The Sound is Forced, the Notes are Few

The Sacred Grove, Beloved of the Arts and Muses by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes

Me and the muses are having a toxic relationship meltdown during these weeks under quarantine/curfew. Amber A’Lee Frost gave voice to why this relationship has been so fraught in an essay she wrote for Damage

There has of course emerged a predictable cottage industry of self-help articles on how to “be” under quarantine, many of which paint it as an “opportunity.” And they’re not wrong; it is an opportunity—for them to write articles for a bunch of anxious and directionless people who really do want some instruction on how to become your optimal you (while also protecting yourself and others from a potentially deadly disease that is killing people all over the world).

Big tech cannot hide their delight; finally, a truly captive user base! Facebook insists that “We’re never lost if we can find each other,” which might feel grossly insensitive, but only until you see the glee in the Apple ad: “Now, more than ever, we’re inspired by people in every corner of the world finding new ways to share their creativity, ingenuity, humanity and hope.” Totally. We can all just use this time to learn watercolors (while also protecting yourself and others from a potentially deadly disease that is killing people all over the world).

As a urban homesteading/DIY blogger and author I’ve attempted a few of those how to “be” under quarantine hot takes and I’ve even spent part of my time making bad watercolors. I even wrote a post about that later effort (part of a longer post about learning old school architectural drawing) but never hit the publish button because it just didn’t feel right. A large part of that bad feeling comes from the realization that while I’m upping my drawing skills in quarantine, underpaid grocery clerks are risking the Covid to keep my pantry stocked with Cheeze-Its and La Croix.

Ironically, many of the skills I’ve written about and worked on over the years have proven useful in this crapular period. I’m happy to have the bread making, coffee roasting, carpentry and other skills to fall back on. I guess I’ll have to do some negotiations with the muses on how to write about those skills.

At the same time there’s an alternate history universe in which Kelly and I are more lacking in morals and better at the business side of things. In that universe we would have capitalized on the success of our first book to either peddle herbal supplements or start our own cult or some combination of the two. As Cornell West likes to say there’s a bit of a gangster in all of us. So if I start dispensing compost pile advice in white robes it’s probably time to hit the unsubscribe button. If I don’t go that route beware, other grifters are at the door . . .

Leave a comment


  1. I’ll follow every word when you start dispensing compost pile advice in your BATHROBE. :^)

  2. Post away, Mr. Homegrown. The sentient beings out here can competently sift the wheat from the chaff. I, for one, appreciate your continued effort to muse!

  3. I definitely feel it too. Those muses must be hanging out with someone else! I will probably look back at this ‘opportunity’ and wonder why I didn’t accomplish more. Ha! I think I will go take a nap!
    But please keep posting.

  4. Yes, like the other commentators said – please keep posting! Your corner of the internet is the sanest I can find. Thank you.

  5. My guess is you’re going to want some kind of record for this period. You are not going to make the mistake of underestimating the situation. Look, the alternative to passing the time in some kind of constructive way is destruction. We signed up for a permaculture design course through Oregon State University. It has lightened the mood and given us a way to think towards the future.

    My MIL is alive! But cannot leave the hospital because oxygen is now unavailable for purchase. So, she’s taking up a hospital bed because basic medical supplies are not available. (This is in Mexico City for other readers) But we can’t fix this, other than to throw what money we have at the issue. But being stuck in a funk doesn’t fix anything. It is OK to remain a creative person in a time of crisis. If you were the checker at the grocery store, you’d still be busy being a creative. Now’s not the time to sell yourself short.

  6. A long time ago I heard “When times are good, make art. When times are bad, make more art.” Also, Neil Gaiman said, ” When things get tough, this is what you should do. Make good art… Make it on the good days,too.”

  7. Pingback: There she goes, my beautiful world | Root Simple

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