Double Bubble, No Toil & Trouble

“Well hello, fellow hunker downers, welcome to day one million of the quarantine” said the hysterical Leslie Jordan in his Southern twang, at thelesliejordan on Instagram. According to studies, the concept of time has changed with the quarantine. I saw a cartoon that showed March stretching endlessly, April about normal and May a blip. I don’t know if that’s true, but March certainly felt like the longest and strangest month, with the uncertainty and fear of the pandemic magnified like a bug under a microscope. And May, which began by starting to feel almost normal, took a turn for the worst at the end.

My friend Katy texted me last week: “Is this the end of civilization? 2020 is the worst.” But she actually has enjoyed being able to spend time with her only daughter Chelsea, who works at a ritzy hotel in Manhattan. She’s been home in Orlando for a while since her hotel’s not re-opening until September; I can’t imagine another scenario where that would happen. Katy works at Disney, which is re-opening July 11th. I asked A.J. if she wanted to take Wyatt to Disney (we were supposed to go in April) but she said no, she wants to wait. I get it. Universal and Sea World are opening next month as well.

While my sister Elise, who’s a nurse for an OB doctor, said to her practice, which has cut back hours: “Don’t worry, in nine months we’ll be overrun with new patients!”, expecting a baby boom from people sheltering at home, this may not be true. Studies show 60% of people aren’t having sex on a weekly basis in lockdown. While, this is understandable, (especially if you’re home alone) even masturbation is down. Apparently the stress, anxiety and instability of this current situation is not sexy. I have to say that the plague, impending sickness and possible death surrounding the coronavirus, certainly doesn’t put me “in the mood”.

In other news: I got a new laptop. Not that I was planning on it, but that “liquid” I spilled on it late one night essentially destroyed it. My old one, a MacBook Pro, is nowhere to be found in the Pandemic (with everyone needing one for work/school etc..) so I switched to a MacBook Air. I’m still figuring out how to use it, including uploading photos, etc… There is a learning curve. I would go the Apple store for guidance, but of course they are closed.

On the Homefront: Zeke’s gone back to work full time (yippee!) and has graduated from Virtual Zoom Happy Hours, to regular Happy Hour at Riviera, which is now re-opened. Emma and Lauren took Eloise to the vet and discovered she actually had a medical condition, which may have caused the uncontrolled peeing. A roofer is supposed to fix one part of our leaking roof this week, if it ever stops raining. In rodent news, the rat has not been spotted lately, as far as I know. I’m not completely sure as I escaped to hunker down in the Keys. Can you blame me?

Emma (youngest) is getting her own apartment this month and is going to take on-line classes this summer at Miami-Dade before she goes to nursing school. Lauren, who also got into NYU Law School last week (#1 Tax Law in the US) finally decided on Georgetown in D.C. to attend in the Fall. Hurray! She left to visit her boyfriend in California for a month. So we almost have an empty nest. Not including the peeing cat, rogue rat and middle child.

Wyatt graduated from his three year old class last week. They had a drive-by ceremony at one of the parent’s house, with kids in cars, teachers attending, and there were little gifts for the graduates. Wyatt took a photo with one of his buddies, six feet apart. I guess 2020 is a year all graduates will remember, for better or worse. He is now bugging me for a mini-trampoline as a graduation gift. Since when did we get gifts for a three-year-old class graduation? Of course, I probably will break down and get it.

I had Wyatt Tuesday night and made pasta (his favorite meal), a green salad and focaccia. Zeke and I had watched Fat, Salt, Acid, Heat on Netflix and the author made focaccia in Italy. It looked delicious, so I gave it a try from a Frugal Gourmet recipe I made years ago. It’s pretty easy, essentially a pizza dough you spread flat and add toppings to. It’s made with yeast, which is about a hundred times easier than sour dough starter; I now know why yeast has been flying off the shelves and is impossible to find. I found a whole box of yeast at the Kmart in Key Largo and felt like I’d hit the lotto!

We had Emma’s birthday dinner at Riviera Country Club, her choice. It was a positive experience and felt very safe, especially since the dining room was basically empty. We wore masks to our table, the servers wore masks. I’m not sure how restaurants are doing now that they’re reopened in Miami, but when I walked through South Miami last week, the restaurants looked dead. Zeke and I went out for meals twice in the Keys this weekend. Saturday we went to Lorelie for drinks and an appetizer. They make a decent margarita and we had seared tuna and fish dip. We sat at a table outside on the deck, by the water.

On Sunday, some friends at the Sanctuary invited us out on their boat. What a treat to be out on the bay on a beautiful day! It re-lit Zeke’s desire to get a boat.(Not that it ever really went away.) We motored to local institution Alabama Jacks, docked and stepped out onto the wood deck. An older lady with a black mask greeted us saying,:

There’s a line out front you folks need to wait in. It’s probably an hour wait and once you get seated, we only have three waitresses, so who knows when you’ll get any food.

Our Welcoming Alabama Jacks Hostess

As she left, a guy sitting at the bar said: “And That’s the Hostess.” We accessed the situation- Alabama Jacks was packed with bikers and apparently, people who hadn’t been out of the house in ages and were desperate for a drink and some greasy conch fritters. We grabbed some beers to go and hightailed it to Gilberts. I think the reason it’s so crowded at Alabama Jacks is that you don’t need to go through the Key’s checkpoint to go there. The checkpoint ended last Monday, June 1st.

