Yesterday tears streamed. Grief for families, and a daughter in particular, who had to say goodbye to a parent dying from covid-19. Due to hospital visiting restrictions as well as long distance travel problems, the afflicted spend their last days and hours without the support of close loved ones. It’s heartbreaking because we see in each situation a part of ourselves, our own fears and our own tenderness.
Speaking of tenderness, love rivers its own course. Nurses now stand in for absent family members and tend to the spirit of those dying and to family who can not be present. Thus new families are birthed through this separation, grief and its attendant ministering of love and sharing. During this pandemic isolation, we are physically separate, and yet we are all the more connected on so many levels and as-yet-to-be imagined emanations. Covid-19 has been termed a novel (corona) virus. Viruses spread affliction yes, however they also spread affection.
On Saturday I made pizza for the first time in thirty years! I made the dough from scratch—it only takes four ingredients: flour, water, yeast and salt with added optional dried rosemary from last year’s garden for a savory touch. I rolled out the dough on my green linoleum farmhouse countertop and stretched the clingy mass into abstract shapes in well-worn rectangular cookie tins. Voila, about four hours and much-flour-on-the-floor later—Grandma’s pizza or as we called it back in the day—tomato pie. Grandma and mom were there with me with the same remarks from the other side (in my head) as when they were here in the flesh. “More oil, shred the mozzarella—don’t cut it, and why are you using American-made tomatoes? Use the good ones in the cans from Italy.” I finally had to ask them to butt out and leave it to me. “I can do this.” That’s what happens when you come from a long line of matriarchs who are home-grown kitchen chefs.
Why did I have to wait to be sequestered to give myself permission to make pizza, when in reality (as we knew it to be), I could easily have done it on any given Saturday (barring spring and summer—my busy gardening seasons)? There is something about having no option to go outside my house (this also happens during blizzards but not hurricanes) when I give myself permission to cook or bake something special. There is also comfort in recalling simple pleasures and tasks.
This quarantine allowed me to explore an age old tradition and reconnect with my mom and grandma kneading and stretching dough in their kitchens. They also lived through the duress of a great depression, world wars, rationing and shortages. I absolutely know what they would say to me: “Buck up—you can do this!” The pizza-making brought me back to my youth, their culinary magic, grit and fortitude. I will do this again. Time is relative. Too often though, it is lost in busyness.
kneading time into dough
the rise and stretch
hand to hand
Sometimes it’s all about leaning into it. Sometimes it’s about letting go. It’s Sunday morning and the Corona quiet could be deafening, or it could be soothing. Life is changing, more abruptly than we are used to or care for in our humaness. However, it is nature’s way: through fire, flood, storms, earthquakes and viruses. She is asking us to adapt and grow.
Thought for the day: there is so much to learn. About ourselves, about each other, about our community, about leadership, about common heroes, about grace under pressure.
Take heroes for instance: the typical image (or Hollywood idealized portrayal anyway) has mostly been about individuals with super-human abilities and traits who are able to vanquish monsters and mobs. This model or stereotype is changing, and our realization of true heroism is growing as fast as the virus that spawned it.
We are recognizing neighbors, who are not super human and very much like us in everyday manner and occupation, who are rising to the occasion, sacrificing comfort and substituting courage and honor in place of fear.
That is huge. And it took a long time for me to learn, because it was easier to relegate heroism to outsized individuals who were stronger, smarter and had better abilities than me. Uh, no. It was a lazy excuse to watch instead of participate.
Heroes are not individuals who vanquish fear or know-not fear, but instead work side-by-side with fear, and don’t let fear overwhelm them. They allow fear to walk with them but not ahead of them. This takes work, hard work and it takes heart. Not everyone is capable of this, and I can only judge my own actions.
Today, I am grateful for all the extraordinary-ordinary teachers (heroes) among us, not just for their contributions, but also for their lessons. Angels do walk with us.
I am taking great comfort in all the small and creative ways people are reaching out to each other and connecting. I learned that friends and families are staying connected through virtual dinner parties where everyone is making the same food/dishes in their own homes and sitting down together virtually and at the same time to share the meal. How amazing is that?!? I too have been part of a virtual happy hour where we were all texting and sharing our individual concoctions (it’s a very creative cocktail and appetizer crowd on any given day, viral isolation or not) complete with laughter, jokes and photos.
Artists, musicians, readers, puzzle-enthusiasts and countless others are connecting and challenging each other while fostering creative solutions to what otherwise could be dire circumstances. i’m not downplaying the real hardships here—simply pointing out some healthy responses to this novel infection. “Out of chaos comes creativity.”
the boisterous clink of glasses
resounds via text
Drive like maniacs barreling down rural roads on a Sunday morning in a low-slung car with a monster wake-the-dead-probably-not-a-faulty-carburetor roar during a pandemic with no one else around to pass or impress.
I heard the dude (yes I’m calling the person inside the car a dude and not a dudette,because for a brief NJ moment, we can dispense with the political/gender fluidity correctness), coming from far away. I was walking in from the field (on 20 acres) toward my house when I first heard the low rumble that eventually swells and vibrates loud enough to scare birds from their nests. Since I was hearing this come from a mile or more away, and because I had nothing better to do, I directed my attention to the road to see if it was motorcycle or a truck. It was neither. It was a sports-type car, and he was speeding at about 50 mph on a road posted for 30 mph. Really??? During an otherwise quiet-everyone-off-streets-global pandemic? Speed and sound—I know it thrills and chills, but this is not the Daytona Speedway or anything near it.
In the end, I had to give this guy credit. He was just being his true self, and no viral or other crisis was going to slow him down. He was staying totally in character, and there is something to be said about making room and not judging (too harshly anyway) his chosen modus operandi. Except for being filed under “Obnoxious NJ Drivers” he was breaking no laws and probably just letting off steam as best he knew how. Who actually knows what lies ahead when he turns the next corner? Or for any of us really.
breaking the silence
by not braking the rules
Pussy Willows are blooming. Their soft fuzzy nubs (catkins) are curious and fun flowers that are among the early risers in Spring. Pussy Willows are named after tiny cats’ paws according to The Brooklyn Botanic Garden. So in the spirit of Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss I wrote the following in 2016:
It’s a pussy willow kind-of-day
a little fuzzy ~ a little gray.
The sun skies in and out,
Around clouds out and about.
I have nothing more to say – just that
It’s a pussy willow kind-of-day.