Thursday, April 30, 2020

Same Storm, Different Boat?

I’ve seen a post making the rounds on Facebook recently; it talks about how the author is tired of hearing about how we are all in the same boat, because, frankly, we are not. The author points out that, in a situation like this, some people have really nice boats (houses, jobs, financial security, continued good health), while other people’s boats are…not so nice (homelessness, job loss, food scarcity, virus, etc.). So, instead of lumping everyone into the “same boat”, we should recognize that, while we are all enduring the same storm, we are navigating it in very different vessels.

This resonated with me. But, not for the reasons you may think.

My personal “boat” is one of the nicer ones (oh, it’s not Hollywood-standard-nice-I’m not relaxing by my pool while in quarantine, for example); I have a roof over my head, food in the fridge, and cash in the bank. I am beyond grateful for these things, because they make it more likely that I will successfully weather the storm.

That being said, I have to disagree with the theory about the storm being the same storm for everyone. It isn’t. I have, in fact,  had people tell me how lucky I am that it “hasn’t been that bad” for me.  My storm has not included quarantine; I have not spent weeks on end isolated in my home. I have not lost anyone to the virus. I am not suddenly homeschooling my children. So, yes, from the outside looking in, my storm probably looks more like a brief shower than a downpour of epic proportions.

Yet, it still feels like a natural disaster to me.

Because my job was deemed essential, I got to go to work.

Every. Day.

Every day, I left the safety of my home and ventured into the public, where, the chance of contracting the virus increased, tenfold.

Every day, I risked the safety of my family so that I could carry on work that is essential to the functioning of our society.

Every day, I woke before dawn to start my day.

Every day, I got dressed (in real clothes, no pajamas, no yoga pants), and I put on a mask.

Every day, I took my temperature (multiple times, actually), and, every day, I worried about each sniffle, sneeze, and cough (whether mine, or someone else’s).

Every day, I came home exhausted, ready to do the same exact thing the following day.

Yes. I “got” to go to work.

Yes, I was lucky.

Honestly, though? I would have gladly traded a few of my “lucky” days with someone who stayed home.

I would have happily slept past 5:00 a.m.

I would have been perfectly content to work remotely from the comfort of my couch, while wearing sweatpants and my favorite Old Navy t-shirt (the “vintage” one, with the blue pickup truck).

I would love to be able to say that I sewed masks for the frontline workers, or that I spent my days baking bread.

I would love to say that quarantine had given me weeks of uninterrupted quality family time.

But, that was not my storm. And, I certainly don’t think that anyone for whom it was, could be considered “lucky”, yet, I am not afforded the same consideration.

Different boats. Different storms.

But we all had to deal with the rain.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

What's Up Wednesday, April 2020 Edition

Sooooo....closing out month number two  of the corona virus lock down; everyone hanging in there? Have you perfected your mask-making, bread baking, TikTok making skills yet? Great! Just in time for the gradual release back into the wild. It's also time to link up with Sheaffer and Shay for What's up Wednesday, so, let's get to it!

What We're Eating

I've done my best to strike a balance between cooking at home and supporting our favorite local restaurants by ordering take-out. Home cooking has included a fabulous Easter dinner, featuring a glazed ham that was to die for...

...four different varieties of pizza, cooked on the grill...

...and an attempt to recreate my favorite risotto from one of our favorite Italian restaurants...

...while take-out has consisted of the risotto upon which I based my copycat recipe...

...and BBQ chicken sandwiches and spicy wings from our favorite greasy spoon diner (not pictured because my hands were too messy from the sauce to attempt a photo).

What I'm Reminiscing About

Recent events have led me to reminisce about simpler times, when the last thing on my mind was a pandemic. I've thought a lot about my childhood, about spending time at my grandparent's house and about the lilacs that grow in my parent's backyard. I miss lilacs. I miss my grandparents. And I desperately miss my Dad.

