May 10, 2020 – Day three of Freedom:

Yes, you read correctly, this is day three of freedom. The lockdown was lifted on Friday. We still have a curfew in place from nine pm till six am, but all stores have been authorized to open. Social distancing and hygiene protocols must still be adhered to of course and some businesses also have certain restrictions, but I’ll take this ‘new normal’ as everyone seems to be calling it.

Because of these latest developments, this will be my last entry to close off this logbook of the lockdown period. We have been through a lot together as a family and as a community. I think we all experienced good days, so-so days and bad days but I also strongly believe that we have grown because of it and that the lockdown has taught us to cope with whatever curveballs life throws at you.

I’m sure my kids had an urge to spike my juice with a sleeping pill once in a while just as I would’ve preferred spiking theirs more often…(just kidding, I would never do that….or would I?) Point is, we’ve had ups and downs and still weathered the storm. We will now have to learn to live with our new normal. New set of social rules will apply from now on and it will take some getting used to, but I’m convinced we shall also overcome this obstacle.

Finally, I would like to add that one of the main things I’ve learned about our crazy family unit is that we could probably open a restaurant if:

  • A) customers do their own washing up afterwards
  • B) the cook is the one who determines what will be served any given day
  • C) the cook also decides what time she serves said lunch (this could be anytime between 12 and 5pm)
  • D) all employees can work in their PJ’s
Mother’s day brunch prepared by kids

For now, I am going to enjoy this Mother’s day in what has been our normal for the past few weeks and tomorrow I promise that I will get with the program. In other words; this will regretfully be my last bra-less-pajama-all-day dress code. This lockdown has been tough, but some things I will truly miss about it…and walking around bra-less all day is one of them!

I can’t close this logbook without proudly adding the Mother’s day gift I received from my two precious children. Besides making us a wonderful brunch, they each wrote something for me that I would like to share with you. It makes motherhood worthwhile and almost makes me regret spiking their juice (again, I’m just kidding…or am I?).

But seriously, I love my kids to the moon and back and hope with all my heart that they will live long and happy lives, doing whatever makes them jump up with joy in the morning. (I also secretly hope they will sometime in the near future learn that it’s nice to cook for your loved ones, but it’s even nicer to clean up afterwards…we are not there yet, but I still have hope…)

Before I leave you with my kids’ message I also want to add a short message of my own for my mom. Not a very easy thing to do because there simply are not enough words to describe what she has meant to me growing up and still means to me to this day. She is not only my mother but also my best friend, mentor and my go to person for all things big and small. So, I know it might sound corny but I still say it proudly; she is the best mother anyone could ever hope for and I’m extremely glad she just happens to be MY mom! Love you mom!

And now, as promised, my Mother’s day gift from my kids:

Written by my daughter, Alexine:

Written by my son, Emyl:

We recently held an interview with our favorite local mom, Tamara Neuman (aka the best mom you could ever ask for). She told us all about her wacky adventures during the Covid-19 pandemic (the ‘you can’t do shit phase’).

Due to her extreme boredom, Tamara decided to do the craziest workout routines. I’m talking the weirdest routines you can think of, which she then forced her children to do with her, God bless their poor souls.

She also embarked upon a lot of cleaning and reorganizing around the house, which was a real pain to do according to her children, even though she was the one who did most of the work.

And let us not forget about the cooking; Tamara has fixed some scrumptious lunches, with her daughter by her side.

To conclude, she is a wonderful person and mother and we wish her a Happy Mother’s Day!

April 28, 2020 – Day thirty of Shelter in Place:

We have reached a milestone today…30 days in lockdown…not exactly something to celebrate, but on the other hand, the fact that we are all still here, healthy and apparently reasonably sane since we haven’t killed anyone (yet), is a good enough reason to rejoice…take out the bubbly!

My posts are becoming less frequent and shorter as the days become longer and indistinguishable from one another. What’s in a day? How is Throwback Thursday any different from Manic Monday, Hump day Wednesday, TGIF and Sunday Funday? Except for the difference in the name, it has all become a blur of sameness, interspersed with a sudden flurry of activity on any given day, only to fall back in the prevalent monotonous life the rest of the week.

We’ve done just about everything to keep busy just as the rest of the island (and the world). Lots of cooking, baking and cleaning, walking, hiking and biking with swimming also added to this list recently; we are finally allowed to go to the beach for a quick swim.

One of the things I’ve taken to doing to help pass the time is washing the cars. I’ve become almost an expert at it and can ‘wax on, wax off’ a car in under an hour. My parents lovingly keep telling me not to bother washing their car and I just recently discovered that it isn’t because they don’t want me to go to the trouble as they have been claiming for the past few weeks; it’s because I suck at it!

And I must admit, they are right. I don’t get it. I mean, it’s not rocket science right? How difficult can it be to wash a car? Well, extremely difficult apparently because no matter how I try, the car always ends up with visible streaks on it. And then there is the car roof…

The monster truck!
You practically need an elevator to reach that roof!

