No one will deny these are challenging times. Yet, ever the optimist, I’m looking for the lessons to be learned. One of those lessons is: What do we really need? That’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot the past several weeks. I’ve discovered that I’m spoiled…or blessed…whichever way you want to frame it.
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What do we REALLY need?
Being able to go to a grocery store and purchase everything on my list was one of those things I took for granted. Sure, early in our married life I had to be very careful about our food budget. And even though money isn’t tight like it was then, I’ve continued to keep our food budget to a reasonable level. However, I never thought twice about whether or not the items on my grocery list would be available.
These days we are having our groceries delivered to my daughter’s house in town since we are out of delivery range. I am trying to keep our weekly list fairly limited since someone else is having to shop for us. I am also having to be flexible since there are often items unavailable or in short supply. Here are a few examples of things I sometimes cannot get or have had to work around:
- Fresh, organic salad greens: Our family loves salad and under normal circumstances I serve green salad with our meals almost every night. I usually buy organic greens. But organic spring greens need to be very fresh and don’t last very long. Since I’m not able to pick them out myself I have opted for iceberg and cabbage (for coleslaw).
- Lots of fresh produce: Even though I always shop with a grocery list, the produce aisle is where I would go rogue. I would pick up whatever looked the best – and lots of it – and work my menu around those finds. Now I’m happy to take what I can get and fill in with frozen and even canned, occasionally.
- Abundance: I haven’t been in the habit of “rationing” food items but I am giving careful thought to the quantities I use of certain items now.
I’m an honest-to-goodness homebody/hermit and generally very happy to live a quiet life at home. But even so, I DO enjoy getting out occasionally.
- Meals out: I enjoy cooking and have always cooked most of our meals at home. However, we usually ate dinner out once a week and would go to a Mexican restaurant after church most Sundays. I’ll have to say, it’s that Mexican food meal I’m missing the most right now. I keep telling David that the first place I want to go when all this is over is our favorite Mexican restaurant. I’m can’t wait for a big plate of deliciousness and a big margarita! But right now it is safer to eat at home and I’m just grateful I can get groceries and know how to cook.
- Movies: I absolutely adore going to the movies. I love sitting in a dark theater eating buttery popcorn and Raisinets (my usual movie treat since David and I started dating in 1976). We don’t go to the movies super often but this is something I find myself missing. However, we have some streaming services and while it’s not the same, I CAN make popcorn and watch something at home. Plus, I know that first movie we go to after this will be all the sweeter for having done without.
- Live music: This is hard one for us. If you’ve been following me long you likely know that my husband and I have a nonprofit that is responsible for hosting numerous live music events. Most of these are outdoors so winter is our down time. However, now is the time when things start getting busy for us. We have already cancelled a couple of events and there is no projection for when we can start up again. In fact, the big city-wide music festival we host in August is looking iffy. We also cancelled the 3 day music festival we host in our backyard each Memorial Day weekend. This would have been our 13th year. There is really no adequate substitute for these events but we are looking at some creative alternatives.
- Vacations/trips: I saved this for last in this section because this is the hardest one for me. We had a vacation scheduled earlier this month to North Myrtle Beach. Obviously, we cancelled it. We were also planning a short visit to New Orleans with friends this spring. Not happening. We usually take several weekend trips to OKC throughout the year but those are also on hold. I’m just hopeful that our annual trip to Belize will happen. We usually go in November but had already moved that to December before this all started. Fingers crossed!
- Professional hair coloring: I started going gray in my late twenties. I got away with highlights to disguise it for quite awhile but I’ve been having my hair professionally colored for a couple of decades now. I have a standing appointment every 4 weeks. Well, I did have a standing appointment. Even though I’m not going anywhere, it reached a point where I had to do something about the inch and a half of gray roots. I placed an order with Madison Reed hair coloring and David dyed my hair for me. Yep, I let my husband color my hair. That alone sums up quarantine for me. He did a pretty decent job. It’s darker than usual…I should have ordered dark blonde instead of light brown…but the gray is covered and that’s good enough for now. I’m just glad I don’t need anything done to my eyebrows and have always done my own nails. I’m pretty low-maintenance in that regard and it’s all to my benefit right now.
- Flowers: I haven’t had fresh flowers in my house for weeks and I doubt I’ll have any on my porch anytime soon. I think I may have some packets of flower seeds which I’ve had for years. I’ll stick some in the pots and see what happens. I usually buy a couple of hanging plants for the porch but instead I ordered a couple of artificial ferns from Amazon. That will have to do.
- Gardening: Chris and I had started talking about planting a vegetable garden way back during the winter. We still plan to do so but it’s going to be a challenge to find seeds and plants this year. I’ve been scouting various sources and I think I can pull it off. It will be more of a challenge but we’ll make it work.
There are other ways we’ve had to adapt, substitute and do without but you get the idea. You’re doing the same, right? We all are. And that’s one thing that makes this situation unique. We are dealing with these things on a global level. I hesitate to compare it to wartime but there are some similarities. In fact, I’ve been watching a lot of wartime YouTube videos and have started watching the series, Land Girls. Being reminded of how truly difficult that era was makes what we are currently going through seem less of a challenge. I may not be able to get organic salad greens but I’m not faced with the strict rationing and major shortages that Britain endured during WWII. I can’t even complain a tiny bit when I’m reminded of the sacrifices of those wartime homemakers. It’s all about perspective.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. What are you having to substitute or do without? What are you finding most difficult about this situation? Are you really struggling or are you finding some lessons to embrace? Or both? There is no “right” way to react to something like this. Some are having a very difficult time right now and that’s okay. These are trying times, indeed, and there is no shame in whatever way you are reacting. I’m always available via email if you need to vent or could use some encouragement. We are all in this together and as my grandmother so often said, “This too shall pass”.
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Great post. From a physical point of view, I’m managing OK. Since we changed how we did the shopping, I’ve been able to get what I need without much difficulty as a rule. I’m still not really completely OK mentally though, and even I’m missing the option to go out to a local cafe or something a little, despite not being in the habit of going out much.
A little tip: romain lettuce keeps better than iceburg, so will last longer. If you get one of those and keep it in the salad drawer of the fridge, it will keep for a couple of weeks as a rule. It’s best within the first week or two, but my Dad has successfully kept romain lettuce for as much as six weeks.
Deanna Piercy says
It’s hard, even for those of us who generally prefer to be at home. I really miss enjoying a meal in a restaurant. I hope the situation improves soon and it will again be safe to get out. It’s a beautiful day today and we need to drop off cardboard at the recycling center and pick up something from our daughter and son-in-law’s. I’m going to suggest to David that we take a drive to see the wildflowers while we are out.
As for the romaine, that’s what my daughter buys when she does monthly grocery shopping. I considered it but in the past, our Aldi seems to have a much more limited supply of romaine and it isn’t always that fresh. Plus, romaine is the lettuce we keep getting recalls on for e.coli in this country. I am, however, really getting tired of iceberg so next week I might give it a try. I do have some fresh spinach so that helps.