Friday, April 10, 2020

Biking, exercise, cooking, video chats -- silver lining in the Covid crisis

Bruce Keller and Christene Meyers bike an hour a day around their neighborhood. Nearly everyone they meet wears
masks (notice the couple behind Cookie's head). Here they pause by the sculpture, Renaissance Woman" by Manuel Neri.
                                                                    --photo by Amarylla Ganner
Penelope and James Ganner, great-niece and nephew of
the writer and photographer, use Video Messenger
to call their auntie and uncle from their Bay Area
home.  Normally, they'd be in San Diego now, so
the phone connection with video is next best.

Editor's Note:
A couple dozen readers asked what we do during a typical day while we wait out Covid. Never one to disappoint an audience, here goes:


Look for the silver lining
Whenever a cloud appears in the blue
Remember somewhere the sun is shining
so the right thing to do is make it shine for you
--Jerome Kern lyric, made famous by Judy Garland
LIKE MOST of us, I've had just about enough of the quarantine: the masks, the distancing, cancelled trips, parties, concerts.  The inability to do things, see people, resume our routines. The closed parks and theaters, depressed people, worries about the stock market, employment and health.
For me, "routine" means theater and concerts -- three to five live performances a week.
It means daily Jazzercise, which doubles as essential social time with friends.
Keller, Cookie and Nicky work out to Michelle, during a
life session with Carmel Valley Jazzercise. 

It means writing this column, working on my music, answering emails and letters, walking our Yorkie Nick, hiking the nearby beach and favorite park, shopping, planning dinner, exchanging emails and phone calls with my partner to trade stories on our day and plan our evening.
IT MEANS checking on upcoming trips, arranging hotel deposits and cruise bookings, confirming magazine interviews and photo shoots, conferring with Keller when I need him to supply a particular photo for a certain theme.
It means planning my writing workshops, weekly date nights, sometimes before or after a play, perhaps a world premier.  Dinners with friends in venues we love to frequent. Cocktail parties. Concerts.
When we do go out -- to get Keller's
regular post-transplant bloodwork --
we do wear masks. (All except our
daily bike ride, still mask-less.) 
It means playing the piano at private parties or sometimes nightclubs, using my tip money for gambling. It means regular jaunts to a casino for my gambling fix. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, as the monarch of Siam said in "The King and I."
I know I'm whining.  Perhaps you, dear reader, are, too, for so much of our routine life has been curtailed. And while there is comfort in knowing we've got plenty of company, it's still disorienting.
But it's not all bad. (Yes, I'm giving myself a pep talk.) 
WE'RE SPENDING long, leisurely days together. We laugh a lot, sing Broadway songs. We give thanks for one another, our health, plenty of food in the pantry and beautiful homes from which to enjoy the natural world. Fabulous Classical KUSC and Jazz88 radio.
Today's visitor is a beautiful and hungry hummingbird.
Our morning begins with Jazzercise on Demand. Adrienne, a spirited instructor with a charming Texas accent and raucous sense of humor, gets us moving our "bumpers." That's her word for our behinds. (Keller refers to this activity as "Sleepysize" because we're still waking up.)
Sometimes we do a Jazzercise double-header, with Sharon's Carmel Valley Jazzercise workouts ably lead by three of my favorite instructors.
Then it's outside to fill the bird feeders, fix a quick bite of breakfast, check the weather, put together our on-line shopping list. I write while Keller tries for a slot to place our grocery order. Then we walk the dog and bike an hour if it isn't pouring.
We spend the rest of the day binging on "Grace and Frankie," "The Amazing Mrs. Meisel" and "The Crown."  We play Scrabble, bike the neighborhood, prepare fabulous suppers (moussaka's in the oven now), talk to family and friends -- sometimes a welcome video chat. We watch "Jeopardy" (this week, the college championships.)
Yorkshire puddings and lamb curry
prepared together by Keller and Cookie.
Keller and I try to put a positive spin on the situation.  It's given us prime time together -- so we pretend we're on vacation, which works until we realize we don't have room service and we're not going anywhere, probably for a long time.  Then temporary depression sets in and I struggle to counteract that. (Keller's glass is always brimming; mine has an annoying crack.)
THE BEST ways, we've found, to kick the ass of "the black dog," (Winston Churchill's term for depression), are: get outside, even if it means wearing a rain coat and bringing an umbrella; take a bike ride; exercise; watch the birds or tune in Discovery or a travel or cooking show on the telly; cook something (don't eat it all yourself). Call an old friend or cousin to catch up.
Keep on the sunny side. We will travel again.  We will see one another again. We will get through this.  
Feasting can help turn the tide of depression. If one eats healthy and
with a sense of art, one can keep on the sunny side. Here, a favorite
Mediterranean seafood meal is recreated in our kitchen. 

UP NEXT: With no way to travel in the literal sense, we're exploring the world via FOOD! Next week, we bring you a colorful culinary column, with suggestions on connecting yourselves to the world through favorite meals.  We'll update you on our progress in battling Covid depression and take you grocery shopping in foreign ports, then showcase favorite meals and maybe include a simple recipe, with ideas for making the best of this rotten isolated situation -- through food. We all eat, so let's kick cooking up a notch. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live and catch us Fridays for a novel spin on life.


  1. Nebraska OutdoorsmenApril 11, 2020 at 7:50 AM

    This delightful column is just what we needed. Air in the bike tires-- and buoyed spirits.Off we go.

  2. New Hampshire Nature LoversApril 11, 2020 at 7:51 AM

    Fun read and happy photos. Love the sculpture, too.

  3. New Mexico PaintersApril 12, 2020 at 4:43 PM

    Keep the wit and photos coming.

  4. Baltimore FollowersApril 13, 2020 at 9:36 AM

    Lemonade from a big fat lemon. Tasty.

  5. We so enjoy your blogs and appreciate how you resurrect giod from this awful virus.

  6. Happy to see an optimistic take on this mess.