pandemic diaries: week 19

...and a half? 

Pandemic time has me thinking about Beanbag Frog in 'The World Champion of Staying Awake'

I'm a little late to post an update from last week and there's no zine for this week of #momcamp. I made a plan, I just never got around to putting it into zine format this past weekend, which was busier than usual between painting a wall in the 7 year old's room...

...and helping out with another kitten adoption event at the shelter. Since week 20 is already 2/5 over, I put the various daily suggestions for the week in a treasure map format (with links!). 

Lots of food holidays this week so maybe this will give you some ideas for what to make (or order) for dinner (or takeout). Otherwise, here's what happened last week...

You can now download high-res prints of Audubon's Birds of America for free! I've downloaded five so far. Sadly, my local framing shop is still closed but I'll have a couple of these matted and framed eventually. 

Our elementary school held a virtual town hall last week and there is already much talk of pandemic pods. I'm not sure how I feel about any of it just yet, but I do sense my multi-faceted anxiety increasing as the first day of school (August 10) approaches. 

I did a fair amount of (vegan) pandemic baking last week, including these chocolate cupcakes from this cookbook. With the leftover aquafaba from a can of chickpeas (the chickpeas I later turned into hummus) I experimented with vegan meringues. 

Not sure they're worth the effort (even after 20 minutes of whipping they never really made "stiff peaks") but making something from a byproduct you'd otherwise discard is pretty cool. 

Finally, this past weekend, we whipped together our entry for Trader Joe's ice cream sandwich contest (see more images and read all about it here). They announce the winners early next week - wish me luck! I seem to be in the contest and giveaways stage of this pandemic.

Now to burn off all those calories. Here are a few masked, outdoor activities we enjoyed, playing hooky from work for an hour or two after lunch most days. First, quite possibly my first time at Indian Rock Park in Berkeley (although I'm not sure how that's possible).

A hot hike to Little Yosemite in Sunol.

And a weekend afternoon stroll in nearby Sausal Creek...Back to week 20!


pandemic diaries: week 18

The return to #momcamp last week was interesting. On the one hand, I didn't miss driving the kids to and from Fairyland twice each day (I hate driving). It was nice to return to having nothing really time-specific any given day, other than our various work meetings. But even then, if I have a meeting at 8 or 8:30 I only need to get myself ready, not myself plus two kids in order to leave the house and make it to point B by a specific time. I didn't miss making lunches, although obviously they needed lunch made at some point and it only took three weeks for me to forget how often they seem to need a snack of some sort. I enjoyed getting out with them each day for some sort of walk or hike, not something I'm as likely to do when I have an uninterrupted work block. My daughter's teacher had offered to continue to meet with her one-on-one through the summer to help with her reading progress (because teachers are awesome) so she was able to resume that this past week. And my son was able to join the online classes for the STEM projects he's been doing this summer.

But I was SO tired. I forgot how physically exhausting it is to manage even just 5-6 hours of work each day with the needs of two children. With three more weeks of summer break and who knows how many weeks of distance learning beyond that, I'm hoping I'll get used to that daily pace again, too. In the meantime, here's what we did last week.

I shared in my last update a link to the zine I made for what I had planned each day, inspired by National Days. It went pretty well. I like having an idea or two to fall back on and especially liked having a couple of dinner ideas inspired by the random food "holidays," such as National Mac 'n' Cheese Day (yes, it's vegan, recipe from this cookbook). 

And Thursday was National Personal Chef Day so I challenged each kid to imagine what their signature dishes might be if they were chefs and create a menu accordingly. I like that my son thought of the adults for that afternoon snack/happy hour.

I've become slightly obsessed with the hummingbirds that frequent our back yard lately. They come for the feeder next door; I like to think they stay for the kangaroo paws in our yard. After watching this video of a hummingbird making her nest, I wonder why humans bother at all to create "art."

We found a roll of undeveloped film in our old school camera recently, finished it off, and sent it away to be developed. When it came back we discovered pictures of the now 12 year old as a baby alongside much more recent pictures of his little sister. This parenting gig really does fly by.