In my defense, I’m only 1.57 m tall. And my dad’s pickup is waaay bigger than that! Besides, no one looks at car roofs anyway, so why bother cleaning it! In any case I gave them a way out; I need the ‘entertainment’ factor washing the car gives me, they need an excuse for why the car looks like it was washed by an eight-year-old. My solution? If anyone asks, just tell them the neighbor’s kid washed it. They look like heroes for giving ‘the kid’ something to do while I actually get to do it and…well…have something to do! Win-win all the way! Okay, except for the neighbor’s kid…sorry buddy, tough times, tough choices…you can go wash your own parent’s car!

Well, gotta go, I’m off to wash the pickup again. “Hey dad, where’s the key? Actually, where is the pickup? Did you hide it down the street again?!”

April 26, 2020 – Day twenty-eight of Shelter in Place:

It is a proven fact, even I can’t deny it anymore…I’ve gone totally bonkers! I’ve not only forgotten the days of the week but apparently also what year we are in, or more specifically, what age I’m turning this year!

My fitness level according to my trusty smartwatch. I wander what will happen if I ever reach the purple zone; will I turn into Benjamin Button?

I really thought it was going to be a ‘walk in the park’. I assumed I was in tip top shape since my watch seems to think so. It keeps telling me I’m in the 15th percentile of my age group (whatever that means) and that I’m as fit as a twenty-year old! Now, to be honest, I can’t rely on all the information my sports watch provides, especially the swim times are usually off by a hundred meters or more, but this particular statistic is of course one that I believe in blindly and I made sure to record it for posterity…and more importantly, to bug my kids. I repeatedly point out to them that I’m officially younger than they are!

Point being, when the government announced that on Sundays you are only allowed to go to the beach on foot or bicycle, I decided that I would take on that challenge and then some… I was going to take the loooong way by cycling to the furthermost beach on the island, Playa Forti at West Punt and back for a total of just under 100km. Piece of cake right, trusty watch? Yeah, maybe 30 years ago…not now!

Giddy at Westpunt, the halfway point

It all started smoothly enough, downwind, not too many climbs, mostly just coasting downhill towards Playa Forti beach. Being ‘balance challenged’, I still managed to pull my phone from my back pocket and take some selfies, again for posterity and to serve as proof that I made it to Westpunt. I was all smiles and giggles…I had done it!

The reason I was so darn proud of myself that I reached Westpunt on my own is because I’m sort of a coward when it comes to doing things by myself. I’m the first one to yell: “I’m in!” whenever someone comes up with a challenge…as long as it’s in a group. I’m just not a ‘fly solo’ kind of person. The Covid19 measures forced me to leave my comfort zone; if I wanted to move, I had to do it on my own. I started with baby steps, staying close to home and with Google’s ‘live location’ on so that my family could track my whereabouts at all times. It went better than I anticipated, and my confidence soared. I ventured out further with each ride…and then I got cocky…

Let’s fast forward back to my Westpunt adventure. After taking the required selfies and eating an energy bar, I started on my trek back home and suddenly…boom! No, I didn’t fall, but I did feel like I smacked into a wall, only it was made of air. The unforgiving wind taunted me, giving me a few meters of headway only to push me back to where I had been a few meters ago.

I’ve cycled this road plenty of times, so I know the wind is killing heading back, but it has been a long time (read, years) since I biked this particular area…I’d forgotten how hard this was. If you are cycling with more people you can alternate riding in front with coasting in the back to catch your breath but when you are on your own, it becomes a battle between you and the wind. Actually, you and the wind accompanied by his friends the sun and the hills!

I wasn’t smiling anymore. In fact, I had to bite down hard not to breakdown and cry or just step off the damn bike. I trudged on, focusing on my breathing and keeping a consistent, but much slower, pace. A few stray dogs saw me struggling and probably felt sorry for me because they didn’t bother to chase me. I could see it in their gleaming eyes: ‘No point going after her, way too easy, she’s gonna drop any second now.”

“It’s a good thing I’m only twenty, right?!” That’s the crazy mantra that I kept repeating to myself. It somehow kept me going, even though I could feel the years piling on with each passing kilometer, surpassing my actual age by at least 100! Then, finally, just as I was about to throw in the towel and call for backup, I took in my surroundings and noticed that I was in familiar territory…I was almost home, just a few kilometers to go, I could do this, just had to peddle this one last stretch and I’d be home. Forget the mantra, forget everything…just…peddle…the…damn…bike! I did it! I biked a loop to Westpunt beach and back. Crazy? Probably, but I proved to myself that crazy is as crazy gets and that life is a box of chocolates. I think my life is cherry liqueur infused dark chocolate, what’s yours?

But seriously, there is a lesson to be learned from this adventure. I learned not to give up. I guess it is true what they say; ‘What goes up, must come down’. Although some of the hills were tough, they all eventually reached a top and once I crested that top, I was awarded with a long downhill stretch to help me recover and prepare for the next climb. All I had to do was keep pushing and not give up.

