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Stuck Middle: In lockdown the chow is excellent

Bill Humleker Bill Humleker

I’ve lost track of the days The Empress (T.E. … she with whom I am quarantined) and I have been sequestered, as if we were tucked away on a jury for some indefinite but impactful federal case with an important issue to consider.

In reality, we seem to have reverted to being hunters and gatherers, like our long-ago forebears, only we’re hunting toilet paper and gathering paper towels and bleach. Our important considerations seem to center around which of us will run what necessary errand armed with which facemask and what pair of disposable gloves. Who knew? It’s as if we’ve become our housecats — confined to stretching out in a new sun patch under a different window every few hours for yet another nap. Well … not really. But I am beginning to understand that chronic feline mien of languid ennui.

But there are many good things going on too, lest we forget. For example: I don’t think this household has eaten so healthily or so well in years. TE is a famously excellent chef, and as we are eating in and only going to ransack the grocers once a week, planning is essential, careful lists are paramount, and some long-overlooked recipes have been resurrected. And we are sitting down together and eating at least two real meals every day, and not just grabbing whatever is convenient on-the-run. And, true serendipity, all this culinary zeal isn’t just for the two of us; we have Princess II (PII) and her new husband with us. They can work from home and escaped their very small condo in Atlanta before everything locked down. We have created two home office areas for them to use and must be considerate of their Zoom (new technology our young take for granted) videoconferences and so forth as we go about our day.

In the evenings, after a delicious dinner, we have been watching, thus far, the entire James Bond series in order. We’ve been laughing at the technical evolution in these productions over the past fifty-plus (!!) years, as well as the amusingly narrow scope of Ian Fleming’s assorted, famously testosterone-soaked plot lines. And, in toto, the actors portraying Bond are really quite interchangeable, yet distinct at the same time; everyone seems to have his favorite.
Down the road, I am rather looking forward to watching the Indiana Jones set (more, if a bit more sophisticated testosterone), and probably the whole Star Wars imbroglio … if I can just unravel its proper order! As well, I have bookshelves crammed with books big and small about passenger ships, airliners and cars old and new to which I haven’t paid much attention in a while. TE and the Ps don’t care about them, but one son-in-law and I are enjoying them anew. And my goodness: my other son-in-law helped me figure out my telescope, so we got a good look at the Super Pink Moon these past couple of nights. And we have taught my older grandson to fly my drone; it has a camera built into it and he’s figured out several of its pre-programmed flight patterns and is very proud of himself. He should be. I haven’t gotten that far with it since it was given to me Christmas before last. In short: around here, boredom is optional.

And has anyone else noticed permanently wrinkled fingertips? As I type, I am noticing that I have washed my hands so often and so completely, that the wrinkles aren’t going away. I don’t know that this is among the better facets of our current state of affairs, but for me, it is noteworthy. I hope all of us are being careful and getting wrinkled fingertips, practicing social distancing, and being patient with the necessities of this new life. Whatever was “normal” is gone. Whatever the new “normal” will be is up to each and every one of us. Be smart. Stay safe. Stay well.

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Bill Humleker's Stuck in the Late Middle column focuses on children, grandchildren, friends and culture in what he likes to call HendoRock.