OK. We have made breads and sweets and countless other goodies. We have also sat and read books, binge watched shows and movies, and slept. Feeling a bit sluggish? Oh course, we all are. There are things that you can do to lessen the affects of having to stay at home.
I’m all for the distancing rules, but in the last two weeks, I’ve seen a lot of people walking and running. More than I have seen before. How do I know? I usually run at the same time of day, and I tend to see that same amount of people (and often the same people). You can tell people are getting a bit stir crazy because there is a lot more pedestrian traffic out there. I don’t blame them. Now, there are some people who shouldn’t be out, and I hope that you are following the guidelines, but like everyone else, fresh air is, well, it’s a breath of fresh air. If you go out, just be considerate to everyone else.
Commercial-size: I admit, I watch more television than before, but that doesn’t mean you have to be immobile the whole time. This is what I have been doing: Commercial breaks are about 3 minutes long. Can you do something for 3 minutes? Maybe not right away, but I be t you can do something for 1 minute. Then 1 ½, etc. Do what you ask? Walk in place, knee/leg raises, plank, any yoga poses, sit-ups, push-ups…you get the gist. If you are lucky to have stairs… I don’t recommend the following, but there have been news stories of people running marathons on their balconies, or mountain climbing in their living rooms. Creative? Yup. Just get up and walk around.
I read somewhere that there is a group of hunter/ gatherers that although spend much of the day doing those activities, that they do have about the same amount of sedentary time at the end of the day as the average American. The difference is that they are not sitting on a soft comfy couch or in a recliner. What are they doing? Standing, sitting on the ground, crouching, and squatting. All these positions require effort, not a lot, but if you stood for an hour vs. sitting in a chair, I bet you would feel a better type of tired. There’s a reason that more schools and offices (remember those places…?) have standing desks available.
Shivering: I heard that shivering burns calories, but I don’t like to shiver.
Interactive Games: If you are one of the many who still have a Wii system, then this is the time to pull it out. I also know that you have figured out that you can sit while doing it – So cut out that nonsense! Get up and look like a fool playing tennis in your living room. Dance, Dance, Revolution is always a good choice too. Wheel of Fortune? Not so much…
The Extra Clothes Rack: AKA The Treadmill and/or The Stationary Bike. You bought them for a reason (no, not the clothes, yeeesh!).
Cleaning: Yes, cleaning is exercise. You were going to do it anyway, right? Springtime is a great time to air out the house. We won’t be having any garage sales very soon but there will be a lot when it happens. Put on some music and vacuum, wash, sort, and soon you will have a nice smelling place!
So there you go. No excuses.
Fitter fatter, let’s get ‘at her. I know that not being able to go out as much as usual is getting to many people. Physical distancing rules are a tough pill to swallow. Many people are taking up different habits, some better that others. Here is my take.
Baking Bread: I started to bake bread because I figured out that 20 cents worth of flour makes a $1.49 loaf of bread. Which was the reason I always bought bread on sale. Plus it is sooo tasty. If you have ever pulled a fresh loaf of bread out of the oven, you know that it is hard to wait for it to cool before you cut a steamy slice from it and decorate it with a all too generous serving of butter (oh yes, you have to use butter). Then, maybe ½ hour later you realize that you need to bake more. I’ll quote myself here: “Don’t bake bread unless you are prepared to eat the whole loaf.” That was the reason that early in history, bread was baked everyday. Not the rumor that it went stale quickly.
My grandmother always made rye bread. No recipe, and bit of this, a pinch of that. Even in her 70’s she would be there with her arthritic hands, kneading away. I think that was the only time that it didn’t hurt. My mother made the same bread, but it never turned out the same. My sister wrote down the recipe when grandmother visited her one time. It’s good, but int’s not the same. I finally got the recipe. It’s good, but it’s not the same. What was her secret? We will never know, but I suspect it may have been the old farmhouse wood stove. Or the old farmhouse lard. Or the old rye flour…
There is a lot of different breads to experiment with, even a failed loaf is kind of tasty. My favorite is pizza dough. After many variations, I have it nailed. I’ll let you in on one secret. Make the dough 3 days in advance (yes, 3 days) and put it in the fridge (the one you cleaned in my last blog – you read that one, didn’t you? No?! Boooo.), covered of course. The slow rise makes for a light and crisp crust. Try to say crisp crust 5 times fast! My second favorite is a French baguette. Good with soup, as a Po’boy, or sliced with a fresh tomato. I still partake in the Parisian ritual of tearing off the heel straight away. I observed this outside a boulangerie where no heel made it out the door untorn. Oh, the humanity!
