Trapped in a Tropical Paradise: Part Seven

By Eleanor Motley Richardson | Jul 29, 2020

I was married at age 19. Now, at 73, I've finally caught up with the housework, thanks to COVID-19. The laundry is washed, kitchen stocked, bathrooms clean, living room dusted and I've gone through all the cupboards and drawers. You'd think it was easy to keep an 890 SF Florida condo under control, but anything out of place is a burr under the saddle. It's like living on a boat.

Time is passing and we note the mile markers: changing the Brita water filter every three months; and monthly haircuts, a skill learned in starving student days. Every three weeks I suit up and go for groceries.

Weekly on Sundays we fill our pill organizers, make pancakes, and attend Virtual Church, complete with coffee hour. Every second day rituals include back exercises, a glass of wine, an egg for breakfast, alternate cooking duty and Peter shaves.

Daily, I walk a mile, swallow some pills and take a bath, although I won't get close enough to offend anyone. It's a muddle – is today a wine day and is Peter cooking? Think I'll boot up Excel and create a matrix. One day at a time. So simple and so profound.

I shudder to think the U.S. Mail, our lifeline, is in danger. How absurd it that? We shop, vote, and write condolence letters to our friends, mailed with commemorative stamps. Cousin Hattie and I exchange emails about domestic details.

"How do you shop for 3 weeks?" The freezer is my friend, unless a Hurricane kills the power. I buy fresh veggies, then use beans and asparagus first, followed by cauliflower and broccoli, and finally cabbage, carrots, and butternut squash. We coast on frozen vegs, comfort food since childhood, until the next foray. We keep a good supply of Maine potatoes and Wyman's frozen blueberries.

The best find was a frozen turkey breast for $10. We roasted it and ate it for two days. I froze two more boxes of sliced meat in its gravy, then made a big soup. We ate that for two nights and froze another night's worth. Seven nights for $10 - not bad. We haven't been to a restaurant since March.

What I miss is fresh Kentucky Wonder pole beans from my own garden in Rockland, with butter and salt. Lobster from Jess's Market dipped in lemon butter. I have evaporated milk, but no haddock for a fish chowder. We totally missed fiddlehead season! Then there is corn on the cob, picked that morning. The Farmer's Market dries up here in the summer, as the soil is too baked for veggies.

I read every word of the Courier-Gazette and North Haven News. Cousin Hilary sent us blueberry jam and a small balsam pillow from Acadia, which I set by my place and breathe in before dinner. But I don't miss the deer ticks and the brown tail moths.

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