Notes & Stories: Pandemic Edition

It was Harper’s birthday last Friday, and by request, we went on a destination-free road trip. Harper’s favorite part of any road trip is the long drive with music; it’s really all about the journey.

Saw this lovely sign on Hwy 84 near Woodside. Whoever printed that “LOVE” sticker
did a perfect job.

We drove over the Golden Gate Bridge, then south along the coast. We went as far as Pescadero, where I got out to get a fish taco for Poppy (gas station tacos FTW!) and a loaf of artichoke-garlic bread for Harper. Then we drove inland over the hills, past Alice’s Restaurant, and up highway 280 back through San Francisco and home. The playlists were excellent, there was lots of loud singing along, and we were our own private party the whole way. Birthday dinner was takeout Thai, birthday cake was Trader Joe’s chocolate lava, and both were delicious.

(This was before the official “shelter in place, but it still felt weird to drive to a different geographic area. But the kids never got out of the car, and I hand-sanitized before and after going into any building to pick up food. Basically, we self-isolated in our own vehicle. Like Americans, for gosh sakes.)

Now here we are, faced with a month or more of no school, no visiting, no traveling. Although I’m happy to have a slower pace of life, money is eventually going to be a big problem, and I’m so worried about my parents getting sick. And I’m worried about my friends’ parents, and our piano teacher, and all the employees of United and Good Earth that are working without masks and gloves…
In other ways, it’s not so bad. I love lots of unscheduled time, and I love pottering around working on projects. I signed myself up for an online class, and I’m going to spend time writing and reading. And maybe playing around with putting video recipes online via TikTok or Instagram Live—even though Poppy says I’m too old for the former, and Harper says I swear too much for the latter.
Good luck at home. Sing songs on the balconies, wash hands, cook a lot. We’ll all get through this one way or another.

Unsurprisingly, most of my online reading has been coronavirus news. I favor the Guardian; I like reading US news from an outside perspective. I thought I’d try to keep it to once a day, now my goal is checking twice a day—but I’m having a hard time sticking to that plan.
Part of my morning routine is to do the (free) NYT mini crossword. It’s timed, so you can race yourself to see how quick you can complete it, and since it’s short and achievable, it’s a good one to introduce to kids. Joel Fagliano’s mini-history of the puzzle is a quick and distracting read.
Wendy MacNaughton , an illustrator (of Salt Fat Acid Heat, among other books), is offering a Instagram Live drawing class at 10am PST every day this week.

But really, my absolute favorite thing on Instagram right now the daily cooking demo that Dan Levy is sharing on his Stories.
Since we’re all going to be home, and likely watching more, let me recommend Nora From Queens. Holy moly, Awkwafina is funny. I watched the first three episodes for free on the Comedy Central website, and then spent 45 minutes online plus a half hour on the phone trying to change my internet plan to include that channel. I ended up buying a season pass on Amazon, which is what I should have done to begin with.
I’ve got a stacked-up pile of YA fiction waiting next to the bed, but I can’t seem to read anything except the Gregor Demarkian mysteries lately. I’ve got to pace myself, because I’m up to number 23 in the series, and there are only six left.
I’ve made this tofu with ground pork recipe four or five times this year, and I super love it. A few changes: I leave out the chiles because of Poppy; I dredge the tofu in white rice flour (you could use cornstarch) before I fry it; and I use the same pan to fry the tofu and make the rest of the dish. I also made it once for friends using finely diced red bell pepper instead of the pork and it was also pretty darned delicious. Highly recommend.
And a personal request: I’ve got a secret project I’m working on. I’m interested in your favorite children’s books—picture books, mostly, but chapter books too. Which ones do you remember from your childhood? Which ones do you love most now? Let me know!

2 thoughts on “Notes & Stories: Pandemic Edition

  1. This virus has taken a toll on us all. I’ve been “staying busy”, and by that, I mean binging insane amounts of Modern Family on your account, Malika. Every day I wake up and say, “Today is going to be the day when I bake that thing, finish that craft, play that game,” but I always come crawling back to Gloria. It’s probably the schoolwork that has made me this way, my ceramics teacher made us take home a bag of clay to make pottery every day, I even have to update a fitness log for my P.E. class, and worst of all, I can’t even share the load with other people! Harper’s present has been sitting on our piano for 2 weeks now, and I’ve played so much Breath of The Wild that I see a hill or something in nature, and I have to double-take to see that no, it isn’t a Guardian. I am already done with this shelter in place, and a week isn’t even up yet. I am frightened for my grandparents and my great grandparents, and for the fact that we might be doing this all year. Lots of love and wash your hands!

    1. Television is my favorite thing to talk about these days. I don’t want to talk about coronavirus or lockdowns or hospital beds or the economy. Yay for Modern Family and Schitt’s Creek and all the other wonderful shows out there! And I only want ones that are funny and happy—no dramas or adventures or anything scary. I also love travel shows (armchair travel being the only escape available to me at the moment). Have you tried “Alice in Paris”? It’s also on Amazon, and each episode is only about five minutes long. Let me know what you think.

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