A Journal of the Plague Year 2020–chapter 123

Number, please.

Thursday, July 30

Attending to all these humdrum matters has robbed me of any ability to write something interesting for the website. 

This morning, I spent more time on the phone waiting for a functionary to schedule a repairman—in this case for the landline phone, which is only partly operative since Optimum set up the temporary Internet connection. It’s a good thing we have the Internet connection, though. We’d be pulling our hair out without that fix however temporary it may be. 

It may rain just as Peapod’s truck arrives. Their whole shtick is mysterious. Earlier this afternoon, they sent a note revealing just which of our items will not be coming: No walnuts, no nuts of any kind. No tofu, no ice cream, and limited cookies. The actual order might be missing other things—this is just the official “out of stock” list.

As one waits, it’s hard to stay away from the kitchen—to quit raiding the small amount of junk food we have remaining. There are still some onion-and-sour-cream potato chips and some Ritz crackers. No cheese, however. Each fortnight as we near a Peapod delivery time, we go from near famine to—I won’t say feast, but a more substantial larder at least. Yes, it’s hard to stay away from the cliche of “feast or famine.”

Tonight’s dinner: a ziti salad with snow peas, grape tomatoes, roasted red peppers, scallions, Kalamata olives, and artichoke hearts. On the side, a bit of leftover coleslaw.

Entertainment: Netflix’ amnesia drama Tabula Rasa.

A Journal of the Plague Year 2020–chapter 122

Wednesday, July 29

Troubles with my website continue. After further conversation with another rep from the web host Media Temple, who can find nothing wrong, in the late afternoon I tried logging on again—and once again get the message that the Mac’s web browser Safari can’t find the server. Then, a brainwave! I tried getting into www.hardygreen.com using a different browser—Google Chrome. And that worked, so maybe that’s the ticket.

We have numerous problems: At the moment only one landline phone is working—the one we have plugged into the new Altice modem. Other extensions don’t get a dial tone. I suspect there’s a transition underway, and once Optimum has taken over the landline from Verizon, all will be ok again. 

Meanwhile, Emily is having problems with medical stuff: physical therapy, mammograms, etc. Rather than going back to Manhattan for these things, she wants to take care of them out here on Long Island. But every new caregiver’s office raises problems. Man (and woman) is born to trouble, as it says in the Book of Job (I think).

Finally, we’re looking ahead to another Peapod delivery tomorrow. Once they come—sometime late in the day—we’ll find out just what they are delivering and just what is “out of stock.” Will we get either fresh mozzarella or pork chops? What about an eggplant or the always essential walnuts? Nothing can be assumed.

At least, for the moment, the heat and humidity has waned. It’s a tad cooler—81 degrees with rain and thundershowers forecast for tomorrow.

Dinner: more beans and rice plus a green salad.

Entertainment: Mhz’ crime drama Murder at the Lake, followed by old episodes of Yes, Minister.

A Journal of the Plague Year 2020–chapter 119

Glyphs of mystery.

Thursday, July 23

Yesterday, a set of unusual markings appeared in our yard and out in the street—circles, letters, numbers, and arrows in red, orange, and blue. I saw no one making the markings, and they are as indecipherable as the hieroglyphs of an ancient race—but they portend the arrival of our new Internet connection. 

I eagerly called our Optimum contact, but after more reflection and investigation, it seems these are likely just the work of a markings crew. A different crew still has to come and install a cable. Then, yet another operative must come and hook up a modem and router. 

The blue lines and paint splotches probably indicate the placement of our Suffolk County Water Authority connection. The Optimum folks likely want to avoid damaging SCWA’s stuff. What is the orange paint—electricity? Maybe the red arrows and measurements are where the Internet cable will actually be placed. 

I think the Optimum cable will connect to some magic box on the opposite side of the street and run across our yard up to the house. Question: How will they get the cable under the street? In Manhattan, I believe they would get out the jackhammers and make nasty gashes in the asphalt. What do they do here? Use some kind of hypo or dirt-buster to punch the cable under the street? Then, do they tunnel across our yard? We’ll probably never know, unless they happen to make lots of noise that will prompt us to investigate.

Dinner: Frittata with mushrooms and grilled onion, corn muffins, and a lettuce and avocado salad.

Entertainment: nothing, thanks to Internet inavailability.

A Journal of the Plague Year 2020–chapter 117

Some innocents abroad.

Monday, July 20

The cable guy from Optimum just came and, after looking around in the house and in the basement, he announced that the cable from the street to our house was old and inoperative. So, he says, he’ll arrange for a crew to come in over the next few days and install a new cable, linking to some magic box, then going under the street, and finally over to our house. Then next week another guy will come with the modem and router and, presto chango, we should have better Internet connection. Here’s hoping.

Meanwhile, it is hard to do much of anything online. Provided I rise early enough, I can check my e-mail and read the paper. Emily seems able to do her Times puzzles on her Android phone. But by 10 a.m. or thereabouts, my Internet connection is kaput. Lately, it seems to work again around 7 p.m.—who can say why. Is it just a reflection of how many people are on their phones at a given moment? Is it related to the weather…or the number of trees between us and the cell-phone towers? Somebody knows, but not me.

I take turns reading a bit of Jane Eyre and then a bit of Innocents Abroad, both downloaded from Project Gutenberg. Both are enormously long—I thought I had read Jane Eyre before, but I don’t remember its being such a tome. Mark Twain says numerous racist things about the Portuguese—and I’m only on page 145. Probably typical of American thinking circa 1869. Twain hailed from the slave state of Missouri and later resided in Connecticut. Perhaps the statues of him should be pulled down.

Tonight’s dinner: a Greek salad with feta cheese and olives, and the remainder of the chicken salad.

Entertainment: Assuming we can connect, old episodes of Rebus on Britbox.

A Journal of the Plague Year 2020–chapter 115

The beach scene at Three Mile Harbor.


Thursday, July 16

It’s very difficult to establish any Internet connection today using our Verizon mobile hotspot. So I have set up an appointment with Optimum to come and install a modem and router on Monday. Then with their cable connection, our Internet and email links should be more secure. Fingers crossed.

Dinner: the Latin stew known as picadillo, a little leftover cold noodles with sesame sauce, and lettuce and cucumber salad.

Entertainment: concluding episodes of The Twelve.