Day 62-SIP-Stupid Fun Makes Dollars

This stay in place business has made me light headed. very morning is a hangover. I must be enjoying the wine by consuming more than usual. The hangover gets me going much later in the day. It seems like I drag my sorry ass behind me like an anchor.

Yesterday, I finally accomplished a new goal, I cooked another one of Mom’s favorite dishes, toltutt kaposta with umlauts over the o’s and an accent over the a. In our language it is simply stuffed cabbage. I watched my mother roll these beauties out in the kitchen too many times, but when it came time to remember what she did, I drew a blank.

As usual, I watched videos of my favorite cook Oma making stuffed cabbage. Oma is currently ninety-two years old and reminds me of my mother. She concentrates on Hungarian and German recipes. What a piece of cake this is, I thought. Wrong! I never handled a cabbage before and got into serious trouble with blanching. The pot I used for this gimongous head of cabbage was just a tad too small. Blanching is a pretty simple process, but since this was the first time I was doing it I made it hard to do.

Mixing the meat with rice, and spices was easy, but when it came to handling the cabbage leaves I was all thumbs. Mom’s recipes leave out all the basic stuff you need to know when cooking. Like how to trim the main rib of a cabbage leave to make it more pliable. The next thing she left out was stuffing the leave and closing it around the meat. That is a practice thing. Mom had been stuffing cabbage leaves since she was twelve, and for her it was an automatic process. Here hands and fingers were so well conditioned from repetition that it was automatic. For me it was a comedy of errors, I was all thumbs. I managed to make about twenty rolls and learned my next mistake was also my first mistake, the pot was a tad too small. I had cabbage rolls stacked to within a half inch of the rim.

Miraculously, I completed the job and ate stuffed cabbage for supper last night. It is not 100% KETO, but it is close. The only non-KETO ingredient is rice. The whole process got my mind off the COVID-19 b-s for a few minutes while I struggled with stuffing and wrapping the rolls.

The kitchen was a mess after I finished as it always is after making something for the first time. Lucky me, the dishwasher was broken and the repair man didn’t come until today so I had to wash all the stuff by hand.

At my Tuesday Night At The Stray Bar Club Zoom meeting yesterday I learned about two things:

1. CD&Me a local entertainment venue is going to open under strict guidelines the first week of June. It will be a parking lot event limited to one hundred cars spaced one car apart. There will be a live band entertaining and a roll out bar for food by the Dancing Marlin. Adult beverages will not be sold but will be permitted (bring your own). Admission is by ticket bought online.

2. One of our group told us a story about her great grandson who is making a ton of money off videos on Youtube and Tik-Tok. I searched Youtube for him and found his videos. They are stupid of course, but he is a very energetic and out-going personality and pulls off his stunts with his girlfriend Mariah. As an example the video I watched had 39,000 likes. As another example this blog GrumpaJoesPlace is lucky if a post gets ten likes. I guess I’ll have to start doing dumb stuff if I want to make some money doing this. The funny thing is I feel like I am doing dumb stuff when I write these posts. Another example is my own grand daughter who writes for a blog called Fan Fiction and gets 5-10 thousand views per post. While my daughter-in-law in Michigan has a blog about her horse hobby and will get hundreds of views for a post. On my best day if I get fifty views and two likes I feel I’ve reached the pinnacle of success.

Making money in the digital world is for the very young. We old folks will only shake our heads in wonderment as to how it can be. I see it happening, I believe it is happening, but I’ll be damned if I can make it happen.

Day 61-SIP-KETO Be Damned

After two days of intense rain we have sunshine again. The wetland behind my house looks like a swamp, filled to the edge of my yard with water. The geese honk on a continuum, probably warning other geese to keep their distance. I haven’t seen any sign of babies yet, but I know they are there. My Mallard ducks are not in the pond, but I know they are close by. Yesterday, I watched the male sitting comfortably in a growth of sedum in the pouring rain with water running off its feathers like they were made from silicone. He was happy. I never saw his mate, but she may have been sheltering her clutch from the pouring rain.

I spent most of the day writing and watching videos. Later I descended into my shop and worked on intarsia. This project is turning out fairly well. It is the fastest I ever completed a piece, one week from pattern to production. Today, I will embellish it to make it uniquely mine.

