Posts Tagged ‘#MicroblogMondays’

A blogger friend mentioned that they went back to the mall recently for the first time in 16 months. She said, “In many ways, it was less stressful to give things up in 2020 than it has been to add them back in 2021.” Even though I’ve known in principle that this is how my family and friends overseas have been living since March 2020, it still blows my mind at the idea of doing these things for the first time in so long, and wondering how that must feel.

Then I stopped. In shock a little. Because I’ve been avoiding the obvious. Or had my head in the sand, refusing to acknowledge what is the truth! Though I know I’m not the only one. For the last 17 months, we’ve all been talking about “when COVID is over” or “after COVID.” But it is now patently obvious that, due to incompetent governments, selfish or foolish people, misinformation spread by the ignorant, and disinformation spread by unscrupulous, cruel, and corrupt people and organisations, there will be no truly post-COVID world. The vaccines aren’t going to win the battle entirely. They will make a huge difference, but the world seems to have been working against them being as effective as they could have been. What with variants running rampant, and vaccine resistance at unprecedented levels, it’s unlikely that we’ll eliminate the virus in the way that we’ve been able to with other diseases. Not in the short-medium term at least. (What even is “short-term” in terms of a pandemic?) This is what will change our lives forever. Or stop those whose lives have already changed from getting back to “normal.” Normal no longer exists.

Still, the rest of the world, as it sees vaccination rates increase and borders and restrictions open, will feel that their new normal is a welcome freedom. But for those of us in New Zealand, blissfully (by and large) living in our little COVID-free cocoon, it is going to be the opposite. We have spent most of the last 14 months living life as normal, except for a) using an app to scan in when we enter shops, medical centres, buses etc, and b) wearing masks on public transport and flights. And of course, our borders have been closed. But as our economy and society opens up to the rest of the world, as it must eventually, the freedom we enjoy now will disappear. Forever. We’re going to have to get used to wearing masks in more places, even as you – if you live overseas – might find you have to wear them less, and rejoice in that fact. As you get used to meeting up with friends and going to malls and restaurants again, for the first time, we will have to train ourselves to start thinking about risks involved. And as you get used to travelling again, including to our country, we’ll have to get used to travelling with a sense of risk and restrictions. It’s all going to be a loss. One I can see coming, but can do nothing about. A New Zealand lifestyle lost, as imposed on us by the rest of the world. It makes me sad. A little angry. And it is one I am mourning. The life we had. The dreams we once had. Changed forever.

But maybe I need a change of attitude too. Instead of chafing at the bit to escape these shores and visit friends and family and see the world, I need to try and appreciate what we still have, whilst we still have it. Because I know how lucky we have been. And I know that it cannot and will not continue.

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Monday Miscellaneous

Coming back from a bagel/coffee lunch a week ago, I was struck by inspiration as we drove our car into the garage. “That’s what I’ll write about on Monday,” I said to myself, thrilled to come up with a topic to write about. I then walked through the door to the house, and suffered from that mind-wiping that doors apparently do. Half an hour later I sat down at my laptop, opened my blog document and prepared to write, I realised I had no idea what that idea was. (Fortunately, some time later, it came back to me and was last week’s post!) Don’t you hate it when that happens?

I ate some of my tomato relish over the weekend. It is soooo good (though I am biased, as tomatoes are one of my absolute favourite foods), and much better than the zucchini relish, which whilst not spectacular, was still perfectly nice, and will be great with ham or cheese sandwiches for lunch over the winter. I definitely need to make some more before summer is over.

I read an article last week by a columnist, and grieved for the English language. They actually wrote the following line, and it got through any editing process.  “Whoa, is me!”  

Finally last week, about two months late, summer made a visit to Wellington. I had to dig out some summer clothes, and yesterday we even managed to sit outside on the deck with guests for lunch. It seems to have gone again today – well, the sun has, it is misty and windy, though it isn’t cold – but we’re hopeful it will return. Good thing I’m taking Vitamin D!

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I recently read – or rather listened to – a book (L’Appart) written by an American food writer in Paris, about his apartment renovations. The renovations focus was often amusing but equally frequently frustrating, especially as he was so blindingly naïve and ignored the advice of his French friends, never once asking them “why” they would make certain suggestions, for example, that he should keep his distance from the contractor. Equally, there were several comments he made on the French way of doing things, which I can’t specifically recall now, when I wanted to let him know that it was his American habits that made him the outlier in global terms, not the French. I guess I get irritated when people write for reader from their country only. So this added to the book’s frustrations. But these were never enough to stop me reading. (And if you’re American, you’ll maybe relate to his comments/complaints, and wonder what my problem is!)

The snippets he interwove about life in France and their attitudes towards life were interesting though. I particularly liked his comments about the French attitude to food, and cooking. His friends in Paris were shocked that he wanted a large, functional kitchen, with some restaurant-like fittings, when these are not the norm in Parisienne – if not French – homes. It was understandable that he might want a big kitchen, though, as he is a food writer with a blog and quite a few recipe books to his name.

In recent years, especially with the advent of Masterchef-like cooking competitions (I’m a big fan of both the UK and Australian versions of Masterchef), it seems quite normal for a lot of foodies to want to make beautiful and exotic dishes at home. Not to the French though. He noted that they have no wish to compete with the best restaurants, and wonder why you would want to even try. Apparently, they consider that there are restaurant dishes, and to-be-made-at-home dishes, and never the twain shall meet.

He also noted that the French, if they are hosting you to dinner at home, are quite happy to provide more rustic-looking dishes, including those with an unintentional bit of charring, or uneven or inconsistent shapes. They don’t want their home cooking or baking to look perfect. After all, if it looks perfect, then it probably doesn’t look like home-made. Guests might think that maybe it’s time to go searching for the bakery boxes hidden in the pantry if the cake or pie looks too good to be true! A little bit of imperfection proves it was made at home by the host (who probably was also cleaning the house, organising the music, buying the wine, and fluffing the cushions), just for you.

I really love that attitude. Essentially, it’s “the thought that counts.” It’s one I am going to embrace more readily this year. Imperfection doesn’t matter. Effort does. I’m going to adopt this attitude for all my cooking and baking this year. Perfection isn’t important. What is important is trying something out and doing it for the ones I love, or simply because it brings me joy.

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