Not being able to go home to see Mom has been the hardest part of this situation, and, while I know she is healthy and safe; I would give anything to spend an afternoon with her on the back patio, sipping tea, and breathing in the scent of those damn lilacs.

What I'm Loving

The car wash finally reopened and I am loving having a clean car again. I also love the brief respite that it gives me from my daily stress; I just sip on my Starbucks iced skinny cinnamon dolce latte and let the wash rinse away my anxiety.

I am also loving the warmer weather that we have been having and the fact that the flowers are starting to bloom, including these tulips, which, haven't bloomed in my flowerbeds in years.

And, speaking of that warmer weather...

What I'm Up To

In what little spare time I've had, I've been purging and organizing. So far, I've finished the large closet in the mudroom, the closet in my office, a cabinet in the garage, three drawers in my bathroom, and the pantry. I can only imagine what I would have been capable of had I gotten the whole quarantine experience and not just weekend isolation.

What I'm Working On

I managed a garage photo shoot for Cooper's first birthday, and, the pictures turned out great! I haven't done a ton of photography since I started New Job and I am missing it, terribly. Since this worked out so well, I am thinking that I may just have to offer more "studio" sessions once the world returns to normal; I have all of the equipment, I may as well take advantage of it.

What I'm Dreading

I suppose saying I'm dreading things at New Job is getting rather old, but; I'm dreading things at New Job. I recently submitted an important application and now I am waiting to hear what I will need to submit in order to strengthen it prior to a site visit later in the fall. Since it was my first time writing an application for an industry that I was completely clueless about until three months ago; I am guessing that there will be a lot to amend. This keeps me up at night, along with about five million other issues about the job. I really need to win the lottery, friends.

What I'm Excited About

My hair stylist should be able to open shop again next week! I will finally get to deal with the skunk streak currently running down the center of my head! And, a haircut! Highlights! Low lights! Deep conditioning treatments! I am beside myself with glee and ready to tip like a millionaire with money to spare!

What I'm Watching

Like the rest of the nation, I was a captive audience to the Tiger King. Could I have made it through the whole thing if the world hadn't been on lock down? We will never know. Also, do I think Carole Baskin killed her husband? Actually, yes. Yes, I do.

One thing I can thank Covid-19 for is the rediscovery of my love for Battlestar Galactica. The SyFy Channel ran a marathon the other day and I watched several episodes, then set the rest to record; I've been watching them on and off since. I had forgotten how smartly written and well acted this show was, and I'm so glad I got a chance to enjoy it again.

I also watched something completely out of the box; a Zoom production of The War of the Worlds, presented by our local community theater. Each member of the cast streamed live from their home, which, had to be challenging to coordinate and produce, but, they did an absolutely amazing job. It provided a Friday night's entertainment to more than 150 people, who logged onto Facebook to watch. I am in awe of their bravery and ingenuity. The show went on! And, the final "curtain call", complete with each actor wearing a mask, is something that brought a chuckle, for sure.

What I'm Reading

I've picked up a few actual novels in the past month; always with the intention to start reading, immediately. Unfortunately, work has kept me from actually doing that, but; I am determined to start them soon. Really. I am. In the meanwhile, I have managed a great start on this how-to manual...

...I mean, how could I not? It's a wine tutorial, and it's scratch and sniff! Scratch and sniff, people! It doesn't get much more fun than that!

I am also enjoying this book...'s light on the reading, heavy on the photos, and super motivating. Since it doesn't look like Queen B and I will be able to take our trip to Greece later this summer, I am living vicariously through this book. Hopefully, it will provide inspiration for many future trips, once the world tips back onto it's axis.

What I'm Listening To

Currently, I am listening to the birds chirping outside my kitchen window. It's a welcome sound, one that heralds spring and the eventual return of summertime, which, I am craving, desperately.

What I'm Wearing

What else? A freaking mask! Who would have thought this would be a "normal" part of our everyday ensembles? Lucky for me, Queen B hooked me up with masks that are both stylish and comfortable (or, as comfortable as it gets, anyway).

