?

I realize I am showing my privilege here. I recognize there are people who will not be drawing a paycheck, who will be worried about their next meal, their children’s next meal, that are worried about being in lockdown with an abuser. I get that. That is not my reality and I will not even pretend that it is.

I think there are many ways to help make this a wee bit easier and I’m going to lead with the one that will probably piss a lot of people off but may actually prevent a lot of insanity and panic:

One: Play Ostrich

Stick your head in the sand. Use your internet for nothing more than Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, AmazonPrimeVideo, etc. DO NOT PAY ATTENTION TO THE NEWS. Live in the bubble that is your home and don’t come out until August at the earliest…even then maybe just peak at a headline or two and then decide whether or not to go back into your forced hibernation…which I guess makes you a bear, not an ostrich.

Two: Stay Informed

The complete opposite of option one here folks. This requires that you be on multiple platforms and keep appraised of the situation and ONLY LOOK AT LEGITIMATE NEWS. Do you realize how many nefarious things are going on right now? Senators dumping stocks right before everything crashed! The Chairman of the NYSE is married to a senator and was using information to also dump stocks. Stay informed. Hold them accountable. Don’t lose sight of the political in the personal.

Three: Stay Social Via Internet

Do not become suicidal because you’re an extrovert and this is literally killing your will to live. You can still be super social (you weirdo, you). There’s FaceTime, Zoom, Google Chat (or something?), GoToMeeting, Skype, and probably lots of others I don’t know about because I’m really just not that cool. People are literally dating in all this. You can do it!

Four: Volunteer

Bear with me here, you do not have to break lockdown to help others. You can write letters (COVID-19 dies on paper in 24 hours) to:

You can volunteer to foster an animal in need. Lots of shelters are losing their volunteers right now. There are tons of critters that need a dedicated foster home. You can start by asking at your local Humane Society and they will most likely be able to direct you if they are not in need themselves.

These are my top suggestions but if you Google “how to volunteer without leaving home” you will be inundated with more options than you could possibly get through in one lockdown.

Five: Get Out

Yes, you’re not supposed to leave your home unless it’s to get groceries, fuel, or medical. That doesn’t mean you can’t supply your brain and your body with the outdoors they need to stay healthy. You must have at least one window in your home you can open for twenty minutes a day. Look out that window, even if you’re looking at a brick wall, smell that outside air. Obviously the further you can see out the better, it’s actually super important for your brain and eyes if you can focus on a distance for fifteen minutes a day. If you’re lucky enough to have a balcony or patio or backyard use them. This may seem small but it’s actually huge for your mental health.

Six: Humor and Beauty

Search for the humor and the beauty during all this, they exist, I promise (it’s helpful if you’re on Twitter). Humor is going to be very important in the coming months.

You got this America. You are not alone. The entire world is gonna have to be mad COVID strong, y’all. We are all in this together even when we’re apart. Stay connected with your friends and family. Sit in your scared moments together. Laugh in your happy moments together. Remember to be extra gentle with yourself and others, extra forgiving. We are all simultaneously fragile and stronger than we previously thought.

~~~That’s one hour~~~

Beauty and Terror

All my life and it has come to no more than this: beauty and terror

Mary Oliver

So many people seem to be living in terror, in barely checked panic. And rightfully so. There’s been so much fear the last three years. So many groups have been the target of so much hatred and anger. And now it’s all culminating not because the current president is about to be removed from office (huzzah! Just ten more months y’all) but because COVID-19 doesn’t care about how white, cis, straight, or male you might be. The only silver lining in this whole virus, the beauty and the terror: lack of discrimination.

When people with kids to tend first started trying to figure out what to do home with kids for at least three weeks there was panic. People terrified their little charges would be held back a year, would lose a year of education. At some point it began to shift to ways they and the kiddos could help others, like making and sending cards to the people in retirement communities who would be least likely to have access to the knowledge or technology for things like Zoom and would thus be missing family and social interaction most. But you can’t in good conscience send a COVID-19 card (aka a smallpox blanket) to a senior citizen. The beauty here is two-fold: one, people want to help others even when they themselves are terrified, and two, we’ve since discovered the virus doesn’t last on paper for more than 24 hours.

I know families who barely had five minutes to spend together a day, families who lived from “wake up” to “breakfast” to “go to schoool/work” to “come home” to “eat dinner” to “do homework” to “go to bed” and repeat. There wasn’t time for more than that. I know kids and adults who were completely stressed out by this arrangement but there wasn’t time to find time to ease the terror. Being home together now means family meals and games, family movie time and chores, family reading and jokes. For some of the families I know this virus if the most terrible beautiful thing that could happen to them.

In our small town there’s been an outpouring of love and offered assistance. Even amidst the terror of contracting and spreading the virus there are those reaching out to offer assistance and food to those in need. The desire to be helpful, the pulling together to offer kindness and trade goods is beautiful.

I challenge you to think of one beautiful thing that has occurred that doesn’t also have something terrible related to it, or something that sparks terror that isn’t also beautiful. Be real. My miscarriages were terrible. I was very hard pressed to find any beauty there. But there was. The beauty of how much you can love a person you’ve never met, a person you will never meet, a person you’ve only known a few short weeks and even then there isn’t much I could tell you about them except that they’re missed. There was also a beauty to the very natural and terrible process. It’s not anything I ever wish to live through again, and I’m finally healed from it by the birth of a rainbow baby, and perhaps that’s the only reason I am able to look back on them as beautiful while still terrible.

Many of us now have a lot more time to focus on our terror. I challenge you to also find our beauty.

