“War Profiteering”

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I have baked our bread for many years, using a recipe that makes a very hearty loaf. Mixing whole wheat flour, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, honey, oil, salt and yeast, I produce bread for toast that, when covered with almond butter, makes a very filling breakfast. Because we are both home and had trouble finding any sandwich bread anywhere, we have been using this loaf for all occasions. Of course this meant that I needed to restock my ingredients. Although I had backups for most of them, I could see that I would soon run out of some. I can substitute for many, but yeast is pretty essential to the way I bake.

Some people wake up during this pandemic and wonder how others are doing. Feeling helpless, they try to do what they can in little ways such as calling a shut-in or sharing groceries with a neighbor. Other people apparently wake up during a pandemic and wonder how they can profit from other peoples’ needs. There are a lot more of the second category of people in this country than I would have ever imagined.

I buy the French yeast pictured above that comes in a one pound vacuum sealed bag. I take out a small quantity and store it in the refrigerator. The rest I rewrap and freeze. This one pound bag usually costs around 6 dollars. Usually is the key word. My usual supplier, King Arthur Flour, lacks not only flour but also yeast. Turning to the internet I learned that for 32 dollars I could buy the same package from one of “entrepreneurs” now populating Amazon.

Shame on them. Shame on all of their fellow exploiters now profiting from sales of things others need. And no. I didn’t buy it from Amazon. I found a small business that would mail me some. For 7.98 I will have a new one pound bag. And gratitude galore.

“Dousing The F.I.R.E.”

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I was saddened as I read of the devastating effect that Americans not buying cheap clothing was having on the underpaid overworked seamstresses in Bangladesh. Suddenly they are without work with no prospect of work ahead. But then I turned to the back of the same Business Section of the New York Times and read:

Earlier this month, Eric Richard was in Bali, Indonesia, enjoying the tropical weather and carefree life of a retiree. Last summer, at 29, Mr. Richard had quit his job as a corporate operations manager to become a “digital nomad.” Now he is hunkered down at this parents’ house in Michigan…In recent weeks, he said, he has seen his net worth drop by more than $100,000. “It’s definitely not a great feeling to say the least,” Mr. Richard said.

I thought it must be a joke, but it was April 2, not April 1, and it was an actual story. Our man child Eric espouses the FIRE movement explained above.

The FIRE movement was born during the stock market’s historic 11-year-long wealth-creating run. Professionals in their 30’s and 40’s were saving up million-dollar nest eggs and quitting their jobs in the prime of life to live off investments.

Oops! It turns out that being ignorant of history has actual consequences. I don’t have much more to say since the insanity, self-centerness, smugness and results speak for themselves. Only one question. What is a “digital nomad?”

“Pent Up Demand”

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My mother spoke frequently about “pent up demand” which resulted from the war years’ scarcity of anything made of metal since it was being used for the military. I always imagined a line of moms waiting in line outside Sears, Roebuck to rush in and buy toasters. I guess in reality the pent up demand went far beyond toasters to include automobiles and houses. And then there is the resulting Baby Boom generation showing us that there was biological pent up demand!

So as the United States remains in virtual lock down, except for some individual states who still think they are exempt.(The governor of the state of Georgia, for instance, just realized TODAY that asymptomatic people can transit the coronavirus!) I have been contemplating what pent up demand will be revealed once this is over. (1% of my functioning brain believes that it will some day be over.)

I have decided that the rush will be to get first in line at the beauty salon and the barber shop. Already people who were due for a haircut at the beginning of the lock down(that would include me) are sporting “interesting” looks. My husband who gets his hair basically buzz cut every couple of weeks is now contemplating taking the dog clippers to himself. And while I have rarely wanted my nails done, now that they can’t be I am longing for a manicure.

What is the first thing you are going to rush out and do? Library? Bookstore? Favorite restaurant? Church? (I am only too aware that many are truly suffering. I am purposely trying to keep my writing light, but that in no way means I am cavalier about reality.)

 

“Dressing For Zoom Success”

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My husband told me this morning that because of the proliferation of Zoom meetings sales of dress shirts were soaring without the usual accompanying purchase of trousers. He said this as he came upstairs to change his t-shirt into a button down dress shirt in time for his Zoom call. He left his Levis on. (As in he didn’t change them, not as if he might have gone without!)

I reflected on this phenomenon of what to wear when I was participating in my church’s Tuesday night Zoom Vespers service. The Friars, of course, could just don their usual brown robes with a rope waist tie. But we are not used to seeing people at home when we are at church. (As if that wasn’t self evident!) So I decided to change the shirt with remnants of lunch down the front in case my super Mac camera might share that stain with my parish. I remembered to brush my hair. Individual decisions about “dressing for church” were evident. One usually well groomed female singer sported a v-neck men’s white t-shirt. Another usually well groomed reader was just as polished as on any given Sunday.