I’m sure there is also a saying about the blazing hot sun and the unforgiving wind that can be turned into a silver lining, but I’m too tired to ponder the possibilities. I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

Meanwhile, I’m just going to crash on the sofa with my box of cherry liqueur infused dark chocolates and contemplate life from a horizontal perspective.

April 20, 2020 – Day twenty-two of Shelter in Place:

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been six days since I last updated the logbook. You would think that being stuck at home I have nothing but time to write, alas, it doesn’t work like that. It’s not just about having the time at your disposition; you need an alignment of elements for it to work and my world has been completely unaligned for the last few days (technically, for the last few weeks but more so the last few days).

It’s a good day today, I made my bed!

But today was a good day and I grabbed it with both hands (in my case, I grabbed my laptop with both hands and started furiously tapping away). I was (and still am) in a relatively good place because I made my bed this morning. I usually make it first thing when I wake up, but lately it has been taking me almost the entire day before I finally make a halfhearted attempt at straightening the sheets and fluffing the pillows before tumbling into bed again. To me, making my bed is like an affirmation: I’m up, I’m alive and I’m ready to take on the world (or at least the day). I haven’t been very affirmative as of late, hence my tangled, messy bed.

A nostalgic visit to my favorite swimming spot

But there have been positive changes; we are now allowed to go out and do sports in the mornings and late afternoons and I have been making good use of that freedom, jumping on my bike or going for long walks whenever I had the chance. (It’s probably also one of the reasons I haven’t written much in the past few days.)

It made me happy to finally be outside, but it made me feel even better when I saw so many other people enjoying these same perks. The first time out on my bike, there were people walking everywhere (while maintaining the proper social distance). Not just at the usual spots where walkers and runners exercise, but along the entire route. As if they had simply opened the front door and walked out with no particular destination in mind, as long as it was outside of those four oppressive walls.

This was one change I had hoped would survive the lockdown; people walking out and about, enjoying the fresh air and the wonders nature has to offer. But today was only the fifth day since we got clearance to walk, run or bike and already I noticed that there were less people on the streets. As if the novelty of going outside wore off by the end of the weekend.

I still have some hope that the streets were less crowded this morning because it was a Monday. There are a lot of people who work from home and maybe they like to get an early start. Hopefully there will be more walkers, runners and cyclists in the evening. If there is one thing I believe we should embrace, it’s this new way of looking at life, not through the windshield of a vehicle, a TV screen or a mobile device but physically, using all your senses to completely enjoy the experience. It will give you a newfound respect for nature, for how you treat your body, for life.

It’s the wind blowing at you from all directions, whispering in your ear; “Faster, faster, I know you can go faster, try to catch me if you can!”.

It’s the sense of power, pushing yourself to the limit, feeling how you master first one hill and then another and another until you have surmounted them all.

It’s the sense of freedom you feel flying down the roads. You are at the helm; you decide whether to turn right or left and when to head back home.

It’s the sense of balance, not only with the bicycle but an inner balance of the body and soul, everything is one and at peace.

It’s the complete sense of joy and accomplishment that comes with having conquered another ride, another challenge, another day.

My bed is made, my ride completed, I am ready!

April 14, 2020 – Day sixteen of Shelter in Place:

I didn’t think I would have to write in my logbook again after the 2-week lockdown implemented by the government had concluded, so I had to take a day off to regroup when they prolonged the lockdown with 2 more weeks.

Since the amount of cases seem to be contained, I was certain that the lockdown would be lifted, or at least replaced by a much less severe shelter-in-place directive. It is what it is. At first I fumed and ranted at the TV screen, the Prime Minister receiving the brunt of my insults. But then I realized that I was behaving like a petulant child. This wasn’t a personal affront to my freedom; I wasn’t being punished. This was an all-out war against the Corona virus and drastic measures needed to be taken to safeguard our community. It hurt, it sucked, but it didn’t compare to the suffering other countries were going through and which was exactly what our government was trying to prevent from happening here.

It was time to ‘man-up’ and do my part to keep everyone safe instead of whining about mundane matters that are inconsequential in the big picture. So, I’ve decided to stop complaining. It doesn’t mean that from now on everything is going to be easy, or that I will no longer feel claustrophobic sitting at home. It just means that I’m not going to fight it or complain about it. All my emotions are free to wash over me and do their thing, but in the end I’m still going to be sitting at home as instructed by our Prime Minister, dealing with the ups and downs just like everyone else and count my blessings that I have a roof over my head to lockdown in.

There are other things pressing on my mind of course. I worry about my kids and what’s going to happen to their academic year. I worry that I might not have an income by the end of the month. I worry how our economy in general is going to survive this pandemic. These are all issues that will have to be dealt with sooner or later, but for now, none is more important than keeping my loved ones safe. If staying home for another couple of weeks is what it takes to guarantee their safety, then it will be worth it. Their life is more precious to me than my freedom…hopefully I’ll feel the same way in two weeks!

