Now That We Are Sheltering In, Everyone Wants to Bake Bread

family relationships Apr 24, 2020

My daughter called me right after the coronavirus pandemic and “sheltering in” began. “Mom, I just got back from the grocery store… when did everyone start baking bread?”

I apparently wasn’t the only one who had the great bread baking obsession.

I had just made my third trip to the grocery store looking for flour.

I combed the racks, even risking my life attempting to climb to the top shelf (disregarding the sign that said not to). I knew that’s where they hid the overstock.

It’s been 3 weeks now, and the stores are still out of flour.

I scrolled through Facebook and recognized the problem immediately.

There was not one, nor two… but at least four people who proudly posted photos of their fresh-baked bread… and one who’d even made buns!

Who knew people were closet bread bakers? Was it inspiration from binging Netflix’s Great British Baking Show? Thanks to Paul Hollywood, I learned what “proofing” was, and more importantly, the kiss of Star Baker death, “over proofing.”

It’s no mystery… It’s comfort we want, and there’s nothing more comforting than the smell of fresh-baked bread.

***

Here’s another random thought. Who knew puzzles were fun? I see my friends staying up nights doing puzzles of the Arc de Triomphe or Monet’s Gardens.

I had a puzzle addiction in my early 20’s. After all the hard work, I couldn’t bear to dismantle them, so I glued them with Modge Podge to the tops of end tables. Others hung (unapologetically) in frames as though they were works of art.

It wasn’t my best decorating style.

While perusing Amazon for a potential puzzle purchase, I was interrupted by a call coming through.

I felt a flutter of hope when I saw it was my business partner ringing. I know I’m not the only one stressing financially, and I had the tiniest shred of excitement when I answered.

Could it be a potential client? A new property, or even a referral?

But alas, she wanted to report on her cleaning progress as she tackled her kitchen cupboards this week. She boasted, “only two more to go!” with such pride, it was as though we were about to close our next business deal.

It was that dang important.

And it was… we are using this time to homestead, circle the wagon trains, and stay put. We might as well make the most of this time.

I’m proud to say my own organization attempts retrieved 4 boxes of lasagna noodles with still acceptable expiration dates, and 3 cans of San Marzano tomatoes. All buried in an overstuffed pantry that is now finally Pinterest worthy.

On that same day, I discovered my refrigerator held a big ball of whole milk Mozzarella, and there was meat in the freezer I’d bought two months ago.

Adding the bottle of red wine from my stash, I made my prized Lasagna Bolognese. It didn’t matter it’s typically a two-day project for me because of work. Sauce one day, assembly the next. Right now I have a bounty of something I don’t usually have… time!

***

I admit, though, I miss my relationships… my friends, my distant family members, even client connection…

But! We have self-distancing options!

There’s a return to the cocktail party with a twist. I know it’s become a thing when I called my lifelong friend to see if she and her husband could join us on Zoom for conversation and a glass of wine.

She was already booked at that time slot but could accommodate us two days later at the 5:30 slot, or we could have the 6:30 if that worked better. I needed to make the reservation then, or it would be another few days before they were available.

My husband and I thought we were pioneering by preparing a cheese plate for the event, but my friend joined us on Zoom with a full charcuterie, featuring prosciutto, roasted nuts, and fresh Gorgonzola from Italy….

And what else? Her fresh-baked bread.

Trend anyone? This is big… really big, and I have the feeling it’s not going to end after “shelter in place” is no longer necessary.

People inspire the heck out of me when I see they heed the call to action and found what they could do for the urgent mask shortage. I’m one of those that keep a material box and loads of unwrapped elastic. Why did I buy it?

My sewing machine is only used for hemming or repairs. I haven’t made an outfit since home economics in middle school (when the schools still taught it.)

That might be my project for tomorrow… or I’ll hand it off to my industrious sewing friend after spraying the wrappers thoroughly with disinfectant and tossing them onto her driveway where she can touch them 48 hours later. No such thing as being too safe.

***

Suddenly, Marie Kondo (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up) is not just Netflix entertainment anymore, but a call to closet duty during the shelter.

Pinterest is full of new wardrobe organizing ideas, and Facebook reveals the phenomenon that people are actually enjoying cleaning their closets.

They proudly post photos of tops hanging neatly by color next to the 20 pairs of black pants every woman must own. Shoes lined up, socks neatly rolled in drawers, along with a display of purses most of us forgot about long ago.

Marie Kondo taught us to hold the item close and see what feelings you have for it. If you still feel love, put it on the hanger and place it back in your closet. If it makes you feel bad… like making your thighs look big, or reminding you of the last really awful fight you had with your husband… time to bag it for donation. Someone else will love it.

No guilt needed because you had all good intentions when you bought it… it simply didn’t work out.

Speaking of work out… help! I normally go to the gym 5 days a week!

Not now…Will my body turn soft and doughy? Should I pull those fat jeans out of the donation bag?

Instagram to the rescue! Live videos are giving me all of my Spin and Pilates classes online. Only thing is, I don’t have a spin bike, nor a Pilates reformer.

What I can do is dance, because these innovative fitness instructors on furlough have created incredible playlists for me to dance to when no one is watching. Isn’t that what we were always taught? To dance like no one is watching?

Did I mention I’ve lost two pounds? No doubt it’s the high-stress trips to the grocery store where I’m armed at all times with pocket sanitizer, face mask, adrenaline-pumping, and laser-focused to stay 6 feet away from the shopper approaching me at the end of the aisle. If I see one coming, I sprint in the other direction

I get into the store and out so fast, I’ve forgotten to purchase the extras… the things I randomly pick up on the cookie, candy, and chip aisle.

But the weight loss might mean well-being, because I’m focusing on the present moment, day by day, doing things I love.

For the first time in my life, I have the time to write to my heart’s content, and that is restoring my soul.

***

The gravity of this time in our history is not to be ignored, but the resilience, cooperation, and innovation people have exhibited is to be celebrated.

It reminds me of watching Mr. Rogers when my children were small. He said in times like these, his mother told him to look for the helpers… that’s the good in all of this. The people. My people. Your people. Our people. We are all united in this.

I want this to be over, too, and the truth is, I’m scared. In my life, I’ve experienced loss, financial devastation, and health crisis before. And I’ve survived. But COVID-19 terrifies me, and what I do know is that if we all cooperate, we can make a difference.

***

And what about my kids (now adults)? I’ve never gotten so much attention! Especially my son who was basically MIA the entire time he went to college.

Suddenly they’re calling (or texting) me every day. Their inquiry goes something like this:

  • “You didn’t go out today, did you, Mom?”
  • “Are you taking vitamins and taking care of yourself?
  • “I called last night but you didn’t answer (accusingly). Where were you?”

Wait a minute… Isn’t that how I queried them when they were teenagers?

And I reply…

“No Honey, I was home… I was just on my 4th Zoom Cocktail party of the night. After two bottles of wine and my fourth charcuterie platter, I turned off the ringer and fell into bed.”

“Mom!!!!!”

Tomorrow is another day at home. What am I doing? I’ll check my calendar to see if I’m free.

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