Tuesday, June 23, 2020

SOLTuesday: My Life in 50 Objects, part 4

I’m trying to document the objects I have that my relatives may wonder about after I die and am no longer around for them to ask. (I’m not planning to die anytime soon, but it’s better to do this before I need to. My mother said she’d do it for her jewelry, and she never did.) So here are some small objects, mostly sitting on my bureau.
            The penny jar is a holdover from my college days. At Antioch College, we were given several booklets of “food stamps” to use in the cafeteria, campus coffee shop, and the Inn, the campus restaurant for visitors. The stamps were in denominations comparable to coins, but there were no penny stamps. So students would accumulate pennies over the course of a quarter (no semesters at this school), and since many of us had empty Chianti bottles, those became our default “penny jars.”
            Once I left school, saving pennies had become a habit. This jar holds around $12 worth when it’s full, and as you can see, I recently redeemed its contents. Since the pandemic lockdown, I haven’t used cash for anything, and who knows when I will again. Maybe there won’t be anymore pennies for this jar.
This sadly tarnished silver dumbbell was a baby gift for our daughter from the parents of a very old friend. They lived in Memphis, Tennessee, and we met them only a couple of times, but we really appreciated the gift, a teething object that Christie used quite a bit as a baby. I’m bad at the kind of maintenance this would require. Maybe putting a photo of this in public will force me to clean it up.

It’s Slice of Life Tuesday over at Two Writing Teachers. Check out this encouraging and enthusiastic writing community and their slices of life every Tuesday. And add one of your own.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

My Life in 50 Objects: The Ring

             The ring sat among other rings in a cotton-lined box on a crowded counter in the gift shop. The shop was just a couple of blocks from campus, near the corner of Xenia Avenue, the main street in Yellow Springs, set back from the sidewalk behind a zigzag paved path amid bushes and flowers. The door tinkled from an overhead bell when Connie and I entered.
            Connie was my hallmate, another East Coaster, from Long Island, and it was just a few weeks after we’d arrived for our first year at Antioch College. On this warm day, we’d gone exploring, and here we were in an overstuffed gift shop, looking, just looking.
            The shop had a mixture of goods: scarves, vases, rings, earrings, tea boxes. I gravitated toward a ring. It had a green stone, mottled like the surface of a brain, in a round silver setting surrounded by a moat lined with a faint braid, further surrounded by 16 silver knobs, and its silver band was incised by curlicues. I tried it on, and it fit. Then I asked how much it cost.
            “Six dollars,” said the proprietor, a woman on the other side of middle-age with frizzy graying brown hair. Too much. (The equivalent of $51 today.) I put the ring back. That was too much. Connie came over and rummaged through the box of rings, while I wandered over to the tea table. There was a black and orange tin labeled Constant Comment, with orange rind and spices. That sounded tasty. I bought a tin. Back at our dorm, I noticed that Connie was wearing the ring I had tried on and wanted.
            The next day I went back to the gift shop and looked for the ring. The one with curlicues on the band was gone, but there was another one, almost the same except the silver band was plain. I paid the six dollars—and I still wear the ring, almost 60 years later.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

