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Day 31

We're All Going Bananas – Literally

Yes, it’s official. We ARE all going bananas, but it’s not a statement about our collective precarious state of mind. No, it’s a statement about the fruit. We’ve all been buying a lot of bananas in the past month.

At first, I thought it was just me, obsessing about bananas. Eating them. Making sure I have enough of them. Running out of them. Obsessing about procuring them. I was so obsessed I started worrying I might have a potassium deficiency! That led to a double obsession.

But apparently I was a trendsetter. Because, according to Google Trends, Americans are going bananas over bananas. More specifically, we’re all going bananas over banana bread.

The reasons why? First, with all the frenzied (over)shopping we’re doing, too many bananas were turning brown on kitchen counters and in risk of going to waste. Baking them was the obvious solution to avoiding waste. (Even klutz bakers like me know over-ripe bananas make great banana bread.)

So, in these days of sheltering at home, both mad-about-baking chefs and wannabe bakers are whipping up a lotta loaves. Yum!

Yes, in good times, we may crave cookies and cake, but in bad times, banana bread is best.

And now a bit of banana trivia: Bananas, botanically-speaking, are berries. Betcha didn’t know that!

So goes Day 31. I think I need a nap — and yes, a banana!

Day 30

Let’s Talk about “Kalsarikännit”

Here in the SF Bay, we’re a month into sheltering in place. Folks in other cities and states are hunkering down for the long haul as well. Times are tough. So, it’s time to talk about “kalsarikännit.”

Not familiar with the term? That’s alright. I wasn’t either until I read about it in — you guessed it — my beloved New York Times. “Kalsarikännit” is Finnish and translates roughly into “pantsdrunk.”

Apparently, the Finns have an affection for it — no, make that, a tradition of — getting drunk in their underwear at home. Now I suppose this is better than getting drunk at a bar and then going out and navigating the icy roads of Finland, but frankly, I’ve been in Helsinki in winter and there is no way I’d want to sit around in my underwear doing anything!

Still, I don’t quite get this “tradition.” Drinking alone doesn’t sound appealing. Besides, I don’t like the taste of alcohol or the way it makes me feel. So, overall, even fully clothed, I’m pretty much a drinking lightweight.

What’s also curious to me is the Times decision to spotlight “kalsarikännit” in these troubled times. Does the publication that prides itself on printing “all the news that’s fit to print” really think this story counts as newsworthy or socially redeeming?

Although now that I think about it, drinking is clearly on the mind of a lot of people judging by liquor sales. And it definitely was a concern for one 93-year-old woman in Pennsylvania who held up a sign in her window requesting “I need more beer.” Well, Coors heard her plea and delivered 10 (!) cases of the stuff!

And so goes Day 30 — oh, my, Day 30! Stay safe. Stay sane. And really, stay sober. No “kalsarikännit” — at least with the windows open!

Day 29

What is Essential?

What is essential? It depends on who you ask and when.

For instance, until January 1, 2020, and a massive overhaul of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, a US skipper could throw a troublesome sailor in the brig for minor offenses and feed him the essentials — bread and water.

Today, Americans across the country are on a mad hunt for a different sort of essential — toilet paper, and also, flour and yeast. Plain it all on hoarding, panic buying, and lots of comfort baking.

I had an early sheltering-in-place yen for bananas. Then, M&Ms. But happily, I’ve been well-stocked most days on both. However, consumer alert: I have NOT been able to order basic Oreos for two weeks. Is this a looming national crisis or merely a Galatz-Wellinghoff household cookie jar tempest?

And Exactly What IS Essential? And To Whom?

Meanwhile, the Amazon employees who are the lifeline for sheltering-at-home people like me are complaining about unsafe work conditions AND the buying practices of consumers.

One Amazon protestor was spotlighted on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver this past Sunday. He was unhappy with the person who ordered a dildo, saying something to the effect, “Really, people, this is an essential item? This is something I need to risk my life to procure for you?”

So, this, of course, leads me — tongue-in-cheek — to ask, “What is an essential item?”

Point A: I’m sure the person who ordered said dildo, stuck at home, possibly alone for who knows how many weeks, believed it was essential, possibly lifesaving.

Point B: I ordered a fly swatter which at the moment was 3000% essential. I am bug phobic and could not believe I had misplaced my fly swatter nor could I face the thought of life trapped at home without one.

