Saturday, March 27, 2021

Miser family update: many cows edition

 Life continues to be rich and full in the Miser Family Household.  This week, in honor of my birthday, we are particularly abundant in cows.

Back story:  a few years ago when I was in high school, I took "Calculus" with a bunch of punsters, so we called it "Cow-Class".  To celebrate at the end, a friend gave me a cow, which led to another cow gift, and then another, . . . .  Now I'm the proud possessor of a vast herd of hundreds of cows:  cow staplers, cow toothbrushes, stuffed cows (but of course), origami cows, cow figurines . . . as I clean out my office I've brought home several full shopping carts full of cows.  (Do you like my Merrick-cow Garland in the collage above?)  And yet, late this week, a new economist walking by my open office door peeked in and commented, "I like all your cows".   If it's black and white and has a face, there's a chance I own it.  My sisters say, "It's not Christmas until Miser Mom gets a cow", so it's wonderful to get these cow photos today.  Rich in cows; so very very rich.

My actual "cow class" book from high school.  
(The school was moving to a new text,
so our teacher let us keep the ones we had).

Sometimes with these family updates, I do an interview with someone.  I've had relatives asking me to complete my own interview questions, and since it's my very own birthday and my very own family letter, I am pleased to oblige.   Here is a deeper peek into everything that is me (aside from the cows). 

What things were you doing a year ago that you're not doing now?

Teaching Calculus.  That's also an answer to "what things were you doing a month ago . . . ?".  I've been teaching calculus for 3.5 decades now, and now all of a sudden I'm done. 

Also, giving math talks.  I love public speaking, and there have been years when I've traveled around to give a dozen talks at different places.   Last spring, we canceled three different talks I was scheduled to give because the pandemic just shut it all down.  One of those events has been rescheduled, and I'll give that talk virtually in a few weeks.  But I miss driving to different schools to visit with people who I can talk to about the cool stuff I like working on. 

What occupies your days, nowadays? (Sometimes people ask, "what do you do?", meaning, "what's your job?", but many people in our family don't have traditional jobs or paid employment at all, so this is a more general question).

On a typical workday, I wake up at 5:45,  throw on a bunch of running clothes, and run a few miles with my main running buddy.    

Work starts around 8:00 (in calculus days) or 8:30 (nowadays), with a lot of alternating between Zoom meetings and email, or between email and Zoom meetings.  For example, in the upcoming week, I have 20 different Zoom meetings already scheduled, and that's not counting the ones that will pop into my schedule as the week continues.   Four of those are related to my research; almost all the others are committee meetings of one kind or another. The longest is 3 hours; the shortest is a half-hour. 

In the evening, my husband makes dinner for me and N-son, and then my guy and I walk around the block together holding hands, and then after he does dishes, we watch a TV show.  (Right now, we're in Season 3 of Une Village Francaise).  I need to get to sleep pretty close to 9 because I turn into a zombie right around 9:30.  Do not get near me after 9:30; I'm not nice then.  

Tell me a bit about your hobbies.
Giving people advice.  I think I love that most of all.  Do you need any?  When it comes to advice, I'm full of it!

Also, making stuff out of things that aren't that stuff:  like, making a bookshelf out of trash-picked dining room table, or canning fruits or turkey stock, or sewing a smiley-face mask out of an old bedsheet, or painting a gray wall so that it's a happy color.   

Kind of related to the above, but different, keeping my family in contact of one form or another.  (Because my family is made out of stuff that wasn't a family at first).   I'm not particularly good at small-talk or reaching out with phone calls, but I'm pretty good at rituals, so I rock my strengths here and let the rest go.

When you treat yourself to a bit of "me" time or special indulgences, what does that involve for you? (Example: For me, crossword puzzles, chocolate, coffee).
Hey!  That's the same as me!   Crossword puzzles, chocolate, coffee.  

