Snapshots of an Extraordinary Moment in Time

Scraps of joy and anxiety, wonder, fear and optimism.

By Melissa Kirsch

At 3 a.m. from my bathroom window the call of an owl breaking the night’s silence. —Leota Fulkerson, 65, South Thomaston, Maine

Last week, I suggested keeping a log book, a low-key journal where you note the mundane things that happen in a day, to keep a record of moments you’re likely to forget. I like how one log-keeper, Anna Shutley, 21, of Winston-Salem, N.C., makes the case for writing down the minutiae: “Our lives are filled with a couple of Big Unforgettable Days and everything else — all those middle random Tuesdays that we take for granted and don’t tend to look forward to — are the bulk of our lives.” Those “middle random Tuesdays” are the ones we so often forget to document.

Many of you agreed, and we received hundreds of emails containing your log book entries, each note a snapshot of a life, fascinating on its own. If you read the entries alongside the others, the effect is dazzling: the atomic observations; the scraps of joy and anxiety; the wonder, fear and optimism combined. Taken together, they create a collaborative almanac of an extraordinary moment in time. Have a look. (The responses have been edited for clarity.)

Today at work I saw the tiniest frog. It was the size of my thumbnail. I harvested sweet potatoes for the first time. Rella Arena, 27, Atlanta

Met a new woman in my neighborhood today for a walk in the park. We had connected when I reached out on Nextdoor.com about finding partners to work out with in the park. Paid my Gap credit card. I’m at silver card status. Annie Sandford, 33, Chicago

Went to market around noon with my wife of 55 years and got some needed items because we don’t want to run out of turkey bacon, cookies, blueberries and dark chocolate Kit Kat bars. We wore our masks. Jim Devore, 76, Durham, N.C.

My husband brought home a cup of coffee and bouquet of flowers “just because” first thing this morning. Later in the day gifted me the Dia de Muertos Barbie. Priscilla Espinoza, 38, San Marcos, Texas

I took out the trash in my puffy coat and snow boots. There is still over 6 inches of melting snow on my back porch and picnic table from the massive freak snowstorm we received this week. Andrea Kurth, 28, Leadville, Colo.

Up at 4 a.m. gathering items to put by the door just in case we had to evacuate: Passports, birth certificates, house papers, a briefcase full of Sheila’s poetry (not yet scanned), cat supplies, wallet, reading glasses, sunglasses, bag of prescriptions. Sheryl Murray, 52, Portland, Ore.

We followed up on scheduling doctor appointments, one of which is Jordan’s first visit in an adult primary care office. I looked up new ingredients for dog food recipes. Marcella Rominiecki-Santana, 49, Philadelphia

Today I went in an elevator for the first time since March 11, 2020. Coming back down, I took the stairs instead. Amy Fisher, 47, Toronto

FOGGY, FOGGY, FOGGY. Frankie Colton, 76, Sanford, Colo.

Reading the submissions, I was reminded of the heartbreaking economy of “Beautiful Blueberries,” the final written entry in the diary of the hiker Chris McCandless, the subject of “Into the Wild.”

Tell us

If you were to create an entry in your log book today, what would it be? Try to stick to the facts without editorializing: What happened? Write to us: [email protected] Include your first and last name, age and city. We’re At Home. We’ll read every letter sent. Be sure to check out this beautiful, New York Times-specific log book, as well as more ideas for living an agreeable life at home and near it, below.

How to deal

We all know masks are crucial to protecting ourselves and others from Covid-19, but no one likes wearing them. They’ve also complicated social situations: how do you ask someone to put one on? See how a doctor dealt with this new dynamic at a party. And taking temperatures at the door may not be as effective as we think. Some health officials call it nothing more than a show, unlikely to screen out many infected individuals.

As businesses are bringing back their employees, they’re turning to smaller labs for coronavirus testing of workers, circumventing the big labs, like Quest and LabCorp.

Many of us have put aside a nagging pain in hopes that it will go away. But for one 52-year-old physician, the searing pain in his leg and buttock lasted for nearly a decade. No doctor could figure it out. Then he got a routine exam, and an answer.

What to eat

Sam Sifton suggests making nachos this week. Try his game day platter, or Indian-ish, Greek-style or short-rib versions.

It’s that end-of-summer moment when so much produce from farmers’ markets is in its prime, so why not put it front and center in your cooking? Consider lamb chops with green beans, corn and zucchini or roasted peppers with capers, olives and anchovies.

And if you can’t seem to get your hands on oranges, this is not your imagination. They have become a go-to snack during the pandemic. In fact, the Covid-driven return to the kitchen has changed the way Americans shop for food.

How to pass the time

When William Lamb came across a yellowed envelope featuring the logo of a now-defunct architectural lighting firm, he had no idea it was a clue that would reveal to him his mother’s life as a successful designer in the 1960s in a field dominated by men.

It’s often said that young people get closer to their parents as their parents age. That was true for the linguist and author Deborah Tannen. As a child, she yearned for her father’s attention. It wasn’t until well into adulthood that she discovered how to get him to connect with her: The more she asked him about his past, the longer he would stay on the phone and talk.

Celebrities like Kim Kardashian West, Katy Perry, Leonardo DiCaprio are taking part in an Instagram freeze for 24 hours today to protest Facebook, which they say continues to allow hate and misinformation on its platform. The response has not been all positive.

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