What I did on my winter vacation

By Mir
January 14, 2021

Hello! How’s everyone holding up? How are we handling… you know… everything? Still hanging on? Good, good. Us too.

Today is day 7,391 of the plague, right? My hair clippers—which I’ve had for so long I really don’t know how long I’ve had them—started making a really weird noise when I used them last month, and after giving Chickadee and Sunny haircuts while they were visiting (more on that in a bit) I discovered that I’d given Sunny terrible razor burn on her neck while I was tidying up at the end of her cut. I felt awful. (She, true to form, was all, “It’s fine! No big deal!” because she is a doll.) I fell down a rabbit hole of reviews and price comparisons and after hemming and hawing for a few weeks, ordered a (higher-quality) replacement set. I got them out for the first time yesterday to give Otto a back-to-school haircut and HOOBOY those new clippers are sharp and powerful and so much better than my old ones, I was legitimately excited and exclaiming things like, “Oh my God, these are amazing!” and “I cannot believe how cleanly these cut!” And then this morning as Otto got ready for work I admired my handiwork and again commented, “Man, those new clippers are AWESOME.”

This was when I realized my already-tenuous grasp on real life might be unravelling. I mean, yay for decent clippers, but this shouldn’t be the most exciting development of the year. Still, here we are. Hair clippers are the best part of 2021 so far. Wheeee!

For the first time in many many many years, I did not make a vision board on January 1. I haven’t ruled out making one at some point, but this year it just seemeed…. pointless. Weird, at best. I would rather focus on more concrete tasks, like nagging my child to do the dishes on his appointed days.

Another milestone of the times: I finally decided I was done making masks. Everyone has masks now, right? I’d made a gazillion of them and the need seemed to have died down, and in the meantime I had taken over the entire dining room as my sewing headquarters. Now, there’s three of us here, and we can easily eat at the kitchen table (or—let’s be honest—in the family room), so it’s not as though I was somehow impeding our lives by using the dining room. All the same, there were bins of fabric and an ironing board and my sewing machine and a bunch of other stuff alllllll over the room, so one day I decided I was done and it was time to clean up. I folded the ironing board back up and put it and the iron back in the laundry closet. I packed up all the fabric. I organized my sewing accessories in their box and found a storage spot for everything and thoroughly vacuumed the dining room (which was littered with bits of thread). I dusted and wiped down everything and put the runner back on the dining room table. Progress!

Two weeks later, someone from Licorice’s dog rescue contacted me. I had made and donated a bunch of masks for them a number of months ago, and they were just wondering… would I have any interest in sewing some dog bandanas for them? The first message said “for adoption events” so I assumed they meant for the dogs to wear to look cute and appealing to potential families. So OF COURSE, let me help. I am all about helping the doggos get adopted. But, uh, it turns out that “for adoption events” actually meant “to sell as a fundraiser at adoption events,” which—and I admit, math is not my strength—means a lot more bandanas than I originally assumed. So. GUESS what my dining room looks like, again! These bandanas are designed to thread a collar through and come in four different sizes. They’re not particularly difficult to make (which is good, as I really still don’t know how to sew anything complicated) and I’m not gonna lie, sewing is a very zen activity for me while the world burns, so sure, I’m in.

It took a few more weeks before another volunteer dropped off their fabric stash to me, but I started sewing the week before Christmas and I keep swearing I’ve made enough for now and I’m done, but then I get another CNN news alert and head back to the sewing machine to work out my feelings. So far my feelings look an awful lot like about 200 assorted dog bandanas. I can stop anytime I want to. I assume.

I even sewed through Chickadee and Sunny’s holiday visit, because we didn’t get to see them all that much, and they ended up having a Big Cat Crisis while here. [Side note: they quarantined and tested prior to coming, safety measures were taken, no one got sick, hooray.] They drove 1,000 miles straight through with three cats, and then camped out at Sunny’s folks’ house (because they have a separate finished basement, ideal for the cats, while I am both allergic to cats and in possession of two dogs who think cats might be tasty snacks) most of the time. Then their cat Petey became very ill and had to go to the vet hospital and it was a week-long stressfest, ending with Petey being fine (now) and the girls being significantly poorer. Sigh. We did get to work a giant puzzle together, and play Cards Against Humanity, and they were here for Monkey’s birthday celebration before they went back home, too.

Oh, so there was that, too. Monkey turned 21. BANANAS. My youngest child is 21. (Hi, I’m Mir, and I’m old.) We offered him some (newly legal) alcohol and he was not interested. His main birthday gift was a new phone and I thought that was pretty generous of us, but it turns out his sister bought him some socks with pictures of Duncan and Licorice all over them, so three guesses (and the first two don’t count) what his favorite gift was. We could’ve saved ourselves a lot of money, is all I’m saying.

Through all of this, I’ve been dealing with a shoulder issue for the past… I wasn’t even sure. Many months. It was bad for a while. Like, turn-over-onto-that-side-and-wake-myself-up-with-the-pain kind of bad. We all know I’m clumsy and delicate (what a delightful combination!) and as it got worse and worse I wracked my brain to try to figure out what on earth I could’ve possibly done. I couldn’t come up with anything. It just hurt all the time, and especially while trying to do anything out of the smallest, most limited range of motion. I had a rotator cuff tear on the other side a number of years ago, and eventually it occurred to me that this felt the same. At least this time it’s on my non-dominant side. But again, HOW? I had no idea.