The virus noise has changed its frequency and now smacks of how people are violating all the government recommended protocols for maximizing safety. For us in the Chicago area it was easy yesterday, because of the rain, but I sense a relaxation all around me. Traffic is heavier, there are more people walking the paths, more bicycles, more picnicking, more people shopping, as compared to a couple of weeks ago when we were still in full hunker. I will say one thing though, almost everyone wears a mask when in a building like a grocery store.

My phone went through an automatic update a week ago and I now have new feature on my weather program. I get a daily update of the latest COVIAD-19 confirmed cases. The very first report I saw showed 47 confirmed, and I was pleased that it was low. Then everyday since, the number has grown to a peak of 147 confirmed in a single day, and today it dropped again to 76. This tells me as I suspected all along that we are lagging New York and our epidemic is still on the rise. This is not the time to let our guard down. On the other hand, our businesses are really feeling it. Our little town has lost three businesses permanently. Thankfully, the sit down restaurants repurposed themselves into carry out places and are doing some business.

Last Friday, I treated myself to a restaurant meal. I dumped my KETO diet in favor of a good old fashioned Italian meal, chicken parmegian with mostacolli, topped off with the restaurant’s signature banana cream pie. KETO be damned, I needed that. Today, I am back on the regimen of low carbs, fat and protein. Since I haven’t lost any weight lately, I found a ketosis meter and test strips to see if I am really on a true KETO diet. My numbers so far have been .3 and .8 just barely in the range. Just like people relaxing the COVID-19 protocols, I have fallen off the KETO protocols. It is sad because I slowed to a crawl just five pounds short of my goal.

It is time for me to sneak off to the grocery store for the final ingredient in my mother’s recipe for stuffed cabbage, then the day turns into Cooking for Joe. I wish I had the sense to video my cooking, everyone could see how sloppy I am. Maybe that would be the title of my cooking videos “Cooking Sloppy With Joe.”

Day 42-Quarantine-Cooking

The old body clock sounded off in my brain at seven this morning, but I resisted the notion of getting up and returned to the covers. Of course I couldn’t sleep any more but I conjured up some dream scenarios. Most times they are sexual in nature. This morning, however, it took the direction of my Lions membership. I wanted my mind to roll off some ideas for how I as a Lion can provide some service to the community. All of them involve getting close to people which would violate the social distancing policy. So much for making my dreams work for me. I rolled out of bed and decided to cook instead.

In times like this (sounds rather cliche) I revert to my mother’s cook book for comfort food, the food I grew up with. Usually the recipes are easy, the ingredients are few, and they are tasty as can be. Today, I have the ingredients for a sheperd’s stew called Szekely Gulyas (pronounced say-kay- goo-losh). The ingredients are: one onion chopped, two table spoons of Crisco, cubed pork, sauerkraut, salt and pepper, then add sour cream at the end.

My desire to eat all the old stuff out of my freezer is working. Yesterday, I found a baggie with two pork chops, then, I found another package in foil which is a pork roast. It was a two pounder when I bought it, and was much too big for me to roast at one time so I cut it in half and wrapped it for later. This is now later. Last week I found a pound of ground beef and I will finish that by making hamburgers until consumed. Right after I found the chops and I removed it to defrost it. Also last week, while scouring for some breakfast meat I uncovered a package of eight Italian sausages. So here I am with all of this meeting defrosting in my fridge when the phone rings. It is my step daughter telling me she is on the way to my house to drop off a pork roast and a large bag of salad greens. She told me she would drop it at the front door and leave because she didn’t want to contaminate me with Covid.

At this point I am overloaded with defrosted meat and have to do something with it, I can’t eat that much food at one time. So, I cook.

Day 27-Quarantine-Not Camelot

It is hard to believe that I am one day away from  four weeks of Stay in Place. Last week I ordered a list of groceries for home delivery, and they were due to arrive today between 3 and 5. I patiently delayed going for a walk and did other things to fill the day. At the same time, I searched my freezers for something to eat. I have consciously been working down my inventory of food supplies because I had too many things that were freezer burned and discoloring from age. It was my habit to keep plenty on hand while Peg was still with me, and when I went grocery shopping I always came home with more than I really needed. Needless to say the supply was pretty big. It has taken me about six months to work it down. The freezer is two days away from empty, but the order was going to arrive today. I am using a just i time process to buy and keep only what I need. The supply is so close to home that I needn’t have huge backlogs of stuff, except there is COVID-19, and stay in place. The problem is that ‘just-in-time’ is ‘almost-too-late;’