That said, I have two subpoints to make about this essential purchase:

  1. I resented the fact deeply I needed to order a pack of 3.
  2. I resented the fact even more deeply that I had to order them in pastel colors.

Still, they were in stock and would arrive in 2 days. So, that was good.

Even the shipping Gods at Amazon consider fly swatters consider priority items essential and prioritize them for shipping in the new Amazonian delivery world order!

Hirsute Pursuits

Point C: I just ordered the fancy spritz-on gray hair root concealer I so DESPERATELY need. I ordered a two-pack of the stuff. It’s not cheap. It’s not a color perfect match. And it smells a bit nasty. But it conceals my dull gray roots and doesn’t make me look like a striped hyena in the process. It — at least in Amazon’s eyes — is not an essential item and will not arrive for 3 weeks. For the love of Aphrodite and Venus, how is covering up a pudgy middle-aged woman’s dingy gray roots not a priority? I mean, come on, Jeff Bezos? Have a heart! I’m hanging on here by a thread, trying to maintain my grip and gratitude. But every time I look in the mirror, I feel that thread fraying. Please hear my plea and personally intervene. Does it help to know that I subscribe to the Washington Post even though I live in California? Does that score me some Amazon shipping points?

Point D: All of this discussion makes me wonder what’s next. Will Walmart, Target, and Costco stores stop selling ‘nonessential’ items such as toys and clothing? Oh, my! That’s already happening in parts of the US.

Point E: I don’t have any more points which I fear makes me pointless!

The WRAP-UP

And so goes Day 29. Be sure to check out tomorrow’s Muddling through Middle Age blog. I’ve got a new public policy initiative for Dr. Fauci to consider – “Social Distancing for Spouses.” I’ll be posting it early Wednesday morning on my website and also on my Facebook Muddling Me page!

Day 28

The First Day of the Week

Monday, the first day of the week … or is it?

Some people say the week begins on Sunday. Many calendars agree. Other calendars list Monday as the official start.

Now, complicating life, at least my life, is Handsome Hubby’s reckoning methodology. Follow along: it’s a doozy! He’s keeping track of time based on when the San Francisco Bay area shelter in place order came down. That was on March 17, a Tuesday. So, for HH, the week — or rather, the weeks — now begin on Tuesday. Welcome to my life!

As many of you know, we’ve been strictly adhering to the sheltering-at-home order, venturing out only to go for daily walks. Well, today I needed to run an errand. It was only my third time out in the car in 28 days. So shocking. The usually bustling UC, Berkeley campus was deserted. The streets downtown were virtually empty with just a few cars on the road. Most pedestrians wore masks like scattered bands of bandits. Stores were obviously closed. Neighborhoods were likewise empty. Just a few people were out jogging or walking with children and/or pets. Everybody waved or nodded at one another. And I bet garbagemen never received so many greetings as they went about their routes.

Back at home, I scored a personal best! A round of applause, please. Overt envy allowed! I managed to hit the “schedule delivery time” button fast enough twice and arranged for TWO food deliveries — one from Amazon and one from Whole Foods. Bow before me! Mama’s got game!

News from the Birds

In the category of bizarre US pandemic news: there’s a huge national chicken wings surplus. Apparently, the cancellation of March Madness-NCAA basketball tourney was a big blow to the wings biz. It’s a fact.

As a side note, the Washington Post’s chicken wings-gone-bust story quotes an expert identified as the “lead animal protein economist” at a bank. This amuses me. An animal protein economist?

And from silliness to inspiration: if you’re in need of the latter, please watch this amazing video of Andrea Bocelli singing, you guessed it, “Amazing Grace.”

And so goes Day 28, Monday — the first day of the week, obviously!

Day 27

Easter Memories

Easter, 2020: the religious cannot go to church. Easter egg hunts are limited to the family backyard.

Easter, 1986: millions gathered on St. Peter’s Square to worship.

It was a beautiful, moving sight — a sight I was lucky to witness firsthand and up close.

Yes, in 1986, this American Jewish girl sat in front of St. Peter’s Basilica as Pope John Paul II spoke and prayed in multiple languages to the multitudes of faithful assembled there.

Yes, I sat there in awe on a bright sunny day, humbled to see a sea of people united in joy and harmony. Even though it was not my holy day, not my faith. But it gave me faith in the goodness of people to come together in a moment of peace. I knew it was something I would never forget and, of course, I never have.

