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Pocket of Joy: Using April Fools' Day as an Excuse to Stay Under a Blanket on the Couch

Ha! Nobody likes this stupid day. If it's still April Fools' Day when you're reading this, consider saving yourself a lot of trouble by logging off everything, shutting off your phone, and hiding under a blanket for the rest of the day. You can't trust anyone or anything you see or hear online today. Today, it feels nice to read a book or watch something prerecorded, like an old movie or TV show. Then tomorrow, you can plug back into the world to watch and read about all the incredibly hilarious pranks you missed. After a year filled with so much death and shocking news and mental health degradation, I can't even imagine what kind of prank would be harmless this year. Hey, we learned last year that it is not only possible but deeply pleasurable to skip major holidays . So why not skip this stupid little one too? This is the second April Fools' Day of the pandemic, when many of us have a good chance to avoid social interactions without being missed. Isn't th

When Life Gives You Key Limes: Pandemic Key Lime Pie Recipe

Unlock a priceless skilled trade! Honestly, I did not mean to learn a new skill in 2020, but fortunately, my new skill is unmarketable. The last thing I wanted to do is learn a new grind. Fortunately, the new trick I learned has proven a great way to unwind : making the perfect Midwestern pandemic-style Key lime pie! I already love to bake, and my favorite baked goods are those you could never buy in a store because nobody would pay for the time and fine ingredients they require. Like my husband's loaf of all-day, no-knead bread with $8 worth of cheese inside. Maybe that would fly in Italy, but not here. Americans are like, "OoH tHat'S sO expEnsIvE!" and then they go and spend $8 on one mixed drink that tastes like mouthwash and melted popsicles. Now, I know that there are some fancy Florida crackers who would mock my family’s poor taste because we make our pies the old-timey way, with canned milk instead of fresh cream. But I think our recipe is the perfect balance o

Pocket of Joy: Vintage Spring Jackets

Happy spring jacket season! I love rotating clothes in and out of storage with the changing seasons, and I also love "shopping" my collection of vintage outerwear from my own youth, from Before Times secondhand shopping trips, and from my mother-in-law when she moved to Florida. I have a vivid red wool bathrobe-style coat and a quirky beige trench that I bought in the 2000s, a worn-in classic denim jacket, an antique WWI-era dress jacket of green silk, and a few leather pieces from the '60s and '70s. I've taken many of these to the dry cleaner and the tailor over the years for repairs and maintenance, which I'd much rather do than replace whole garments with brand new ones. There's something exquisite about the combination of that fresh-new feeling of taking out new-season clothes and the comfy-old-friend feeling of a garment with lots of history. I feel good about the environmental impact of not buying new things, and I also really like well-constructed,

Second Spring Breakdown

It's the second spring of the pandemic, and it's... not all better. Time to break down how bad it is and how good it can be if we can get through this year’s spring fever. Case rates of Covid-19 are far higher this March than they were last March when the big lockdowns happened, and the infection rate is roaring upward because people are losing their minds faster than they are getting vaccinated. Italy is going into its second Easter lockdown, and the United States has made a clear collective decision that the mindless consumption of novelty products and services matters more than human life. As a nation, despite the refreshing progress and signs of hope coming from the new White House, we're done pretending to care about each other. We still haven't agreed that childcare and elementary schools are more important than bars or that real children's childhoods are more important than adults' rights to party like Florida Man. Our culture of overwork and gross consum

Pocket of Joy: Last Snow

Every kid-at-heart celebrates the first snow of the season, but what about the last snow? My newish boss, who immigrated from Canada, recently expressed disappointment that the winter snows here in Michigan had already ended by March. The seasoned Michiganders on staff assured him that our last snow almost never happens in early March, even if we get a false springtime that brings flowers into bloom. Usually there's at least one more blizzard that bestows enough snow and ice that we can play in it one more time. We never know exactly when to expect that random last chance, after it looked like winter was over, to use the new skating rink downtown or slide across a frozen puddle one more time. Its fleeting joys can only be captured by those who stay ready. It's easy to get excited about a fresh blanket of snow when it means Christmas is coming. But honestly, here in Michigan, a hearty blizzard might also crash Easter Sunday. (Above, my daughter is threatening the weather w

Pockets of Joy

As we enter the second year of the pandemic, we should all agree on two things (besides the science of hygiene and vaccination, obviously): that this situation is truly awful, and that it has never been more important to cultivate little pockets of joy in our lives anywhere we can. The light at the end of the tunnel is dim and seems to keep moving, sometimes closer, sometimes farther away. Even the rollout of vaccines is being undermined by new virus variants that are riding the waves of spring fever to whip Michigan up into the country's hottest of hot spots for rising infections. Herd immunity feels like a pipe dream around here, especially because almost half the population still says they will refuse to get a vaccine. And children won't have a vaccine this year at all, so families with children won't be able to socialize safely with other families (without masks and social distancing) before the end of this year at least. My daughter already knows that she'll probab