These chickens have one job, and it’s not to crap all over my outdoor furniture. Four months in and there have been bags and bags of chicken feed, scoops of dried worms, something called chicken grit, and even a swanky new coop.

There has also been nary an egg. Not a single one.

What there has been is chicken shit, and lots of it. It’s both runny and clumpy at the same time and it’s everywhere — on the table and chairs, on the patio, all over the grass, up and down the driveway, and consequently, tracked right through the house.

I ordered six chickens and in May, nine showed up, which is basically the story of my life. (I still have no idea how this happened. Could I be that bad at math?) I bought these chickens because of the spring egg shortage which now seems to be both a distant memory and a cautionary tale and I’ll be damned if we go into another egg shortage without these freeloading birds getting to work. I made the mistake of Googling the situation and learned that chickens may need twelve hours of daylight to lay eggs and just this past week, we passed the equinox and there won’t be twelve hours of sunlight until next Spring. WHAT?!

Panicked, I called the CHICKEN LADY HOTLINE and desperately asked about the sunlight situation and how I would know when my chickens are about to lay eggs. I worried that she’d tell me I had dud birds with lazy ovaries or whatever their bits are called. I worried she would tell me that even if there was enough sunlight, the birds had gone into premature henopause (AN ACTUAL THING) and I had no choice but to let them live out their egg-less days in my yards

Instead, she told me not to worry and to be patient (two things I at which I am so very bad). She also told me to look for a very red “comb” — that red fleshy bit on their heads. “Almost like lipstick,” she said.

I have no idea if this is red enough. But I also know that I was promised eggs. My neighbors were promised eggs and are consequently so excited about the eggs that they have been collecting eggs containers for me to fill.

Lois may even be excited but for now all we’ve got is chicken shit, and lots of it.


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And here we still are… (notes from a quarantine/curfew/the longest summer of my entire adult life.)

Obviously, we are all still where we are, which is where we have all been since early March and THAT is the most philosophical I can get about about all of this. At this point, I am pretty much expecting giant locust-dragon-babies to descend from the heavens and swoop us up, take us to a faraway planet made of horse-shit and pigeon feathers and leave us there for a while until Planet Earth sorts itself out.

Also, it was my birthday.

June 9 is never an easy day for me. Partly, because I will have to wait an entire year to be Queen again and mostly because I always fall victim to my own unquenchable expectations. I was not Queen for a day. I was queen for several fantastic hours, which I know is quite a good amount of time, but not when you are expecting a diamond chariot to show up and whisk you away to meet Springsteen for lunch in your brand new beach house.

I know, I know. I’m a tough customer. (Medals to M, for being a trooper. Really, it can’t be easy.)

In betters news, the pigeons, um chickens, are coming along nicely and will soon be ready for the great outdoors (in a coop, of course), which is a good thing because they stink. Right now, my nine year old works in the guest room/office which is also where the chickens live and it pretty much smells like chicken anus in there all day long. Also, this nine year old is the only girl in New York to wish for a quarantine puppy and get nine stinky chickens instead.

I meant to buy seven chickens, because you should always buy one more than you want, in case they don’t all survive the trip. This means I wanted six chickens but got nine, which makes me bad at math and is also sort of the story of my life – biting off more chickens than I can chew. (An odd thing for a vegetarian to say.)

While this feels like a lot more than any of us can chew – folks, I will be running with this metaphor until I collapse – I am hoping the communal aspect of all of this chewing, the fact that we are all entering this long, hot summer together… that unity will provide a lot more than cold comfort.

In the meantime, you can wash your hands if you want to. Put a mask on if you go outside. As it turns out, you have to do a lot less grooming with a mask on. Zits and stray facial hairs can grow with reckless abandon beneath a warm, cozy, and often sweaty face mask. You can practically turn into a spotty teenage goat and nobody will notice. (Not for nothing, guess who just Googled, “How to raise baby goats?”)

Long, hot summer, indeed….

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Two months and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna hot-wax myself to the floor. (Grooming Notes from the Great Quarantine.)

