A WHOLE NEW MEANING TO THE TERM HINDSIGHT IS 2020

A WHOLE NEW MEANING TO THE TERM HINDSIGHT IS 2020

In January of last year, my WomenHeart Group had a fun Vision Board Party.

Better than a resolution, a Vision Board is a reminder of what’s essential in your life.  We gathered stacks of old magazines, pictures, postcards, quotations, scissors, glue, and used our imaginations to create individual Vision Boards. We had an hour and a half to create a vision of how we wished our lives to be.  Here is what my board looks like.

 

The inspiration for my Vision Board started with two books.  Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy, by Sarah Ban Breathnach, is a book I read years ago and decided to revisit. The second book by Jennifer Ashton, M.D, is titled, “The Self-Care Solution.”  These books dived into how to better care for me physically, emotionally, and even spiritually.

A Wakeup Call:  Make Plans – Then Life Happens

I was speaking with a friend the other day.  He and his wife do an annual holiday letter each year (as do I).  So, I said,  “Bob, what are you going to write about?”

His response, “Not much.”

We’ve been self-isolating, or at least social distancing.  When Merriam Webster’s Word of the Year is PANDEMIC, you know we’ve done little to write home about.  We’ve been isolating or, at the very least, self-distancing.  We are exhausted.  It looks as if more than one vaccine is ready for distribution, and we hope the light we see at the end of the tunnel isn’t a bullet train.

My brother, Harlley, passed away on March 22.  Later that evening, as I headed for my bedroom Ted (my cat) decided to head me off.  His preferred direction was towards the kitchen where there is FOOD.  Weighing in at 20 pounds, Ted is a formidable force to be reckoned with.  I’m not sure how it happened, but I tripped and hit the wall.  The doctor explained later I had a skull fracture and I’d have to stay in the hospital for at least a day.

Most of the spring was a blur.  Covid was spiking in South Florida.  Miami-Dade was becoming the southern epicenter.  I concluded that listening to the news was depressing and decided one evening to watch The Lion King  (not the animated feature, but the one with what appeared to be live animals).  Ted has never been one to have an interest in TV.  I don’t know if it was the sound effects of wild animals running or lions growling.  Ted jumped up on the credenza and started watching the show.  He was absolutely mesmerized.

TED MEETS THE LION KING

Craving social interaction, many have moved on to Zoom Calls.  My Toastmaster Club meets weekly.  I set up my computer in the kitchen, where I have fairly good lighting.  Once all is set up, Gabrielle (my other cat) comes in and starts talking to me (kitchen equals FOOD). What she wants is what she refers to as a snackeroo (since the pandemic, this is another word that’s been added to my vocabulary).  She starts off subtly but builds up to what can only be described as caterwauling – VERY LOUD CATERWAULING.  While Gaby has not really participated in our meetings, she did opt to be in one of our weekly pictures (she’s behind me).

GABY POSING FOR TOASTMASTER’S PHOTO

The weather in Florida is splendid.  We’ve finally entered the winter season, which for us means less humidity and cooler temperatures.  I went for a walk yesterday around 4 pm.  It was delightful and necessary.  Unfortunately, I caught something called the Covid-fifteen — those unwanted pounds added because my refrigerator has been calling out to me.  It’s a hushed, haunting sound whispering, “come to me, see what I have for you, it’s wonderful, it’s delicious.  You’ll love it.”  Again, the kitchen equals FOOD.

It’s Time for a Do-Over

I think we can all agree that 2020 has been and continues to be horrendous.  However, putting together my little letter gave me pause (no, Ted and Gaby, not paws).  My Vision Board from last year is still on my wall, and I still have the books that gave me inspiration — so I’m setting my sites on building my best self, enjoying life, and moving forward.  On my Vision Board, if you look closely, the line after Enjoy Life is, “it has an expiration date.”  Take heed.

To All My Friends and Family:

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and a Happier New Year!

