My midday off: Wrapping birthday gifts with Christmas paper because that’s all I could find around the house. Watching Game 4 of the 2005 World Series on YouTube. (#GoSox!) Pain free. NOT working from home.

I may have finally found a happy place for the first time in weeks.

It’s Tween Birthday Week here at the Shut-In House: McDonald’s hash browns for breakfast, scrambled eggs for lunch, time with her download of the new Animal Crossing game. Later: maybe a neighborhood walk, more gifts, pizza (us) and fries (her) from the neighborhood pizza joint, and cake with vanilla gelato.

Typically, we might have taken her to Dave & Buster’s for dinner tonight, perhaps with a couple of friends if they were in town for spring break. Obviously, that can’t happen right now. But it’s still a birthday, and we will still celebrate.

Nice to surface just long enough to get my kid a birthday cake and have the supermarket folks tell me to wish her a happy birthday.

From @millinerd in The New York Times (!) on this Feast of the Annunciation: “God became human once, for all, in the womb of Mary. Then, through the Eucharist, he enters human bodies over and over for as long as time endures.”

Keeping the 3 days off I requested for F’s 12th birthday tomorrow and a trip to St. Louis and downstate, even though we canceled the trip. I don’t think I’ve had a truly relaxing, demand- and anxiety-free moment in the past few weeks. Fingers crossed that one will come up soon.

Ah. It’s totally not just me. “The coronavirus has created the perfect environment for a surge in bread-baking.”

For the uninitiated and/or non-Chicagoans, Jeppson’s Malort is a wormwood liqueur that I’ve heard tastes somewhere between sweat-soaked pencil shavings and death. Now its makers are making Malort-branded hand sanitizer.

The Scottish Festival & Highland Games in suburban Chicago this summer has been canceled. Damn. Where am I going to get my annual Irn-Bru fix now?

Our first quarantine-era bread loaf! (Photo taken before I broke through the crust with my finger in the middle to check its softness.)

Margaret Sullivan in the Washington Post: The White House coronavirus briefings “have become a daily stage for Trump to play his greatest hits to captive audience members.”

Why yes, I’ve grouped my coronavirus-related posts in their own category: Check page 1, then page 2.

(Maybe now that I’m holed up for a while, I guess I should learn how to mess with the CSS/Hugo stuff necessary to customize this theme to include some decent page navigation. But as I’ve said elsewhere, life is too short.)

The stay-at-home order in Illinois doesn’t seem that much worse than what I’ve already been doing. If anything, it means it may have nudged my husband’s employer into ensuring he can work from home, so I’m happy about that.

I did whatever new grocery shopping I needed to do yesterday. And now that churches are even more shut down than before (not even confessions are allowed), my usual Saturday afternoon routine is definitely shot for a while. I was going to bake with the tween, but the husband has a roast in the oven all afternoon, so no go there.

Tomorrow? Mass online and prayers in the morning, then maybe some baking. I finally found some yeast at the supermarket yesterday, so bread may be in order.

On the Catholic blog: Confession in the age of coronavirus.

My Ten: Favorite things I can't live without

I’m a sucker for a light regular feature. The New York Times’ Sunday Routine is an example of this: a weekly feature that profiles New Yorkers and how they spend their Sundays. The Times also puts together an irregular feature, My Ten, that asks celebrities about the 10 favorite things they can’t live without. It’s not an original concept; I’ve seen it in other places, usually as an excuse to work in overpriced merchandise links.

(My Ten is so irregular that it doesn’t have its own page yet; examples include lists from Questlove, David Chang, and Emma Thompson.)

I’ve been wanting to write a Sunday Routine of my own for a while, but it takes time for me to figure out. (Besides, if I wrote one now, it’d be basically a whole lot of sitting around steeped in cabin fever and chronic anxiety.) Right now, a My Ten is easier to slap together.

PEPPERMINT GREEN AND “TURMERIC BLISS” TEAS. I can’t drink coffee as much as I used to, but I still need my caffeine fix. I’ve largely weaned myself off diet soda (except for the occasional diet root beer, which isn’t usually caffeinated, or diet Cheerwine, which is), and I wanted something relatively healthy. So, I found myself turning to tea. I started with peppermint tea, which is not caffeinated, but found several green tea blends with peppermint for my caffeine; Traditional Medicinals and local retailer Nuovo Tea produce my favorites.

I also get my favorite turmeric blend, Turmeric Bliss, from Nuovo (the blend is actually produced by Adagio Teas, not to be confused with a Tazo Tea product with the same name): turmeric combined with ginger, peppercorn, mango, apple, and other fruit and floral ingredients. I credit my daily two cups of this turmeric blend with helping me break my dependence on ibuprofen for pain management, and it’s become a tasty way to wind down my day after dinner.

