Plague Journal

Plague Journal

So… what’s new?

Not much has changed here at Casa Bettinelli. Our homeschool routine clicks on apace. I’d love to add a lot of the cool new things to do when your kids are home activities that I see shared all over social media… but who has time?

Monday was a very Mondayish sort of day, but we managed to get school work done and I went for a walk and started a new project, writing and drawing.

Tuesday was Lucia’s baptism day as well as being St Patrick’s day. Some of us watched the cardinal’s noon Mass at the Cathedral. We lit Lucy’s baptism candle after dinner and renewed our baptismal promises. We had corned beef, roasted not boiled; cabbage, sauteed and served with balsamic reduction, and mashed potatoes as well as roasted potatoes.

Wednesay was Bella’s usual online ornithology class and then she spent the afternoon on a long video chat with a homeschooled friend who lives in NY state. I made chicken fricasee for dinner, it was amazing.

Thursday, St Joseph’s day, Ben’s feast day since his middle name is Joseph. I made cream puffs and was thrilled that my påte a choux and my pastry cream came out properly. They were perfectly light and fluffy and the cream was rich and sweet and good. We had tacos for dinner, made by Bella with some help from me. She even deep fired taco shells. We prayed the rosary along with Pope Francis and countless other Catholics worldwide at 4pm.

Friday: the kids jumped into schoolwork with little prompting this morning. And thank goodness because I had to do the weekly grocery shopping which was stressing me out not a little. Yes, I’ve stocked up on pantry goods and we could probably survive a couple of weeks in extreme quarantine, but I don’t want to eat through our supplies and really we don’t have so much room for food that we don’t have to shop every week. We have a smallish freezer and an adequate fridge, but no room for a second fridge or freezer. So for now I’m committed to weekly shopping. (Plus I’m curious about what is and what isn’t in the store.)

For the record: the parking lot was quite full but somehow the store didn’t seem overcrowded. But neither was it empty. At first glance there was plenty. Plenty of produce, at least. And the shelves didn’t look quite as locust picked as last Friday. But there were whole sections that hadn’t been restocked: oatmeal was gone, mac-n-cheese, baked beans, tuna, frozen vegetables, butter, pasta. The meat department was very thin: there were bone in pork chops, a whole bunch of corned beef briskets, a few steaks, some pot roasts, and that was it. No chicken, no ground beef, no hot dogs or sausages. But I did my normal weekly trip without too much missing. It was mostly just odd. Other than signs announcing early closing and a special senior shopping time in the morning, everything else seemed business as usual. Some people wearing masks, some people wearing gloves. But most people just doing their thing…

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  • I long for a Mondayish Monday. This past week we were still on spring break. Obviously I could have put them back to work after we aborted our vacation (drove partway out West then turned around) but it seemed cruel, and anyway there was so much work to be done to batten down the hatches, so to speak.

    I am staying out of the grocery store because I can, but I’m not sure whether for the long run I will. We put in our first grocery order over the weekend, scheduled for Tuesday. If I may say so myself, it is a ridiculous order: we do not actually need nutritious food yet, I have stocked the pantry well, but my spouse wants to experiment to find out which of the local grocery delivery options work best for us, and so he told the kids they could ask for things they longed for.

    As a result we have a delivery coming with (besides some fresh vegetables and fruit, it’s true we don’t have much of those): Pop-Tarts, chips, chocolate milk, marshmallows and Rice Krispies, cake-baking supplies, and the like.

    Lots of tiny moral dilemmas being debated on Twitter regarding grocery shopping, perhaps because there are so many folks out there who are not seeing fellow humans anywhere else. Number one is “outrage! I saw people wearing N95 masks in the store!” but there seems to be an unresolved, fortunately not outraged, divide re: grocery delivery. One side says: If you can get your groceries delivered, do so, and stay out of the store. The other side says: If you are not part of a high-risk group and don’t have symptoms, go to the store, so there will be plenty of delivery (it’s a limited resource) for people who are part of a high-risk group or who do have symptoms. I considered both sides, but I came down on the side of “log on to the grocery sites and determine how scarce the delivery really is.” We found out that the Big Box Store That Promises Quotidian Low Prices was booked for three weeks, but our usual Local Not-Terribly-Expensive Grocery, “Ursa Minor,” was only booked out about four days. And that’s before checking on the Posh Grocery Stores 1 and 2, which have always had delivery for a fee. I suspect that at least here in the city, where delivery was fairly common even before the crisis the scarcity will be managed by the signal of Available Slots. If they start to go out too far, maybe I’ll shop in person.

    My neighborhood natural foods co-op, which is close enough to send the kids for a jug of milk or to buy a treat, is limiting the total number of people in the store, so there’s a (well-spaced) line to get in. (It does have special shopping hours for at-risk people in the morning.) Another neighborhood store, which I checked out on my long walk the other day (it’s too far for a milk run on foot) appears to have reduced hours but otherwise business as usual. If I do start shopping in person I might support these small grocers, depending on the size of the trip; neither has carts big enough to hold my normal weekly shopping!

  • Our grocery store is doing its best, really. The panic buying of bottled water seems to be calming down, as there are jugs of water on the shelves, even if the toilet paper is still decimated. Luckily we had stocked up before all this hit. Pasta is nearly gone, but we found some Dreamfield pasta and strangely, there were four boxes left of our youngest’s favorite veggie rotini. All the flour is gone, save for the gluten-free (what a good time to have a special diet, I said as I snagged a bag), and some cake flour, which my husband asked if I could use to make bread. I said I was doubtful, but he asked me to try. I did so, and I was right–it didn’t brown and smelled kind of odd, but one of my teenagers ate nearly the whole loaf and said it was fine. The others disagreed. We did find some self-rising flour that made excellent soda bread! So that was a nice discovery.

    They are limiting how many ground beef packages you can have, also chicken, so I guess there’s a run on those. The produce wasn’t too hard hit, except for potatoes. Hardly any bags of potatoes. I wonder if the people who are stocking up on those big bags actually cook on the regular–potatoes can sprout quickly if you’re not used to cooking them all the time.

    We are also homeschool introverts, so except for not being able to hit the gym for a solo track run, my routine really isn’t different. I’ve always cut everyone’s hair at home, and can trim my own, so the lack of salons/barbershops is not a sacrifice. I’m actually sleeping better at night than I did before all this started.