Tag: coronavirus

Say “I Love You” Now

We don’t know when my mother (Arlene) had the stroke — probably when she had the surgery to replace one of our heart valves (2014?). I remember talking to her after she was home from the hospital recovering at her sweetheart’s house (my mother fell in love with Paul when she was 77), and she talked about how there were words she wanted to say…but couldn’t get them to come out of her mouth.

It took months and months for me to identify what it was. Everyone (except Paul) said it was Alzheimer’s (because her mother had it), but none of her symptoms matched. When I watched videos of people with Alzheimer’s, none of them reminded me of my mother struggling to speak.

And then I watched a video of a young woman who had had a head injury that resulted in aphasia — the inability to speak due to damage to the part of her brain that controlled language. I watched another. And another. And I just cried. That was exactly what my mother sounded like.

I arranged for her to start speech therapy, and it was confirmed she had aphasia, but it would have required a lot of really hard work for her to recover her speech. More than she was able to give. Unfortunately, it just got worse. Stroke-related dementia also started setting in, as did difficulty in moving her right leg, and swallowing.

Paul remained by her side, but it was harder and harder for her to maintain relationships, as she didn’t have the ability to call people on her own. She still lived in her condo in NJ but spent more and more time at Paul’s house. I found a day center where she would have activities and social engagement in a supportive environment. On her first day, I felt like a mother dropping off her child to her first day at kindergarten. I watched from where she couldn’t see me and kept checking in on her every 10 minutes. She started going 3 times a week.

Her last visit to California to stay with me and David was August 2015. She was 80 and so beautiful. She struggled to speak, and walking was getting harder for her. (Amazingly, she made it up the 100 steps to our front door!) And then it occurred to me…while she struggled to get those darn words to come out of her mouth, she could still read.

So, I wrote a little script for her, confirmed with her that it’s what she would have said had she written it, and set up a teleprompter for her so she could tell her friends in her own words that she missed them, wanted to hear from them, and was moving in with Paul. This video is the result.

In 2017, Paul, my mother’s primary caregiver, fell and sustained injuries that required hospitalization and in-patient physical therapy. I rushed back out to NJ and spent a very difficult week coming to terms with the fact that she needed round-the-clock care. In what was nothing other than a divine gift, I was able to move her into a stellar nursing home just 20 minutes from Paul’s house. While I spent a lot of time flying back to NJ to see her, I had a video call with her every week.

While receiving the most incredible care, Arlene continued to decline until she was unable to speak, walk, feed herself, or take care of herself in any way.  Swallowing was the most difficult, and she began to lose weight. In 2019, my mother began to receive hospice care. In early 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

She continued to weaken, and while I could see her in our video calls, I was unable to fly to NJ to be with her in person. On April 21, 2020 at 1:08 a.m. EST, my mother died. We know the time because she wasn’t alone when she passed. The night nurse was with her and held her hand as she breathed her last.

I had a very difficult relationship with my mother for decades. We never gave up trying to understand one another, and by 2010, I had had my epiphany…I stopped focusing on wishing she were the mother I wanted her to be. I just started being the daughter I wanted to be. And that’s when everything changed.

I have so many regrets that I know she wouldn’t want me to have. If she were here, she would touch my face and say “Don’t cry, Col,” though I know she’d be crying with me. I’m so grateful she was able to hear me say “I love you” many times — even when she wasn’t able to say it back. I’m certain she heard it just days before she died when I told her on our video call that it was okay for her to let go, to find peace. I told her I love her and that she was a good mother. With her eyes closed, she lifted her arm and reached toward my voice.

Don’t waste any time. If there’s something you need to say, say it now. And let it be “I love you.”

It’s a cliche until it’s not.

I love you, Mom. You’re in my heart always. After all, you’re the one who made it.

Irish Soda Bread (Vegan Recipe)

Sometimes you want a delicious loaf of bread last-minute, and you don’t have time to let the dough rise. Or you don’t have live yeast. Or you’ve never made yeasted bread before! (Sometimes you’re just looking for St. Patrick’s Day recipes!)