I’m not sure that I still have the energy to keep up this logbook on a daily basis, but I will try to at least write regular entries to keep you informed and keep me busy!

Be safe everyone.

April 13, 2020 – Day fifteen of Shelter in Place:

Today felt like a bucket of cold water was doused on my head…another 2 weeks of lockdown. I had so hoped for at least a bit of easing up of the measures.

It reminded me of back when the kids were young and still spent every other weekend with their father. I would distribute my patience just so, to last me for the two weeks before it was his turn to pick them up and I could look forward to at least a weekend of quiet bliss. Then, at the last minute, right before he’s supposed to pick them up, he would sometimes call and cancel on me.

I felt like a balloon filled with air that is suddenly let go before the knot was tied. All the air gushes out of me and I spiral around and around in crazy circles until all the air is gone and I land on the floor with a thud, completely spent.

That’s how I felt again today when I heard we still can’t even leave the house to go for a walk outside. There are no words. I have no backup plan and wasn’t prepared for this news. I’m devastated.

Thankfully, my mother has also caught the ‘logbook writing bug’. She decided to fill in for me today. You can clearly see where I get my writing abilities from. Hopefully my mood will improve tomorrow, new day, new opportunities and all that. I leave you in good company…

Input by Martha Neuman (my mom):

From the perspective of our dog, a three-legged ‘Westpointer’ (stray) appropriately called Driepoot….

I truly don’t understand my humans; for almost 2 weeks or its equivalent in dog-years, I have noted a sudden and weird change in their daily behavior. They no longer wake up at the regular time and when they do, they no longer get out of the yard so I can sprint after their cars for a couple of hundred meters and get my daily exercise!

I have totally given up on them. Now I just hang around, nap on the front porch and for a bit of movement, I’ll sometimes scamper to the back porch and then nap some more. They have taken away my daily run but weirdly enough, I’ve noticed that most of the humans in my home are exercising daily as if there is no tomorrow. The one they call Tamara rides a stationary bike on the front porch (I can’t figure it out, the bike literally doesn’t go anywhere. I can’t chase it; what’s the fun in that?).

I’ve also seen her ride another bike, with fatter tires, in the front yard. She just kept going back and forth – I tried to chase her at first but there was no point because I was faster getting to the end of the yard; she ended up chasing me and that’s not what I signed up for so I stopped following her moves. The two younger looking humans; Alexine and Emyl I think they are called, although I’m not sure. It’s confusing to me because sometimes the one called Tamara calls them different things, Damn and Damnit I hear the most, but maybe it’s because of my sharp ears; she usually shouts when she uses those names. In any case they have also started a pattern of frantic exercise. Every…single…day. It’s exhausting just watching them, so naturally I take a nap while looking.

The two other inhabitants of my home, called either Papa and Mama or Abe and Lita, depending on who talks to them, are rather subdued and I don’t get to see much of them anymore. Thankfully Papa/Abe still feeds me every night, so I at least see him at dinner time (more importantly of course, is the fact that I get my dinner!).

What I really can’t understand is this new flurry of activity in the kitchen. I hear them discussing culinary terms and spy them preparing the most delicious smelling dishes, often for hours on end. But when all the cooking is done and the kitchen is cleaned, all ‘yours truly’ gets is his usual canine food. I mean, really? Come on humans, not even scraps? It’s an abomination!

Another thing; I thought I had this human talk down pat but for the past few weeks I’ve been hearing a lot of words I’ve never heard before that sound like Chinese to me. I really don’t understand what they mean, such as:

Quarantine: Is that what they are calling me know? They certainly use the name often enough…just when I got used to them calling me ‘Driepoot’.

Covid-19: Is that even a word? Perhaps a new brand of dog food? I hope not, if I’m not going to get any scraps, they can at least stick to my favorite brand of dog food that I’m used to. I’ll have to put my paw down on that one!

Outbreak: Come On peeps! When was the last time I actually broke out of the yard? You guys aren’t going anywhere for me to chase you remember?

Pandemic: I think this must be a kind of bread with no carbs.

Corona Virus: I think my humans are planning to adopt another dog, maybe a strange breed I’ve never heard of before. If that’s the case, I hope it is a male. Two bitches together in this crazy household would be disastrous to what is left of my peace of mind.

Isolation: I think this has to do with a lack of sunlight; they rarely leave the house anymore so they might be thinking of a device to bring more of the outside light inside the house.

Ventilator: This one I actually know but I mention it because it makes me wag my tail in excitement: it is a big fan they are going to install on the porch so I can enjoy my naps in a cool breeze.

Shelter in place: What? Are they thinking of turning our home into a shelter for stray dogs? Not on my watch! I’m willing to turn a blind eye for one extra dog, but a shelter full of strays, no way Hosey!