Five years from now, what kinds of things do you hope you'll be doing that you haven't done yet or aren't doing now?  
Yeah, good question.  I'm about to become an associate dean for 3 years, and then I'll have a sabbatical, and then (the plan goes), I'll retire.  So 5 years from now I won't be doing the committee stuff and maybe not the email stuff either.

What will I be doing instead?  I have two book projects I want to work on; I also want to organize/digitize a bunch of family memorabilia and then get the physical stuff Out Of My House Darn It, and I'd love to enroll at our local technical school and learn welding.  And start playing banjo again.  I'm already doing crosswords-coffee-chocolate, but maybe I'll do even more of that 5 years from now.

Describe some of your favorite household gadgets or treasures.
I think I live in a magnificent world, and I keep being delighted by so much of it.  After our bedbug experience was finally over, for example, I had a newfound heartfelt appreciation of the bath mats under my feet.  If I can get all warm-and-fuzzy about bath mats, just imagine how worked-up I can get about other things.  Here are a few of the many things that make my life happier than I think I deserve to be:
  • my daily planner
  • canning jars
  • cordless drill
  • hot water kettle
  • quiet dishwasher (so quiet it's a constant source of jokes between me and my husband)
  • roll-top desk my dad made for me
  • power block weights
  • soap that my grasshopper friend made
  • purple porch bench that I made out of broken fence boards
  • instant pot
  • running shoes that I bought for $1 in 2009 that are still my favorite winter shoes
  • stainless steel canning jar funnels (seriously, I smile every time I use them)
  • my chalk boards, and my hagoromo chalk, purchase pre-pandemic in a bout of incredible good-fortune-ESP
  • rechargeable bike lights

Are there any questions I should have asked you, but didn't?
"What did you get for your birthday?" 
Ohmygosh, I'm glad you asked.  My research students gave me an awesome proof of a theorem we've been trying to pull together for a bit over a year, and it's the kind of beautiful theorem that's going to spin off lots of beautiful new results and I'm very excited about that.  I got cloth napkins from my frugal dad, and a quilt my sister made out of "pieces of fabric too small to save".  I got warm wishes from lots of people, and a photo of my granddaughter that I'd asked for so long ago that I forgot about it and so it was a lovely surprise to get it.  I got chocolate in glass jars that I can give back to get more chocolate in the future.  I got new sewing scissors, and then I got lots and lots of pictures of cows.

And that's the news from our family, which continues to be wealthy in our adventures.  May you and yours be similarly prosperous.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The Scary Doorknob is one year old


I added these stickers because my daughter was freaking out about doorknobs a year ago and I wanted to make her laugh.   The stickers have held up remarkably well.

Scary doorknob says, "Remember to wash your hands with soap and water".  

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Miser Family Matching update

 Life continues to be rich and full in the Miser Family household.  This week we're particularly rich in all things medical, and particularly in medical matches.   If you didn't know it already, Friday was "Match Day": the day all graduating doctors in the USA match to residency! It's a huge milestone -- much more important and celebrated than med school graduation, even. 

In support of our very own incipient doctor, Y, our family explored the exciting question: "what kind of doctor would YOU be?"  And we have to give huge high-fives to the state of Georgia, which discovered Friday that it will be lucky enough to be receiving as a new resident one of my very favorite graduating doctors.  We're glad to be a family surrounding her with love and congratulations.

Every new resident needs a full set of lab coats, and L1's pooches are proudly displaying theirs.   (Maybe Y will want a lab coat that's a little less furry, though).  A-child also has good equipment: she's ready to be "a... Puzzle doctor! This is a super cool (and more complex than I thought for her age) puzzle of the human body. It includes the skeletal, respiratory, endocrine, digestive and circulatory systems".  And my guy, even though retired from a career in public relations, is still nonetheless a practicing spin doctor.  

N-son, upon hearing the theme, immediately claimed "Dr. Seuss!" and I-daughter suited right up as "The" Doctor (Doctor Who, but of course).