Miami Spice is starting two months early! Miami Spice began June 1st, instead of the normal August 1st, as an incentive to get diners into local restaurants. Eighty-eight restaurants are participating, down from the 200+ who normally participate. Since restaurants are only allowed 50% capacity, their margins of profit are already very low, so many restaurants don’t feel able to participate and make any money. Ironically, Miami Spice started as a way to get diners out to Miami restaurants after 9/11. I will definitely be checking out some restaurants for Miami Spice. Lunch is $25, Dinner is $39.

Another positive that’s come from the Coronavirus Pandemic, is the way people have met the challenge of working from home with creativity and enthusiasm. From parents thinking up fun ways to Homeschool, to teachers having to educate via Zoom (Quaranteachers), to the beautiful designs mask makers have come up with, I’m wowed by people’s imaginations. And Zoom has been invaluable for just about everything that used to be face-to-face: Court sessions, Therapy sessions, Happy Hours, Board Meetings, Presentations and Education of all sorts.

My daughter A.J. was going to do a succulent workshop for Mother’s Day in person, but revised it to a Zoom workshop. Participants got a beautiful box containing all the materials needed and the log in information to the Zoom workshop on the Monday after Mother’s Day. It was so much fun making the succulent terrarium, with the step by step instructions Ashley gave and seeing the fellow workshoppers (including my Mom and sister Kelley) on Zoom. Like many businesses, I think it’s something Ashley Jordan Events will incorporate into future endeavors.

Zeke and I like to watch Diners, Drive-ins and Dives with Guy Fieri (Triple D to those in the know), but lately he’s been getting take-out meal kits from different restaurants he visited in past shows and making their dishes on air. It’s not the same as his regular show, but it’s cool, different and fun. Musicians (like Bon Jovi) have been performing songs, sometimes alone, sometimes with others, actors, like Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame have been reading chapters from books, O Miami Poetry went virtual this year and there have been virtual tours of parks, beaches and museums (like Viscaya). While I can’t travel, I’m certainly getting ideas for traveling, which will make it all the more enjoyable when I can finally hit the road.

As far as restaurants around the country go, according to an article in Bon Appetit, if only the deep-pocketed restaurants reopen, this may reshape the country’s dining scene, in “devastating and homogenizing ways.” One of my Book Club ladies owns a couple chain restaurants and the PPP has become a problem for her, as well as many restaurant owners. According to the PPP, you need to re-hire back your full staff by the end of June. How is this possible when the restaurant can only open at 50% capacity? Adding to this problem, is most restaurant workers are paid low wages, so many people are better off taking unemployment and the $600 a week offered by the government until the end of July. Why would they want to show up at work, only to get paid less and possibly be risking their health and well being?

The restaurant my friend owns are located in Malls. And the last time we met and talked about it, she was unsure if she would re-open.

How do we know what dining is going to look like after this is over? Will people still be even going to Malls anymore?

she asked.

Of course, no one knows the answer. Most doctors are recommending not going to restaurants at this time, especially if you linger there for hours or can’t social distance. As for me, I will assess the risk, support restaurants that feel safe to me and tip well, because these servers are putting their lives on the line for us diners.

Another article I read is about how Canada is reopening, with “double bubbles”, a technique of social distancing that they borrowed from New Zealand, which has virtually eliminated coronavirus cases there. They’ve been experimenting with this practice for more than two weeks (the amount of time it takes coronavirus to appear) and the cases of COVID-19 have gone down. The double-bubble approach should only be tried in cities where community transmission is low and cases are decreasing.

The theory is that one family picks two other families that you feel safe with and socialize only with them. That way if someone (God forbid) comes down with coronavirus, the exposure is low. Of course, you should pick families that are wearing masks when out, practicing good hygiene (wash your hands) and limiting their outside exposure.

“The hope is that doubling the family bubble will reduce isolation and it’s toll on mental health. This is meant to be an intermediate step before opening up further.”

Vox, Sigal Samuel, June 2, 2020
Sunset at the Sanctuary.

So, if you’re not ready to jump into the coronavirus-filled pool that is Miami right now, you might try “double bubbling”. I realize we’ve already done it with a few couples we feel safe with and, so far, so good. Like Babs sang, “People who need people.” Apparently, we’re the luckiest people in the world. And so, fellow hunker downers, welcome to the first day of the rest of your life.

“Time is on my side, yes it is.”

Rolling Stones

Published by gleeguilford

Born and raised in Miami, the daughter of a pilot and stay-at-home Mom, I love food in all forms. My great grandfather opened the first Italian restaurant in Miami in the 20's, The Boathouse on the Miami river. I love exploring my heritage and linking food and recipes to personal stories. I've been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love and wrote restaurant reviews and news as the Miami Dining Examiner for three years. I love exploring Miami's latest hot spots, hole in the walls and institutions. I'm always looking for innovative ways to use the plethora of tropical fruits and vegetables South Florida offers, especially from my own garden.

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