I had this amazing experience thanks to my tenure as a White House Fellow and work as a Special Assistant to Secretary of State George Shultz. We were at the Vatican that weekend for a series of meetings.

Today I cannot help but recall that astonishing Easter so long ago as I think about the struggle families are having figuring out how to celebrate both Easter and the Jewish holy day of Passover. Zoom seders with family and friends scattered across town and continent are not a “tradition” anyone wants to repeat nor are religious services carried via video conferencing FaceTime chats between grandparents and grandchildren where the little ones end up sobbing.

But Easter is the story of resurrection. Passover is the story of survival from slavery and plagues. So, in time, Easter 2020 will be but a memory. Happier Easter memories will be made. More joyous Passover seders will be held.

Till then, stay healthy and I hope the Easter bunny did, somehow, make it to your house. Hugs to you all.

So goes Day 27.

Day 26

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas for Hoarders

Sometimes a Picture IS Worth a 1000 Words …

 

 

What else can I say?

Oh, disclaimer: I don’t know if they are functional!

So goes Day 26. It’s Saturday. You knew that, right? Stay safe … and silly!

Day 25

A Nice Day … for TV Addicts.

Nice if you ignore the pandemic. Nice if you ignore the reality outside your own door. Nice if you don’t mind … Well, you get the idea.

But reality pushed aside, it was a nice day.

The sun was shining. No gloomy skies to add to the general gloom.

Handsome Hubby honored my moratorium on his daily lunchtime recitation on the latest pandemic statistics and headlines. So, that provided blessed relief and respite.

Kind Kimberley, my neighbor who shops for us, braved the massive lines at the market and not only found everything on my list but surprised me with a bouquet of lovely flowers — anemones. She still hasn’t procured my favorite brand of pickles (a request from a former shopping list) and now calls it her “white whale” to which one of my clever children said, “You mean, her “Moby Pic?” No doubt Herman Melville is rolling in his grave at this dilly-dallying (Get it? Dill pickles.) and desecration of his great nautical tale.

I do have one fear for those of us blessed to be safe at home, untouched by illness. I fear we are becoming television addicts. There was a time when I had disdain for people who watched too much TV. Now, I watch hours … and hours … of it. I maintain a list of programs to view which I update with a diligence my checkbook only wishes I similarly applied.

Handsome Hubby and I just binged our way through the new season of Ozark. Next in the queue is Money Heist, but that’s just an appetizer for Fauda which we’ve been anxious to see for what seems like “forever.” Then on April 17, Bosch returns. I know because where once I wrote the dates of theater productions we were going to into my calendar, I now track the season premiere dates for TV shows. Oh, my.

And today when I looked at The New York Times’ weekend entertainment section, I was checking for new movies to stream, not movies to go to. Such is life in the Era of COVID-19.

Today’s FASHION TIP from Unfashionable Me

Wear eyeliner colors to match your mood or your aspirational mood!

  • Blue for feeling blue or hoping for blue skies.
  • Green, in my case to match my eyes and with the hope of looking cute despite the fact that I’m wearing yoga pants and a tee shirt for twenty-plus days in a row!
  • Yellow (yes, I have yellow eyeliner and don’t laugh too much, it’s almost cute) just ‘cause, of course, it’s ridiculous and you can’t help but laugh!
  • Glitter liner in any color because we need a little glitter right now.

And so goes Day 25. Final note: Consider matching your eyeliner to your face mask! Stay stylish AND safe!

Day 24

Toilet Paper Wars

People are not only hoarding toilet paper, but they’re also fighting over the stuff. Not just in the supermarket aisles, but in their homes.

Yes, egads. A mother and a son actually came to blows over tp! At least that’s what happened Monday in Los Angeles County when an adult son punched his mother for hiding the family stockpile of butt paper.

Why did she hide the stuff? you may ask. Well, apparently her bouncing baby — 23-years-old — was using too much. Now I don’t know what constitutes “too much” or why he was using “too much” or what words proceeded the actual fisticuffs, but police were called to the scene at about 3 a.m. The son was arrested and charged with battery.

In the words of the LA County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson, “This is the first arrest I’ve heard of that started out over an argument over toilet paper.”

The mother declined medical treatment. No information was provided regarding the status of the tp inventory.

And while toilet paper slugfests may sound silly, domestic violence is on the rise right now. If you need help, the National Domestic Hotline can help 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). You can also make a donation to this important cause.

