The ‘quarantimes’ category

The Quarantimes Week 11: I Do It Myself

May 25th, 2020


We were in the garden attempting to transplant tomatoes and cucumbers with minimal drama when my instant-gratification-inclined daughters asked, “Don’t you wish you could plant a seed and just get a cucumber?”

“Like, right now?” I attempted to clarify, but they were already off to the house to find a cucumber in the fridge. That was the first step in the cucumber, carrot, and apple “salad” they envisioned making — by themselves, of course.

They insisted on doing all the peeling, chopping, and assembling. I am fine with the peeling and in fact often try to shirk this responsibility off on them anyway, but cutting vegetables with a sharp knife didn’t seem all that wise considering that they’re five and both clumsy and careless. 

Also, while they did acquiesce to washing their hands before they started “cooking,” they did such a terrible job that I then spent 45 minutes watching them absolutely butcher some poor vegetables whilst smearing them with garden dirt. It was an unappetizing scene, but they, satisfied with their hard work, each ate a large bowl of the salad. It’s a fine line between immune-boosting and parasite-causing.


I have this idea of gardening with my kids that is nothing like the reality. I gave them each their own plot in a corner of the garden, pounded in a stake with their name painted on it, and arranged a decorative border of stones. I helped them mound up dirt for a row of carrots and plant pea seeds by pushing their finger into the dirt.

But they will not weed for anything. Weeding seems like it should be a kid-friendly activity, but they have zero interest. I love weeding and wish they would just leave me alone to get in the ultra-satisfying OCD weeding zone. But unfortunately I can never get quite into that zone because, meanwhile, they’re walking the tightrope of stones between my carrot bed and my onion bed to see how long they can keep their balance before plummeting onto a plot of delicate seedlings.

Another favorite gardening activity: dragging the unwilling cat around the garden to show her the plants. And another: digging up worms, putting them in a bucket of muddy water, then leaving the bucket in the sun and forgetting about it for days. And another, my least favorite of the gardening games: the “Can I step here?” game. 

Can I step here?


Can I step here?


What about here?


Steps there anyway. Mom cries.

My job right now is not to be relaxed. My job is to teach them independence and fearlessness. 

. . . . . . . . . . . .

What I’m eating:

The couscous salad was modified from this New York Times cooking recipe. I did not put it on a bed of romaine, and did not have tomatoes, but I did add a bunch of basil. 

What I’m reading:

Many of you probably saw the clip going around of the front page of the New York Times this weekend. The online version is really touching, too: An Incalculable Loss

Beautiful: Scenes Of Isolation Amid Pandemic In The Vermont Countryside

Numbers always help me cope: From Camping To Dining Out: Here’s How Experts Rate The Risks Of 14 Summer Activities

What I’m watching:

My husband and I have a hard time agreeing on movies, and TV is impossible. I like Fleabag and Schitt’s Creek. He likes Westerns. I let him suggest the last three movies. 

  1. Hostiles. I love Christian Bale. I did not make it past the credits of this one. No.

  2. Ford Vs. Ferrari. Again, I love Christian Bale. I watched this one, but it was tough.

  3. The Lighthouse. If your idea of escapism right now is a black-and-white art flick set in 1890 where two deranged lighthouse keepers stuck on a remote island during a storm go slowly mad, with lots of scary seagull metaphors, you will definitely enjoy this.

You’ll note that none of these movies have a surplus of female characters.

I am picking the next movie.

What I’m listening to:

The kids’ podcast But Why from Vermont Public Radio (VPR) is pretty great. 

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