It is now almost six months since we cut short our sojourn in Paris to return home. For some time I have been reflecting on my meagre contributions to this blog and why even such infrequent writing has been so hard – especially as it is such a good idea and I had been already keeping a diary for a year or more. Why was it so hard to reflect and write a little from time to time – especially as it was such a pleasure to read the contributions of the others?
Thinking back to the beginning of our blog, it seemed at that time to be difficult to focus on COVID and its impact and write about it. At that time it was my habit to check daily the data recorded on the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre site. Watching the seemingly inexorable rise in the numbers felt almost unbearable as they described the advance of the virus and its fatalities. Then there were the daily news feeds from the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, the Globe and Mail and the Ottawa Citizen. These were supplemented by weekly print copies of the Economist and Macleans Magazine and the New Yorker. All this was rounded off with an MSNBC evening news programme with Rachel Maddow, watched on the computer right before bed. Looking back, I think this might have been more frightening information than one needed or should have consumed. Although Ottawa numbers have remained low, the situation in the United States where my daughter and her family live has been a constant worry.
Eventually, as the crisis in New York filled the news feeds and the screen, I took a pause from watching the news and tried to read a little less widely. Nonetheless, threat still seemed pervasive even with our decision to self-isolate. There was the worry about whether the food order would arrive before we ran out of essentials, given the almost two week delay from order to delivery. Once the food came it needed to be sanitized appropriately, as information at the time suggested that the virus could be lurking on boxes or packages and living on for varying lengths of time. There was the constant worry about family and friends and former colleagues. Perhaps having consumed so much information about what has been happening near and far, made it too painful to try to think and write regular blog posts – which of course leads to avoidance, quickly followed by guilt.
As looking outwards remains painful, looking inwards might be easier to write about. So I am following Anne’s earlier post on food.
In before COVID times, we often bought our bread – white, brown or baguette – at a lovely Japanese bakery just blocks away. We also indulged in their pastries from time to time. A visit there warmed the heart and pleased the nostrils, and was part of our routine on many days. But as that possibility disappeared, up from the basement came the old bread maker. It still did a fair job of producing an edible product, but it was capricious in behaviour – grinding and clanking, sometimes tossing a paddle aside or encouraging the dough to rise too high and stick all over the lid. But one day, he who reigns over the kitchen made a discovery. One of our overly fancy ovens, which one must operate using programmes, has one for proofing and then baking bread dough. We no longer pine for the days of being able to visit the little bakery: our own bread is delicious and the bread cookbook provides inspiration for all sorts of breads we have never eaten. Happily, others younger than we support the bakery that we hope will survive, but in the future it might only be the pastries that will tempt us.
At this very moment we have the latest loaf from a recipe for using left over rice – ready for lunch.