What I Learned This Week: #188

Monday, March 22 – Saturday, March 28, 2021

The Week in the Rando Neighbor: Walking to lunch this week I ran into Jim. Just Jim. Or, Jim I know him because we used to belong to the Y at the same time. He lives downtown, too, and pre-Covid we would pass each other regularly with a smile and a wave. No big deal. This time though, we stopped and chatted like long lost friends. We had a lot to cover as the Covid era comes to a close, from vaccines to the state of the neighborhood. There are dozens of “just Jims” that I expect to, and look forward to running into in the next several weeks. We’ve got to catch up!

The Week in Puzzles: Having a jigsaw puzzle on the table may be a Covid habit I keep for a while. I like hunting for cheap puzzles on line or at TJ Maxx, and I like having something to do at the dining room table while I’m cooking or just passing through.

I’m currently working my way through a bunch of puzzles I found on sale in January. I found a couple of good deals, but the Space Traveler puzzle was the best. It showed up one day across several sites for under $3. On Ebay or Etsy (I forget which) the price was 1 penny plus shipping. I opted for the $3.99 with free shipping option from Amazon. The puzzle, as expected, is as cheaply made as the bargain prices reflected. But that actually made it harder to do. Several pieces “fit” and when I tried to move chunks of the puzzle into position, they fell apart. Plus, the space part of the space puzzle about killed me! There was definitely a moment when I yearned for a puzzle depicting a castle in Europe, or something easier! Oh well. I totally got my money’s worth.

I finished the space puzzle this week, and started on a second puzzle that I found for 50% off during the same puzzle buying spree. It is a nicer puzzle in many ways. The pieces fit better and are more substantial. It looks like a tough puzzle, but really, if I just follow the order of the colors, it’s a breeze. And, it looks great! Glad my puzzle brain could get a break.

The Week in Adulting: I filed my taxes this week, and I also filed my Mom’s taxes. That is getting it done! One of the very last things I did as the Covid shut down went into effect was visiting my tax guy. The state closed on Sunday, and I went to see them on Tuesday. And that was it. I remember how eerie downtown felt as I took care of this chore. Anyway, downtown felt a little better this year. Me and the staff even got to complain about how tiny the Wings are at the bar across the street (they haven’t been able to reestablish their pre-Covid supplier). Bitching about not important stuff seems like we’re on the right track. And, my taxes looked good, which is one less thing to fret about.

The Week in Typical Saturday: Pre-Covid, I had a fairly standard Saturday routine. I would grab lunch and sit with a book either in the restaurant or in the park. I’d come home and take a nap and then go out for the evening. I haven’t done that in over a year. But this week, I was close. I went to Washington Park, grabbed a beer from their porch, and read for a while. Then, I went over to the newly reopened Brew Dog and had a beer and read a little more while waiting for my to go order. Brew Dog was full when I got there, but I felt like everything was safe and fine. They seated me, alone, at a table for 6, the last table, because I’d told them I was one beer and out, and that was the weirdest part for me.

Instead of eating in, I got take out. And instead of lingering, I got out as quick as I could. Still, this was as close to a traditional Saturday as I can have right now. I loved it.

The Week in Normal (Frat Boy-Style) Eating: Woke up bright and early on Sunday, grabbed a cold piece of pizza for breakfast, and, lacking a traditional dip for the crust, I went with the tartar sauce left over from Friday’s fish dinner. Surprisingly good.

The Week in Authors: Both Beverly Cleary and Larry McMurtry passed away this week. Cleary’s Ramona Quimby was a character that really made sense to me as a kid. She was a character that seemed more independent than the other girls I was reading about at the time, and she informed my late childhood.

I came to Larry McMurtry as an adult and I found his take on the West at once romantic and realistic. But what I loved about him was how he created well-drawn, realistic, living and breathing characters. In one of his lesser works, Buffalo Girls, historical characters like Annie Oakley fill the story, but it is the completely fictional character No Ears who is the richest, most indelible character in the book, and one of my favorite characters of all time. I have several McCurtry books on my shelf, and plan to reread something of his this year.

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