Stay Safe Home Mode

My Foodsaver  and my freezer are my god-sends. So much so, that I truly believe I could go another 3-4 week in Stay Safe mode.

Not quarantined, not anymore self-isolated than usual, it’s pretty much just business as usual for me, except for the shortened commute.

Working from home has taken some getting used to. I’ve always imagined that I’d love it, and I do. The thing is, I imagined it with better equipment.

Downsizing from two huge monitors at work to my tiny laptop has been a challenge. My mini mouse requires a lot more maneuvering. Although, I’m not sure why since I’m sliding over a smaller surface.

My micro set-up unfortunately lends itself to completing one task at a time. I’m more of the handle-it-right-now-if-possible type. Too many windows can be a bit too much for my 5-year oldie to handle and too many layers for me to keep track of.

HBlu’s noticed that opening and closing files to limit electronic desktop clutter requires a lot of clicking.

At least, that’s how I’m interpreting the increase in those huffy cat-sighs while he lounges in the office recliner. Honestly, though, he might be sighing in the lounger because I wouldn’t let him squeeze into that small spot reserved for my mouse and pad. I cleared off the whole other 2/3 of the desk for him. But, no. He must occupy that corner.

Anyway, the point is, still working full days.

Don’t have any more free-time than I had. My 10-minutes-on-a-slow-day roundtrip commute gives me 5 extra minutes in the morning.  Plus, another whopping 5 in late-afternoon.

Still, somehow, I’ve been managing to get up 30 minutes earlier than norm. I made in onto the treadmill 4 out of 5 days before work my first week. A trend I plan to keep up.

It doesn’t hurt that I’ve cut down on unnecessary glamour. (wink, wink.) Mascara and lipstick-free isn’t as freeing as I imagined. Being truly comfortable, however, is.

I’ve uniformed into jeans and a t-shirt; a comfy sweater and no-shoes sock-footed feet. I do wear my trusty Fitbit to remind me that good leg circulation is just as important at home as it is in the office.

My super cool two-person office desk has been used more this month than all of last year. Face it, we all sofa and laptop when we can. But, real desk work requires, well… a desk.

Sturdy good-posture invoking chairs have been inspirational. Early morning pre-work workouts admittedly encouraged by the “Gee, shouldn’t these chairs be a little wider in the thighs?” question the slightly sore sides of my legs are asking. It’s really more about the shape and style of the chair, as opposed to, you know an actual ergonomic office chair.

The most repeated online advice for home-bound, self-protective or mandated work-at-home isolation has been to stick to your normal routine.

That’s good advice. Get up, get showered, get dressed, go to work.

My personal advice? Loud music will help you ignore the 4+ hours of springtime edging and weed-whacking, whine and buzz in your neighborhood.

Lessons on Working From Home:2020 03 31 working from home lesson 1 music jakorte2020 03 31 working from home lesson 2 jakorte

ps. recessing from my year of  memories. just seems now isn’t a good time to add to the sadness.

Syrup vs. Social Distance

 

Thud.

Not a sound I usually expect on Saturdays. Most of my front step thuds occur Thursday or Friday based on anti-social internet shopping. Tongue in cheek, of course.

Mostly for the sake of limited nighttime long winter lack of light, I signed up for conveniences. Groceries, cat needs, and art supplies are my top three delivery staples.

The unexpected arrival succeeded in shrinking a mileage gap of real social distance.

Ranked in order of cousin-closeness, distances in hours:

8.5 hours to PA.

10.25 hours to MN.

11 hours, 7 minutes to GA.

11 hours, 15 minutes to CT.

“Refrigerate after opening! Hope you enjoy the syrup. Made on my property.”

Adorned with an adorable dog, the enclosed card noted charitable support of Guiding Eyes for the Blind guide dog schools.

This sweetness came from Canadensis, Pennsylvania, courtesy of the closest of my all far-away cousins.

Bubble-wrapped and sealed to perfection, it took me less than a minute to excitedly break that bottle open.

Didn’t see the point of wasting time retrieving a spoon; sampled the first dollop from right from my left pointer finger.

My right pointer light-bulb searched Johnny Cakes. Hm.