Sweets: Like a culinary earworm, I’m giving it to you, so that I’m not the only one stuffing my gob with this delight.
1/2 Cup Margarine, 1 Cup Peanut Butter, 1 pkg Butterscotch chips, Mini marshmallows. You know what I’m talking about…
Beverages: I love coffee. I started drinking it as a teen (‘cuz it was cool) with cream and sugar. Then I weened myself of cream, then sugar, so that I finally was able to enjoy the actual taste of coffee. I realized how bad some of the take-out / fast food coffees were. I won’t name any outright, but they know who they are. Once in university, I sat with my buddies and drank at least 20 cups of coffee (thank you free refills!), and subsequently was up for 24 hours after. Subsequently, the restaurant revoked the free refill policy.
It is easy to drink more coffee now, but I do limit myself to a couple of cups in the morning, and occasionally one in the afternoon. If I need a hot beverage, I’m turn to my second favorite, tea. Holding a hot cup of tea feels different than a hot cup of coffee. Can’t explain that but try it out. I didn’t know that there were so many types of tea until I had High Tea in London. A whole menu of tea there was. Don’t get me started on the sandwiches. I have a collection of teas that I delight in:
Green, White, Ginseng, Chamomile, Orange Pekoe, English Breakfast, but I’ll always return to my first love.
As a famous thespian in his greatest role once said, “Tea, Earl Grey, hot.”
Inverted vertices and grooves. Wonderful geometry or nature’s crud collectors?
And I quote: “Whoever invented corners and grooves should be made to clean all corners and grooves.“ Who said that? I did.
Many people now have a bit more time on their hands. What to do, what to do? Bake, cook? Clean? I know what you are thinking: I don’t want to clean. Not the most enjoyable activity, but considering two things, the focus on sanitizing during the current crisis and the fact that it is Spring (you know, the time you look forward to, to throw open the windows, air out the winter stink, and you did say, during the dead of winter, ”I can’t wait to give the place a good Spring cleaning!” I know you said that, we all did), what better time like the present?
I heard many people just now say, “Another time.”
Hear are some thoughts on cleaning.
At least once a year, I like to clean the baseboards and moldings. Wait! Did I say like? I meant I clean the baseboards and moldings. They only get really dirty if: you kick them a lot, eat pizza over them, or don’t clean them ever. If you have an older home, there is probably a lot of bits under the bottom-you know, that gap that you never notice until you get on your hands and knees to clean them and realize that there are a lot of crumbs under them. Four words: putty knife and vacuum.
Behind things: Refrigerators, ovens, couches, or anything that was meant to move that you don’t move. Pull them out from the wall and wonder how it got so hairy back there. If you have short hair, where did all the long hair come from; if you have long hair, why do I keep inviting my long-haired friends over?
The vacuum is your best friend here. Don’t forget the fridge coils. Where are the fridge coils, you ask? Behind the mullet on the back of your fridge.
Walls: That’s a lot of work. Leave it for when you re-paint. Hmmm, it would look nice with a new coat…
Tops of ceiling fans: Never looked there? Geez, they are spinning, so how the heck does it get dusty?
Cupboards and drawers: OK. You wash the dishes, put clean dishes away, and there are crumbs everywhere. What the…? It looks like a desert at the bottom of the cutlery holder!
Windows and mirrors: Isn’t glass supposed to be smooth? I understand outside, it rains, and rain isn’t clean…
“Tell us more Mr. Science!” “Well, water has to condense around a solid for it to form a raindrop, so it condenses around dust particulates in the air.” COOL!
