Monthly Archives: April 2020


Week Five: The Thrill Is Gone

Female Doctor or Nurse Wearing Scrubs and Protective Mask and Goggles Banner.

Common Words, Terms and Phrases Heretofore Little Used by Most People

  • Mitigation
  • Misophonia
  • Hydroxychloroquine
  • PPE
  • Vodka and prune juice
  • Netflix and chill get that thing away from me
  • What day is it
  • The Mayor of Las Vegas
  • I wish I were a squirrel

It’s not even 9AM and I have eaten a bowl of linguine Bolognese with my coffee and almond milk. I’m not going to lie. I thought about having a nice glass of red wine with my breakfast pasta, but we are down to one bottle and I won’t be hitting the grocery store until my weekly run on Saturday when I don a makeshift hazmat suit and squirt hand sanitizer over my entire body every 30 seconds. I’m not really sure what day today is, but I know it’s not Sunday or I’d be having chianti with my cornflakes.

Twenty million years ago, before we locked ourselves into self-quarantine, there were a handful of things I dreaded—things like surgery, doing taxes and demonic possession. Today, I’d rather gurge up pea soup whilst my head does 360s as I’m being wheeled into the OR for a bowel resection than wash my hair. The idea of my head getting wet is suddenly revolting. I have also developed an aversion to laundry. There is something about reaching into a long-sleeved shirt or pair of jeans and turning them right side out that makes me want to kill.

I pray for dreary days now. Sunshine and squirrels cavorting on the lawn, racing up and down trees with brains so tiny they couldn’t measure a six foot distance between them if their rodent lives depended on it—which our lives do—makes me weepy. Give me rain, freezing if possible, and a wind so blasty and biting neither man nor beast can abide it. Then I don’t feel so bad. (Feel free to set this to music. Just make it catchy and irritating.)

We learned this week that billionaires, many of them tech execs, have for years been commissioning the construction of survival bunkers in New Zealand. Apparently, there is no finer place for elite doomsday preppers to escape a pandemic than beautiful subterranean New Zealand. Ranging in price for a bargain basement unit at $3 million, to something more “livable” at upwards of $11 million, the shelters include basics like guns, ammo, bowling alleys and 2lb. tins of $34,500 Iranian Beluga caviar. My apocalypse survival kit includes a Louisville Slugger that I keep under the bed in a split level mid-century ranch in Southeastern Wisconsin, a semi-deflated Bosu ball (the plastic pump inflator thingie has been missing for years) and half a case of expired protein shakes on the bottom shelf of the pantry behind a Nutribullet that hasn’t been touched since 2003. They ain’t getting me without a fight.

In 1823, the poet Lord Byron wrote in the satirical poem Don Juan, “Truth is stranger than fiction.” Imagine legions of billionaires emerging from luxurious underground lairs to discover they are the last people on earth. They literally have all the money in the world and very strong boss skills, but there isn’t one person alive who can unclog a toilet.

Carolyn Goodman, the mayor of Las Vegas, is perhaps the stupidest person currently alive since…what’s the name of the guy who just fired the nation’s top vaccine expert and who is also a former New Yorker reviled by New Yorkers? In interviews this week, Mayor Goodman said she wants Sin City open for business now. As in today. Casinos, hotels, sports arenas. Let’s go already.

Unlike scientists, the Governor of Nevada and anyone with a brain, Mayor Goodman is not at all worried about “testing” or people picking up Covid-19 off slot machines that hundreds of thousands of people have just touched, smoking and drinking (which weakens the human immune system), breathing recirculated air and then getting in planes, trains and automobiles to return to their respective homes, families, co-workers and everyfrickinbody else all over the world.

“Let the businesses open and competition will destroy that business if, in fact, they become evident that they have disease, they’re closed down,” she told MSNBC’s Katy Tur, who blinked speechlessly in the wake of the incomprehensible statement like Bambi upon discovering hunters had just blasted Mother to smithereens.

