Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Recouping, relaxing and ready for what comes next!

As dawn broke the other day it was a spectacular reminder that, despite our worst fears, the sky really isn’t falling nor is the earth coming to a standstill. Given all the headlines, including those telling us we are on a war footing and facing an invisible enemy, there is still beauty all around us. I am not trying to trivialize the pain and suffering many of us are experiencing other than to just take note that this too will pass …

Too simplistic? Too insensitive? Well, not exactly! Being a couple that survived a month on a Princess cruise in February with little more than a bad case of strep nevertheless, just two weeks later, we were diagnosed with the flu. In our case, it was only Influenza B and we were advised to self-quarantine for a fortnight but as that came to an end, we felt no better. Blood was drawn and x-rays taken but we look good (as far as that all goes) and yet, sad to say, we are a little more lethargic than we normally are at this time of year.

I wasn’t spending too much time looking to the east as dawn broke. Rather, it was a case of getting up early as our local big-box store, Costco, was letting in seniors an hour or more sooner than regular opening hours. Walking into the store we were stunned to see row upon row of paper products. The aisles were literally impassable as toilet tissue, facial tissue and paper towels rose from pallet after pallet. Wowie! Oo-aaahh, my precious!

Paper products, wine, coffee and even whipped cream made it into our trolley as did some eggs and flour. You know, the basics. If we are too hunker down for another month, we could at least bake bread, shake cocktails and pour wine and yes, have whipped cream on top of our home baked cherry pies. There was a quip made somewhere suggesting that whereas in the past, witches could easily be detected by pushing them under water – if it didn’t kill them. Today, in this environment, a witch can be just as readily detected - if they put on no weight at all! 

We have some very sad news. Well, at least on one front. While at Costco we stocked up on spirits – all the big bottles we could grab. These are the 1.75 liter deals so in went two Bullitt Rye, two Tito Vodka, Two Kettel One Vodka, Gin, Whisky, Vermouth and much more – dark cherries included. Did I mention cherries a short time ago? Well, we had it all until coming out of the doctors following our last check up, we got the call that we still had stomach / gut issues and back onto antibiotics we went.

Fair enough but then the penny dropped. With these antibiotics it would be ten days without alcohol! Just looking at it on the shelves was too much so we put it all away, storing it out of sight in a large drawer! Makes all of our diligence not to miss a deal on alcohol seem a moot point. But then again, we only have a few days to go – anyone near Ft Collins wants to drop by for cocktails? You would have to proactively practice social distancing, of course but we could shake a few!

Sipping a cocktail while nibbling on cheese and sausage tidbits, all very sensible! And did I mention, enjoyable? This has been a regular practice of ours since we finished our media room and bar. For a couple of weekends we have been binge watching programs from all over the place starting with popular series filmed in Australia before moving on to serials from New Zealand, Scotland, North Wales and finally London. 

Who would have guessed? Seems as though there are really good shows that are filmed in places other than Hollywood or Vancouver! As for favorite shows there was 800 Words (NZ), Loch (Scotland), Hidden (North Wales) and yes, Winter and Deep Water (Australia). Sure did make our self-imposed time of quarantine pass by quickly even if binge watching for a weekend without cocktails was less than ideal.

We continue to fare well when it comes to meals. Making bread from scratch just has to be done if for no other reason than to fill the void in our home with amazing scents. Margo has turned her hand to making pies, pancakes, Aussie scones (helped out with copious amounts of strawberry preserves and clotted cream) and yes, bread. It took little motivation by Margo to bring me into the kitchen at these times. You say fine dining and I say, pass the bread!

Who would have ever predicted that an extended period spent at home, recouping and yes, relaxing could prove to be this enjoyable? To put it another way, since arriving back in Windsor February 29th, we haven’t been anywhere else but at home. No road trips! No conferences or symposiums! No forays up into the mountains. It is such a sad and indeed forlorn sight to see a garage where battery tender chords are splayed all over the place. To think, spring is now officially upon us and the cars are all gassed up but that’s it. Silence in the garage as if the cars know that they have been sidelined indefinitely.

Whenever we do make something special it’s also an occasion to pull the cork from a good bottle of wine. On the occasion when pasta was being served we pulled the cork from a bottle of 2001 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. I chose the 2001 as I didn’t want to disturb the 1997 and 1995 vintages we still have in the cellar. Did you know that in life, there is only one thing you should never plan on leaving to your kids - that being, your wine cellar!

Sadly, April is a birthday month for Margo’s family – her daughter and all three grandkids were born in April! Margo is filling a box with gifts but we are unsure as to whether (and when) we will be able to deliver them – social distancing continues as we make sure none of our bugs get to the kids! This weekend Margo was talking with her family - using Hangouts – not even close to being able to hug the little ones.  

Here they are during happier times, playing on Halloween!