Enter soda bread, a type of quick bread that dates to approximately 1840, when bicarbonate of soda was introduced to Ireland and replaced yeast as the leavening agent. It eventually became a staple of the Irish diet and is still used as an accompaniment to a meal. 

There are several theories as to the significance of the cross in soda bread. Some believe that the cross was placed in the bread to ward off evil, but it is more likely that the cross is used to help with the cooking of the bread or to serve as a guideline for even slices.

One of the things I love about traditional recipes such as this one featured in The Joy of Vegan Baking among 150 others, is that they rarely need to be “veganized,” because they just happen to be vegan already.  The lactic acid in buttermilk is what activates the carbon dioxide, but adding vinegar, which is acidic, to our nondairy milk creates the same effect. 

A perfect, delicious bread that anyone can make, regardless of your skill level — and whether or not it’s St. Patrick’s Day! Pair it with a hearty stew, and you’re all set!

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups nondairy milk
  • 2 teaspoons white or apple cider vinegar
  • 4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or melted nondairy butter

Preheat the oven to 425° F. Lightly grease a round 9- or 10-inch cake pan.

In a small bowl, combine the milk and vinegar. Let stand for 5 minutes. Essentially, by adding an acidic agent, you just created “buttermilk.” 

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the milk and vinegar mixture, plus the oil or butter, and combine until you have a sticky dough. Knead the dough in the bowl or on a floured surface for about 10 to 12 strokes. 

Place the dough in the prepared pan, and cut a cross in the top. Bake for 45 minutes or until the bottom has a hollow sound when thumped. Cool slightly before serving. 

Soda bread can dry out quickly and is typically good for two to three days; it is best served warm or toasted with nondairy butter.

Yield: One round loaf

Serving Suggestions and Variations 

Add

  • 1-1/2 cups of raisins
  • 1 cup of various nuts

This recipe was reprinted from The Joy of Vegan Baking. Get your copy today!

DID YOU MAKE IT? HOW DID IT TURN OUT?

What more fantastic vegan recipes? Have you checked out my cookbooks?

The Joy of Vegan Baking

The Vegan Table

Color Me Vegan

How to Reduce Pandemic-Related Plastic Pollution

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic:

  • there has been an unprecedented demand for masks, gloves, and gowns;
  • plastic-free swaps like reusable grocery, produce bags, mugs, and food containers have been banned;
  • the plastics industry is using this moment to stoke fears about reusables and lobby to reverse single-use-plastic legislation;
  •  oil prices have plummeted, making plastic — a petroleum product — cheap to make; 
  • municipalities around the world have curtailed their recycling schemes since it’s cheaper to make virgin plastic;
  • the locked-down masses have been panic-buying, online-shopping, and consuming home deliveries from restaurants in record numbers — adding to plastic pollution. 

What’s a conscious consumer to do? Is it possible to reduce our plastic consumption when we’re in the middle of a deadly pandemic? Can we still aspire to be low-waste or zero-waste (which was already aspirational in the best of times)? Take a listen to this episode for tips on reducing your plastic consumption when it comes to: 

  • Restaurant Take-Out
  • Grocery Shopping
  • Hand Sanitizers
  • Cleaning Products
  • Ordering Online
  • Properly Disposing Plastic Waste

Enjoy some ideas for reducing plastic waste at home and in your own life.

How the Pandemic Has Made Mourning So Hard

My mother died in a nursing home 3,000 miles from me with a nurse but no family by her side. She was declining by the time the Covid-19 pandemic halted us in our tracks and made it impossible for me to fly from California to New Jersey to be with her in her final days.

 

Grieving is hard. Grieving the death of a parent even harder. Grieving without the usual end-of-life rites and rituals has been impossible. 

 

In my past experiences with death, I learned that aspects of the dying process made the mourning process a little easier — less disorienting, less chaotic. Keeping vigil, sharing memories, watching, waiting, and witnessing all provided an anchor for the grief that was to come. I knew where to go next because I knew where I had been, but not so with the death of my mother. 