At one point in his interview with Goodman, Anderson Cooper removed his glasses and covered his face with his hands because it’s hard to believe anyone, much less a three-term American mayor, could be so completely and utterly witless. “It reminds me of 1964,” Goodman said, smiling. “I can drive anywhere quickly. There are no traffic jams. It’s wonderful.” Hey Vegas, gotta feel good to know this twit has your back.

Five weeks ago, I did not know that there was a recognized medical diagnosis for my reaction to the sounds some people make when eating. There is and it is called misophonia. Those who have misophonia might describe it as when a sound “drives you crazy.” According to medical journals, reactions can range from anger and annoyance to panic and the need to flee. But I can’t flee, can I? To me, misophonia is the indescribable raging urge to murder, and was even featured on an episode of Criminal Minds in which it triggered a serial killer to assassinate those who slurped, burped, groaned, chewed open-mouthed and made a wheezing/crunchy inhale/face fart sort of noise while eating a sandwich. I can relate.

Every other post on my Instagram feed has the hashtag #cocktails. At 4AM this morning I watched Stanley Tucci make the perfect Negroni from his sumptuous New York abode. If I had clean hair, I’d flip on the phone cam and #cocktail my recipe for vodka and prune juice. (Obviously, prune juice is a substitute for any other liquid whatsoever, but the real beauty lies in its virtue as a dual-action drinkie. In these times of great uncertainty and the disruption of our habits, give the Metamucil and Smooth Move tea a rest and say hello to our old friend the prune.

Apparently, my honey do (and honey do not) litany list is cumbersome to my newlywed husband of four months. I can only think it is irony he’s shooting for when he sticks Post-Its on every surface in the house reminding him to turn it off, turn it on, close it, clean it, put it back, reseal it, don’t eat the last one of it and for godssake put it right side out before throwing it into the hamper. Such a sexy kidder, this guy.

It has become too easy to focus on the aggravations of everyday life in captivity quarantine. If everyone croaked tomorrow except billionaires in 5-Star badger holes, how would I want my last days with my husband and pops to have been spent? I mean, we never know what the future holds. Even in the best of times people get hit by busses and flying pieces of space junk that withstand reentry into earth’s atmosphere. I think a lot of us are on edge—worried about what the days, weeks and years ahead will look like. If this is a jumping off point to a new normal, I think I’d like to jump off being kinder. More patient. Loving.

I’m breaking out my own Post-Its and I’m gonna stick one right on my forehead that says, “Let it go.”

Oh, and I might consider one more while I’m at it. “Wash your hair.”

 

Be healthy and safe. Loves ya,

Pam

Share this:

Week Four: The Siege

A young boy getting ready for a pudding bowl haircut

Alfie, a three-legged rat terrier mutt with six teeth and his tongue lolling out the side of his mouth, has taken to lunging at my husband and attempting to bite his (well, gum really) face off when he tries to kiss me. It is super cute. Also tres adorbs, I have never seen my husband ambulate so quickly.

My cousin Melanie Bekos’ children are home from college for the rest of the semester. She looked at son Jack’s flowing blonde locks yesterday and volunteered to cut his hair. “Do you know how?” he asked. (I imagine he almost imperceptibly cocked his head to one side as a lone eyebrow went up a fraction of a fraction.)

This is a woman he has literally known his entire life, but who is so stealthy and tight-lipped that Jack thought for a nanosecond she might just possess a fantastical life-altering skill, with a very high degree of difficulty and equally vast margin of error, of which he was previously unaware. Melanie is the executive director of the Wisconsin Chapter of the ALS Association. When not performing bowl haircuts on innocent victims, she reminded me that people with ALS and all terminal diseases are having a particularly difficult time during this pandemic. Please donate whatever you can to those who are worse off.

