Santa Monica, CA — Seven weeks ago, I felt Happy.
My Life was good, filled with Blessings. The Corona Virus changed all that, slowly stripping away my happiness, my blessings, leaving me with what, I’m not sure: My Health?
Tests for non-NBA athletes like myself have finally become available by appointment only. I don’t know if I actually have my health, but should I contract a symptom of the virus, I could get tested (even though it looks very uncomfortable). I am heartened though, that should I test positive for the virus, that 80% of people who contract it can recover at home in self-isolation (per Dr. Sanjay Gupta, my preferred TV news channel doctor whom I follow on Twitter).
Before the lock down, I had checked out a few DVDs and two big cookbooks from the Santa Monica Public Library: Sean Brock’s South and Poilane, the history of the famed French bakery in Paris. I’ve had time to actually read both in their entirety, and I’ve baked myself some artisenal bread much like the rest of America which has embraced home baking as evidenced by the scarcity of both Yeast and Flour in the grocery stores.
Many thanks to Clemence of the Gourmandise School of LA for gifting me some terrific Sourdough Starter, the key ingredient (along with wheat flour) to a bouille fantastique:
I’ve cleaned my home, mopping both the kitchen and bathroom floors, wiping down baseboards and cleaning grimy windowsills. Spring cleaning indeed. Next week, I shall commence The Purge and get rid of those Emmy FYC DVDs from the last 20 years. Any takers? I did finally watch The Handmaid’s Tale, though.
Reach Out. Check In.
I’ve checked in/reached out to friends far and near. High School friends. College friends. Some have suffered losses to their families and were unable to attend the funerals of their loved ones. So far, knock wood, my family, those La Rues in rural Kentucky, all remain safe, however, my sister remains in self-quarantine since she spent the Winter months in Florida. Update: Sister free of self-quarantine and operating Cafe (breakfast takeout). If you are in South Central Kentucky, check out Paula’s Hot Biscuit for all your Biscuit & Gravy needs.
In Santa Monica, the neighborhood is chugging along at a snail’s pace. Who needs toilet paper? Who else is baking? Care to swap? Every day looks like Sunday on my street as no one is leaving for work … every day. There are cars parked that never seem to get moved. Street cleaning has been suspended by the City.
Exercise. Sit in Sunshine. Eat Well.
Daily sit-ups and yoga have become routine. Next up: that out of tune piano is going to get some use, apologies to my neighbors. My road bike, a steel Torrelli, has been repaired. I’ve been out on a few easy spins and am getting back into the swing of wearing spandex.
I’ve baked, and baked some more: Pineapple Upside Down Cake, anyone? I know. A Random dessert, however, Sam Heughan, the lead actor of Starz’ Outlander baked one (rather poorly yet admirably) while stuck in Hawaii and created the Outlander Bakeoff among his costars which was pretty entertaining as the results were decidedly mixed. A good use of Twitter, though. I had a tin of sliced pineapple in the cupboard, thinking it would make great Earthquake food, but it had been in there a while so I figured I would use it before it went bad. I made the mistake of cutting down the amount of butter and sugar called for, and the result was not as tasty as I remember. Don’t skimp on the fat.
Stock Tip: Buy BALL CORP., the company that produces those beautiful glass mason jars used in canning and preserving jams, jellies, green beans, pickles, etc. Garden Centers and Seed Companies can’t keep up with demand as so many people are attempting to grow their own food. What comes next: Preserving that food. Hence, the need for canning jars.
Grocery Shopping Is My Only Excursion.
Hoarding. People are still hoarding food and sundries. Items hard to get at Ralphs, my local grocery, where prices have definitely risen, include:
- Toilet Paper — it was a happy day when I walked out of Vons breathless with relief and an 8-roll package of off-brand TP.
- Bananas, Potatoes, Eggs — Really, people? Hoarders. I don’t have time for them.
- Dishwashing Liquid — huh? Why on earth are people hoarding dishwashing liquid?
- Leafy Green Vegetables — where’s the Spinach, Cilantro, Green Onion, Cabbage?
- Garlic, Basil — these ultimate Italian food ingredients are increasingly difficult to obtain.
Life Is No Longer A Beach.
Santa Monica (and Los Angeles County) beach is closed, so you can imagine I might find that difficult. Upside: Working for two weeks as a Disaster Relief personnel for the City of Santa Monica’s pilot Ambassador program, which involved a lot of bike riding along the beach bike path, greeting closure-breakers and reminding them to maintain social distancing and to get out of the playgrounds, and workout areas.
Surfers in Manhattan Beach and in Malibu have been fined $1,000 for violating the beach closure ordinance. The protests in Orange County are understandable but ill-advised. Those people do not have The Greater Good in mind which is very depressing.
The Urge to Flee. Flight Response.
I contemplated running away, advice author Richard Bach (Jonathan Livingston Seagull, The Bridge Across Forever) wrote in one of his wonderful novels ” that there’s no problem big enough that cannot be run from,” and it turns out he was paraphrasing Snoopy the Dog.
Apparently, there are a lot Rules involved with running away during a Pandemic: Self-isolating for two weeks, blah blah blah. I just wanted to know if there were services on the road as I traversed the United States making my way to my family home in Kentucky.
Some states stop you and ask for the address of your final destination so they can track you should the virus spread to their state after you’ve stopped for gas. Yikes.
What resonates for me during this pandemic is the notion that in retrospect how happy I was before it began: Life had been good, filled with many many blessings. I have it so much better than many and have very little to complain about. Yet, I worry. I continue to resist the urge to flee but realize that’s exactly what I shouldn’t do. Hunker down. Look around. Fix what you can in your own backyard. Be Present. Look Ahead (but not too far as the Future is always changing).
Health. I have it. Friends. I have them. Family. All safe. I look forward to seeing them again. I look forward to surfing again.
A Life, Interrupted.
EPILOGUE — June 4, 2020
Tested Negative for Covid19. LA County opened a free testing site at nearby Santa Monica Airport. Process was quick and easy. Nasal swab is quite extensive!
The beaches have reopened. Surfing has resumed. Parking lots remained closed. Most people do not wear masks when outside despite the city and countywide public health recommendations. Dispiriting.
The Virus took a backseat last week when the Black Lives Matter protests began, looting started, and the National Guard took occupation of Santa Monica.
Vandalism. Grafitti. Boarded up stores, restaurants and shops. Curfews as early as 2 PM. Constant sirens blaring, police cars racing, and firetrucks on the move. Heliocopters buzz non-stop.
N E X T U P:
The First Thing I’ll Do After The Pandemic Passes