L2 is ready to be a heart doctor.  Me? I couldn't decide between "math doctor" and "family doctor".  Hmmmm . . . . but my sister-in-law settled quickly on her talent as a plastic surgeon.   Whoop, us!

On a different medical theme, my guy got a phone call from our pharmacy recently saying they just happened to have a vaccine they might give him, should he want it . . . after a bit of back-and-forth, he convinced them to include N-son in the line-up, and so Thursday, both of them got their vaccine!  More whoop!  

Thursday turned out to be a big day for N-son in another arena, as well.  On Monday, he went for a job interview, and they gave him the job!  His interviewer even told my guy, "He's the golden child . . . I wish all of my job candidates could be like N-son".  They loved his people skills and his general get-along-ability.  So, Wednesday he had his orientation, and Thursday (right after his vaccine), he was unloading trucks at the Domestic Clutter Emporium!  

Love the apron (red is his color) and name tag!  What a happy young man!  

And not to be left out of the Impressive Accomplishment Roster, I just need to say that I-daughter has made it through round 1 of Sock Madness successfully; here is the evidence: beaded socks.  As in, socks with beads knitted in.  And apparently they're comfortable even with the beads, even when worn under shoes.  Hecka Impressive, indeed.

Oooh!  And there's been a rare J-son sighting.  He happened to make the mistake of calling N-son while the latter was at my home (as I was serving up generous helpings of bean pizza), and so I commandeered the earbud and goggled at his new beard.  

He says life is bumpy (well, beards are bumpy, too!), and that he's successfully filed his own taxes for the first time.  He did not want any bean pizza, thank you anyway.  He has declined to say what kind of doctor he would be, although I think he's had a lot of experience as a boxer rearranging other people's faces, so maybe he could team up with my sister-in-law.   Or she could swoop in after him and fix things up.  Or something.

As for me, I've graded my 20-ish calculus exams but am behind on writing mid-semester evaluations for the 20 students in my research seminar, and I still have to read about 20 more job applications.   So even though my calculus class is done, I'm not yet bored and lacking for Valuable Tasks to occupy my time.  Rich and full, my life is.  It's rich and full.

And that's the news from our family, which continues to be wealthy in our adventures (and danged proud of Y).  May you and yours be similarly prosperous.    

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

The dining room table that wanted to be a bookshelf

 If you just wait for something long enough (and keep your eyes open), sometimes it comes to you.  

This is just such a story about waiting and receiving.   The story begins with waiting.  In the middle, the circular saw make a guest appearance.  In the end, books.   

The waiting begins

Here's the waiting part:  two Julys ago (that is, July 2019), my husband and I moved into a new, smaller home.  During the move, I used my college math office (with its approximately one-gazillion feet of bookshelves) as a temporary staging place for a bunch of books that would eventually move with us, once I got bookshelves installed in the new place.  

But because it's me, there was no the heck way I was just going to go out and purchase bookshelves for the new place.   Firstly, there were a bunch of other big things we wanted to do in the home -- change walls from gray to happy colors, install grab bars in places that need them, yada yada.  Secondly, the environmentalist in me hates being the reason for new consumer goods.  Thirdly, the frugalist in me hates paying money for something when I'm pretty sure I can get it for patience instead of for pennies.  So, the waiting begins.

Oh, yeah, and then there was a pandemic, which became yet another reason to avoid stores.

I did the usual casual ask-around thing when I thought about it (anyone happen to have spare lumber lying around?), but mostly I didn't think about it.  Life is good, and my poetry books don't seem to mind hanging out in a math office.   There are other things I keep hoping to randomly find lying around -- our four-wheeled garden cart isn't as useful at our new place, and I'd love to replace it with one of those two-wheeled foldable grocery carts, for example.  But there's no hurry for any of this, really.