…, bathroom mirrors (the floss flick and hairspray fog), but why are the insides soo filthy? Unless you have kids, then there is you answer-for everything.
Carpets: Watch one of those science shows about dust mites and you will be vacuuming twice a day (maybe more). If you have ever rented a carpet cleaner, you will get water that looks like Café-au-Lait (that’s a Double Double for Canadian readers).
Mattresses: (See above)
Toasters and appliances: Clean out that crumb tray, or just turn it upside down and shake, shake, shake. The microwave doesn’t need to look like it is from the staffroom at the office. Descale that coffeemaker (you did stock up on vinegar didn’t you?). And that fridge you moved? You should have cleaned it out before you moved it to make it lighter…
Finally, those aforementioned corners and grooves: Every windowsill has them, those slick sharp lines and corners that cloths and fingernails just can’t reach, pointed knives scratch, and generally store years upon years of dirt. Unless you used a vacuum on them everyday (yes, everyday) since the day they were installed (yes, that very day), you’re outta luck. But…a waterpik ™ just might do the trick – never tried because I don’t have one, but I just thought of it…
And never, ever, look through a sunbeam going across your room.
If I missed anything let me know. Happy viewing!
I heard a tapping on the window, like the sound of a tree branch in the wind hitting the glass. At first I thought that I was dreaming, but I slowly opened my tired eyes, rolled over, and listened again.
I wasn’t going to be able to get back to sleep no matter what it was, so I got up and walked out to the living room. As I stood in the center of the darkened room, barely breathing, I heard it again, coming from the sliding patio door.
Slowly, I moved toward the curtain and slid it aside. There, on the patio was a figure, my height, holding a cup. I rubbed my eyes and looked again. It raised a hand slightly in a gesture that I took to be a greeting.
“What do you want? “ I asked.
“Can I borrow a cup of sugar?” he asked, in a gentle but firm voice. He held out the cup.
“Umm, it’s kinda late and who are you?” I inquired. I didn’t feel threatened; I felt curious.
I saw in his hand, where the cup used to be, was a jerry can. “I meant, can I borrow some fuel for my shi… um my vehicle, “ he said.
I should have done this earlier, and as I reached for the light, I said, “I’m going to turn on the light.”
It took a few seconds to adjust to the brightness, and a few more to adjust to what I was seeing. He was a grayish color, skinny, with larger, dark eyes. It looked like he was wearing something, but I couldn’t tell what as it was somewhat form fitting and a slightly different color than his skin. I don’t know what compelled me to, but I opened the sliding door.
“Thank you, it was getting cold out there,” he said as he came inside.
“You’re not from around here, are you?” I asked.
“Well, not here, but not far if that’s what you mean,” he answered. I didn’t know what I meant.
“I mean you look different. Not human.”
I could see a sense of concern in his eyes. “You mean I don’t look like you?” he questioned.
He gestured to the kitchen table. “Can we sit?” he asked.
“Sure, can I get you something to drink?” I asked.
“Scotch, if you have it, “ he replied. It just so happened that I did.
As he took a seat at the table, I grabbed a couple of glasses, the scotch, and brought them to the table. Pouring a couple of fingers in each, I slid one toward him. He reached out and with his spindly fingers and picked up the glass.
“You know, we can’t really tell you apart from one another.” He took a sip and placed the glass in front of him. “ We thought this,” he motioned to himself, “was pretty good.”
I looked at him and said, “It’s generally close. You have the right amount of everything.”
He looked dejected. “We have been practicing a long time. We made a bunch of paintings on some caves, scratched figures in a desert, made some big heads. One time we tried, and it looked like an animal. It’s frustrating.”
“It’s like this, “ I got a pad of paper and a pencil and started to draw, “I have a hell of a time trying to draw people. It always comes out close, but not quite good enough.” I finished my sketch and turn it to face him. “See, you can tell it’s a person.” His eyes lit up and he looked at me.
“Can I keep this?” he asked as he reached toward it.