 

Getting a phone call in the dead of night is not the same as being able to see her, touch her, say goodbye, watch her go. Calling her friends and family to share the sad news is no substitute for gathering to reminisce and memorialize her life. Walking out my front door and stumbling upon the box that contained her ashes was a blow — not a consolation. 

 

The lack of closure has left a fissure that I’ve come to realize can only be filled with some familiar rites of passage — delayed and altered though they may be. I told a friend that — jarring though it can be to see the notice pop up on my phone — I still haven’t been able to delete the calendar reminder for the weekly video calls I once had with my mother and her nurse’s aide. My friend suggested I keep it for now and create a new weekly ritual of memory and meaning. 

 

And so I have. And so it helps — as did writing her obituary and creating a memorial photo album. But there is more to do. 

 

Before she fell ill, my mother and I talked about what she wanted me to do with her ashes once she was cremated. Ever practical, she argued that she’d be gone and wouldn’t know the difference, so whatever was meaningful for me — the living — should take precedence. 

 

Prior to my mother’s death, my husband and I had already begun making our own final plans, and after much thought and many conversations, we decided on a grave in Oakland’s historic Mountain View Cemetery — a special place we frequented before the pandemic closed it to the public. My mother’s death accelerated our contemplation and finalized our decision. The process has been a long one, but it’s already bringing some much-needed closure.

While my mother didn’t have much to say about where her ashes would eternally reside, she did have some very specific thoughts about her memorial service: she wanted there to be photos and stories, laughter and music, and she wanted a bagpiper to play — among other songs — Danny Boy. Some friends have vowed to join us for the interment — safely distanced and responsibly masked — and never before have I been so eager to fulfill a wish. 

 

With her subsequent service and burial, I’m not looking to “get over” my mother’s death as I am looking to “get over” on the other side of the chasm that has been looming for months. It turns out that we humans — and even some non-humans — create death rites and rituals for a reason — to comfort the living and usher us through the grief process. Without that bridge, mourning just feels like an unhealed wound or an unfallen shoe.

They Killed Him, and It Broke Us, and It Should Have

Our country has been a tinderbox for decades — and the last three-and-a-half years have been a slow, steady, daily burn of anxiety, dread, anger, and pain.

Adding severe strain to an already volatile situation and vulnerable population, a deadly pandemic came along and pressed us even more. Job loss. Fear. Insecurity. Isolation. Debt. Disparity. Disease. Death.⁠

Severing our already-tenuous connections — as fellow Americans, as fellow human beings — we chose divisiveness, disdain, denial, mockery, and blame. Mirroring a small, selfish Twitter troll, we became no better in our rhetoric, perspective, and actions. ⁠

And then…George Floyd. They killed him, and it broke us. And it should have.⁠

[Tweet “George Floyd. They killed him, and it broke us. And it should have.⁠”]

But it is precisely our shared shock, sadness, and outrage that have the potential to put us together again. We are not indifferent. We are not complacent. We are not apathetic. We witnessed. We saw. We snapped — understandably so. ⁠
⁠⁠
It is exactly because our vision, our expectation, our hope for a just and compassionate world has been thwarted that our anger is fueled. If we didn’t believe such a world was possible — and self-evident — we would be indifferent. ⁠

But we are not. And for that I am grateful. In that I am hopeful. ⁠

The question now is not “What have we done?” But “What will we do?” “What do we want?” and “Who do we want to be?”

The answers to these questions reflect our character and determine our destiny — both individually and collectively — and I’m both terrified and hopeful for the future. ⁠

It’s in our hands. And no one else’s. It always has been. And it always will be.  

How Do You Want to Spend This Time?

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

My absolute, absolute favorite quote from The Fellowship of the Ring. (I include it in the beginning of chapter 9 in The Joyful Vegan.)

It’s timeless, and it’s timely.

Of course, we should be considering this every day — not just in a time of crisis like we’re experiencing now. But while our lives are disrupted and we’re physically (and painfully) distancing from one another, it sure seems like a good time to ratchet that up.