My godson Chad and his lovely wife Nolene gifted us an iRobot Roomba for Christmas. How I love him! (There is no doubt in my mind that Roomba is a boy.) He’s a good little fellow dutifully collecting every crumb and hair on the floor. When he gets stuck, he doesn’t yell “Paaaaaaam!” like some others (especially when Paaaaaam is in the bathroom). He chirps, and then a woman’s voice announces in dulcet tones, “Roomba is stuck.” Roomba and the lady inside of him are telling me “don’t hurry. Relax. We’ll be patiently waiting for you until you find the time to unstick us. Go on, do what you were doing. Finish that chapter. Or the large pizza you made from scratch and are eating in the attic, so you don’t have to share. We don’t mind. We are here for you.”

Pet hair is my pet peeve so I was both hopeful and skeptical when I saw an ad on my Instagram feed for the Chom Chom Roller. How on earth they knew I had a thing about dog hair is beyond me. I mean, I get why I am inundated by solicitations and sexy ads from Stuart Weitzman, TJ Maxx and Sweaty Betty (their butt-lifting work-out pants do the work so you don’t have to), but that I was included among the lucky people to learn of this miraculous device on social media can only be chalked up to voodoo.

My lint roller habit was setting me back about a grand a month even though the dogs aren’t allowed on the furniture. (Everyone knows a bed is not furniture.) I’d go through a super thick Costco roller every other day defurrifying the bed each morning. (Everyone knows dogs shed their coats overnight, grow new ones and shed those before dawn.) My ChomChom Roller cost $25 and I’ve had it about six months now. (If Roomba and the ancient Mayans had a child it would be ChomChom and it would be gender fluid.)

My heart-as-big-as-the-world friend Teri, who rescued, fixed-up and fostered Zuzu and the three-legged toothless assassin known as Alfie, tells me she is super busy running Henry’s Hope, the foundation that rescues dogs, cats and all manner of sweet creatures from high kill shelters in Los Angeles (and then ships them out to suckers animal-lovers in Southeastern Wisconsin, namely Delafield). In spite of the 24/7 nature of the animal rescue vocation, there are still hours during the night when a person used to sleep (but is now in a semi-permanent semi-somnambulist state) that can be used for all kinds of important new work. Like many of us, Teri finds cleaning baseboards with a toothbrush and organizing and reorganizing the same junk drawer over and over worthwhile pursuits if the goal is to keep your hands busy enough not to bitch slap people with whom you are stuck living out the pandemic go crazy. (Got pictures of a super spiffy junk drawer? Whoosh them off to pam@pamferderbar.com I’ll publish them with next week’s blog.)

My dad has taken to humming and thumping out showtunes with a special affliction affinity for “Good Mornin’, from Singin’ in the Rain and ‘Tea for Two’, from hell. I used to think things looked better in the morning. Now it just scares me. I overheard my dad on the phone with someone who must have asked what he did all day. “Work on my computer, read and after my nap I watch the Trump show.” They used to be called press briefings, when they were conducted by actual literates public servants.

I did it. I went to the grocery store last Saturday. At first, I thought, that’s insane—the busiest day of the week! Then I realized there is no difference between Saturday. There was a line outside. Most people kept their social distance. Maybe a third wore masks. Two-thirds irritated me. Inside was another story. Hardly anyone kept their distance and they all frickin’ annoyed the crap out of me. For example, one ahole man stood right in front of what was once a bountiful Campbell’s Tomato Soup display that promised the warm comfort of bygone days when our moms cooked for us and we were not shut in like death row inmates. As I tried to see how many cans were left, a good ten feet away and using the opera glasses my ex-husband bought me years ago so we might take up opera because ‘enough Springsteen already’, I spied maybe four or five cans on the shelf.

As I barreled toward him with my cart, I doubt the man noticed I hadn’t washed my hair in a month, that my roots looked like a wide silver zipper, or that my eyebrows crept over my forehead like an extra furry Pyrrharctia Isabella. What he saw was a face mask, goggles, a shiny rubber yellow slicker and those paperish bootie things people wear in highly contagious hospital situations, to open houses in nice neighborhoods and on the show Dexter. I was perfectly attired to murder and dismember the man without getting a speck of DNA on my actual person. We were on the same page, he and I. He leapt out of the way and I snagged three cans of the soul-saving elixir known as Campbell’s Classic Tomato Soup. (I left two on the shelf so as to not be rude.)

