Bacon on the Bookshelf

Savory picks for the free range reader

Friday Night Lights/REDRUM: Gus and Jennifer Puryear



Hi Gus! Thanks for joining me for this Bacon interview tonight. Because – what else do we have going on?

How does it feel to have survived the novel Coronavirus? (Gus and our older daughter Ruth are more than 3 weeks past the end of symptoms…)

Gus: I feel grateful, though I have now been tasked with all grocery shopping, procuring of essential goods and services (i.e., Jennifer’s white bordeaux) and all manner of other errands.

Jennifer: I’m glad he survived.

What was the worst part of having the virus?

Gus: Worrying throughout about our oldest daughter Ruth in Atlanta. And on days 8 and 9 of running a fever, I found myself wondering: will this never end?

Jennifer: I think a certain numbness allowed me to continue to function and not be paralyzed by worry. It was weird. It felt both real and not real. I wasn’t sleeping well. This was in the very earliest days of the coronavirus in the US. Earliest days of our awareness of the coronavirus, I should say.

What was the best part of having the virus?

Gus: Possible short-term immunity. Otherwise, I cannot think of much reason to recommend it.

Jennifer: He was contained and grateful in his feverish, weakened state.

What are your plans this Friday night?

Jennifer: We just learned that Ruth is driving up from Atlanta! I will make an extravagant dinner for the family (that is to say, I will warm up something very delicious from Kristen’s Pantry).

Gus: I am hoping for a post-work walk with Jennifer and Pepper, followed by seeing Ruth!

What would you rather be doing on a Friday night?

Gus: A trip to New York to have an incredible meal followed by seeing David Byrne’s “American Utopia.” As that’s not in the cards, home surrounded by all the Puryear girls – Jennifer, Ruth, Mary, and Pepper!

Jennifer: That sounds pretty good.

Are you going crazy yet with all the time at home?


Jennifer: Yes. I go to Jim Sovine’s Flower and Plant sale almost every day, the one across from Target on White Bridge Road organized by the Kiwanis. I’ve been going there almost every day for weeks. It has been sanity for me. Before that, I went to Flower Mart almost every day. Then they were unconscionably closed (except for in-car, curbside) even though they were only selling plants, bushes, and trees outdoors – the same set-up as at the Kiwanis sale. Apparently they were asked by police officers to close. This doesn’t seem right to me. But both places have been – not kidding – some kind of salvation for me.

How is working at home working out?

Gus: It is fine, and I’m grateful to be working with a great group of people.

Jennifer: Once he figured out that he needed to stay in his office (the Living Room) for some significant portion of each day, all was fine.

Where do you hide when you need some time alone?

Gus: Am I allowed out of the Living Room?

Jennifer: Ruth’s bedroom, with the door closed. Now that she’s coming back I’ll have to find a new spot.

Have you gotten as much done around the house as you should have in the Time of Corona, in terms of organization and cleaning? What are your personal goals for cleaning out the garage?

Jennifer: I have a lot of goals for Gus with regard to the garage. Goals that have not yet been achieved.

Gus: I have been organizing those things that I consider essential.

What’s your best coping strategy in the Time of Corona?

Jennifer: Being outside. I am most content puttering around the yard, getting new bushes and flowers and trees situated. I’ve added: lenten roses, rose of sharon, lily of the valley, gardenias, camellias, and 3 redbud trees at last count. Thank you Southern Gardens – Kelly Jones – you are terrific.

Gus: Walking and being grateful this crisis is happening in the middle of spring.

What’s your worst coping strategy in the time of corona?

Jennifer: Getting in bed and pulling up the covers and putting on my sleep mask in the middle of the day

Gus: Is that the sleep mask that says “Off Duty” on it? Reading the news, which does nothing to help one cope.

What’s the best part of each day, or is each day different?

Jennifer: I love walking the dog with Gus most every afternoon. We walk through a deserted Green Hills that is usually bustling.

Gus: The walks. A sunset over the backyard while the dogwoods are in bloom.

What are your darkest thoughts in the time of corona?

Gus: If the country doesn’t get back to work soon, what will happen?

Jennifer: It is going to be so, so long before we get back to any kind of normal.

What are your most hopeful thoughts?

Gus: We cure or control this disease soon and freedom of movement is restored, and yet we all take more pleasure in the simple things we used to maybe overlook in our busy lives. Or at least that I overlooked.

Jennifer: This has been a clarifying time. I hope I have the courage and discernment to use my time wisely in months and years to come.

Most proud of in the time of corona?

Gus: It is hard to take pride in this time.

Jennifer: I have not become an alcoholic. Nor have I given up my white burgundy or white bordeaux. #RobinPatton

Most angry about?

Gus: Twenty-four hour cable news channels are going strong, but sports are not. (Though this UNC fan was at peace with the NCAA basketball tournament cancellation.)

