What’s up Buttercup?

Do you spend a lot of time on facebook or reading the blogs,? Normally I don’t have a lot of free time and so there are just a few sites I see regularly. However, these past few weeks I’ve definitely been more engaged, and I find it interesting to see how the contributors write about the pandemic from such diverse angles. Some reports are factual and measured; other writers use humour or introspection; and there are those who state their position with absolutely NO ambiguity.

Yucatan Expat Life reports on the many facets of the emergency in Yucatan. From them I have learned that some citizens in Izamal are ignoring social distancing; one jerk tried to incite looting at a supermarket in Merida; a cruise ship with stricken passengers was about to dock in Progreso; and more cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Motul . https://yucatanexpatlife.com/

Steven Fry has given me second thoughts about ever walking into a store again. His research warns that 1,500 highly-infectious, invisible aerosols blast-out from the respiratory tract with each cough or sneeze. Who knows how many are yet lurking in the aisles? https://yucalandia.com/2020/03/30/how-to-keep-yourself-safe-from-covid-19-sars-cov-2/

Chris Strickling’s descriptions of her early morning bike rides through her still-sleeping pueblo magico are simultaneously evocative and soothing. https://www.facebook.com/chris.strickling/posts/10221382142527178

Another contributor (whose name I wish I could remember) posted the floor plan of his apartment, and with tongue in cheek, he proceeded to describe the “appointments” of the 2 bedroom lair using a level of eloquence that’s usually reserved for the glossy pages of high-end Spa & Resort brochures.

Other media services are also getting more of my attention than they usually do. As I clean house and cook, I take full advantage of my Spotify subscription. Yesterday’s playlist featured an eclectic mix … Dixie Chicks, Leonard Cohen, the Stones, Joe Cocker, Juan Gabriel and La Ley. What will I choose today? Who knows; there’s no shortage of options. Any suggestions?

Netfix offers a film for every mood. Mind you, I haven’t been too selective about what I watch. “Joanna’s COVID-19 Film Festival” has (I confess) included three silly Adam Sandler movies, four true crime thrillers, a excess of romantic comedies… including Love Actually and Mama Mia for about the 100th time each. What are you watching?

I have visited some new culinary sites: https://alldayidreamaboutfood.com/ , https://www.lowcarbingasian.com/ , and http://www.browniebites.net/ Today I’m going to bake a lemon-blueberry loaf using coconut flour.

I’ve also had time to catch up with many saved entries from Nathan Bransford’s writers’ blog https://blog.nathanbransford.com/ I’ve followed Nathan for years, and am always impressed with his writing advice and publishing savvy.

Several yoga sites looked amazing, but I can’t say any were even half as cool as promised. I need the real group dynamic.

And thanks to the oldest communication device in our house, we keep in contact with all our friends and family who live near or far away. My Telmex plan is amazing; For a low flat rate, I can phone almost anywhere in the world 24-7. The ability to speak with our granddaughter in Norway, our daughter in the USA, and so many dear ones in Canada helps to keep fear from getting the upper hand. I am grateful to the communications industry for developing so many platforms that are helping me to stay connected during this stressful time.

Our enforced isolation – confinement – quarantine – or whatever we want to call it, sure could be worse, couldn’t it?

Drawing on the right side of the brain

My son Carlos started asking fairly complex questions at about the age of three. I didn’t think it was unusual that he could grasp my explanations, and was actually quite surprised when my mother told me she’d never seen a little boy who could follow reason and understand abstract concepts. “He’s always thinking; he always has ideas,” she said, “and I guess you were a bit like that, but not nearly as much as him.”

All through his boyhood and teen years, I had many stimulating conversations with Carlos, and now that he’s “all grown up”, he still has the same meditative manner. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic and its repercussions (immediately and for the future) is our present topic.

Carlos loves history, and I surprised him when I told him I knew about the first recorded pandemic in 430 BC during the Peloponnesian War. The disease (probably typhoid fever) made its way through Libya, Ethiopia and Egypt, and it crossed into Athens, just as the Spartans invaded; probably two-thirds of the population died. Many more massive annihilations followed; usually separated by roughly a century. Between 1918 and 1919, the “Spanish Flu” is thought to have infected a third of Europe’s population,killing at least 50 million people, making it the deadliest pandemic in modern history.

