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Life in the Time of Corona: My Census, Myself

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Lots of things come up in my yard in the spring, and I don’t mind. I like the blooming “spring ephemerals” otherwise known as weeds. This year, something different has come up in several locations. We had parts of the yard re-seeded in the fall, and something odd has crept in. Can you help me figure out what it is? It looks kind-of like a crop. Should I be cultivating it for hard times ahead? Photos at the end of the post.

But first, let’s get into the weeds of Census 2020 with my friend Beth Alexander.

From Beth Alexander: My Census, Myself

I’m not sure whether to feel guilty about working from home or not. On one hand, it’s been surprisingly productive. But on the other, I miss the groundedness of checking in with co-workers, and I’ll confess to spending more time than usual cruising Instagram. Older son Dave keeps me abreast of optimistic C-virus updates and helpfully noted that Covid-19 fits perfectly into the rhythm of “Come On, Eileen.”

I know you’re all using your time wisely and may have already already completed the ritual, legally required every decade, of filing your Census return. I decided to check that off my list too.

You’ve received the letter with a 12-digit Census ID. If you go to the website printed in that letter, the highest link Google serves up is “my2020census.gov scam.” So, was it a scam? In the interest of saving you the three minutes it took to get to the bottom of this thorny problem, I’m going to go ahead and let you know that the letter and the website are legit.

Type in the 12-digit ID code and, bam, you verify the address the federal government has linked to you. A little spooky but, okay, I accept that the government knows where I live, even though we moved almost a year ago and not all my favorite charities – or favorite people – have caught up with me yet. Come to think of it, I’m missing some private party invitations too.

Type in your name on the next page, and your cell phone number auto-fills. This is starting to feel a little uncomfortable because I’ve never dialed up the G-man. And after ten years, moving from circles on a paper form to all digital is enough of a shift. Mr. Census, if you already know all about me, why are you asking these questions?

Turns out, the remaining questions are pretty pro forma. Who lives at your address and how old is each person? And while I seem to remember being asked about race in prior censuses, being asked about heritage adds a new wrinkle, perhaps complicated by the profusion of DNA testing that has sprouted up in the past ten years. What’s your heritage? Mine’s pretty easy. The habits and inclinations of my family are clearly Irish: singing, drinking, writing and crying. No point taking a DNA test.

The good doctor (my husband) had his DNA analyzed a couple of years ago, and his heritage is way too complicated to put in one tiny box. It requires a therapist. When he called to tell me his results, I asked what he found out.

“Evidently,” he said, “I’m related to everybody on earth. And no one that I know.” Two major threads of his DNA meander through Italy and Finland. Those two strands overlapped in the 800s A.D. and again in the 1500s. He figures a pirate married a prostitute.

And yet, he has assumed and behaved as if he is Scottish the entire 42 years of our life together. He loves “Outlander” because so much of it takes place in Scotland. His name – our name – is Scot. Aren’t you really the sum of what you think you are? Attitude is the mind’s paintbrush that colors any situation bleak or bright. He has said he was Scot for 65 years, and that’s what I answered for him on the Census form. I figure we’ll get points for consistency, if not accuracy.

And in less than five minutes, the decennial assessment of ourselves and our nation is over. Time to celebrate with a rousing chorus of Covid-19.

Dave and Beth Alexander

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Beth, I love your style! And thank you for the intel! You’ve inspired to me to go ahead and complete our form.

For more from Beth at Bacon, start here. She writes beautifully about the book Ordinary Grace, by William Kent Krueger. And – I’m hoping for a lot more from her.

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In other news, here are some of the things coming up in our yard this spring. Do you know the names of any of them?

Not a crop, maybe a garnish…

Magical fairy dancing ring… it’s a little hard to tell from the photo, but the weed/flowers are blooming in a near-circle… the only ones that look like this in our whole yard…

This should be sold at the local florist, but instead it’s weirdly in the middle of my lawn…

And here’s the real mystery… crop or weed?

Life in the time of corona: harvesting

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