Jack of hearts
Tuesday, March 16 2021
There are four chairs in the laboratory: a wheelchair that I sit in when I'm working, an uncomfortable director's chair at my secondary workstation, and two normal office chairs that have been covered with random crap for the past couple years. The other day, I finally removed everything from one of those chairs, and today Celeste the Cat decided to nap on it so ostentatiously that it made me think she'd be spending much more time in the laboratory (the cat population there is restricted to mostly just Oscar, sometimes with Diane).
While I was puttering around the library this morning, finding logical places to store various odds and ends, a bird flew into the laboratory window from the inside, and, since it was closed, there was a lound "dunk! sound. I then saw the bird in among the individual figurines of the Red Rose Figurine army on the narrow shelf between the set of openable windows and the unopenable half-circle window just under the peak of the ceiling-walls. It was a now-scruffy-looking slate-colored junco, probably caught and brought in through the pet door by one of the cats. I would've grabbed him or her there above the window, but I was too slow, and the bird flew south down the length of the laboratory, ending up in the storage under the ridge of the ceiling-roof( at the south end of the laboratory, just above the door to the teevee room). While I was thinking about what to do next, the junco then flew north again, hitting the mirror on the wall just north of my Woodchuck workstation. Celeste ran over, and soon had the poor little bird in her mouth. She was clamping down so tightly that I had to stick my finger in her mouth to get the junco out. Then I threw him or her out of the laboratory window, where he or she fluttered awkwardly and then crash-landed on a branch in a tree. Shortly thereafter, I saw the junco slip and fall, looking mostly lifeless. It's possible the he or she recovered after that and was merely exhausted and in shock, though it's possible Celeste might've crushed the unfortunate little thing. For me, the less known the better, and I never went out to investigate. I know the cats can't help but destroy anything they can catch below a certain size, but I just wish they'd make it easy on me and not brutalize and kill the wildlife while I'm around.
Today was another brutally cold day, but it was also Nancy's 54th birthday. We'd be treating Nancy as part of our pandemic pod and eating at her house tonight, so Powerful and Gretchen made food. The former made fried rice and the latter made a hearty cabbage stir-fry with chunks of savory tofu. Meanwhile, I made little a painting of a jack of hearts playing card, simplifying the details to fit the resolution of the medium and substituting the human faces with tiny hard-to-make out depictions of Nancy's dog Jack.
I was just finishing my painting when Gretchen headed off to Nancy's with the dogs. I later went down there with Powerful (who couldn't leave with Powerful due to a Zoom call). We arrived just as Sarah the Vegan was getting out of her car.
At Nancy's house, we acted arguably foolishly, as though the coronavirus pandemic was already over. We didn't wear masks, and we didn't practice much social distancing. But we all felt safe; we'd all been careful, and Powerful has already had the first injection of the Moderna vaccine. As for Ray, he was working at the Red Onion tonight and couldn't be with us. His is probably not the safest job in a pandemic, but he's been as careful in that situation as one can be. And he too has already had the first injection of the Moderna vaccine.
Nancy offered me a glass of wine (it looked like a blush or a rosé), and I accepted it. When I put it to my lips, it was my first alcoholic beverage since January 24th. I would even go on to drink a second glass. But that was it. This whole alcohol fast has not been with the goal of never drinking again; I want to be able to drink with people on their birthdays occasionally.
After snacking on an Asian dumpling mix Sarah bought at ShopRite, we sat down at the table and a fraction of all the food that had been brought. Much of the conversation at the dinner table was about the fear of aging and the illnesses and death in ourselves, friends, and family. I was reminded of the thing my father used to say before he became old: that all old people talk about are their "aches and pains."
We also talked about this season of the Bachelor, which Nancy still watches and which I used to watch with Nancy but haven't watched in years. "I can't believe you used to watch that with me," Nancy admitted, sounding embarrassed. But after we talked about how the issue of racism came up in the most recent episode, even Gretchen was wanting to see it. (It seems the Bachelor finally had a black bachelor, and one of the women in the final running for whatever it is the Bachelor rewards turned out to have attended an antebellum ball, which is some sort of tacky celebration of the pre-Civil-War South. Fortunately, we didn't end up watching anything at all on the teevee tonight.
Before 8:00pm, I took 150 milligrams of diphenhydramine I'd put in my pocket. It kicked in sometime before we were done with dinner, and it was hitting me so hard by the time we moved to the living room that I had to spread myself out on the couch. I had trouble keeping my eyes open.
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