Never had much luck with pancakes – always suspected the cause might be lack of a proper griddle. Probably more my impatient and usually irreverent cooking technique.

Considered time consuming, high effort waffles. I’d need to drag up the step-ladder from the basement to reach that high cabinet over the fridge where I keep this treasure hidden.

I followed a few of those endless links within links deep enough to discover fried corn meal mush, eventually arriving at old-school. Old-fashioned cornbread. Fell asleep that night anticipating the morning.

My night-before flagged recipe called for pre-heating the cast iron pan in the oven. The closest I could come without running out to World Market (where I habitually eye the irons) was my non-stick bundt pan.

Don’t laugh, y’all. It worked.

The syrup crawled into cuddling crevices, pooled and was pretty as well as being mighty tasty.

The gift smoothed over miles of distance with warm fuzzies and a fine example of turning the tables on social distance and social distancing.

(PS with MI on “Stay home, Stay safe” 3-week executive order, I’m not going to be driving out to the post office anytime soon. March birthday and monthly greetings cards for April are going to be late.)

Quote for the Week:2020 03 25 sweet surprises can so easily lessen true jakorte

Don’t Panic. But, …

 

There are days when *snorts* are needed.

The internet and all my friends seem to know this. We’re not  ‘not taking this seriously.’ We’re after comic relief and connection: witty, realistic – poking fun at ourselves and silently affirming “For now, I am OK.’

Tonight, I’m just distracted. Waiting to see how this all goes, along with everybody else.

I don’t know more; I don’t know less. I’m doing my best to learn what I can. Working for a healthcare organization has been informative. Watching a pandemic plan become reality is both terrifying and fascinating.

The last time I spent any time in public setting with strangers milling around was March 7th. Not that it means anything concrete, just feeling a little more on the positive side about staying negative.

As far as being alone, I’m ok with that.

I’ve been social distancing for years. That’s what introverts do. Especially, widowed ones. I joked the other night that I’ve been preparing for this for most of my life.

My comfort with the possibility of quarantine is unusual. I was sort of stunned reading an article that advised if you were alone – quarantined in any way – and unable to emotionally handle no human contact – online therapists are available for social distancing counsel by phone, video or chat.

What struck me about it, was that up until now, we’ve been told we are physically becoming a no-contact nation. The fact that folks are obtaining virtual ‘contact’ readily at an instant’s notice disturbed some. We’re available to each other 24/7 by phone, email, Skype, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and so many newer options. Unless, you choose not to be, of course.

Except for that brief interlude with Jeff, spending time alone is norm. I was single for way longer than I was married, and am single once again. Just a fact that colors my view a little brighter. I won’t be blinded by the light of being alone in a temporary life of murky pastels that people are so afraid of.

There’s so much good happening online.

Metropolitan Opera, Zoos, Musicians, Actors (capitalized for a reason) are offering capital distraction; excellent capital. Good things – reading books, giving virtual tours, playing music for free when normally they’d be selling out venues. I’ve seen more photos of families playing games then… ever.

I’m trying not to breathe while using hand sanitizer – it makes me cough. I’ve eaten lunch with the same few people I have been for years – and yes, we sat at one table – and no, we were not 6 feet away. I stopped in someone’s office this morning, realized I was too close, and backed out with apology. The conversation continued a moment, but the lack of privacy with me standing in the hall, cut our interaction short.

So. That’s my longer than usual ramble., for now

As seen in video (not sure if it was FB or IG) I hope I’m quoting correctly or at least paraphrasing well.

“Don’t Panic. But don’t be an idiot, either.” Billie Eilish

Quote for the Week: 2020 03 17 what seems reasonable to you, may not jakorte

 

 

Life’s Like That: Rice

Making rice isn’t for the faint of heart. That’s because of the whole don’t lift the lid thing.

Watching my pot not boil, I have time to think. I’ve been studying my life, lately. Trying to determine self-worth against a fear of no-worth. Trying to remember to trust God.

I snicker, and Blu answers questioningly. If I’m standing here because I can’t trust the outcome of my rice, how can I trust Him on things bigger than potential burnt grain? I snicker again, and Blu huffs a sigh, curling back into cat-nap position.

