A Journal of the Plague Year 2020–chapter 75

A kitchen visitor.

Saturday, May 23

Three of the world’s smallest mice showed up in the middle of the kitchen floor this morning. 

They’re so tiny they must be newborns, which I suspect means that more will arrive. They moved very slowly at first, then as I attempted to sweep each one into a dustpan, they became more energetic. I was able to get each one outside onto the brick patio, where they scampered around attacking small weeds that towered above them like redwoods.

Where do these guys come from? Are they inside this old house’s walls? Up from the basement through the heating vents? Why wouldn’t they want to be outside where there is more stuff to eat?

Back to the issue of our food. Emily says that meal prep here is like one of those television cooking shows where would-be chefs are presented with a bunch of incongruous ingredients and told to use them all in making a meal. Maybe calf brains, rainbow chard, a grapefruit, and Israeli couscous. And, unlike here, the cooks always come up with surprising and delectable results.

Here it’s easy to get into a rut and just repeat the same dishes over and over. The challenge: What will go with leftover southern corn pudding and a salad? Then I realized I could combine some of our many chicken breasts with canned artichokes and cooking wine to make a chicken and artichoke stew.

Emily and Peapod also surprised me by delivering a bunch of snow peas and two packs of mushrooms. So tomorrow I’ll probably combine some of each in a stir-fry that also involves walnuts and scallions with either hoisin sauce and sriracha or a sauce composed of soy sauce, sugar, and rice wine vinegar.

It’s almost time for Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. Some time back we were discussing this very funny NPR panel show with friends, and one of them complained that he wasn’t allowed to talk while the show was on. You might miss something.

Out to the recycling center. It’s raining, but there are nevertheless lots of cars on the road. Due to Memorial Day weekend, maybe? Or is it simply a further result of people fleeing from the city due to the pandemic/lockdown?

That BBC audiobook that we listened to last night, Trespass, has led me to investigate the author, Rose Tremain, a bit further. Turns out she was nominated for a Booker Prize back in the ‘80s. She lost out to Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day. I’m going to see if I can download one of her novels in e-book form via the East Hampton library.

As I have said, tonight’s dinner: chicken with artichokes, corn pudding, and salad.

Entertainment: Two episodes of British thriller Retribution.

A Journal of the Plague Year 2020–chapter 74

Almost summer.

Friday, May 22

A very seasonable day, with a temperature of 71 degrees. A 60% chance of rain overnight, 70% tomorrow with temps predicted to be only in the high 50s.

Everything is green, with the grass and weeds on our lawn getting quite high despite the fact that the lawn was cut once, a few days back. I guess the lawn guys qualify as an essential service.

At some point soon, we will declare summer underway by having grilled hotdogs with sauerkraut. But that will have to wait: A few days back, when I told Emily to put sauerkraut on her Peapod list, she “thought” I said sour cream. “Already on the list,” she brusquely announced. Maybe we could just have sour cream for every meal.

We’ve already scheduled the next Peapod delivery. Previously, it was very hard to get a time slot with them, and we’ve had to stay awake until 1 a.m. to make an online arrangement. But yesterday, for some reason, we were able to do so mid-evening: Our next slot is set for the afternoon of June 3.

Who thought we’d still be out here in June?

Such a Godly man, Trump has demanded that churches and synagogues open “right now.” California pastors are ready: Some 1,200 say they will resume services in defiance of the state’s stay-at-home order. One church is suing the governor, declaring “essentiality.” Its lawyer says he expects some 3,000 churches to reopen on May 31.

We don’t feel a spiritual void, but we’re slightly missing some material things that are back in NYC. Emily is making a list of stuff that we’d pick up—should we go in to the city, then turn around and come back here. We each would bring more clothes—jeans, sweaters, shorts, her woolen robe, additional shoes. Then there are some electronics: the computer printer, a photo scanner (and old photos). From the kitchen, our relatively new nonstick skillet, an immersion blender, spices, and some hard-to-get grains like wheat berries and quinoa.

Dinner tonight: Roasted brussel sprouts, southern corn pudding, green salad, corn muffins.

Entertainment: several episodes of the BBC audiobook Trespass by Rose Tremain.