We feel so insecure and puzzled; how does this happen? It’s as though we periodically open Pandora’s Box, and then have to suffer before we find a way to lock it back up. Less than five months ago, in November 1919, the first case of COVID-19 was reported in China. The previously unknown virus spread rapidly, and by the time the World Health Organization received the alert, it had extended far beyond its host country. Highly contagious, and with no vaccine available, it has now invaded about 170 countries. Life as we have known it has come to a dead halt.

Carlos and I worry about all our loved ones, especially Emma… “This is a total game changer,” I said, “just as 9-11 brought in hyper-exaggerated security measures into play; this will cause a complete overhaul of sanitary and medical treatment procedures. Virology and scientific investigation will re-claim their former importance.” Carlos added that the days of huge sporting and entertainment events will probably not return; Mega cruise ships and planes that can squeeze in 850 passengers will go the way of the dinosaurs. Restaurants will have lower capacity seating, and many people will work remotely.

Profit for BIG corporations and governments should not remain the focus of every action carried out by the powerful. Developing better and more humane models will require much “drawing on the right side of the brain”. There are many experts who could design ways to stop herding people like cattle; we should not be tricked into believing that strict governmental policy is our only hope. Sooner or later scientists will find the key that closes Pandora’ Box (this time). But if we don’t respect and heal Mother Earth… another scourge will be released. We need to use our creativity to make sure the world will be fit for Emma and all the grandchildren of the world.

It’s time, said she.

Since Jorge and I began our voluntary isolation, I have tried to look at this as a bonanza of free time, and use it well. I have been writing and painting, which I totally enjoy.  As well, I have reacquainted myself with housework. Actually, I rather like tidying and sorting; as well as cooking. The mopping, dusting, bathroom cleaning, and laundry never held any appeal for me, and Jorge feels likewise about his daily garden raking, watering, doing dishes, and garbage detail. But it’s good for us, my mother would have pointed out.

And this week I faced another challenge as well – one I’ve put off for too long – I am back on the low-carb diet. In the past, I have lost many kilos by following this eating plan, but when I introduced other foods, I could not restrain myself from indulging far more than I should have, and in about 6 months, I gained back the 17 kilos it had taken me a year to lose. Of course I put on a few more as well. Our current “house arrest” has spurred me forward; of course I worry that I’ll lose again and then gain back again. But – woe is me – is self-defeating and I have to banish the thought. Eyes on the prize – Yes you can – and a whole bunch of other catch phrases are now my mantras.

In my last post I laid bare my dread of the unknown and my fear that we are in for another tough round. And now here I am again, revealing another personal issue. Too much information? Maybe so, but I have decided to stop self-censoring.  I will need to deal with lots of changes brought on by the COVID-19 virus, and to face this; I will need all the strength I can muster.

I am not able to influence the politicians’ decisions. And despite my concerns about the weakened state of Mother Earth, I can’t stop people’s wasteful ways any more than I can control looting and other havoc in the streets.

My creative expression, a clean house, and a more fit body are elements I have a say about. And this will be my focus for the next while.

I am an experienced home cook and I my sister is a chef. She often shares her recipes with me, but I often have to modify them because of the ingredients I have on hand. I made these easy low-carb stuffed mushrooms yesterday. The  recipe contains under 10g.of carbohydrates, and makes a satisfying meal for one person.

7 large white mushrooms                                                    4 – 5 g. carbohydrates

2 Tbsp, minced onion                                                              less than 1 g.

4 Tbsp. tomato sauce                                                                2 – 3 g.

¼ cup of shredded cheese (I used aged manchego)         0 -1 g.

Clean the mushrooms, and remove stems. Chop the stems, and brown them with the onion in a non-stick skillet. Add the tomato sauce, mix, and fill each mushroom cap. Top with grated cheese, and toast for 10-15 minutes (depending how well-browned you prefer) Serve with a a multi-veggie salad.