Right. They’re two different things, aren’t they? Umm, are they?

This is what happens when I can’t lift the lid. I compulsively stay nearby for rescue and the sake of safety. Puttering around rearranging cabinets, wiping out drawers, my Fitbit faithfully paces steps in my galley kitchen.

A boil over would singe my last nerve tonight. After a 7-hour seasonal cleaning marathon, I’ve realized I’m not done, but my body is. Treadmill time doesn’t create kneel-stand-stretch-pull-bend endurance.

I gauge the roil. I re-read the instructions and unsurely determine its time to turn down the heat. The timer is active, but I am not.

I’m still standing there thru the simmer, and its not looking good. There seems to be too much water. At least that’s how it looks thru the lid. I’m determined not to burn. So, I wiggle the pot in lifted circles; ‘stirring’ within the rules, not lifting the lid. It’s not any clearer what’s going on in the there.

At 12 minutes, it suddenly is. Clearer. Now a slurry of milky roiling water and slightly swollen rice nubs, this feels like the dangerous part. The critical point where I really want to stir the pot. I swirl the pan again, and lament that nothing’s significantly moving. Then, it hits me: not much water – that’s a good thing, right?

At 9 minutes, I recant. Maybe its not going as planned, according to the assurances of preparation materials so blithely plastered on paper. 3 easy steps. Except for the don’t lift the lid part.

Guess that’s life though. Standing over a watched pot, hoping everything will become clearer once the process is complete.

6 min. Yeah. Life’s like that. Your focus has to be just right to see thru the condensation. Rivulets riot with your view.  Concentration required comes with a headache from peering over the heated coil, red-face full of radiant heat.

3 minutes. I can still see simmering just below the surface of swollen bits. Ugh. There’s still liquid; disappointment.

2 minutes. Dear God. I hope this doesn’t burn. Technically, it’s not part of my Keto plan. I do reasonably plan to only eat small ¼ cup portions at 5 carbs each. 35 minutes of my life has now been poured into the procedure.

1 minute. A burn now would be a waste of a full 40 minutes, and waste even more time dealing with the mess.

I’m nervously watching the timer. 30 seconds.

It’s time to lift the lid away. Everything is fine, if ‘fine’ means slightly sticky rice.

Life’s like that. All about timing. Whether you’re waiting on rice or God.

The relief is nice, but short-lived. Success over shadowed by nausea, I quickly evaluate my situation, pull the pot from the heat, find a seat and dangle my head below my knees. All the extra effort, sweltering over the course of experience, worry and watching did not change the outcome.

Will I do it again? Probably.  The same way? Probably, maybe. My treacherous mind still believes in the future possibility of failure. Which, directly connects to my Matthew 6:25-34 struggle. Not worrying seems irresponsible to me. But, that’s another blog.

Quote for the Week:

2018 09 09 Life_s All About Timing rice or god jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Rice: Cook Covered

Rice: Cook Uncovered

Rice: Cook Sticky (On Purpose)

 

Called

I answered the call because Jeff was busy cooking, and said, “Hey, could you get it? Please?”

He also added that he didn’t want dinner to burn, which added a little extra unspoken urgency as to why I should. I don’t like answering the phone. Never have. Teenage girls on phones for hours? Not me. Music for hours was my choice.

I don’t like talking on the phone. My timing is always off. I adore text even though it sometimes takes me a good ten minutes to write out what could have been said in three. Phone calls also require you and the person you are planning to talk to be available at the exact same moment.

Anyway, the point is – I didn’t often answer our phone. The guy with the gift of gab usually handled that.

But, that night, I acquiesced. Because, dinner.

Everything that followed “Hello” was a bit awkward and odd. I was told upfront that I was talking to a complete stranger who was offering kindness and support. I wasn’t clear why and I had no idea what to do with this situation, but Jeff was unavailable and so I listened.

She introduced herself as some sort of committee member of Tecumseh United Methodist Church. She was just checking on us after our most recent loss; said she was just seeing if we needed anything, offering her support, extending an invitation to visit the church.

