“Shopping for Pants”

Under the best circumstances I dislike shopping for pants for myself. I have no trouble purchasing pants for my husband. He wears the same style and size of Levi’s that he has worn for at least 30 years. Levi’s knows their men’s market, leaving key styles constant year after year, allowing easy repurchases. Women’s pants know no such consistency.

This spring, due to exercising and eliminating sugar, I seem to have dropped a pants size. Normally this would just be obnoxious, sending me to the store again to try on pants. Since stores are closed, I first tried simply adding and tightening my belt. While this didn’t solve the baggy look, it at least kept my pants up.  But I finally conceded I needed to buy new ones. (Lesson for the Marie Kondo school of straightening up. Don’t get rid of your too small pants. It is conceivable, however unlikely, that they will fit again.)

Of course they no longer make the pants that fit me, albeit oversized. Consulting size charts proved hopeless, as they said each pair of pants is sized differently. So last week I ordered five different pairs of jeans from two different stores. I hope that one pair fits. If not I will have to try again. And I will have to find a way to send multiple pairs back.

And if you are thinking why not just go to the store when it opens May 20? Well, because they are not opening the fitting rooms!

“Dining Out/In”

Friday was my husband’s birthday–the big 70! We always go out for a pricey sit down dinner somewhere in the area. Fortunately we live near an array of restaurants since our town abuts an expensive suburb. His favorite is an old fashioned steak house which features—–STEAK! But takeout steak didn’t appeal to him. Neither did the option of buying the steak from the place and cooking it at home.(I wonder how many people do use that option.) So we ordered food from Suyalita, a small, no reservations, fairly authentic Mexican restaurant. We drove down and a young man put the bag of our dinner in the trunk(no contact delivery.)

We ordered fajitas. Suyalita does them up exquisitely, serving them as pictured on the left. The meat and vegetables come on a sizzling platter, the tortillas, hot off the stove, wrapped in a warm towel. Little bowls of condiments fill another small tray.

Well…..We received the food in a plastic container, the tortillas wrapped around themselves, the meat and veggies layered underneath, the condiments in little plastic cups. The taste was there, but the experience was sadly missing. No sizzle from the meat, no warmth from the towel, no aroma from the kitchen, no attentive waiter, no Mexican music.

The contest between dining in and taking out cannot even be called a contest! We were glad to support the restaurant, and we may get takeout from them again, but we certainly will love eating there in person one day.

“Recorded or Live?”

I have always enjoyed live music and take advantage of local opportunities to hear singer/songwriters I enjoy. We frequent two venues, Roaring Brook Nature Center and Infinity Hall, both in our area. Roaring Brook concerts take place in a small room seating about 50 people, with drapes over the snake tanks. The acoustics astound, and the intimate experience reminds me of my introduction to many artists in the 1960’s in Cambridge, Massachusetts’ Club 47. Infinity Hall, more recently constructed to host small concerts, seats about 100, so all seats are perfect. Again, the acoustics allow a wonderful listening experience.

This spring we were going to attend concerts by the four musicians pictured above. From top left, John Gorka, bottom left, Gordon Bok, center, Keb Mo and far right Eliza Gilkyson. We have seen all but Gorka before, and were looking forward to seeing them again. I have listened to Gorka for years, but only in recordings. This was to be his first local appearance, and I was excited to listen to him at the nature center.

All were cancelled, of course, along with countless other live musical offerings from classical to hard rock. All performers suffer financially at the moment. Yes, I can continue to stream their music and they can continue to earn pennies each time I do. Still, they miss the chance to play before a live audience, an experience distinct from the studio. And we miss the magic of being there as the music plays.

Between live music in times of health and recorded music in times of a pandemic there is no contest. Live wins hands down.

“Home Gym?”

 

The photo on the left shows my a screen shot of one of the trainers at my gym demonstrating an exercise. In the background you can see a variety of equipment there, including medicine balls, kettle bells, weights, mats and foam rollers. Not shown are a variety of pulley and weight pieces of equipment which can be easily adjusted for any given exercise.