J.R.R. Tolkein wrote Lord of the Rings several years after returning from the First World War — during which time he witnessed death and suffering beyond what most of us can even imagine, including the slaughter of his dearest friends, and survived trench fever and many illnesses that he contracted from his time in the cold, wet, lice-infested trenches.

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

I’m not saying we have to pressure ourselves to write the next great novel or find a cure for the coronavirus pandemic, but creating some parameters around this time may be helpful, useful, and meaningful.

In other words, what can we do now so that when we look back 6 or 12 months from now, we can say, “I’m glad I did that” or “I’m proud of how I used that time”?

It might be

  • reading Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit, because…Gandalf!
  • reading any book you’ve been meaning to read
  • watching a documentary series
  • decluttering your house
  • planting a garden
  • learning to bake bread
  • or … writing the next great novel

What you choose to do is up to you, and that’s the point. What do you want to do now so you can look back months from now and be happy or proud or satisfied with what you decided?

Time is going to pass anyway. How do you want to spend it? 

?⁠ Captive Animals, Captive Humans ?⁠

(I wrote this letter to the Washington Post in response to their article about animals in zoos during Coronavirus a couple days before a tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for Covid-19.)

In reading the end of your article about how “some zoos and aquariums … are streaming live-feeds of their exhibits to keep the public connected to their animals,” I couldn’t help but see the irony in live-streaming videos of captive animals to the homes of captive humans.

The fact that zoonotic diseases like Covid-19 pass from animals to humans is another irony that should also not be lost on your readers. While Covid-19 (and SARS before it) originated in a live market where wild animals are kept to be sold for human consumption, it is precisely confinement of wild animals and their proximity to humans that increase the chances of zoonotic diseases passing between human and non-human animals.

Perhaps a silver lining in all of this will be a heightened awareness that other animals’ desire for freedom, life, autonomy, and self-determination is as strong as our own. If we’re frustrated by our temporary lack of mobility and independence, imagine how they feel.

We can admire birds in our backyards; watch bees pollinate flowers; or spot wild turkeys, deer, and lizards while on a hiking trail.

We can be captivated by animals without holding them captive.

~Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

?Writing (thoughtful, respectful) letters to editors of newspapers — locally, regionally, and nationally — is a wonderful way to be a voice for animals and helps you articulate your thoughts about a given subject.

?For more on animals and coronavirus, check out my series on the Food for Thought podcast about how the virus affects and is affected by non-human animals.

?Please feel free to share any or all of this letter.

Some related essays you might be interested in:

Animals and Coronavirus: Poaching and Eating Wild Animals

Coronavirus and the Lethal Gifts of Livestock

Vaccines Are a Bunch of Bull: Animal-Related Words for Diseases and Cures

3 Tips for Avoiding Animal Cruelty When Traveling

Brown Lentil Soup with Kale {Vegan}

This delicious vegan soup is a variation of the Brown Lentil Soup in my cookbook, Color Me Vegan. Watch me make it with what I have in my cupboard.

You need just a few ingredients, though I also add a couple that aren’t in the recipe. The main elements are: ⁠ ⁠

?onion⁠
?garlic⁠
?carrot⁠
?brown lentils⁠
?quinoa
?potato ⁠

This recipe is in the BROWN section of Color Me Vegan, a cookbook that divides the recipes up into COLOR, because….COLOR! ⁠

If you’re looking to eat more healthfully, let color be your guide. It resides in plants and comes from all the phytonutrients that don’t exist in animal products. (Phyto means “plant.”)⁠ ⁠

?(If you’re a supporter at $10/month or more, I sent you a copy of the recipe over at your Patreon account, so be sure to check your email and account. If you’re not a supporter, you can join others enabling me to provide the tools and resources people need to eat healthfully and compassionately. 

?Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram to enjoy these videos daily!

?For more videos on living vegan and zero waste, join the mailing list at ColleenPatrickGoudreau.com, and also subscribe to the blog (on the right hand side)!

ENJOY!

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