 

ISOLATION SUCKS!

ISOLATION SUCKS!

Raise your hand if you’re in agreement.

Think about it. As social animals, we seek out each other. That interaction helps us maintain our well being. When isolated, we find it challenging to deal with stressful situations; we become depressed, anxiety rises, and making simple decisions can appear impossible.

So, here I sit isolated amid a rising pandemic, during a critical election year. The news of increasing Covid cases, and OMG, hearing those omnipresent duplicitous political ads. Pandemic fatigue is settling in.

A week ago, a friend called and suggested that another girl pal and I come to her house (both of them had been out of Miami since March). We could wear our masks, socially distance, and sit out on her patio. A small gathering, but it felt as if I was being invited to a major event. I was absolutely giddy about the idea. I could see my friends — ACTUALLY, not virtually. It was Friday, and we set the meeting for Sunday.

Also, on Friday, Tara, her husband, and I all got our annual flu shots. Tara’s husband had no reaction, Tara had a sore arm, and I felt great — that is until Saturday morning. I awoke with a 100+ fever, every muscle and joint in my body ached, and someone disconnected my energy plug from the wall outlet. Walking from the bedroom to the bathroom left me feeling as if I’d run a marathon. Our small gala was canceled.

I’m happy to say my reaction lasted for only one day. If a dead virus could cause such results, I can only imagine how I would have reacted to getting this particular strain of the flu. In retrospect, I’m glad I got the shot.

We’ve rescheduled for Sunday (only a few days to go). Now, if our tropical “dry-season” finally kicks in, we can gather on Tara’s patio. Wish us luck!

ON BEING ENTOMBED.

ON BEING ENTOMBED.

Living in isolation, I find myself with time on my hands.  There are all kinds of projects — like clearing my closets, the pantry, my office.  While important, these tasks are what some may call “non-starters.”  I settled on going through my office credenza, which is filled with old photographs.

Among the pictures were photos of a holiday taken long-ago in Capri, the idyllic island off the southern coast of Italy.  As my mind traveled back in time, I recalled an incident that gave a whole new meaning to the term “isolation.”

I was sitting in the lounge of the hotel with my parents when I realized I’d left something in my room.  I rushed off to retrieve it.  Upon entering the elevator, I pushed the floor number and headed up.  Suddenly there was a jolt, and the elevator stopped.

I pushed the floor number again.  Nothing.  Once again.  Nothing.  I pushed every floor number.  Nothing.  There was a little button with a bell on it.  I pushed it.  In the distance, I heard ringing, then NOTHING.   Anxiety was building. I pushed the bell button again, determined to keep it ringing until I made contact with a human being.

From afar,  I heard, “Pronto, pronto, Qual e il problema?”

Oh hell, my Italian is not all that good, and, with panic just around the corner, it’s not good at all.  “Help!”

In very broken English (he was on the verge of hysteria, and his English was about as good as my Italian), he asked, “Where are you?”

Where did he think I was? “I’m in the elevator.”

“Si signorina, a che piano?”

“What?”

“On what floor?”

“I don’t know.  The elevator just stopped.”

“I need for you to open the door.”

There was more than one set of doors in the elevator.  I went to one and pressed my hands against the door and attempted to drag it to an open position.  This is not an easy thing to do when the lift isn’t functioning.  Finally, the door was open.  I faced a wall.

“What do you see?”

“A brick wall.”

“I need for you to open the other door.”

Again, drag and pull– another brick wall.

“What do you see?”

“Oh my God, I’m entombed!”

“Che cosa?

“It’s another wall!”

“Solo un momento.”  And then there was “the sound of silence.

I recalled a movie where an elevator crashed.  Someone remarked, if the people hadn’t been standing, they might have survived, but their spinal columns were shattered when the elevator jolted to the bottom of the shaft.

“Signorina? I am going to pull you up.”