A note about the home grooming. It’s been well-over two months since anyone other than me has been involved in my upkeep. My appearance may be good enough for quarantine, but I know better. I feel like that goldfish who looks active and robust at the fair, but suddenly appears limp and grey the minute you get her  home. I may look pretty decent around the house (and let us all say a small prayer of thanks for phone and Zoom filters), but who are we kidding here? The minute I go out into mixed company, I’m gonna look like that old lady who puts on her makeup in the dark. In a moving car. With her feet. (Or that woman from the Airplane movie.)makeup on plane

I’ve been dying my hair forever, and I’ve even dyed it at home before (there was a time when M did it for me because I kept making an awful mess, dripping hair dye all over the apartment; the solution was keeping me prisoner in the bathtub until it was all over), but the addition of some highlights means that my hair is now about fourteen shades of brown, not one of which is pretty, and all of which is brassy. In a certain light, I am positively orange. I keep putting a pair of  scissors in my Amazon cart, then taking them out, because I know if they show up at the house I’m going to have no choice but to hack at the ends of my hair and none of that will turn out well.

It looks like a pubic hair went for a walk and found its way to my eyebrow. That’s all.

I may be the only person happy about the face masks because my chin is a battleground between the six stubborn zits that have set up shop there and refuse to leave and two intransigent foot-long hairs which, from the right angle, make me look like an aging billy goat. (Also, once again, can the person who keeps “borrowing” my tweezers please return them? Thank you.)

As for the neck down, the last time I got involved in any home-hot-waxing, I waxed my inner thigh to the linoleum floor. (This project also required M to cross the hall of our married student housing dorm and ask the Texan football player and his wife if we could use their microwave because we didn’t own one. To this day, I wonder if they ever figured out what I was doing.) For now, I’m leaving it all be and wearing a caftan. I’m also wearing sweats and socks and wool slippers because it’s May in NYC and it just snowed and can someone please restore order to the universe?

I’ve been gardening without gloves because my hands were already shot from all the manic hand-washing and anyway, the home manicures I’ve been doing largely involve me painting my nails minutes before I fall asleep sitting up and waking up a few hours later to find polish everywhere but my nails.

I’ve tried face masks and hair masks and I’m staring right now at a product which will force my entire foot to peel off only to reveal the foot of a baby underneath, but I don’t buy it.

None of this shit is working.

My skin is grey. My hair is orange and I just tried on a pair of jeans with a drawstring waist and I may never be going back again.

Happy Monday, people. Smile for the camera.




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Nightmares, Jello, and other notes from a Quarantine.

You would not know it from reading these pages, but I was doing alright. I mean, there were periods of rage, bewilderment and sheer what-the-fuckery happening to me on a daily basis, but more or less I was fine. I could have won a gold medal for number of times unloading the dishwasher in a single day, and even though we are living in pajamas, I was enduring marathon laundry sessions befitting an outfit-changing Southern debutante (seriously, people — what is it that I am washing exactly?), but I was ok.

Until I wasn’t.

After a close assessment of the goings-on around me, I’m pretty sure that I can blame Passover, but I can’t be one hundred percent sure it wasn’t the children’s fault. Either way, Passover ended, and I put my kitchen back together. (For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, just know that for some reason celebrating the Exodus involves changing over all our dishes, silverware and pots and pans. Also, excessive amounts of potato flour.)

And then I sank.

I sank for a few days, which involved me opening the fridge, closing it and climbing into bed. It involved me walking downstairs, making eye contact with all the people who needed me, and then climbing into bed. It involved answering the nine million requests which came my way each day, even the ones that came to me while I was in the bathroom with the door locked (side note: if you can slide a note under the door then you can probably answer the question yourself), and then climbing into bed. I climbed into bed but did not rest. I just lay there swimming in a sea of jello sadness, which is the best description I can think of. (I hate jello. I would rather have been swimming in a sea of rice pudding, but I had no say in the matter.)

And then, the dreams. I know we have all been sleeping strangely, and #CoronaDreams is a real thing, but as my cousin H. likes to say, when I get really anxious, the Nazis visit and last night I had such an awful, vivid Nazi dream that I woke up gasping for breath, and I think it had more to with my state of mind than with the fact that Yom Hashoah begins tonight, but I could be wrong about that because lately I am wrong about many things). I decided to get up and leave the Nazis in bed and when I got back a few hours later, they were gone. (I don’t know where they went, but if they came to your house next and screwed up your dreams, I’m truly sorry.)