Except.  At any rate, next July I'm going to have to move all my stuff out of my college office, because I'm becoming a dean.  Being a dean means I'll make more money (which I actually don't need), but have fewer bookshelves (which I kinda do need), but somehow I decided to take one for the team and accept the job anyway.  So the bookshelf/lumber hunt got a bit more urgent.  

The waiting is over

Just about every evening after dinner, my husband and I take a walk around the block.  (We hold hands, so adorable, and we wave at the people who hang out on their porches, and I point out the state of the moon while he points out the interesting cars that go by.   It's a nice ritual).  About a week ago, we did our usual walk on trash night, and I noticed that one of our neighbors had put an entire dining room table at the curb.  One of the legs had snapped off, but the rest of the table was in perfect shape, a giant 38"x64" slab of lumber just lying there waiting for the next morning's trash trucks to come by and haul it off to a landfill.  Ding!  I was ready to do my part for the environment by rescuing that table from its garbage-y fate.  We added a second loop-around-the-block and carried the table home.

I took some measurements and sketched out a division on my trusty old chalkboard (oh, yeah, and now you can see that a professional mathematician doesn't trust that she can actually do "38 - 24" in her head). 

The best part about bringing something like this home is disassembling it.  There's something in me that loves unscrewing stuff and reducing it to its component pieces.   I got a bunch of really nice screws, which are probably worth it even apart from the rest of the table.  

Enter the circular saw.  

A bit of measuring, and a lot of noise . . .  

. . . and soon the table looked like this: a bunch of boards.  
I carried the boards up the Command Center, grabbed my totally awesome cordless drill, and put the table back together again, in a completely new form.  Like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly! Or a tadpole turning into a frog!  Only it's a table turning into a bookshelf.  

And, a day or two of fun painting later, the bookshelf tucked itself right into the corner, like it had always belonged there.  I love the multiple colors of paint and variation (which happily camouflage the carpentry bloopers that I lovingly include in every woodworking project I undertake). 

Notice how perfectly this fits -- that's a great benefit of making the shelf myself.  You can't quite see it from this angle, but the shelves stick out of the back, so that the uprights are flush with the baseboard trim, but the shelves reach all the way back to the wall.  The 24" width means the shelf fits right into that space, and the height means I don't have to rehang those pictures on the wall to the left.  

Bonus find

And then, one week later, as my husband did our walk around the block and it happened to be trash day yet again, we walked by not one, but two two-wheeled shopping carts.  In excellent condition.  So now I not only have a most excellent bookshelf, but I also have a most excellent way to cart my books from my office to my home, so the bookshelf won't be empty much longer.   I feel like Eeyore on his birthday!

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Miser Family update: favorite chairs

Well, life continues to be rich and full in the Miser Family household.  This week, we're particularly rich in our favorite chairs.  

 Some of us have favorite high chairs --- don't think those are just for kids. My sister-in-law shows us, "My favorite chair photo with my man in North Conway. We are surrounded by trees. I don’t see many trees here in the desert!"  

Some of us have favorite chairs for eating in -- L1 shares her "Favorite chair of the year because I can sit with family having dinner for the first time since the pandemic ❤️"   And of course, B-child's favorite chair is both high and good for eating stuff in.

Chairs can serve for work and for rest simultaneously, as Y notes:  "This is my "thinking chair," which was saved from the landfill, beside a tree from my friend, lamp from a previous professor, and prayerful art/photos.", and similarly I give you a glimpse of "my favorite chair, in the command center, right in front of my newly made shelves (that a week ago were someone else's discarded dining room table)"

Chairs can be great for cozying up outdoors:  my husband shows the purple adirondack love seat (with wheels!) that I made, and N-son shared a porch chair he sits on in good weather.  And of course chairs can be great for cozying up indoors, too (I-daughter closes us out with "My favorite chair, aka the reading nest in my library/billiards room".