With that, using what I guess was some kind of pulley system, he tugged, then tugged again.  After each tug, the lift would move upward then settle down with a jarring bump.   As I fell to the floor in an effort to save my spinal column, I prayed.  “Please, God, I don’t want to die in an elevator crash.”

Finally, I saw a bit of light, then more and then the head of the man pulling me up.  I have no idea what he thought when he saw me lying on the floor.  Perhaps he believed I fainted.  A few more pulls and I was free!

Yes, there are different types of isolation — some dramatic, others seemingly never-ending.  We all hope this time of seclusion draws to a close, sooner rather than later.

 

 

 

Cooking 101

Cooking 101

In these days of pandemic and self-isolation, I received an email from a friend, suggesting we add a twist to an old idea — the recipe exchange.  It’s called the #QuarantineCooking recipe exchange.  What fun!

The most saved shows on my DVR are cooking shows.  I love to cook, and for a “home cook,”  I’m not so bad.  However, looking back on my initial kitchen encounters, I wasn’t adept when it came to food preparation.

One of my first attempts involved surprising my parents – and I must admit, they were surprised.  I came up with a plan to fix “breakfast in bed” for mom and dad.  The menu wasn’t complicated.  It consisted of toast with jam, coffee, and juice.  I was old enough to manage the toaster, and pouring juice was no particular problem.  It was the coffee that got me!  I didn’t know how to work the electric coffee pot.  How many grounds should I put in?  How much water?  Does it really have to heat up?  My parents were grateful for the attempt, but it was their first taste of chewable coffee.

My second foray into cooking involved baking.  Baking requires precision.  One must have exact measurements, cooking times, and temperatures.  I loved Toll House cookies, and the instructions were on the side of the package of chocolate chips.  The recipe called for 1 tsp baking soda.  I looked in the cabinet with mom’s pantry items and found baking powder.  I couldn’t find baking soda, but I’d seen it before.  It was a white powdery substance.  I opened the Baking Powder.  It was white and a powder (hence the name).  I figured they must be the same.  Of course, I was wrong.

It’s also helpful to understand the terms used in recipes.  Why do they call it “creaming” the butter?  How much cream should you add?

But I digress.  What was I going to use for #QuarantineCooking?   When you’re isolating and limiting trips to the grocery store, you hopefully have a pantry filled with staples and spices.  I generally have some meats or fish in the freezer.

A couple of weeks ago, on the Food Network show, “The Kitchen,” the cast did a segment on Quarantine Cooking.  Jeff Mauro presented his recipe for Crispy Skin  Salmon Provencal with a Red Cabbage Salad.  https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/jeff-mauro/crispy-skin-salmon-provencal-with-charred-red-cabbage-salad-8553405

It looked outstanding.  The salmon part of the recipe had a total of six ingredients:  salmon, olive oil, butter, herbes de Provence, Dijon Mustard, and lemon.  I had everything for the salmon.  I didn’t have cabbage in the house, but I did have brussels sprouts (aren’t they like little cabbages?).

Check out Jeff’s recipe.  If you aren’t interested in the crispy skin, remove it.  You don’t have herbes de Provence.  Try using dried thyme or Italian seasoning — you can rename it, Salmon Italiano.  My sister-in-law doesn’t like mustard.  If I would fix it for her, I’d simply swap mayonnaise for mustard.

Brussels Sprouts do very well when roasted.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Cut off the woody ends of the sprouts, and tear off any dried outer leaves.  Drizzle with olive oil, making sure the oil is on all of the sprouts.  Place on a sheet tray (cover the bottom with foil for easier cleanup), sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, turning them once about halfway through.

So there you have it with suggestions for “swaps” if required.  Follow Jeff’s recipe for the salmon and mine for the side dish.  Voila — you have dinner.  If you’re doing the Provencal version, “Bon appetit,” or the Italiano version, “Buon appetito.”  Whatever.  ENJOY!