~thankful thursday~ trilliums are red violet, shop towels are blue


Saturday 4-4 With all of the mask-making theory coming across my screen, it’s no wonder I woke up thinking about the people sitting at their sewing machines to produce PPE to donate for health care workers. It called to mind a saintly woman I haven’t thought of in a long time, Grandma Jo, who used to lead us in rolling torn bedsheet bandages for missions when I was a small child. She was not my grandma but she was everyone’s grandma.

When Rich alerted me that some studies are showing that blue shop towels provide a superior material for making masks, I had to admit that I was not surprised.

Quinn is back in a phase of wanting to binge watch all of Vi Hart’s math videos. Today, after Quinn and I spoke, she put out her first-author publication about contact tracing to digitally slow the spread of the virus. What an amazing woman. Vi Hart is extraordinary, and I am not sad that Quinn idolizes her. She is the Isaac Newton type, and I’m not even going to hold that against her.

I was visited by birthday santa yesterday, then a birthday easter bunny left a big pile of veggies on the door step. Then camp boss must have been birthday tooth fairy, because she made lasagna rolls for dinner and a peanut butter pie for me tonight, with a card and flower bulbs. I am so grateful for my dear friends who made sure my pandemic birthday didn’t slip by uncelebrated.


Sunday 4-5 I slept in (it felt super late) until 7:30. I made coffee and we ate more peanut butter pie to give me the energy to cook potatoes, eggs scrambled with spinach and garlic and topped with leftover sausage gravy.

Q and I spent almost two hours on hangouts today doing math doodles. His choice of activity lately is to watch Vi Hart videos “with me” meaning he’s watching them, I’m watching his face in hangouts and maybe also playing the video on my phone. But mostly just looking at him because it’s all I want to do. I suggested that today we bring graph paper to our hangout and do some of the math doodling she talks about and we worked on Pascal’s triangle and Ulam’s spiral and then he wanted to do a Fibonacci spiral. When he had drawn the squares and it was time to draw the spiral he said, “the perfect spiral in any given square of your series is the same as the infinitieth iteration of the net thingie…. I think for my next programming assignment in javascript I should program a Fibonacci spiral and have it draw the spiral using the distance between two pixels, I could have a totally netted up Fibonacci spiral … hmm, where did I put my pencil?” Absent-minded professor Quinn.

Grateful that some are using this time to kick coronavirus butt. Grateful that it is also okay to not be a super-efficient pandemic producer and to be just managing to do the daily necessities and not invent gravity or write King Lear or cure any diseases or sew a hundred masks or write any books or even any chapters.

Cooked stir fry, joking with Rich that he could do it (it is fabled by his children that his stir fry is the yummiest in all the land, but alas, I have never tasted this mythical ambrosia.) In the middle of cooking the carrots, I had to turn off the burner and go outside with my camera to witness the rainbowiest rainbow I have ever seen. It hung out over our house/forest for a very long time.

I am feeling a little withdrawn. I know that social distancing is really a physical thing in time and space, not a social thing in terms of connecting with our loved ones, and that connections matter even more right now. And yet, I feel very depleted and unable to handle much connection, cannot handle much discourse without totally wiping out everything I have left in my emotional reserve, and defaulting to less is more when it comes to communication. Trying to find a balance with connecting in ways that do not contribute to the depletion, but instead help to replenish the reservoir.

Monday 4-6 Having mutual pep talks with Lau, about how we need to cut ourselves some slack. I could not get started on work this morning, so I graded camp boss’s son’s home school science labs and swished the toilets. Now I’m feeling like I can tackle some work with audio Harry Potter for company. Something has got to give. We have to be kind to ourselves.

Tuesday 4-7 Today was sunshine and birdsong. Today I parked a lawn chair in the bayou and did an hour and a half of data analysis overlooking the trout lilies.

John Prine passed away today, such very sad news. I have loved his music since the days I dragged my guitar along on schooners and we would sit around on deck at night and sing Angel from Montgomery and Paradise, all the way until now when I burn his songs onto my love’s mix cds, because “in spite of ourselves, we’ll end up sittin’ on a rainbow.”


