Yes. It’s has been a while.
I think we can now say it’s official; the world as we knew it no longer exists.
I last chimed in on the first day of the month and now as March comes to a close, I feel no closer to accessing the tools to understand the changing landscape around me or express my feelings toward it.
I likened it recently thusly: it’s like I go to bed every night with a snow globe on the table next to me and I awaken to look at it each morning. The only thing is that it appears that is has been shaken so vehemently that I no longer recognize the little landscape from the one the night before — largely because some of the new elements that were there before no longer exist and alarming new pieces now rest in their place.
Every day the world feels different from the day before.
Not only do I not recognize the changing world around me, the comforts of yesteryear no longer exist in the same form. A hug from a friend. A leisurely stroll through a vibrant, boisterous market.
Offered and accepted food comforts, be it a BBQ brisket taco from a beloved food cart
or the pleasure of offering up a plate of treats
are either no longer available, deemed ill-advised or something to be avoided. So they have been thrown by the wayside, too.
I used to strike up probably a dozen conversations with familiar faces and strangers daily and I loved the proximity of it all. For an introvert I love to talk, and most of all to listen. The melding of visual and aural senses along with the auditory. Now that this is largely gone (except with family members or done only sparingly and at a safe distance), I realize how much I miss that closeness.
And damn it, every conversation is a spin on the same old thing. How scary this is. How unbelievable. All this headshaking and quickly expressed sameness and then hasty goodbyes before the distances are broached or tears come to one’s eyes. It’s like a 24/7 loop of bad but incomprehensible news. And an endless talk of toilet paper dearth.
Yes, conversations on the phone and Zoom and Facetime help, but I miss the old fashioned encounters of true face to face and the tactile pleasures of friendly touch.
And friends, how about the breezy freedoms of the past? Ah to shop and bin!
To welcome someone at my door as a friend (and not a potential threat to be kept at arm’s distance).
To allow Porter to run up to other dogs and friends at the park and to strike up a conversation with the person at the checkout line.
It’s this tyrannical trifecta –fear, anxiety and looming catastrophe– that looms so large and weighs so heavily. For me it came to a head two weeks ago when I realized that I had unwittingly shared a treat and a face to face with a person then suspected of COVID.
What happened was a certain elderly neighbor (who I occasionally check in on and bring treats to) stopped me on the sidewalk on March 10th to engage me in conversation. I hadn’t seen her in a while so when she saw me in front of my house with Porter she stopped the car to jump out and offer me a bag of dog treats she’d had in her car apparently forever. We chatted for a while, we laughed, she was in good spirits, and only ten days after that did I realize she’d gotten quite sick two days after our encounter.
Turns out shortly after I saw her she came down with fevers, cough, sore throat, body aches, etc — so much so that she was given one of the few tests here in Oregon but had to wait 8 days to get the answer.
Damn! Had my friendly demeanor meant that I had possibly been infected by one of the first of the state’s confirmed cases and had I then transmitted along this virus to my family and others without knowing it?
She tested positive. I waited. I worried. I huddled with my family looking for a possible symptom until I made it to the two week period with none of the most worrisome symptoms of fever and cough.
Happily, she is one of the lucky ones. She is recovering at home and hasn’t needed doctor’s care — just lots of rest while she very very slowly makes incremental strides.
We, her neighbors, continue to check on her by phone and text and I’ve left her multiple treats on her porch over the last two weeks to bring comfort or cheer.
And this one interaction appears to be one bullet I was lucky to dodge.
Unhappily, however, Oregon’s case count is on the rise (as it is everywhere) and we all have to be so careful. We now know that it is airborne and those without symptoms can still infect others.
David is doubly at risk (he’ll be 70 in July and his cancer makes him extra vulnerable to a bad response to COVID) and so we are in near lockdown (friends are doing most of our marketing for us and we go out just for market essentials, D to his office occasionally and I to the dog park). I’m terrified what awaits us as a state, a country, as world citizens.
Thank God, for now, we all seem to be okay (except for minor sore throats and a little sniffles) and we’re all hanging together — mostly at home with the odd rare trip to a quiet beautiful space nearby for fresh air (like gorgeous Cathedral Park).
Okay, that’s the COVID and March update. Let’s move on to the good stuff and coping strategies, shall we?
Like so many parents, the good news is that we were able to welcome our college-aged child home.