My alarm went on for 10 minutes before I woke up. I put on my robe and went to make coffee. On the table was an empty bottle of scotch and two glasses.
So, if you see a guy who looks like this:
Don’t let him in, he’ll just drink all your booze.
I saw a church’s electronic billboard today which read, “Introverts have been waiting for this their whole lives.” Now, I applaud the attempt at humor in trying times (and it also reminded me of another story, but I’ll tell you that later), but I did think it was a bit unfair. I had this vision of people rubbing their hands together and laughing manically. The fact is, Introverts are just better equipped to handle the imposed social distancing and self-isolation guidelines.
I once read that extroverts get their energy by interacting with people while introverts get their strength during the alone times. On the flip side, being in forced social situations is draining for introverts while being alone is not very comfortable for extroverts. There are always extreme cases on both sides, but generally there is nothing wrong with being of either group.
For me, it’s not that I want to be alone all the time, it’s just that I don’t mind when I am. I don’t feel the constant need for socializing as others may. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy talking with people, it just needs to be on my terms. And when I’m done, I’m done. Don’t take offence.
I know people who have the gift of the gab and can maintain a conversation long after it has run its course. These people are good to have around. Just sit back and wait until there is an opportunity to share something.
Without introverts, we wouldn’t have certain creative works of art, scientific discoveries / advancements, and the like. Without extroverts, we would miss out on music and movie stars, social equality gains, and a constant forward movement of civilization. We also would not have politicians, but that’s a WHOLE other story…
So, embrace the Yin/Yang, positive/negative, push/pull, and invertebrate/vertebrate differences in our world.
(I didn’t forget about the story from the first paragraph)
In my hometown there was a church, which after many months of putting up with pranksters (hooligans? Vandals?), changed their billboard to read: God bless even those who steal our letters.
Lots of stories and videos of mayhem breaking out in stores as people stock up on supplies lately. I don’t blame anyone, sometimes the media can put things into a bit of panic in the way they report on issues, but fighting over toilet paper?
Everyone should have ample supplies that can last for a few weeks if necessary. That does mean by the end of the third week you are not going to be looking at those beans and powdered milk that same way you did on day one. Shouldn’t have eaten all the Beefaroni and Hot Pockets in the first week, right? There’s still the SPAM (I like SPAM BTW).
This week I needed some groceries, and I didn’t want to look like the frenzied buyers that I saw on TV. Then someone asked me to pick up a few things, then my mom called and said, if you are going out anyway, would you mind? Of course not… Now I’m stocking up. Crap.
I thought about it and came up with some techniques and tips to help you when you actually need to go out.
1.Don’t do all your shopping in one place. Now, it is always a good idea to spread your money around. By doing this, you limit the amount of food in your cart. Which brings us to…
2.Don’t fill up your cart. There are 3 levels in most carts. By putting some items on each level gives the illusion of sparseness.
3.Have a small list. If you have a big list, fold it up! Voila, small list.
4.Walk slow. Look around, pick up an item or two and put them back. No rush.
5.Have a flyer handy. By looking through the flyer, you are a savvy shopper looking for the best deals, not buying before the person in front of you can.
And finally, the most important one of all…
6.Don’t buy toilet paper. As soon as you put that in your cart there will be one less package on the shelf which can start something akin to chumming shark waters. Remember what I said about always having ample suppliers? Plus toilet paper goes on sale quite often so you should be stocking up. But if you really, really need it…a four pack under the ramen might let you fly under the radar.
I grew up with paper books. And encyclopedias. Remember those? Maybe you do and maybe you don't. I remember reading (well mostly looking) through each volume in fascination. What an amazing world it was out there, and don't get me started on those Time Life books, Mammals, Planets, Volcanoes, Insects...sooo cool. Needed to write a paper on Sri Lanka? Great, there was one whole column to plagiarize from. What, you would do that? There needs to be 300 words and there are only 265 in the book...