I am not selling anything. I am appreciating the little things that under normal circumstances would be the unsung heroes of my life—pet hair removers, soup, dog rescuers, cousins. (If the ChomChom peeps are listening, I would totally take a case of rollers off your hands to give as gifts.)

Our governor, Tony Evers of Wisconsin, just extended the shelter-in-place order until May 26. He did this without legalizing pot. smh.

Be healthy and safe, and love each other.

 

Loves ya,

Pam

 

PS

It ain’t opera, but it sure is regal. Prince, Motherless Child.

 

 

 

 

Share this:

Self-Quarantine: Week Three Bazillion

Raccoon (Procyon lotor) on a bird feeder, eastern Ontario. Masked mammal has a bit of fun while he looks for and finds an easy meal. Friendly animal lovers helping the woodland critters.

I don’t know how you all are doing with this self-quarantine thing, but for me WEEK THREE has lacked the gaiety and novelty of the early self-quarantine experience. I tire of cooking constantly (I have yet to grow weary of eating, however). I’m thinking day drinking probably isn’t good for a person in the long term but was intended to be a naughty flight of fancy, enjoyed while on a tropical or Alpine ski vacation, or in celebration of a nationally recognized holiday. Tuesday is simply not a convincing argument for a breakfast of poached eggs and tequila.

No one in my house actually knows what day of the week it is anyway. We tape Post-It reminders to mirrors and our foreheads on Garbage Day Eve. Noses pressed to the glass, we watch as the G-Men take away our trash and we wonder what it would be like to have a coffee with them, maybe a burger and a beer once. (We are also speaking more Wisconsineze than before, like ending sentences with the word once. “Hand me that walleye once, would ya?” That sort of thing.)

We’ve been unconsciously free associating, and in this parallel universe of new normal self-isolating rational conversation deprivation, the other person knows what we’re talking about. Let me give you an example:

Husband is reading and brushing his teeth in the backseat of the car. I go into the garage to get a bra because that is where I am keeping all my undergarments now, pretending that the shelves over the weed whacker, rakes and bag of steer manure are a Victoria’s Secret display.

“Masky things,” I remark, wrapping a bra in ancient pink tissue paper. My husband spits toothpaste into a coffee can and answers, “Soon as I finish this chapter.”

“Falling from the sky, starving,” I mutter, heading into the house with my sale items. (If I’m play shopping I sure as hell am doing it during a sale.)

Translation: Racoons have eaten the bird seed again. My husband will refill the bird feeder in a month or two.

We can’t stand to see the other person sleep. I woke up after having dozed off watching the 10th episode of Luther in a row only to discover my husband was asleep on the sofa next to me. “Your eyes are closed!” I shrieked. “I thought we were going to watch Luther together!”

My dad looked up from his armchair and shook his head. “I’m going to watch the golf channel in my room,” he said. “There replaying the 1997 Master’s.”

“Sweet dreams, pops,” I told him, rolling my eyes. “He’s just gonna fall asleep,” I said to my husband who had begun to snore. “Wake up,” I hissed, poking his ribs with my big toe. “Hand me the clicker once.”

The dogs have become needy. It’s not enough that we are home with them 24/7. They now insist upon constant petting, and the female rat terrier, Zuzu, must carry an item of my clothing or shoe/boot/slipper/flip flop with her at all times. I fell asleep in bed last night watching the 23rd episode of Frankie and Grace in a row when something hit me on the head. Assuming it was my husband, I opened my eyes and said, “I’m awake!” He, on the other hand, was sound asleep with Zuzu sitting beside him, atop my pillow, the lace of my hiking boot dangling from her mouth. She was smiling.