On the other hand, during these times, having a well-stocked pantry is a godsend even if the stack of Coffee K-Cups rises from the floor and touches the ceiling. No way could we remain self-quarantined if we somehow managed to run out of coffee! We have always maintained a well-stocked pantry and I have often wondered was it really necessary but for now, I am so pleased that Margo always planned for the long haul.

It is a sobering time for all communities. No matter which continent you happen to have made your home, there are restrictions in place aimed at protecting each of us from this global pandemic. In my last post I only briefly mentioned coronavirus but now its impact on society as a whole cannot be missed. Practicing social distancing? I wonder what it will be like when it is all over?    

For me, there is comfort in knowing we have jams and preserves to see us through to Christmas, at the very least. However, sad to report, we have run out of Vegemite. No kidding – there goes the damper with Vegemite and cheese. Oh dear, we are doing it tough, I know, but then again, we really cannot complain as fortunately, as a couple, we do like spending time together.   

Latest favorite has been Apricot preserves with aged cheddar. Margo and I have kept an eye out for any potential overeating occurrence and to date, we have done OK. Then again, that pantry continues to be a strong drawcard whenever we tire of sitting on the couch, binge-watching a television program from who knows where. If only I could put into practice social distancing from the pantry! And our bathroom scales are out of sight having been pushed deeper into the closet.

Living in semi-rural Northern Colorado we have been buffered from the worst of the coronavirus pandemic. Barely had the sun come up then the golf course green keepers were hard at work preparing for another day of golf. Those enthusiastic golfers wishing to get in a morning round couldn’t take carts onto the course as social distancing was in force.

Watching them, scattered across the fairways, did bring with it a sense of normalcy even if anything normal could be associated with these times. And yet, it’s hard not to be optimistic about the future even as we give thanks for being able to enjoy a sunrise. You just know that this one will be followed by another and then another … 

The biggest paradox of these times however is obvious everywhere you turn. In Colorado the price of gas has continued to drop and filling up the car can be done for less than $30.00. Premium gas for just a tad over $2 per gallon: Unbelievable! And very few cars lined up for their chance to fill up. In these times we have saved a proverbial fortune in gas having just topped up the tank in one car, one time, this month.

This week I was reminded of my family heritage. The Buckle family was always into cars – my earliest memories of my father were of him changing a head gasket on a 1930s-vintage Essex (look that one up!). At that time, his younger brother, David was living with us and my earliest memory of Uncle David was that each month, or so it seemed, he showed up with a new car. As for my other uncles – Ern and Ken – there seemed to be a constant parade of cars with Uncle Ern, in particular, fond of British imports!

What triggered these memories was news just arriving of my Uncle Ken turning 100. And looking pretty good at that; the Buckle family enjoys longevity and so I am constantly reminding myself that perhaps I have a ways to go and maybe that 30yr mortgage isn’t so ridiculous, after all. Having said that, I am only too pleased to send a big cheerio to my uncle Ken! As they say, now that he has batted his way to 100, he can go chasing runs …

The timeliness of this news from my Uncle Ken at this time was just another reminder too that even as we remain housebound, recouping and yes, relaxing thoughts of being ready for what comes next aren’t too far away. Cars may be on the driveway ready to go but so too are we. Temperatures have climbed into the 70s – maybe I should wash and polish the cars. Then again, snow is once again being forecast for the weekend. So much for living in Colorado.

What that next chapter holds for Margo and me isn’t all that clear as of right now, but one thing is for certain; not only will this too pass, but perhaps more importantly, memories of today will fade away replaced with new memories formed in times that by all accounts will be vastly different from anything we have experienced to date.

Stay safe. Practice self-distancing. And wash your hands!


Aussie perspective said...

Hi Richard and Margo - This is the first time I have read your blog - Dieter always reads them but today I read it to him
and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Yes, times have changed and to think it was only a couple of months ago that we were driving down the coast of California together without a worry in the world! Yes, we are also self isolating - haven't seen our family since the end of February - and with Easter here it feels like any other day! They have closed most of the beaches in Sydney but Balmoral still remains open and it's good to see little families playing together on the beach but self distancing is very much the norm here now. Our stores are still out of toilet paper - don't know what people are doing with bundles of stuff - and they have now restricted people to only 12 bottles of wine and 2 spirits a visit - which seems to run out very quickly.
Do hope your health continues to improve and that you are able to get out in your cars again. We are off for a walk now - the only exercise we get together, however, Dieter is playing golf again - just two people off the first tee, but he loves it.
All the best to you both - Chris and of course Dieter

Richard said...

Very nice Chris and thank you. And we still talk about our trip as well - hope we get to see you at some point over the next 12 months. Fingers crossed. We have golfers passing us but all practicing social distancing with no carts on the course ... but while it's sunny today we have more snow in the forecast. Stay safe and well and the best to you as well.