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Chronicles of a Corona Captive – Days 48-53

The governor of New Jersey has officially closed school buildings for the rest of the academic year. I didn’t realize when I submitted my retirement papers back in December, that I’d get a 90 day trial period to sample some of the finer aspects of retirement like sleeping past 5:30am, going to the bathroom at will and working in a room that has windows. That said, the thought of another 6 weeks of remote learning is daunting.

The Mystery of the Missing Thin Mints… I made an experimental batch of mint chocolate cupcakes for Oregano’s birthday. The sacrificial test cupcake was a slam dunk so I was cleared to proceed to phase 2 – frosting. I waited until Oregano was out at the grocery store then I prepared the frosting, removed a dozen Thin Mints from their top-secret location and decorated every cupcake with a cookie. If I hadn’t kept them safely hidden, he would have eaten them all and had none left for his birthday. I’m nothing if not a benevolent bitch.

After 2 months of being homebound, I finally left the house! We were out together for 2 whole hours. When we got home, the cats gave us a “Where the hell have you been?” look.

My big outing was to visit nurseries in search of plants for the garden. Since we were outdoors and wearing masks, we figured this was a relatively safe way for me to venture out. I don’t really mind the mask and after a few minutes I forgot I even had it on. As I walked through the aisles, I saw a lilac bush. I love the smell of lilacs, but despite my green thumb, I cannot grow them. Any chance I get, I try to steal a whiff of them.  When I bent down to sniff the blossoms, I was disappointed that they were not fragrant. His voice muffled by the mask, I heard Oregano suggest that I remove my mask and sniff again.

I realized that masks serve another purpose besides protecting us from the virus. Almost everyone’s hair is in the process of returning to its au natural state. Wearing a mask hides your identity until the salons reopen. Bonus, no need to wear make-up either.

When we got in the car to leave the nursery, Oregano noticed a woman in the parking lot loading plants into her trunk. He said, “Hey, she looks like she’s had a haircut! How did she do that?” I looked up startled at his outburst. I’m not sure what I found more surprising; the woman who had a very stylish, very short haircut or the fact that Oregano noticed she had her hair cut. He never notices when I get a haircut. We spent the 15 minute drive to the next nursery coming up with scenarios that would have explained how she was able to get a haircut. You wouldn’t think someone else’s hair could generate that much conversation, but it did. This is the world we live in now.

When we stopped at a light on our ride home from our excursion, Oregano looked lovingly at me and told me I looked adorable in my mask. It was very sweet. What was my appreciative reply to this compliment? “So, are you saying I look better with half my face covered?” Speechless by my response, Oregano chuckled, shook his head and pulled away when the light turned green. Tender marital moment over.

About Paprika Furstenburg

I was born with an overly developed sense of humor and poor coordination. The combination of these two character traits has taught me humility and given me the perspective to find the funny in everyday experiences.

16 responses »

  1. Hi Paprika, The remote learning is definitely a challenge. You made me smile on how our masks hide our identity. On this note, when I first wake up I think I see “Darlene” from “Ozark” staring at me in the mirror. (In case you have watched the show). A little scary. I am impressed “Tender marital moment”. 24/7 togetherness has not ruined these moments. Take care.

    • Hi! Looking like Darlene from Ozark is one thing, just don’t start behaving like her. Visiting a stylist when they reopen will rid you of that look. No amount of time in a stylists chair can fix that kind of crazy. I’m grateful that Oregano and I actually enjoy each other’s company even after 24/7 togetherness. This would be a brutal situation if we couldn’t joke with each other. Stay safe and be well.

      • Yes, we are on the same wavelength, Paprika🙂And yes, with my husband and I and all of this togetherness. Loving and more importantly liking each other. You, too, stay well.

  2. You left Oregano speechless? Well, this clearly is an upside-down world! Great read!

  3. As long as we are in quarantine, we need your blogs to keep us laughing! 😉💜

  4. Oh.My.Goodness.
    Those Thin Mint Cookie Cupcakes look absolutely scrummy (as Mary Berry would say on The Great British Baking Show). How can you wait to celebrate Oregano’s b-day on the day – of? Why not break out into an early start and party-on throughout the weekend?

