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Finding Laughs in a Pandemic

If you’re like me, there hasn’t been a lot to laugh about since March. My self-quarantine began March 14th, and is still going strong, with only occasional outside picnics or a cup of tea with one person sitting six feet away. My writers’ groups don’t meet any more, and neither do my book clubs. Even church service is still taped and I watch it on You Tube―I have to confess that it’s kind of nice to fast-forward through all the hymn verses. I know you all are having the same experiences.

Now, however, I am feeling a bit rejuvenated and once again finding things that amuse me. Perhaps it’s because the election ads are over and now my mailbox is only full of Medicare solicitations. Or maybe it’s because I bit the bullet and flew to Washington state for a visit with my daughter and family, whom I had not seen since last Christmas.

I flew on Delta, and highly recommend them. They may be the last airline to still keep their planes partly empty. I never sat next to another passenger, on two flights out, or two return flights.

Airports are fodder for amusement. There was the small orange cat being walked on a leash. I was glad it wasn’t on my plane, as the plaintive “meow” sounded just like an infant. At my gate, everyone was wearing masks, but one couple added face shields over the upper part of their face, along with cloth masks. Did you ever imagine in 2019 that you would see something like that in 2020?

At my daughter’s house in Washington, I was amused at the tumbleweeds that blew up against her garage door. We don’t have those in Wisconsin.

She wanted to have a traditional Thanksgiving with me, even though it was two weeks early. In our family, “traditional” means my mother’s recipes from the 1950s. I laughed at all the open cans―typical of that era. We ate canned asparagus with―gulp―Velveeta “cheese” sauce, canned green beans for the usual casserole, canned pumpkin for pie, canned sweet potatoes (baked with marshmallows, of course), canned cranberry sauce. My mother would be delighted!

There were just four of us for dinner, as safe as you

can be in 2020, and it was all delicious.

Now, I am back home in Wisconsin. My cupboard was bare, so I went to the grocery store even before unpacking. I needed ingredients for a soup I wanted to make, and breakfast items.

At the cash register, the perky teen behind the plexi-glass asked me the required question― “Did you find everything okay?”

“I couldn’t find the Brown n Serve sausage.”

“Never heard of it,” she shrugged. That made me laugh.

Then she gathered up some of my items from the produce section and placed them on the scale.

“These are rutabagas, right?”

Well, when I was a teenager, I didn’t know what rutabagas were, but I did know when objects were different from one another.

I explained she had three TURNIPS there and one PARSNIP. I’m sure she never heard of those, either.

It wasn’t annoying, though. It was funny. I’ll take laughs wherever I can get them, these days. How about you? Have you found a laugh somewhere?

And here is my recipe for Root Soup, if you would like to try it. It’s from Jane Brodie’s Good Food Cookbook.

4 small white turnips, peeled

2 parsnips, scraped

2 carrots, scraped

2 onions

1/2 c. chopped parsley

1/2 cup barley

4 c. chicken broth or 4 c. water and 2 bouillon cubes

1 T. dried basil

1 t. dried dill weed or 2-3 T. fresh dill

1. Grate the turnips, parsnips, carrots and onions by hand or in a food processor.

2. Put the grated vegetables in a large saucepan. Add parsley, barley, broth, and basil and bring soup to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for one to two hours. Add water if needed, because the barley absorbs a lot.

3. Add salt and pepper. Sprinkle with dill before serving.


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