SOLTuesday: The Supreme Court

            Because of the pandemic, the Supreme Court has taken the unprecedented step of holding arguments via telephone, and also letting those arguments be heard by the public via C-SPAN. (Ordinarily, one can attend Supreme Court sessions, but maybe only about 100 people or so are let in to the Washington, D.C., courtroom.) Today the cases being heard were about the subpoenas served on Trump by both House committees and by the New York City D.A.’s office.
            I knew these arguments would be the subject of news reports, and since I had the chance, I wanted to be able to listen in myself and get my own sense of what was going on. So I had my TV on just after 10 a.m.
            It was fascinating. First the president’s lawyers and then the solicitor general, representing the government, made their arguments in about five minutes. Then, starting with Chief Justice Roberts and then going by seniority (Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh—that sequence is now indelibly in my mind), each justice had five minutes to ask questions and have the attorneys respond. Roberts must have had a timer, because when five minutes was up, he called the next justice, even if the attorney was in the middle of responding.
            The justices, of course, are supposed to be nonpartisan, but we know the general political leaning of almost every one of them. So it was instructive to see a conservative judge ask a question from the more liberal side, and realize that the justice was giving the president’s lawyer the opportunity to make the points that the conservative justice wanted to hear. Sometimes, if a lawyer was stopped in the middle of answering a question because a justice’s time was up, the next justice would follow up to get the lawyer to finish his (and all of the lawyers were men) point.
            In the cases concerning the congressional subpoenas, there were lots of questions comparing this case to both the lawsuits against Clinton and the Watergate hearings into Nixon. Trump’s lawyers often talked about having to protect future presidents from political “harassment,” but one could argue that the case against Trump is already the third, and the one against Clinton was just as much if not more harassment than the case against Trump.
            It wasn’t easy to see which way the justices were leaning, though I sense that their decision will be on as narrow grounds as possible.
            If you have any chance at all, do try to listen to these arguments on C-SPAN, either on TV or laptop or phone. They only last until around 1 p.m. If you have teenage children, ask them to listen for a while as well. It may seem boring or hard to follow, but the process is part of our government, and rarely has it been so readily available to the general public.
It’s Slice of Life Tuesday over at Two Writing Teachers. Check out this encouraging and enthusiastic writing community and their slices of life every Tuesday. And add one of your own.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Covid Events, Cancellations, and Postponements

(from my datebook—EDITED)
March 10, I attend a performance of Hamilton as a guest of a friend.
March 11, I ride the subway for the last time.
March 13, Gender & Transformation workshop canceled.
March 14, I eat in a restaurant with a friend, for the last time, and shop for groceries, for the last time.
March 15, the funeral of an old colleague of Jack’s is postponed to an indefinite time.
March 15, movie discussion group (Sorry We Missed You) is canceled.
March 18, lunch with a friend canceled.
March 20, book group 2 postponed.
March 22, plans to see Drunk Shakespeare are canceled.
March 23, talk at CUNY by Victoria Phillips on “Women, Power, and Intrigue in Cold War Berlin” is canceled.
March 24, book party for Ann Snitow’s posthumous book, Visitors, and a book by Daniel Goode is canceled.
March 25, Vivien Gornick and Alix Shulman in conversation at the Center for Fiction is canceled.
March 26, Big Words reading on the theme of “Dreams” is canceled.
March 26, opening day for baseball season is canceled.
March 28, the group of Mets fans I was going to join at Bobby V’s bar in Stamford is canceled
March 28, Women Writers in Bloom Poetry Salon meets via Zoom.
March 29, New York Antioch Alumni chapter gathering postponed.
March 30, staged reading of a play by Robin Rice is canceled.
March 31, check-up with my doctor is canceled.
April 1, my women’s group meets via Zoom, on regularly scheduled day.
April 3, book group 2 (The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu) meets via Zoom, postponed from March 20.
April 4, New School panel on Ann Snitow’s book Visitors is canceled.
April 4, book group 1 (T.R. Reid's The Healing of America) meets via Zoom, on regularly scheduled day.
April 8, dentist appointment is postponed.
April 11, Pauline Olivieros's music meditation via Zoom.
April 12, family meets via Zoom, a new event.
April 14, North Star gala is canceled.
April 15, income tax deadline extended to July 15.
April 16, book group (A Long Petal of the Sea) meets via Zoom, on regularly scheduled day.
April 17, Gender & Transformation panel on Ann Snitow’s book Visitors is canceled.
April 17, Publishers Weekly happy hour via Zoom, a new event.
April 18, Women Writers in Bloom Poetry Salon’s 9th anniversary via Zoom, a regularly scheduled event.
April 19, New York Antioch Alumni chapter meets via Zoom, postponed from March 29.
April 19, family meets via Zoom.
April 21, National Gallery writing workshop, via Zoom.
April 24, book group (New York Times special section, "One Nation, Tracked") meets via Zoom, on scheduled day.
April 25, staged reading of Jen Abrams's How to Queer a Stroller, via Zoom.
April 28, New York State primary is postponed.
May 1, Gender & Transformation workshop is canceled.
May 2, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra concert is canceled.
May 2, book group 1 (Homegoing) meets via Zoom, on regularly scheduled day.
May 3, family meets via Zoom.
May 6, women’s group meets via Zoom.
May 6, dermatologist appointment is postponed.
May 7, book group (The Testament of Mary) meets via Zoom.
May 12, podiatrist appointment is postponed.
June 3, women’s group meets via Zoom.
June 6, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra concert is canceled.
June 23, New York State primary rescheduled is canceled.
July 1, dentist appointment is rescheduled??
July 29, dermatologist appointment is rescheduled??
The future?????

