You know quarantine is running a little flat when your child asks if they may take before and after pictures of their teeth brushing routine. Privately I laughed until I had tears. Like my daughter, I am over it now. The honeymoon of inactivity and no pressure is getting boring, but here we are, still doing it.
I am not complaining (much), but my bored teens are complaining. They have little frame of reference for their restlessness and it just seems so unreasonable to not be able to go out and see friends. I thought of the Jewish teenagers hidden in attics for months and years during WWII, and how they would occasionally burst into song at their own peril because any action seemed better than nothing.
We had a surprise snow last weekend, but it didn’t last long. That was the day I unloaded my trust mugs from the kiln.
And this is the quality of sunshine and skies we’ve been having whenever it isn’t raining or snowing.
So far I have not hit any big stores since April 1st. This is possible because of my bulk buying of many pantry staples, and because I have a source of eggs right here on the farm-let, and a farmer friend who gives us milk on donation basis. (Yes, we pay more than he gets from the milk distributors. (No, they don’t want more friends like me. (Sorry.)) ) Speaking of milk, we are consuming almost a gallon a day. I get 6 or 7 gallons for a week, but I am making yogurt, smoothies, and the occasional cream pie. The term “cooking from scratch” should have the emphasis on “scratch”, because I am seriously scratching bottom some days. This is probably in my head because I usually cook from scratch. At any rate, with everybody here for 3 meals a day, it feels endless. There are no short cuts, no running the 3 miles to my beloved local bulk food store for last minute ingredients. I have to guard the last cup of yogurt so that I have starter for the next batch. When I made a perfect circle of dinner rolls to give to my parents for Easter lunch, I warned everybody, “Do NOT eat these rolls! I will make ours fresh in the morning.” An hour later I came into the kitchen and there was Gabe, buttering one of the rolls, completely oblivious to my distress at my ruined circle because he hadn’t heard me.
Snacks are running low. For a special treat I hid a bag of peanut butter cups in a bottom cupboard behind the pots and pans. No one will ever see them there, I thought foolishly. Only a few hours later Addy got a sudden urge to straighten all the pots and their lids, and she was pretty astonished at her find. She is small enough to be honored when I tell her conspiratorially that we are keeping them secret for another day. I feel like a squirrel with an especially delectable stash of acorns saved for a rainy day.
It is not deprivation to have cream pie without whipped cream on top, just not quite as delicious as usual. (And 100 fewer calories per serving.) I wanted ham for Easter, and thought about our friends who sell meats they raise on their farm. Sure enough, I could get a ham roast from them and we had a lovely Easter meal. When my imagination can keep up, we are eating quite well. When it goes blank, we have soup and biscuits.
A few days ago I ran out of spring water for my sourdough and used about 1/4 cup of chlorinated water from our tap to feed it. It subsequently flattened out and became very shy. I have been coaxing it back to happiness ever since.
(Hang on. This is where the vigorous part starts.)
This morning I came to a scientific conclusion in about 5 minutes flat: “If this is what chlorinated water does to sensitive bacteria in my sourdough starter, what do you think it is doing to the sensitive stomachs of your children?” I would have made a meme about it if I hadn’t been afraid it would be copied and shared as an authoritative source. I could have made it pretty convincing, coolly ignoring the fact that chlorine in safe quantities has removed typhoid, cholera, and dysentery from drinking water supplies for a hundred years and saved hundreds of thousands of lives. It would have presented a great chance to share about how I distrust the government to make decisions about our drinking water and why you too should join the march against chlorinated water. With no more qualification than a few facts and ideas, I too could be an expert.
Friends, this is exactly the sort of “science” that is going viral online. All it takes is a person with a flair for words, a few half-truths mixed in with a bunch of suppositions, and you have a prize-winning meme. If you tend to spend a lot of time in fearful anticipation for whatever horrible worm will be grubbed up next, let me tell you, you do not have to live there. If you read a fearful thing, and your first impulse is, “I must share this nasty tidbit with all my friends on social media,” before you do some fact-checking or exercise some healthy skepticism, maybe you need a break from the muck and roll in some good, honest truth for a while.
In times like these, I am attracted to restful people who are at peace with God and their fellow-man. I like being in the company of those who not only trust God implicitly with their own affairs, but also with the running of the whole universe. This is not to say that they do not care about rampant evil or sin in the camp, etc. etc. Rather they are faithful in what they are personally called to do, lifting the burdens of their neighbors, leveling the crooked paths locally, living in a fellowship with the Almighty that keeps them serene in the upsets in humanity. How do they get to that place of inner quietness during a storm?
