COVID-19, 70

On this first day of our tenth week of isolation, temperature 13°, high pollen count, everything went smoothly, but my time came in at 9:18. I’m not griping, and it may well be that the pollen made the difference, but it is a drop-off from the last few days. Morning Office, did the grocery shopping, enjoyed a hot breakfast, and tackled Legends and my book project outline. (Between the time I saved this draft and when I came back to finish my account of the day, the blog was knocked offline, and by now I don’t recall what happened for the remainder of Thursday.)

COVID, Seventy Less One

If you’re reading this as life happens, at the same time (-ish) that I’m blogging, there’s no need to say how odd this interval of undifferentiated days can be. Today was in many respects just like every other day. In other ways, though, it was a pretty good day. My morning run, though not the fastest ever, went smoothly and relatively quickly (9:17, at 11°, with mild pollen levels according to the Home Office). I said the Office, had a crumpet for breakfast cos we were out of fruit, and settled in right away to write. First, I answered an encouraging email from a UK colleague who appreciated one of my ancient essays; then, buoyed by their enthusiasm, I devoted the morning to (successfully) grinding out more words for my book project. After an early lunch — writing can be hungry work, especially when you haven’t had much breakfast — I turned to Legends on which I made further progress. Margaret cooked a delicious aubergine casserole; we watched the first four episodes of Homecoming’s second season. If this were a predictable pattern, I might be able to get a fair swath of work done this summer. (I’m not counting on this being a predictable pattern. I just relish days like this when they come.)

COVID Sixty-Eight

Chilly morning 7°, muscles okay, clear weather, 9:07. Morning Office, fruit breakast, Legends and some reading, then National Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. I spent the afternoon alternately reading and transcribing, with a cheeky wee bit of writing mixed in, then the Dominic Cummings news conference. Margaret made a fascinating vegetable-and-mince main for dinner, and then she chose My Spy for evening entertainment, followed by HIGNFY and time to turn in.

COVID, Day Sixty-Seven

The temperature had cooled to 11° this morning, and although I felt all right while warming up, I decided early on to take this mile slow and easy. I finished in 9:52, which would have been a marvellous time five or so weeks ago, but is quite a drop-off today; still, it was a deliberate decision, and it felt good to let my legs run at a more modest pace. Tomorrow I may even skip the run altogether.

Morning Office, hot breakfast, Morning Worship from Sheffield on Radio Four, then Mass from Most Holy Trinity, Ettingshall, with the Feeney dogs barking in the background. As predicted, I spent most of the day banging my head against the translation of the ‘Remedium contra Pestem’. I overestimated my capacity to muddle through the Latin, so at the end of the day I called in an expert who may help see me through the tricksy parts. Jurassic Park III, Margaret’s mushroom burgers, and that wraps up Sunday. We’re planning to go to Walsingham tomorrow (in the licit, not Cummings-ian, sense of ‘go’) for the online National Pilgrimage.

COVID 19, 66

This morning turns up the warmest of the year — 16° at daybreak running time — though breezy and oddly cool to the skin, medium pollen. My legs felt heavy, but the mile passed in 9:07, much to my surprise. One of these days I’ll run my mile in a time of less than nine minutes, which will positively amaze me. I’m not in it for the personal records, but I do usually push myself. At about the halfway mark this morning, weary heavy legs almost convinced me to settle into a leisurely jogging pace, but I set me jaw (metaphorically) and pressed on. Morning Office, groceries, hot breakfast, and some bibliographic delving.

In the late morning, and continuing into the afternoon, I succumbed to temptation. You may remember that about a week ago, I predicted that the Plague Cross would demand further attention; today was the day. It turns out that there are varying iterations of the Plague Cross. The instance that Fr Schrenk flagged up derives (apparently) from the 1890s (according to the source, the Wellcome Trust image site), evidently from Italy (from the Italian explanatory note). I was curious to know more about this tradition and prayer, and after just a little exploring I noticed that here are crosses with several different orders of letters on the cross.

I didn’t suppose that I have the historian’s Sitzfleisch and critical nous to arrive at an authoritative account of the origin and development of the Plague Cross tradition, but I thought I might go a little earlier than the late nineteenth century. I came up with several sources, some of which skew markedly toward the occult(!) (toward which I have no inclination), but one of which cited a Franciscan source for not only a slightly different Plague Cross, but a full liturgy for the expulsion of malign influences, the plague in particular, from a given site. The liturgy in question is associated with the name of Bernard [a/k/a Bernardo, Bernhard] Sannig, OFM, ‘Bernard of Silesia’, a man of considerable prominence in Czech ecclesiastical history, but who has left only a scant trace in English-language literature. This is a shame among liturgy nerds, since the source in which I found his ‘Remedium contra Pestem’ — Collectio Absolutionum Benedictionum Conjurationum Exorcismorum, Rituum, et Ceremoniarum Ecclesiasticarum, et Administrationis Sacramentorum; nec non Modum Visitande et Adjuvani Infirmos, Opus Parochis, et Curam Animarum Gerentibus Perutile, et Necessarium — includes boatloads of other rites and ceremonies. He evidently published not only this Collectio, but also a Rituale Franciscanum and a more general Rituale ecclesiasticum and a popular hymnal. Sannig has a long, detailed Wikipedia page in Czech, but none whatsoever in English. (You may wish to read the Google Translate version of the Czech page, which does a good job — so far as I can tell — of conveying his life and career.) The edition of the Collectio that I found via Google Books was printed in 1842, but goes back to the early eighteenth century (Venetiis, apud Jo. Baptistam Recurti, 1736). Sooner or later, I’ll go track that down, too.

