Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Chicks and... Mostly Chicks

April 1
Dandelions and calendula, a salad, not for goats, but for our dinner. Even if we were shopping, would we eat fresh produce that we wash in hot soapy water? These are the questions that are debated... in our minds, in our home, on social media, by the "experts." So. We forage and improvise, and make do. And happily, no one is complaining.

Our days are blending, kind of like on a good vacation when you can't tell Monday from Friday. But on a good vacation you begin to count to the end of the fun, and sigh because it will soon be over. Quarantine isn't like that. The "experts" say "April 13." The University cancelled June commencement. Our own inclinations are to lay low until there is regular, frequent testing, a vaccine. In the meantime, we hardly keep track of our our Fridays from our Mondays, but it's no vacation.

Our habits and routines are both predictable and wildly scattered. Everyday, we cook, we clean, we stare at our phones (both from necessity, and for hardly any good reason at all... to be fair, both are legitimate.) Everyday we count the days until Bambi's separate isolation will be over. Since she was at her school apartment, we are taking the 14 day precaution. It's so much nicer having her close, where we can get her food, take her temperature, share 6 feet apart talks and laughter. Everyday we watch our garden, watch our chiclets, gather eggs, or fret when there are no eggs... have the ol' girls finally quit? we ask. Everyday we prototype, tinker, test, discuss, and try again, to develop and produce Personal Protective Equipment. Everyday try to address whatever pressing task pops up... work, school, leaking water pumps, the dead pool, the apps and programs that we require in The Time of COVID, finding our ice trays. Didn't we have ice trays?

April 2
When I look down, when Geoff can't take another 3D print fail, or sitting at his desk, he asks, "Should we go for a ride?" He did this often enough BC, that I'd learned to enjoy it, to find relief in it. And now, it's another kind of relief... to be outside, moving, distracted. But, suddenly our quiet street is fuller, almost like a traffic jam of joggers, walkers, even families playing in the street, so when we ride, trying to keep to the 6 feet apart rule, it's a bit dicey. "Wear masks" is the latest suggestion, and like the produce washing issue, it's debated, but Geoff and I agree, that mask wearing is likely for the best.

On our first ride out, we saw no one else in masks. We got long looks, or people wouldn't look at all, and both reactions were uncomfortable. The dishcloth I tied around my face felt like a wall... blocking smiles, and social niceties, blocking deep breaths, and free thoughts. Instead of feeling relaxed, like I was pedaling away from worries, I had the worries wrapped around my face. My glasses steamed up, the towel would slip, and my mind filled up with stifling, angry, frustrating reminders that we are living through a pandemic, and our government failed, and was actively making things worse... yeah, that first ride ended abruptly, in tears. I wasn't sure I would ever want to ride again.

Back to chicks, and watching sprouts grow, back to trying to address any, one, new pressing task. Focus. Clean the fish tank. Cut fabric into squares, because we are out of paper towels. Add a school zone in the living room, so Max can finish his degree. Stare at my phone. And back to chicks, mostly.

Introducing... Penelope! She is an Ameraucana, the kind that lay blue or green eggs, the kind that look a bit like baby quail, or hawks. The kind that I have always enjoyed because they are mild, sociable hens.

The chiclets and I sat quietly, so as not to interrupt Japanese IV instruction.

Right there, in the center, is Maya. She is a Black Australorp, which someone told me is partly an Orpington. Maya has the blackest beak, and that's how I tell her apart from her Australorp sisters.

This is another Ameraucana chick, and her name is Lucia. She's the most aloof, the most evasive, the most likely to raise a riot when it's time to round everyone up. These are the sort of distinctions that make me think about roosters. Who's acting cocky? Who's growing spurs? Are there any fancy tail feathers? Please, please, please let us have five hens.

On my way downstairs I stopped to stare at the roses. The roses I've kept since... February? When they first began to wilt, I thought I'll save them for a dried floral arrangement. Then life got complicated, and days went by, and I thought Soon. I can take them out, soon, and save the flowers. Then the whole world became even more complicated, and I didn't see them at all. I saw toilet paper hoarding memes, and projected death toll graphs, and make your own face mask tutorials. I took a picture, a keeping it real sample of life in The Time of COVID, and I thought about how fortunate I've been, to have weekly flowers from Trader Joes, to enjoy chamomile or roses, irises. I thought about missing the daffodils in Julian, how my heart had been set on seeing them again, like last year. Then I put it out of my mind, because... what can be done? We keep moving forward.

Later, the same day, came a message from Carol, "Good morning Natalie! Michael is making a delivery to your gate."

From their own garden... Daffodils. Jonquil. Maidenhair ferns, a bright yellow ribbon tied in a generous bow. We may lose track of the days, or stare at meaningless things on our phones, but moments like this mark the day, enliven the room, change the light. All of my life I hope to keep the joy and thanks these flowers brought, close in mind, and directing my actions. They made me that happy. And then, the kit kats, too... I wish you could have watched them with us. The kitties were so in love with the bouquet, and mindful too. They seemed to know that something new and wonderful had arrived.

Let's try, again. I could write an essay about not sewing masks, about all the times people have sent me mask sewing tutorials. Our sewing machine(s) are all in need of tune-ups. And. And... I just cannot bring myself to do it. Why?

I sew. I hand sew, and machine sew. I make patterns, have fabric. But, ugh. Not masks. I don't know why.

Steamed up glasses, frustration. Life in the time of COVID, a mixed bag, for sure.
April 4

Penelope, Lucia, Maya, and Ventura. Ventura is the second Australorp. I named her for the highway, the song, my longing to travel north, and the good fortune, the buena ventura of getting chicks, when they have sold out all over the country.

And here, in front, comes our Puanani. She is a beautiful flower, and named for the beautiful woman in Portland that sent me her Let's Camp painting, who every week cooks nourishing and beautiful dinners for the homeless in her neighborhood, whose posts on IG make me smile, and make me long to return to Alberta Arts. Aloha nui loa, Puanani, and mahalo, for your gifts.

April 5

April 6
Every day it's chicks, cooking, phone time, and gardening, deep sighs and consternation, more chicks, mostly chicks, and also naps. Lots of naps. Cat naps, people naps. Comforting, restful naps, and also chicks.

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