~4-8 gratitude~

I spent an hour in the bayou this morning while it was sunny on the trout lilies. Heavenly.

Quinn and I sink into an hour and a half of hexaflexagon making on our hangout, easily folding ourselves into this comfortingly familiar activity. Like a plate of nachos or a hot bath, it soothes us to just sit together and crease paper strips into a long accordions of triangles, then twist them into a foldy hexagon. His face smiles at me through the curve of the tape dispenser among the screenshots I have gotten in the habit of capturing while we spend our space phone call together each day. I started drawing butterflies on my hexaflexagon, so that when I fold it, they can trade wings, change directions of their flight, and reunite their wings in cycles.



Wednesday 4-8 Grocery store run – first in two weeks and two days. Needed coffee and will soon need dairy products. I buy organic milk as usual. I think about dairy farmers as I place the carton in my cart and push it towards the self check-out. Without the restaurants and schools they normally supply with milk they have been dumping it into their manure pits. I am not sure the organic farmers are in the same predicament – I suspect not. As a dairy farmer’s daughter, this whole category of thought makes me want to weep.

It was announced today that Oregon schools are closed for the rest of the school year. I know we all saw it coming, but the response among fellow parents seems to be dismay. I feel that ship had already sailed for me – I was already operating under the assumption of done for the year, but I also have a much easier schooling situation than some, with just one thirteen-year-old. He is not a senior, he is not a small child. It is an oddly “good” time to have a pandemic, middle school (raise your hand if spending some of your seventh grade year at home would have been okay?). He is fairly self-tending, without any major high stakes like graduation and college entry looming. If anything, this is freeing him up to pursue his chosen learning endeavors, and I secretly hope he really likes it and wants to choose to continue it (but please let it be by choice in fall 2020, not because of pandemic reasons.)

Amanda Shires’ iso-lounging show tonight was a tribute to John Prine. Amanda and Jason shared that the advice to couples they had received from John and Fiona, the most important thing from their perspective, was to stay vulnerable. Both Rich and I seem to have been overcome at the same moment by a sudden cloud of cat hair in the living room.

Thursday 4-9 Rich’s 50th birthday!

I gave him his painting right away in the morning, I couldn’t wait! He loved it. Then I made him french toast and sent him off to work. I ordered us Sorella’s for dinner: lasagna, rigatoni and meatballs, caesar salad, garlic bread, a half rack of ribs, and chocolate cannoli for birthday dessert. I lit the tall taper rainbow candles, sat on his lap and sang him happy birthday. Then we both got sleepy in our chairs and fell into bed as usual.

all found artistry is on etsy and is the same artist who made my wedding earrings; check her out!

I had a moment where I needed to clear the table so Rich could eat his ribs there (instead of his chair in the living room), but he came to the kitchen before I had a chance to clear it, and I found that I could not let him clear anything, as this is now my work place as well as my virtual parenting space. I’ve been camped at the kitchen table for weeks now, and I’m going to need to be there again tomorrow and know where to find things. It took me a few minutes to realize why clearing the table was such a big deal but when so many things feel out of control, it amplifies one’s need to control the little things when one can.

Planning ahead for Friday game night hangout, Quinn decided we should design our own d and d dice (4-, 6-, 8-, 10-, 12- and 20-sided) out of paper and then make up a game to play using them. I knew it would take us far longer than Friday to make such a thing, but agreed it sounded fun and we started in on our project.

~meme of the day~

“It’s just that masks are terribly comfortable. I think everyone will be wearing them in the future.” ~ the Dread Pirate Roberts


Friday 4-10 Today might be a little hard. It is day 14 since the family visit but Quinn has been thinking it over and he wants to stay at his Dad’s until “we hit our peak” and then come back here to “ride out the rest,” and I am struck by his maturity level and how literate he is on this subject. So I am supporting his decision and he is not going to come home today as we had tentatively planned, and I’m trying not to think about how our peak is still estimated to be in the future and how this estimate can change based on so many factors out of my control.