I have become very good friends with all the live chat help people. (I feel like I’ve known Crystal at Drizly for years. Crystal, if you’re reading this—big hugs to Derek and tell him I’m very sorry about the rash. I’m sure it’s just stress.)

How nice that grocery stores offer pick-up and even delivery. Too bad the soonest either of those things is possible is forever from the day you order. An order I placed March 23 was scheduled to be delivered April 5. On April 5, I placed another order only to learn it would be delivered same day. Although both orders went through the market’s website, a company called Instacart was responsible for the shopping and deliveries.

Late that afternoon I received texts from the shopper on the same-day order asking about substitutions and whatnot. He didn’t like the way the green peppers were looking and did I have feelings one way or the other about red or yellow. At 5PM I received a text that said he was on his way followed by a text five minutes later saying the groceries had arrived. He placed the bags in the driveway and waved to my husband who was shaving at the bird bath.

A few minutes later I began receiving texts from a woman shopper with substitution questions. They were all out of diet Orange Crush and diet A&W root beer. Was diet Dr. Pepper cool? She included a photo of the depleted soft drink shelves, but I saw what I thought was a supply of diet A&W root beers.

The trouble with texts is the potential for misreading tone and intent. I meant no ill will, really, when I texted Rochelle that perhaps she could just grab a couple 12-paks of the diet root beer in the center of the photo. There is no way she could have heard what I was thinking…”are you blind, you frickin’ twit?” And yet it seemed she had.

“You want the diet cream sodas then?” she texted me. “Bitch” was definitely implied at the tail end of that. I didn’t want to further piss off the person handling my groceries, so I apologized for my terrible vision—“been bad ever since the accident” I told her, and then begged her forgiveness. I heard nothing until I received a text half an hour later telling me my order had been delivered.

My husband walked in from the garage with the badminton set and I asked if he noticed anyone dropping more groceries off. He did not. He sat down at the kitchen table where he proceeded to restring the badminton net. “Do we have a large ordinary sponge anywhere?” he asked. “If I trim it round, to about the size of my fist, it should make quite a satisfactory substitute for the shuttlecocks which seem to have gone missing.”

I went outside and looked around. Front of house, back door, the vacant adjoining lots. Nada. I texted Rochelle a dozen times to no avail. I hopped into the car and drove around the neighborhood to see if our groceries had been left in someone else’s driveway. They had not. I called Instacart where the robovoice told me the estimated wait time was 324 minutes and I was number 323 in the queue. I never did receive the groceries. My credit card was charged. I hope Rochelle chokes on French Onion Dip. (I know how the birds feel when the masky things get away with their food.)

On the positive side, we love each other. I am blessed that my dad and husband get along so well, and I look forward to taking a very long vacation by myself knowing it could be weeks before either of them notice I am gone. That, my friends, is what you call a win-win situation.

I truly enjoy conversations with complete strangers who are going through the exact same thing as we are. Everyone is doing their best. (Hear that, Rochelle? I am giving you the benefit of the doubt.) Maybe it’s just me, but it seems as though everyone is just a bit kinder these days. More gracious. Compassionate.  I had to call the DMV earlier this week and I swear, when I told her about my husband brushing his teeth in the car, I heard a little laugh. “Mine’s taken to eating sandwiches in the bathtub,” she told me.

We are all in this together. Be safe. Be healthy. Love each other.

Loves ya,

Pam

Share this:

BEST MARTINI

Self Quarantine: Week Two

BEST MARTINI

I’ve been staring at the same blank page for two weeks now, resisting the urge to tell people to eff off whenever they chirp, “You must be getting so much writing done.” What I am getting so much “done” is cocktails, cooking and eating. I have also discovered the joys of baking. (FYI there is no reason to fire up the oven for chocolate cake. It is god’s perfect creation raw, right out of the bowl.)

