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Finding Joy In Quarantine in Honey Bunches of Oats

It’s Time to Start Steering the Roller Coaster

A few months ago, we had plans.  Remember plans?  Jeff planned to close out a very successful camp season in mid-August.  A bit of time off, some upgrades to the camp including a small greenhouse and an expanded living area for us, Jeff was going to head to British Columbia to fish at his dream lodge on his dream river.

Bote House Belize

(Check out Boteboard’s recent short video and podcast about visiting Belize and the camp for the first time.)

I was just starting my second book – Big Experiences on Caye Caulker.  And planning for my nephews’ visit in April.

Two months later…planning feels impossible – or at least very tricky.  And very scary.

Gratitude for my health and for the little things is SO important to me right now.  Because the only thing that seems certain is uncertainty.

Uncertainty is the new normal.

Yesterday, my friend Ben shared this comic.  The Quaran-Coaster.  (From this clever cartoonist)

YES!  Exactly!  But…but…

…But…life on a roller coaster is EXHAUSTING.

Time to take over the roller coaster.  Or at least try to slow it down…to flatten it out just a bit.  Because I found that:

I can let the news cycle and social media take over my roller coaster.  CNN, Fox News, non-stop BREAKING NEWS.  My roller coaster was driven by “news” in April.  It left me feeling helpless, scared, and…catatonic.

I can try to control this roller coaster with things that I think are good for me.  I’ve tried that.  Yoga videos, meditation apps, gratitude journals.  And I know all these things will make things better but man…it’s hard to force a new healthy habit during all of this uncertainty.  I don’t need that stress right now.

OR I can focus on the little things that are making me extraordinarily happy during this time.  Fresh mangos, Honey Bunches of Oats cereal with cold milk, good and even great books that I’m reading in the afternoon under the covers, my new dog Mocha, who is a total leaner…

As I scroll thru my Quaran-Journal (I’ve been jotting down notes since April 7th) – here are some of the small things that have made me feel a bit more steady.  Ok…I’ll say it.  Things that have sparked joy.

Honey Bunches of Oats

I never considered myself a cereal person.  The idea of cereal cafes (yes…it’s a thing) or donuts coated with nuclear-neon Fruit Loops makes me feel a bit nauseous.

But when we were shopping for long-lasting food for Ambergris Caye’s first lock-down in late March, I grabbed a box of Honey Bunches of Oats along with cans of beans, bags of rice and a  pallet of diet Cokes.

That was the first of many boxes – and we now have three different flavors on top of the fridge.  Maple Pecan, Almond and Cinnamon Honey.  It hits the sweet and the crunchy and the coming-downstairs-on-a-Saturday-morning-in-your-PJs-to-watch-cartoons spots just right.

Eating chunky peanut butter with a spoon or Cheese and Crackers also have a similar effect.

PS. I imagine Cereal Cafes are going to be part of the first wave of casualties from the pandemic.

Mango Season

Mangos are one of the most delicious fruits in the entire world.  And right now, in Belize, we are in MANGO SEASON.   It usually stretches into summer – ebbing and flowing with how the trees on the mainland are “giving”.

A large mango tree can give hundreds…usually all at once!  Some are hairy (fibrous) – some smooth.  Some a bit tart…some sugar sweet.

THEY ARE DELICIOUS.

(Sadly, Hopkins Mango Festival was canceled this year – take a look at the last time I attended.  Heaven)

Baking and Waffles

Pandemic baking is a worldwide phenomenon.  I’m trying to master sourdough along with about 5 million other people.  I’ve made at least 5 batches of banana bread.  Smitten Kitchen has given me lots of pasta recipes – we can’t stop eating Quick Pasta and Chickpeas (adult Spaghetti-Os) or Spaghetti alla Limone.

Let’s just say that planning and preparing lunch and dinner is a much bigger part of our day than it used to be.  And there is something very soothing about that…

We also got a Waffle Machine JUST before this all started.  And we’ve tested a bunch of recipes.  Yeast, no yeast.  Greek yogurt.  We just found our FAVORITE recipe in a BEAUTIFUL cookbook called Brown Sugar Kitchen.  Yeast and a bit of cornmeal.  Deeeelicious.

I’m also trying to recipes for Ginger Beer and Mango-Ginger Limeade right now.

IF you want to visit Belize through food – Rice and Beans?  Fry Jacks?  Ceviche? – here’s a beautiful new cookbook JUST published with proceeds that go to this island!

I contributed one recipe – my Banana Bread!

New York Times Crossword Puzzles

One of the great joys of my life, when I lived in Hoboken, NJ especially, was taking the Ferry across the Hudson River to WTC terminal in downtown NYC for work.  In the warmer months, I’d sit on the 2nd level – the open air – and OBSESS over the New York Times Crossword puzzles.  Monday I could finish before I arrived at the other side of the river (less than 10 mins) – Thursdays would always have me mostly-stumped after the morning commute and the evening commute back home.

Just a few months ago (and 15+ years after those ferry rides), I signed up for the New York Times Crosswords on-line.  Starting with the mini-puzzles – challenging myself to finish them in under one minute.  (About 25% of the time)  And now graduating to the weekday puzzles.

I’m feeling like a total rube (it’s a skill…like standardized test-taking) but what is most apparent is how FRUSTRATED and testy I get SO QUICKLY.  I give up so easily.  What was different 15 years ago?  I didn’t have a smartphone.  My attention span was SOOOO much greater.

I’m back loving it.  But I’ve got lots of work to do.

Good Books

I love reading.  Starting a GREAT book is one of the most exciting feelings to me in the world.  If that sentence makes you think I’m a total weirdo – you might want to skip to the next section! 🙂

Here are the books I’ve read and LOVED.

Good TV

  • Unorthodox
  • The Last Dance – Michael Jordan documentary that even a non-sports-fan would LOVE.
  • After Life by Ricky Gervais (AMAZING)
  • Netflix Movie:  The Half of It
  • Never Have I Ever – teen but really great
  • Narcos:  Mexico – just starting Season 2.  This show and it’s Colombia predecessor are AMAZING.
  • Selling Sunset, season 2:  Vapid Barbie doll-like LA real estate agents bicker over petty drama.  A bit like “The Hills” but adult.  I LOVE IT.   * For those who consider themselves highbrow, this is not for you

Jeopardy

Yup.  The show that’s been on for decades.  It’s great.  But then I’m also loving Antiques Roadshow.  This may just be an age thing…

Podcasts

  • The Daily by the New York Times
  • Rabbit Hole by the New York Times
  • Stuff You Should Know
  • Wind of Change
  • Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend
  • Left, Right and Center – I was looking for a podcast to explain ObamaGate to me.  A few people suggested this rational discussion podcast and I love it.  Right does NOT mean Trump apologist.
  • In Recovery

Planning!

Things have gone down a few notches when it comes to planning.  But things are opening back up.  And if you live in Belize and have some money to travel (I get it…this is a SMALL number of people), there are some crazy GREAT opportunities out there.

And while I don’t have a budget that includes travel – (zero income means zero income) – I am SO GRATEFUL for an invitation to Gaia Resort this WEEKEND!!!!!!!!!!!!

Waterfalls…hammocks…birding…here I come.

It might be my last trip for a while – but that is just making me doubly excited.

 

 

 

 






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