I think it is the same process today as it was in the day of Daniel‘s proclamation during a time of national crisis. This was serious! He was going to die if none of the wise men could figure out the king’s dream. I get a sense of calm and prudence when I read how Daniel logically brought his great need for mercy to the God of heaven and was given the answer to his problem in a dream. This is the resulting praise and shows us what Daniel believed:
“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
to whom belong wisdom and might.
He changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding;
he reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what is in the darkness,
and the light dwells with him.
To you, O God of my fathers,
I give thanks and praise,
for you have given me wisdom and might,
and have now made known to me what we asked of you,
for you have made known to us the king’s matter.” (Daniel 2:20-23)
It’s obvious that Daniel was used by God to save many lives, but it wasn’t up to him to figure out the darkness or to dethrone the evil king. I think we would all like to hear a man like Daniel right now in Corona-time. This healthcare crisis is not a surprise to God, and even if all the conspiracy theories are fact, what is the point of being all wadded up in my spirit?
There is a command in Colossians 3:15, “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” I don’t personally experience a flood of peace ruling my heart when I marinate in the dastardly goings on in the world, and for sure not if I click all the bait of questionable news sites. It takes effort to filter out the things that aren’t true, excellent, commendable, etc. as per Philippians 4. Note that there are plenty of practical disciplines for us to do in this chapter. It isn’t difficult to find things to fill the time in profitable ways, and of course, there is that peace of God again, “guarding your hearts and minds in Christ.”
Okay, I think that may be enough vigorous truth for this post. Wanna hear some really neat news? They have figured out a way to recycle used coffee grounds into a biodegradable plastic. How amazing is that? I wouldn’t mind never drinking out of a paper straw ever again.
Also, there are blooms popping out everywhere here in central Pennsylvania. Every day I bring in fresh ones. I found my first violet today, and after I sniffed it appreciatively, I chewed it slowly for that delicate flavor of spring that is purple and fresh. One year I picked enough of them to make a batch of violet jelly. It was a lovely shade of lavender and tasted exactly like sugar. I would like to try again with a better recipe.
Our supper is smelling really wonderful. Would you like a quick run-down of what I have been feeding the fam? I’ll start with last week. Be inspired. 😄
Friday morning: scrambled eggs and sausage patties
Friday lunch: taco dip with black beans, applesauce
Friday supper: baked chicken drumsticks (the last in the freezer), parmesan and herbed potato fries baked in the oven, green beans
Saturday morning: sourdough pancakes and maple syrup, leftover sausage patties
No lunch, go ahead and scrounge, kids. And just like that the last cheese sticks were gone and most of the sourdough baguettes I had made as an experiment.
Saturday supper: fruit/yogurt smoothies, apple dumplings, and probably something else that I can’t remember. All I remember is that I cooked most of the afternoon on Saturday, but that was for the next day.
Sunday morning: coffee, tea, sourdough toast. Brilliant.
Sunday lunch: ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, mixed vegetables, sourdough dinner rolls, spring salad with balsamic vinaigrette that only I appreciated properly, chocolate cake. Very exciting meal, especially the peeps decorating the cake.
Sunday evening: popcorn, trail bologna that we made when we butchered, cheese slices, cream pies. It was an Easter to remember.
Monday morning: cereal and milk, leftover cake (hey, they were going to eat it sometime).
Monday lunch: leftovers from the fridge, including chicken drumsticks and mixed vegetables
Monday supper: pizza, canned peaches and yogurt (and my husband said, “Yay! just what I was hungry for.” I love that man.)
Tuesday morning: anything from cereal to yogurt to buttered bread.
Tuesday lunch: sourdough crepes with herbs and cheese in the first course, yogurt and raspberries in the second course, cucumber slices, tea (fancy dishes because it was Tuesday)
Tuesday supper: chicken cordon bleu casserole with substitutions for about 4 ingredients. But not the chicken; that was the real deal. And I never buy cream soups anymore, so that wasn’t a hard stretch. I even incorporated the whey from the yogurt I strained (to make it more like Greek yogurt consistency.) Creamed corn. Garden salad with fresh spring greens, sourdough bread with jam for a touch of sweet.
Do you see any patterns? Yup, the spring of social distancing and streams of yogurt and endless sourdough. Seriously, get yourself some starter for both of those and get yourself out of many a culinary pinch. You can feel like you are nourishing your family when you feed them toast and yogurt. You know, for those days when you cannot seem to rise to any greater heights.
Some days you have it, some days you don’t, but they can all be good days.
How are you filling your time?