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Poems for Before I Die, 5

Dear Coronavirus,
What made you decide to leap
from the bats to the pangolins?
Was it the bat diet of insects?
Was it the bats’ habit of
eating on the fly?
Why did you choose the pangolin
for your next host?
Was it the sound of their name,
jingling like wind chimes,
Pan-Go-Lin, Pan-Go-Lin, Pan-Go-Lin?
Was it their layered scales,
creating a fearsome surface,
protection from predators?
What made you move on to
Was it the variety of our innards?
Was it our larger size,
more meal in one place?
What attracted your proteins
to our proteins?
What made us so tasty to you?
What lured your spiky proteins
into our lungs?
Don’t you understand that when
you weave your webs inside
our lungs,
you kill us, and you must
find another human host?
Why is the mindless replication
of your proteins so necessary?
Why have you declared war
on humanity?
What will you do when
you’ve killed us all?
It's National Poetry Month! Poetry is hard, but I keep trying. The pandemic has set my theme for this month. You can sign up for Poem-a-Day and find out about all sorts of online poetry celebrations at the Academy of American Poets website

SOL Tuesday: Beware!

This was not a scam exactly, but it was a private company attempting to capture new customers by making it look like the U.S. Postal Service was offering me free stamps and a new service.
            Last week I got an envelope with this letter, a “test sheet,” and what looks like blank stamps. Normally, I have no trouble going to the Post Office—there’s one just a block away, and if there’s a line, I can use the machine or come back another day. But in the time of pandemic, it would help to have what looks like some free stamps, and I thought this was a new way for the Post Office to make money. I’ve gotten lots of e-mails about the current administration wanting to privatize the government postal service.
            So I went to the website, www.stamps.com/GetStamps, and plugged in my “promo code.” This sent me to a page where I had to put in my credit card info, which should have stopped me right there. I did
notice the notice on the side of the page saying I would be charged $17.99 a month for this service, and that, too, should have stopped me right there. But self-quarantine must be affecting my brain, because I just filled in all the blanks and went to the next screen.
            Here was where I was supposed to print my free stamps. But there was no way to do that. Hmmm. Okay. I’ll do something about this later.
            Today, I called the U.S. Postal Service. “Longer than usual wait times” meant that I left my phone number, and a customer service person, Keith, called me a couple of hours later.
            After I explained my dilemma, Keith said this was not something the U.S.P.S. had sent out. Oh, really? Had I been scammed? I looked more closely at the letter and realized the official-looking logo at the top of the letter said “Approved Licensed Vendor.” Aha, not the post office, a third-party company.
            I went to Stamps.com’s website, found customer service, called the number, got a recording where I could close my account, which I did promptly. And I will now call my credit card company to tell them to cancel any charge from this company.
            Have you gotten anything like this in the mail?
It’s Slice of Life Tuesday over at Two Writing Teachers. Check out this encouraging and enthusiastic writing community and their slices of life every Tuesday. And add one of your own.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Poems for Before I Die, 4