~~~That’s one hour~~~

Doing Our Best

We went to the desert today to go hiking. A spot not many people go to or know about prior to COVID-19, and sure enough we didn’t see anyone the entire time we were out. Not even parked cars along the route of people hiking some other trail off the main one. We were outside in the sun and wind and clouds for hours and it was amazing. It was also eerie.

From the top of a mountain we looked down at the highways and saw no cars.

We hiked for a good long while, as much of a good long hike as you can have with a four-year-old and a one-year-old who isn’t doing much in the way of walking right now and thus needs to be carried. Clean air. Fresh blooming flowers. Sage.

We collected handfuls of sage to bring the outside inside.

We drove a bit further and stopped along an extremely popular hiking through trail that also happens to have the perfect fallen tree that acts as a bench and ate our packed lunch: tuna salad with avocado and almond crackers. A couple apples. We walked a portion of the trail, just so I could finally say “I’ve walked a portion of the PCT.”

There were no hikers.

We continued to drive through to the other highway that would loop us around and back home. We finally saw someone. On a bike. An older man, certainly over sixty, most likely a prime candidate for the entire self-isolation movement. He slowed down as though he wanted to chat. We waved and mouthed “hi” as we drove through. He waved back.

This is social distancing without a couch.

And then we blew it. We were driving back towards town and saw two through-hikers who needed a lift into town. It’s a long hike into town. The clouds are coming in good now and the wind has picked up. It is very, very cold outside. These two kids need to get in out of the storm and fast. The cab of our truck is full with two adults and two kids in car seats, but our truck has a shell on it and the dog is in back.

We stop for the hikers.

The hikers have no problem climbing in back with the dog. They’re shivering. They say they want a hotel and food and they’ll go anywhere we think will take them. We close them up in the back, tell them to bang the glass if they need us to stop before we get to town. We start driving, and texting with a true trail angel to see if she wants hiker company for the night.

She’s had a strange day.

She pulls over and waits for us to get up the hill with our hikers. We pull over and ask the hikers if they still want to go to town and pay for a hotel and pay for food or if they want to go home with the world’s most epic trail angel where they’ll have showers, laundry, food, beer, and a game room all for free.

The hikers jump in with her.

We continue on our way home. We have our homemade kombucha and discuss how grateful we are to come home to a wood stove and to have spent a day together. Yes, we broke isolation by letting trail hikers ride in the back of our truck. Yes, we broke isolation by stopping to let those hikers get a much better deal for the night than a hotel would give them.

We are not learning from Italy.

My kids are perfectly healthy. I’m perfectly healthy. We are probably carriers if we have been exposed. My husband is currently, knock-on-wood, perfectly healthy. He is also immunocompromised. We risk his health more than ours when we do what we did today.

My joy at helping others could soon be tempered.

This is my greatest fear. Not that I may have compromised my husbands immune system by breaking isolation, although that terrifies me more than I know how to put into words, but that I may become too afraid to help others. And yes, it’s fine to say, just let the people who don’t have immunocompromised people in their family be the helpers. And yes, it’s fine to say, just let the people who don’t have 60+ people in their family be the helpers.

Expecting others to be the helpers seems pretty entitled.

When we returned home I saw an invite on social media to join a group for helpers in our area. A group for those who want to help and for those who need help. I haven’t yet seen anyone raise their hand needing help, and I’m grateful. I’m hopeful no one will need it.

I feel like a hypocrite.

I will wait for someone who needs eggs, then I’ll deliver to their doorstep fresh from our hens. I will wait for someone who needs rice, then I’ll deliver from our enormous Costco bag purchased before the panic buying began. I will wait for someone who needs a smile, then I’ll FaceTime with them and my goofy children.

