I've scrambled my cerebellum the past week trying to think of something, anything to write about besides you-know-what.
But I can think of little else but novel coronavirus, or Rona, and her effects. Who'd have imagined, even two months ago, we'd be under house arrest? We're all seeking distraction, if not virtual escape.
Here are my top 10 diversions:
Any kind will do. Buying groceries is exciting in the age of Covid-19 and possibly dangerous if we don't keep our distance. I'm shutting off my quick-sneeze reflex and will clothes peg my nose if necessary. Once properly pinned or masked, I'm treating myself to really good olive oil, plus crusty bread and cheese. Olives, too. Maybe a deli salad, if still available. Something for stir-fry and eggs for one of my signature dishes - eggs on toast.
My plans involve flour, butter and eggs. Baking hasn't happened lately, and I'm hoping I'll have something to show for this month-long (or longer) lockdown other than frayed nerves - like photos of lasagne and homemade slices and cakes. A colleague posted a recipe for slow cooker bread that looks easy to make. Also on the list: butterscotch oatmeal cookies; creamy white beans (for our pescatarian); and the tuna we caught six weeks ago, that's been sitting in our freezer.
Did you weigh yourself at the start of the lockdown? Good job. The truly brave can weigh themselves again at the end. Never before has comfort eating sounded or tasted so good. Tortellini filled with spinach and ricotta? Yes. Ciabatta bread with pesto? Absolutely. Cereal with banana and milk at midnight because I can't sleep? Regularly.
Walking and running
I'm grateful to live near the beach and am reassured it's never crowded, even in normal times. Staying clear of people walking, running or sitting on the sand is easy - especially if they're naked. I have an automatic foot reflex that keeps me many metres from nude dudes.
I splurged on a couple of books two days before lockdown. I was glad to see a queue at the bookstore, knowing other people were amping up their reading, not just stocking up on casks of wine, boxes of beer and litres of spirits. I have heaps loaded onto my Kindle, but I love the look and feel of paper at bedtime. Re-reading Stephen King's The Stand piques my interest. The 40+-year-old novel I devoured two decades ago is about a global pandemic. I haven't read it yet, but Dean Koontz's 1981 novel The Eyes of Darkness referred to a killer virus called "Wuhan 400". However, Koontz's imaginary virus had a 100 per cent kill rate and was developed in labs as a "perfect biological weapon".
The 2011 film Contagion is about a global pandemic that jumps from animals to humans. It's off my watch list. So much other entertainment to take in when we're not queuing at the supermarket. The kids and I can watch Netflix shows like The Good Place, John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch and The Chef Show together, and for a laugh, I've read that Derry Girls, I Think You Should Leave and The Other Guys are good. I'd also like to catch up on Black Mirror, which is meant to be dystopian, but one wonders, the way the world's going, whether writers for the show are clairvoyant.
I've talked to my parents this week and plan to call them every week during the lockdown. It's a world apart from my usual bi-monthly phone chats. In normal times, we're shuffling between school, work, trainings and games. By the time I think about phoning, it's midnight Eastern Standard Time in America. Now I can call at midday to learn about my dad's antique motorcycle projects and mum's beaded jewellery-making. Her usual go-to, ballroom dancing, is off the cards until at least the April 6 in Ohio. My goal is to hear someone's voice via phone or online every day. About a half dozen friends and I tried Facebook live video chat this week with mixed results, as some connections were spotty. Miss 16 suggests an app called House Party.
We just missed getting my son a haircut before all the salons closed. As I write, Master Moptop is getting groomed by his older sister. She's using dog clippers. I'll consider the cut successful if I can see his eyes after this. My nod to fashion is wearing a different pair of earrings each day during lockdown.
Our family moved less than two weeks ago. I'm still unpacking but have grand plans for renovating our 1998 brick-and-tile beauty. I bought stain for the fence while half of Tauranga was at the same hardware store getting paint. Guess we're all planning projects. However, the likelihood of me not staining the fence is exponentially higher than the likelihood I'll catch Covid-19. Maybe I can pay my teenagers to complete the boring part - cleaning the wood.
Fantasy: my teens are up before 9, eat breakfast, exercise, do schoolwork and help with chores before jumping online to play video games or Snapchat friends.
Reality: my teens awaken at midday, eat breakfast, then head directly online. At least Miss 16 did some study today. I know this because she asked for help with a chemistry equation. I was useless.
Although I take the order to stay home to save lives seriously, we all need a laugh. Today, tell someone your best joke or funny story. Don't just stay safe - stay sane, too.