Hair we stand with clippers in hand

Now that panic buying of toilet paper and hand sanitizer is subsiding, people are moving on to the next phase of panic buying—hair clippers. Sales are moving at a fast clip.

Hair dye is also a hot seller. Covid gray is an official color.

Home barbers and hairstylists are sprouting everywhere. I am among them. I’m even contemplating a salon name. My two top contenders are “It’ll Grow” and “Oops!”

A neighbor cut her husband’s hair with kitchen scissors and a comb. She started the cut two weeks ago and still hasn’t finished. Every time she sees a spot she missed she tells him to sit still and cuts a little more.

His complaint is that he has no hair on top. The man hasn’t had hair on top for five years, but now he has someone to blame.

I used to cut our son’s hair when he was little. The key is to start with the trimmers on the long setting, then move to progressively shorter and shorter settings to cover your mistakes.

As an adult, our son asked why he is bald in all the old family photos. I told him his hair was late coming in—age 14 is normal for some kids.

He and his wife have their own set of clippers. In an online family get-together, their two boys displayed fresh haircuts. The sides of their heads were shaved with a strip of longer hair on top.

Then our son took off his ball cap displaying the same cut.

I offered them use of the “It’ll Grow” name for their home hair salon.

Our son-in-law saw the haircuts and thought why not? He’s working from home and wouldn’t be seeing anybody soon. His wife revved up their clippers, rendered him nearly hairless on both sides, leaving a thick bushy strip of hair on top running down the back of his head. He looks like a bald guy wearing a squirrel on top of his head. A handsome bald guy wearing a squirrel on his head, but nonetheless.

Photoshopped. Thankful our son-in-law has a sense of humor.

A few days later, he received notice about an online conference call. Higher ups at the company he works for wanted to check in with different division managers. He was invited to video chat—with the CEO.

He adjusted the computer camera so the top of his head was out of view. The CEO probably thought he was super eager about the call.

I mentioned to the husband that his hair is getting long and that I could fix that for him. He flashed on the haircuts I used to give our son and recoiled at the suggestion.

A few days later I looked over at him and gasped.

“Cut your own hair, hu?”

“Yeah. It didn’t go so well.”

“Don’t worry. It’ll grow.”

“Not at my age it won’t.”


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Going the distance in social distancing

Many years ago, the husband and I took personality tests that were supposed to tell us about ourselves and each other. Under the category measuring how social we were, I ranked in the 98th percentile and he ranked in the 2nd percentile.

I always thought those test results were skewed, as the husband can be quite talkative and is often the life of the party. But the stay-at-home mandate we are under has me wondering if the test might not have been spot on.

The new restrictions are not the least troubling to him. He is perfectly content sitting on the sofa with his computer, working on projects, hours at a time.

This is a man who, in pre social-distancing days (even though retired), worked out every other day at the gym, scoured second-hand stores for treasures, played ball with the grandkids and was busy working around the yard or the house, often until after the sun set.

I ask if it bothers him to be so suddenly sedentary. He smiles and says not at all, that he enjoys staying home and is “in his zone.”

I point out that his zone appears limited to one sofa cushion and that he may be creating a permanent indentation.

He moves to the middle sofa cushion.

He ranks in the 100th percentile for accommodating.

A neighbor from around the corner says he also enjoys the mandate to stay home. He is thrilled he no longer needs to make excuses for not wanting to go out. In fact, he is toying with the idea of continuing to stay home even after the mandate is lifted.

I, on the other hand, am among those occasionally challenged by the restrictions and may have left scratch marks in the wood, clawing my way down the front door. The nose prints on the window glass belong to me, too.

I routinely find myself pacing when I take phone calls. I walk fast like I’m in a hurry to get somewhere, but the only place I get is from room to room. Thank goodness we live in a house with a circle floor plan.

The husband, without looking up from his computer, claims I am wearing a path in the hardwoods.

Very funny, coming from someone who can sit perfectly still for more than an hour. Sometimes I walk by and hold my finger under his nose to make sure he’s still breathing.

I’m in the group that could score a 98 for restlessness some days. I was born to move. We were all born to move—extroverts, introverts, couch sitters, floor walkers and all the in between—but not all at the same speed. Learning to accommodate speed differences may be the secret to happiness.

Personally, I am thankful that with 98 and a 2, we make a full brain.

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Jackhammers, sunshine and duck eggs, all welcome

A parade of trucks and heavy equipment arrived down at the corner an hour after sunrise. A jackhammer pounds with ear-splitting force and metal keeps scraping concrete. Even the most grating sounds of life are welcome these days.

A bird outside my window just chirped in agreement.