I will do my best.

~~~That’s one hour~~~


“It should not be this hard to find a chocolate lava cake,” she said aloud to no one in particular, although a few people turned in her direction. She tossed her head to get her bangs out of her face and carried on. She’d been walking around the downtown area for at least an hour, popping in to different restaurants and eateries, finding pies and brownies and sundaes and all sorts of cheesecakes and more ice cream than anyone could eat in a week, but no chocolate lava cake. “Damn.”

She stopped on a corner for a moment to catch her breath and figure out her next step. She could always go back to the place with brownies, brownies were chocolate and kinda cake-y and hell if you heat up some chocolate sauce and pour it on top that’s kinda chocolate lava cake-ish, right? Her brain congratulated her on an excellent idea but her stomach, oh who was she kidding, her uterus laughed and said “oh no, only chocolate lava cake is chocolate lava cake, and if you’re not going to grow a child and you want to survive the next week without intense pains, you will get me what I want: chocolate lava cake.

She sighed and wracked her brain. Surely there was somewhere within a sixty mile radius that would have chocolate lava cake. She pulled out her phone and opened Yelp! She searched for chocolate lava cake and found only poor substitutes and imitations unless she wanted to drive through three hours of traffic, which she did not. She closed Yelp! and opened Google and performed the same search. No dice, same info. She stomped her foot, suddenly a toddler being told she couldn’t have her way, furious with the world and all who would undermine her.

Close to tears she finally searched the internet for recipes and found one. The most decadent sounding chocolate lava cake she’d ever seen pictured or read about. The reviews were spectacular, she could pronounce the ingredients and even knew she had some of them at home. She shoved her phone back in her purse and went in search of her car and a trip to the grocery store.

Home with her items: chocolate, butter, eggs, flour, sugar, and salt, she proceeded to unpack her purchases and wash her hands. She then pulled down from her cabinet six small ramekins which she’d had for years thinking she’d someday make her own creme brulee, which she never did, but she still had the ramekins and now they would be perfect. She proceeded to follow the instructions on the recipe, turning the oven to 450 degrees and mixing, whisking, boiling.

She filled all six ramekins, then covered five in plastic wrap and set them in the fridge. She’d have one each night until she got sick of them. The remaining ramekin she put in the oven and tapped her nails waiting, realizing as she did so that she should really put some fresh paint on them or at least remove the chipped paint. Twelve minutes had never taken so long. When the timer finally went off she yanked the little cake out and set it on the counter for one minute as instructed, then put a plate over the top and flipped it over. She listened as the dessert inside slid down and plopped onto the plate.

Removing the ramekin and setting it in the sink she turned her attention to the beautiful chocolate lump in front of her. It looked like a little chocolate muffin or a cupcake that needed icing. She grabbed a fork from the drawer before thinking better of it and grabbing a spoon. She pushed the spoon into the little cake and scooped up a bite, thrilling as the chocolate began to ooze slowly out of the hole her spoon had created.

The first bite of cake was the most orgasmic moment she’d had in ages. The cake was rich but not too sweet, the chocolate almost too hot but not quite. She considered letting it melt on her tongue rather than chewing but couldn’t stop herself. Before she knew it the entire little cake was gone, a few smears of chocolate on the plate all that remained. She drug her finger through the smears and sucked on her finger for a moment. “there are five more in the fridge…” she thought.

They were so tiny, these little ramekins of bliss. Surely one more wouldn’t be too much. She pulled the ramekin out and found it was a bit chilled but certainly not cold enough to warrant sitting on the counter to bring to room temperature. She removed the plastic wrap and threw the little ramekin into the oven. Setting the timer for twelve minutes was much easier this time, the wait no longer interminable. Nor was it difficult to wait the one minute while it sat on the counter a cooled a bit before she plated it.

This second cake was just as delicious as the first. There was absolutely no loss of joy or flavor. She did a little dance as she ate the second cake, humming as she sucked chocolate off the spoon, and licking the chocolate off the plate when she was done rather than dredging her finger through what was left. She briefly considered having one more but decided she really was sated now, and if she knew anything about her body by now it’s that she’d be wanting another cake or two tomorrow.

She drew a bath, poured a glass of port, and grabbed a book, Glennon Doyle Melton’s Love Warrior. No need for candlelight or music, she wasn’t that high maintenance. She slipped into the hot water, took a sip of port, and proceeded to read her book. The introduction was amazing and she was quickly whisked away; nothing was better than a good memoir…except maybe chocolate lava cake. “Damn.”

She put a bookmark in the book and set it down, finished what was left of her port, and grabbed her towel. Pulling the drain on the tub she went back into the kitchen and turned the oven back on. She pulled a third ramekin out of the fridge and removed the plastic wrap. She went back to her room to get pajamas on as the oven and the dessert warmed up. Grabbing a bottle of nail polish remover, some cotton balls, and a bottle of nail polish she went back out to the kitchen and put the ramekin in the oven.

She painted the nails on her left hand while she waited, then pulled the ramekin out with her right hand and set it down to cool for one minute. Setting the plate on top she realized she’d painted her left hand prematurely. Shrugging, she set her left hand on top of the plate and used her right to grab the ramekin and flipped everything over. She set the ramekin down and then grabbed the plate and a spoon with her right hand. She sighed in relief as she wiggled her left hand in front of her and realized all five nails were unaffected.