Your doctor says, “Do not go outside.”
Alarms clang, “Incoming!”
The virus aims right at the target
on your chest,
Until this moment,
you matched a couple of
risk categories,
but theoretical.
Now it’s personal.
Now fear threads through your body.
You learn new habits,
Washing your hands after the toilet,
even though you don't pee on your hands.
Washing your hands before starting to cook,
even though every cooking show’s chef
has always modeled that.
You are alone with your risk categories
Is covid-19 the name of your death?
It's National Poetry Month! Poetry is hard, but I keep trying. The pandemic has set my theme for this month. You can sign up for Poem-a-Day and find out about all sorts of online poetry celebrations at the Academy of American Poets website.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Poems Before I Die, 3

We entered the pandemic maze
ignorant of what was ahead of us.
The walls were distant:
China, Iran, Italy.
As the walls closed in
we waved good-bye
to our family, friends, neighbors.
“See you on the other side,”
we called out, thinking
the other side would be like
the side we were walking away from.
Not thinking
some of us would never see
the other side,
Not thinking
the other side would be
totally different.
As the walls closed in,
each pathway narrowed
to fit one person.
Each pathway filled
with dry brambles,
thick with thorns.
We had to keep moving,
even as brittle twigs
scoured our legs and arms,
crumbled into our hair.

#National Poetry Month

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Poems for Before I Die, 2

I will die.
I am a human.
Death is always the end
of each human’s story.
Death is there,
Not announcing itself,
Waiting for its chance.
Sometimes it will catch you
The sudden heart attack
The massive stroke
Blood clots wandering
through veins, arteries, capillaries.
Sometimes it bangs on your body,
The breathlessness that alerts you
To those blood clots
Collecting in your  lungs.
The abdominal pain that alerts you
To the cancer on some organ
that’s playing Bach’s Requiem.
The cough that whistles
Lung cancer.
Sometimes it’s caught by surprise,
the mammogram,
the pelvic smear,
the EKG.
So many diseases
Waiting to sneak up on you.
If you thought about them
All of the time
There would be no future.
Usually Death comes singly.
You might not know anyone
Who died
All of last year,
Or the year before.
Pandemic is Death made global.
It waves its name in front of your face.
It prances and cavorts and plays
With the doctors and nurses
Who stand between we humans
And Death.
Pandemic assaults everyone
Whether you get sick or remain well.
You are marked
by the fear
by the anticipation
by the relief
of waking up each morning,
Still breathing.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Poems for Before I Die 1

I am not going to die soon
I have not been diagnosed
with anything
I have been diagnosed with
Being old,
over 70,
The virus takes aim at my lungs
which saw an invasion years ago
when I wasn’t paying attention,
when there wasn’t anything
to pay attention to.
It's called MAI.
It has a name, but it 
won't kill me. 
So I am afraid.
I am fearful of droplets
In the air
On surfaces
On the surface of my newspaper?
Not likely, but
not impossible.
I wash my hands
I wash my hands
I wash my hands
I wash my hands.
And I wash my hands again.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

