The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lock-down have added stress and strain to our bodies, hearts, and minds. Listen to this episode for ideas for staying healthy physically, emotionally, and mentally during this time and always.
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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.
A deadly pandemic, job loss, economic turmoil, social isolation, fear, insecurity, debt, disparity, civic unrest; and confronting centuries-long racial tensions, systemic racism, and injustice. No wonder people are angry and anxious. Join me for this episode about how to come together, cope, and find hope and joy in turbulent times.
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.
Join me for this Food for Thought podcast series that examines what the covid-19 / coronavirus virus means for non-human animals and the habits, laws, and policies that affect our treatment of them. The first episode in the series focuses on wild animals who are poached, farmed, and eaten.
The source for the recent coronavirus outbreak that has led to a devastating worldwide pandemic has been linked to a market in mainland China, where wild animals are sold and killed for human consumption. China has said it will permanently ban the consumption of animals, but many questions remain.
Will this virus put an end to the illegal wildlife trade in China and Southeast Asia?
Will the wildlife farms in China reopen once the pandemic is over?
Will this be the end to live animal markets and wet markets where wild and domesticated animals are sold and killed for meat?
Will China close the loopholes (such as exemptions for fur and Traditional Chinese Medicine) that exist in their bans on wildlife poaching and consumption?
Will good come out of this devastation?
Is there anything you can do to help make a difference?
Having a well-stocked kitchen is essential whether you’re looking to throw together a last-minute meal, a well-planned meal (which I recommend should be the default), or if you’re just not able to get out of the house because of weather, sickness, or other circumstances.
Knowing what to have in your pantry, cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer also provides security and predictability when the future is uncertain and people are social distancing and sheltering at home, such as during the time of the Coronavirus pandemic 2020.
Today’s episode is focused on my personal strategies for buying wisely, eating well, and stocking up — principles that can be applied every day or during emergencies. Also, see below for links to my favorite appliances, including my favorite pressure cooker, air fryer, and popcorn maker!
With the Coronavirus (or Covid-19) wreaking havoc on our society, we thought it was timely to rebroadcast this episode. Coronavirus is one of many zoonotic diseases — diseases that jump from non-human animals to human animals.
A “wet market” in Wuhan, China, is most likely where this strain of the coronavirus started. At many “wet markets,” meat, poultry, and seafood are sold alongside live animals for consumption. It is our very consumption of animals and their products that has bestowed upon us what Guns, Germs, and Steel author Jared Diamond calls the “lethal gifts of livestock.” Our abuse of nature comes full-circle and at a heavy price for both the consumer and the consumed.
Being animals ourselves, it makes sense that we share many of the same diseases as our non-human cousins. We aren’t – after all – plants. We aren’t at risk for catching aphids or sooty mold or downy mildew.
In fact, many of the major killer pandemics we’ve been plagued with were acquired from non-human animals. Here are just a few:
we got tuberculosis from cattle, influenza from pigs and birds, whooping cough from pigs and dogs, smallpox from cattle, and of course cowpox from cows. Even HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is believed to have been first transmitted to humans through the butchering and consumption of infected chimpanzees.
The addition of kale in this classic comfort soup makes it even better, certainly more nutritious, and definitely more colorful! PLUS, it’s vegan / plant-based / animal product-free!
The Italian word minestrone refers to a large, hearty soup. The soup itself is part of what is known in Italy as cucina povera — literally “poor kitchen,” referring to the necessity of creating dishes based on what was available and in season. As it has been passed down through the ages, there is no fixed recipe and lends itself to many variations.
1 tablespoon oil or water for sautéing 1 large yellow onion, chopped 2 carrots, finely chopped 4 garlic cloves, finely minced One 15-ounce can or equivalent fresh diced tomatoes 1-1/2 cups white beans (Cannellini, Great Northern, navy) 1 bunch kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley 6 cups vegetable stock 2 bay leaves 1 cup soup pasta (elbow macaroni, shells, etc.), cooked Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Heat the oil or water in a large soup pot over medium heat, and add the onion and carrots. Cook, stirring often, until the onion turns translucent and the carrots glisten, about 7 minutes.
Stir in the garlic and cook, stirring, for another minute or so, until the garlic begins to smell fragrant. Add the tomatoes and their liquid and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes have cooked down a bit.
Add the beans, kale, parsley, water, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover partially, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the flavors are all incorporated.
Add the pasta, and stir to incorporate. Cook for 5 minutes more, tasting and adjusting the salt and pepper as needed, then remove from heat and serve.
What more fantastic vegan recipes? Have you checked out my cookbooks?