When an errand feels like an adventure, and other thoughts

Long ago, nearly in the before-time, I bought a merino wool base layer from Mountain Warehouse. Since I was ordering anyway, I added a few speculative items to the basket, as did Dawnise. On arrival most of the speculative items were earmarked for return. As the UK was busily shutting down, we put the the stuff in a closet.

(queue time passing)

I thought of that bag, sitting in the closet, on our way home from brunch this morning and decided to see if I could still arrange a return. It was months past purchase, long past their official returns policy. For a while their website had a message about extending return windows, but the message was now gone. So, expecting at least a bit of an argument, I tossed the goods in a backpack and walked a mile to the shop.

Aside from my morning run it’s was the furthest I’ve ventured on foot in months, and in a different direction. A few blocks after setting out I felt like an intrepid explorer. Surely no one has been here for months! I thought. Only to turn a corner and find a few people sitting on benches in park. Hrm. Ok. Clearly someone has. By the time I reached my destination it all seemed almost familiar, and normal. I donned my mask, had a quick chat with the shop attendant who was more than happy to accommodate the return. I took a different route home, arriving just before a sudden cloudburst would have soaked me through.

And now I can tell Dawnise tales of far off lands she hasn’t seen in half a year.

So that was that.

In more serious news, it seems the federal occupation of Portland is extending to more cities, including Seattle. I keep wondering if, one morning, I’m going to wake up to learn our townhouse in the city is under siege. Or is no more.

These are not questions I expect to have to ask about a self-proclaimed first world democracy.

Memories of things to come

We ate dinner at a restaurant tonight. With friends.

It’s hard to describe exactly how unusual that was. And simultaneously how perfectly ordinary.

A good friend of ours has a problem that seems related to acid in her diet. She’s been adhering to a strictly neutral/alkaline diet for a few months, waiting for non-essential medical services to resume so she can get properly tested and diagnosed. Her doctor called with an opening on Monday, and to gather data she needed to eat something close to “regular meals.”

She wanted a steak & a glass of wine, and asked if we’d be up for finding a restaurant and eating with them. To my surprise Dawnise decided she was up for it.

A bit of searching this afternoon revealed that the Flat Iron and the Hawksmoor near us are still closed, and a bit more searching by our friend secured us a booking at Blacklock.

We got dressed. Dawnise did her hair and put on makeup and heels. I wore a proper shirt. And shoes. And a watch.

And we walked to meet them.

The restaurant took a bunch of seemingly reasonable steps – the doors at both ends of the large room were left open to the outside. Every other table was left empty. Our server asked about how close we were comfortable with her getting, and there were hand sanitizer stations strategically placed around the room.

The food was fine, but more important was we were out.

And there were moments, talking to good friends, eating food we neither cooked nor collected, that felt so… normal.

P.S. When we got home, the cats collected around Dawnise on the sofa, seemingly having forgotten that in the “before-time” the humans were not here as often as they were.

Something to say when you’ve nothing to say…

Another month of Blendsdays (thanks for that, Mike, it’s now cemented in my vocabulary) have passed. Our status is largely unchanged.

I got a much needed haircut when the hair dressers were allowed to re-open a few weeks back. Our favorite neighborhood cafe reopened at the same time, and we’ve been going for breakfast on the weekends. Their shakshuka is delicious, and we want them to survive this insanity.

Our regular trips to Monmouth in Borough Market have been replaced with regular delivery. Dawnise had exchanged WhatsApp messages with our “coffee sommelier”* before the lock-down, so we’ve been able to solicit her advice on newly available beans to try. (*our tongue-in-cheek description of a staff member we got to know, and who got to know our taste in coffee, across our regular visits to the shop.)

To our ongoing amazement Dawnise and I have managed to feed ourselves every day, multiple times a day – and aside from perhaps a half dozen take away orders, we’ve cooked it all. Lunches got a bit of variety when Trade re-opened for take-away a couple weeks ago. Damn good pastrami.

Looking for ways to support organizations we value, and in the hope we’ll eventually be able to use some of the benefits, we established memberships with Art Fund, The National Trust, English Heritage, and Historic Houses. We donated to Acting for Others, and bought Theatre Tokens.

Amazon has extended its official work from home policy, for roles that can, through early next year. I started working in a different part of the company about a month ago – so I’ve spent the last couple weeks acquiring the hardware I need and getting ramped up on the new people the new problems.

So I guess you could say we’re having a ‘comfortable pandemic’ – for which we both feel immeasurably fortunate. We hope that’s true of you and yours, too.

Less comfortably, it’s impossible to find words to describe how distressing it’s been and continues to be watching events in the US from a distance. The pandemic and arguments about response and the path forward, the protests against police brutality and the events that catalyzed them, the ham fisted and ineffective federal response to… everything.

This morning I woke to read about armed, camouflage-wearing shock troopers prowling Portland in unmarked vans abducting protesters.

With all due respect, what the actual fuck, America?