We had some good outdoor/indoor action late this week.  Friday was my very last day of teaching calculus, and after my class ended, it was like the offspring parade began:

  • N-son, Prewash, and I had a great warm-weather masked porch visit from K-daughter and the grandkids:  A-child and B-child.  Whoop!  
  • I got to have a zoom meeting with I-daughter and a former student of mine -- one who'd lived in our home for a few months -- and his own three-year old twins.  My grand-students?  
  • And then later in the day, L1 came to visit.  She's been fully vaccinated, so she came indoors and had dinner with us (as the photo above shows).   
  • Then today, Y visited and got to go for coffee with my guy.  
So I've gotten to see a majority of my kids this week, which has been a real treat.

Did I mention that Friday was my very last day of teaching calculus?  Yes, I think I did.   As a kind of a gift (?), I'd promised my students that they could each take a make-up quiz for whichever quiz they felt they'd done the worst on this class, and almost all of my students took me up on that offer.  So my last class was mostly quiz-taking, and not very cathartic . . . especially since one of my students cheated again and this time I had to start a formal academic integrity case instead of just putting a warning in his file.  Sigh.

It was a year ago that I had my very last day of in-person calculus; that day, I held class in our art museum, and when the students left I got to hug a couple of them good-bye.  That felt like a much better closure, even though the class hadn't ended.  

This next week, I'll give final exams, and then after that I'll have 6 more weeks of working with a bunch of research teams in a half-credit seminar, so I'm not completely done teaching.  But I'm done teaching calculus, and this marks a huge change in my life.

So much has changed . . . including the fact that now I sometimes get to hit my son with a wooden spoon, which is actually a lot of fun.  His glucose monitor applicator sometimes gets stuck to the monitor itself, which means that the whole contraption is stuck to his body, and the nurse told him that the best way to get it off is to --- I swear I'm not making this up --- hit it with a wooden spoon.  Well, earlier this week N-son called me down from my Command Center because the applicator was glommed onto his body, so I grabbed a wooden spoon and whacked a bunch of times, and, wouldn't you know, it worked?!   The applicator came unstuck and the monitor stayed on his belly, just like they were both supposed to do.  Since then, I've hit N-son with a wooden spoon a few more times just in case that helps with future applicators, but he thinks maybe I'm going a little overboard.  

And that's the news from our family, which continues to sit pretty in our adventures.  May you and yours rest easy, too.  

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Thoughts on things that turn off

The used-stuff market is an awesome place.  A couple years ago, I thought I might like having an electric water kettle, and I snagged one for $10 off of Craigslist.  Do I like it?  Indeed I do . . . enough that when I saw a fancier model on my college's bulletin board a few months ago, I snagged that one, too.  (What makes it fancier?  The second one has a stainless steel interior and is insulated, so the hot water stays hot longer).  

I so much love the ability to put water on to boil and then walk away . . . it makes my mornings much, much easier, because I can start the water for my oatmeal and tea as I come back from a run, and take a shower while the breakfast water is heating up, and then come back downstairs to water ready to pour.  Whoop!

I was being grateful in my head about this kettle earlier this week, and decided to start a list of "Things that turn off by themselves".   My husband helped me add to this list.  

 What turns off?  There are modern kitchen gadgets that change the way I cook:

  • the hot water kettle, aforementioned
  • Instant Pot 
There are things I set to timers each time I use them:
  • the bathroom fan
  • the microwave (but I wish it went ALL the way off; ours keeps beeping annoyingly until we come back and open the door)
There are things on timers that cycle on and off appropriately, to fit the schedules of our life:
  • Christmas lights
  • our radiators
There are annoying office lights that turn on and off according to motion sensors that have very little to do with whether I'm actually in the office at the danged time they turn on or off [grump grump grump]

There are things that I had forgotten to appreciate for their ability to turn off when done . . . just imagine a life where people had to both start and stop these, and you'll see what I mean:
  • toaster
  • dishwasher
  • toilets 
And then there are things that just stop whenever they want:
  • Prewash

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Miser family update: pockets

Life continues to be rich and full in the Miser Family Household. This week we're rich with deep pockets.  Pockets and pockets full of richness, that's us!