Last night we had Driveway Happy Hour with our neighbors Robyn and Steve. It’s a simple concept. Bring your booze and glasses to the end of someone’s driveway while they have their booze and glasses at the opposite end of the driveway and you stand around drinking and shouting at one another down the length of a driveway. Lest this sound too hillbilly for y’all, Ernest Hemingway once did the exact same thing when his little boy had highly contagious whooping cough and he spent several weeks in self-isolation with the sick toddler, his wife, the nanny, and his mistress.

Summering nearby, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald would pull up to the Hemingway residence in their Duesenberg each evening for a roaring twenties version of Driveway Happy Hour. By the end of the summer, which was the duration of the Hemingway’s quarantine, the Fitzgerald’s had stuck their empty liquor bottles on the white picket fence running the length of the sprawling estate the Hemingway’s occupied. The fence stretched for miles in either direction, bottles lined up as far as the eye could see. My question is what did they eat???

Right now, I have a second window open on my laptop so I can peruse the recipes that are trending on the New York Times Cooking app while I am simultaneously writing trying to write eating homemade chocolate chip cookies with walnuts. Indian food is delish and labor intensive—an excellent combination for these long days in captivity quarantine. Alas, my pantry is lacking in mung beans, pigeon peas and paneer.

I wish there were an app where you would enter all the crap you’ve got in the kitchen and it would spit out recipes using those ingredients. I would love to know what I could make with black beans, mandarin orange slices, cream of mushroom soup, sweet and sour beets, wonton sheets, four dozen cans of solid white tuna and a craft fair jar of pickled asparagus that expired in 1998. (If you know of such an app, hit me up at pam@pamferderbar.com) (Lo and behold, Pamela Vidovic, a reader in Croatia, sent us this link: coolinarika.com. And Nan Teske from Milwaukee sent this: Supercook.com) Thanks, ladies!!!

In addition to new cooking terms (bard the bird with bacon) I find myself using words and phrases that have only entered the daily lexicon since the coronavirus pandemic. Pandemic is one of them. So is coronavirus.  I bet in my whole entire life until now I said or heard those words maybe a dozen times total. Today, they pepper every other sentence.

The expression “conscious uncoupling” made me throw up a little in my mouth each time I heard it. I am no fonder of the phrases ‘social distancing,’ ‘shelter in place,’ ‘makeshift morgue’ and ‘the president said.” But here we are, forced to deal with all the above…and for those of us “lucky” enough to be consciously coupling during the quarantine, i.e. being confined with family living with loved ones, I have begun to collect words and phrases that reflect current events in our home.

What is that sound you make while you eat?

What is that sound you make while you brush your teeth?

What is that sound you make when you breathe?

Hectoring.

Temporarily out of stock.

Estimated delivery time: 12-72 weeks.

Same day chocolate delivery guaranteed.

FUPA.

Clairol Root Touch-Up.

Hair dye allergy patch test.

Contact dermatitis home remedies.

And this is only week two. God knows which words and phrases will develop in the coming weeks, but I am gonna go out on a limb and suggest the following:

Justifiable homicide.

Self-immolation.

Will the remote work from up your ass?

It’s nice, eating dinner all together like this every single night. Breakfast and lunch, too. Snacks even.

I envy squirrels.

Did you really spend $500 on resistance bands, kettlebells and Spanx?

What’s Drizly and did you really spend $1000 on it?

I laughed when I saw @mom_needsalife’s tweet this week, “Gwyneth Paltrow said in an interview we should take this time to learn a new language or write a book. I just shook chip crumbs out of my bra & I don’t know what day it is. I’m fairly certain I’m not going to attempt either of these things.” Clearly, we need distraction from the horrors of the daily news whether it’s cooking, eating, having cocktails behind the garage or simply staring out the window thinking calm, sane thoughts and praying for the best possible outcome and a quick end to the pandemic.

In the meantime, there is one phrase that should be our mantra; Better safe than sorry.

Visit CDC.gov for up-to-the-minute guidelines meant to keep you and all of us safe and healthy.

Loves ya,

Pam

Share this: