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Diminish Your Sense of Isolation During Social Distancing: Read Aloud to Your Ficus

With many/most of us stuck at home waiting out the novel Corona virus and generally freaking out because, I mean, plagues and earthquakes? Waking up and your bed is shaking and lights swinging from the ceiling and now that the power is back on are you going to have a job tomorrow? And there's no toilet paper on the store shelves, and more importantly, Harmon's is running out of Cadbury eggs! 
Gah! So stop stockpiling already!
So, you could sit around frying your brains and shortening your attention spans obsessively scrolling through social-media feeds, watching cat videos, binge-watching Netflix...
 Or you could maybe re-discover the pleasure of reading aloud--to your cat or your brother or your roommates or sister. Or to your fiddle-leaf ficus plant. Whatever or whoever you happen to be stuck inside with.
Might as well make it a community thing. Loneliness can suck your soul as much as any virus.
Even alone with a book you're of course not alone. Studies like this on…
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In Spite of Valentine's: Writing Effective & Tasteful Romance & Emotion without Any Sap or Cheese Whatsoever

So, Valentine’s Day. It was bound to show up eventually this year.

I appreciate today for precisely one reason: See’s California Brittle, which you can get in milk or dark chocolate and comes pre-packaged in 8-oz. bags so you don't have to stand in a two-hour line like all the poor sods who want special-order mixed boxes.
Aside from Valentine’s Day always slinking around in my least-favorite month of February, which tends to be brown, and aside from three-hour wait-times at every decent restaurant in town, not to mention the in-your-face reminder to everyone not currently in a happy relationship that their lives lack that certain spark, I hold three special grudges against St. Valentine’s day. No offense to the patron saint of courtly love and epilepsy, or anyone who likes to pray to him.
1.Purple, pink, and red look ugly together. I mean, really. 2.Pepto-bismol-flavored candy hearts. 3.Romance does not, in fact, equal sex or sappiness…but try telling that to Valentine’s Day.
I happe…

THIS YEAR I PLAN TO COMPLICATE MY LIFE

I enjoyed the Marie Kondo thing. Really. (Is it over yet?). For example, I enjoyed the fabulous new pants and cosy wool sweater I acquired when my friend Emily, a violist in the Utah Symphony, Marie-Kondoed her closet. And I enjoyed all the articles people wrote in response to the Kondo craze, like the one in the Guardian by the writer who decided to ditch all her friends who didn’t spark joy…and then realized the only person left was herself. Oh, well. I especially liked the article/s reacting to Marie’s claim about books (that nobody needs to own more than thirty—wait, people can actually live without books?) which included interviews of people who loved their various huge, messy, beautiful libraries. I spent some time after that gazing at my own huge, messy, beautiful library, and tried to imagine whispering to each book as I loaded it into a box to throw away, “Thank you for your service.” And decided I didn’t actually have that much imagination. I didn’t get rid of anything. Thou…

coexistence

A robin has built a nest and laid three eggs in it, in the grapevines just outside my front door. I can see her through my window, sitting there as I work. She adjusts herself north, south, east, west--quarter turns, like kneading dough--for something different to stare at, I expect, or to incubate her eggs more evenly.I imagine it's a pretty boring job. Twelve to fourteen days until her eggs hatch, the internet informs us, another nine to sixteen until the fledglings leave the nest.

She stands up, preens, adjusts inside the nest--eggs, bedding?--wiggles back and forth, settles back in, tail bent up slightly so she fits down inside the nest-bowl. She's been sitting there all afternoon hardly moving. Now she's restless, twitchy.

It's mostly a nice spot for a nest, I think, very green, out of reach of the cat pacing down below. And then there are those annoying people who keep turning on lights, peering at her through the window. Also, the cat pacing down below, but I…

Playing High and Dry with Sourdough

Lately I've been playing with dough. It's become a sort of compulsion.

Maybe because I'm tired of driving all the way to some bakery every time I want a sourdough loaf--which, lately, is always. Maybe because I graduated with my MFA last August and I'm still figuring new rhythms which now include bread.

Maybe because I sometimes feel like rebelling against technology, want to go back to old ways of doing things, from times when people made things by hand and they were fabulous, instead of buying assembly-line things that taste and behave as if assembled in a line. Or a line-up. Criminally bad.

When assembly-line bread began appearing in France, the French did what you'd expect them to do--made bad bread illegal. Which is why their bread is fabulous and ours is criminal. But, you know, freedom--sort of a big deal in our part of the world. However, there are costs. Freedom means suffering will necessarily be part of the world, as Dostoyevsky always said. Freedom also me…