Monday, September 28, 2020

Another one of those times you thought you had COVID—life in the time of coronavirus


You know how it goes. You're masked up. There are four tiny bottles of Bath & Body Works hand sanitizer in your purse. You're fine. You don't have a fever. Yet you cough, like an inconsiderate festering petri-dish of end time germs, you cough in PUBLIC. Heads swivel like that alien invasion movie where everyone has been taken over by aliens except one person (who just coughed). They all point at the violator and make that high-pitch alien whine sound. GET HER.

Moral of the story: don't cough in public. I don't care if you have to swallow your tongue to avoid it.

It's allergy season here in the shire (it runs April to December). Histamine is the only thing running through my veins (does it run through veins?). I'm now allergic to all life on earth. My sinuses are Death Valley dry. It's a bit worse than normal Sjogren's Syndrome, but honestly, you can get used to about anything. So, I volunteered to watch my favorite little person, Three, though she has a cold. It was totally worth it because we made a cooking show (pretend) out of a bag of gluten-free flour and water. (Yee-Um.) Priorities. Everyone in the family caught Three's cold. She's a total carrier monkey. I wasn't sure if I had it for sure but it looked bad because a couple days after she left, I sneezed once. It came out like a gust of wind in Egypt. 

Without getting into too many gory details about sinuses—I was having difficulties. Despite the pandemic, I decided I would go see my doctor for my annual physical. I wanted to tell her about my desiccated dryness. Hubby kept insisting I wiggled my nose non-stop, like Bilbo in The Hobbit. (Can't help it, but I denied it.) The best thing about mask-wearing is that no one else can see that so he has no proof.

Then I remembered that last year when I complained about dryness the doctor said buy a vaporizer. Oh, yeah. Fact is I bought two of them. Apparently you have to turn them on. You also have to put water in them. (Ain't got time for that sh—.)

Deciding that before I showed up for my physical having not done what she told me to do LAST YEAR, I turned on both vaporizers and put them at face-level with water in them and everything, and I went to sleep.

In the morning I woke up with a fever and a hacking WET cough. (Not a COVID dry one, but a fever and a cough makes you suspect!) I spent the day hacking and lying on the comfy recliner in my office and befouling tissues, figuring I'd rehydrated some kind of a mummy curse or something. 

Someone said the word COVID test to me. First I said, it's a WET COUGH and I don't have COVID! Then I thought, but WHAT IF...and my writer brain ran with it. Like most of my first drafts, it was awful. (So many plot holes, like where did I catch said virus?) Even then I may have been able to ignore that niggling doubt, but I'm to watch Three again in a couple of days and IF I have IT, or even maybe could possibly have IT, they won't let me. What with her magical carrier monkey abilities, she could infect the entire planet in the time it takes to make one pretend cooking show. Plus, I have leftover water balloons, powdered chalk, neon sidewalk chalk AND grand plans.

Watching Three is like hitting the lotto.

Anyway, the county I live in was doing free drive-by tests. 

Only, the drive-by testing site was full up for the day. So I coughed myself to sleep, vaporizers blowing at me, a fan swirling, and a hat on because maybe I was hot, maybe I was cold. I couldn't decide so planned for both.

In the middle of the night I woke up because I realized how to fix a problem I was having in the Viking book I'm writing. Also, then I realized I wasn't hot or cold or coughing anymore. I checked my temperature and it was below normal, which is where I live. Below normal.

No COVID. Absolutely nothing. The mummy curse has left the building. All is well. And you were so worried. Again.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Night. Sleep. Death. The Stars. A Novel by Joyce Carol Oates—a book review

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

This Summer I made a Greek Alley in my Own Backyard—newsletter


This summer didn't go as planned for anybody. It reminds me of that essay about planning a holiday in Italy and winding up in Holland.
Only in our scenario there is some pestilence there too, in the form of a pandemic.
Holland isn't flashy like Italy, but it's a nice place. Kind of like being home for months and months isn't a bad thing, and since I couldn't take my writer trip to Greece, I built my own Greek alley at home. Lemons to lemonade, right?
My big thrill recently was getting a refund from United. Remember they're the airline that dragged that doctor off a flight? Fly the friendly skies my eye. I've spent many hours on the phone with them. They're not my favorite people, so I felt a bit like Rocky doing his victory laps when I finally wore them down.