What I'm Doing This Weekend

The weather is supposed to be in the high 70's again this weekend, which means it should be perfect for spending time on the porch and for working in the flowerbeds. I might even take my bike out for a spin, if I'm feeling energetic enough, and, if I can maintain an appropriate social distance from the rest of the fine folks out seeking recreational activities.

What Else is New

What isn't new? It's crazy times we're living in, folks. Crazy times.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Recipes From the Porch: Risotto Alle Verdura

After enjoying the risotto from the trattoria the other night, I was inspired to try my hand at making it at home. This is my first attempt, and, I have to say; it was a rock solid effort! While it isn't a perfect clone of the restaurant's recipe, it comes close enough and is definitely something that I will make again.

The ingredients:

7 spears of asparagus (not pictured because, as usual, I am an idiot)
2 small zucchini
3 small Mexican onions (you can substitute shallots, if your market doesn't carry Mexican onions)
3 cloves garlic
1/2 c. frozen peas (again, not pictured due to idiocy)
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 c. chicken stock
1/2 c. white wine (I used Pinot Griogio)
1 1/2 c. Arborio rice
1/2 lemon, juice and zest
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper, to taste

Cut asparagus into small chunks, slice zucchini. Dice the onions and finely dice the garlic.

Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in a pan over medium heat, add asparagus and zucchini. Cook 3-4 minutes, or until soft, add in frozen peas and heat through. Remove vegetables to a bowl, set aside.

Heat remaining 1/2 Tbsp. butter and olive oil in pan, add onions and cook until soft and lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes.

Add the rice and stir to coat with butter and oil mixture. Cook for about a minute, until rice is lightly, lightly browned. Mix in half of the lemon zest, salt, and pepper.

Add wine and lemon juice to the chicken stock. Add liquid 1/2 c. at a time, to the rice, stirring occasionally and adding more as it absorbs until all liquid is added. This should take about 20 minutes.

Add Parmesan cheese and vegetables, mix, heat through, and serve.

I served the risotto as a side dish with pizzas that Hugh grilled (the pizza recipes should be a post for another day; they are that good) and both the Man-Cub and Hugh agreed that it was one of the best meals that we have had in awhile. Since we've ordered take-out from restaurants several times during this quarantine, I take that as a huge compliment to my culinary prowess. Also, they probably shouldn't get too used to it, because not only am I forgetful when photographing the ingredients for a recipe, but I am also lazy as fuck.

True story.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Good Things

Yesterday, I noticed that there is rhubarb growing wild in the backyard at New Job. Seeing it immediately transported me back to my childhood and my grandparents' garden, where a large rhubarb plant grew with wild abandon each spring and summer. My Grandma Molly made the best strawberry rhubarb pie, and, my mom's recipe for strawberry rhubarb cake is something that I am now itching to recreate with those newly-discovered stalks.

Last night, I picked up takeout from the cute little trattoria in Hooterville. I ordered the Risotto alle Verdura, which is a risotto chock-full of spring vegetables, finished with a creamy citrus sauce. I paired it with a Sauvignon Blanc that was impeccable.

While we ate dinner, Hugh and I watched our local community theater's live stream production of War of the Worlds, which they did via Zoom, with each member of the cast streaming from their own home. It was an incredibly brave thing to do, and I applaud both the performance and the ingenuity that it took for the production company to come up with the idea. As they say in the theater, the show must go on! And, it did.

After looking at the picture that I recently posted, showing the sad state of the skin on my hands, I picked up this tube of hand cream and have been using it frequently throughout the day. My hands feel-and look-much, much better.

Since I was in Target  already (picking up the hand cream),  I figured I might as well do a little pleasure-shopping (it's been so long!), and, I picked up this candle. I'm actually burning it right now and it smells phenomenal.

During this whole Covid craziness, I have tried several new wines, and this one is a new favorite for sure. It really does taste buttery, which, sounds odd for wine but, trust me when I say; it totally works.

