Currently: saying hello again

So this pandemic doesn’t seem to want to let up, and like everyone else, I’m tired and worried and drained and occasionally mildly despondent. Then I remind myself of all the good things in life, and then I feel peevish because I’m still tired and worried and drained. 

So that’s what’s happening here. 

(I’ve made it sound worse than it is. But a Chekhov quote that popped out at me last week felt oh-so-true: “Any idiot can face a crisis — it’s day-to-day living that wears you out.” Except this pandemic stuff is both.) 

So how are you doing these days? I’m interested to hear your adjectives. 

Here’s what’s been happening around here…

Reading | Currently reading:

  • The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw
  • The Guide by Peter Heller
  • Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh
  • Warlight by Michael Ondaatje
  • Americanaland: Where Country & Western Met Rock ‘n’ Roll by John Milward

More about reading | Trends in my reading life this year: books by authors of color, memoirs, books about anti-racism, essay collections, and cookbooks. And true crime. Which is truly the weirdest, because it’s always scared the daylights out of me. At book club (thank goodness for Zoom, even though I’m sick to tears of it), I announced, “I’m having The Year of True Crime.” And one of my friends said, “But you don’t read true crime.” And I said, “I know!” (As with everything else these days, I blame Covid.)

Watching | After waiting months upon months for HBO to release the documentary I’ll Be Gone in the Dark on DVD, I realized they’re holding out. So we subscribed to HBO Max for a month so I could watch it. Because I’m having The Year of True Crime. 

Learning | After years of failed attempts to bake bread, I’ve figured it out. The trick: create a proofing box by putting a bowl of super hot water on the bottom rack of the oven, then put the dough on the top rack. The oven (even though it’s off) creates a nice warm environment for the dough to rise. Magic, my friends! Also, all that kneading can be seriously soothing. 

 

 

Working on | Things got so rough during Covid that I started meditating. This is a serious feat, my friends.  I’d tried to convince myself to begin a meditation practice years ago (I knew it would be good for me), and I never followed through. The resistance was strong. But when the Ten Percent Happier app (which I’m too cheap to subscribe to) offered a free meditation challenge last summer, I dove at it. Now the new goal is to meditate at least 5 times a week. I’m working on it, and I’m a better human when I stick to it. (And, frugal friends, there are lots of free meditation options available via your smartphone, including the weekly Friday meditation from the Ten Percent Happier podcast.)

 

Loving | Our little family of three — the Dear Man, the cat, and I — have hunkered down together, and I’m so grateful that we’re a family. The Dear Man makes me laugh on the regular, and that’s a serious gift in rough times. And due to all the togetherness during the stay-at-home era, the cat and I have reached a new place in our relationship — and it gives me great joy to be welcomed as a full member of her family. My heart grew three sizes this year.

 

Celebrating | When my extended family and I were all fully vaccinated, we got to see each other again during the summer, and I don’t think I’ll forget the quiet jubilation of being in their presence for the first time in over 18 months. Being safely together again was better than any holiday.

I’d love to hear how you’re doing — and I hope the answer for you and your loved ones is “Quite well.” What wonderful and weird and difficult things have happened lately? And what’s most surprised you about all of it?

Finally… so glad we’re all here. Hello again, friends.

4 thoughts on “Currently: saying hello again

  1. I’m surprised you needed the proofing box – unless your kitchen is very cold the dough should rise without it. It’s taken me years to get the hang of it even though I have expert advice to hand ( my dad had his own bakery).

    • You guessed it: our kitchen is cold. I get the baking urge in the colder months, when we have the thermostat set so low that we wear a couple of layers in the house. I feel better hearing that I’m not the only one for whom it took years to get the hang of bread baking.

  2. I’m probably the only person NOT to take up bread baking during the pandemic, but I’ve cooked more than I have in my entire life!

    Last year was a terrible reading year for me, but I seem to have recovered my reading mojo this year. I’m reading a lot more books by authors of color and anti-racism books, too. I listened to The Secret Life of Church Ladies earlier this year, then read The Women of Brewster Place last month. They’re written in much the same vein…

    The pandemic has been tough, but there were some gifts, too. In March 2020, our daughters in Manhattan came to FL for what we thought would be a couple of weeks until it all blew over… they stayed until July. It was a wonderful and unexpected treat to spend that much time with our adult children!

    We’re all vaccinated and in CT and NY for the summer. It’s been wonderful to see extended family, but I’m nervous about returning to FL next month. Sure hope things begin to turn around soon.

  3. Hi JoAnn,

    Same here with the cooking! One of our pandemic “pretend travel” activities was to find recipes for desserts we’d eaten at various places we’d traveled — then do some baking to re-live the experiences. When I rocked a caramel sauce for the first time in my life, it was like I’d just landed on the moon.

    So glad your reading life is returning to normal. It’s darn unsettling when that goes awry. Thanks for the rec of The Women of Brewster Place — I’ve just added it to my TBR.

    How wonderful to have had that time with your grown children. And I totally agree — while Covid is completely rotten, we have to take the good where we can find it. And time with family is definitely the good stuff.

    Vaccinated here, too, and also nervous and super careful. Here’s hoping for better, safer days ahead —

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