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Showing posts from April, 2020

Pandemic Projects - The Little Things

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So I have found that, if I stay busy with household projects over the weekend, it just feels like we are being wonderfully productive, not that our world is collapsing around us.

So today I made a new light switch cover for the hall:



The early spring allowed us to clean out under the magnolia beds at Summit, which have needed attention for a long time. We then got about 10 bags of pine needles from our friends Tom and Sarah (at a respectable social distance of course) and mulched the bed within an inch of its life. The magnolia were severely damaged by the neighbors the summer before last (to the point where they developed scale because they were so damaged during the hottest part of the summer), and we've been working hard (and spending a lot) to get them in better shape. Pine needles are supposed to be fantastic for magnolias so here's hoping!




















Back at Ashland, Beatrix and I brushed down and painted the wicker chairs in the back seating area. It's not perfect, more like &…

Monday Musings

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For a Homestead Dystopian, it was a pretty good day.

I took Brutus for a walk and picked up a *better than gold* jar of sourdough starter from my friend David, of Cook Like a Bastard YouTube fame (see, it's not just the kids that like YouTube!)



We got our Ramsey Hill sign, though it could use some embellishing. Luckily, I have sharpies.



I planted a bunch of cold start seeds in the garden that I got from a neighborhood seeds change.



Beatrix and I finished a really great, and even educational, puzzle (thanks, Newburgs!)



And I got partway though my Coursera classwork on modern art! (there was about 9 hours of work in there too, but who's counting?)

Sundays in the Kitchen

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As befitting our apparent new roles as Homestead Dystopians, we spent much of the day in the kitchen.

We made bread, thanks to my friend Tesla sending yeast. And because all the cool kids are doing it — does anyone have any sourdough starter they can share with me?



And then we started a batch of beer from a kit we had picked up, we'll see how it turns out.



Chocolate yoghurt cake from my friend's excellent cookbook:



A hearty lentil stew from the same friend's fantastic, FREE weekly meal plan:


In the afternoon we did a little gardening and clean-up at Summit.

Then back here Patrick re-organized our woodpile so we can more easily do backyard bonfires:



Meanwhile I worked on the raised front bed (no pictures yet, because it's not quite done). I don't think I've ever gotten such an early start on the garden — and in any case, that particular bed has been a problem child for years. I think I might have removed some "real" plants, not just weeds. But honestly…

Pandemic Projects - Misc. Clean-up

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I tweeted today that:
I think it's time to admit that I am no longer the brave young woman in the dystopian novels who goes off to lead a new society. I'm the on that stays home and gardens and makes saeurkraut and tries to keep going what we have. Not sure how I feel about that. Maybe it's age. I'm hoping I'm at least the one who would place the jar of saeurkaut in Beatrix's army surplus backpack, along with her great-grandfather's old war medal or something.

So today, in that spirit, it was a lot of catch-up. Patrick got up early and made muffins, then did a Sketchnote online class before running out to 11 Wells to get some of the hand sanitizer they are giving away (just not something we normally have around because I loathe the stuff and think it builds bacterial resistance) and to Repair Lair to drop off some extra sheets that the owner is using to make masks for people.

Meanwhile, I did a second coat of paint in the hallway and some laundry and other …

My Current Mores

This started in my head as a Top Ten list of things to keep in mind during "these uncertain times." But then I realized that there are just a few core things that I am clinging to right now. Maybe they resonate with you:

1. Do NOT pin anything to any specific date right now. This one is maybe the hardest. We humans plan and we do not do well with uncertainty. We want a day that this will be over. We want the current Stay-At-Home in Minnesota to be over on May 4, because that's the end date the governor currently has in place. But that's not how this works. There's no one magic date. And the sooner we all get used to that uncertainty, the better off we will be at really getting on with today and preparing for tomorrow. The Head of School for Beatrix's school just announced "We are operating under the assumption that students will not return for the balance of the 2019-20 academic year and that they will complete their studies through our Distance Learning…

Egg-zactly

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Mr. Howe, a middle school teacher at SPA, has started "Mr. Howe's Story Corner" on Tuesday and Thursday nights. He reads it literally from a corner of his house and livestreams it. Beatrix did not care about it as much at first, but now we've taken to watching it every time. I like it because it brings to mind memories of being at the Lower School, when the principal would read a chapter of a book to the whole school each assembly. I learned to read to myself early, and so my mom or dad never read aloud to me, and having someone read aloud to me was not only a novelty, but also felt warm and cozy and taken care of.

