MUSINGS ON TIME – BY ELLIN CURLEY

Recently I’ve been more aware of the passage of time in several different ways. Since quarantine began, every morning when I look in the mirror and start brushing my teeth, I think, “I remember yesterday morning when I did the exact same thing. Here we go again, another day.”

I also think of the classic scenes in the movie “All That Jazz when the actor playing Bob Fosse looks in the mirror every morning, does “Jazz Hands” and says, “It’s showtime!” as he takes his morning dose of heavy drugs to get through the day.

These aren’t deep, philosophical moments for me, they are more like a passing recognition of the passage of time.

Oddly enough, my diet has also made me more aware of time. I just lost over ten pounds on the Jenny Craig Diet (which I highly recommend) and one of the features I like about the program is that you’re supposed to eat something roughly every three hours. That way you’re never starving and your metabolic rate stays at a steady level throughout the day. Because of this, I look at my watch frequently to mark off three-hour intervals with a snack or a meal.

When I’m busy and occupied, the time flies by and I often miss my three-hour mark. But when I’m restless or bored, the time crawls by and I end up counting down the minutes. I’ve always known that “time flies when you’re having fun”, but I never documented it so graphically and consistently.

Something else happened recently that made me think about the passage of time. I reconnected on Facebook with a former au pair from Germany, Heike, who lived with my family for two years between 1987 and 1989. She was 24-26, I was 38-40, my son was 7-9 and my daughter was 2-4 years old. Heike and I stayed in touch till around 1994 before losing touch completely.

Once we found each other again on Facebook, we immediately talked on the phone for an hour and a half, catching up on whole lifetimes. She’s now 56 and has grown kids. But we have so much in common and we still have such a strong connection, that it felt like almost no time had passed since we had been embedded in each other’s lives.

Some connections are deeper than others and can survive both time and distance. Heike and I are going to stay in touch through phone, text, and Zoom and we’ll meet up in person once people can travel again (she lives near Seattle, Washington). We’re both excited to be back in each other’s lives again, this time as co-equal friends, not employer and employee – although there was always an underlying friendship between us.

Our lives were at very different stages in the 1980s but now we both have adult children and long-term marriages. And several of my best friends today are her age, 14 years or more my junior. My parents were 26 years apart in age so age differences don’t mean much to me.

I’ve increased my awareness of hours, days, and decades in interesting ways. I think being in quarantine has warped many people’s perceptions of time. It’s a running joke that no one knows the date or the day of the week anymore; the days just blur together into an amorphous blob. Maybe that’s why I’m more sensitive to time – it’s just another side effect of the Coronavirus pandemic.

THE PRICE OF FOOD, THE COST OF STAYING ALIVE – Marilyn Armstrong

This post started out as a comment to Rich’s piece, but it reminded me of all those years when the Fishery Department in New England begged the fisher-folks to hold back on fishing out the spawning areas. St. George’s banks — which is technically both U.S. and Canadian waters — I think the line runs right through the area. George’s Banks are closed, both by Canadian and American authorities because of overfishing.

If they didn’t close them, there wouldn’t be any fish in the future. Almost all our fish these days is imported. Salmon from Canada where it is farmed, and the rest from Asia.

Our food has more than doubled in price. We could buy a week’s food for the three of us for around $150 before the quarantine. Now it costs MORE than $300. We do have some locally grown food just beginning to show up in the markets and ironically, our farms which have been doing poorly are suddenly a very big deal. We can get (easily) eggs, milk, honey, and strawberries. We have tons of blackberries growing in our own back 40, but it’s even more lethal than our rose bushes and before we can get them, the birds eat all of it.
Squash is coming into season. Also cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and with a little luck, we’ll have a good year for peaches. Soon (I hope!) we will also have fresh corn. We don’t grow mountains of corn because we have so little flat land, but what we do grow is delicious.

