Disconnected but connected…

It has been almost 8 months since COVID 19 has severely altered the way the world functions, the way people behave, communicate, work, and nowadays…sleep. And I mention sleep, because I can only assume millions of people world wide are loosing sleep or sleeping poorly due to all these changes, which have mostly been changes for the worse.

As I said before in my previous post, I am fortunate enough to still have my full time job and I am able to perform all my duties from the comfort of my home.

I live in an agricultural area some 8 miles away from lights, noise and traffic; here, space is a given. Almost every night we can see the starry skies, hear nothing but nature sounds (coyotes mostly!) and enjoy cool air even in summer’s hottest nights. During the day we get to see the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets, when the sky has a palette of oranges, pinks and blueish purples. Traffic on our street (dead end) consists of the 7am-8am rush hour when maybe 5 trucks pass by . Mostly landscapers and orchard workers that are picking the Season’s fruit from surrounding orchards.

So, overall, we are so very fortunate to feel free and not secluded, relaxed and not overwhelmed by the tensions of hysterical neighbors who are desperate to get out, frustrated children kept inside against their will. Or overwhelmed by super busy sidewalks flooded with dog walkers and parents pushing strollers when the evenings come. Not a day passes by in which I feel thankful for this. Neither do i take it for granted.

Ever since we cancelled the TV service a year ago (Satellite TV) we have been more disconnected from the everyday news channels, and for months it was fine. When the Pandemic Started, I felt the need to reach out and “connect” to News Websites (mostly NPR and the BBC, since I have no patience for the politically charged US networks). After all, I need to be in the know regarding the governor and mayor’s mandates which keep changing every couple of weeks, depending on the epidemic trends.

Usually while I am working I will listen to an hour of news or so in the morning and then disconnect. That will get me the thick of it, if I missed something big later during the day, I always end up finding out through my husband, friends or quick Memes that are already making fun of this or that.

In the beginning I tried not to listen to too much, because it is all so negative and depressing, so I mixed it up with Podcasts about movies, books, art, or anything else. Nowadays, it is impossible to hear any channel or podcast without the content being about the world today or at least, content that is greatly influenced by current events: COVID and Elections.

The thousands of business closures and the massive job losses, have changed the way we look, the way we move, the way we communicate. It is totally normal and fine to see women with inch-long roots of grey hair, or wearing flip flops showing off cracked dry skin on their heels, and a haircut that leaves a stylist wondering what exactly did it look like 5 months ago, ’cause there’s no form left at all! No one cares; for many, grooming stopped being a priority, for others, it stopped being affordable. (I personally have tried at least 4 different colors/brands of hair dye this year, so under the sun, my hair looks like I volunteered for a “browns and coppers” sample wig…but like I said…who cares.) Having money for groceries, gas and hopefully rent or the mortgage became sacred priorities for millions of people around the world.

Children have found new spaces and moments with their otherwise super-busy working parents and young teenagers have learned to feel connected in a variety of ways; for some, a birthday celebration these days is a family dinner and a home made cake. For others it is a small gathering on a front porch wearing masks and keeping a safe distance. Or a 12 car caravan parading by the front of the “Birthday Home”. Goody bags went from candy to a bag with puzzles, coloring paper and Do It Yourself Hand Sanitizer. Who would have thought?

I have seen the most awesome home made videos of Dads and daughters dancing together and Moms doing Yoga with toddlers; it seems like 2020 will see the birth of Zillions of new bloggers and You tubers. Everyone has the tools and the time, so You Tube has evidently been saturated by everything we can think of- not all great- but, we choose what we want to watch, right?

In June we had planned a trip to the Ozarks, in Arkansas; a Family Reunion, under works for 3 years, and the majority agreed it was best to cancel. Families from Iowa, Illinois, Arizona and California were all coming together, adults and kids of all ages, from 72 to 2 year old. Too much risk, specially considering we were flying there.

Instead we cut the group small and decided to drive to Zion National Park, Utah. The park was partially closed, shuttles where out of service to avoid crowded buses, but we still enjoyed it quite a bit. The views were gorgeous. And it was nice to see my in-laws.

