Out Out Damned Corona

I’m about to place my weekly order at our local supermarket. It requires planning and organization, two attributes in which I do not excel, and do not care to excel. I prefer just roaming the market and seeing what attracts my attention. No. I’m not one of those with a list. And, in over 60 years of “keeping house” we’ve never gone hungry. So, it must be ok.

But not now. Now that the supermarket is, socalled, remote and I can’t be excited by the beautiful tomatoes or skip the rotting avocadoes, I’ve got to leave the shopping to a shopper selected by the market. Since I keep kosher, and my assumption is that my shopper does not, this eliminates quite a few items from my list, things like tomato sauce, cheese and many more which one would intuit as kosher but for reasons the shopper would not know, require a hechsher (kashrut certification). So, this requires another frustrating level. Nonetheless we are managing to eat too much!

Seeing our family is another area that requires planning. We do exchange visits with those who are more or less local which means up to about two hours away in each direction. Visits are carefully structured and outdoors. Our driveway has become our living room and dining room. The meals are less elaborate than in pre-the-curse-of-corona days, but they are sufficient and tasty. This Sunday, for example, we ate hot dogs on buns, homemade coleslaw, and homemade sesame noodles. Dessert was grapes and homemade pareve chocolate chip cookies. Beverage was water. Serving these items requires more planning than I like but it has to be done. No easy buffets. Each family unit, we had four, must have individual portions doled out in disposables. Items I might have bought at take-out in another era were home cooked (and definitely tastier) because we have not concluded that eating food prepared by anyone else is safe. (More about that later). Social distancing and masks were scrupulously observed. Bathroom assignments were strict and not encouraged. But these are my children so how can I send them back to Connecticut without a pit stop? Our bathrooms are kept way more than hospital clean and I feel fairly confident that we are doing at least our best. Hope that’s enough!

We have ample kosher takeout stores right in our neighborhood but we hardly ever patronize any of them. This virus seems insidious and since no one has totally clarified its mode of transmission why would we eat sushi or cole slaw or cold noodles made by an unknown? We might consider, and actually did once, pizza which I reheated on arrival home. Likewise with some takeout vegetarian Chinese food. But, really, how do we know what’s happening behind the scenes in a typical restaurant. On the other hand, in four weeks time we are eagerly and happily and most excitedly going to our grandson’s wedding to a wonderful young woman. Since we know her family’s catering standards will be every bit as high as our own, we will eat with full trust in the food safety, a bit of self indulgence that we crave. And by the way, a hearty mazal tov to Nina and Yoni!!!! (I just couldn’t resist).

Of course this cursed corona has brought our travelling to a complete stop. We barely leave our house so talking about leaving the country is somewhat absurd. When we started our life of wandering we were young and newly married. We were adventurous, even taking our first two children to five different European countries on one trip, via multiple flights, when they were two and four years old respectively. The two year old was diagnosed with pneumonia in Rome and even that was only a temporary obstacle. One suitcase was entirely filled with disposable diapers! I remember discussing this trip and the many many that followed, along with two more children, with my husband. He’s a bit practical and thought the traveling should come at a more timely time! I won that argument and now, housebound probably forever, I have no regrets. Neither does he. We cannot say that we waited and then never found the right time. We made the time the right time and have seen much of the world. Not all mind you! We’d love to add to our Million Miler Status again. But, no one knows what’s ahead with our aging in place, and the covid19. And of all the places we yearn to be, Israel, our home away from home, a place which has honored us with her passports, is highest on our list. Our most recent trip, right before the world was virused, was to Jerusalem. We can only pray that we shall return!

This morning I read reviews of hotel travel in times of pandemic. I even have some family members who needed to spend some time in hotels. Via their reports I feel like the virus has given me one victory. It seems like hotels no longer decorate with throw pillows! Those wretched germ containers tossed on the presumably otherwise clean bed were a scourge which I resisted as best I could through all of our travels. Pre-arrival emails from me requesting no throw pillows were often ignored. Letters to various hotel chains were similarly treated. But, now, corona has done what I couldn’t. Reports are that throw pillows have been eliminated. A victory hard fought but not won by me, a single positive in an era when positives are hard to come by! Other hotel adaptations are more or less indiscriminate. Some hotels still serve their breakfast buffets (and who didn’t love them?) where others have deemed them too dangerous, which they are of course. Some hotels are using the virus as a justification for not cleaning occupied rooms. And many are no longer using drinking glasses, which were always highly suspicious…..in favor of disposable plastic cups. The list goes on but inconsistency seems to be the pattern.

I don’t know about you but I haven’t been in a clothing store for five months and my haircuts, such as they are, are done by my husband. I prepaid for a pair of custom made shoes and they’re sitting at the podiatrist’s awaiting the entry of my feet. And, worst of all, I stopped my cleaning woman’s scheduled visits and now I’m in charge of shining, polishing and cleaning behind the piano and sofas. That is not fun!

With the new year rapidly approaching, here’s a wish, a prayer actually, that life resumes its normal frenetic pace, and the sick are healed completely, and the well stay well, and that the angel of death finds some other work!

About the Author
Rosanne Skopp is a wife, mother of four, grandmother of fourteen, and great-grandmother of two. She is a graduate of Rutgers University and travels back and forth between homes in New Jersey and Israel. She is currently writing a family history.
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