I don’t think I’ve told you, but Oliver has lost a mind-bending forty-five pounds since he left for school in August (through six months of exercise and intermittent fasting) and he looks so healthy and happy.
George Washington University closed up shop mid-March so I got Oliver home the night before my birthday — and David’s one year cancer diagnosis.
As such, there was a lot to celebrate on his first full day back. Birthdays. Enduring. Reunions.
We spent the day scoring amazing takeout tacos at Matt’s BBQ Tacos
taking Pork Chop to the Sandy River for a little sunshine and water play
followed my more delicious treats at Sugarpine Drive-In
and then more takeout in the form of Scottie’s Pizza to tuck into at home.
Later, we all acknowledged how grateful we were that David had made it one year past diagnosis and then we watched one of my favorite old movies, Fever Pitch.
What are you watching/binging on?
We have been cycling through a number of British mysteries and I like to watch fun food videos, like David Leibowitz on Instagram.
We’ve been watching favorite old thrillers and comedies and new m like this one
and on the completely other end of the spectrum, this one, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Charlotte and I failed to get to the library before it closed (and she is adamant about reading actual books and not virtual ones), but I was reticent to order a slew of new books from Amazon (aren’t we giving enough business to it already?).
She and I pulled up a map of Little Free Libraries around our neighborhood
and after hitting ten or so stands
we found a handful that either she would enjoy or David’s or my Mom might appreciate; we then mailed a selection to both along with treats to brighten their days.
Speaking of keeping spirits up, how are you faring? What do you do to keep yours or your families spirits from being crushed/discouraged?
As always, we are pulling out favorite meals, many of them comfort foods that can be pulled together with ingredients from the freezer or pantry.
Penne with pork and fennel meatballs and a classic tomato sauce.
I love hearty soups
or ramen mashups.
I never tire of roast chicken, succulent with rubs and marinades and cooked until bronzed and juicy.
Tacos are also a big favorite around here
and when out of shells or tortillas, leftovers are made better when topped with a fried egg.
Paninis of all kinds are deeply appreciated at any hour
and avocado toasts have never been more necessary — or more delicious.
Further, I’ve yet to see a family member turn down a home-baked treat.
We added cheer in the form of St. Patrick’s Day
and I look forward to bringing out all my Easter stuff sometime this week.
(Look what was just sent to me by one of my sister’s friends. Thanks so much, Karen — I love them!).
I love Easter stuff and I can’t wait to see my house filled with little lambs and such.
Another pleasure we’ve found with Oliver home is enjoying a nightly cocktail together.
Oliver never was interested in alcohol in any form in high school but after six months of college life, he asked if it was okay to occasionally try his hand making and enjoying a daily libation. We agreed — one a night.
He and I went through my entire collection of spirits (I had a lot of bottles gifted me or purchased for parties that sat largely untouched), dumping old bottles and refreshing with newer varieties and brands (I ordered at liquor store and they brought out to my car).
I also organized my 150 plus cocktail glasses (behind all those bottles) and grouped them near their likely liquor.
Almost every night around 5 pm, Oliver asks me what we are having for dinner and he does some research as to what would be a tasty cocktail accompaniment.
In the past two weeks we sipped our ways through Slings and Sours and Sunrises (Gin, Whiskey and Tequila, respectively) as well as Cosmos and 7 & 7’s.
I guess we are part of a trend; I know multiple families with newly returned college students who are doing the exact same thing (allowing for careful experimentation, modeling moderation and adding a level of restaurant-like sophistication to at-home dining).
As always, I’m also trying to look for those who need a little extra TLC right now, like Irene, my senior who’s stuck in a tiny apartment with minimal access to fresh food or only infrequent shopping assistance).
I pull up my car in front of her building, waiting for others to have brief conversations with their people until Irene can safely roll her cart out and pick up my offered treats: fruit, various cheeses, frozen bread, leftovers packed in individual, freezable containers, wine, and other assorted items.
She was rationing her toilet paper and paper towels as she was running low on both. Who would have thought a month ago that a bag of paper products would be deemed so valuable and treasured?
I’m trying to thank my dear friend who is an ER doc for her courage and service with daily treats on her doorstep
as I cannot imagine the amount of stress and anxiety she must go through every day she suits up and confronts this pandemic head on. Literally. (BTW, she’s a single mom of two.)
