As of 8:00 pm March 30, 2020, Governor Hogan’s “Stay At Home” order went into effect.
This is a deadly public health crisis—we are no longer asking or suggesting that Marylanders stay home, we are directing them to do so. No Maryland resident should be leaving their home unless it is for an essential job or for an essential reason such as obtaining food or medicine, seeking urgent medical attention, or for other necessary purposes.
That was, as of this writing on September 26, twenty-five weeks and five days ago. One hundred eighty sunrises and sunsets. Almost six months.
Not Happy But Not Suffering
My Dear One and I have suffered hardly at all unless one commiserates with anyone forced to listen to my political anguish these days. Or unless our physical severance from friends and family is regarded as an insupportable hardship—and it is, indeed, painful. Our retirement income is adequate, even given the schizophrenic behavior of the stock markets. We have plenty of yard and therefore plenty of fresh air. We started with well stocked deep-freezer and larder and have been able to refill both. Our phone lines have remained intact and I have learned to Skype and ZOOM, both. I have read through most of the books already given me in 2020 but there are countless others sitting on various shelves that I have never cracked.
My main problem these days is that I fantasize endlessly. I imagine how wonderful it will be when Trump is out of office, when he and his minions are serving sentences for a variety of crimes. I envision a day when COVID will be no more a problem than the seasonal flu and safe, effective and inexpensive vaccines are routinely available at my preferred pharmacy.
I dream of lazy drives with my Dear One through the nation’s parks and relaxed stays at comfortable hotels and satisfying meals at delightful little restaurants. Perhaps, if health permits, we will spend a couple or three weeks touring British gardens and stately homes. Alternatively we could rent a gîte in France, shopping for meals at the village boulangerie-patisserie, charcuterie and épicier vert, drinking the local wine and learning the region’s history.
Packing In My Imagination
What do I wear on these civilized excursions? Surely not my ancient jeans and tees.
That is the problem, you see. My dreams include proper attire and the daily postal delivery, such as it is, includes too many catalogues that elevate my ideas about dress and accessories. I linger over pictures of travel gear that will ease our movements to and through airports and contain necessities like cell phone, tourist guide, notebook and pens, wallet and whatever sundries himself hands to me to schlep.
Shopping By Mail
The postal delivery delivers so much catalogue porn. You know catalogue porn: those seductive collections of gorgeous clothing whose descriptions must have been penned by a diabolical hand. The school of J. Peterman, as it were.
I have always been dependent on shopping clothes by mail. Even before the age of the internet. I am fussy about fabrics, frequently put off by the color palette du jour, old enough to remember the concept of classics and way too old to wear trendy. Catalogues always offered an alternative to department stores I could afford and boutiques I could not.
My physique, moreover—tall and stout but not in a particularly feminine way—means that standard sizes just don’t fit. I look for tall garments and sometimes Land’s End or Eddie Bauer comes through. Even so, buttons strain over the bosom. Tunics turn out to be longish blouses and look wrong. The couture they flog that accommodates my height and breadth resembles potato sacks in a variety of colors and patterns.
My Heart’s Desire
Then I started seeing advertisements of Gudrun Sjödén. Beautiful colors and patterns, layers of skirts, pinafore dresses, tights, jerseys and overshirts. Hippie-dippy clothes that remind me that I was once a hippie—and that I loved being a hippie. Cotton and wool predominate but the garments are generally priced a little out of my range.
Then there was a sale, buy two get the third free, and I found a smock-like shirt in two colors that I could afford and got the striped dress as well. And I kept my eye on the sales. Picked up a couple more items. And now I have I have the urge to splurge.
So what does Gudrun Sjödén do? They now send me gorgeous catalogues printed on gorgeous paper filled with gorgeous pieces of clothing, all of which I want to own. I read the catalogues because the covers are entrancing. I leaf slowly through the pages because the paper is solid and soft to the touch, as organic a feeling as I want in my woolens and cottons and linens. The clothes illustrated are unstructured, comfortable, bohemian and oddly suited to old, grizzled eccentrics.
So I guess they’re offering me the crack that COVID makes me crave.