QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

With procrastination behind us, we were eager to check off another activity for our COVID-19 ABC Life. Q is never a letter that offers an abundant array of choices, but it does come with Questions! Our thought was to ask some deep questions to a small group of friends and spend an hour or so delving into them. Barbara, who was reading “What My Mother and I Don’t’ Talk About:  Fifteen Writers Break the Silence” by Michelle Filgate, realized that this book was a great segue into a Q and A session on mothers and daughters.

Here are a few of the Questions we discussed:

*Are there questions you wish you had asked your mother or subjects you still can’t approach with her?

*Is there a way in which your mom failed you? And how may we have failed our children?

*Do we show all our sides to our children or is the aspect of hiding things from your children something from the 50s?

*As parents, are we always to blame for anything bad that happens to our children or for their undesirable traits?

What would you have discussed about mother/daughter relationships?

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PROCRASTINATION SAVES THE DAY

COVID-19 has definitely gotten the ABC Sisters in the doldrums. Because of this we have procrastinated in posting anything new for the COVID-19 ABC Life. Procrastination is definitely in our genes and we use most any excuse to put things off. But ironically, procrastination has also been what got us started again here as a result of seeing a very cute piece in the New Yorker called “Know Your Procrastination Style” by Dana Maier. In it, she lists several styles of procrastinators.

Barbara definitely identifies with the Procrasto-Working variety and Laura with both that and the Loophole.

Let us know what kind of Procrastinator you are!

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LOBSTERS AND LETTERS

Four weeks into the ABC COVID-19 life and the sisters have already filled up 6 of the letters on their grid. Here comes number 7.

For our “L” ABC COVID-19 Life post we have decided that one size does not fit all.

One of the things that Barbara never has had the courage – or maybe the conviction – to do is to write a Letter to the Editor in response to an article or Op Ed she reads in the paper. However, this week something written in the Wall Street Journal really touched a nerve and she mustered up her nerve to write the following:

“Dear Editor,

I found the article “Good Cops Tame the Inner Warrior” by Karl Marlantes quite offensive. From his very first paragraph he assumes that police officers wake up each day hungry to shoot or kill someone, that they “see themselves as warriors.” He further states that “police should use force as a tool to be used as minimally as a situation permits.” I have many police officers as friends or acquaintances and not one of them has the “warrior mind set.” In fact, most of the ones I know were proud to have never had to fire their weapons, despite the fact that they were stabbed, punched, etc. in the course of addressing a situation. By saying that the police should have a daily ritual where they touch their weapon to their heart and say aloud that it’s for defense, not offense, he is assuming that they don’t already think that. He decries behaviors that create immense harm, one such behavior being “choosing a side and therefore an enemy.” Of course they do – the side they choose is public safety and the enemy they see is the criminal. Isn’t “choosing an enemy” exactly what Mr. Marlantes is doing here? Only the enemy to him is the police force. How sad.”

Laura stumbled upon her “L” when she watched The Lobster, a film that was discussed by a movie review group within one of their women’s clubs. The Lobster was a difficult film to watch, being extremely odd and often cruel. However, the discussion made up for it – as ideas and opinions were tossed about and a greater understanding of what the film was saying and why it was saying it emerged. The lesson here is twofold. First, belonging to a movie discussion group encourages us to step out of our comfort zones at times. We watch movies that we may not have chosen on our own and are therefore exposed to new ideas and themes. Second, it drives home the idea that sometimes the value of an experience is in the analysis and not in the journey.

Update: as of the date of posting, Barbara’s letter has been printed in the Wall Street Journal!

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CHECKING OFF “Z” WITH ZUCCHINI

What do you do when you have a zucchini overload? Well, you say hello and then eat them! In a recent InstaCart order, Laura selected one zucchini and was amazed to receive five, including one rather oversized one. (The world’s largest zucchini on record is 69 ½ inches long, weighing in at 65 lbs. Fortunately, Laura’s was nowhere near that size.) Rather than have the zucchinis hang out in the refrigerator getting to know each other, she decided to share with Barbara and then they, naturally, had to find new recipes in which to use them.