I'm grateful for all of these things, small though they may be. I wouldn't want to look back at this and not be able to recognize that there were bright spots in an otherwise dark time.

There are always things in which to find joy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Twelve Hours In the Life of an Essential Worker

The governor of our fine state has decreed that the state will partially reopen next Monday, which means that certain non-essential businesses will be allowed to open their doors, as long as they can meet some appropriate social distancing guidelines. This includes hair salons (thankyoulordjeebus!), car washes (dittolordjebus!), and retail stores, offering curbside service.

This is all very exciting, and, it's just a matter of time before all employees are again considered "essential".

So, how did this essential employee spend her day? Well, it started off with a low tire pressure warning which necessitated a stop at the local Co-op for repair.

The culprit behind the slow leak in my tire.
Also, the dry, chapped, cracked condition of my hands is proof-positive that I take the whole hand washing thing seriously...thanks for the dishpan hands Covid-19.

Once I made it into work, I spent the remainder of the morning organizing a photo shoot for our Facebook page while juggling a grant report, check requests, and yet another in a long, long line of Zoom video conferences.

Then, I donned my trusty mask and headed out to do errands, including banking, which, feels really weird to do whilst wearing a mask and sunglasses.

The afternoon went by quickly. I finished the photo project that I started earlier in the day; it's now ready for our social media coordinator to post tomorrow morning.

Once I clocked out, I headed for home, stopping at the little market in Petticoat Junction to grab the ingredients for chicken sandwiches.

And, that is essentially how I spent my day (see what I did there?).

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Weekend That Was

Friday morning, I finally hit the submit button on the big project that I have spent the past two and a half months working on at New Job. To celebrate, I purchased several bottles of good wine, one of which I proceeded to enjoy the moment I got home at the end of the day.

Not coincidentally, I managed to sleep through the night, waking up just shy of 9:00 Saturday morning. I haven't managed that in months and it was greatly needed. The rest gave me the energy that I needed to attack the items on my weekend "to do" list, including the garage photo shoot that I wrote about in my last post.

Saturday evening, I retired to my office with another bottle of wine and a few snacks; The Girls and I had another virtual cocktail hour to enjoy. Then, I managed another full night of sleep, which, was another happy surprise.

Sunday, I went into the hardware store early, in order to catch up on my duties there. Then, I joined Hugh back at the house, where he was taking advantage of the nice weather by power-washing the porch. Since that is usually my chore to do, I was most grateful.

I put the last piece of furniture in place a little after 8:00, and, spent the remainder of the evening lounging on the couch, chatting with the Man-Cub.

It was not a bad way to spend the weekend, and, I'll be 100% ready to open the porch the second we get the go-ahead to end this social isolation program. Plus, today, I feel almost prepared to go back to New Job to start the next big project that I am tasked with accomplishing. One day at a time, right?


Saturday, April 18, 2020

A Smashing Good Time

A year ago today, I posted pictures from the delivery room, celebrating the birth of Baby Cooper. Today, I had the privilege of taking pictures of his first birthday cake smash, and, it was a blast. I'm not just saying that because it was the first time in weeks and weeks that I have seen him and his parents, although, seeing them all certainly added to the enjoyment of the day, even if we did have to maintain a six foot separation between ourselves and wear masks, which, we did.

This was both my first cake smash session and my first official garage shoot. The Man-Cub provided manpower, blowing the dust and debris out of the garage with a leaf blower and setting up my lights, which I greatly appreciated.

Beth's dream theme for Cooper's first birthday party was baseball, pretty much from the day he was born, and, she wasn't going to let a little thing like a pandemic get in the way of that; luckily, between the two of us, we had more than enough baseball decor to carry the theme through the pictures.

And, also lucky for us, the birthday boy cooperated, beautifully.

I don't know how many more garage shoots are in my future, but, with this one working as well as it did, I have to say; I'm optimistic. And, damn, it was good to see our friends.