Anyhoo, here are some pros on each:
1. The smell. Of the pages and if it is a scratch-n'-sniff.
2. The sound. Pages turning.
3. The feel. A tactile experience.
4. The look. Who doesn't like the look of a shelf of books, and you can make a flip movie.
5. The taste. Not really, I just didn't want to leave out a sense, but a few nibbles won't kill ya.
6. Easy to go back a few pages because you missed something.
1. Soooo convenient.
2. Not very heavy
3. Saves paper
I have both... :)
From inner dialogue to background information, many elements are going to be missed as a book is transformed into a movie. It is a challenging art form to do justice to a piece of literature. It is exciting to know that your favorite book is going to come to life on the movie screen (I don’t know if they are silver anymore). It can also be disappointing since other’s visions can greatly differ from your own. We all have our idea of what the characters and setting should look.
When I was young, I wasn’t familiar with actresses and actors, so it wasn’t difficult to believe that they were the characters that were portrayed. Case in point (and I know Star Wars is not a book but hear me out), Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher will always be Han, Luke, and Leia to me. When a book comes to life with a famous person a role, it does make it that much harder to accept them as that character. Not impossible, but just a bit more work.
The setting is not going to be exactly as you picture it. It could be close, or it could be way off. It is fun to see high definition scenery compared to fuzzy mental pictures. It was a bit disjointed though, to see the Hogwarts grounds change between films.
I try to read the book before seeing the movie and I never get my hopes up. Here are some of the hits and misses in my opinion:
As I was reading the book, I kept thinking, “This is written like a movie”. I could be wrong, but I think the author wrote this with a movie in mind. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – I enjoyed the book.
Mars looked right. I’ve seen so many pictures (I’m a space/astronomy buff) that it was hard to go wrong. My question is: Why is Jason Bourne there? (Yes, he did a good job.)
Ready Player One
If you’ve read my previous ramblings, you know that I’ve read this book a few times. I was excited when the movie was announced. I didn’t recognize the actors, so that was good. Some of my favorite parts were omitted and others made just for the movie. That was fine, a few more topical ideas allowed it to reach a younger demographic. I heard a complaint that there was to much CGI (ummm, it took place mostly in a virtual world, what did you expect?).
The Hunger Games (the first one)
Visually it was very close to what I imagined. Woody from Cheers was odd at first, although he grew on me.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
If I hadn’t seen “The Office” (UK), Martin Freeman would have been perfect. He was very good in this role and I quickly forgot the previous character. Set wise, it was close to my vision… I’m glad they stopped there though.
Not even going to go there…
Field of Dreams
I admit I saw the movie first. It was quite a while later that I read Shoeless Joe. A few things were different, the reference to J.D. Salinger was changed, but overall it was true to the book. It was refreshing to see Darth Vader in civilian clothes.
The Lord of the Rings
Three long books, three 2 1/2 hour movies. There were so many scenes left out, but I understand the reason (5+ hour movies?). Visually it was stunning. Jackson picked perfect locations and I couldn’t fault any of the choices.
A few recognizable actors, but that didn’t detract much. I thought the effect of the Ents was a bit cheap though.
Short book, three long movies. Should have thought harder for the LOTRs. Hey, there’s that Office guy again (it was a good choice).
The Bourne Identity
Again, here is a book that I read much later. The book is very different from the movie, so it is difficult to compare. I liked them both.
There are more that I could talk about if I could remember them. What movies would you add?
There are many books that I have re-read. The mark of a good/great book is one that compels you to return for another go. There are many reasons for a re-read:
- You missed something the first time. I do this a lot. Usually it is because I read at night and I fall asleep and forget
- It is exciting
- It tugs at your heartstrings
- You can relate to it
- It is so well written that you enjoy it just as much as the first time
- It brings back memories of where you were when you first read it.
So here is a list of books that I have read more than once, not in any particular order (not even alphabetical you ask? Nope, not even alphabetical...)
Ready Player One
Breakfast of Champions
The Foundation Trilogy (and beyond)
Cather in the Rye
The Long Walk
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (and the other ones)
A Canticle for Leibowitz
The Arctic Grail
Oryx and Crake
A Wrinkle in Time
There's probably more...What books have you read over and over (or just over)?