I’ve left her salsa, flowers, small wrapped gifts to give her daughter after a long shift, beer and warm baked potato dinners.
(Have you found other ways to thank those in your community who are helping out on the front lines? I’d love to hear other suggestions.)
Recently I’ve found a few strangers who are willing to share some of the modest spoils from their gardens so that I can pass along mini bouquets to anyone else who could use some extra cheer.
Luckily, I’m seeing a lot of others doing good stuff, too — and I show my gratitude whenever I can.
My friend Elona asked if I have any elastic as she is sewing fabric masks for friends and family (not ideal for protection but better than nothing).
I guess there’s a national shortage of elastic but I was delighted when I found this large spool for Elona in my stashes;
I accompanied it with a chocolate bar and left both on my porch,
and she in return left me four of these homemade masks.
For the handyman (now partially unemployed) who grocery shops for me bi-weekly sometimes I leave out care packages
and to the intrepid pal who picked me up just a few things from Costco (thanks Lisa!), another small little treat, left on my porch.
(In a strange way it is fun to see what I might already have that a friend or family might appreciate; I’ve sent six care packages from what I have on hand!)
How are you faring, dear friends?
What diversions and deliciousness do you dabble in daily?
Is your neighborhood also a source of joy and encouragement?
Who are you nourishing — and who’s nourishing you?
Like so many around me, I too feel the noose of anxiety, the stranglehold of fear. But I’m also so profoundly grateful; my family and I are better off (yes, even with the possibility of a cancer return and other worries) than so many right now. The acknowledgment of my blessings enables me to crawl out from underneath the rock of depression and venture forth.
As Mr. Rogers used to say “Look for the helpers.” I am going to try to be more consistently helpful as I safely can be.
I hope and pray you are all healthy and hanging in there during this heartbreaking time.
Hold your dear ones close, hug yourself tight — and stay in touch here or on Instagram. I’d love to hear from you!
Most of all, stay healthy and keep up the good fight.
Hugs and bacon hearts to all of you.
Sasha Kaplan says
Oh Sarah, it is so good to hear from you! This is unlike anything any of us have ever experienced. I had a scare after having lunch in San Francisco the first week in March with a friend. Two weeks later she got sick, though not confirmed it was Covid-19. And when I got back, I returned to cooking for my 97 year old neighbor. When I found out about my friend being sick in SF, I contacted the family of my elderly neighbor and told them I had to get tested. Until I found out whether I was positive or negative, I needed to take a break cooking for him. I did get tested and I was negative. But a friend here in town, is positive. The bad part is she is a very popular yoga teacher. And now her students are worried and paying attention to their possible symptoms. I was able to drop off some meds behind my friend’s gate. She is recovering, but her headaches have been brutal. May you all stay safe. Wish I could leave goodies on your porch. Love to the Klines!
Sarah Kline says
Sasha, Wow, that’s a lot going on there. I think a phone call is in order to start the proper catch up, don’t you? Let’s play phone tag until we hit it right. Love you, dear one!
bernadette diepenbrock says
Hi Sarah! Wow! Love it all! You are amazing! Sending love and big hugs to you and your whole beautiful family! All those beautiful pics of your delicious food is great inspiration on what to make these days!
Sarah Kline says
Bernadette, SO good to hear from you! I think of you every time I’m in your old hood and I think of your beautiful face turned up to all that glorious sunshine. Let’s keep in touch — you have my email and text anytime you care to give me an update on you and yours. HUGS!
Marty J says
Thank you for sharing all the feelings. When was your birthday? We have had two quarantine bdays in our family (mine on 3/14) and tomorrow is my daughter’s 12th…so hard to have distance bdays, especially for kids. She’s really trying hard not to complain about it but I know she’s so sad. But we’re all in it together and all the small kindnesses of friends and neighbors and family go super far these days. I’m glad your family is all together now.
Sarah Kline says
Yes, Marty, we’re almost birthday twins. Mine is March 15th and a lot of my favorite people are fellow Pisceans. I get the sad part — I truly do — and am completely with you about the kindness of friends and neighbors part. Sending wishes of health and fun during this dark time.
Love you Klines!