Hope, patience, and low expectations are my superpowers this summer. Okay, hope and low expectations are. I'm still working on patience (and I'm sick of waiting for it). Let's be real here. I only have low expectations when it comes to housework and paperwork. But I've got hope! I definitely have hope! Yeah, hope is my superpower.
Recipe for an at-home Greek alley: Use farm stand plants and the sad remnants of last winter's grocery store herbs. Get ALL the clearance sale lavender from Lowe's, potting soil, and new pots. Voila. 
It was fun until I got tired of watering everything. So I found them new homes with better plant parents this month, and picked all the herbs. 
What's your answer when someone asks you how're you doing? Are you in the It-Could-Be-Worse column? Couldn't-Be-Worse column? Mr. Brightside one? All of the above within a ten minute time-frame? 


That said, I don't think anyone's eye is going to stop twitching until we admit at least to ourselves what we're really feeling. For instance I'm feeling anxiety, frustration, fear, disappointment, discouragement, and contentment all at the same time. Can you tell I've discovered the Dr. Marc Brackett/Brene Brown podcast about Emotional Intelligence?

If you're struggling (and who isn't), I wanted to share how much it's helped me to carve out time and space to sit quietly. (Away from the news.) Maybe it'll help you too. There's also the classic Oatmeal comic take on why all the conflicting data is driving us nuts. Matthew Inman has a great way of getting to the root of the problem.  
When reality takes my words, another thing that helps me is sketching and making collages in my journal. I also do it during ZOOM meetings. Don't tell.
This summer I read through old journals. It's been great for spotting bad habits and reminding myself how wonderful life is.
My phone has 63,192 photos on it. I take pictures of beautiful things. That helps too. As Louis Armstrong said, "What a wonderful world." He never said it's an easy world.
My little olive tree. An evening walk. A postcard I sent. A sunset here in the shire. It helps me to document every bit of wonderful.
Playing helps too. Sometimes I find a kid to play with and make art with. It justifies all my water balloons, stickers, chalk, and the kaleidoscope collection. 
This summer I've rediscovered the library. It makes me read faster because I have to return those books. I also share my books and am gifted more in return. Life is good.
My favorite reads this summer have been the often mentioned book Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates,  Madeleine L'Engle's collection of short stories The Moment of Tenderness, and War with the Newts by Karel Capik. I put my reviews on my blog and cannot recommend them more highly.
A couple summers ago I discovered Eugenia Gerontara. I love her uplifting whimsical world. This year I ordered a couple more pieces of her art and sent her so many I LOVE YOUR WORK messages that she invited me to visit her studio in Athens!
Believe me I will visit ASAP after COVID. When I can get there. If her work speaks to you, check it out online. She has an ETSY store too. I had my pieces personalized.
The Little Red Riding Hood pieces are wonderful. I love Little Red swallowing the Big Bad Wolf. I love him sleeping with Grandmother. That one reminds me of Hubby and me. Don't tell.
I'm making myself stop with all the photos. We didn't even get into me feeding gluten-free bread to the chipmunks Hubby caught in his catch and release traps. Apparently hundreds of chipmunks are a problem. They like gluten-free bread and I'm pretty sure they run all the way back to my house when he releases them a few miles from here.
Hail to the bird using my hanging flowers to build a nest on my front porch. Hail to the hummingbird who sits in my tiny olive tree. Hail to ZOOM classes, books, and summertime. It's not what I planned, but what's not to love? So, how you doing? 
"You're only going to be as good as the stuff you surround yourself with." ~Austin Kleon
Writer: Stephanie Karfelt/S.R. Karfelt/Saffi Karfelt
Specialty: Seeing the bright side 
Aspirations: Backing up all my photos