Then there is the unintended Zoom photo bomb. At one point what looked like the rear end of a parishioner turned out to be a very, very close up of two of her fingers. Whew! Jennie had mentioned that Zoom was encountering some hacking, and I was relieved that this wasn’t an instance of that.

Since none of us are broadcasting from studios, few of us paid any attention to the decor behind us as we were Zoomed. My picture featured a brown recycling bag on the desk to my rear. Others never seemed to get the hang of things and kept showing their ceilings!

And, by the way. Does anyone else think that gallery view on Zoom is reminiscent of the old game show Hollywood Squares?

“Ration Books and Tripe”

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My mother spoke from time to time about living in New York City during World War II and using ration books to buy food for my father and her. She said that although they might have a ration for meat, it didn’t mean that meat was available. Often the only meat she could find was tripe–the stomach of a cow. Despite her creative approaches to cooking tripe, she never recovered from the experience. Throughout our childhood if any one of us complained about any dinner, she would say “at least you aren’t eating tripe!”

I appreciated the public service poster I have shown above because it shows that shoppers in the 1940’s were no more considerate than today’s toilet paper hoarders. Without the intervention of the federal government there not only would not have been food for the troops, but that at home might have been unfairly distributed. Price gouging also plagued the country at that time, so price control legislation was enacted.

I appreciate that so many are sharing positive stories at this time about people going out of their way to help each other. But the hoarding and price gouging are running rampant. Not only did citizens buy up needed supplies for hospital workers, but companies are happily gouging states, such as ours, trying to buy necessary equipment for health care. And no, except for the Surgeon General asking people not to buy their own masks, there has been no legal barrier to doing so. And no, there seems to be no penalty for bidding wars between states for supplies.

I never understood why rationing and price controls were put into place when my mother was a newlywed. I do now.

“Ligaments, Tendons and Joints –Oh My”

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At five I gave no thoughts to my rotator cuffs as you can see from the above photo. I took my knees, elbows, hips, and shoulders completely for granted. I barely knew they were there as I stood on my head, did cartwheels, climbed our tree and hung from bars. So it came as a very rude shock to me when the first of these–one of my knees–voiced its displeasure when I was in my early 40’s. My first visit to the sports doctor(so named to lessen the shame of the baby boomer woman with hurting knees) said “yup.” What did he mean? He said after 40 these things happened. I should have listened to the plural of things, not thing as in my one knee. But I did the knee exercises until I felt fine and gave no further thought to my joints.

In my 50’s my shoulders began to speak to me and register their annoyance at my posture and my weak upper arms. Physical therapy helped and I forgot about them for a long time. By my late 60’s my tendons, ligaments and joints played an ensemble serenade of creaks and pops. It was either retire to my easy chair or face reality. I chose reality. I have been going to the gym and working with a trainer for four years. I am now familiar with all my bodily idiosyncrasies and address them regularly with movement.

Now that my gym has shut down I am working out at home. My mantra seems to be “a body at rest tends to remain at rest.” Without my gym pals and my trainer, my tendons, ligaments and joints lure me with the promise that I really can just stay in my reclining chair. They aren’t going anywhere, so why should I?

But they lie! Despite their intense resistance to movement, I am carrying on and exercising at home. Fortunately I talk to my trainer twice a week and do a custom exercise routine at least three times a week. Do I love it? Absolutely not. But at the moment my joints are quiet and I want to keep them that way.

“If I Only Had The Time…”

For years I harbored the fantasy that some day I would have enough time to do a whole variety of undone tasks. I would take the photos out of that picture killing 1970’s plastic and put them in archival albums. I would prune my cookbooks, giving away all that I would never use, despite my best intentions. “Cheese making from your goat’s milk,” for instance since I haven’t owned a goat since 1976. I would definitely get up into the attic and see what is still in one piece. The last time I climbed the ladder to get down the old cloth diapers, I found that the mice had found them first!

Then there are the unread books. If I only had the time I would finally get through all the unread nineteenth century English novels assigned in my 1968 course on the nineteenth century English novel. After all, I owned the books already. And War and Peace! Surely I would have a deeper understanding of it than when I read it as a lonely, love struck college freshman. Unbelievably, or neurotically enough, it still bothers me that I sped read Tolstoy instead of giving him the attention I am sure he deserved.

The wallpaper in the bathroom has been peeling for a few years. And I didn’t do a great job putting it up in the first place. (I didn’t have the time to do it carefully!) I even own new rolls to do the job. And what about that kit to make a solar powered miniature carousel for my granddaughter who is now much too old to enjoy it?

Well now that I am experiencing the double whammy of retirement combined with lockdown, the truth has been revealed. The real me is not the Energizer Bunny, just waiting for enough time to get things done. Sadly, the real me more closely resembles the Scottish sheep I encountered in the Highlands. After I waited for her and her friends to cross the road I was trying to navigate, she slowly walked over and flopped down on the edge. That was enough for her that day.

I know the feeling!