It’s Sri Lankan New Year right now, and it’s making me sad. Usually I have a house jammed full of people, I’ve been cooking for days, and my kitchen island is overflowing with delicious food.

Tonight, I ordered pizza, because I’m too bummed to cook. Stupid pandemic. I miss people.


🙁 🙁 🙁

On the Temporary Suspension of the J&J Vaccine

Passed along with permission from a Johns Hopkins doctor, re: the temporary suspension of the J&J vaccine:

“I am not particularly worried. Any medication or vaccine distributed this widely is likely to have some reports of adverse events. I think we were unusually lucky with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to have so few reports of problems. Even there, there was at least one report of a platelet problem that might’ve been related to the vaccine. Obviously this has to be kept in the context of an enormous denominator. I would view these events as being akin to people being killed by their airbags. It does happen but it is extraordinarily rare and the benefits of the airbag obviously greatly outweigh the risks of having them in your car.

We had a grand rounds lecture on the J&J vaccine last Friday by the developer of the vaccine, who is the brother of a faculty member here. The science behind it is very robust and it looks very effective. I would not hesitate to take it myself if I were not already vaccinated.

It is quite literally a one in 1 million occurrence. The government is trying to be super careful, but this has the unfortunate effect of fanning the flames of vaccine phobia.”

Sorry for Myself

I was feeling sorry for myself yesterday (just because of long pandemic, no real reason otherwise), so I went ahead and bought a magnolia tree that I’ve been wanting forever. It’s bigger than I can manage to plant myself (and won’t fit in my car either), so they’ll be delivering it soon and planting it for me.

AND I was feeling sorry for myself today (headache from second Moderna shot), so I went ahead and bought myself sushi from Sen, even though I had plenty of fine food in the fridge already.

I might need to put myself to sleep or something so I don’t just keep feeling sorry for myself and spending money….

Here. Rather than just inflict my whinging on you, please enjoy some checkered (and white) fritillaries. They are a little overcrowded, and when I feel up to it, I want to dig them up and spread them out a little more. But they are pretty and surprising — who knew that nature could do a checkered pattern on a petal? Wacky.

Clothes that Pop

Kavi’s ‘neutral’ mask thing this morning reminded me of an odd thing I’ve been meaning to post about for myself. I generally like wearing white or cream clothes, which ‘pop’ against my dark skin; I also love interesting, beautiful prints, like the ones pictured on these masks.

And so I’ve sewn a bunch of masks in those, and they’re fine — but I’ve been realizing that if I put something light-colored on my brown face, it looks weird to me. Suddenly 2/3 of my facial presentation is light, and it seems very glaring and dominant. (Really dark is also kind of distracting, though not as troubling.)

All of which to say, if I want my masks to match / coordinate with my clothes sometimes, and I do, I might end up doing the kind of thing Kavi’s doing now, and getting some darker neutrals (olives, browns) for masks. Some that come very close to matching my skin tone. So my face still looks the right shade of brown when I glance in the mirror. Which also might mean wearing more dark neutrals in my clothing generally.

Weird. I wonder if this is a widespread enough thing that it’ll actually affect fashion, or if it’s just me. 🙂 I mean, I’m happy to put together an outfit with a mask that pops on occasion! But for just puttering around the neighborhood, working in the front garden, etc., I kind of want some basic neutrals.

I have to work on teaching and laundry for most of the day today, but if I get a little free time, I might try designing a fabric with something close to my skin tone for the base, and then a subtle block print pattern on top of that.

A Neutral Mask

Last night, Kavi was gathering together her stuff for returning to in-person school. She needed a mask and a back-up mask, which you would think would be easy enough as we have a whole bin of masks I’ve sewn in the front entryway. But those are all in ‘fun’ fabric patterns (dragons! space! flowers! monsters!) and Kavi is very neutral in her presentation these days, so she wanted a neutral mask.

No problem — I had picked up a five-pack of masks at Old Navy at one point, all plain neutral fabrics. And she was happy to take those, because she said they were more comfortable than any of the others. Her saying that reminded me that oh, yes, there was a reason I only used those masks for very casual use, like working in the front garden — they’re just one layer of thin cotton, so of course they’re comfortable. They’re also very little protection, as a result.

So that’s what I was doing at midnight last night — adding filter fabric and a second layer of cotton and a nosepiece to two Old Navy masks, so she could wear masks that went with her neutral aesthetic, but which were actually reasonably protective for someone who’d be sitting next to other people (6′ apart for now ) for a few hours. (They’re coming home for lunch and working asynchronously in the afternoons.) It took about 15-20 minutes each; it would’ve been easier to make a new mask from scratch, if I’d had a neutral fabric for her. Guess I should buy some neutral fabric.

Glad I can sew, glad I wasn’t too tired to do that at midnight, no, child, I have no idea what you did with your backpack at the end of last year, if your room wasn’t a pit, you might find it buried there, but here, take this one for now, it’s fine, and oh yes, we’re supposed to do temperature check and self-certification before you go in, let’s get that in at the last minute (hopefully in time), and no, we don’t actually seem to own a ruler, this tape measure will have to do – and off she goes.

Kavi’s so happy to be back in person, I can’t tell you.

A Major Holiday

You know it’s a major holiday when Kevin indulges me with letting me take a few pictures of him. I got really lucky, sheltering-in-place with him this past year — I actually think I like him better after a year in close quarters. Although it also helped taking lots of time to ourselves.

I’m not sure I mentioned, I moved into the guest room for most of the last year, mostly ’cause Anand was having trouble sleeping and slept better in our bed, but also because it turned out that having LOTS of time to ourselves made Kev and me more able to tolerate so much time in the same house. (So grateful to have so much space during the past year. Made a huge difference.)

I moved back into our bedroom a month or so ago. A good sign, I think. Vaccinations coming. Spring arriving. It’s getting better.

A Day of Remembrance

We build war memorials and remembrance sites. It’s been a year of this pandemic, and over 500,000 American lives lost. Half a million, and still counting. More than we lost in both World Wars combined.

I hope the Biden administration will think about a way to mark this for the future. Maybe a national day of remembrance.

A few minutes, every year, when we all go silent and remember how much we’ve lost, and how much of that loss could have been avoided. So we can do better next time.

A Writing Retreat

I found myself on the phone this morning trying to convince Margaret Treanor Frey that we should do a writing retreat together in Santa Fe in May or June, when we’ll hopefully both be fully vaccinated, and of course, only if the CDC lifts travel restrictions by then…

…and it still feels sort of irresponsible in some undefined way that I can’t really pin down — I guess because it won’t be available to everyone yet, I mean, our kids won’t be vaccinated by then, for example, so we couldn’t do a family trip.

But tourism is good for the economy, and it also feels sort of intoxicating to even think about traveling again…