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.

 

 

 

Day 9-Of Self Imposed Quarantine

It occurred to me today that this quarantine has not changed my life pattern much at all. Living alone is basically a quarantine. The only things I have given up are meeting my friends on Tuesday evenings at a bar for drinks, and going to the library. Instead a couple of us just have a virtual happy hour. We text and drink together. In some ways it is more fun than sitting within arms reach of someone at the bar. Because we are not face to face, the double entendres can fly back and forth without any fear of being smacked. Other than that my life is the same.

On my daily walk I encountered several couples walking dogs or running. We gave each other plenty of space as we passed, and now I am back in the sterility of my home enjoying quiet. In about an hour, I will descend to my shop and make some noise with my grinders. I am ensconced with my three roses. Each one is a new project. I learned what not to do, or how not to do, on the first and changed my methodology for the second and learned some more. Now I am using a totally new process on number three. On each rose the amount of effort and time has decreased.  I am also answering a question I asked myself awhile ago , i.e. why don’t I try making miniature intarsia? The answer, small pieces take extreme effort to hold and shape with machines. These roses have the smallest pieces I have ever cut for intarsia art work. That doesn’t mean, however, that I will not give up on making miniatures, it just means I have to undertake a lot of training and and develop new skills to do so.

 

I am also taking these quiet moments to teach myself new cooking skills. Being on a KETO diet means giving up many of the comfort foods I love so much. Yesterday I learned to make a cauliflower mash as a substitute for mashed potatoes. Believe it or not, it was good. I have eaten pre-made cauliflower mash in frozen dinners and I rated it a minus ten on a zero to ten scale. I never had runny mashed potatoes, and the watery cauliflower mash I experienced in some frozen dinners is a total turnoff.

YouTube is my teacher for cooking. There are thousands of people making videos of their favorite recipes. Finding KETO versions of favorite dishes is easy. Today, I researched KETO Stroganoff and found five videos by five different cooks and five different ways to make stroganoff. All of them were composed of the same ingredients. Only the spices were different. Saturday, I will make KETO Stroganoff.

On the COVID-19 front, I am watching fewer news programs about the disease. I don’t need anymore panic news to upset me. It is what it is and we have to be serious about staying away from each other to keep from getting it passed down. I keep asking myself, what would I do if a beautiful mature woman hit on me? Would I risk the virus, or resist the temptation? At my age the only  option is to resist the temptation. Who can we trust? Even folks living together have risk. All it would take is for one of them to leave the confines of the quarantine to go some place and come back with the bug. If we could see the enemy maybe it would be more simple to move around, but none of us can see where it lurks and we can’t see it coming at us. At this time isolation is the best protection we have.

In the meantime, I have learned to download a book from the internet and am reading from my lap-top. So my excuse of not being able to got to he library has been eliminated.

 

Raging Hormones and Crying Eyes

I finished my KETO lunch and am spending too much time clicking aimlessly from page to page on the internet allowing my God given minutes to be wasted. The last page I stopped on was a blog “Behind the White Coat.” The blogger, a doctor, wrote a heart tearing piece about his father who had Alzheimer’s dementia. Reading it opened a new door to my own grief of losing my sweetheart Peggy. In three days she will have passed five months, but I still think about her daily as I do my first wife Barbara who is now gone sixteen years. Grief is a strange emotion that strikes when you least expect it, and can turn a great sunny day into a dreary grey one.

Reading the Doc’s blog post got me to thinking about how grief affected me after Barb died. At her wake a widowed cousin whispered into my ear “don’t be foolish like I was and seek out a grief support group asap, I waited three years.” Grief made me do strange things, and to forstall the emotion I loaded myself with as much activity as was possible. I found a grief support group right in my own church and went to the September meeting. It was one month after Barb died. The group leader led each attendee in discussion. “Tell us about your loss,” she would ask?  The grieving widow would spend as much time as she needed to tell her story. I was the only man in the group of about ten ladies. Their ages ranged from fifty to eighty, I was sixty-five. We sat in a circle on couches and lounge chairs in a pleasant setting. Immediately opposite me sat a beautiful black haired beauty with penetrating blue eyes that met my own and clicked a button in my head that said, this girl is going to be my wife. Maybe it was because my hormones were raging during that time that I would immediately think of marriage when my wife of forty-two years was barely cool in her grave, but that is exactly what happened.

