Chapter 114: COVID Chronicles

July 30, 2020

By Karen

Day 141

Baking Bread & Trump’s Headed For a Fall

Before I get started, Tony sends his regards, relaxing by his favorite mess…

BTW, it’s day 13 and still no sign of the rubber band.

Now, to the kitchen: I don’t care much for the bread my borrowed bread machine puts out, which my parents LOVE, so I made Jacques Pépin’s quick and easy-peasy Soda Bread the other day. I know I made it once before and liked it.

The book it’s from, Essential Pépin, also has a PBS TV series I’m slowly working through. Writing this, I just discovered he makes this bread in episode 17, so I must jump ahead to see that. These are the only ingredients it requires…

You spend no time letting the dough rise because it’s never dough, but a pile of goo…

I think my first mistake was not mixing the milk into the dry ingredients fast enough, and probably stirring it too much.

I lowered the oven rack to accommodate the stainless steel bowl you put over the bread for the first 30 minutes of baking. The bread steams rather than rises because there’s no yeast in it. Warning: Removing the bowl releases steam that can easily scald you. Trust me. Here’s how the bread looked after the bowl came off…

The lowered oven rack was too hot to move, so I think the bread was too close to the heat and the bottom almost burned. I was also worried the parchment paper it was on would catch fire because it got crispy, too. The finished loaf looks decent enough…

It didn’t rise much, and I could have used a chainsaw to cut it, but once I did manage to break some off, it tasted good with butter.

My third mistake was putting the loaf in the fridge because I couldn’t really slice it thin for freezing. Now it’s like a paving stone. Tonight I may try to whack some off, soak it in egg, and make French toast. I think that’s my only hope to salvage it.

Meanwhile, COVID creeps ever closer to Trump. Dipshit Texas Congressman Louis Gohmert has it now, blames it on wearing a mask, and will treat himself with hydroxychloroquine. I wish he’d asked his witch-doctor for a Clorox enema.

Every time Trump wears a face mask, which must be disorienting, Trump flirts with face-planting on camera. He was in North Carolina the other day and fell backward (splayed hands to steady), then lurched into a jerky little bow before he could settle into his knuckle-dragging ape stance to balance…

When Trump inevitably does fall, he’ll blame the mask. Ninety-six more days before we vote and send that monster to hell, where he belongs.

THIS JUST IN: No sooner had I pressed “Publish” on this post than I came across the news that Trump’s BFF Herman Cain has died of COVID, after a month in the hospital, after have the last time of his life at Trump Tulsa rally. Wonder if Trump will skip Cain’s funeral the way he dissed Rep. John Lewis this week?


Chapter 60: COVID Chronicles

May 27, 2020

By Karen

Day 77

Amazing Chives & My Impromptu Field Trip

Before I tell you the day’s news, Tony and Roc wanted to stop in and say hello…

The cats haven’t had much going on except that Tony has become my latest pen thief. This morning he stole one from the kitchen table and dissected it the floor — clicker from clip from barrel. I heard him rattling the pieces around. “What the…?” Either he’s got hidden thumbs or it was very loose.

It’s Day 3 for the chives in their new digs. I thought the roots might need a week to settle in the dirt, but no. The former runt in the middle has taken the lead, and the chive on the left has lagged into last place…

By the way, the chives I harvested from these same bulbs last week are more aromatic than what I usually buy. Probably because they’re so fresh.

My field trip today was to Sam’s Club because I was out of calcium citrate and fish oil. (Actually, the fish oil has been a few weeks, but it’s fish oil. I can’t even remember which doctor suggested taking it or what it’s supposed to do).

But first, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced yesterday that as of May 29, everyone over age 10 is required to wear a mask “anywhere people congregate.” It’s a class 1 misdemeanor not to, and the penalty is a fine of up to $2,500 and a year in jail.

Unfortunately, he hasn’t worked out the enforcement procedure. I’d love to see some YouTube video of maskless Trumpers getting cited.

Now, back to Sam’s Club. At least 85-90% of people were wearing masks. The floors were marked for social distancing, aisles opening onto the register area were dead-ended to keep crowds from assembling there, an employee in front of the registers was keeping customers distanced, and an employee was wiping down the freezer case handles.

My glasses were loose and my mask kept pushing them down my nose. The optical department, where I bought them, was taped off, but a woman was there and kindly adjusted them for me. For the rest of my visit they stayed put — steamed up.

Among the bath soaps, I scored a big bottle of 80% alcohol hand sanitizer (Limit 1). There weren’t many left. I’ll use it to refill the little bottles I carry around.

Although not looking to buy it, I noticed there wasn’t a square of toilet paper — still? really? They did have pallets of facial tissues.

