Peaks of joy during the shelter-in times

I am taking stock of what I have done during this shelter-in-place period. Overall, and this surprises me, I’ve been busy! While many have expressed, very understandably, restlessness and boredom to a certain extent due to confinement, it’s been absolute relief that confinement has not really been rough for me. I don’t think nor claim to be alone in thinking this. So, what have you been doing? I will gladly share with you peaks of what has kept me busy.

For one, I continue on performing office tasks that I brought home for telecommuting. As a part-time worker, my schedule doesn’t seem to have changed much, devoting the same number of days to my job. True, working from home can be limited after factoring in that certain duties are “office-based” due to accessibility to personnel, equipment, files, etc., yet, much of the work can actually be accomplished remotely from home, thanks to technology.

Besides “job-related work”, I’m totally grateful for the chance to complete writing a fairy tale started in late 2017, meant for material for my “Something Curious Book 3”. My 10-year-old grandson, who follows a homework schedule every day during the shelter-in, has found time outside of his piano practices and other activities, to help me tremendously in shaping the story. He amazes me with his insights and perception. Considering him my young editor with incredulous skills. I value his suggestions and comments. I have gone far with this material with his incredible help and encouragement. Thanks to technology for facilitating facetime conversations and consultations with him.

Ah, cooking. I find myself cooking more during this shelter-in-place. Maybe because I’m home more. Maybe because I’m prone to eat more. Or maybe because I have time to engage in an activity I normally order at the near bottom of my priorities on weeks when I report to work outside my home. Whatever the reason, I’m actually happy about this. I try several ways of cooking vegetables, or mixing vegetables and meat in what would otherwise be a very bland chicken soup. In short, I have become a better cook, and ’m grateful for that.

Interesting, I’ve eaten more porridge during these shelter-in times than anytime before. I like porridge – but with milk and sugar. I surprise others when I mention my own version of porridge. During the start of the stay-at-home order, when stores were emptied due to widespread anxiety, I heard many complain about not finding rice on the store shelves, a big problem for rice-eating folks. Well, porridge is one way of extending the supply of rice in the home. It works well for me. But again, it works well for me with my own sweet version of porridge.

A pastime that I find myself often indulging in is gazing out my large window over the patio glass doors fronting my living room. I find it very interesting watching activity outside. At the start of the shelter-in, there hardly were cars passing on the street, and hardly anyone walking outside. The lane in front of my place is a very scenic and tree-shaded short route to a popular Philz coffee shop. Usually, scores of pedestrians hurry by to beat the long queue of folks eager for their coffee fix. Toward mid-point of the shelter-in-place, more of these pedestrians passed by, most of them observing the 6-ft. distance guideline, and most, wearing face masks. Many bicyclists rode by, around half, adults with children on the side or lagging behind. The street was almost empty, but for rare and occasional cars that drove by.

Now, after almost five weeks of shelter-in, I see a few more cars driving by, and the walkers, much, much more. This time, around half observe the social distancing, while others walk side by side, but many wearing face masks. My favorite sight is of a man with a large bulldog on a leash. The dog is wearing a thick face mask, but the dog owner himself is without one. The pet animal must be more precious. I also spot more senior couples passing by. A pair has caught my attention, grey-haired husband and wife, likely in their 80’s, with the woman inching ahead of a stooped man trying to keep up with his wife. And both stop to rest every few feet or so. or to check each other, gaze at each other’s face and reach out to hold each other’s hand. A very moving picture of love in the outdoors.

Because cars are still rare or few on the street, many walkers walk and cyclists ride in the middle of the road. This time, many families with little children, all on bicycles, leisurely ride, and some Dads or Moms with toddlers seated behind them on their bikes. Grandparents pushing strollers amble by. There seems to be a modest flurry of activity outside. I guess, the outdoors with the blue skies and bright sunshine are far more tempting after weeks of confinement. However, the social distancing guideline is generally followed, I observe.

As for me, I still choose to stay in. And I continue to enjoy the outdoors by gazing out my window — and watch life stream by on the street outside my home.

While writing this blog, I’m listening to classical music on my favorite public TV station, Channel 32, where the programs alternate between world news, NASA space updates and features, the Korean KPop and classical music. The music is my favorite, a delightful mix of the old and contemporary, including excerpts of operas, concerts and Broadway musicals.

With music, I generously allow myself to stay afloat in a euphoric spell, almost like a spiritual experience. This very moment, I am afloat intensely enjoying an exuberant piano performance of Frederic Chopin’s Polonaise — this, after Brahms’ Hungarian Rhapsody and Bryn Terfel’s bass baritone interpretation of “If ever I would leave you” and “How to handle a woman”, both from Camelot. I don’t mind spending my shelter-in this way. Music is panacea and a gift, a joy and a blessing that I wholeheartedly embrace, especially in these anxious times.

Linda P. Jacob

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