When it was my turn to talk, I could not utter a single word, I was so overcome by emotion. My eyes welled up in tears and my voice choked. I just waved to the moderator and with a crackly voice said “I can’t.”

Later, I told the story of my breakdown to a friend. What really impressed me was that some of these widows lost their husbands five years earlier. I expressed my concern about the efficacy of a support group that kept people coming back with grief for five years. That’s not what I had in mind, and she asked me why I would continue to return to such a group. I never told her about how my eyes zeroed in on the azure blue eyes of an amazing woman who had a huge effect on me. Of course I attended every month if only to continue to see the raven haired beauty with the penetrating eyes. By December, I was able to speak to people, but I still could not tell my story about Barb. That night as we cleared the tables of the cookies and refreshments I hung around until everyone was gone except Peggy. I knew her story because she was able to relate it to the group. She met her husband when she was fourteen. They married when she was seventeen, just before he left for basic training. She moved with him to his base near Columbia, South Carolina and stayed in a rooming house until he was transferred to the Okeefenokee Swamp for bivouac training. She came home and lived with her parents untill he was discharged. After basic, his orders were to go to Korea. A serious mistake during a dental check caused him to miss the boat. His chart was switched with someone else’s and the dentist never checked before he began to pull Ron’s teeth. The man whose teeth were supposed to be pulled caught the boat to Korea, Peggy’s husband got new dentures and spent the rest of his tour in Germany. I helped Peggy carry a heavy bag of books and goodies out to her car. We talked in the parking lot until both of us were frozen. I asked her If I could write to her from Arizona because I was leaving within a couple of weeks to spend the winter. She said yes it would be alright.

I went to Arizona to leave my tears there. During Barb’s wake and funeral I could not shed a single tear. In Arizona one of my daily routines was to walk to the library and write in my journal. I wrote the story of Barb’s heart attack and the following two year ordeal. It turned into a tale about our life together. There were days when the pages were soaked and the ink ran the page, but I got it out. I never reread the story until about a month ago. I found the journal while cleaning and trashing stuff from my house.

I was about a month  from returning, when I finally wrote a letter to Peg. Letter writing became an after lunch routine. I cooked lunch by recipes three times a week and on those days I also wrote letters to friends. The letter was properly headed with my address and the date, but I also included my Arizona phone number. A week later I received a call from Peg.

Two years went by when I finally asked her to marry me. She responded yes without hesitation, and that sealed our deal. Now, I find myself recalling the many great times we had together. I want those memories burned into my brain to wash out the memories of her final four years of regression. She finally reached the point where she forgot how to breath. I missed her very last breath by only a few minutes. I wanted to be holding her hand when it happened, but that wasn’t to be.

A New Record Set

It has been over a month since I last entered an original post. Why I have taken such a long vacation from writing I cannot explain. Maybe it is because I became deeply involved in clearing clutter from my home. At the same time I jumped head over heels into a new diet to lose my belly. It ain’t easy starving to death. People ask me why I am on a diet and I tell them I am tired of my belly hanging over my belt and bouncing off my knees. That is a slight exaggeration for effect, but my belly is enormous compared to when I rode my bike three thousand miles a year.

Which diet you ask? It is called the Keto diet. I’ve done it before a couple of times with pretty good success when it was simply referred to as a low carb diet. It is the no more bread, no more cakes, donuts, candies, no more potatoes, rice, or anything with carbohydrates diet. Keto tries to keep me below twenty grams of carbs per day.

The trick with this diet is to fill up on proteins and fat. Eggs are a staple and bacon a must. This morning I made a chicken salad for breakfast and was without energy by noon. I used up the chicken breast which doesn’t have any fat. That’ll teach me to skip a rasher of bacon. To cure the problem of no energy, I cheated and had a nice carb loaded peach for lunch with two slices of greasy salami spread with cream cheese to tide me over. Why is a peach not Keto? It has too much natural sugar and takes me over the daily limit of carbs.