Jennifer: I can’t even get started.

What are you reading/watching?

Gus: The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. I usually dodge the latter’s opinion and editorial pages unless I notice an opinion piece in the Times from a high school friend who is now a Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard and thus is having his 15 minutes. Let us hope that’s all it is, for all of our sakes.

Jennifer: Apple News Plus. This is the best $10/month I’ve ever spent.

What have you learned about yourself in the time of corona?

Gus: I am capable of some patience.

Jennifer: Roger Moore might be my soul mate. Here’s his answer to this question from a couple of days ago, which is Exactly How I Feel:

“I’m surprised at how much I long for interaction. I am a complete introvert and dream of how wonderful it would be to stay home all the time. Now that I am experiencing that, I realize I like solitude punctuated with at least some forms of human companionship. I’m also surprised that I seem to read for pleasure less since the pandemic. I thought I would be consuming books voraciously, but I always seem to be busy with other things.”

What have you learned about others?

Gus: When you go out for essentials, you realize people seem calm and careful, as though all are acutely aware that we are in this crisis together and depend on each other for safe “distancing.” They are especially polite. To paraphrase Burke – good manners matter more than good laws.

Jennifer: We’re all muddling through, making imperfect decisions. Most people are doing the best they can.

What is your state of mind? Right now, and in the Time of Corona generally?

Gus: Right now, calm. Generally, worried.

Jennifer: Depends on the hour. Ruth has just walked through the door. Right now? Content, and grateful.


  1. Very Nice! Enjoy Ruth…I am sure you will. We have a son and daughter in law in Brooklyn and a daughter and son-in-law and granddaughter in Montreal.. miss them and missed our Easter visit with them.

  2. Love it. Not sure good manners are everything, but my mother and my grandmother taught me they are essential to civilized life

  3. So thrilled to read this tonight. It’s great to ‘hear’ Gus’s voice and know he is well and still witty. Also great to learn the heart warming news that Ruth is home for a visit. Enjoy this Friday night with your family in the time of Corona.

  4. A perfect role model otherwise- I never expected Gus to be a model case for Corona Virus. Gus- you’ve conquered so much! Do you plan to donate your blood/plasma to help others who are fighting to recover from Corona??
    Praying and grateful for your recovery, as well as Ruth’s! So
    Many blessings. Love y’all!

    • Thank you, dear Ashley!! Gus has been talking about selling his plasma. (KIDDING!) It’s so wonderful to hear from you, sending you love right back, hoping your family will stay well! xoxo

  5. Loved “chatting” with you and Gus on this Friday night. Now – back to MY white wine!

  6. Wonderful post! Thrilled that Ruth is home!

  7. The best thing is seeing the two of you, glowing with health, after challenges. Cause for big time thanksgiving.

    Sail on!!

  8. Perhaps my favorite of the series. Jennifer in the hot seat! And Gus, very glad you’re back to normal. If you find yourself in LA, I certainly have some errands you can run with your new superpower.

  9. Heartwarming! Virtual hugs for your entire family.

  10. So thankful that Gus and Ruth are safe and healthy!

  11. I laughed out loud at your goals for cleaning out the garage and Gus’s response. They are very similar to mine and my husband’s, insert office. Progress is being made, although slowly.

    I enjoy your posts, and am so glad for the recoveries.

  12. I can’t tell you what you mean to me/us. No words. What a time we live in.

  13. Welcome home Ruth! So happy to hear from you and Gus and that all is so well at the Puryear home tonight! I love your new plantings too!

  14. Great to see the Nick and Nora Charles of our Coronavirus times strolling the hood today with the delightful Pepper/Asta this gorgeous afternoon!
    Fantastic post!

  15. I LOVED this! So funny and beautiful and sweet. But it does beg the question…when will we get a Pepper Corona interview?

  16. I loved hearing from you both last night, and was hoping we would hear from you and Gus at some point. I’m so glad you are enjoying your family reunited this weekend!

    I, too, can relate to Roger Moore’s sentiments. I definitely miss seeing all of you in the flesh, in spite of my introverted leanings!

  17. Thrilled that all are doing well. Look forward to enjoying a glass of your favorite Bordeaux with you one day soon.

  18. Loved this post. So very glad you are all well and together. Absolutely the best.

  19. Jennifer.
    So glad that Gus is recovering and you don’t have the virus. Don and I are staying home except foraging for food and walking in Percy Warner.
    We are fortunate to have separate offices and two living spaces to separate. Enjoying Ruth is a good cure!

  20. I really enjoyed reading this and I’m going to commit to trying apple news plus!! So glad your husband and daughter are well after the virus. I’ve been enjoying your posts!

  21. Dear Jessi – I am so thrilled to hear from you!! And I am sending all warmest wishes to you & yours. I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the posts. The Bacon project is keeping me sane right now. xoxo

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