My Life in 50 Objects, 2: Vermont

[In October 2018, I posted the first of what I intended to be a series. As you can see, I'm good at starting projects, but not so good at continuing and completing them. Let's see how much I can get done in April. Not poems, but writing nonetheless. 
             I don’t know yet whether there will be as many as 50 objects or more than 50. We’ll how it develops. What I am aiming for is to describe the objects in my apartment and why I have kept them, what they mean to me, so that after I’m gone (which I don’t expect to be any time soon) my younger relatives won’t be able to say, “Why did she keep this old thing?” My mother said she would do that for her jewelry, but she never did.]
             This painting and the photos are from Vermont. My Uncle Ben painted the house that he and my Aunt Nita bought in 1960, when he started teaching history at Goddard College. The house is in the village of Adamant, a few miles north of Montpelier, in the town of Calais (pronounced callous). Built around 1840, that same house is in the old photo (below), taken somewhere between 1890 and 1910, judging from the women’s clothing. Nita found it in the upstairs storage room, and she may have known the names of the people in it, but I don’t.
            It’s actually a photo of a photo; I’m guessing the original was in poor shape, and Nita wanted to make sure she had a survivable version. The sapling next to the woman on the right is the big maple on the right edge of the painting. I wonder if the grandchild or great-grandchild of the baby in the carriage is the person who sold the house to Ben and Nita.
            Between the trees and the house in the painting is a grassy drive, up a slight incline from the dirt road, nameless as far as I know. The snowy photo (left) was taken looking down that drive toward the road and the fields, a beaver pond, and hill beyond, in November 1995. I was housesitting, while Nita had gone to Paris to visit old friends and spend the pension money she had earned while working in Paris in the 1950s. (She had worked there for about six years and accumulated a small amount of pension, but she could only collect and spend it in France.) By this time, she and Ben had
been divorced for 10 or 12 years (a long, somewhat tawdry story for another time), but after long bargaining she got to keep the house, and as she was my mother’s sister, she’s the relative we kept in touch with. I was just a couple of years into writing the first draft of a novel (that still sits in very old Word files in my computer) and took the opportunity to turn feeding Nita’s cat into my own private writing retreat.
           The final photo is from inside the kitchen (the room behind the porch to the left in the photo and painting). The dancing cats is an ironwork, probably made by someone Nita and Ben knew. And the tree outside beyond the window is the larger maple on the left side of the painting. (I've tried to avoid the reflections from the glazing on these last two photos, but not entirely successful, and that's why they are at an angle.)

            Jack and I began visiting Ben and Nita for a week, or two or three, almost every summer from 1967 until 1997, when Nita died. (I’ve never been quite sure who or what I missed more, Aunt Nita or her house.) The house was sold to a friend and neighbor, whose son now lives there. For a time, after Nita was diagnosed with lung cancer, I thought of asking her to leave me the house, contemplating turning it into a writing retreat. The New England Culinary Institute was just down the road; perhaps they could provide meals. One of the upstairs bedrooms was big, with lots of light; perhaps it would suit a visual artist. But then I thought of how much rewiring would need to be done, for phones and for computers, as well as making Internet service available. I would either have to live there or be an absentee landlord, and neither choice was appealing.
            My sister would have loved living in that house, but she never developed a relationship with Nita and Ben. That was partly because Ben intimidated her. He had written a rather unflattering portrait of her in his first book, Down and Out in Academia, and my parents never quite forgave him. At the time, I thought it was fairly accurate, and I must have already realized that writers use whatever is in front of them for whatever purpose they want. Your only defense, if you don’t like what they’ve written about you or yours, is to write your own version.
(To be continued)

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The New Television

            If any of you read my March 1 post, you know that I need a new TV. Last weekend I ordered one online from Best Buy and it arrived today. (The HDMI cable I need for the cable box is scheduled to arrive tomorrow.) I carefully opened the cardboard box, with gloves, then lifted out the television and its accessories: power cord, legs, screws to attach the legs, remote, and printed User Manual. I examined the Quick Setup page, examined the small screws, examined the legs. How the legs were supposed to attach was not immediately clear, but once I figured it out, it looked simple.
            But. The screws are only about half an inch long, and the space they will fit into is deeper than that, and the screw is meant to go all the way in. How can I do this? Ideally, I need someone holding a flashlight behind me so I can see (and if I’d taken a photo, it would be easier to show you than to describe it). I drop the screw into the hole on the leg, point the end of the screw into the hole on the TV, and start turning, and turning and turning and turning. But the screw never catches, and I can’t really see what’s happening or what’s going wrong. I try a few more times, and then give up. This can’t be that hard. There must be some trick. I’ll call the manufacturer.
            I call Samsung. I am on hold for almost an hour. (I’m reading a book, so the time is not wasted.) While still on hold, I decide to try again. This time, it works. After about five minutes, the legs are tightly attached. I set up the set on its table, attach the power cord, and plug it is. I’ll wait for the HDMI cable before I start trying to make it work for real.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

