This morning I had to head out into the world, to pick up more chicken food at the feed store and do a picture book swap with a friend who lives out that way (we can't wait til our books clear quarantine and we can see what we got!). I wanted to do it in the morning and then be home in time to start the Kids Coop Zoom call at 9:30, and of course I couldn't leave before we did our morning work. Poetry is important! It seemed pretty doable until I got in the car at twenty of nine and realized that traveling in physical space actually takes time. Really! I had kind of forgotten. One of the reasons we got so busy last week—we're dialing it down now—was that, when you're only scheduling virtual gatherings, you can really cram em in. Friends want to play Pokemon online at 10:45? No problem, my work meeting that starts at 10 should be wrapping up right about then! This morning at 9:00 I was just reaching the feed store and had many miles to go before I could get home again. In the event, I made it—with one minute to spare!—but it was sure funny to me how unaccustomed I am now to, you know, actually going places.
On Sunday afternoon I was feeling wiped out from a stressful morning of virtual church, so I wanted to do something that would be a bit of a challenge while not in any way resembling work that I had to do. Playing guitar was fun, but not quite pointless enough... then I had the idea to dig out the fiddle from the back of Leah's closet. She got it years ago—before kids—and we mostly forgot we even owned it, but it was there and still in fine playing shape. I rosined up the bow and squawked out a couple scales and tunes—about 15 minutes' worth, before Leah had had enough and came to show me how it's done. She hasn't played in a long time, but she's still better than me, so I retired to the guitar. Our repertoire wasn't wide (we did rock a duo on "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"!) but still it was fun playing together.
Then today we took it up a notch—three notches!—by adding the boys to our ensemble. Harvey's been learning some chords on the banjo, and Zion and Lijah joined in on harmonicas. We played "I'll Fly Away", and it was fantastic. Although when I told Leah I was writing about it this evening she wanted to make sure there was no audio record of our playing. It'll be a couple weeks before we reach that point.
This morning Leah sewed up masks for all the family—or, as the boys like to call them, templates (the templates were a couple days ago, but the name has stuck). Only they're wondering how much chance they'll have to wear them, because they're not allowed in stores or anything anyway. I've been hinting that before too long they might need them every time they go outside past our fence. Because yes, they are getting out—even seeing friends from the neighborhood from an appropriate six-foot distance. How can you not, especially on days as beautiful as today? Today some of their time was spent sitting some distance apart on the street and chatting, but Harvey, Zion, and Jack also did some cycling.
That's my favorite, because it means they have to stay safely apart from each other and their hands are busy and likely away from their faces. There's not really anywhere to go, but they didn't let that stop them. Harvey and Jack went around the block seven times, which by my calculations is over five miles of riding. Not bad! Harvey tells me he spent much of the time working on riding with no hands. I'm proud of him, but I kind of hope he doesn't get comfortable enough with it to be able to, I don't know, pick his nose while riding. See, those masks may get some use yet.
It's been rainy the last couple days and we're coming up on the end of three solid weeks of relative isolation, and there have been few moments of testiness. Like yesterday, when Zion and Elijah were playing at trading imaginary Minecraft items. Lijah was trying to get some tridents from Zion, who kept raising the price beyond Lijah's offers of uncountable stacks of emeralds. Eventually Lijah got mad and started yelling, and Zion protested huffily that he was just trying to do a fair trade. I was pretty unhappy, and told them so—with Lijah for going into a violent rage instead of walking away, and with Zion for provoking him. "I don't know how we're going to get along as a household," I told him, "if you can't even be generous with imaginary things that don't even exist!" It's safe to say that we're all feeling some stress.
Of course, there are also many lovely moments. Prior to that unpleasant exchange—which happened right around dinner time—the boys had been playing super well together. Their game with their stuffed animals was so harmonious that I silently cancelled some scheduled home education stuff to let it continue, and then I lost track of time and failed to tell them to get on Zoom for their daily group read-aloud (they made it a couple minutes late, when Leah noticed the time and alerted us). So we'll survive. But we do need to keep working at it.