Social distancing: I’m pretty sure it is a new dance. That would explain the crazy back and forth movements of these humans lately.

Epidemiologist: (sometimes also called an Izzy) I don’t have a frigging idea what these words mean but I do know that at exactly 11:30 am each day, both names can be heard repeatedly on TV and my homies stay glued in front of this TV sometimes for over an hour. It must be a new series on Netflix…

There are more of these words, but I can’t remember them just now, my mind is getting a bit fuzzy, it’s almost time for dinner…where is Abe?

I truly wish everything would go back to normal, the silence outside is depressing. No cars honking in our neighborhood, no people walking and talking in the street or kids zooming by on their bikes for me to yap at, no scooters making their usual infernal sound trying to out-howl me, – there is literally not one reason for me to bark and show my homies that I am guarding our home. When this, whatever this is, is over, I will probably have forgotten how to bark.

I don’t even wiggle my tail anymore; there is no reason to (unless they are talking about the ventilator!).”

Driepoot posing between the flowers…

April 12, 2020 – Day fourteen of Shelter in Place:

Today I gussied up; I put on my earrings, sprayed some perfume and even applied some lipstick…okay lip gloss but it’s still makeup. And to top it off…I wore a bra! It’s Easter after all; no need to scare of the Easter Bunny!

We decided to move the car on the street and use the open garage as our impromptu ‘outdoor brunch’ venue. We kept it simple but nice, decorating the table with an actual tablecloth, using our ‘nice’ plates and silverware and adding a center piece made from garden pickings. The small ‘buffet’ table on the side displayed our culinary masterpieces (hey, we worked on them long enough, to us they were works of art).

At around noon we all finally sat down for the feast. We counted our blessings and reminisced about previous Easter celebrations and just enjoyed each other’s company. By 1:00 pm the plates were devoured and washed, and everything was back in its place (including my bra which I stuffed back in the drawer!). Easter was basically over…now what?

We hurried to the TV room to watch the much-anticipated Andrea Bocelli concert that had been advertised all week. It was indeed impressive but lasted only about 20 minutes. We still had the rest of the day to kill.

Master beans chef at work!

So, of course, back to the kitchen we went to start on Monday’s lunch: the ‘hòfi’ beans we had peeled the other day. This is my mom’s specialty, so this time I was her sous chef while she made her magic. She also decided to make a zucchini bread while she was at it, then realized halfway through adding the ingredients to the mixing bowl that there wasn’t enough zucchini and turned it into a zucchini/carrot bread instead! You got to make do with what you have right? Besides, it’s all good, the more veggies the better. It means that it can technically be considered part of a balanced diet instead of a dessert!

My daughter’s winning shot!

The highlight of the evening was when my daughter found out she won the last photo challenge of the week as well. The theme was Easter and I must say, not just because she’s my daughter, but I thought she came up with a darned cute idea and executed it perfectly. She took a picture of the Easter Bunny having a ‘lockdown’ skype date. How creative is that!


April 11, 2020 – Day thirteen of Shelter in Place:

It’s the day before Easter Sunday. There will be no egg hunt this year. Okay, to be fair, we wouldn’t have had an egg hunt even without the lockdown; we are all grownups after all, but still, we do celebrate Easter. Usually we either go to one of the brunches organized by different hotels, or, if we are not too lazy, we do our own brunch at home. This time we don’t really have a choice. Lazy or not, we will have to make the best of it and celebrate at home.

I wasn’t really feeling it; this second week of lockdown was taking its toll on me mentally and emotionally, but my daughter had been looking forward to it. She wanted us to start prepping a few of the dishes to speed up  the work so that the next day all we had to do was plate the cut up fruit and cold cuts, pop the frittata and homemade bagels in the oven, set the table and enjoy our brunch. I didn’t want to be a party pooper, so I donned my sous chef hat once more, picked up the knife and sliced away (with a glove close by just in case…). 

They say that when life brings you lemons you make lemonade. Well, I’m not too sure about that, but in our case the ‘hòfi’ and local ‘toko’ brought us tamarind, ginger and sweet bell peppers, so we made jam which came in handy for our brunch!

Homemade jam…we be jamming it!

April 10, 2020 – Day twelve of Shelter in Place:

Survived another day but I’m afraid I still don’t have anything insightful to share. It was a pretty straightforward day. No excitement of leaving the house or groceries being delivered, it was just another copy paste day. At least I spent it wearing my comfy pj’s.

Well, there was this one thing. I never, ever thought these words would ever come out of my mouth…okay, technically from my fingers out on the screen…but in any case, today we willingly, I repeat, willingly/of our own accord, decided to give the house a good clean up…just to pass the time! Everyone pitched in and we had the house looking spic and span in no time…which was kind of a bummer, it was supposed to keep us busy all day! We didn’t even have to worry about preparing lunch since my daughter made an eggplant lasagna yesterday for us to eat today.

