My tree is pathetic when compared to the tree painted by the art class painting instructor. But comparisons are evil, so I’m just going to admire my own tree.

I admit, I am one of the obnoxious people using the pandemic to learn a new skill. But if it’s comforting, I’m being terrible about the things I actually should be doing (you know, like marketing the book I released a few months ago or writing a new book). And I’m very much enjoying learning my new skill. It’s probably not quite as soothing as Animal Crossings would be, but it’s not far off.

In actual news, yesterday was my birthday and I managed to have a really nice day, despite the end of the world busily happening. Mostly because Suzanne rocked the “giving your friend a good birthday” skill. Also because R sent me a birthday text which at least reassured me that he was alive. (Does that sound bitter? I don’t mean it that way. My sense of litost has faded and mostly I’m just really sad that he feels the way he feels. But he’s an adult and even if he weren’t, we don’t get to control other people’s feelings.)

Back to the birthday fun: the cupcake store is closed, but is doing special orders, which meant I couldn’t get a single gluten-free cupcake, but I could get a dozen of them. Carpe diem! I’m sharing, but I’ve still eaten three. They’re grasshopper cupcakes, which are chocolate with a chocolate fondant layer, and then mint buttercream icing topped with chocolate chips and an Andes mint. Just writing about them makes me want to go eat a fourth.

But after yesterday’s first cupcake, we went to the beach. An isolated, northern California style beach — the closest we came to other human beings was well within the social distancing 6 feet and probably closer to the realistic 22 feet that airborne pathogens can spread from a cough or sneeze. We brought all three dogs and I let Zelda off leash, which I don’t usually do these days since she a) can’t hear and b) can be quite forgetful, including forgetting that she’s supposed to stay near her people. But it was a big empty beach with plenty of room for her to run around within my line of view. She had a lovely time. She’s so tired today that when I went in the house for lunch today I couldn’t even convince her to raise her head off the bed, much less accompany me, but I’m sure she would say it was worth it.

After a couple hours at the beach, we came back to the house and while I spent some time on the phone, Suzanne went and picked up take-out sushi that we had pre-ordered from a local restaurant. She built a fire in the backyard fire pit and we ate our delicious sushi fireside. Afterwards, I toasted Peeps over the fire and Suzanne toasted marshmallows, having decided after last year’s Peep-toasting that they were too dangerous. Caramelized sugar is hot enough to make for a painful burn.

We sat by the fire and chatted until the sun went down and the colorful solar lanterns lit up and the fire turned to coals, then embers, then ashes. All three dogs stayed close and Tank, the supposedly feral black cat, came and sat in my lap and purred at me for a while. Fortunately, I had my lovely cloth face mask around my neck still (thank you, Carol!) so I put it back on and managed to escape without too much of an allergic reaction.

In between the beach and the fire, I checked my email and I had the loveliest email from a reader about A Precarious Magic. It was such icing on the cake of a nice day. I know I haven’t done a good job of marketing A Precarious Magic — my March goal was to rewrite the blurb, and I didn’t even manage to do that — but the book business in general has been so bad for me in the last year that I’ve really questioned why I bother. But L wrote, “your books never fail to make my days better.” That’s worth writing for. I read Suzanne the entire email and she told me to print it, frame it, and hang it on my wall, and if I had a wall, I actually might. Vans don’t really have a lot of wall space, though. 🙂

The beach. Very isolated, I swear!