Friday, March 20, 2020

A Journal of the Plague Year, Part the Fourth - Notes from Quarantine

Well it’s Quarantine Day 7 over here and so far so good.

1. I’ve managed to get a fair amount of work done this week because hey, what else am I going to do?  It’s not as if the cats are going to let me sleep in when they expect breakfast at 7:30 sharp.  But it is nice to keep up routines in a disjointed time such as this.  Otherwise it just feels like you’re floating.

2. I’m kind of hoping that by next weekend when I can go to the store again the panic buying will have subsided a bit and people will just go back to some approximation of their normal grocery shopping.  I expect that there will be some restrictions even so, but it will be better than having to bring a cudgel with me just to get crackers.

3. You know, folks, there are no shortages.  There is only hoarding.  If people would just calm down and stop panic buying things we’d all be a lot better off.

4. Honestly I expect a whole lot of restrictions to come down the pike soon, or I would if I thought the US government had an actual leader instead of the dimwitted, blisteringly incompetent grifter currently screwing up an entire nation’s response to the most serious crisis of the last decade.  Eventually somebody is going to sideline him – his most recent public appearances have been disgraceful embarrassments and even Fox News is starting to call him on his bullshit these days – and perhaps we might get some kind of rational response at that point (Mike Pence is your bog-standard Dominionist theocrat with little use for things like the entire Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, but he’s not stupid, after all) so we’ll see.  In a rational world the US will soon be experiencing national restrictions on travel and gatherings, wartime levels of medical equipment manufacturing, and a general clampdown on patent trolling, profiteering, and other forms of aggravated assholery.  We will experience all of these eventually, of that I have no doubt.  The only questions are how much unnecessary disruption we will need to get to that point and whether we will experience them in time to avoid becoming Italy writ large.  If we get on this quickly the answers will be “none” and “possibly.”  If not, well, who knows.

5. It’s hard to grade essays in such a climate.  Existentially hard.

6. I’ve managed to do a bit of baking to pass the time, so now we have pizzelles.  By request they are not anise, which is the One True Flavor for pizzelles, but rather vanilla and chocolate.  The chocolate ones aren’t half bad, really.  The vanilla ones needed more vanilla.  Maybe next time.

7.  We were supposed to be in Oregon right now, visiting my friend Tiffany.  She came out to see us a few years back and it was our turn.  We were really looking forward to that trip, but so it goes.  Assuming that things calm down at some point, we’ll reschedule.

8. Truly we live in an age of miracles, though.  Kim arranged a giant Zoom call with pretty much all of the extended family on my side, including Fran who joined us even though it was very late in Belgium!  It was just lovely seeing everyone and we will definitely need to do this regularly.  You lose those connections too quickly in a locked down world.

9. The problem with genealogy is that it just keeps expanding.  I’ve been working my way through the family tree that my new-found cousin posted on Ancestry, downloading documents for future examination.  When I started that project I figured it wouldn’t take me that long to get through it, but every time I think I’ve reached an end point I turn a corner and a whole new vista of relatives and ancestors is there staring me in the face.  On the plus side, though, she managed to trace my grandmother’s side of the family back as far as the 1500s in some lines.  I don’t know if those are the ones that led to me directly or not – after a while you lose track and you need to go back and straighten things out in your mind again, which I have not done for a while – but it’s still pretty cool really.

10.  I suspect that the world we enter when all this finally passes will differ in key ways from the one we left to get here.  I further suspect that this will not be welcomed by the people currently holding power.  That will get interesting, won’t it.


Julie Morris said...

All your talk about pizzelles has me wanting to make some. I dug out my waffle/pizzelle iron out tonight to try tator tots on the waffle side...not bad, and decided while it was out I should make some pizzeles.
My pizzelle recipe is 3 eggs, 3/4 C sugar, 3/4 C melted butter, 1 1/2 C flour 1 tsp soda, 2 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp anise seed or lemon this the same as yours?!? Of course I have no anise seed and I’m not braving a store just to get some. Will I be ok? I haven't made them in years and I don’t know why.

David said...

Hi Julie -

That sounds like a half-batch recipe for the one I use, so it's probably close. I'm the only person in the family who regularly puts the seeds in, so if you use extract you'll be fine. This is the full recipe that I use for anise pizzelles:


6 eggs
1.5 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 ounce anise oil (one small bottle)
Handful of anise seeds about the size of an old silver dollar
2 2/3 teaspoons of double-acting baking powder
About 3.5 cups flour

In a large bowl blend together the eggs and sugar until smooth. Melt butter and add to mixture. Add anise oil and seeds and mix thoroughly. Add baking powder and flour (1 cup at a time) and mix together until dough is sticky enough to be dropped with a spoon.

Plug in pizzelle iron and wait until heated through. Open and allow steam to blow off before making first pizzelles. The first few may be sticky, so you can spray some oil on the iron for the first 3-5 times.

Place a rounded teaspoon of dough on each side of the pizzelle iron and shut the iron, clamping it into place. Bake for 30-60 seconds or so. Knock off anything that extrudes during this. Lift out with a spatula and place on a cutting board to cool. They’ll be cool by the time the next ones are done so you can stack them.

You can dust them with powdered sugar, but I rarely ever do that.


For vanilla I just substituted vanilla in place of the anise (and drop the anise seeds). I should probably add more vanilla next time since it came out rather delicately flavored.

For chocolate I made a batch of vanilla and also added to the batter an additional 1/2 cup of cocoa, 1/2 cup of sugar, and 1 tsp of baking powder.


Let me know how yours turned out! It's nice to know that other people are making pizzelles too. :) I usually bring some into work when I make them, and they always go fast.

Julie Morris said...

Thanks, I’ll see if I can get at it tomorrow. The chocolate ones sound good too. Decisions, decisions��

David said...


Enquiring minds want to know!

Julie Morris said...

I just got done making half a recipe of the chocolate ones. I haven’t got the hang of the right amount of dough to use and have some weirdly shaped ones. They still tasted good though.

Thanks for reminding me to make some again.

David said...


It's a trial and error process, but as long as they taste good I find that nobody complains. :)