Month: July 2020

Pandemic Prose

I Can’t Forget I’m Living In a Pandemic

 

pandemic

Dear Reader:

My husband and I have been married for 36 years. We quietly celebrated our anniversary on June 2nd, Blackout Tuesday. Long-term marriage is not without its challenges and through the years we’ve had a couple of good counselors guide us through difficult times.

The best marriage counselors, like the best fitness trainers, impart wisdom that we can turn to when we need it. Twenty full years later, I find myself reflecting on these words: “There’s Tom’s world and there’s Michele’s world and those are different places.”

I’m not searching for guidance on getting along with husband this time, though. I’m looking for a way to explain and accept peoples’ differing responses to living in a pandemic. I repeated the mantra in my head this morning while I enjoyed coffee on the front porch with my husband.

From our elevated perch, we watched one of my favorite neighbors visiting with a friend. Neither was wearing a face covering. They came walking down the street, side by side, enthusiastically conversing until they stopped directly across the street from us. They continued talking, face to face, without observing any social distancing recommendations.

My friend and her husband are fifteen years older than us, but we have a lot in common with them and greatly enjoy their company.  They were often guests in our home before the pandemic. In May and June, my friend and I began a two-person book club and met in each others yards to talk from a distance of six feet.

We did speak of the pandemic and it was clear that our family was taking greater precautions than she and her husband, but initially they did seem concerned about the danger. Over time it’s become clear, from both conversation and observation, that they are returning to pre-covid life just as the cases and hospitalizations in my state and county are rising at an alarming, record-setting rate.

When she called last week to ask if I’d like to join her for coffee in her yard, I declined telling her that, with cases going up, I’d rather schedule a Zoom call. She was game and we had a lovely chat, as we always do.

My husband and I watched her friendly visit in near disbelief.

“I don’t know,” I offered with deep insight. Even more insightful: “It seems we are not just living on opposite sides of the street; we are living in completely different worlds.”

“Yes,” my husband agreed…because that’s what husbands do.

I felt a bit lonely sitting with that thought. My good friend and I living so near and yet we’re so far apart.

Five minutes later, I caught sight of another friend walking with her daughter and her dog, two of them wearing masks. I quickly put on my pretty pink mask and approached them…stopping at the appropriate distance.

She’d had a scare; one of her co-workers was diagnosed with Covid-19. She’s an essential worker at a local utility company. The office is managed to exacting standards. The virus had been picked up from the day care center that the employee’s children attend. My friend has been so careful. Thankfully, her test was negative, but it was a shock.

We’d discussed getting together for sangria in my yard on our last call just after the state had begun to re-open and our county’s numbers were very small. We agreed we’d visit from six feet apart, but forego the masks to enjoy the beverage we both so love.

I was looking forward to it, until I wasn’t. She pre-empted me: “We’ll need to do sangria over ZOOM,” she said.

I wanted to hug her. Suddenly I didn’t feel alone. I felt understood and that was such a comfort. Two friends…I need them both. Someday, I’ll be happy to welcome all my friends back into my home and my life, but for now I’ll love them all from afar…the ones who live in the same world as I do and the ones who live in another world.

I wish you, dear readers, good health and peace of mind.

Michele

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pandemic Prose

How Are You…Really?

 

Dear Reader:

How are you? Somewhere along the way, we all learned the appropriate response to that question: fine. It’s the quick, polite, automatic, go-to answer that we use in day-to-day conversation.

I use it myself, with one variation. When I raise my eyebrows, let out a quiet sigh and say
“fine, fine,” its a big clue that I’m not fine. The “double fine” is shorthand for “I’ve been better, but let’s not dwell upon it.”

My favorite people in the world are the people who ask me how I am and wait for the answer. These people really want the truth. I can dish out the good, the bad and the ugly and they’ll stick around and listen!

The thing is, most of the time, I am fine. I have my ups and downs just like anybody, but I’m living a very good life. “Fine” was a perfectly fine answer until it wasn’t.

In March, I felt determined to meet the challenges of life in a pandemic. I was busy stocking my pantry, happy to eat bowls of pasta and cereal and riveted to the news.

By April, I’d gained three pounds, stopped sleeping through the night and learned how to set up a Zoom call. I was tired, anxious and depressed.

May brought with it the realization that I wasn’t going to be going back to the gym anytime soon. We turned the garage into a gym and I started virtual training sessions. I was sore and tired and still consuming large quantities of carbs and news.

June was hot and so is July. My backyard is my oasis. When I recline on the lounge chairs or float in the pool, I forget who the president is or how many people have died from Covid 19. I am eating more green food and watching less news, but I am tired all the time.

How are you? I really want to know.

If there is something good to have come from the pandemic, I feel this may be it: people are reaching out to each other to tell them exactly how they feel. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t receive a communication from a friend. Usually, I talk to multiple friends in one day. There are cards in the mail, notes on the porch, messages on Instagram, emails, phone calls and texts.

Seems we’re really not fine and, for now, we want to talk about it. I’m here to listen.

Michele

 

Family, Friends and Neighbors, Politics

Memories and a Recipe for the Fourth of July

Fourth of July, Me and Hector
Me and my neighbor, Hector

Dear Reader:

On this morning last year, I was sipping mimosas, eating “breakfast crack” and mingling with friends in my neighbor Cathy‘s backyard. I hadn’t really felt good about America since the 2016 election, but I love brunch and I was wearing my protest t-shirt, so I felt okay about celebrating.

I live in a home that’s almost one hundred years old in a well-established neighborhood in East Sacramento. It’s a holiday-loving neighborhood. Real estate documents disclose this fact to anyone looking to buy a home here. Large crowds gather for Halloween, Christmas and the Fourth. Last year’s parade was the 89th annual event and it brought residents out into their yards and visitors from all over the city into the streets.

Our beloved Governor Gavin Newsom made an appearance! I was absolutely devastated that I missed him. I’d wandered off with a group of ladies to meet the former newswoman and acclaimed author who lives right around the corner from me when  my husband spotted him walking down the middle of the street.

“There must have been security,” he reported to me, “but it wasn’t obvious. And, yes, he’s just as good looking in person.”

Well, that was 2019. Today, I’m wearing my navy joggers from Target, but I’ve got a new t-shirt: Biden for President it reads. The outfit amuses my daughter, because “You don’t even like him, Mother!” Let’s just say, he’s growing on me.

I wish there was a parade this year; I’d like to visit with Gavin.  I hope that next year’s parade is just as grand as last’s years and that I’m feeling proud of my country again.

Michele

“Breakfast Crack” is slang for Creme Brûlée French Toast…you’re going to love it!

Creme Brûlée French Toast

 

Ingredients:    

                                            

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons corn syrup

1 (8 to 9) inch round loaf Challah bread

5 large eggs

1 1/2 cups half and half

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon Grand Marnier

1/4 teaspoon salt

 

Directions:

  1. In a small heavy saucepan melt butter with butter with brown sugar and corn syrup over moderate heat, stirring, until smooth and pour into a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish. Cut 6 (1-inch) thick slices from center portion of bread, reserving ends for another use, and trim crusts. Arrange bread slices in one layer in baking dish, squeezing them slightly to fit. In a bowl whisk together eggs, half and half, vanilla, Grand Marnier and salt until combined well and pour evenly over bread. Chill bread mixture, covered, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and bring bread mixture to room temperature. Bake uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed and edges are pale golden, 35 to 40 minutes.