SOL31: A Walk in the City

            I took a walk today in early evening. The sun was momentarily bright, then fell below thick clouds over New Jersey. Very few people are on the sidewalk along Riverside Drive. A runner goes by the car lane, but there are no cars. A doorman stands by the curb, waits, six feet away, until I pass, then returns to his post by his building’s entrance. I am the only person wearing a mask on this stretch. Where there is scaffolding and the sidewalk is narrow, I walk in the street. I cross the Drive to walk alongside the park. The sun shines golden on the Hudson River. A city bus passes, and it feels shocking that people are still on public transit while I am not. I sit on a bench facing the river. Usually I sit facing the wide path to watch people going by, but I don’t want to see anyone walk too close to me. Most of the the playgrounds are closed with a Caution sign that playground equipment is not sanitized. One playground has a family. A young man walks by wearing a mask. A bicyclist has a boombox putting out calming music.
I’m participating in the 13th annual Slice of Life Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers. This is day 31 of the 31-day challenge.  It’s not too late to make space for daily writing in a community that is encouraging, enthusiastic, and eager to read what you have to slice about.  Join in!

Monday, March 30, 2020

SOL30: Missing Jack

            My husband died four years ago. He would not have liked this current pandemic. Even though he’d fallen on the ice two years before that and become partially disabled, he still went out to walk around the block every day with a cane or a walker. Neither one of those devices would have given him the agility to move aside if someone was walking toward him closer than the mandated six feet.
            Would he have continued to go out to walk? How irascible would he have been if he’d felt unable to go out to walk? (Before his fall he'd gone to the gym almost every day.) On the other hand, he would have insisted that we get a replacement TV as soon as the old one broke (see March 1 post). I finally ordered one from Best Buy today. The webpage says it will be delivered by Thursday. We’ll see how that works out.
I’m participating in the 13th annual Slice of Life Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers. This is day 30 of the 31-day challenge.  It’s not too late to make space for daily writing in a community that is encouraging, enthusiastic, and eager to read what you have to slice about.  Join in!

Sunday, March 29, 2020

SOL29: Zooming Poetry

            Yesterday  I was in my first Zoom gathering. The Women Writers in Bloom Poetry Salon, created and organized by the incomparable JP Howad, met on Zoom for three hours, and it was amazing. More than 60 people were online and in the room, with JP, and her experienced Zoomer, Cynthia Matick, hosting. We didn’t have the usual check-in, where we go around the table, ID ourselves, and say what kind of writing we do, because when we meet in person there are usually 15 to 25 people. But via Zoom, we could have participants who are far-flung.
            The Salon had a short workshop, in which we wrote to a prompt, then went into breakout groups to share what we wrote and speak to each other. JP also gave us a second prompt to do on our own time. Then we had three featured poets reading from their new work: Rosebud Ben-Oni, turn around, BRXGHT XYXS; Roya Marsh, dayliGht; and DaMaris Hill, A Bound Woman Is a Dangerous Thing . Their work is powerful and moving. And following the features, we had a brief open mic. All in all, it was an energizing and moving afternoon, not as good as if we’d met face to face, but way better than sitting alone in our homes.
            The first prompt was to write a autobiographical praise poem by completing each of the following lines:
first name
who is
daughter/son of
who loves
who can’t stand
who needs
who feels
who fears
who would like to see
who/how I live
last name
            Here’s what I wrote:
who is old (in the best sense);
daughter of Leah;
who loves her friends and family, the world, my music, books,  and dancing, and baseball;
who can’t stand my country’s “leader” who is incapable of leading;
who needs contact with other people;
who feels optimistic and pessimistic at the same time;
who fears the effects of this pandemicon everyone, every way in which all people on this earth live;
who would like to see common sense and rationality and humility and tolerance overcome fear and hate;
who lives in the moment while connecte to the the past and hopeful for the future;
I’m participating in the 13th annual Slice of Life Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers. This is day 29 of the 31-day challenge.  It’s not too late to make space for daily writing in a community that is encouraging, enthusiastic, and eager to read what you have to slice about.  Join in!

