The Quarantimes Week 7: Apple Muffins and Angst

April 28th, 2020


On Saturday the girls suggested we make apple muffins. I wasn’t sure where they got this idea, but cooking is obviously a favorite pastime of mine, and I am always happy to share it with my kids. I found a recipe in one of my new favorite cookbooks, Whole Food Cooking Every Day, and began to assign ingredients to collect. 

Things unraveled quickly, with flour everywhere and squabbling over who would cut the apples (answer: only mom). It took a while to get the muffins off the ground. As we were rounding the bend to finally get them in the oven, Phoebe exclaimed, “All this cooking is making me hungry!” Then, my empowered Montessori kids helped themselves to a snack of bananas, crackers, pretzels, cheese, and, yes, apples. 

Naturally, they were no longer hungry or in the mood for apple muffins. Luckily, I can eat three muffins at once, it turns out.


I feel like food has become everything lately. It’s the one place in life that still feels under control and holds the potential for simple joy.

Every day, I hear about deaths. Mostly people tangential to me — my friend’s boss’s brother in Massachusetts, my other friend’s stepfather’s uncle in New York, the people who work at the grocery store next to my other friend’s shop in Brooklyn, a pair of local twins my brother worked with for decades.

These are all peripheral people — until they’re not. Because they could easily be my brother, or my uncle, or my favorite checker at my favorite grocery. They could be someone in my family. They could be me.

The deaths are the worst case, of course, but I know many people who’ve been very sick. Several close friends my age or younger — super healthy people in general — who described it as the worst experience of their lives, way beyond just “a flu.” I can think of three friends offhand whose mothers have had it — at least, they think so, although only one was tested, because it’s been incredibly difficult to get tested nearly everywhere. Regardless, they were bedridden for weeks. 

I’ve been back on Facebook for the first time in years, which of course is exposing me to all the wild and varied opinions about COVID-19. When I see people express their strong opinions that it’s “no big deal,” “just the flu,” “barely affecting anyone,” “a hoax,” I wonder, have they been affected personally yet?

In so many ways, although no one in my immediate family has gotten sick, COVID has upended my life. My husband’s job as an RN at a nursing home has become harrowing and beyond stressful. Getting groceries has become a feat of bravery and cunning. My freelance work has slowed way down; I worry daily about money. 

My kids haven’t seen other kids in months. Their speech is going to shit and they’re quickly becoming feral. We have no idea how school is going to go next year, and at this point, I am skeptical about whether we’ll ever have “normal” school again. Panicking reading this, although deep down I know it’s true: 9 Ways Schools Will Look Different When (And If) They Reopen.

Also, there have been all the silver linings — so many. The time together as a family, the return to the simple things, the tuning in to the rhythms of nature, both outside our doors and within our bodies and minds. The fact that I now think of ticks as a mere nuisance instead of the worst thing that can happen to us. 


What I’m reading:


A piece in the Portland (Maine) Press Herald about Giving Birth in the Midst of Pandemic featuring my good friend Melissa Motzkin’s recent experience birthing her son Arlo

‘Allostatic Load’ Is the Psychological Reason for Our Pandemic Brain Fog on Vice — this is why you feel so tired all the time.

What I’m listening to:

There is this one Alabama Shakes song I am crazy about, but otherwise never got into the band. A recent profile in the New Yorker made me rethink that. Now I am in full-bore Alabama Shakes mode.

What I’m watching:

Brad Pitt as Anthony Fauci on SNL, very cute.

What I’m eating:

Like, literally everything in sight, including in just the last week homemade tacos, skillet ravioli, roasted red pepper soup, roasted chicken with parsnips, homemade pizza, apple muffins, cream of broccoli and cheddar soup, potato-leek gratin, and sauteed haddock. 




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