Here's what we say about our pockets (in age order, not photo order, so you can have fun playing matching games if you want).  

  • My guy:  "Bike shirt pocket. Phone in left pocket in addition to the headphones"  (Also pictured: bike tire repair kit, wallet, mask).
  • His sister carries a very different set of objects:  "My keys, my lipstick and a hand sanitizer. . . . I use a lot less lipstick thanks to my mask."
  • Me:  "sunglasses (found a decade ago in a highway rest stop parking lot), newspaper for dog poop (because Prewash is trained to poop on top of the paper on command, for easy clean-up), chapstick, and a spare mask."
  • L1:  "Dog treats, that’s what’s in my pocket. To take for maximum compliance when visiting the vet."
  • The dogs entered a photo in protest, saying "we have never had and won't ever get, pockets. We find this borders on dogscrimination and we plan to meet with our wuffattorney and file a pawsuit on the matter. "  I say, "Take it up with the kangaroo court, guys!"
  • I-daughter:  "Things I keep in every coat/jacket: a pair of mittens or gloves, lip balm, and a mask.   Things I keep in my favorite coat (which has an internal pocket): pad/tampon, lotion, ibuprofen, a napkin, cash, and a nail file"
  • L2: out of pocket, this week.
  • K-daughter:  "My checklist goes as follows: Phone Keys Wallet Babies .... Mask. And lately I've had lip balm because my lips (And A-child!) Get chapped lips. In my [job] badge pocket there's 3 quarters and crumbs from a "snack" A-child packed me one day. (The snack was a quarter of B-child's freeze dried banana biscuit...)"   
    [Before I realized the first part was a checklist, I scratched my head a lot, wondering how she keeps babies in her pocket!!]
  • and . . . "David has his wallet and key (one key, not on keychain) but look he also has this! [photo of us] 😍"   Awww . . . 
  • Y:  "In my pockets this month... Medical Spanish cheat sheet, highlighter/pen to contrast our B&W clinic schedules, stickie notes to write down stuff I need to look up later, hair tie for patient encounters."
  • N-son: "What I keep in my pockets are tools, not shown in picture, and in my pants pocket I keep my headphones and and mask"

I have a deep and abiding appreciation for pockets, actually, maybe because so many of my clothes growing up didn't have them.  My daughter loves that I tell people, "Freud only had it kind of right.  He didn't realize that when women were staring at men's pants, what they were thinking was, 'I wish *I* had pockets!' ".  

Vaccination is happening only in pockets of the country right now, and in my particular county, it's really really slow coming.  But at least, there are more indications that the vaccines are coming.  Our newspaper is full of stories about how an old department store is being converted into a vaccination center, that will open up maybe next week.  My guy and N-son (over 65 and with a qualifying health condition, respectively) have registered and are now in the system, which is kind of like being "pre-engaged". That is, they don't yet have appointments, but they are on the list to get appointments.  So that's good.

N-son is, as I write this, on his way back to town after living super-healthily with L1 these past few weeks.  She's been doing such a good job of giving him great (nutritious) food and good exercise that his blood sugars have come down a bunch, and in fact, he's had his first two incidents of low glucose warnings.  The first time, he'd given himself insulin but the delivery place was slow getting food to the house; the second time, he was out working hard on a job.   The awesome news about that is that, both times, his glucose monitor let everyone know the heck what was happening, and he ate some quick food, and then some slow food, and then he was fine.  So he's getting good at taking care of himself.  (The bad news is that the glucose monitor has since gone on the fritz again, but he can do finger sticks for a few days until we get it fixed once more).

One of N-son's guardian angels from afar in his new diabetes adventures is someone who has long been a guardian angel to me and my sisters, Angela [not her real name].  Angela was one of my mom's grad students in physics, who then became one of my mom's best friend, and who has been a big part of the life of me and my sisters.   Here's a photo below of her and my mom, a while back.  