We’ve been prepping meals in advance to make sure that especially the fresh produce doesn’t spoil before we get a chance to eat it. This includes a lot of chopping by the sous chef (that’s me if you remember correctly). Regretfully, I skipped the course on how to safely cut your veggies. Thankfully, we have a box full of gloves which we are supposed to use when going to the supermarket, but which I now use almost on a daily basis to slip over whatever fresh cut I managed to beget on the cutting board. If this lockdown lasts much longer I’m going to lose most if not all of my fingertips.

But, slicing and dicing has become my middle name and I’m not going to let a few small cuts keep me from doing what needs to be done. Sweet potato fries? Done! Diced onions, peppers and tomatoes? Voila! Grated cheese? Ouch, damnit…pass me another glove will ya!

Sous chef at work!

April 9, 2020 – Day eleven of Shelter in Place:

This morning I woke up with a burning question. If you are on lock down by yourself, does that mean you don’t need to use deodorant? I mean, who is going to complain about the smell? That’s a bit extreme of course, but I do wonder how many dress-up rituals have been set aside. If you take a sneak peek at our laundry for example, you will notice that our household has already established a shorts, t-shirts and pj’s dress code. Also, the men have unanimously decided that since they can’t get a haircut, shaving is optional too, while the women have thrown caution to the wind along with their bras!

It was therefore a hot topic when our Prime Minister appeared at the press release with a fresh new haircut. Speculations ran rampant; his wife probably did it for him, he shaved it off himself, no, he had a barber do it with clippers attached to a 2-meter pole!

Point being, most of us are no longer stressing out or bothering with the time consuming task of putting on makeup or dressing up to the nines just to strut around the house and it makes me wonder if by the end of the Corona era, people’s perception of beauty will have changed. Will we all just pick up where we left off and run to the latest ‘luscious lashes’ mascara isle or are we going to embrace the way we look, sans make-up, hairdo or fancy clothing? I’m hoping we find a midway point. A balance between wearing something you like and feeling great about it without any pressure of having to follow the latest fashion. I’m also hoping the new trend will be shorts, shirts and pj’s, that way I win either way!

This is what eleven days of being inside the house does to the mind. I’m sure I’ll have something more insightful to talk about tomorrow. It’s going to be an exciting day; I’m going to do the  laundry, which means I’ll be able to wear my favorite daytime pj’s again!

Favorite PJ’s

April 8, 2020 – Day ten of Shelter in Place:

I can’t believe it! Yesterday I was in such a philosophical mood about the perception of time that I forgot to mention the most important highlight of the day. And it’s not about a workout this time. I’ve actually decided to skip the ‘wake-up and train’ routine breakdown from now on; it’s become repetitive even for an exercise junkie like me! So, moving on to other topics…yesterday…


My license plate letter was up and after avoiding going to the supermarket for over a week, I took the plunge yesterday. Well, more like a splash than a plunge since I pre-ordered my groceries for curbside pickup! But still…I LEFT THE HOUSE…IN MY CAR! It felt weird at first, I had to get used to my car again and the streets were like Sunday-morning-empty, which was even weirder since it was lunch-time rush hour by the time I hit the road. Still, it felt good to leave the house for a bit and I enjoyed the freedom of driving on the streets of Curaçao. I got a power kick out of it and felt like the queen of the road. My hand itched to give my fellow drivers a royal wave.  

Sadly, the ride was over too soon while the curbside pickup itself took longer than I had anticipated (almost an hour, after they were the ones who informed me my supplies were ready for pick up) but the service was nice enough, which made up for the wait (kind of, but not really). There is something to be said about communication and buying groceries that a stranger picked out for you based on the list you wrote down, teaches you a thing or two about communicating properly.

So, I now have to figure out what I’m going to do with a can of Brussel sprouts I had hoped would be fresh ones and look up a recipe for the smoked salmon that was supposed to be salmon filets for Friday’s lunch. I also have an additional can of baking powder I have not much use for while I am still out of baking soda…but other than that, all was good, which means my communication skills aren’t that bad…unless you count the misunderstanding with the police, but I’m not going to get into that! (just kidding, there was no misunderstanding with the police…or was there?)

Now back to today. Since the start of the lockdown, I’ve been thinking about the parents with young children and how difficult it must be for them to keep the kiddos entertained all day long. It’s not an easy task and I must admit that I was really glad that my kids are grownups that can pretty much entertain themselves. I didn’t have to worry about cleaning up messy little hands full of paint or mud…or so I thought; I forgot to take into account having a creative grown child in the house.

So far, my daughter’s enrollment in the online photography contest has left me with achy fingers from being pricked by thorns while holding branches this way and that, dirty nails from having to dig up mud and a paint splattered back that took me about an hour to scrub off. Taking a picture of an inanimate object is apparently not good enough according to my daughter and since the photographer can’t photograph herself, she needs a model (read: guinea pig).

