Guest Columnist

Searching for snacks and finding surprises

Kurt Ullrich lives in rural Jackson County.
Kurt Ullrich lives in rural Jackson County.

It’s bad enough that I’m watching old western movies on television, but now I’m seeing little plastic containers of Jello in the back of my refrigerator and thinking of them as snacks. You know the ones I mean, little four-packs not even in a refrigerated isle in the grocery store, which should tell us something.

I’m down to Jello-as-snack because I don’t want to go in to town to buy groceries. Towns frighten me. Towns have too many idiots wandering around without face masks and I’m convinced at least one of them will kill me with Covid-19.

I am very fortunate; I can afford groceries and I know that I’m probably being irrational, but there you are. Years of therapy can’t help me. It’s been at least ten days since my last trip to the grocery store and right now I’d kill for a cookie, a potato chip, a slice of bread, a piece of cheese. I’ve got a half bag of oyster crackers in the pantry and I’m thinking dipped in mustard they might not be too bad.

So many dead: so many dying: so many yet to die. Something bigger than all of us is hauling darkness around like a great black cape and covering the earth with it, and there doesn’t seem to be much we can do about it. Valdemort couldn’t have done it better. And, clearly, there is so much noise surrounding the pandemic it’s difficult to make any real judgments, except it has become clear that politicians should stay away from anything related to science.

On television you’ll see local news channels suggesting that you purchase gift cards from your favorite businesses. I don’t know if that’s a good idea. My advice is to not do that. If you can order something from a local business please do so, and pick it up or have it sent out. Purchasing gift cards only makes it more difficult for that business three months from now when they are fully opened up, because there will be less actual revenue for them.

I’ve told you about my old friend with Alzheimer’s. Quite surprisingly she has helped me get through the pandemic, even though she doesn’t really know anything about it. On a recent sunny day I was hanging out with her and we were sitting in green plastic chairs out in front of my garage. She enjoyed a merlot while I had my usual Scotch. When she finished her beverage she handed me the glass and then did something I’ve seen in others with Alzheimer’s.

She used her hands as if in a miniature ballet, opening and closing fingers as if she was carefully handling a long piece of thread, or a very long hair, neither of which she actually held. She would put the thread down, pick up another, move it from hand to hand, and this went on for quite some time. She then put her small hands on her lap, looked over at me, and smiled. This is how I get through a pandemic and if there is a heaven this is what I want it to look like. Stay safe.

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Kurt Ullrich lives in rural Jackson County. His book “The Iowa State Fair” is available from the University of Iowa Press.

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