Sarah Kline says
LOVE ME SOME BASKINS. Can’t wait until this is all over and we can grab a coffee and chat — our last bev date was fab. XO
laurie - magpie ethel says
I so enjoy reading your posts and they always leave me with a “feel good” and that we have just sat down to have a chat. So glad Oliver is home (45 pounds? what?) and your new nightly libation. Your food photos always make me want to up my cooking game…you truly have a talent there! Stay healthy and hoping for a in person visit one of these days…love you!
Sarah Kline says
Hello, dear pal. Thanks so much for the love! I’ve been holding onto a few tiny items for you forever — look for a doorstep near you soon-ish. I miss and love you, too! Stay well.
Hello Sarah, So happy to see your post this morning. I shared your post by reading to my dear husband.
We’re doing pretty good for ‘old folks’. Our mental and physical health are in good form.
We pass the time being creative, reading, walking Hamish and talking. We’re the sort of people that are far more comfortable keeping ourselves, to ourselves. Plus we enjoy our own company.
And on the other hand, we’re also very social and know all our neighbors by first name. Even the ones that are stand-offish, we’ll wave and smile, as is our custom.
Here’s praying our world will come to an understanding that nothing is forever. “This too shall pass”. I just hope the majority will take this as a lesson, and realize we all can be taken out in a heartbeat by one little germ. Not a good thought, but the truth.
Hang in there, keep on ~ keeping on 😘💕
I’m so happy David is safe! Covid has popped up in a couple of my book club friends, so I agonize over every scratchy throat, but so far, I’m healthy and my family is healthy.
I think Oliver is the first college freshman who has LOST weight!
We are enjoying a lot of family time and baked goods. I started taking coronavirus seriously slightly ahead of the curve, so I was able to prepare before some of the shortages started happening. We have enough yeast and baking powder to see us through, and I have plenty of time to make bread. I just started on a rustic Italian loaf this morning!
I always pick up elastic and bias tape and interesting fabric at the bins, and these are very useful for making masks.
I’ve been walking a lot in Forest Park and around the neighborhood. It’s interesting that your neighborhood’s free libraries are stocked. Ours are cleaned out! I’ve been reading a lot of e-books from the library.
Is your neighborhood making noise at 7 every night to thank the health care workers? We have been having fun with that!
I hope we will be able to look back at our time in quarantine with some fondness.
Sarah Kline says
Hello Lisa! So happy to hear that you and your gang are doing well. You were smart to plan ahead– I did a little but sure wish we’d sold off our retirement stocks 🙁
I wouldn’t say the libraries were stocked — just a few select titles that might work for each person. I wish people would fill them with more puzzles and books!
Take care and text me anytime. In the meantime, I’m daydreaming of the day we can BIN together again. I miss it — and my friendly faces!– soo much. XO
Oh, yes. I also wish we’d sold our retirement stocks. Also, my husband had surgery scheduled for next week and that’s been cancelled.
I’m trying to focus on what I can control, hence the baking frenzy that’s taking place over here. What I wouldn’t give for a tiny little trip to the bins right now!
What a beautiful site you have ! I was so lucky to find it today !
I am a born and raised Seattle girl now living in southern Arizona with a daughter at UW and a son still in eastern WA. It was a strange turn of events that brought my husband and I here after so many years in WA and many times I said my life felt/feels like a crazy shaken snow globe ! Despite job changes, personal loss and even tragedy we just keep pushing through and daily thank God for every crazy moment.
Thank you for your eloquent and heartfelt writing. I can so relate !
Sarah Kline says
Hello, Janice! It sounds like you’ve been through more than your share. So sorry that life has come at you hard. Thanks so much for reaching out and the kind words. Take extra good care of yourself and stay in touch — I love to hear from you all!
Love you. Thanks again!! XO
You are such a ray of sunshine! Wow, how scary to be exposed, especially in light of David’s health — so thankful to hear you all made it past the incubation period with your health intact! Loved hearing about Oliver and congrats to him on not gaining the freshman 15! I bet Charlotte is happy to have him home too – it’s gotta be hard on a high school gal! Ah binning … when this is over and I can come up to OR (promised my daughter I would paint her fence!) I’d love to meet you and go binning!!! So much fun! It’s funny to think how much more fun it is to hit the stores up there than in Los Angeles — I think everyone here either 1)throws away their unwanteds or 2)the stores charge so much it’s almost like paying for it new! Stay healthy!
I wonder if the 19 in “COVID-19” is the 19 lbs that I will gain while snacking and house bound?
Stay well…..FORTITUDE !!!