Playing with mud

It suddenly dawns on me why I’m being pampered with those lovingly prepared yogurt bowls…it’s still a good deal though. I just hope tomorrow’s theme isn’t water because odds are that I’ll end up head under in a bucket of water! I also must admit that the pictures turned out pretty cool, so I guess I’ll have to suck it up and indulge her crazy ideas, or even better, I’ll pay my son to be the guinea pig, oops I mean model.

I’d like to give a shout-out to all parents and their heroic efforts at keeping their little ones occupied and happy; you are doing an awesome job!

April 7, 2020 – Day nine of Shelter in Place:

Nine in the morning seems to have become my new official wake up time, regardless of the alarm clock. I still set it religiously for 6:00 am but I can’t muster up the will to let go of my pillow. To my body and its new internal clock, the most logical course of action apparently, is to turn off the alarm, dive deeper under the covers and continue sleeping. No biggie; it’s not like I’m going to get fired for being late for work!

Speaking of time, going into this second week of the lockdown I noticed that my perception of time has completely changed. In the pre-Corona era, I was always in a rush, just like almost everybody else I suppose. There was never enough time to do or finish anything and whatever I did do, it was always done haphazardly or in a hurry to get to the next task or before heading for work. But now, I have nothing but time. The day still comprises of 24 hours but there is no reason to stick to our pre-set doctrine of waking up, eating or sleeping at a specific time. There is nowhere to rush off to; time has become obsolete.

Kids collaborating amicably in the kitchen…a new first!

Today for example, we ate lunch at about three in the afternoon and we lingered at the table for almost an hour. I’m sure that this forced 24/7 togetherness will eventually start fraying our nerves and lead to conflicts and outbursts, but up till now I’m pleasantly surprised with the way we are all working together (or keeping out of each other’s hair). The kitchen especially is always full of activity, like a synchronized ballet dance; while one person is slicing and dicing, the other is searing or frying and yet another is washing and drying.

Papaya Stewousky

Today’s dance was titled: ’Papaya Stewousky’ (with the fresh green papayas from the ‘hòfi’). Just imagine the scene from ‘Ratatouille’, with all the rats working together in sync (not that I’m comparing my family with rats…although we are probably snacking through the day much like them!).

I now take my sweet old time to do things and since I’ve determined that time is obsolete, I’ve also decided that I have the prerogative to complete (or not) certain chores at an unspecified time simply because…I have time!

April 6, 2020 – Day eight of Shelter in Place:

I was not kidding about going vertical! I’ll admit that the morning got off to a slow start; I didn’t actually get out of bed until 9:00 am, but once up, I was on a roll. My only horizontal moment of the day was during the Press Release, after that I was back at it. The kids and I kicked off with a joint exercise routine and the rest of the day’s activities included cooking and cleaning (the chef called in her chips; she had online classes today, so I had full kitchen duty) and prepping for tomorrow’s lunch.

I also joined my daughter in her hunt for ‘photogenic’ flowers, for an online competition she enrolled in and I miraculously also got in some writing.

But the highlight of the day was definitely when ‘Dani’s fruits and veggies’ van stopped at our house to deliver our order. It felt like a party. We got a box full of gorgeous produce and we oohed and aahed at each and every one before carefully stowing them in the refrigerator. What an excitement! Who would have ever thought that unpacking broccoli and kale could make you leap for joy?

My mother is the queen of online shopping and not being able to order the latest gadgets, shoes, clothes and whatnots from Amazon has not deterred her from doing what she loves to do. She just switched to grocery online shopping instead and is having a ball making lists and ordering from any and all supermarkets that have delivery service. In turn, having a wide variety of vegetables to choose from has amped up our cooking game! We have been eating a lot healthier since the start of the lockdown, well…except for the occasional cakes, cookies and flans made by our pastry chef (read, my mother) that have also become part of our new meal plan.   

Later in the day we got an unexpected delivery! My father has been unable to go to his ‘hòfi’ and the guy taking care of the ‘hòfi’ brought him a crate full of pickings that included some sweet potatoes, papaya and ‘bonchi di kunuku’ (homegrown beans). If it had been a few weeks ago that my dad brought home the beans, we would have all scattered and disappeared to avoid being called upon to peel the beans. Now we almost fought for the privilege of undertaking this mundane but time killing task!

Two hours later, my mother and I proudly added our last peeled beans to the plastic container. Voilà, our work was done!

April 5, 2020 – Day seven of Shelter in Place:

No need to copy paste today; my morning routine was definitely different from the rest of the week. It was the weirdest thing really. For some reason, I couldn’t sleep last night. I’m not talking about a fitful sleep with much tossing and turning; I literally did not sleep at all until morning. First, I scrolled through Insta. Then I remembered that a friend had sent me a link where you could watch free foreign films. It had a list of about ten movies to choose from, bringing the ‘Film Festival’ experience to your home. I binge watched four movies on my phone without dozing off once, and when I glanced at my watch it was past 5:30 am; my alarm would go off any minute now, but I still had some hope that I could catch at least a few hours of sleep, so I made the executive decision to turn off the alarm clock and dove back under the covers.