Zion National Park, Utah

On our way there, my daughter and I spent a night in Vegas, which had just reopened some of the hotels. The city was deserted: Vegas as I had never seen it. Most restaurants were closed and more than half of the casinos too. It was nice to avoid crowds and long lines though. I just wish people were more empathetic and wore masks just like employees were required to.

Other than that 4 day trip, we have only been out to the beach a couple of times. Beaches in California are crowded and whenever public Parking Lots are closed, it is quote the challenge to find a spot. But it has been worth it. The feeling of openness and the constant reminder of how tiny we are standing next to the water is refreshing in a way.

La Jolla Cove, California

These past moths I have gotten very close to my daughter. We spend several hours a day together, in the evenings specially. We watch different series on Netflix and Amazon, we worked out at least 3 times a week in the summer and now that she is back in school I miss her company.

Our grapefruit trees had a goos season. I picking as much as I could, and froze several gallons of juice, but ther where so many left, and eventhough I shared many with friends, it was impossible to pick it all.

Our Avocado trees did pretty well this year too so I was able to share dozens of this precious delicious fruit too. In California buying an Avocado is like buying a luxury item at the store, so..they are, really, priceless!

Between my street neighbors and us, we have traded Lemons (tons of them!), limes, oranges, Raspberries, Blackberries, Mulberries, Passion Fruit, Kale, grapefruit and avocados. This summer I learned to like Eureka lemons (I was always partial to limes). I have made lemon bundt cake, many many pitchers of lemonade and one of my new favorites: lemon bars!

Lemon Bars

More recently, I have gotten lots of pomegranate and guavas.

The smell of guava is extremely strong- I admit it. A single guava can make your whole house smell like it. But its scent reminds me of my home, in Mexico. My mom used to love guava (Guayaba, in spanish). When it was guava season, our fruit basket never failed to have at least half a dozen. We learned to eat them fresh since we were little, and also boiled in syrup with condensed milk, it was a super tasty treat. My dad loved them too.

Guava scent marks the begining of Holiday Seasons, Christmas, Punch, family gatherings, delicious desserts with nuts and dulce de leche. So I didn’t mind at all that our whole ouse smells of it. But one day after I go tthem, everyone at home starting complaining about the smell! I couldn’t eat them fast enough by myself, so I googled a recipe to turn them into jam, and ….wow. Mindblowing. I made several jars, and the next day, I made chicken pot pie and had leftover dough, so I made a few turnovers filled with jam. Wow again….I gave my neighbor -the one that gave me the guava to begin with saying she was not very fond of them- a jar and a large turnover and she loved both. It made me so happy to share that with them! One has to acquire the taste. Its really not a popular fruit in the US.

I am slowly but surely recovering still from my wrist surgery, I can slice and chop now (yey!) and open most jars too. It’s incredibly empowering: opening a brand new jar of Jam or pasta sauce without asking for help.

A lot of uncertainty has passed- elections passed, schools started, although most with distance learnign programs only, the markets are pretty unstable still, . There is a lot up in the air still, the approval of a vaccine, it’s mass production and distribution, and the questions of…how will our new president handle all these crises that he will inherit in Jan 2021. But at least in my case, I am handling this way of life better than I was a few months ago, despite the uncertainties. I am learning to live a day at a time. I am learning that it is OK not to always have a plan for everything. I want to transmit this peace and calm to my family and my friends because the last thing we need is fear, panic and negativity.

Thankfully, I can afford to be calm in the midst of this crisis, but I will not let my guard down and I will follow as best as I can what the experts and the authorities are asking of us : wear a freaking mask, wash your hands and keep your distance. It is not hard, I really don’t understand the thousands of Californians and Floridians (among manyothers) that are so very offended by the simple face cover request. COVID-19 deniers and the like…it is truly embarrassing. The US showing its true colors to the world. It is no surprise that we haven’t been able to get the spread under control, like dozens of Asian countries already did…I pray that our leaders get a grip and guide us through this quickly and successfully. Well, …most leaders, I know there are some we can definitely not count on. But we can not leave it all to them…what we simple citizens do everyday counts…each aeveryone of us.

Stay safe everyone.

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