It is a Carolina wren, a small noisy bird sporting a dazzling array of rich, earthy browns.

A lethargic cloud cover finally pushed on a few days ago. People leaned out of windows, flung open their doors, pumped their fists in the air and wildly cheered the arrival of the sun. Not really, but we should have. Sun therapy. We could all use a session—warmer rays, bluer skies, brighter colors, renewed hope.

The pandemic continues, yet the magnolias have remained resolute and undaunted, once again gracing the earth with saucer-size blooms radiating pink.

Snap peas have been tucked into the soil in neat rows. I check on them every day. I’d have time to pull up a chair and watch for them to sprout if I wanted to.

Surely there will once again be small hands pulling pods off the vines and popping peas directly into their mouths. Eating peas directly off the vine is a communal affair here. No pea has ever been eaten alone. Small consolation that is to the peas.

The raspberry bushes show new green growth, a good sign since they were recently transplanted. I move plants like other women move furniture. The raspberries are in a new bed with a big plastic owl standing guard. A robin has taken to perching on the owl’s head and a squirrel frequently swings by to take a few swipes at the new starts.

We would fire the owl, but there are already far too many out of work.

Peonies are breaking ground, eager to unfurl. Giant red, white and pink ruffled flowers will bust out the end of May. Hopefully, we will all have busted out by then.

I have saved the best for last—eight ivory duck eggs with just a hint of green and tiny brown flecks. One of our girls and her daughters discovered them nestled beneath their lilac bush.

Naturally, their first question was, “Can you eat duck eggs?”

The answer is yes, they have larger yolks and denser nutrients than a chicken egg and are very popular with the paleo crowd.

The second question was, “How do you know there’s an egg inside and not a baby duck?”

“You’d have to break one open and have a look!” Screams and squeals on the other end splintered my phone. The duck eggs are safe, as I knew they would be, and will rest undisturbed.

I have requested, after the eggs have hatched and the ducklings are ready to leave their mother, that they map out the route to our house and point a few in our direction.

The peas are lonely and long for company.

The peas speak for all of us.



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Easter a good fit amid uncertainty

Picture-perfect celebrations frequently fade into oblivion. The celebrations that are somehow off are the ones we never forget.

There was the Halloween in Chicago with unbelievably brutal winds. Trick-or-treating was cut short. Our son and daughter-in-law scooped the little ones into their arms and we protected ourselves from the cutting cold by plastering our bodies up against store fronts every few feet on the walk home.

Our oldest daughter’s 25th birthday was unforgettable. She had open heart surgery at a heart hospital. She was the youngest patient they operated on that day. We rarely talk about that birthday, but we sure remember it.

When our youngest was still in college, she hosted a Thanksgiving celebration at our house and invited friends from campus. The international student bringing the turkey had never cooked a turkey before.

He arrived late, removed the foil tent, and revealed a beautifully roasted turkey surrounded by brilliant orange, yellow, turquoise and purple hard-boiled eggs alongside colorful vegetables nestled beneath the turkey, beside the turkey and protruding from the orifices. Best. Turkey. Ever.

Every one of those days are etched in memory because they were out of the ordinary. They were off—in unexpected and unforgettable ways.

What hasn’t been off lately? In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, life has been turned inside out and upside down. We’ve seen live-streamed funerals, weddings in parking lots, bar and bat mitzvahs without the parties and attend church online.

A 7-year-old grand sent a picture of the calendar she keeps. Every square for the month was blank except for one where she’d written, “milk expires.” There are moments when that feels about the sum of it.

Yet these odd times are a perfect fit for Easter. That first Resurrection Sunday was preceded by terrifying uncertainty. Followers of Christ watched their loved friend and teacher, beaten and bloody, hang from a cross, cry out and breathe his last.

They were engulfed in emotions familiar to many today—anxiety, grief and fear of the unknown. They thought it was over. Everything. Then the women went to the tomb on the third day and found the body gone. Talk about a surprise ending. You think a story is going to end one way and then it ends another. God does that.

Christians believe Christ broke the curse of death and was raised from the dead. The message of Easter is a proclamation of greatness, a spine-chilling chorus of trumpets declaring that God is greater than—greater than our sin, greater than our fear, greater than our grief, greater than our weakness, greater than our pain, greater than our loneliness, greater than the chains of death.

Easter does not offer a panacea for pain and suffering. Far from it. Christ was called a Man of Sorrows. Easter celebrates that in all life brings our way, from the beginning of life, until the very end, in every joy and heartache, in every moment of wonder and in every moment of angst, we need not walk alone.

Easter is a message of good news coming once again at a good time.

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