It kind-of worked; I woke up at 9:30 am. But my routine had once again been disrupted and it made my entire system go on strike. I didn’t feel like exercising or even walking in the yard. I decided instead to dub this day: ‘Horizontal Sunday’. My daughter was kind enough to fix me another one of her fab yogurt bowls and brought me breakfast in bed (I’m not going to think about the huge debt I’ve accumulated with this service and will simply deal with it when she ultimately calls in her chips). I enjoyed my bowl of goodness while watching yet another movie on the list. I didn’t even bother to pause the film to follow the Press Release, which was a good thing because apparently it only lasted about 4 minutes.

I’ve had a ‘no TV in my bedroom’ policy for almost 20 years and I’ve never regretted it until the lockdown. I will deny ever having said this, but for the first time I’m starting to miss not having a TV in my room. I’ve had to make do with watching movies on my phone or laptop and it especially made my ‘Horizontal Sunday’ tricky because I had to actually walk to the TV room before I could crash on the sofa, completely undermining my new ‘Horizontal Sunday’ decree.

But apart from those few steps to the sofa, it wasn’t until lunch that I officially sat up and deliberately  walked towards the kitchen. I played nice as acting sous chef but as soon as I was done with the cutting, slicing and dicing, I covertly made my way to the sofa and settled back in my horizontal position for a Netflix session.

Fritatta extraordinare!

This time it was my son who acted as the designated waiter, bringing me my lunch; frittata accompanied by oven roasted bell peppers, the chef is really outdoing herself! I made a halfhearted attempt at sitting up straight but ended up eating at a 45-degree angle. Before even swallowing the last bite, my body slumped back into the horizontal position. I really wanted to get up and move at a certain point, or at least, that’s what my mind kept telling my body, but my limbs had their own agenda and didn’t budge. By almost 7:00 pm I finally managed to win the battle against the sofa. I got up, forced myself to go out in the yard and walked back and forth a few times to get the blood circulation going. Ten minutes in and I had had enough. I took a shower and answered the sofa’s call. I watched the news and then finally gave up on Sunday altogether and went to bed where I’m currently located, once more horizontally, back propped on a pillow and my laptop on, well, my lap! It was hard for me to write today’s entry. My regular Sundays are so completely different from this Covid19-induced-lockdown-Sunday that I didn’t know how to fill my day. I spent this entire week at home without even going to the supermarket as we had ordered groceries online and were okay on supplies. But at least I knew I had the option of going to the supermarket or the pharmacy if I really needed to. Today I didn’t have that option. Sunday, a day I usually look forward to because of its limitless options has suddenly become a tediously long and boring day. But I survived it and tomorrow is another day; I’m ready to go vertical!

April 4, 2020 – Day six of Shelter in Place:

I might as well start to copy paste at this point…so, yeah, you guessed it. Alarm went off at six, I woke up at 7:30. Walked around the house weighing my options. Should I do the treadmill again today or maybe the rower? I definitely wasn’t feeling the stationary bike; it makes me yarn too much for the outdoors. I’m afraid that instead of getting on the bike I would yank it from the standard and try to flee outside.

…Okay, the rower it is…

But then I suddenly remembered that my swim group organized a zoom meeting for 8 am (our regular swim time) to catch up on what everyone was doing since we couldn’t meet up for our weekly swim. I donned my cap and goggles just for kicks and ‘zoomed’ in. It was nice to see everyone again and to chat, but it was also a bit painful; I really miss the ocean. We talked for about an hour, signed off and I picked up my new daily routine where I had left off, which was with me just about to jump on the rower.

Another bowl of goodness…what price will I have to pay for them?

Afterwards I did a few push-ups to finish my exercise quota for the day, then quickly hit the shower and planted myself in front of the TV with another bowl of goodness prepped by my daughter, just in time for the day’s press release. (I’m slightly starting to worry about her increasing kindness, it could be that she has an ulterior motive, or that she noticed that her mother is finally losing it. I’m not sure which scenario is worse!)

They didn’t have much to report today. It was over just as I finally got all comfy on the sofa (after slowly squeezing my daughter off of it).

Time for lunch. Today’s special was oven roasted sweet peppers prepared by our new in-house chef; my daughter. By now we have all fallen into a certain routine with everyone adhering to their specific task and specialty. My daughter does most of the cooking and I do the cleanup during and after meals. I also step in as sous chef once in a while.

My mom’s delicious lemon cake!

My mother does the baking for our dessert of the day (today it was lemon cake, very tasty and lemony!) My son takes out the trash, waters the plants and handles all chores that require strength or involve lifting anything, and my father is the official taster of all foods prepared! It’s a pretty good system that seems to be working so far.

I finished my day by taking my mountain-bike for a very, very short spin in the front yard, followed by a ