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.’”