We talked for a few minutes, or rather she talked. I said, “Oh,” “Ok’” and “Thank you” a lot. Then she asked if she could call us back in a few weeks, just to see how we were doing. I thought it’d seem kind of rude to say no, so I said, “Sure.”

When I hung up, Jeff asked me who it was. “I don’t know her name, but…” I started. (although I 100% believe she must have told me when she introduced herself, I’d found the whole thing befuddling)  “… she’s from… the church,” I finished, referring to the church where Sally’s funeral had been.

“Well, what’d she want?”

“Um,” I said. “Something about a committee that checks on people after someone dies and wanted to know if we were doing ok.”

Jeff listened intently to my sketchy, scattered bits of recall, nodding his head like everything I was saying made perfect sense to him.

“Hmm,” he said, with an accepting nod. “Supper’s done.”

Quote for the Week:

2018 01 23 There seem to have been more leaps of faith jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Phone: Pro

Phone: Con

Phone: 1990 Argument that caller ID invades privacy

 

Gingerbread with Broccoli Trees

One of the requirements was that the house be only constructed using edible items.

We’d already purchased chili-shaped red cherry gummies, so I ran down to our store. Of course, as long as I was there, I eyed the stock; evaluating each item for inspiration. Super-Hot Tamales, spicy Red Hots, old-fashioned Fireballs, cinnamon flavored licorice twists and mango-habanero gum, and dried chili peppers piled up on the kitchen counter. I also grabbed a few packets of blueberry habanero cookies and two spicy chocolate bars, for dinner.

Next stop was Country Market. In the baking supply section, I basketed powdered sugar and food coloring. Intending to pick up a few cute mini-tubes of icing, I saw an easier way. Colorful packages of hard icing letters! I grabbed two sets of those, thinking I’d use them to add ‘Michigan Hot Sauce Club’ to the roof.

In the candy aisle, I slowly evaluated every red or green item in the candy aisle. It was disappointing to determine there wasn’t anything especially unique or anything I didn’t already have. I’d seen some adorable trees made by stacking Hershey Kisses, though. I thought they’d be cute even though they weren’t ‘hot’, I picked up one bag of white chocolate peppermint kisses . Just in case I came up creatively short, later. And, in case, I felt like eating some.

“Ok,” I thought to myself. “What food looks like a tree?” Years ago, a young lady who recently became engaged, used to call broccoli ‘little trees.’ When I got to produce, I stopped in front of a bin full of green stalks and crowns. I stood there a while wondering if broccoli would hold up for a week or so, or for however long the house would be on display.

Thinking it probably would wilt, or worse, I also realized I hadn’t come across any broccoli trees on any of the many, many gingerbreads I’d found online. Logically, that made sense. I mean, no kid’d want vegetables on their candy-covered house, right? Still, since my mind was already headed that way, it leaped to jalapenos.

Jalapeno peppers seemed to sturdy. We bought them in large quantities and they lasted a long time at our house. I contemplated that pile and figured out that jalapenos look nothing like trees. I couldn’t even imagine a way to make them into trees, so I sighed and turned the carriage around. That’s when I had an ‘aha’ moment. If I drizzled white icing on them, the wrinkly little habaneros in front of me could turn into snow-covered pine trees. Yeah, it was stretch.

I miss judged how much décor a candy house would need. So, I ran a little short on the idea of using the licorice ropes to resemble logs. I arranged, rearranged and shuffled candies around on the kitchen table for a few hours before I came up with a sweet plan. Done with the decorating, I stood back and shook my head. The Hot House looked nothing like I’d imagined. I knew I wasn’t going to be entering it into any contest, that was for sure.

When I revisited the mess the next evening after work, it honestly didn’t look as horrible as I thought it had. The structure had held together, was kinda cute and definitely unique.  I knew there wasn’t going to be another theme’d like it. I knew it wasn’t likely I’d be winning any awards for construction or beauty, but, maybe, it would at least be amusing. I know Jeff would’ve laughed, so I took my entry downtown.

Somewhere amongst my belongings, is a red ribbon that reads, “People’s Choice Award” and an old camera card with a color picture…

Jeff Hot House Gingerbread House