Writing in a Time of Peril: April 9, 2020


Writing in a Time of Peril: April 9, 2020

Writing in a Time of Peril: April 9, 2020

The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard is reporting 401,166 US cases and 12,936 

deaths as of 10:30am on April 8.

The Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard is reporting 432,579 US cases and 14,830 deaths as of 10:45am on April 9. 

Do the math.

On Friday, March 3, 2020, I drove to Oakland and Alameda for fresh and dried herbs from Amanda’s garden, for a bio-break in Alameda at Natalie’s, and then to pick up pizza from Star on the Park. That was to be my last outing. Lockdown at home for two solid weeks for older people with underlying health conditions. 

Well, you see, what happened was, I ran out of red beans. Not any kind of red beans, Camelia red beans. OK, some background. I’m from New Orleans. Red beans and rice is not only a staple, it is a complete protein when there is no meat in hard times or when all of your friends are vegetarian. It is a city and regional dish, along with, gumbo, okra and shrimp, stuffed mirliton, and grillades and grits, to name a few. You would not want to be without certain staple ingredients in times like these. In hurricanes, floods, even pandemics, New Orleanians stocked up particular staples and prepared to feed their families and their neighborhoods if that became necessary.  But red beans are the staple of staples and I only had a half pound left.  Stopping for a bathroom break at Natalie’s.

There were no Camelia red beans in local grocery stores. Walmart had red beans; however, you had to go to a store location to get them, and they were rationed two per customer. The lines were wrapped around the block, and nobody was wearing masks and gloves except for my partner and me. We passed Walmart by. Next, I looked online at the Cajun Grocer, where I had purchased my last batch of Camelia red beans. There were no red beans available. I looked on Amazon. They were out as well. Incredulous, I went back to the Cajun Grocer. How could they be without Camelia red beans? I scrolled through the entire site. The only Camelia red beans in stock were in twenty-five sacks. That was not an issue for me. I ordered them right away and added four pounds of black eyed–peas. 

Now, what is it with these particular red beans? Well, let me tell you. When you cook a pot of red beans, you know they are ready and delicious when they are creamy. If they are not creamy, they do not look right. If they are not creamy, they do not taste right. If they are not creamy, they don’t cover the rice right. I have tried every kind of red bean, the organic type, the local type, and the ones in the ethnic food aisle. None of them cream as they should. 

Only Camelia red beans cream right. Only Camelia red beans taste right. 

When Joann and I decided to sell the condo in S.F. and look for a new place to live, we moved temporarily to Modesto, CA. on Dale Road. We found our place here in Rio Vista and moved from Dale Road in September 2019. Well, I received an email from FedEx with a package tracking link indicating red beans were being sent to Dale Road. 

I got right on the computer, there was no one answering phones, so I chat-typed the error. I registered with FedEx, made a password, answered secret questions, made a change to the delivery location, and received a message that all of my considerable attention and very basic skills had managed to divert my red beans from Dale Road to Rio Vista. Last Friday I received an email saying my package had been delivered to Dale Road at 12:11 pm. It was then 1:30 pm. They were outside on the porch, in a rainstorm.

When I told Leslie about purchasing twenty-five pounds of red beans, she laughed until she cried. But you know, you can’t laugh at your mama without consequences. The next day, she told me she could not find red beans anywhere in Atlanta. While we continued talking, she searched the Cajun Grocer website and was shocked at how much the red beans cost: sixty-five dollars. I told her I didn’t pay that price, I paid forty-five dollars. Leslie checked the website further, and she laughed and laughed as she told me through gasps for air that it was the navy beans that cost forty-five dollars not the red beans! She laughed and teased and asked me for possibly having ordering the wrong navy beans instead of red beans.

 ‘Baked beans, bean pie, bean burgers, Mother?’

 Her laughter was infectious. I laughed along with her, although I was uncertain and afraid at the same time. What would I do with twenty-five pounds of white beans that were not in my cooking repertoire?  

Now, please understand, my partner, Joann, and my daughter, Leslie, were not pleased with my     Covid-19 lockdown breakout to Oakland a five days earlier. As I rushed to put on clothes to go rescue my red beans from Dale Road, I explained to Joann why I was driving to Modesto. I don’t know exactly what Joann said, but it was something like, ‘We’re on lock down because of Covid-19.’ The look on her face communicated clearly that she was very not pleased. 

I drove to Modesto. I picked up keys from my former landlord’s friend before I drove to Dale Road. When I arrived, I thanked the Lord that a package was on the porch. I struggled to put the very heavy box in the trunk. By then, I needed a bathroom break. Folks were on lockdown, so I couldn’t go into any of my former neighbor’s houses. How rude would that be? What would I say? ‘I know there’s a world–wide pandemic and I could infect you, but can I use your bathroom? I know you are in a vulnerable group, but can I come in and possibly contaminate you and your house anyway?’ 

On the drive from Rio Vista to Modesto I passed  Costco. Most fast food restaurants and coffee shops with reliably clean bathroom were only open for drive-thru and pick-up.  I drove to the  and I was thankful their bathrooms were available. 

While I was there, I shopped for a few things and drove the sixty-two miles home.

When I arrived home, Joann had that same look on her face. No words. Just the look.

I took off all of my clothes, including my navy blue Keds, and placed them in the washer on hot. I took a shower and washed my hair. I put on clean clothes and gloved up again. I brought the groceries into the kitchen and started washing the food and the food containers they had come in. I left the box of maybe–red beans in the trunk. As per CDC guidelines for quarantining cardboard, I wouldn’t open the box of maybe-red beans until Friday.

Later in the day, Leslie and I checked in. She said she had been struggling with not having as productive a day working from home as she had expected of herself. She was feeling guilty and down a bit. Then she said she had read an article about ‘motivational pressure during quarantine.’ She said the article made her feel better immediately. The article she sent to me is below:

A trauma psychologist weighs in on the risks of ‘motivational …

www.upworthy.com › coronavirus-productivity-motivation-myths-da…

I go down my to-do list of self-care: meditate, eat well, rest well, get exercise, connect, connect, connect, stay home, except for the pharmacy & the grocery (and emergency treks to rescue errant packages) & then only with mask and gloves & when there are only very few people about. Watch less TV, but stay informed. Laugh a lot. Channel fear and rage into expression, action and art. 

Since my trip to Modesto, I have been sleeping in our study and having minimal contact with Joann in the house. You have no idea what one look from Joann can do to a person. This morning, Joann brought coffee to me in our study, a morning luxury that I love I cook daily with every precaution, but we haven’t been eating at the same time. When she placed the coffee on a small table near me, I asked to lay my head on her chest. 

‘Please,’ I said.

‘You still have another week on quarantine,’ she said.

I said in a hainkty inside my head, ‘Modified quarantine.’ 

Hainky is New Orleans–Magnolia Project for uppity

I put on Aaron Neville’s “Warm Your Heart” and listened all day. 

Aaron Neville – Warm Your Heart (1991, CD) | Discogs

 Warm Your Heart – Aaron Neville YouTube  

I continue to chronicle these times.

© Andrea Canaan, MSW, MFA

andreacanaan@gmail.com

Get Caught Up: https://andreacanaan.blog

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