Dispatches from home in the time of COVID-19. Joshua Tree, California
Q Day 55
I picked some wildflowers on a walk. Caught a sunset. I’ve had that seashell since I was about 3 years old. Still remember my dad telling me if I held it close to my ear I could hear the ocean. Pure magic, considering I was a toddler living in landlocked city in the South. So that’s what I’m doing now, just listening to the ocean. Had anchovies and spaghetti for breakfast again.
Q Day 53
I left the house to mail a package. Was rear-ended on the way home. Everyone is okay. Before we got out of our respective cars, we masked up. She gave me a piece of paper with her info. I have sanitizer in the car but the heat has probably rendered it ineffective by now. Travel is more complicated but I’m adjusting
Quarantine, Day 51; Spaghetti with tomato paste and anchovies for breakfast, Day 3.
I sense this is going to be part of my new norm.
Still in quarantine but it's the desert and I'm in a rural area. It's hard to describe the aesthetic of desert living. This pile of bricks was on my property when I moved here. I've found astroturf and roofing shingles buried in the ground. I forced myself to go for a walk today. Trying to re-appreciate why I moved here.
Essential travel was to the hardware store to deal with a moth infestation. Treated myself to a milkshake on my way out of the parking lot.
I talked on the phone to an 80-year old cousin I've never met getting oral history about my dad's side of the family. My great grandfather was a portrait photographer in rural Georgia, and if I ever get out of here, she's going to give me his posing chair.
There was some bombing or paratroopers or night exercises on the horizon last night. View from my bedroom window.
Quarantine, Day 34
I’m on my second 5 pound bag of potatoes and I had to repair my jeans. I made homemade mayonnaise with the penultimate egg and had pommes frites for lunch. It’s irrational but I’m angry at a gopher snake. Or maybe it’s a bull snake. Either way, the baby cottontails are gone and there was evidence of foul play.
I was half-ass weeding by the clothesline when a rat scurried past my feet. I pulled a couple more weeds and heard a tiny squeaky sound. Newborn rats. I went inside, got the dustpan, and transported them, still alive, about 50 yards from the house. I wasn't up for the task today. It’s been a harsh week for all. No one is winning.
Maintenance for the swamp cooler. Trip to the post office. Sanitized the gear upon return.
Quarantine. Day 27
Finally went for a walk after a week of rain. Picked wildflowers along the wash. Thought about my mom and all the garden club arrangements she made from fallen twigs and the flowers she grew. She always took snapshots of the arrangements, photographing them in the dining room, either on the table or the sideboard, and always with the flash. There would usually be a glare in the wood veneer. The cup is chipped Wedgewood with a broken handle. I do not know the names of the flowers.
View from the studio window today. I’m trying to accurately identify how I’ve been feeling lately. It’s like Stockholm Syndrome but I never actually see my captor, and for the first time in a while, I feel more at peace with the here and now and curious about the future. Also, that baggie is killing me on so many levels.
Solutions in the time of quarantine. I’m trying hard to find a balance between not letting the 5 pound bag of potatoes go bad and really, anything. The fridge is finally looking somewhat empty on the inside except for the homemade peanut butter, jam, oranges, and assorted condiments. Spent most of the day working in the office on administrative tasks. Made crackers again in anticipation of ordering more brie. I need to exercise.
We lost another last night.
I scored a “10” in this morning’s Honey Bear Bottle Refill event. It was a flawless performance. A bit later, Jeff Buckley’s cover of “Hallelujah” came on Spotify and I lost it. There has been no progress on the home repair project and it’s raining. I tried to file Agnes’s dew claw with an emery board.
Forecast calls for rain this week. Made soup. The kale is still fresh, but oranges will save me.
I started a major, but doable, home repair. The exterior walls of the studio are weather damaged. Paint is peeling off in sheets. Requires scraping off nearly all the paint, sanding, patching and painting. I don’t have any of the materials or tools except the paint scraper. So by “started,” I mean I scraped off a tiny strip, used the last of the wood putty, painted a test area, and spent the rest of the day psyching myself up. On the first day of official quarantine I converted the flatfiles into a daybed office annex. In between the art and the home maintenance, I stare out the window. I’m still wearing my new pajama pants.
This is my coffee grinder. It hasn’t been this clean since 2003 and on a side note, my cracker making skills are on point. There’s a joke in there because I’m from Georgia.
Friday. I made my second trip to the post office since March 15. Face mask, gloves, and sanitizer in the car. Bright coveralls so people would see me and stay away. The post office wasn’t crowded, but few were taking extra precautions. One guy touched his face while holding his mail and I caught myself doing an eye roll. They have markers on the floor and everyone respected the 6-foot rule. I drove slower than usual, pulling off to the side occasionally just to experience some weird connection to people as they drove by. Sanitized the envelopes, the steering wheel, the gate lock, and underneath the door handle where the tip of my fingers slide as I unlock the car. Washed my mask and gloves and wondered if cold-blooded killers feel this much anxiety when eradicating their fingerprints. The post-it note was made before lockdown. My new pajamas pants have pockets. Glory be.
I’m a grandmother!
Unrest. My saving graces are the Cuisinart from my first marriage and the espresso machine from my second. Dorothy Parker is my spirit animal today.
Today is my birthday. I am an Aries and INTP, if you’re into that sort of thing My next door neighbor from Nashville called to wish me a HB. She’s 81. I’ve known her since I was about 10. She and my mom were confidantes, and after my mom died, she and I had that relationship as well. She’s one of my favorite people in the world and I miss living across the street from her, especially now. We catch up on neighborhood news. The kindest man in our neighborhood died of cancer; the couple from Chicago who bought my old place tore down all the trees and keep to themselves; the nice neighbor who bought the house on the corner was fired and had to move. She tells me she wants me to be happy, to live somewhere that’s good for my art, and that after that, she wishes I would meet a nice man. She calls me, “Love,” throughout our conversation. “How are you, Love? Take care, Love…Bye, Love.” I was going to take a hike, but I had to text my Instacart shopper and request peanuts in order to make peanut butter. Can’t do Skippy. Not there yet.
36 degrees, windy, and feels like 5.
Years ago I purchased a 50 pound roll of Glassine for $50. I still have 17 pounds left. Best purchase of my entire life, and I can say that with confidence now. Made a tiny pound cake.
Twenty minutes aerobics walking up and down two stairs to the studio. Watched a tutorial on YouTube. Was so hungry by noon that I ate my still life on the kitchen counter. I just now witnessed a cottontail jump 3 feet in the air. It's mating season.
I spent yesterday rearranging the studio and sitting with imposter syndrome. Read where a new symptom is loss of smell. Agnes needs a bath, but I still made bad jokes to myself about having lost the ability to smell money. I ordered a new pair of pajama pants. Flannel.
It’s a Monday. Slight headache, right eye, probably from eating chips. No fever. Vacuumed. Painted. Laid outside on a cot like a TB patient with a wool blanket as protection from the wind. Agnes’s fur feels wirier than usual or maybe I’m just petting her all the time.
I had groceries delivered. Mostly fresh produce, and skim milk to make yogurt. A bag of rice and some oranges. Curry. It took forever to sanitize everything. Dinner was later than usual.
Woke up to reading about a confirmed case here. We’re a small rural community and I’m not going to do the math. Yes, it’s likely many people already have it, confirmed or not. I notice that I’m the most freaked out first thing in the morning and last thing at night. The rest of the day I can fake it because I’m used to working alone. I had to go to the post office this morning and stopped for kale at the Farmers Market. Came home, and wondered if anyone else cries in their car.
Today is day 5 of self-isolation, the first day of statewide lockdown, and the first day of my curbside garbage pickup. I made a level landing pad so the mechanical arms could reach the bins and yelled hello to the sanitation truck driver. Stale chips for lunch. My sewing machine needs repairing, and a bottle of fizzy water exploded in the fridge. I forgot to have my 2 pm espresso. Health wise, I’m still fine.
We're in lockdown. I found the scissors.
I wrecked a large watercolor, can’t find anything to photograph to save my life, and had a baked potato with kale for breakfast.
I'm bummed that I won’t be going to the landfill for awhile, but I ordered curbside garbage pickup yesterday and they delivered the bins today. For almost 3 years I’ve been documenting my trips to the landfill and humble bragging about how I don’t generate much garbage. First pickup is Friday.