Pandemic Viventium #2

More potpourri from pandemic life.


Don’t look now, but the murder hornets are coming. Good God, as if a pandemic weren’t enough—as if we weren’t about to see 100,000 deaths from this insatiable virus—Mother Nature sends us a new reminder of a certain truth: She will always win. She’s had it with us trashing her house, and she is ready, willing, and able to send the floods, fires, plagues, and pestilences we’ve earned by being the worst possible guests.



I took every step one should take to bake bread except I never baked the bread. Stay at home orders mean that I’ve become one big walking carbohydrate. The “Quarantine 15” is eeking its way towards 20, and there’s not much reason to go back to Keto living as long as I can live in yoga pants. I’ve learned that beans aren’t just for TexMex recipes, and it’s okay to run the dishwasher more than once a week. So naturally, like a bazillion other wanna-be pandemic bakers, I regularly searched for yeast in the baking aisle of my grocery store and saw a wasteland where Fleischman’s should be. I tried my hand at a sourdough starter—four of them, actually. I went to college, how hard could it be? Two showed promise, but they all died. Died, died, died before they were viable. I even had a name picked out for my starter, and boy, oh boy, I was hungry for fresh, out-of-the-oven rosemary olive bread. 


Two months in, I found a product I’d never seen before: BellaRise Instant Yeast. A block of it. I had no idea WTH instant yeast might be, or how it might be different, but I grabbed it, gave it a prominent place on a pantry shelf right next to the mega-sized bag of whole wheat flour, and promptly ignored it. After all, Target makes a surprisingly excellent sourdough. Maybe I’ll get around to baking that bread, but in this case, it’s entirely possible that the hunt was more interesting than the trophy.

I wonder: Will I ever get to use those frequent flyer miles? I’ve got close to 130K frequent American Airlines miles, good until July 2021. Once upon a time, I’d expected to take a magnificent trip for my 60th birthday this October. Morocco. Or maybe Italy. At the very least, a warm beach somewhere. Now, who knows? I won’t let those miles go to waste; if there’s no way I can travel, I’ll find some way to donate them. But I long for the days when planning a trip was fun.

My sleep is messed up, but my dreams are great. I’m down to sleeping 2-3 hours at a stretch, 2-3 times a day/night. This messed up circadian rhythm didn’t happen overnight; it shifted gradually over the past couple of months. It was fun for a while but not anymore. There’s nothing restorative about it, and I’m getting dumber by the day. Less capable. Not much of a thinker.

The dreams, however, are all urgent. Each one involves a crisis of differing proportions—everything from fixing my vandalized house to finding my way through an urban maze to incoming nuclear warheads—and each dream is an opportunity to problem-solve. Mind you, I always wake up before victory is mine, but what’s more satisfying than Macgyver-ing your way out of imminent destruction? 

(Well, an honest night’s sleep might be more satisfying.)


My sister is aces. She came to visit at the end of February—her first time since I moved to Austin in 1997. We were close as kids and most definitely fell apart as young women. When our dad died, I’d say we found common ground again, but we still had bumpy moments. I joined her and my nieces for the Women’s March in DC in January 2017. That was significant. But it wasn’t until she came to visit that we nailed the whole sister thing. We had the best time, and how about that timing? Two weeks later and it wouldn’t have happened. We got lucky and we know it. I wonder when I’ll get to see her and the rest of my family again. 


The bloom is off the rose, and the kindness that marked our first weeks of the pandemic is eroding. Have you noticed that folks are a little testier at the supermarket? Fewer neighbors wave and smile on your morning walk? Yes, this pandemic is getting a bit old, but IMO, this collective shift is the upshot of politicization of a public health crisis. The #1 symbol in this great divide, of course, is the mask. Wear one? You’re a weak-willed, lily-livered liberal. Eschew that mask? You’re defending some God-given right to do whatever the hell you want to do—data, Dr. Fauci, and everyone else be damned.

I wear a mask and so should you, so shut up about it, do the right thing, and while we’re at it, keep your damned distance.  See? I told you the bloom was off the rose. 


I’m (still) building a website store, and everything (still) takes longer than you think it’s going to take. 

Be well, take care of yourself and others, we really are (still) in this together.

9 views