Maybe it’s because we all thought it would be over by now. Maybe it’s because Spring is a pretty evil season to begin with (it’s raining/it’s sunny/it’s raining/it’s sunny) and it’s not like there’s much about summer we can anticipate. (Yelling, but in sundresses and shorts?) Maybe it’s because suddenly everyone wants to garden and all of the plants and seeds I buy every year are SOLD OUT. (Come on people, I’m not buying your baking shit, can’t you just leave my plants alone?)

Who knows? Either way, I can say that whatever it was began to lift this morning when I woke up (I did go back to sleep eventually and if I dreamed, I certainly don’t remember it) and realized the kids would be on some kind of schedule because school was returning and that meant I could also go back to work. Maybe it’s because it hasn’t rained yet today (sometime I wonder how I survived seven years in Seattle and then I realize that I almost didn’t). Maybe it’s because M made dinner last night while I hid in the bedroom and all I needed was a night off. (Ok, maybe I need one more.)

I hope this week is better. I hope that the daily grocery-slot lottery I play ends with a win and not the constant rejection to which I have now grown accustomed.

I hope the Nazis leave us all alone.


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And then we lost power. Dayenu. (Notes from a Quarantine.)

We were muddling along here. We made it through the Passover cleaning and Passover prep, two seders and four of the eight days of Passover and I was feeling pretty smug about things, which is usually when it all goes to shit around here. (In hindsight, the smugness was probably matza constipation — I was just all bloat.)

And then we woke up to what felt like a hurricane this morning. Ok, so we’d spend the day inside. No walks, no kicking a ball around outside, whatever. It wasn’t like the girls were fighting. It wasn’t like they were tearing each other’s hair out. It wasn’t like they’d been fighting for about six weeks straight. It wasn’t like rain was lashing against the house and there was nowhere I could go to escape the sounds of high pitch shrieking. It wasn’t like someone had started biting. Again.

You see where I’m going here.

And then the power went out. I was cleaning up from breakfast, which feels a lot like cleaning up from lunch, which is almost identical to cleaning up from dinner because it involves me alone in the kitchen after everyone has scampered off like a guilty rodent. I stuck my head outside, looked up the downpour and said, DAYENU. Take away all our friends and family. Terrify us. Cancel school. Cancel basketball. Cancel everything except for laundry. (I mean, really – you couldn’t just cancel the effing laundry?) Make us dependent on grocery delivery which is intermittent, unreliable, and no, I do not want your shitty toilet paper substitution or 200 turnips. Have us start dressing like bank robbers if we need to leave the house. Keep terrifying us. But really, you’re going to ask me to shelter in place with my kids in a blackout? It’s pouring outside and nobody is allowed to take us in, and really, who would have us anyway at this point because I’m pretty sure we’re like those pet rabbits that have been ignored, whose teeth grow over their mouths and who turn wild and feral and suddenly they’re not cute bunnies anymore. It’s been six weeks. I think. We are no longer cute bunnies. We are de-socialized and feral and now I have to drag out the candles and go all Laura Ingalls, and not in the good way — because do I love me a prairie dress.

I tried not to think about the meat in the freezer. I tried even harder not to think about the hospitals in the Bronx which had people on machines and hoped that this was not widespread and that generators were working for people who needed them.

But what I was really thinking was — dayenu. Enough already. We obviously are suffering nowhere near as much as so many around us, but that is cold comfort when you are pulling children off of each other, icing bite wounds and making a meal in the dark and suddenly everyone wants to open the fridge even though you keep screaming DO NOT OPEN THE FRIDGE.

My 18 year old, came down, looked at the candle-lit lunch offerings and I momentarily worried he’d eat my 9 year old because he was never going to be full on quinoa and what was left of the fish. The floor is filthy. My feet are cold. It is still raining.