I didn't get around to reading/watching until this weekend but for National Lottery Day on Friday I came across Shirley Jackson's famous short story, 'The Lottery', and the 1969 short film version and finally read/watched both yesterday. Fun weekend afternoon activity, indeed.

I sent this recipe to Neal and he took the hint and made it for me Friday evening. Because rosé is one of those beverages I feel like I should like and occasionally buy, but at the end of the day is much better with some brandy added to it.

Finally, if you want a preview of week 19, I made another zine for this week's #momcamp, this time featuring felt creations originally made for this crafty side project. Download and print a copy of the zine here!


pandemic diaries: weeks 15-17

There's not as much to report on the #momcamp front since both kids attended Fairyland's summer camp the past three weeks, their only summer camp to survive the coronarivus-era restrictions. And we all loved it, not surprisingly. As I mentioned in the last update, the camp was 100% outdoors, the kids were in small groups of 10-12 kids/counselors that stayed together the entire three-week session, no inter-mingling allowed. They had to wear their masks at all times, except when eating. In addition to hand sanitizer and both temperature checks and passive health screenings at drop-off, the kids reported lots of hand-washing and sanitizer available throughout the day. I also felt good about supporting Fairyland, one of many Oakland institutions really hurting financially right now.

Doing a full 180 from there, we learned at the end of last week that students will not return to school buildings anytime soon, the school year in Oakland beginning on August 10th (yes, that's hella early) with at least 4 weeks of 100% distance learning. I've experienced so many mixed emotions over the last couple of weeks as this conversation has heated up around the country (shared a few - with links to relevant past posts on this blog - in this Twitter thread in response to this article). And as much as I'd like my children to go back to school for so many reasons, I think this is absolutely the right thing to do and will be surprised if they can return to campus even after the initial four weeks. 

Between now and then I've planned four weeks of #momcamp (which is not to diminish how much my husband contributes, but the reality is I work part-time and I'm a bit of a control freak, I'll admit it - I enjoy the planning part and I simply have more time and flexibility during the work day to facilitate the "plan").

In fact, I even put this week's plan into a handy zine format that you can download and print from my website. The above video shows how you fold it (this video is a bit more detailed if you're having issues). I'll make one for each week for the duration of our summer break (which is only three more weeks after this week). In the meantime, here are some other things that happened or caught my attention during the last three weeks of the pandemic...

I wrote about Steven Johnson's 'Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation' here

I wouldn't call it binge-listening per se but I've been making my way through the Season 1 episodes of Rebecca Carroll's podcast. It's timely, of course, and excellent at connecting the dots between all that's going on in our country right now, percolating - okay, boiling over - as things have been the past few years leading up to 2020.

This is Paul. His cage-mates, Peter and Mary, were adopted already.

I haven't been able to actually hang out with cats and kittens yet, but I have helped answer potential adopters' questions at two drive-thru adoption events that resulted in about 50 kittens finding homes! If you're in the Bay Area and want to get in on the next one, start here.

We're still eating mostly vegan. Here are some highlights:

Vegan pizza from Dimond Slice in Oakland

Chocolate Chip Cookies, recipe from the Test Kitchen cookbook pictured above.

Bruschetta for dinner! With vegan sausage on the side.

Vegan brownies, also from the Test Kitchen cookbook, plus vegan ice cream and whipped topping, both from Trader Joe's.

I've been trying to spend more time in the studio actually making stuff (and not just working), although I did spend a decent chunk of non-working time rearranging the space so that both my desk and my creative work space have window views.

Some good news: Never Have I Ever was renewed for a second season! If you haven't yet watched season one, what are you waiting for?! It's delightful. As is Dead To Me, which got picked up for a third and final season.

4th of July in Oakland was, as the kids say, lit, as is typical the past several years. The build-up to this year's festivities was particularly long, the fireworks particularly loud, and we continue to hear a handful every evening, increasing a bit over the weekend. We're all pretty over it.

I bought a DIY haircut kit and chopped away at my bangs and layers over the weekend. I did okay (thinning shears are key) but I'm still very much looking forward to the day when I can get an actual haircut again.

And, you know, so many other things.