Everything is organic. Not because we are such believes in organic produce, but because we have such a high water level, fertilizer seeps into the aquifer, and if we kill the aquifer, we are all in big, permanent trouble.

We have no slaughterhouses. I’m sure that the individual farms raise a few pigs and beef cattle for personal use, but it doesn’t go to the stores. There is a huge chicken farm nearby. They have a big restaurant (no open right now, of course), but they also sell it in their shop. It costs twice the imported prices but it is very good and their chickens roam free.

Shooting through a wire fence, these are impressionist chickens. Need eggs?

Anyone with a back that works grows acorn squash (by November I’ve overdosed on squash), tomatoes, and onions. Also round, red potatoes. Some people have started growing jalapenos, too. In this limited rural area, summer is the only time you can get fresh local fruits and vegetables. After September and October (apple season — we have gigantic orchards for apples and they are great apples … and the farmers keep cross-breeding new varieties, albeit our local apples are much more expensive than the imported ones. Probably not THIS year!

The cows in the meadow

Not much fish except via Canada where they farm salmon. We used to have wonderful fish, but they overfished the region and it’ll be decades before we can get fish from the ocean again. Our rivers are good for trout — if you like trout and none of us do — and while down on the Cape they are farming lobster, there aren’t enough of them for more than their immediate areas.

New England had the biggest and best fishing fleets in the world. All gone. The fleets are gone and the areas are now filled with private boats. Which is fine, but they don’t bring in fish.

The fisherfolk were warned yearly to NOT go to George’s Banks because that was where they spawned. Garry covered those stories and he always came back shaking his head at the thick-headedness of the fleets. Yes, they’d need to raise prices and wouldn’t be able to bring in the volume of fish they had before, but if they didn’t stop harvesting the fisheries, there would be no more fish at all.

Eventually, when no one cooperated, they closed down the areas about five years ago (maybe it was longer — has swept by so quickly — before there were no more fish to breed. The coast guard patrols the area and there are all these little wars at sea. If we don’t poison the waters, fish will come back — and that’s if we manage to keep the Canadians and Japanese from trawling the areas.

Seafood, the delight of New England is gone. We do get great eggs and butter, though. The milk is great, but we have a lot of people here who have inspected cows, so they don’t homogenize the milk. Garry loves the cream on the top. I stopped buying it.

After Garry steals the cream, even the dogs won’t drink it.

REMEMBER HOW WE USED TO LIKE FASHION? – Marilyn Armstong

Remember when it mattered if your jeans really fit? Hey, remember makeup? Remember getting your hair styled? Remember when the days of the week meant something?

Remember when you didn’t start drinking until around sundown (slightly earlier on a holiday)?

Those days are gone forever. Now, there’s Quarantine Life where we wear the same clothing every day because what’s the point? Our pets are all over us anyway, so regardless, we are hairy and what IS that stuck to my shirt? Oh, right. Maple syrup. Maybe a hint of coffee or jam?

Definitely not neat and it’s sticky.

Life in quarantine

ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK: THE AMERICAN FLAG BIRD – Marilyn Armstrong

I know they should be red, white, and blue … but the bird came back today a few times and I got more interesting pictures today. What an interesting bird he is! the designs on his wings which might look a little like stars, look like all kinds of things, and that combination of white and red on the breast …

Well, take a look. This is truly an interesting bird.

Garry wants to know what I find interesting about birds. I want to know what he finds interesting about old western TV series from the 1950s and 1960s. It’s not that I don’t like westerns. I can sing along with every one of those show’s songs. I’ve seen them all and not just once.

This is not the first time Garry has decided to rerun Cheyenne or Bat Masterson. Owen, who never saw the shows can also sing along. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure the dogs can sing along and one of them is trying to do that right this very minute.

There are many ways to stay sane. For me, it’s remembering that these creatures I feed are important. They are as important as I am. If you are of a religious bent (which I am not, but I can still quote the Bible), “dominion over animals” doesn’t mean “wipe them out because they are in the way.”