Pan the Pandemic

Yesterday was Itai’s second birthday. The young man was somewhat uncertain about all the fuss but pretty excited about chocolate chips for breakfast and a big new toy keyboard. The keyboard was minus batteries and didn’t stay in his hands very long anyway since his big brother claimed it as his own almost immediately. But, the real question to ask is, how do I know all this?

It’s Zoom of course. And I’ve raved about Zoom many times recently, but I continue to be enthralled by how amazing it really is. Yesterday, at 7:15 a.m. EST we all met on Zoom to celebrate this now/new two year old in Maryland. There were three of us in Jerusalem. Two in West Orange. Two in Greenwich. Two in Cambridge, Ma, and one in New York City. Tell me that’s not remarkable. I dare you! I know that future birthdays will be similarly celebrated. It’s the only way. And we learned it from the pandemic, so score one for the pandemic.

But now you can stop counting. The pandemic gets a score of one. There is no next. The pandemic has taken far more than it has given. In addition to its enormous cost in human lives and health, we‘ve sustained tremendous daily losses. Many don’t seem significant; I know you don’t care if I get a haircut from a nice guy who’s an inferior hair stylist doubling as my husband. It’s just the panorama, the over-all picture of our lives this past year, how we’ve adapted and new customs we’ve adopted.

We’ve always been travelers and there was always a trip on the horizon. We’ve been to every continent except Antarctica, and to 48 states. We loved the anticipation and the excitement and even though, obviously, some trips were better than others, none were bad. Some were surprisingly great like Georgia for instance. Georgia of the Caucasus in Asia. Jewish history. Breathtaking scenery. Unforgettable. As was Marrakech, in Africa, a fascinating place with moody neighborhoods that both invited and intimidated. We should’ve skipped Casablanca, however. The movie was better. Now, we haven’t been on a plane in a year, and counting.

Nor have we been in a supermarket for the same time period. Our market delivers, and aside from the premium prices they charge to bring it to our door, the orders placed and submitted and the orders received are not always the same. We’ve received stuff ordered by others (why do I need a packet of little girl socks?) which the market nicely credits us for and does not take back, but where are the egg noodles that I actually need? And, yes indeed, I do need them! And, somehow I’ve managed to get by with the delivery errors but I’m not a natural in the shopping part, not without a cart! I’m just not that organized and never does a delivery get to me without my sudden remembrance of one or another items that I forgot to include. Thanks to our wonderful number 3 daughter, my kosher meat shopping is taken care of, religiously. I’m not happy with her going into the stores but she maintains she’s going anyway so she shops for us weekly. Exceptionally helpful and kind, epitomizing tzedek!

Housecleaning is not my favorite activity. For years and years we’ve had the excellent ozeret skills of Lucinda so that all that was needed from me were simple touchups. Grinding my teeth and spitting fire I now tell you that Lucinda has not been here for a year and I’m the chief of cleanup. I need lots of exclamation points here, more than I’m willing to spare, but you catch my drift! I just don’t have the skills to make the house sparkle. I don’t know if I want those skills anyway, but these days a magic wand would be nice. I feel like Cinderella. What I dust needs dusting again very soon after. The same with what I scrub and polish. Oy, the talents I lack.

This takes me into the kitchen. We Jews like good bread. We’ve invented some of the best. Think challah. Think bagels. Think pita. Think rye. And coming up sooner than you want to think, think matzah. We’re not the Wonderbread eaters. We don’t usually go for that sterile, marshmallow like, mushy white bread. It has no body and for sure it has no soul. Not shopping has led me to buying a bread machine, actually now it’s two of the miracles! Want challah? See me in action Friday mornings. Want bagels? Yes yes yes! I do them all, except for the matzah. My breads rise. But, if the pandemic ever leaves us, I’ll happily return to the bakery and the bagel store. Very happily.

But, while I’m meandering in the kitchen, I need to tell you that the old man and I used to eat out multiple times a week. Not any more. Usually the night before I scheme out a menu. I make a lot of soup. Stuffed cabbage. Kugels. Creative, traditional, and delicious. But, we’ve both shown the rewards of good cooking, lots of fat…….on us, not on the food! The days are long, the food is yummy and we’re recycling a lot of our clothes so we can delude ourselves a bit since the mirror is not a friend, but a liar. A big fat liar.

Oh, there’s so much more that I could tell you. When the muse strikes I will. Unless, the pandemic disappears. Unless we can take off two masks and fly somewhere enchanting. Unless……..

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.