At about three-thirty, I was getting anxious about when to expect the order to arrive so I went online to check it out. Surprise, surprise, somehow I never really finalized the order and nothing was coming. Oh boy! I discovered where my mistake was and reordered but the earliest delivery is six days away. I reordered and this time got a confirmation number and a delivery date and time. Then it became a scramble to rush to the grocery story to buy some stuff to bolster my supplies. At the same time, I called a friend and asked if there was anything she needed. Of course she did. No one passes up an offer to bring groceries. Her last words to me were “be sure to wear a mask.”

So tonight, I had the last tv dinner from the freezer and tomorrow I will cook something fresh to use up the last pork roast I defrosted today. As I cleaned up after supper, the sun was setting low in the western sky and sending beams of bright light into the house. The sky was turning into a blaze of colors which I haven’t seen for a few days because of cloudiness, maybe I’ll get to see the moon tonight.

Last night I watched a public service announcement by our mayor. He talked about the importance of social distancing. He related a personal story about his neighbors, one to his right and one to his left. The man on the right was in Silver Cross Hospital with COVID-19 and on a respirator, the one of the left had COVID-19 and died. He displayed a map of our area in Will County and it was loaded with red dots where all the reported cases were reported. It scared the pants off me. I aways envisioned Frankfort as Camelot. In my mind the red dots would surround the village boundaries but never cross into our little piece of heaven. Well, my vision is totally wrong, we have lots of COVID-19 all around us. Time to tighten up and heed the recommendations more strictly.

 

Day 18-Quarantine, or Stay In Place?

When I began this journey to chronicle my experience with COVID-19 I decided to title the essay as ‘Quarantine.” Webster defines quarantine like this:

“a state, period, or place of isolation in which people or animals that have arrived from elsewhere or been exposed to infectious or contagious disease are placed: many animals die in quarantine.”

Our President and Governor call it ‘Stay In Place.’

The difference as I see it is that in a quarantine a contagious person is kept in a place of isolation until such person is no longer contagious. While ‘Stay in Place’ means I get to remain where I live, and as long as I follow the guidelines as directed until such a time as the order is removed. Another difference is that under quarantine the individual is known to be infected, and can pass the disease to another. Under ‘Stay in Place’ it is unknown if I am infected, and I might pass it on if I am infected.

Under quarantine, there is no way in hell I would be allowed to walk my dog or go to the store for groceries. If you have been diagnosed positive it wouldn’t matter if you were an essential worker, you would not leave the quarantine area for anything.

Why are we under stay in place and not in quarantine? Probably because it would be impractical, if not impossible, to manage millions of people in quarantine. Picture it like being sent to prison. We don’t have the resources nor the infra-structure to house millions of sick people. So our leaders chose to invent ‘Stay In Place’ as a mitigation effort.

Today is Saturday and the are fewer people out for walks. Of course the temperature is in the thirties as compared to yesterday’s fifties. All of my friends are taking the stay in place order seriously and none want to come over and play, nor do they suggest I come to them. We do phone each other to learn how we are doing.

I don’t feel like cooking today so I’ll dip into my reserves of TV dinners and cook for all of five minutes in the micro-wave. I don’t even feel up to a salad today. Too much effort is required to assemble the ingredients and pour dressing.

Tonight, I will go onto a movie marathon. I am skipping Homeland today, because I have watched so much of it that I am dreaming in Homeland. Last night I found myself in a dream situation that required escape, and I was paralyzed. I couldn’t move any of my limbs and it freaked me out to the point of waking up struggling to whip the covers off. I was so wrapped up in the sheet that I was totally confined and unable to get our without a fight.

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, and it is the first time in my history that the churches are shut down. I am glad they are substituting video masses during Holy Week. I plan on attending them at my computer. I will also attend a Lions Board meeting by video conference, and also an Oasis meeting for the visually impaired by video conference. This should be interesting.

Getting groceries delivered is not working yet, and I don’t think it will. They need people to do the work but no one is looking for work at the moment. I vision two or three trucks arriving at my house one day with the groceries I ordered, and me shouting no, no, no. What would I you with those fresh vegetables and fruit all at the same time. Make stew and juice I suppose.

 

 

 

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