Sheltered Diaries: Not Bread, Not Masks, But Soap

I have a group of friends who – even though we’re all over the country – have been friends since we all found our sarcastic soulmates in a BabyCenter message board 10 years ago. Every night (and sometimes throughout the day periodically) we have been virtually gathering to chat about our new coronavirus lives.

Some of us are stay-at-home moms, some of us used to work away from home (remember that? We put real pants on and everything), some are married to essential workers, and some ARE essential workers.

But every day, we’re each other’s sanity check. Two of us (not me, thank goodness) have had COVID-19. Our most recent member felled by the virus likely caught it from her firefighter husband. She’s doing OK – but can’t shake the fever. They’re watching their children carefully, too.

But my tribe is where everyone can be their most honest, and admit that this just, well, sucks sometimes. Yes, we’d all like to continue to post airbrushed, light-filled photos of us cuddling our children, with adorable jam-smudged faces they earned from eating homemade jam and sourdough bread that we concocted as a family, #blessed.

I bring this up because the other day, we had a very honest conversation about how we all felt it was OK to not want to do anything at this juncture that remotely resembles crafting, sewing, baking, cooking, homework, Zoom, or nonalcoholic beverages.

We jokingly offered to block each other if we started posting certain things. And then, Sunday morning, Tiny woke up with an agenda.

See, early in our pandemic grounding, I ordered all the things you need to make soap. No, not Laura Ingalls Wilder soap with lard and fireplace ashes, but fancypants soap made of goat’s milk and shea butter that you cut from big blocks and melted down, then combined with essential oils and coloring.

I thought it would take up an afternoon of boredom. I thought pomegranate and vanilla sounded like a nice combination. I thought we might need soap by now.

I thought a lot of things.

As it turns out, the whole enterprise takes 15 minutes not counting the time it takes your soap to harden in the molds. Pomegranate and vanilla smell like someone had a big fight in a Bath and Body Works, circa 1992. And we don’t need more soap yet because I apparently have a problem where I order soap a lot, and we might be hoarders.

“Well, this didn’t take long,” Tiny said, surveying his 12 cakes of soap. “But it IS beautiful.”

We still have a lot of soap supplies left – so fair warning: If you know us, you’re getting soap for your birthday. And Christmas. And Easter. Possibly even Halloween.

And also, to my tribe, I hope these 15 minutes of arts and crafts don’t get me blocked.


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Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at bethany.erickson@peoplenewspapers.com.

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