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Quarantine Still Life 26

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Across America, May 30, 2020

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We are the same inside no matter the color of our skin.

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An empty vintage bottle of Maraska Maraschino cherry liquor from Zadar, Croatia (encased in the woven straw cover that kept bottles intact on rocky roads and long sea voyages and likely brought back from Croatia by my grandfather on a visit home in the 1960s) and a newer (almost empty) bottle that's helped ease my pandemic anxiety. This liquor is made from the tart Marasca cherries -- along with their leaves and cherry stones -- that grow wild along the Dalmatian coast. So nice to see fresh cherries at the farm stand this week.

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Lives Stilled ▪️ “... The 1,000 people here reflect just 1 percent of the toll. None were mere numbers.”

Including: “Marion Krueger, 85, Kirkland, Wash., great-grandmother with an easy laugh” / “Minette Goff Cooper, 79, Louisiana, loved big and told people she loved them all the time” / “Muriel M. Going, 92, Cedarburg, Wisc., taught her girls sheepshead and canasta” / “Alice Coopersmith Furst, 87, Kentfield, Calif., in the first class of girls admitted to the Bronx High School of Science” / “John Prine, 73, Nashville, country-folk singer who was a favorite of Bob Dylan” / “Josephine Posnanski, 98, New Jersey, loved to dance” /

* Front page of the New York Times printed version, Sunday May 24, 2020: An Incalculable Loss

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If only garlic could ward off the coronavirus the way it does vampires (according to a Persian encyclopedia of medicine dating to 1025, garlic has been used for the treatment of a variety of ailments including arthritis, snake and insect bites, chronic cough, and . . . as an antibiotic for infectious diseases). This garlic -- one with purple skin -- was grown in Wrightstown, New Jersey.

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We use cutting boards to cut and chop; over and over again, day after day. A well-made cutting board doesn’t fall apart. It’s resilient. Like we are. All those “cuts” we withstand every day. The assaults on our dignity. Hurtful words. Worldwide pandemics. This cutting board is over 60 years old. And that pig is still smiling...

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My great-Uncle Barba was 10 when the 1918 flu pandemic hit and told stories of seeing bodies piled up on wagons in the streets of Philadelphia. He smoked a pipe and I'd watch him pack and light it, inhaling the leafy smell. This "Warm Tobacco Pipe" candle remarkably replicates that fragrance. I'd only known bay leaves as dried up things that you added to a soup pot until my cousin started bringing me fresh bay leaves from her Texas yard. This lovely Bay plant (Laurus nobilis) was an impulse purchase at a farm stand -- my first trip out to a store in weeks. It is said to have antiseptic and bactericidal properties and the fragrance of the leaves increases as they dry. These days I'm doubly happy when I smell something wonderful as the loss of smell is a symptom of the covid-19 virus.

Quarantine Still Life 19

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A cup of tea or three to calm the nerves and soothe the soul and attempt to keep the discombobulation at bay...

Drinking tea is "calming, but alerting at the same time” and researchers have found that it "lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol."

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One less thing to worry about as there is no chance of coming down with scurvy during the quarantine -- not with a jumbo 3-pound bag of cranberries. You can't find them in the stores after December, so P tracked down a local South Jersey supplier of this "Jersey Fruit." Boil the cranberries in apple cider, then crush them in a colander with the masher to remove the skins. Add a diced apple cooked with a little dark brown sugar.

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"To see you," she says, "brightens me." [an excerpt from a poem by Marie Ponsot]

The ancestors of this Iris traveled from my grandmother's garden in Philadelphia to my mother's garden in New Jersey so it could bloom on a day in May 2020 in all its intricate, colorful glory. The delicious companion cake (with a creamy brown butter frosting) was commissioned in secret and delivered during the quarantine by a masked master baker.

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The first handful of fresh, fragrant spinach from the garden and a special delivery Maruca's Tomato Pie. I keep hearing the expression "stuck at home" -- I prefer to think of it as "safely ensconced at home" where I have food (and now fresh spinach), drink, running water, books, music, art, my sewing machine, fabric, internet access (somewhat spotty since the quarantine), and my trusty digital drawing device and I am making it safer for the people who can't stay home.

Quarantine Still Life 15

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The sun doesn't know there's a pandemic; it shines its angled late-spring-afternoon rays just as brightly through the front window onto Paul's guitar. Sometimes I talk to the portrait of my great-grandmother Lydia and ask her to watch over us. She died at the age of 55 during the 1918 flu pandemic.

A story in the October 4, 1918 issue of The Democratic Advocate in Westminster, MD (Concerning The New Disease, "Spanish Flu") lists info for dealing with the disease including this: 5. Keep comfortably warm bodily and very cool mentally.

According to my aunt, my Grandmother (who was 12 in 1918; the youngest of 13 children) always said her mother died of a broken heart when her youngest son was drafted into the army during World War I. Her obit says her youngest son was at Ft. Meade, so my aunt thinks he would have been recently drafted; two older sons were already serving: one "Somewhere in France" and the other at a Base Hospital.

Continue reading "Quarantine Still Life 15" »

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I've never been a very good housekeeper, but I do change the kitchen dish towels a lot more frequently these days...

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pine-apple / pine-cone / Pine-Sol

Our federal government is doing such a poor job of dealing with this pandemic that the Pine-Sol website must post a disclaimer telling people not to drink it! ("Pine-Sol and other disinfectants are not suitable for consumption or injection under any circumstances.")

All the grocery items purchased last week seemed to total more than they should and today the Washington Post reported that grocery prices saw "their biggest spike in nearly 50 years." It said that "the jump in food prices came in a month when more than 20 million Americans lost their jobs, driving 1 in 5 households into food insecurity."

The definition of pining: "a deep longing for"

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Everything's a little bit better when there's something cooking in the cheery red Le Boscov's pot. And thanks to Mother Nature for this year's cold and rainy spring that has helped us care for each other by keeping more people inside and away from each other.

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So maybe it wasn't the miracle of the loaves and the fishes, but during the pandemic a dozen rolls -- half Kaiser and half Torpedo -- sure felt like a miracle ...

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Limoncello is Mitza's pandemic tonic -- everything goes down easier with it. Ever since the call went out that her bottle had run dry, new bottles keep showing up.

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At least 253,169 lives have been stilled worldwide to date. Over 70,000 in the U.S. and still not enough PPE for health care and nursing home workers and still people ordered back to work without proper testing and still our government pretends it is doing something and still our president displays no compassion and still we can't test enough people and still and still and still...

Continue reading "Quarantine Still Life 8" »

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During the quarantine, Chef Jose Andres is cooking #RecipesForThePeople with his daughter. I made his "Cabbages with Sausages" using spicy grillers, cabbage, onions, zucchini, garlic; he says to finish it by adding wine or whatever liquid you are drinking -- I used apple cider which added a nice sweetness.

Chef Andres is behind the World Central Kitchen ("I hope you’ll dream with us as we envision a world where there is always a warm meal, an encouraging word, and a helping hand in hard times."); if he were president, no one would go hungry.

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Saturday night at the Love From Philly Virtual Music Festival ("created to bring hope, inspiration, resources and love to Philly's entertainment and arts community").

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My bottle of Wishniak Cherry Liqueur from Maraska in Zadar, Croatia is getting perilously low. Zivili!