(The one perk of no power is no Zoom b/c we are preserving battery life and all of that and apparently I’m unable to use my inside voice on Zoom. M has taken to following me around the house shushing me. “You sound like my grandmother,” he said. “You don’t need to yell.”

Really? You’re going to invoke your grandmother while I’m on Zoom, already traumatized by the sight of my face plus ten years?

“Listen, buddy,” I said to him. “I’m not gonna lie. I have no idea how this Zoom thing actually works, but I do know this. If I don’t yell the loudest, my zoom square will never light up.”

At this point M opened his mouth to speak but no words came out. I’m assuming this was because I had trumped him with my knowledge of the inner workings of Zoom.)

But at some point Zoom will be up and running again — and the lights have just flickered which means we will also soon have heat and maybe all the meat has not gone off. During a brief light flicker, I walked past a mirror and I caught a glimpse of myself. I’d allowed one of the girls to do my makeup in the first hour of the blackout and I look like a cross between RuPaul and Baby jane

Maybe the lights need to go out again.



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Chickens, Bearded Ladies and Other Hazards of Staying Put (More Notes from a Quarantine.)

While going out has it risks at the moment, staying home is not without its own hazards. Here are a few I’d be on the lookout for.

  1. My almost-eighteen year old announced he was growing a Corona-beard. Apparently, he isn’t the only one and WOULD THE CHILD WHO TOOK MY TWEEZERS TO REMOVE A SPLINTER PLEASE RETURN THEM? Check your chins, ladies. As my dear friend H. likes to say, unless you want to look like that character from the Greatest Showman, now is not the time to take your eye off the ball.
  2. The same almost-eighteen year old was supposed to be launching a senior exploration project which he now has to do from home. When an administrator on the grade-wide Zoom call suggested planting a vegetable garden as a project idea, my caffeine-addled brain jumped several giant leaps forward and it was all I could do not to unmute myself and scream, “CHICKEN COOP! CHICKEN COOP!” While I am definitely NOT the first person to decide that ordering chickens was the perfect antidote to the Great Quarantine, I do have to admit that I’ve wanted a coop since the minute we moved into this house and I took note of the narrow side garden and told M it would be perfect for a chicken run. (I may have also said a dog run, but that ship has sailed unless someone can find a breed of dog which lays eggs.) I currently have an online shopping cart packed full of delightful little chicks and while M has warned that it’s risky for someone like me (What? What?) to pass off my hopes and dreams to a second-semester senior, what could possibly go wrong?
  3. Speaking of grooming (beards), my wise middle-school daughter once told me that I didn’t have to worry about having a completely asymmetrical face because our eyebrows should be more like sisters than twins. After four weeks inside, my eyebrows don’t even look like cousins by marriage.
  4. While we are now in possession of toilet paper (some of it is single ply and dear Lord, why does everything have to be so hard?), who knows how long the current supply will last – which is why I am not abandoning the pile of clothing which I was willing to cut up for scraps and neither should you! (As for those summer pants I mentioned… Who hasn’t bought white jeans in a final (no return) summer sale? Who hasn’t bought those white jeans from a company she’s never tried before and hence has no idea how the sizing runs and oh, the sizing is European? No worries, I’ll just pick the number that makes me happiest. (I was apparently taking all sorts of risks before the Great Quarantine.) So when I tried the white jeans (again, why?) on last week and could not get them past my knees, I lay down on the bedroom floor and cried. Then I picked my sorry self up and told myself that this is not the time for weakness and threw the jeans into the emergency toilet paper pile.)
  5. To add insult to injury, next week Passover begins, as well as Easter and a whole host of festivals, none of which require a mother who has been home with her children for a month to soak her oven racks in the bathtub. (If the Hebrews knew that by leaving Egypt they’d have to start boiling their silverware and pretending to like almond macaroons, I think they’d have cut their losses and headed back.) Passover cleaning has always been a hazardous, cruel joke, but now it comes at the cruelest time (and yes, in the Cruelest Month) and if I have to take a bath with my oven racks I’m not going to make it.

I’d write more but I have to go and build a breeder in which we are supposed to be housing the chicks for a month – indoors – while their feathers grow enough to keep them warm outside. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll just let the little critters nest in my beard.


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