A Regular Week

“In extraordinary times, the ordinary takes on a glow and wonder all of its own.”
― Mike A. Lancaster, Human.4

Sometimes, weeks usher in momentous change, unexpected glories, shocking news. Some weeks are game-changers and life-changers.

Some weeks, we look back at the day it started and think, “Unbelievable. I am not the same person I was when this week started.”

Some weeks are monumental.

This week was not one of those weeks.

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This week, we’ve noticed a skunk has been visiting, turning on the motion-activated garage light several nights in a row.

There was no rain this week, so we walked each morning. And we had a string of hot, hot days, so the morning air was fresh but not chill. This week, we got used to setting the alarm and dragging our butts out of bed before the sun comes up.

One morning, as we got ready to walk, Mark stepped out on the back slab, and he called me.

“Come and see,” he said, kind of urgent but whispery.

I thought one of the deer mamas was back there with twins or triplets, so I started over. But then Mark started throwing smack talk out into the yard.

“Yeah,” he said. “Yeah, I see you, Pepe’ LePew. I see you in my yard. You need to move on now. That’s right: you go somewhere else!”

“Are you welling at a SKUNK?” I asked, and I turned around and headed quickly back to the dining room.

Mark stepped back into the house. Well, he strutted a little.

“Yeah,” he said. “I sent that polecat packing.”

I thought it might be a good idea to wait a minute or two before we started our walk. We headed out just as dawn was getting serious. We saw a runner in fancy clothes, a comfortable couple around our age in safety reflective gear, a no-nonsense walker with headphones on who was pumping her arms up and down. We saw an old black dog with a white, white muzzle sniffing at the sidewalk. When we got close, he put down his head and turned, tail tucked, to head back to his house.

We saw Jay, the friendly realty guy, walking his playful blue-eyed musky-dog. We saw a mama deer and a baby deer poised warily next to a lawn where dogs often romp, reined in by an electric fence.

We did NOT see the skunk.

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On Tuesday, Jim and I drove out past the classic Denny’s, out to Old Wheeling Road, and we found the headquarters of RHDD. We were meeting Jim’s wonderful case-worker, Rachael, and she was going to introduce us to the Lauras.

The Lauras handle transportation for their organization. They showed Jim the bus and the van. One of the Lauras and one of the vehicles would arrive at the house to pick him up each morning, from the 24th on, and take him to class.

We met outside, social distancing, but a Laura offered to show Jim the bus and the van. They were baking inside, but Jim gamely climbed on the bus and checked out the seating, poked his head in the van. He learned what doors he’d use, allowing for safe distances between drivers and riders, and he and the Lauras agreed on a pickup time for the first week.

This was exciting: Jim starts back to college on the 24th, and he will not have to rely on Mom and Dad for transportation. He’ll have his own ride, thank you very much, and he’ll see us when he gets home.

He was strutting a little, too, when he thanked everyone and climbed back into the car. Rachael pulled out and we followed her back to Zanesville, where she and Jim met in a picnic pavilion behind her office while I got some steps in.

“That was a great meeting,” said Jim.

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On Wednesday, I came home from work, and thought about dinner. I thought about chopped and slicing, and stirring and simmering, and what I thought was this: I don’t want to do that.

So for dinner Wednesday night, Mark went out and got a loaf of bread, and we grilled cheese sandwiches, with American cheese and gouda, or Havarti, or Colby-jack. And we had soup: Tuscan sausage and white bean soup for Mark and me, which involved lifting a container from the freezer and reheating. Jim had a bowl of Lipton’s chicken noodle soup with his grilled cheese.

Jim’s father and I both told him what a treat that was when we were growing up—how Lipton was an exotic break from Campbell’s chicken noodle.

It was one of those nights when the sandwiches grilled up perfectly—brown and crusty, oozing cheese,—and the steaming soups tasted wonderful.

“Yum,” said Mark, and, “That was a great dinner,” Jim said.

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On Thursday, though, the college announced that it was moving classes to an on-line format. No rides would be needed.

“Oh, well,” said Jim. He seemed to be an odd combination of disappointed and relieved, which is, maybe, status quo for pandemic days. We’ll call his advisor, we decided, on Monday, talk about tutoring, and see whether that will be on-line, or via Zoom, or safely distanced face to face.

And then he’ll call and change his arrangements with Rachael and the Lauras.

***************************************

This week, I stopped at the library and picked up Kamala Harris’s The Truths We Hold, so I could learn a little more about this woman making history. I went to the last session of a racism discussion (went, via Zoom) at our public library. It was a ‘Where do we go from here?’ session, and I left with ideas and paths to explore. This week I learned to write a press release in a template format, and to include ‘boilerplate’ language below, and, under excellent tutelage, I expanded my technology knowledge to navigate a little more effectively in the on-line world.

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We all had Friday off this week, and Mark finished painting the basement walls, and I dust-mopped and vacuumed. Jim unrolled a new area rug in the family room, and laid two by fours on the edges to get it to lay down flat. Then he walked on it, barefoot.

This is a nice rug,” he said.

This week I ordered soft, velvety navy-blue throws to go on the new recliners we ordered last week. The throws will arrive long before the recliners do, but we think that’s okay. I ordered a single set of navy-blue curtains, too,–curtains to coordinate with the drapes on the bay window, and which can be pulled to block the sun that glares in at 7 p.m., shining on the big screen TV and erasing the picture.

This week I ordered groceries on-line in the morning and went to pick them up in the evening. And I looked forward to meeting friends for coffee. We’d meet in a park pavilion, and we would each bring our own drink and nosh. But I was excited to return to a certain degree of normalcy,—not saying that COVID is no longer here, but saying maybe we can navigate it differently. Maybe the things that enrich life—Saturday morning coffee with friends, touching base with loved ones, being there to share things,—are things we can still have. We just have to re-imagine their delivery.

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This week was about process, not outcome; it was a week when things continued, or groundwork got laid, or learning took place. There were no fireworks and no stunning surprises. It was a hard-working week with nice little breaks. We even, I think, all snuck a little nap in on Friday.

But, “This was a nice week,” said Jim, and his words make me spread it out, look back over it, pick up the week’s fabric and run it between my rough and gnarled fingers. I have to agree.

4 thoughts on “A Regular Week

  1. Kimberly Allen

    I love your posts about ordinary life. It is all those social rituals and day to day things that build a life. Quite a lot happened. Good luck to Jim with college.

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