June has been an interesting month and we are only halfway there. I tested positive for Covid at the end of May and stayed in bed for three days, with symptoms similar to the flu, then I spent another week at home with low energy, coughing, sneezing, and general aches and pains. It was annoying, but not life-threatening, thanks to having been vaccinated. All the while, Malcolm tested negative – until day eleven, when he presented with symptoms. The following day, he tested positive. Our roles reversed and I became the caretaker while he became the patient. Another ten days, gone. We are both better now, but Malcolm has a bit of lingering ‘brain fog,’ and I have a cough I just can’t shake.
Obviously, social time was out of the question and we painfully canceled dinner plans and said our goodbyes by phone to dear friends as they began their summer travels. We cleared the calendar of tennis dates, Mahjongg games, and Malcolm’s regular coffee outings. Ugh!
Filling the time was challenging, and most days we felt pissed off that we’d survived two and a half years of doing everything right only to have Covid hit us now. Even so, we managed. I read a few books, took a few walks and we even hit the Pickleball a couple of times on the court at our new place. Sitting under a palm tree by the pool became a welcome late afternoon outing. In the time overlapping between my weakest point and Malcolm’s, we managed to complete a couple of home projects and cook some healthy meals.
Getting Covid and being socially isolated for two weeks is a stiff price to pay for an eight-day cruise. Would we do it again? Absolutely.
Around the House
Malcolm and I sold or donated a lot of our furniture when we sold our home back in July, but we kept pieces that we thought might work in a small house or apartment at some point in our future. Our dining room set is thirty years old and is the first furniture we ever purchased together. After using it for many years, we passed it on to my MIL, and then last July, when we ‘redecorated’ her home, we put the set into storage with our things.
It is a sentimental piece that we aren’t ready to part with. The art deco design squarely identifies it as early 90’s, but we decided to use it anyway – mostly because it fit into the space and definitely because it had a nice glass hutch that would hold a lot of stuff.
The only visible problem with the set was the seat cushions, which were worn and stained. (I forgot to take a ‘before’ picture). Malcolm removed the old seat covers and I replaced them with a medium grey fabric. I know, friends don’t let friends decorate with grey, but without anyone to talk me out of it, (I didn’t ask anyone’s opinion) I did it anyway. I won’t say they are ‘like new’, but they are good enough.
Assembling a TV stand for our bedroom proved a much bigger challenge. I am dating myself, but, we used to go to a reputable furniture store, pick out pieces and have them delivered and placed where they would live. Nowadays, furniture comes in boxes. With lots of pieces…
I walked away, shaking my head, but promising to remain ‘on call’ just in case. A short four hours later, this magically appeared. Go Malcolm!
Getting to Know the Neighbors
The apartment building we moved into is new and currently has only six tenants residing here. Unfortunately, one of them, a lady who works from home moved into the apartment below us. What are the odds that would happen so quickly? Anyway, a few days ago she arrived at our door with a bottle of wine and a plate of cookies. She introduced herself, and handed the gifts to Malcolm, explaining that they were a ‘peace offering.’ We didn’t know we were at war. Malcolm mentioned that I was sick with Covid, as I waved from the sofa, but she continued with her agenda. Apparently, we are quite loud and need to ‘step lighter‘ during her working hours. Hmmm….. Welcome to the neighborhood. The cookies were good btw.
What’s On My Bookshelf
Dan Antion, of No Facilities fame, is about to launch his debut novel. Drop by his blog this week to meet Dan and see what his readers are saying about Knuckleheads. I read the book last week and enjoyed it very much.
The setting floats between present day and the 1960s. The book opens with the main character, Zach Amstead sitting at the kitchen table with his adult daughter Abbie. He has retired from a 40-year consulting career and Abbie had thrown him a surprise retirement party the evening before. Abbie is curious about an invitation response that she had received from one of her Dad’s old friends. The note was signed, ‘can’t make it, see you soon,’ Billy.
Knowing that this day would come, Zach settled in at the kitchen table to share the story of he and Billy, their childhood friendship, and the ‘special abilities’ they each possess and have been aware of since 4th grade. The conversation would last for the duration of the book, with Zack in the single narrator position and Abbi interrupting often to add emphasis to the contrast between ‘then and now.’ Things like ‘carbon paper,’ ‘corporal punishment’ and even the presence of ashtrays in public buildings reminded us of the times in which Zack grew up.
Most of the book takes place at a bowling alley owned by Zack’s dad, in school, or in church – all familiar, safe places where Zack’s ‘landings’ won’t be noticed. The story gently walks through the sixties with subtle social commentary on subjects from disabilities and labels to special treatment of the privileged elite.
Zack and Billy conduct various experiments to better understand their respective abilities and occasionally find themselves in hot water. Guided by Zach’s wise and understanding father, John, the boys learn to ‘get ahead’ of their situation. Neither fully comprehends what that means, but both appreciate having a supportive adult in their corner. Mild-mannered John is in fact, the only person who is aware of the boy’s gifts, or curse, as it more frequently seems to be. The way John interacts with Zack and his attempts to guide his son’s abilities result in character-building conversations and life lessons that every boy and girl should be lucky enough to have delivered by a faithful and loving parent. Security, acceptance, and a father’s love are at the core of this captivating tale.
I also read The Nantucket Inn and Linda’s Midlife Crisis. Both were quick, entertaining summer reads. Interestingly, the main character in both books was at a similar stage of life – early fifties, newly single. One due to a divorce and the other a death. Both women were intent on moving forward and reinventing themselves. I like books that share midlife wisdom and have a happy ending. These two delivered.
What’s On My Plate
Comfort food and healthy dishes have been competing for our attention as we opt for whatever we think might taste good. Neither of us lost our sense of smell or taste with Covid, but flavors are definitely ‘off’. I can’t fully surrender to carbs, as Malcolm would prefer, but I am willing to compromise. Keeping meal prep and clean-up time simple continues to be a high priority.
Malcolm and I have access to a barbeque grill, but it isn’t like having one directly on your patio, so occasionally we make a steak in the kitchen. A few years ago we took a ‘chef’s secrets’ class and he taught us to cook a perfect steak in the oven. Here is how he did it.
The Perfect Steak
Allow steak to come to room temperature. Preheat over to 425 degrees. Rub steak liberally with salt and pepper. Heat apx. 1 tablespoon of oil over medium/high heat in an oven-proof skillet. Sear steak on both sides, about 1 minute for each side. Place pan in the oven and bake steak until desired doneness; apx. 4 minutes for rare, 6 minutes for med. rare and 8 minutes for medium.
What’s In My Glass
Sparkling water, flat water, flavored water…okay, maybe a little wine and beer. June is the beginning of hot and humid summer weather in South Florida, so staying hydrated is a really good idea. But, so is a nice cold beer! Especially in honor of Father’s Day. Cheers!