On the right is a photo of the set of resistance bands I am using at home to approximate the exercises from the gym. None of them are weights. It has been impossible to buy weights, kettle bells or other assorted equipment for weeks. I guess that the people who bought all that flour and yeast for baking realized that they were losing muscles and gaining fat! They rushed out to buy fitness devices. The bands are not easily adjusted. They are looped through the object that looks like a roller on a strap which has been shut in a door to hold the bands steady. To change the exercise I have to open the door, move the roller to the right location, close the door and reattach the straps.

It will be a long time before I am able to return to my gym. Social distancing isn’t possible and much of the equipment would be difficult to keep germ free. I imagine my age group will be excluded for the longest time of any.

I am grateful that I was able to buy the resistance band set. I am grateful that I have a door to use with them. But in a contest between the gym and working out a home, the gym wins hands down!

“Lunch Without Friends”

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I used to meet about once a month at 11:30 at the Panera Bread cafe for lunch with a dear friend. I would usually have a salad with chicken, she a soup and half salad or half sandwich. The food was not the reason we were getting together, so it didn’t matter that there is nothing fancy about the place. Getting there at 11:30 guaranteed a good seat before the place filled up. We would often stay for an hour or an hour and a half talking. Nothing astonishing, just catching up on our lives, our families, books we were reading or shows we had watched.

Of course we have missed our March and April meals, and are certain to miss a few more. Yes, we talk on the phone, but it isn’t the same. We started getting together in the first place because we wanted a closer connection than the one we had established on the phone. Now we have had to take a step back and we can notice the difference.

It turns out that these casual get-togethers were much more important to me than I realized. I miss her, the cashier, the person trying to convince me to use a machine instead of the cashier and the bustling atmosphere. It really was never about the food, as it turns out. Right after the book store and the haircut, I hope to meet up for lunch again.

“Book Desert in Covid-19”

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I am a nonstop reader and have been since I was very little. I have no way to afford all the books I read each year, so I rely heavily on the local library. We are fortunate to live in a small state with many town libraries, each housing different collections depending on the tastes of the librarian. Interlibrary loan allows me to have books sent to my library from all over the state. I can place holds on popular books and just wait for an email alerting me that I can come pick them up. Our own town’s library has an excellent selection of new books, both fiction and nonfiction. My tastes seem to align more with the librarian than with many of my neighbors, and I can often check out a book just after I have read a review of it in The New York Times.

As I wrote last fall, I have also become a devotee of Riverbend Books in the adjoining town. This independent shop has an eclectic assortment of volumes and introduces me to many I would otherwise miss. I buy books here when they look worth owning. Because I read fiction so quickly, I rarely buy fiction, but do purchase history and social science offerings there.

Enter the pandemic. The library has been closed since mid-March. Riverbend Books has been closed since mid-March. Nothing here will open before May 20. The bookstore may be able to have a couple of customers at a time wearing masks. The library will likely remain closed much longer. While I know that many readily have changed to e-books, I cannot stand them. I need the physical book in my hands. With such a reduced availability of books, I have really had to come up with a Covid-19 reading strategy. Sadly, no strategy has been able to duplicate in any way my normally abundant reading life.

Forget getting a haircut. Forget going to the movies. I need to go to a bookstore! I need the library!

“See The U.S.A.?”

“This is a great time for people to explore America. A lot of people haven’t seen many parts of America,” Mnuchin said.

The Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department, quoted above, I regularly think of as Munchkin. He seems often to have just as much common sense as the little people in the Wizard of Oz. But yesterday he outdid himself with his suggestion that as Dinah Shore sang years ago, “see the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet, American is asking you to call.” I wonder if he is worried about how low the gasoline prices are going. The photo on the left is the gas price from May 2019 in our neighborhood. The photo on the right shows the prices today. Gasoline is sitting unsold. This is bad for the oil companies, I know, so Mnuchin wants to help them out.

With advice like this coming from the top of the federal government, I suppose some people will actually plan road trips to see the country. Spring break vacationers from Florida spread the virus all over our country. Drivers doing such trips this summer ought to guarantee that any quiet spots currently free of the virus will have it delivered to their door steps.

As I say almost every day “you can’t make this stuff up.”

Peace to you all from the locked down State of Connecticut, third hardest hit state in the country. I suggest you don’t put it on your summer itinerary.