The frozen beef had a limit of 1 or 2 per customer, but I didn’t see limits on the chicken. They didn’t have my usual Tyson patties, but there was a selection of wings, nuggets and tenders from Tyson and Perdue, the two big names in chicken here.

Hormel precooked bacon, which usually sits out in a bin, was in a refrigerated case.

All the salted butter was gone. What remained was about a dozen 4-lb. packs of unsalted butter and huge bags of butter pats.

I bought 48 packages of ramen noodles, WAY more than I wanted, and paid too much (17 cents each vs. about 10 cents last time I bought them in Aldi). Reason: they had a “Limit 1” sign. If this drags on, meat gets scarce and hoarders next fixate on ramen, I’ll be one step ahead of them. It never goes bad, so what the heck, right?

After loading my loot in the car, I was tempted to hit the Taco Bell drive-thru just for a change, but talked myself out of it. My freezer’s gills are busting (not to mention a shelf-load of ramen noodles), so I have no business eating out. I came home and fixed a sandwich and dodged one more chance of getting infected.


Chapter 26: COVID Chronicles

April 23, 2020

By Karen

Day 43

Are the Cats Getting Sick — of Me?

Roc seems to be the only one who senses that things aren’t normal around here. I catch him staring at me looking worried, and he’s spending an inordinate amount of time hovering, to the point that he insists we occupy the same space. Like this morning, while I was trying to start the day by clearing coronavirus and Trump from my mind for a few minutes…

Maybe Roc heard through the grapevine about the two pet cats, three lions and five tigers who tested positive for coronavirus, all in New York. I think he wants to keep me under his paw so I don’t go out and bring any virus home.

And Roc commands I state with PERFECT CLARITY here that those cats all caught the virus FROM humans. They’re not passing it TO humans. They got mildly ill and all are expected to survive.

[As I was typing this, Roc just planted himself between me and keyboard to make sure I was following orders, even though it halted production. He can be such a bully.]

It’s a wet and gloomy day, so Max has spent all of it sacked out in the Man Cave. After I stopped by for a visit, he did saunter over to my office for a few minutes. He doesn’t look happy to see me…

And Tony just discovered a papier-mâché Christmas present on the balcony that my former boss prophetically gave me at least 30 years ago. The resemblance is uncanny, don’t you think? I didn’t catch the secret Tony whispered in his ear. I hope they’re not plotting a coup…

The masks my sister made for all of us were greatly appreciated because otherwise I’d have gone out in public with a dinner napkin across my face. But they’re really warm. I saw an ad in the paper about a local furniture and decorating business called u-fab interiors making masks, so I ordered two, and they arrived by mail yesterday, so it was a speedy three-day turnaround…

They look like you’re wearing a bra cup, but they do fit perfectly. U-fab says the cone accommodates an N95 mask, but it also doesn’t smush your nose. I washed them straight away by hand and they dried to like-new.

I have no immediate plans to go anywhere, but when I do, I’ll give one of these babies a test drive.


Chapter 9: COVID Chronicles

April 6, 2020

By Karen

Day 26

My sister sewed our whole family face masks! She dropped off two this morning, along with several pairs of latex gloves…

Keri says the mask is a CDC design and has a paper towel inside for extra filtering, so it can’t be washed. But she says it can be toasted in the oven. I couldn’t confirm that on the CDC site, but WebMD concurs:

“The fastest and most effective way to sterilize a used mask … was to put it in an oven on low heat — about 158 F — for 30 minutes. A typical kitchen oven works fine. … Masks cleaned this way keep about 97% of their ability to screen out small particles.”

Who knew? I’m keeping the napkin contraption I made as a spare, just in case my oven incinerates the new masks.

Now, to the important news of the day. Tony is 10 months old. I got him just before he turned 5 months, so he has officially spent half his life at Cats Working. To give you some idea of how much he’s grown, here he was back in November…

Here’s the little nipper, same spot, today…

Last night I was planning a marathon pasta-cooking session to have leftovers for dinner all week, but a long phone call ate into that time and all I managed was bulk breakfast…

You can put just about anything on oatmeal, but I prefer mine with a bit of salt and melted butter, so this was my not very glamorous breakfast this morning…

Over the weekend I watched a movie called BlacKkKlansman, which I initially ignored because I knew nothing about it and I’m not usually into Spike Lee movies. But I do love Adam Driver. Then I saw a blurb calling it the best “political” movie of the year, but didn’t know the plot or the KKK connection. It’s based on a true story.

Warning: If you don’t like cursing and racial slurs, steer clear.

Again, I was pleasantly surprised, and Adam Driver did not disappoint. That’s the third movie in a row totally out of my wheelhouse that I enjoyed. The other two were The Joker (not about Batman) and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (a Manson-Tate fairy tale).

To close out today, here’s the latest from my nonsensical Norwegian lessons:

Katten prøvde å selge meg noe.

(The cat tried to sell me something.)


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