Here at Maison G-W, I’m happy to report there’s no squabbling over toilet paper, TV shows or any of the other assorted trivia that goes with this dreary sheltering in place. It was just another “normal” day sequestered at home. Handsome Hubby worked and consulted with clients via phone and all the various video conference modes. I wrote and compulsively cleaned.

My primary cleaning mission – the office bookshelves. Before starting, I made a vow to donate at least a few books to the library, thus freeing up space for new books! I failed. I couldn’t part with one single book. I’m an unrepentant book hoarder.

All I accomplished was transferring seven books from office to bedroom, adding to an already precarious tower of tomes on my night table. Oh, well. At least, the books got a good dusting in the transfer process from room to room.

And so goes Day 24. Enjoy a good book tonight.

Day 23

Bill Withers, blogging, friends in need, and Passover …

Yes, a little bit of everything. Sheltered and scattered. That’s me today.

Today’s the day my weekly Muddling through Middle Age blog goes up. So, that was the first order of business. And indeed, it was business as usual. I surprised myself and was efficient and productive. Hooray! I also had a lot of clean-up to do on my website. I stuck to it for hours. Allowed for no distraction until my aching neck and growling stomach called for a “time out.” Fair enough. I had earned one!

But then, that familiar after-lunch slump hit made all the worse by my lunchtime reading of the latest news headlines.

That’s when I turned to Bill Withers Live at Carnegie Hall. His smooth grooves and upbeat tempos propelled me into a more upbeat mood. Just in time, because I wasn’t the only one down today. I propose we make Bill Withers’ Lean on Me the temporary national anthem. We’re all in need of a little extra love — even if it comes via text or phone call. Pass it on. Pass it on.

And speaking of passing it on, tonight is the start of Passover which commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. It is, of course, an ancient celebration, but this year, it’s being observed in decidedly modern ways. Families are gathering by Zoom instead of around the dinner table stretched wide open and supplemented with extra card tables and folding chairs.

In my case, I’m giving special thanks to my pharmacist for her help in completing my holiday meal! You see, Amazon/Whole Foods was out of matzo, the unleavened bread — a cornerstone of the Passover meal. My busy pharmacist kindly took a moment on her lunch break to grab a box of matzo off the supermarket shelf and put it in with my prescription order. And that order was delivered just before my seder — my Zoom seder — began. A regular Passover miracle!

Passover is a story about plagues, resilience, and survival. Now in 2020, the entire world faces plague. We will show resilience, recover, and know joy again.

And so goes Day 23. Thinking of you all.

Day 22

Week 4 Begins

Hands red like a lobster. Butt sore like a pincushion from non-stop sitting. Shoulders ache like they’ve been punched. Eyes bleary from too much TV.

Yes, I’ve got an acute case of shelter-in-place-itosis! And pardon the obvious pun, but it — and I — ain’t cute. Somebody call the hair salon police! Stat!

Of course, I’m not alone, chaffing, but grateful to be safe in the confines of my own home. People everywhere are getting a little silly and a little confused. To help a TV station in Cleveland has instituted a new segment called “What Day Is It?” It’s pretty hilarious. Check it out.

This “day of the week” business reminds me of a time long ago when my mother was hospitalized and medicated, make that over-medicated, for a terrible back surgery. Every nurse and every doctor who walked into the room asked my mother, “Do you know what day it is?” to determine if she was lucid. I get it. She got it. But it was annoying. She just wanted to know when the howling pain raging up and down her back was going to ease up and when she could get the hell out of the hospital. Finally, annoyed when asked for the fifth time that day, what day it was, she turned to her surgeon and said, “You know, I really don’t have an idea. I haven’t written a check yet today. But hand me my checkbook and I’ll pay you any amount of money for a straight answer to the questions if you think the surgery worked and when I can go home. Then when I write the check, I’ll figure out today’s date and know the answer to the question. Deal?”

Nobody asked my sharp-as-a-tack mother the day of the week again! Unfortunately, the surgery was not a success and she was in pain for the rest of her life. But her humor and wit — and love for her grandchildren — kept her going for a long time.

And that kind of resolve, humor, and love of family is definitely what we all need now, right?

Hang in there, everybody. Stay healthy.

And so goes Day 22. For the record, it’s Tuesday, April 7, 2020.