Laura chose to make a Weight Watchers recipe,” Mexican Chicken with Zucchini, Corn and Black Beans.” True, the zucchini (or “zucchinia” as one zucchini is actually called) was just one component of this meal but a great way to use it. The dish was quite tasty and was added to the “tried and true” recipe binder.

Barbara also chose a Weight Watchers recipe, this one for Zucchini Pancakes. Once she got over the way they looked as they were cooking and told her taste buds to think of it as eating thin zucchini bread instead of pancakes, they weren’t half bad. All in all a pretty decent zucchini experience.

Let us know if you’ve tried any spectacular zucchini recipes and we’ll try them!

 

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HOW’S OUR HAIKUS?

Poetry has never been our forte but there’s something very soothing about the Japanese poetic form of Haiku. During this pandemic anything that can calm the mind and relieve some stress is welcome. So, we thought we’d try our hand at it.

First, we had to learn a little something about the haiku. Haiku is an unrhyming poem with a particular structure: 3 lines with 5 syllables in the first and third lines and 7 syllables in the second line: 5, 7, 5. When haiku was first introduced, the subject was restricted to a description of one of the seasons and was designed to elicit an emotional response. We’re glad it widened its realm of subjects as our minds are not necessarily on nature right now.

So here goes:

Laura –

Like scattered raindrops

Thoughts bounce off intended marks

Stress and calm battle.

 

Barbara –

Strewn on wooden table

A thousand pieces

A brain overwhelmed.

 

Can you tell what’s on our minds? Try your hands at haiku and share with us via comment!

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SHAKING THINGS UP WITH “C”

Things can become monotonous during this pandemic, so we decided to shake things up and investigate a new way to relax. Being mainly wine drinkers, we thought it would be fun to delve into the world of Cocktails – of which we knew very little. So we decided to break out the liquor and the cocktail shakers and see what we could come up with.

Barbara likes gin, and because we lived in Brooklyn for many years, she decided on something called “Red Hook Criterium.“ Every March since the late 2000s, a bike race called the Red Hook Criterium tears through the Brooklyn waterfront neighborhood it’s named after. A bar owner named St. John Frizell would watch it from his bar, and as the race got bigger over the years, he decided to commemorate it with a special cocktail. He was trying to create a drink that you could conceivably still ride a bike after having one or two. Barbara thinks he should have tried harder! The rhubarb liquor used in the drink made it much too bitter.

Laura tried her luck with Irish Whiskey as a tribute to her favorite TV criminal, Thomas Shelby from the series Peaky Blinders. He drank it straight up, so Laura chose to soften it a bit. She found a recipe featuring Jameson Irish Whiskey, sugar diluted with lemon and a dash of sparkling water and topped with a cherry and called it a “Laura Shelby.” Rather cheeky of her, but the cocktail was fabulous!



So with one hit and one miss, the sisters can now check off their “C” and continue on their ABC COVID-19 life journey.

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GETTING OUR “J” ON

A couple of months ago we bought jigsaw puzzles to work on during the pandemic, but being procrastinators we hadn’t opened them yet. So the ABC COVID-19 Life gave us the impetus to finally do that. Laura selected a puzzle featuring a toy shop that reminded her of her granddaughters, and Barbara chose a scene from a Shakespearean village since she had just been to Stratford Upon Avon last year. They seemed good choices, as there was a lot of detail.

Barbara used to do intricate puzzles when she was MUCH, MUCH younger so she suggested we get 1000 piece puzzles. WHAT WAS SHE THINKING!!! Can we add a MUCH to that younger? The pieces are tiny and although there are a lot of items in the scenes that one would think would help in placing the pieces, the houses in the village all have the same roof, there’s water everywhere, the book shop windows are very similar, etc. We are bravely plodding forward and maybe we will have them finished by the time the pandemic is over! But…keeping busy is one of the reasons we chose to initiate the ABC COVID-19 Life, so we really shouldn’t complain.

Plus, we are not alone in turning to jigsaw puzzles to whittle away the time and stimulate the brain. Bill and Melinda Gates are huge fans – in fact, they rarely travel without a Stave Puzzle. In case you think you’ll do the same, a typical Stave Puzzle’s starting price is $907.00. Yes, you read that right! And if that’s not crazy enough, Gwyneth Paltrow bought her 14-year old son a Jiggy puzzle featuring a watercolor drawing of various female breasts. You have to admit, that’s a rather puzzling choice.

