Laughing Lessons 2020

How are you Dear Ones?

I hope you are well. I also hope you are finding a few laughs in all the “learning lessons” 2020 brought us.

As this year grinds to a close, I cling to humor as to a life raft. As big a life raft as possible because the weight of some of our collective and personal learning lessons would sink an ocean liner.

My children have mastered the art of embedding memes and funny tiktoks in group text chains ( okay, so that is a sentence I never thought I would write). I love these and BEG FOR MORE. Yes, I know, it’s annoying to receive the text, “It’s your mother and she wants another meme.” Could be worse.

Maybe in 2021 I will learn how to find and post these too. Not likely.

In the meantime, I want to applaud all of you out there who slogged through this year because, let’s face it, if you did, you had to learn a lot, hopefully sometimes with a smile under the mask.

Here are a few things that I learned or relearned in 2020:

#1 Dogs are great conversationalists. As one of the few friends that can sit up close to me, Sheba is my “Go to” for chats. My conversations with her have gotten a lot more interesting and snappy in 2020, if I do say so myself. And I need to say so myself because the cat certainly wouldn’t say anything nice like this. She remains indifferent to my verbal repartee. In fact, she sniffs at my wit and wisdom.

Thank goodness for Sheba’s lower standards.

#2 It is possible to concoct delicious tempting edible meals from strange supplies. Yes, things are fairly routine at the grocery stores again, but there was a stretch back in the spring when capers were the miracle food improving every weird casserole I made from “things I found in the pantry.” I bet you have a miracle ingredient too. Are you a bit tired of this miracle ingredient? Like never want to eat it again? Will 2020 end with a symbolic burning of said ingredient?

# 3 There is always more to learn about mask fashion and construction.

First, the topic of mask construction. I made a lot ( I mean A LOT) of masks this year. I imagine many of you did. My early ones were basically squares with tucks. Then I found a pattern with padded pipe cleaners sewn inside for that swoosh up and over the nose. Friends and family asking for masks enjoyed giving me “feedback”. I began to use different patterns for different people. I began a notebook to keep track of their exact specifications. Who could have known quite how particular people would be about the tightness or materials used for their ear straps ( yet another sentence I never imagined I would write).

For every mask that granddaughter Grace liked for school, there were four that needed to be reworked or sat unused. Who knew that unicorns could suddenly be passe? Grace’s favorite material showed smiling cups of cocoa. Picking up on this cue, I made several masks for her with this same material. This proved to be a problem because she is expected to wear a fresh mask every day, yet it looks like this isn’t the case with my five repeats. So many unexpected mask issues, so much sewing….

With adults, I found that some liked to wear their heart on their sleeves masks and enjoyed my choices of “hobby” pattern materials. Frankly I went a little crazy in the fabric store. It was so thrilling to be out on a legitimate errand and there were just so many FUN options for mask material.

Apparently I was not alone in getting 1/4 yard of 17 materials. The patient clerk cutting my pieces told me mine was a modest group compared to many. Anyways, there were dogs for dog lovers, bugs for bug lovers, flowers for flower lovers, Japanese umbrellas for Japanese umbrella lovers. You get the picture. Some for example my husband wearied of wearing a literal face mask news blitz. Maybe it was tiresome to explain why the day’s mask showed the cross section of a dragonfruit. Maybe a mask with a sloth on it didn’t set the right tone as the teacher of sixth graders who were supposed to be paying attention despite the distractions of a global pandemic. Some for example my husband asked for plain material, blue to be exact. I drew the line with black masks. Why the attraction to black masks? Batman? This leads to the auxilliary topic of…

Mask Fashion. In the office, staff goddess Hannah set the bar for mask fashion. Every day a gorgeous mask compliments her outfit in the most wonderful way. Hannah and the masks she sources remind me that #4 Art happens in the most unlikely ways.

Don’t you like our cute aprons? This is so we only use our own pen and scissors when we pack. I mean really there is only so many times a day one can ENJOYABLY douse one’s hands with hand sanitizer.

#5 On the topic of arts and entertainment…… I learned that entertainment standards can be lowered and then lowered again. Who knew that riding shotgun on the school drop off could be that much fun? I have become Homer Simpson, “Look! A red car!”

#6 The miracle of recycling begins at home. 2020 didn’t get me examining my navel so much as examining every overstuffed closet in the house. Apologies to you Marie Kondo. Your book went to a thrift shop along with a ton of deeply cherished items much loved items items I couldn’t live without specialty items items I’ll need for those special projects I’m going to get to soon all of the items above and more junk. You inspired and then I retired (your book).

#7 Outdoor socially distanced masked gatherings in the summer are more fun than in the winter. Gone are the relatively normal except for the masks, the social distancing and the not touching gatherings of summer when we lingered in the warmth of the sun and each other’s hidden smiles. It is COLD to meet outside in winter. We tried a bonfire last week for an outside birthday party. A brisk wind off the arctic kept blowing smoke in our faces. Babies cried. Dogs shivered. We valiantly celebrated for a good hour before retreating to our separate (warm) houses. Another recent socially distanced walk with a visiting toddler also abruptly ended when frostbite threatened. More arctic winds combined with 5 degree temperatures made grandbaby Etta’s cheeks a bit too red.

#8 Restaurant meals…… I can live without them, but I would rather not.

#9 Nothing says anachronism like “current” TV shows.

#10 I am not an introvert. I thought I had become more of one with the years, but I was misinformed. Just ask my neighbors. When Sheba alerts me that someone anyone is walking by the farm, we race out together to stand at a safe distance and bark shout inquire what’s new.

#11 Garlic can be eaten with impunity when you wear a mask all the time.

#12 You can play charades via zoom, just don’t expect to hear or see exactly what your teammate in another state is doing.

#13 You can teach any dog, young or old, new tricks. In the spring we had to create all kinds of new systems for getting your orders out. Some systems evolved when I was the only person here (GULP). Later we created safe ways to have people return to work (THANK GOODNESS).

Yesterday three feet of snow fell in the night. No staff could get here except intrepid Vicki who snowshoed the mile from her house to the farm. Together we resuscitated our earlier no staff systems and managed to get all the orders off.

We even got them to the post office. No dog sled necessary! Just a couple hours of shoveling out the truck! Thanks Jim!

In any case, I am pretty sure that if you weren’t in a coma in 2020 you too came up with creative adaptations for arising problems. I am really proud of all of us for rolling with the punches.

#14 This has been a time which will give us a lot of stories to share in the coming years. I like stories. I look forward to hearing them in person. As Thomas Moore said, “Enchantment is the willingness to live in a bungalow of stories rather than a warehouse of facts.”

So yes, stories! I can’t wait to be gathered round, too close, admiring everyones’ smiles and listening to tales from 2020. In the meantime, hang in there. I know you can do it because you are doing it! Take precious care and keep telling the dog your stories until you can share them with the rest of us!