PILOT G2 PENS, BLACK BOLD (1.0). Austin Kleon turned me onto these. I used the 0.7 fine point version of the G2 for a while, but I find the bold tips much smoother to write with.

INDEX CARDS. I carry around a small Field Notes-type notebook, but I rarely use it for reasons I can’t quite explain. I also carry around index cards (usually of the 4-by-6-inch variety), usually in a small plastic holder intended for photos, that I do use for lists, doodling, and notes; they especially come in handy when I need to give my tween something to draw on during Mass.

MAGNIFICAT and HANDBOOK OF PRAYERS. As I’ve been in Catholic re-entry mode over the past year and still haven’t fully memorized the order of the Mass (I still stumble over the “consubstantial” thing in the Nicene Creed), having the Magnificat to follow along with has been absolutely essential. Paired with my monthly Magnificat, the Handbook of Prayers – produced by Midwest Theological Forum – complements it perfectly with a robust set of prayers and practices, including Marian devotions, the Stations of the Cross, and a good confession guide.

WORKS BY ST. JOSEMARIA ESCRIVA. St. Josemaria’s three books of maxims – The Way, Furrow, and The Forge – provide me with inspiration and encouragement in my spiritual life.

ROSARY. I think the red glass-beaded rosary I carry around was a freebie from one of the numerous Catholic orders or charities that received donations from my mom when I was growing up. But for a freebie, it’s been pretty durable. More importantly, Bp. Joseph Perry kindly blessed it for me when I asked years ago after a Tridentine Mass at St. John Cantius parish in Chicago. It’s been a constant companion the past few years.

“WAIT WAIT … DON’T TELL ME.” I wake up early on Saturdays to listen to the first airings of this NPR news quiz program on the Internet, then download the podcast to listen to it during the week. Some shows are better than others; I’m a little weary of the new hit-or-miss (mostly miss in recent months) panelists that it’s been rotating into the show in recent years, and I miss original panelists like Charlie Pierce and Sue Ellicott. But “Wait Wait” is still a huge part of my weekends.

“LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT.” Colbert’s show is a tonic of sanity in the cultural and political hellscape of the past three years.

SPALDING BOOTLEG YOGA PANTS, BLACK. This $20 wardrobe essential of mine is no longer on Amazon, for some reason. (I just ordered a similar product, at the same price, and I’m crossing my fingers that it’s wearable.) I was smart enough to buy two pairs, but I wish I had ordered more when I had the chance. It’s the closest I get to a uniform item a la Steve Jobs’ turtleneck, especially now that I’m working from home full-time. Comfy and durable.

CROCHET BERETS. This item has become another essential part of my daily uniform. I started wearing these as a head covering for church (chapel veils don’t work on me), and ended up wearing them to work and anytime I had to go out. My hair has been thinning for years, to the point where no amount of gel, volumizer, or other “product” will make a difference in covering bare scalp. These are light enough to wear in warm weather, work in casual contexts, and can class up an otherwise blah outfit.

This morning’s caffeine source. Delighted that the diet version of this has landed north at last.

Listening to SiriusXM’s MLB channel play the 1962 NL tiebreaker game 3 between the Giants and Dodgers. Fun to hear names like Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, and Juan Marichal during the play-by-play.

I had scheduled a retreat today, but I backed out of it. Kept my day off from work. Loaded the kid and the big dog in the car, went Pokemon hunting, and hit a drive-thru. It’s the most excitement I’ve had in 4 days. 😬

This woman is my hero: “Maybe this is the perfect time to call a timeout on the academic rat-race that was never healthy or fair in the first place.”

From the National Institutes for Health director, Dr. Francis Collins: “To Beat COVID-19, Social Distancing is a Must.”

Digital thinking, kind of, still infuses the tween’s analog activities.

Going easy on the kid during this first week off school; e-learning doesn’t start until the week of March 30. Grateful that several midday hours of enforced analog time (reading, writing and art) each day go well with Nintendo Switch and YouTube time and chores while I work.

Trying to tamp down my news consumption these days for my mental health. The Washington Post is a subscription site, but its Inspired Life section is worth it to help calm my spiking anxiety and restore my faith in the world. Grateful for it.

2020 Census field operations will be suspended for two weeks until April 1, 2020.”

Social distancing? A cloistered Franciscan nun has advice for that.

The “silent spreader” element of this whole viral thing is what alarms me the most.