~~~That’s one hour~~~

Please note, I do not know Glennon Doyle (although I’d love to!) and I am in no way affiliated with her, her book(s), or her site(s). I do not make any money or get anything for free from her if you visit her site. It’s simply the book I just started and literally read the intro and can’t wait to read the rest. This is how real life slips into fiction sometimes 🙂


It’s astounding to me that Italy has effectively shut down, no school, no businesses except groceries and pharmacies, shut down. I’ve been to Italy twice in my life, and been grateful for each visit. It’s a country I have a heartfelt kinship with although I don’t believe my DNA test revealed any Italian in my ancestry…hang on while I double check that. Whew, I wasn’t lying, no Italian. So, even though I’m unrelated to the people of the country, it’s a place where I’ve always felt at home and me, a person who can get lost in my own neighborhood, has never once gotten lost in Rome. It’s like a map of the city is written somewhere in my bones and becomes accessible the moment I arrive. Sigh.

My first trip to Italy I met a friend in Rome who did some touristy thing with me one day, and then we went our separate ways. The touristy things were cool, some would argue necessary, but my favorite parts of Rome were the things I bungled into: a piece of art on the outside of an apartment building that looked like a window with a woman peeking out, the cafe that made absolutely phenomenal coffee and beyond perfect cannoli, and my all time favorite, the crazy middle of nowhere restaurant that was practically empty when I arrived and where after the very best meal I have ever eaten in my life I thought I was going to be murdered or raped or sold a slave when the waiter/chef/owner insisted I follow him downstairs and where I was then shown an unbelievable train set of the entire city in perfect and minute detail.

I can’t imagine how many people had plans to travel to Italy in the next few months and now won’t get to go. I can’t imagine what will happen to the US when we eventually succumb to the same lock down, because it’s inevitable. The thing is, the entire world is going to be exposed to COVID-19, there’s no way to avoid it. We will all be exposed and we will all die or become immune, and then COVID-19 won’t be a problem for us until the next generation comes along, the generation that wasn’t alive when this first swept through and therefore isn’t immune. It won’t happen right away, but at some point, there will be enough new generations that haven’t been exposed that we’ll be primed for another outbreak. Unless of course a vaccine is developed before then.

What You Can Do

I was texting with my family about this today and the point I was trying to make is that we will all get it eventually, so there’s no sense worrying about getting it, you will, accept it. The point is that right now everyone is getting it all at once and there’s currently no way to treat all the cases erupting exponentially each day, so your best bet is to do all you can do for yourself and your family and your community to delay getting it as long as possible. Give the medical community a chance to figure out what we’re dealing with and how best to do so.

Take care of yourself:

  • exercise
  • eat well
  • sauna (if you can)
  • keep your immune system up
  • wash your hands
  • stay home as much as possible to avoid contracting the virus or spreading the virus (since you may already have it but not yet be symptomatic)
  • keep abreast of the truth by visiting only vetted sources of information, this is an excellent one: CDC Website on COVID-19

I was speaking with a friend today who, like my husband, has a weakened immune system, and we were saying how important it is for people without weakened immune systems to be aware that just because we can quickly and easily fight off an illness it doesn’t mean that others can. We have a responsibility to ourselves as well as to others not to go out when we’re sick expecting that others will recover as we do.

Mister Rogers’ mom said something beautiful like how even in the worst tragedies there are always helpers and to look for the helpers. I’d like to take this a step further and say look for the humor. Yes, this is a tragic turn of events, especially on the heels of all our political devastation recently, and still there is humor. There are brilliantly hilarious memes circulating and laughter is an important part of keeping your health and your sanity. Some of my favorite memes are the hand washing ones, like this from Imgur and DilligafDiva:

Labyrinth Hand Washing Meme Courtesy of Imgur and DilligafDiva
Labyrinth Hand Washing Meme Courtesy of Imgur and DilligafDiva

I wish you all the best of health now and always. Keep your chin up, and sense of humor intact.

~~~That’s one hour~~~