Despite the fact that the world appears to be falling down all around us, I hope that this post finds you otherwise okay. Healthy. Tended to. Free of major financial worry. Sane.
Like you I’m sure, we are experiencing some good days.
Good days may involve something like finding a new-to-us pizzeria (Otto) that does contact-free $6 margarita pizza pick ups– perfect for an impromptu midday customization (here I added smoked mozzarella, Italian green olives and fresh basil).
There are happy times, like when we all came together to celebrate the 19th birthday of this fine gent.
I’m not sure if you’ve yet experienced a kid’s birthday under lock-down, but it is odd to have a day filled with Zoom calls and a very limited footprint. So many treasured options in the past (leisurely shopping pre-birthday and luxurious dining out the day of) were clearly off the table but we made the best of our day together.
Oliver’s newfound interest in all things mixology meant that a quick trip to the liquor store and a fancy market netted lots of fun options and I’d already set aside a vintage souvenir I’d found for him at the Bins.
A few fill ins from Amazon (who knew mini stainless steel straws would prove to be so beloved?) rounded out the offerings for him.
Oliver got to pick all his favorite foods that day so for lunch there were fish and chips and smoothies and come dinner time, wedge salads graced our table
alongside burgers and freshly mixed cocktails.
Oliver’s favorite dessert is caramel pot de creme so every year in lieu of a birthday cake I make a batch of these for us.
Why should this year be any different?
There have been hard days, too.
Although Portland for the most part is doing a pretty good job at social distancing and treating this pandemic seriously, I’m still shocked that there are the rare outliers here — those who get uncomfortably and unnecessarily close on errands, refuse to wear masks, and flagrantly flaunt their get-togethers with others.
I’m not sure if these people are either willfully ignorant of the science that proves that mask-wearing saves lives — or they just don’t give a damn that they could be infecting themselves or others unwittingly.
I know it’s much worse in other parts of our country, but it’s so depressing to know that so many selfish people exist out there. What’s so hard about wearing a mask? Don’t you know I’m wearing a mask to possibly protect you (and everyone in your universe) — and it takes so little effort to return the gesture?
More troubles here darken our days.
It looks like David’s cancer has returned, this time in his lungs, and so the days are long — the nights even longer– as we await news in the next couple weeks as to the seriousness of the progression and possible next steps. After a year of fighting this terrible fight every day with the hopes that he could eradicate this beast, this latest news is crushing.
Not being able to hang out with loved ones — family, friends, neighbors — has made a tough situation even more difficult, and the fact that travel is pretty much shut down is dispiriting at best (for the third year in a row we’ve had to cancel a big family summer trip due to David’s poor health or surgeries.)
COVID. Cancer. Financial insecurity. A world grappling with horrific violence, cruelty and social and economic inequality. So many unknowns when it comes to the path forward for my kid’s education.
What to do when it feels like there is so much beyond my control?
I’m finding that as much adversity as there is– both personally and globally — I’m finding that tapping into a world of give and take is saving my sanity right now.
Case in point.
I got a DM from an Instagram follower who noticed that I love peonies and she invited me out to her house to pick some. Turns out Laurie (I’ve told you about this amazing crafter I’m lucky to now call a friend) knew this person and so I headed out there with gifts of my own to share with this stranger.
Turns out Katy has an enormous back yard in SW Portland
and she had about ten mature peony plants in various stages of bloom. We talked at a safe distance and afterwards she encouraged me to cut a bucket full of these gorgeous flowers.
I was so happy with the beauty of these that I knew that I had to share them with neighbors and friends.
So there was a bunch here…
and a few here
and so on until all but a handful were left for me (which was plenty!).
She invited me back again last week which meant I could drop off blooms to even more people, so all in all twenty-two people benefited from her generosity.
For the past ten days people have been texting me pictures of their blooms, and so it’s like I’ve been able to enjoy these a second time around (most people just got one or two blooms but each one was so magnificent that they made a huge impression.)
Aren’t they spectacular?
More give and take.
Dear friends always seem to step in with treats on my doorstep — and usually it’s when I need it the most.
Happily it’s this endless loop of generosity that fuels my days.
Most days I’m making something for my crew and almost always in amounts that merit sharing.
So more treats go out
and inevitably I’m rewarded with a loving text, an offer to walk Porter, or something equally lovely in return (not just from the recipient but from someone else in my world).
This week I made soup for a crowd (leaving it safely on porches around the neighborhood)
and shortly thereafter a friend walked up to my door having picked up my bread order from Lovejoy Bakery, a favorite of mine (the head baker left me a slice of nut tart in the bag thanking me for my business).
A fortuitous bread delivery meant that ten minutes later I was eating this little gem: fried egg on Caraway Rye with smashed avocado and Thai Basil.
More movement on the magnanimity merry-go-round.
Recently I told a friend that I was making a delivery later to some seniors and asked if she’d be willing to share some of the roses I’d spied outside her home —
and she jumped at the opportunity, telling me to cut as many as I wanted.
I add these little bouquets (plus fresh herb bundles from my garden) to the boxes I dropped off (and I delivered eight mini packages of Snack Mix to others along my route.)
This thought– and the inclusion of DVD’s– came to me after a conversation I had with Irene (she’s the gal I took out for her birthday) who told me she’s resorted to watching the Flintstones and other cartoons on TV on the weekends as she has no cable channels and she was tired of watching the news.
Can you imagine in this day and age to be limited to just a few channels?
I had a handful of old DVD’s I thought she and her friends might like so I packed everything up and left the box at the front door of her center and my senior picked it up and set it atop her walker.
Fresh flowers and herbs and favorite older movies .. is there much better if you’re shut in?
I’ve told other people about this box and now I’m getting other people’s DVD’s (and hopefully more flowers) brought to me this weekend so I can surprise them with new additions.
Generosity begets more of the same — and it’s this precious feeling of abundance (and not scarcity, violence and hatred in all the news these days) is something I needed to focus on.
An added benefit of this generosity chain is that my kids, largely quarantined to the house as well (except for the occasional drive or dog walk), feel the continuous tether of humanity and community through the ever-revolving door of goods and kindnesses that leave my door and show up by others.
(Speaking of my kids, they’ve been credibly compassionate, resilient and patient through all of this,
and I’m so grateful for them during this unreal time. Many a moment I’ve been a neurotic hot mess — and they’ve both distracted and comforted me. They’ve also been fantastically supportive and loving to their Dad who needs them now more than ever.)
In a way I think this kindness chain helps us all; it has reminded us all that we are connected to something bigger and stronger and more life-affirming than we can imagine.
This community and compassion was there before COVID, it remains with us still (perhaps even more so now) and will remain long past our worst days battling it. COVID won’t be a constant, but compassion will. Reassuring, no?
And this is a message we as a family — and our country as a whole– need more now than ever (if I watch that George Floyd video one more time I might completely lose my mind, though).
Please know that I so appreciate every one of you who has reached out to be by text or email or left me something at my door. Forgive me if I haven’t gotten back to each of you or thanked you properly. Your prayers, messages, and thoughts are so welcomed, and I’m grateful beyond measure.
So until the next time friends, here’s one last sweet thing I wanted to share with you.
Julie, a kindly and creative neighbor, dropped off this card a while back. The other side was just blank and lacking any ideas as to how to fill it out, it sat idle on a shelf.
I finally decided simplest was best so now my little treasured scrap of vintage gift wrap was headed to a good home.
I finally returned the card to that neighbor with a little bit of cheer and tastiness.
Sending LOVE. PERSEVERANCE. HOPE.