Out of the Blue

Simply Surviving

Two years of getting by

By Deborah Salomon

March marks two years we have battled the pandemic, in several iterations. It has consumed news broadcasts and changed our lives, from how we purchase toilet paper (in laughable quantities) to how we celebrate holidays (in small groups, if at all) to how we recreate (forget movies, concerts, plays . . . hello, Scrabble and Hulu). Politicians are rated on COVID policies rather than stabilizing the economy. The absence of classroom learning may leave an indelible effect on children.

Hopefully, I’m not the only survivor whose weathered eye longs for better days and simpler things.

This began a few months ago, when I started watching season two of PBS Masterpiece Theater’s All Creatures Great and Small. I rejected the first season as borderline corny, certainly not therapeutic. The (true) story begins when a newly minted vet from Glasgow arrives in the beautiful and serene Yorkshire dales, just before World War II unleashes hell on Europe. He’s a plain lad with sincere blue eyes and a sweet smile. The haircut alone — short at the nape, Brylcreemed on top — establishes chronology. A romance ensues with a farming lass with a thick wavy mane, just enough meat on her bones, a forthright manner and the smile of an orthodontist’s daughter. Simple. Relatable. Refreshing.

Now, into season two, I watch each episode at least three times — a balm on eyes hardened by the blood and gore streaming, literally, from ambulatory corpses interspersed by real-life starving children, wildfires, floods, tornadoes, insurrections, shootings.

Simple thrives in the kitchen. Working from home, I crave homemade soup, mainly veggie beef made with chuck and a rainbow of vegetables. I call it sustenance soup, just as good for breakfast as lunch. Then, yellow split peas with grated carrot, potato and onion simmered with a smoked turkey leg. Dunk a hunk of stale artisan bread. Ahhh . . .

Thick. Flavorful. Simple. 

Take-out sushi, pizza, tacos, egg rolls, nuggets, burgers get old fast. Soup is forever.

Simplify communication? Ma Bell must be tossing in her tomb. Cellphones are a miracle rivaling the light bulb. People live or die by their cells, which started out simple flips, progressed to “smart,” lately mini-computers. I learned from priests of the faith that texting has overtaken email, voice mail and direct conversation. Which means people text recipients reachable otherwise, eliminating the human voice by choice.

Makes sense when the caller is a robot, because only a robot would not worry about 5G technology interfering, perhaps even endangering, commercial aircraft. God forbid a crash blamed on improved texting.

The same applies to the automobile — another landmark invention providing a comfortable, safe, relatively simple means of getting from Point A to Point B. Now, urban apartment-dwellers not involved with sports or transporting loads are driven to drive SUVs instead of simple sedans, hatchbacks or stations wagons because . . . ?

You tell me.

Some accoutrements, like cameras watching the dog sleep in the back seat, seem dangerously distracting. Figuring out which button to push for the ice dispenser (just kidding) is problematic, not to mention the button that turns on the oven (not kidding) when you’re 10 miles from home.

The battle to simplify can be exhausting for ordinary folk who don’t live from iPhone to iPhone. I’m happy with a car that simply delivers and an oven that bakes. Flip phones did the job. I will never be convinced that air-fried chicken threatens Colonel Sanders. Even if I won the lottery I would not buy a Whiskers Litter Robot WiFi Enabled Automatic Self-Cleaning Cat Litter Box, its official name, for $549. Because cats are smarter than humans; if my two boycotted an unfamiliar litter brand heaven knows how they would react to a box that talks back.

I am not a crotchety old lady resisting progress while glamorizing the good old days before residential air conditioning and no-iron sheets. I’m all for vaccinations, organ transplants, solar power, even SUVs for large soccer-playing families with Great Danes. But I’m not about to fry an egg on my cellphone or let a self-propelled whirling dervish vacuum my floors.

You couldn’t buy me a ticket on Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.

Because in times of trouble, simple conveys stable, at least until the crisis passes.

So go ahead . . . scoop your hummus, goat cheese, root beer and bubble gum flavored ice cream. I’ve rediscovered vanilla.

And ain’t it ever good.  PS

Deborah Salomon is a writer for PineStraw and The Pilot. She may be reached at debsalomon@nc.rr.com.

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