The New Normal?

I suspect everyone is a little weary of the pandemic. We “locked down” on March 13th. Nearly 3 months later, I have adjusted to and perhaps embraced the so-called “new normal.” As I mentioned before, isolation isn’t much of a hardship for retirees. We had no jobs to lose or convert to remote working nor do we have children to educate. Our small city does not have many cases and the citizens are largely respectful of mask-wearing and distancing. Still, there were adjustments to be made. Here are mine:

What about my hair? I you-tubed how to cut my own bangs. I am growing out the rest and slowing losing my highlights. Science project: Let’s find out how gray it is.

I started a sourdough starter. I am late to this trend and held off due to my history of mismanaging a prior attempt as well as my weakness when confronted with home-baked bread. Today, I threw caution to wind, read a King Arthur treatise on managing a starter, and began the process. I suppose this is another science project.

I named her Audrey after the plant/monster in The Little Shop of Horrors.

I am not talented gardener (unlike my siblings who grow everything in abundance.) However, my husband and I are finding comfort and pleasure in planting a few things and tending to them daily. We have lots of bees and birds and feel rewarded to sit on the patio and watch the bees circle the flowers and the birds dip in the birdbath. Plus, since cooking remains my number one pastime, I am taking full advantage of the continuous availability of fresh herbs. Every dish looks and taste better with herbs.

And speaking of cooking, my daughter (my long time cooking and baking companion) suggested that to bridge this absence in our lives and collaborate on a food-focused Instagram account. If you want to see what we are making and eating, you can check out our account quarant_eaters (get it?).

If you do, you will note that I have a self-imposed challenge of baking a cake per week. This is definitely one of the reasons I was resistant to a sourdough habit. But, I have a nice cake stand and it looks great with a cake in it! These are very simple cakes for sure and a wee slice after dinner is just the right amount of treat after a long day of doing nothing.

One of many.

I miss my exercise classes. Ours son’s childhood bedroom, minus the sports trophies and hip-hop posters, now serves as a home gym. It’s certainly not the same, but I’ve found I can still injure myself with the same regularity.

One gets used to not going anywhere. I am finding that the less I go anywhere, the less I want to. We are doing fine on weekly grocery shop. The orderly one-way isles and 6 foot separations are to my liking. I don’t really like online shopping but I have ordered books (next in importance to food) from our local bookstore. And skin care products once. And a small amazon order for kitchen accessories that needed replacing. For the most part, this quarantine has reinforced how few things I need. And I am liking that too.

What has been hardest to get used to is, of course, the inability to socialize. I miss seeing friends and workout buddies. Not seeing family is the worst of it. We’ve kept up with online contact but you know the limitations of that when it comes to little children. They either hang up the phone, take the phone and run away, refuse to participate or charm you beyond measure. It’s all good, but it doesn’t quite satisfy the yearning.

Lo and Behold (get it), we got a coveted invitation to babysit when brief coverage was needed one morning. I was overjoyed! My nurse daughter in law had just tested negative (again) for covid19 so we didn’t even need to wear masks!

When we arrived at 6:45 am, the girls were were uncharacteristically awake – and ready to go. Cora brought over ½ dozen stuffed animals for my approval in quick succession. Lo had a long list of activities and games we would play. And, seeing us without masks, she hopefully inquired “is the sick gone?” I could regale you with the creative, educational and nurturing activities we enjoyed. We were princesses, dogs, newscasters, ran a food truck and had a dance party. But, all is not what it seems and I have a confession. I appear to have become a little out of practice in the art of grandparenting.

PJ’s, pig and princess shoes. Ready for anything.

First, my son caught little Cora with a jug of Tide, cap off, about to sample its contents. Yes, the jug was empty and headed for the trash, but her tiny pink lips did have a laundry scent. I also lost her twice in the house as she is fast and small and likes to hide.

And that ain’t all. The girls have a new play structure in their yard. After sampling its wonders, I decided it would be pleasant to gently swing with Cora snuggled on my lap. I sat on the swing and reached for Cora. As I pulled her onto my lap, the weight shifted and I knew I would have to let go of the chain and grip her with both hands. None-the-less, in slow-motion, we fell over backwards and hit the ground. I think the technical term is “ass over elbow.”

No lasting damage. Cora did snuggle in my lap, safely in a lawn chair. Lo, who has a future in healthcare, advised me on the care of my scraped ankle: “you just need to take a lot of rests and put ice on it.”

So, the new normal? I’m okay with with the repetition of staying home. I like cakes and sourdough and and herbs and bees. And, I will gladly fall over backwards to have a chance to snuggle the cutest baby and receive medical advice from a very knowing 4 year old.

The sand box seems pretty safe.

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