Monday, June 29, 2020

covid notes 11

I don’t know if any of you remember Fat Red Ant from our original 365 project, but she’s the one who got me into the blogging world. Her last year has been crazy. Her recently retired husband was diagnosed with leukemia and needed a bone marrow transplant. Even before covid blew up, they had to get ready to quarantine, given what would become his complete lack of an immune system. Her husband found a perfect match in his brother, and the transplant was scheduled. But because of the virus, FRA wasn’t allowed in the hospital at all during the several weeks that he was there. Could not walk in the door. Can you imagine?

He’s doing extremely well, now a couple of months or so out, but even without covid he would still be quarantined. His diet is beyond restricted (nothing fresh—again, can you imagine?). Nothing anyone else has made, which means that the incredible brownies I delivered could not be consumed by him. I thought that might be true, so I left the recipe so that FRA could make them for him herself, if necessary, in her “spare time.”

FRA—and her husband too, but possibly to a lesser extent—are recent birders. This new hobby is lifesaving. She’s an amazing photographer, and her photos of birds are exquisite. She’s obsessed in the best way. Like many outdoor hobbies, when one is birding, one is really in the moment, and when life is so troubled, finding ways to be in the moment is priceless.

She had several indigo buntings at her feeder about six weeks ago, and Tim and I raced over to see, because last year I didn’t see a single one! She was excited because it had been years since she’d had a sighting, maybe this many years: When she helped me set up my 365 blog and I needed a name, I remembered something she had said the night before—that she’s an atheist, but when she saw an indigo bunting, she thought it might be proof that there’s a god. I needed a handle for my blog and that comment, fresh in my mind, gave me my name.

They’ve borrowed my BigYear DVD and then the book.

I left what bourbon I could at her doorstep the day she left him at the hospital (alas, I hadn’t been shopping recently, what with the lockdown, and it wasn’t a full bottle).

And another thing I’ve left—and reader, this is the point of this post—is her favorite junk food, Cheez-Its. There was a big sale at the grocery store (she’d alerted me to this)—two for $5 or $6 or something. So I bought two boxes, left her one, and took one home. Because if I was actually buying junk food, and my memory was that I really like Cheez-Its, why not treat myself?

It was the classic flavor. Truth be told, I’d been on the lookout for white cheddar. I followed up with FRA to ask her favorite flavor, which turned out to be Italian four cheese. So I went back to the store and bought four more boxes—three Italian, one white—and left her a couple of Italian, taking one for myself, plus the white cheddar.

The Italian four cheese is really, really good. Still, there’s something about the white cheddar that makes me happy.

I’ve been doing a pretty good job of ignoring the Cheez-Its the past few trips to the grocery store, putting on a second mask to serve as a blinder as I walk past that aisle. But yesterday they were on sale AGAIN and Tim let me buy one box of white cheddar. This is the first time I didn’t buy one for FRA too.*

So after years and years of having nothing like this in the house (because if it’s there, I’ll eat it), I’m beginning to wonder—or perhaps realize—that I have a Cheez-It problem.

And that, obviously, is the  point of this story: Another person’s leukemia and bone marrow transplant coupled with the covid-19 pandemic has led directly to my Cheez-It downfall.**

*OMG. I’m a monster. Maybe I should go back while they are still on sale and buy a couple of boxes and leave them for FRA. If I buy two, maybe I could bring the second one home…? No. No. Both are for her. Must be a better person. Must turn to a higher power.
**There must be someone who isn’t me to blame. “‘If it was the wind,’ said Owl, considering the matter, ‘then it wasn’t Pooh’s fault. No blame can be attached to him.’”


  1. I remember Fat Red Ant! And I remember thinking she was a him for the longest time. I am glad her husband found a match and has a potential lifeline. This whole story is endearing and reminds me of the box of original flavor cheezits I have in my pantry. They are one of my favorites, beaten out by the frito on occasion. And Indigo Buntings as proof/indication of God, I can get. The first time I saw one I thought "how can a living thing be so blue?"

    This is my second comment here, the first was on my phone and if it came through just delete because I am better on a keyboard.

    1. I cannot type on the phone. Argh. A Facebook memory came up for me today that said "It's a Fritos and bourbon kinda night."

  2. I remember Fat Red Ant too. They've been through a tough time - what a blessing* to have an Indigo Bunting to help them through it. I don't, of course, know what cheezits taste like (having googled them I think I can guess), but the fact that you both have a cheezits addiction is clearly indicative of the bond you share.

    Your last sentence (bar the footnotes) is simply brilliant. It is soooooo good to read you again.

    *and I'm not someone who ever uses the word blessing. In fact, it's not really much of a kiwi word, though it is creeping in to our vernacular as a result of the influence of media/social media from the US. But it seemed appropriate.

  3. 1. I remember the name Fat Red Ant, and seem to recall that I really, really liked her writing. I'm glad she has such good friends and neighbours to support her through all these ordeals.

    2. No, I cannot (in reply to your first "Can you imagine." My reply to the second one was a less definitive, "Sort of.").

    3. I hope Fat Red Ant doesn't read this post and discover that the last time you went on a Cheez-Its run you didn't buy any for her. I may have to rescind the bit in #1 about "good friends and neighbours."

    4. I laughed at the double masking to shield yourself from the siren call of the Cheez-Its. And cried at your eventual downfall.

  4. I, too, remember Fat Red Ant. No, I cannot imagine anything in your first paragraph -- what a terrible thing to happen now.

    You are certainly a good friend.

    OMG, Cheez-its. I love them and this post made me really really want some. I've not tried the Italian four cheese variety, but I will try them someday. My current favorite snack that we have in the house is "Dot's Pretzels". My sister-in-law served us some in February when we were there for my aunt's funeral and I've been ordering them from Amazon ever since.