Anyway, finding out about Bernard/Bernardo/Bernhard took a long time, making a good Inkscape svg of his version of the Plague Cross likewise (though I’m getting somewhat more proficient at Inkscape), and I spent the rest of the afternoon working on a translation of the Remedium contra Pestem. Then an afternoon Rosary with SMMS, pizza, and the second Jurassic Park film.

COVID, Retirement Age

The morning was grey and overcast, the temperature supposedly 16° (though I’d never have believed it), breezy, with occasional light drizzle. I pushed hard early, and my thighs suggested that I might be asking too much of them, but at the end of the mile, my timer said 9:05. I can’t suggest an experiential confirmation of the difference in times from a few weeks ago, but the obvious inference is that my legs are getting stronger, and perhaps even that I’m oxygenating more effectively (the real goal for me). Either way, I’m surprised and a little pleased. Morning Office, fruit breakfast, and Legends. I finished the ‘Ten Generations’ section today, and made some headway on ‘Noah’. Majliss supplied dinner, and Jurassic Park the entertainment.

COVID Eight²

This morning’s weather seemed so promising that I ran sans hoodie for the first time this summer. The temperature was 11°, the skies held light clouds, low pollen, and my limbs signalled cooperation and comfort (as much as one can expect when running a mile). I noticed heavy breathing again, but the mile took a mere 9:08, so whatever was happening couldn’t have affected me too grievously. Morning Office, fruit breakfast, and I read several articles from the new issue of the Journal of Biblical Literature before pitching in to Legends. Mass from All Saints, Margaret Street at noon. I spent much of the afternoon reading as well, then the Office of Readings with SMMS. I cooked my Bachelor Dinner for Margaret and me, we watched the end of Westworld (about which my review is, ‘Meh’), and retired.

I lost my temper (culpably, at Margaret) a couple of times this afternoon and evening. Part of my short temper has to do with video chat, which I both dread and experience as awkward and stressful, evoking a maximal trigger for my social anxieties, and which exhausts my patience afterward; part, from the cumulative frustration of nine and half weeks of isolation; and part, I suppose, from a natural streak of irascibility. No video chat tomorrow, so I’ll try to behave better.


Yet another lovely morning, 10°, though the Home Office reports a medium pollen count. That squared with my experience: I struggled with my breathing most of the way. My legs kept strong, though, and I arrived home with a surprising 9:10 mile. Groceries at Sainsbury’s, hot breakfast, Morning Office, some marking and emailing and conversation with Margaret, and the morning flew by. I had a less energetic afternoon, but did make headway on the ‘Ten Generations’ [before the Flood] section of Legends.
Chickpea pancakes for dinner, Westworld, and time for bed.


One might think that 11° would make for a very warm morning run indeed, but a moderate breeze kept things cool. My breathing felt heavier (but low pollen, so…), but legs and general comfort sustained me through a 9:21 mile. Fruit breakfast, Morning Office, and a restless, unproductive day. Not altogether unproductive — I made some headway on the ‘Ten Generations’ chapter of Legends and did some light reading — but one of those days that I ought to have just written off and enjoyed, rather than sat at my keyboard and fretted.
We dined on boiled new potatoes (rather than jacket potatoes), beans, broccoli, and Margaret’s cashew cream sauce. Vespers and Westworld.

COVID World, Sixty-One

The sky was a bit cloudy, but the temperature was 9°, with no prospect of rain. On the other hand, every physical system involved in running rebelled against me this morning — achy joints, stiff muscles, laboured breathing (I wish I could blame pollen, but that wasn’t the culprit). Still came in at 9:37, but a very grim mile.
The morning went well enough — I poked and prodded at my book outline, read a cursory few pages, but ended up devoting more time to the third section of Legends. The afternoon, though, descended into aimless, futile internet frittering. I think I desire, intensely but , to resume extra-domestic activity of at least a casual, intermittent sort. Pizza. Westworld.

COVID World, Quarantine and a Half

Sixty days is a long time to spend at home.

The morning weather was pleasantly cool and clear, my knees felt fine, low pollen, and a gratifying 9:19 mile. Morning Office and hot breakfast. I poked in to Legends for a few minutes, then Sunday Mass at Most Holy Trinity Ettingshall with Fr Damian. After Mass, I launched into Legends seriously, and with grit and determination finished the ‘Adam’ portion of the book by the end of the afternoon.

Last night, Margaret wanted to print the text of a presentation she’s going to give tomorrow morning, but alas! the printer ran out of ink at exactly the wrong moment. I scrolled through my past Amazon orders to repeat a last-minute order (just as the last few times we’ve run out of ink), and it looks as though the price has almost doubled over the past five or so years — doubled, that is, over the already-outrageous cost per ounce.

Margaret roasted some veg and Quorn, and we watched the last Doctor Who episode of the series, then started the last Father Brown of the year (wrapped around a call from Nate). All in all, a rewarding day.

COVID World, Day 59

7°, rusty painful knees at the start of my 9:42 mile, lightning early grocery trip, Morning Office, hot breakfast, Legends of the Jews, Sam Ward laboured more than two hours to clear about eight square metres of our back meadow garden, a giant smoothie by from my sweetheart for me, more Legends, Rosary with SMMS, more Legends, soup, A Confession, HIGNFY, bed.