In any case, the book Mr. Howe is reading is called Under the Egg (by Laura Marx) and it's charming. He commented tonight that it was interesting we were reading it now, because of the Easter and Passover connections. It reminded me of overhearing Beatrix in class today saying we were not exactly religious but celebrated Easter — which is I guess what …

The Quarantine 15

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Today started with a zoom mani-pedi season for Beatrix and me with my friend Sarah and her daughter. Beatrix and I made the internet-famous fluffy coffee drinks as part of our relaxation.



Then we had a family birthday party celebration with our Norwegian relatives. My incredibly organized cousin Erin organized the celebration AND dropped off cupcakes for everyone so we could celebrate together. She makes and decorates incredible cakes.



Also, in case you were wondering, the Norwegians are not big fans of the Swedes lack of social distancing.

Tonight, Patrick went to pick up our weekly "hustle pack" from Lawless, also picking up the order for our friends Chip and Amy (I'm posting Amy's picture here because we are waiting to open ours until Zoom HH with Elyse and Heath later).



After all that, plus working on a painting project (more on that later), we ordered delicious Shish for dinner. Leo and Beth really know their stuff:



Plus a crowler from Lake Monster:



Dessert was …

The Problem Might Not Be the Person You Think It Is

In general, I'm trying to give at least a little more grace to people right now — to know that everyone is under an insane amount of stress, and so when they say something (especially on Twitter or Facebook), that they might not be their best selves.

But I beg of you to consider the other side before you make a grand statement.

If you are a parent who is now basically homeschooling while your kid is trying to achieve distance learning in a platform that teachers almost literally created from scratch overnight, I *really* hope that, a few weeks back when Saint Paul Public Schools teachers were striking, you did not complain about how teachers were greedy and always wanting more.

If you are worried about people paying rent — which so many people are right now and that is real pain — please don't make sweeping statements like "Screw the landlords." Please remember that there are a lot of landlords who maybe own one or two units, perhaps the apartment above them in the d…

Pandemic Case Statement

If we have learned anything in the past few weeks about the way that this crisis is hitting our country, it's that people want to help. People are making masks, organizing food drives, sharing books and puzzles (when properly disinfected!), and checking in on their neighbors.
Funders also want to help, from the government to private groups. But funding opportunities open up quickly, and seem to close for applications even quicker. If you don’t have a basic case statement nailed down so you can react quickly, you are going to lose out. Some questions to base this on:
1.What are the immediate effects on your organization? (closure, cancellations, layoffs, etc.) 2.In what ways have you (quickly) adapted to mitigate these effects? (moving things online, distancing, etc.) 3.What have you learned about your organization and constituency as part of this? 4.What, in your current estimation, will be some of the longer-term changes to your organization? (changing of funding, programming, etc.) W…

When We Get Through This

Governor Walz's brilliant State of the State speech tonight talked about how much better and stronger we'll be once we come out on the other side of the COVID-19 crisis.

When we get through this (assuming I'm still alive):

-  I will never put off that drink with a friend (looking at you, Dan Smith) because I am too busy, because lord knows when it will be able to happen.

-  I will, in general, see friends and family more.

-  I'll have dinner parties.

-  I will be better at making cocktails, but will still go out for them all the time.

-  I will take advantage of every opportunity I have to travel.

-  We will make pool parties all the more awesome.

-  I will joyously support small businesses (and especially restaurants) and recognize them for what they do for our community.

-  I will probably hire that housecleaner I've bene meaning to, because I like having a clean house.

-  I will probably be more lenient on Beatrix spending time with friends, even when it's a…

Corona Cleaning - Library

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We really use each room in our home, especially on the main floor. Bu the library, which has books and a comfy couch close to a computer charger, and the large monitor that we watch movies on in place of a TV, is perhaps the most snug gathering spot in the house.

It's also often the messiest:


So our plan for today, since yesterday and the release of the PPP loans almost killed me for work, as to get that space both organized AND deep cleaned.

Honestly, the books were in pretty good shape and only needed a little re-jiggering. But our magazines, including years of Old House Journal, needed some help, so we started with those.



Once we got the books better organized we were able to get the set of silver and the 2 sets of silver-plate together (I guess if this ever ends we need to have more dinner parties.) We were also able to take the various bags and boxes of photos and organize them to be scanned, plus clean out other bags of things that had been dumped there. We cleaned through t…