Henceforth, I shall answer all how-are-you queries using the FT Scale.

Yesterday was my COVID Isolation Anniversary. One year of lockdown. One year of paying attention to toilet paper supplies. One year of stasis and rapid change, of everything-stays-the-same and it’s-all-different. One year during which life has become infinitely more simple and relentlessly more complicated. One year.

Friends check in occasionally. And I check in occasionally with them. How are you? they ask, and I ask them, too, even though I have no answer because how do you access that kind of information? How do you peel those layers? How do you know which crayon color in the box of 64 accurately evokes the color of a heart? The color of a mind? The color of a soul? Which crayon color is frustration? Which crayon color is gratitude? Which crayon color is laying awake at night and staring down invisible monsters? Which crayon color is I Don’t Know What’s for Dinner? Which one is Liberty and Justice for All? Which one is I’m Tired of Isolation? Which one is I Don’t Want to Return to “Normal”? ...  read more

On Doing Way Too Much and Not Nearly Enough: What October 2020 Feels Like

I drive four mornings each week up the winding roads of Parrett Mountain, past alpaca farms and vineyards and into the Douglas Fir forests as I climb. It’s a slow drive by necessity; there are steep drop-offs and no guard rails or shoulders to offer forgiveness if you stray.

It always feels peaceful to me, that drive: the forced slowing of my typical pace, the tiered ruffles of the fir branches like a designer got carried away layering petticoats, the falcons that circle overhead, and the deer that dive down the canyons.  ...  read more

15 Realistic Recipes to Feed Your Family in an Apocalypse

The pandemic continues, Oregon is on fire along with the rest of the West, and even though the fire a couple miles from our house is now 75% contained (THANK YOU, FIREFIGHTERS!), my brain is broken. Just totally kaput. Zero percent battery, and I forgot where I put my brain charger. 

I was feeling badly about this, as though my inability to get anything done is proof that I’m a lazy sack who doesn’t deserve the air I breathe, even though that air is currently full of smoke and so dense we could chew it. But then several friends reminded me that our brains and our bodies are reacting exactly as they were built to do. There are fires in our forests. Visibility is shot due to opaque air. We’ve been at a heightened state of emergency for six months. OF COURSE WE’RE EXPERIENCING MENTAL SHUT DOWN. Our bodies are priming us to fight or flee. Our brains don’t need to form complete sentences right now. They don’t need to do anything other than basic survival.  ...  read more

And Now Oregon Is on Fire: The COVID Diaries

Dear Diary,

When I started my COVID Diaries, I thought it would be for a while. A season. An interesting few weeks, maybe? I thought our national response would be different. I thought, even if we didn’t eradicate it within our borders, we’d control it.

I did not think I’d be sitting here, almost exactly 6 months later, writing about wildfires sweeping the West, including the fire that’s about 3 miles from our own little house in Oregon while the pandemic rages on, as well. ...  read more

All of 2020: A Story about Dog Poo

This is Abby (the human) and Lulu (the dog).

That pic is from 3 months ago, which means Lulu is now 45x bigger.

He is not a labradoodle, after all.

He is either a small, black bear, or a moose, or a husky, feral, adorable kindergarten boy named something that ends with -y. Like Kenny. Or Jeffy. Or Tommy. 

You know the one. He’s the kid who has NO IDEA how long his limbs are. He’s Bambi on the ice, made from 73% sweetness and 27% flailing. He takes corners too fast and runs into walls. He eats with pure joy and creates a colossal mess. Never did he ever finish a meal without spaghetti sauce or jelly to his eyebrows and wiping his face on his shirt.  ...  read more

This Is Worse Than the Day I Pooped My Closet

Listen, friend. I will give you one — and only this one — opportunity to stop reading. If periods gross you out, you should be done. Right now. Click away. Abort. SAVE YOURSELF. Or carry on. I don’t care — *shrug* — I’ve done what I can. Now it’s on you.

I don’t really know what to say about this other than it’s worse than The Day I Pooped My Closet. And I do not believe Hallmark has made a sympathy or apology card that quite covers the “I’m sorrys” I owe my son-in-law so I’m a little stuck on how to make this right. ...  read more

9 June 2020 — The COVID Diaries: Staying Sane in a Time That’s Not

Dear Diary,

Confession: I legit don’t get it when white people say they’re not racist.

I’m white. I’m racist.

Oh, I’m trying to be anti-racist, as in ACTIVELY WORKING AGAINST RACISM.

And also, I’m racist in that I’m participating in an ongoing way in upholding structures that discriminate against people of color.

I mean, if racism is the systemic oppression of a minority by the group with power, and if I benefit from that system in terms of wealth, access, and safety, and if I continue to use those benefits with alacrity, am I not more than simply privileged? Am I not engaging with the system? Am I not passively prospering due to it? And if I am — if I fight some things that are racist but not everything that is racist — can I claim to be not racist? ...  read more