~4-10 gratitude~

I am feeling grateful today for our continued incomes, our solid relationship, and strangely, the timing of this in my life’s timeline. Lauren and I talked about how there were times in our lives that would have been so much worse to have had to live through a pandemic. I mentioned last post about having had far worse birthdays – those were spent under the same roof with a person I am so thankful to not have been stuck in shelter-in-place with back at that time because, oh, lord. It makes me mindful of those who are stuck in homes in abusive circumstances, and seeing how high emotions are right now, I know in my gut, without having to check statistics that I am sure would only confirm, that abuse is skyrocketing behind so many closed doors. Just like I’m grateful for this timing for my son – who is neither a toddler nor a 17 year old, and who is dealing very well with missing seventh grade, I am ever so grateful for my life situation, safe at home under the same roof as a wonderful, kind husband. I am also grateful to have heard from my parents on my birthday and hear my dad jump briefly on the line to tell me, “I had a cold but I got over it.”

This week has been a sunshine daydream and I’ve spent many of my work hours in my bayou office beside the trout lilies. I keep my camera handy in case a hummingbird visits again, but mostly I’m pressing data through the playdough fun factory at a pretty high level of efficiency, considering this is a pandemic and all. Today I did see an osprey briefly circle above the spruce boughs, and the sun shone through its fanned tail feathers so brightly that the light spots shone like stained glass, outlined by the dark feathers against the clear blue sky.

The trout lilies are starting to drop petals and some of them have seed pods starting to swell, but the late bloomers still have their petals and have been throwing them back in a sun dance all week. A time to mourn, a time to dance.

The trilliums, too, are beginning to age, but while they look a little more weathered, they are also turning the most beautiful shade of red violet. This makes me think of Glennon Doyle’s pep talk the other day about how we need to burn the memo we received that says, “my role as a parent is to protect my child from pain.” She says it better than I could paraphrase, but the gist is that pain is going to shape our kids, is shaping them right now, in this painful time, and they are going to be all the more amazing and strong and resilient and brave and wise and smart and compassionate because of it. Burn the memo, because our job is not to protect them from it. I don’t mean that I won’t protect him from physically catching this virus – I will – that is my job, as much as it is in my power, to protect him from physical harm – but protecting him from the emotional pain of knowing about it, from understanding the impacts it is having on his community and the world, no. He is grappling with that in his own way and I’m not going to try to keep him from experiencing that. I wonder just how many young people are deciding to pursue medical careers as this pandemic unfolds. I would not be surprised if there is a surge in nursing and pre-med enrollment in the years to come. At the end of the day, humanity is still humanity, and we create new meaning even as we mourn the death of our old normal. We may come through this season of shadows more weathered and beat up, but we are also turning a deeper shade of red violet.

6 comments to ~thankful thursday~ trilliums are red violet, shop towels are blue

  • Eileen

    HappyBirthday, Rich!

    BTW…love the comment about eating peanut butter pie to regain your strength…I say the same thing about ice cream

    Stay safe, dear gal❤️

  • camp boss

    I think PB pie is a wonderful breakfast, 2nd breakfast, snack, or afternoon tea time treat!!! Love all the trout lily and trillium photos!!

  • tim

    Audio Harry Potter can get you through lots of things… I wish Jim Dale narrated every book. But then I might stop reading and just put that on all the time.

    7th grade home stays would have been very nice. I might have missed Mrs. Governali and Mrs. Horak, but not the friends that didn’t last, nor the homework that did.

    Love the Dread Pirate Roberts meme of the day. Can’t say I agree with the Dread Pirate here about comfort, but then I guess he was thinking disguise masks.

    Hope you are having a great day and if not, then remember my philosophy of life. Just breathe. Turns out it has more meaning that I realized when I was 13.

    • I also would have missed Mrs. Governali and Mrs. Horak! I agree with you re: masks, the glasses/mask incompatibility is especially problematic. And your philosophy of life is stunningly accurate!

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