The right thing to do when it started hurting or even after a while when it was still hurting would be to… go see my doctor. I did physical therapy for the previous injury and knew that was probably what I needed again. But I also knew there wasn’t much else for it and had zero desire to enter any doctor’s office or PT center during the pandemic. So I did nothing, save for occasionally whining about it to Otto, who always responded by telling me to go to the doctor. He’s helpful.

The good news is that in the last couple of weeks I’ve noticed the pain subsiding; it’s not gone, and my range of motion is still compromised, but it’s much, much better. And so I mentioned it in passing which chatting with a friend and she—of course—asked how I hurt it. “I have no idea!” I said, and she asked when it had started hurting. I considered it, for the umpteenth time. “You know,” I finally said, “I think it started after I got my flu shot. Like, my arm was sore from that and just never got better. But it’s not like getting a little vaccine can give you a rotator cuff injury! That would be bonkers!” And because we were chatting online and this was the first time I’d put those two events together after all this time, I decided to just Google that real quick.


So, quick survey: I know these are unprecedented times, and all, but am I more of a ridiculous delicate flower for ending up with a rotator cuff tear from a flu shot or for breaking my hand on an apple? I feel like it could go either way.

BRB, gotta wrap myself in bubble wrap and sew some bandanas.


  1. Mary K

    We’ve missed you, Mir! You’re so pretty!

  2. Vickie

    Pain in shoulder started in February. It was terrible in March, April and May, but everything was closed down.

    I did get back some range of motion over the summer, mostly with me figuring out I could function from the elbow to the hand if my upper arm was plastered to my side.

    Tried PT from end of July to end of August, and then PT sent me to surgeon.

    It was a full tear (MRI) which requires surgery. Full tears do not, can not heal on their own. Rotator cuff surgery the end of September. Lots and lots of PT starting two days after surgery.

    I still have no idea how I did it. BUT it was a good year to have it all done, because I am home anyway. And everyone else was home to take care of me and help. (One by one, my adult kids have all moved home + one more.)

    • Mir

      Oooouuuuuuch! Glad you’re on the mend.

  3. Trish

    I’m pretty sure that happened to me a couple of years ago. At the time I thought it was from exercise but months later I realized that it might have been from my flu shot.

  4. Melissa

    I work at an elementary school, and one year we had a kid who ended up with a broken arm as a side effect of the flu shot.

    Of course, that was because he threw himself off the exam table trying to get away from the needle….

  5. ccr in MA

    I’m sorry to hear about the shoulder, but always glad when you pop back up in the feed reader!

  6. Amy

    I always love hearing from you!

  7. StephLove

    Happy birthday to Monkey! I hope your shoulder is better soon. That’s a really surprising vaccination side effect.

    So… did you ever find out who left the muffins?

    • Mir

      No!! I threw them away because I was afraid to have anyone eat them.

  8. Jess

    SO. WEIRD. Back in January 2020 my shoulder also started hurting out of the blue. It got worse and my range of motion got smaller for months – I think until around July or August. Then slowly started getting better. I’m now back to almost normal without any intervention (I also avoided talking to a doc this year, assuming from other shoulder injuries it would require PT and/or surgery).

    Since it COMPLETELY resolved on its own, I now think it was this:

    Most likely in women over 40, fwiw.

    • Jess

      Or, now that I’m thinking about it again, it could also be tendonitis. Lots of those suckers in your shoulder joint and that can also take 6-18 months to resolve but usually doesn’t need anything but time and maybe ibuprophen.

  9. Brigitte

    Was just telling another delicate blossom (no names, don’t fret) of your apple peeler incident. I was thinking that all these months of repetitive mask sewing might have aggravated the rotator cuff issue?
    Then again, I had about a year of being unable to raise my right arm without massive pain, and it seems to have resolved itself as magically as it’s appeared, so, who knows?

  10. Daisy

    Dog bandannas sound awesome. And if the making of the doggie items helps you feel Zen in the middle of chaos, that’s even better.

  11. Kathie

    As far as your shoulder goes, you might want to check what the angle is on your sewing machine….the bed of the machine should be at a right angle. If it’s too high, it can cause shoulder pain (like a repetitive stress injury). So you can either drop the machine lower (probably not feasible if it’s at your dining table), or raise your chair higher. I’ve been sewing since I was 13…I had HORRIBLE shoulder pain in my late 20’s when I was sewing at my dining table. It lasted a long time. I finally got an actual sewing machine cabinet and the shoulder pain just disappeared.

  12. Rachael

    Um… can I cry now? Like, my shoulder started hurting back in March — ya know, I can’t sleep on it, frozen shoulder, bursitis, and shoulder impingement. I never would have linked a shoulder injury to a vaccine. Holy moly. Mine came from a repetitive driving injury, but I feel your pain.

  13. suburbancorrespondent

    It is utterly ridiculous that Monkey is now 21. Impossible, I say!

    • Mir

      I agree. Where can we file a complaint??

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