Friday, March 27, 2020

SOL28: Missed a Day

            I couldn’t find myself a moment to sit and reflect yesterday, so I’ll do yesterday’s slice today.
            I had my usual freelance copyediting of short book reviews, cleaning up files for the magazine I work for and getting them ready for the next stage by 1 p.m. But there were an unusual number of cases where I had to go back to editors for second go-rounds. In one case, a sentence had four “how”s introducing examples, which I hadn’t noticed the first time because of other questions. In another case, the editor had deleted an entire review because he didn’t know how to answer his supervisor’s editorial question; I offered a suggestion that was accepted, but undeleting the review created a whole mess of other problems that took time to fix. There was more.
            And in the middle of this work, I got an e-mail that the staff copyeditor was out that day because his mother was in the hospital, in the ICU, probably with Covid-19. That stopped everything for me, mentally, emotionally. This is the closest the disease has come. I work from home, so I’m not afraid of being infected. But my colleague is young and just got married, and I hope his mother pulls through and is one of the 85% of older people who get well.
            It was the nearness of the disease that paralyzed my slicing, I think. I would like to have missed this day entirely. In fact, let’s skip this entire year.

I’m participating in the 13th annual Slice of Life Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers. This is day 28 of the 31-day challenge.  It’s not too late to make space for daily writing in a community that is encouraging, enthusiastic, and eager to read what you have to slice about.  Join in!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

SOL26: Online Grocery Shopping

            For years, my neighbors have been getting their groceries from Fresh Direct. The boxes pile up in the lobby, and I wonder how they can be so busy they cannot walk the three short blocks to our local supermarket.
            In the time of social distancing, however, I do not want to go to the store. My supermarket now has a shopping hour set aside for those of us extra-careful of our health, but it’s 7-8 a.m., a time I am usually still asleep, and not being a morning person, I hesitate to try this.
            So yesterday, I decided to try the online order world and have that local store deliver. I registered for an account and started scrolling through the choices. It was strange. Nothing was organized like the store, that is, items that were the same but different sizes or different brands were not grouped together, so what I at first thought were duplicates I realized after a while were just different package sizes or brands. Also, there was no way to know whether the items showing up on the webpage were indeed in stock. There were Chlorox sanitizing wipes, so I clicked on them, but they did not arrive. Neither did the Hass avocado or the pound of flounder filet.
            Most annoying, the rotisserie chicken I wanted (okay, I could have roasted a chicken myself, but I’ve done enough cooking in the past two weeks, and this store’s rotisserie chicken is quite good), I could not find it in the Prepacked Food selection. I called the store, and the woman I spoke with said she saw it on the second page. I went to the second page. It was not there. Fortunately, she said she would add it to my order, which I had already placed. And BTW, when I placed the order around 5 p.m., the only delivery time I was allowed to click on was the next day, though I was given a lot of time slots, of 45 minutes each, for delivery.
            At 9 p.m. last night, the doorman buzzed. My delivery was there. I unpacked, so the missing items were not charged, and everything else was there, including the rotisserie chicken. However, one of the two cans of tomatoes was badly dented, and while organic, they weren't the low-salt variety I wanted. (I’m not sure I could have chosen them from the webpage.) Also, I didn’t know I was ordering organic lemons and limes. But all the fresh produce looked good.
            The verdict: ordering online is better than nothing, but not an experience I am likely to continue after this pandemic is over.
I’m participating in the 13th annual Slice of Life Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers. This is day 26 of the 31-day challenge.  It’s not too late to make space for daily writing in a community that is encouraging, enthusiastic, and eager to read what you have to slice about.  Join in!