Are you working on a puzzle during these strange times? Let us know!

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FLORAL FILMING

F

Growing up in the Big Apple, neither of us had the opportunity to develop a green thumb. We’ve always admired people who actually enjoy working out in the sun and soil to make their gardens look inviting. Admired from afar, that is, since it didn’t motivate us to get off our duffs and do the same! So For “F”, we thought it would be fun to take pictures of some of the flowers we spot in our walks around our neighborhoods. And off we headed.

Laura noticed that often when she’s walking she becomes too fixated on inner thoughts and doesn’t really pay attention to what’s around her. This time, with flowers on her mind, she noticed lots of things. There weren’t any flowers that truly stood out, but the frogs did! Since they begin with “F”, Laura threw them in her collage for Fun.

Barbara went in search of colorful flowers on her daily dog walk. She found some but was surprised that not only did hardly anyone have flowers in the front yard but they were all pink. So she threw in one of her flower boxes to get a bit of white and purple. Next year she’ll be giving those plus yellow some equal billing in the boxes.

Let us know about the flower power in your neighborhood!

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STARTING WITH THE LETTER “S”

Short Films

While we have been seeing quite a few feature length films lately for various Zoom discussions, sometimes we are just in the mood for a quick film input. Say hello to “short films” or “shorts!” Barbara has long been a fan of short stories and over the last three years she’s come to love short films and goes to the showing of Oscar-nominated shorts every year. Laura has been curious about this medium for some time, and so we decided Short Films would be a great item for the letter S.

We viewed three films this week, but there is no shortage of films to choose from on the various streaming services. Our views merged on one and differed on two, which made for good discussion.

“My Mom and the Girl” was the film we agreed on. It did its job in showing how difficult it is for the caregiver and family of someone with Alzheimer’s. The characters were all likeable and we spent some time talking about the pros and cons of staying at home vs. living at a facility on both parties.

Next up was “The Critic.” This film shows you a glimpse of what it is like to be interviewed by someone who is extremely intrusive and who constantly turns your words around. Plus, it portrays a woman who pulled herself out of drugs to become an award-winning actress but yet is still very fragile. Or…did that really happen? Barbara loved this film because it ended with so many questions, which is one of the things she believes makes a good short. Laura felt anger at the interviewer and let her disgust with people who bully others with their words and attitudes interfere with her appreciation of this short film.

Last was “The Fish Out of Water,” which was the short about which we disagreed the most. It focuses on a young man who spends his day at a dull job, imagining all the things he wants to do if he had the courage. Barbara really disliked the film. She felt it was too linear and she didn’t feel anything for the main character. On the other hand, while Laura admitted that the film’s message was quite obvious, she enjoyed how they visually brought to life the main character’s daydreaming fantasies and she empathized with the universal dilemma of not allowing yourself to take chances in life.

We are going to continue watching shorts. Maybe we’ll select the ones that have been nominated each year and maybe we’ll spread out into short documentaries – will that be our D? A word of advice: If you only like films/books that have everything wrapped up neatly at the end, then shorts may not be for you – but it’s definitely worth giving them a try.

Watch some and channel your inner film critic. Let us know your review!

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THE ABC COVID-19 LIFE

Enough is enough! We’ve decided not to let this pandemic limit our lives. So we’re starting the ABC COVID-19 Life, safely and from the comfort of our homes.

Of course, there will have to be some adjustments made.

Instead of going alphabetically, one letter at a time per month, we have drawn up a 26 letter ABC COVID-19 Life Grid. We’re going to fill in the squares with our activities as we do them. If we find that we have more than one thing each for a particular letter and can rename it to fit into a different square, that’s OK too.

Our self-imposed rule is to go through the alphabet in the three-month period of July through September. As with the ABC Life, we are flexible in how we accomplish this but once again the ABC (or in this case ABC COVID-19) Life will rescue us from boredom, repetition and feeling sorry for ourselves – plus we fully expect it to keep our spirits up!

We hope you’ll share with us any ABCs you get started on!

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