Keto is short for ketosis. When your body does not have carbohydrates to use as fuel it automatically goes into ketosis and the mechanism converts stored body fat into energy. Most people on this diet rave about how fast it works. Their biggest problem seems to be finding clothes that fit. The old jeans just slide right off their asses. Not me. It’s been ten weeks and I’m down ten pounds, but my pants are a long way from slipping off. Nonetheless, I am determined to reach my goal to be as slim as I was thirty years ago. That means I have another twenty pounds of myself to abandon.

I am upset that I lost only ten pounds, yet I can feel the effect, it is easier to tie my shoes, I can see my toes again, I can button some of my dress shirts without straining the material, I can pinch several inches now. The goal is to pinch an inch of skin at the waist. When I started, my belly fat was so firm I couldn’t pinch four inches, now I pinch two, ahh progress. Does that make me a progressive?

Maybe my next post will chronicle my experiment with CBD oil.

 

Awwwww-Booom

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PSA-160518-World Diets

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For those of you who watch what you eat, here’s the final word on nutrition and health. It’s a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies.
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> 1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
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> 2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
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> 3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
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> 4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans…
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> 5. The Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.
>
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> CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.
>

Good Friday Vittles

Today I spent eight hours in the kitchen baking and cooking. What you say? I spent the day baking and cooking. My part of Easter dinner at my daughter’s house is to bring a houska sweet bread. I remember my mom making these every Easter, so that is what I wanted to do. My recollection of the recipe did not exist, so I searched for a recipe from the All Recipes website. Houska is a yellow bread with a sweet taste, yellow raisens throughout, and scattered slivered almonds for interest. The bread is braided from three or four ropes of dough. Having eaten a truckload of these breads, but never making one it became the adventure of the day. Any bread requires yeast, and like a complete jerk I chose to use some outdated yeast for the first loaf. I know better, because I learned the hard way that yeast is like a pretty woman, finicky as hell. If the water used to dissolve it is too hot, you kill the yeast and bread becomes a dense flatbread instead of a light, fluffy, soft, airy, mellow bread. If the water is too cold, the yeast refuses to grow. The result is the same as killing it with hot water. Anyway, my old yeast worked, but not well. Did I mention that I never braided anything before? Well, I didn’t until today, proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks.

For the next loaf I used some fresh cake yeast, and mixed it with luke warm water. I stored the mix in the microwave to keep it warm. When I went to use it, I learned that the yeast grew so well it foamed out of the bowl all over the inside of the micro, messy to say the least.

It was way past lunch when I got the second batch of dough rising. I stopped to make egg salad for lunch. It turned out great. Good Friday is a meat-less day for us therefore, the eggs. Back to the bread after lunch, and a backyard bird watching session with Peg. We actually had a pair of Canada geese walk through the yard this morning, and during lunch a gander landed in the pond and swam through it.

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Can you find the goose in the 2015 Monet Vision-Early Spring?

Because I had such active yeast in batch two, I split the dough in half and made two loaves. The yeast did its job and the bread swelled to a good size. I got two beautiful loaves each braided from three ropes of dough. The big loaf in the photo used seven ropes, and two braidings. The first braid used four ropes and served as the base for the second which used three. I stacked the  three braid on top of the four braid. Does that make sense?

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About the time I had the baking dishes and utensils cleaned up, it was time to begin supper. My original idea was to make salmon patties. Again, I searched All Recipes and printed the first recipe. The first ones are the simplest and easiest to make. I went about gathering the ingredients, and much to my dismay the last two onions in the mesh bag were rotten. No salmon patties today. I remembered a dish my mother made practically every Friday during lent; buttered flat noodles with sour cream and cottage cheese folded in. Luckily I found some fettucine instead, and I also had the sour cream and cottage cheese on hand. It turned out great. Even though I am aware of not adding sour cream to a very hot mixture to keep it from curdling my stomach rushed the job, and the cream curdled a wee bit. It didn’t matter, the flavor was as I remembered it from boyhood. Currently, I am waiting for a high carb sleep to take over my body.

Fettucini, fried in butter  with sour cream folded in, topped with cottage cheese, and garnished with parsley.

Fettucine sautéed in butter with sour cream folded in, topped with cottage cheese, and garnished with parsley.

I told Peg that tonight I was celebrating the anniversary of Jesus dying on the cross for my sins, and that I would reciprocate by having a personal Irish wake in remembrance. In this case, with a newly opened bottle of Merlot.

Thank you Jesus for gifting me with Merlot.

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