One of my sisters and several of my kids asked me to do an interview series with her, and so here's what Angela has to say about her life these days.  

1.  What things were you doing a year ago that you're not doing now?

A little over a year ago I was either in hospitals or rehabilitation nursing facilities sitting in a wheelchair trying very hard to walk with a walker. I have made a lot of progress over the year.

2.  What occupies your days now?

I am in a fairly strict COVID bubble.  I try to keep up with friends on the phone or Facebook, reading a lot, and looking at cat rescue websites.  I plan to adopt a pair of bonded cats when I'm walking with a cane.

3.  Tell me a bit about your hobbies.

Reading mysteries, especially cozy mysteries (no blood or guts), watching British mysteries on PBS, and jewelry making.  Jewelry making has been on hold for a bit but hand movements have calmed.

4.  When you treat yourself to a bit of "me" time or special indulgences, what does that involve for you?

Since I can't drive, I have discovered Grub Hub and Door Dash and have been helping local restaurants during the pandemic.

5.  In the future, what kind of things do you hope you'll be doing that you haven't done yet or aren't doing now?

DRIVE!!!  I have always been fairly independent and not being able to drive is driving me crazy. I've been driving for 58 years and not being able to go when and where I want to, is very frustrating.

6.  Describe some of your favorite household gadgets or treasures.

My Kurig coffee maker and different coffees and my seascape art work.

7.  Are there any questions I should have asked you, but didn't?


It's good to hear this encouraging update! Earlier, she'd told me this funny/happy story:

Last week when my physical therapist came I asked him what were our goals. He said he wanted to eventually get me to walk with a cane at which point I stood up and without walker or cane walked across the living room and back. He then said maybe I was further along than he thought. He isn't going to sign off on only a cane until I walk outside on uneven surfaces. Unfortunately Mother Nature has not been cooperating giving us snow and ice and I don't want to practice on that.


And that's the news from our family, which continues to be wealthy in our adventures.  May you and yours be similarly prosperous.  

Monday, March 1, 2021


 Our cheese slicer is broken.  

It broke a month ago, or maybe more, I don't exactly remember.  The wire snapped, which might be repairable, but there was also a metal rotating cylinder between those two screws that broke off, and I'm not sure I have the wherewithal to figure out how to repair that.   So, for a few months now, we've been without a cheese slicer.  

It's hard for me to feel sorry for myself if one of the biggest hardships I'm facing as we head into the one-year-anniversary of Hunkering Down is that my cheese slicer is kaput.  Oh, and our wooden clothes-drying rack has a bunch of dowel-rods that have rotted out and need replacing, so that's put a damper (so to speak) on our life style.  

I honestly can't tell if the reason that I haven't fixed/replaced these things yet is because (a) the pandemic is keeping me out of stores, or (b) my teaching load fills much of my available time, or (c) I hate shopping and buying things even in Normal Times.   It's probably all three.  I'd like to have a working cheese slicer again, and I'd like to fix that drying rack for my husband (aka the Lord of Laundry), but not enough to actually get in a car (or on a bike, if the snow melts a bit more) and go to a store.  I'll use the pandemic as an excuse, but there are probably more permanent personality traits at play.

At any rate, this is all to say that I am perfectly willing to follow the advice of numerous health experts, and to continue to Hunker Down for a while longer.   A year ago -- when the incredibly fraught news of the world shutting down and colleges going remote started filling up our email inboxes --- there were all kind of speculations about how long it might last.  (My college, for example, initially proposed that students should stay home from spring break for 2 weeks before eventually we'd let them return to finish the 2020 spring semester.   Clearly, that was an underestimate.)   

In those days, public health historians predicted it would be 18 months before the vaccinations made life relatively safe again;  I've tried to Hunker (in my head) until September 2021 because of that prediction.   So far, that's been a good mindset for me.  Not for my cheese slicer, mind you, but I think we'll manage somehow anyway.