    I,too, have noticed the benefits of wearing a mask…don’t have to worry if I forgot to brush my teeth before going somewhere and as for the hair thing? It makes my normally straight (and stringy if I haven’t washed it in the past few days!) hair look kinda nice!
    Oh and, BTW: you stopping to smell the lilacs whilst masked was hilarious!
    Happy b-day to Oregano and happy day when you get to eat those Thin Mint Cookie cupcakes…care to share the recipe?

    • Don’t worry. Oregano’s birthday was last weekend. I baked the cupcakes last Friday and there were consumed…mostly…on Sunday. Those things didn’t not survive long and they were scrummy. (Love that word!)

      I tweaked a recipe that I found online for the cupcakes. I will share the link in a bit with my tweaks.

    • Here’s the link to the recipe for the cupcakes.

      In the original recipe the cupcakes are just chocolate and the frosting is minty. I wanted to make a mint chocolate cupcake. Here is how I tweaked it to get it more like a Thin Mint.

      For the cupcakes:
      Instead of the 2 t of vanilla extract I subbed:

      1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
      1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract

      For the frosting:
      I omitted the green food coloring

      Instead of cream I used milk. I just used a bit less than 2 tablespoons

      I crushed up Andes mints (Oregano’s favorite) by putting them in a bag and whacking them with the back of a spoon. Very fun! I folded them into the frosting.

      I attempted to pipe the frosting onto the cupcake, but even with the largest tip I had, the mints clogged up the works. I ended up having to frost with a spatula. Next time, I would smash up the mints more.

      Full disclosure: I thought the frosting was too minty and sweet. I would probably just do a peppermint frosting with mini chocolate chips or a vanilla buttercram with the crushed mints. That is just my opinion. Oregano loved the frosting this way. It’s just a matter of preference.

      If you do make them, please let me know how you like them.

      • Thanks! I like the basic, from scratch, choco cupcake recipe with tweaks like you mentioned. I’m leaning towards the buttercream with crushed Andes Mints for the frosting. This is in my ‘to try’ file and will be experimented with once we have more family/people to share the eating! But to be 100% authentic, I guess I’d have to wait until my own stash of Thin Mints is restocked in 2021, right?!
        Meanwhile, don’t forget to smell the roses with your mask off!

      • Actually, I bought more Thin Mints from the Girl Scouts online. We needed reinforcements.

      • Too Too funny! Enjoy your weekend, Paprika!

  5. “Hanging up your spikes” at your age? What is this world coming to? What is NP going to do without your talent….someone who really made a difference in so many students’ lives. I can remember first meeting you in that teeny room in the Somerset School and thinking to myself that the district really struck it rich with this teacher. My first impression never wavered and it proved to be very correct. Best wishes in your next life. Sorry we won’t be able to give you a proper send-off. I still enjoy looking through the scrapbook you participated in creating for me. Best of luck and stay healthy.

    • Awww…thank you so much for your effusive compliments, Dr. Bob! (Trying not to get too weepy.) I, too, remember sitting in that tiny room at Somerset School with you. It seems like a lifetime ago and just yesterday at the same time. I was so blessed to have such supportive colleagues who guided me throughout my career. I have been assured that the Deaf Tones will be making a comeback and that while the celebration will be postponed, there will still be some type of celebration at some point. I hope so. I really would love to be able to thank everyone in person for all that they have given to me over the years. I have no idea what the next chapter of my life will be and it was a tough decision to turn the page not knowing what will be on the next one, but it is most certainly time to turn that page and hope the next words will present themselves.

  6. Hah…retired but a substitute teacher in Southern NJ. The dog’s paws are worn out. I managed to lose 5 of my Covid 10. But I miss the students…who knew?

    • Good for you for losing 5 of your Covid 10 even if it did come at the expense of your dog’s paws. I miss seeing my students especially since I won’t get the chance to say goodbye in person. Stay safe!


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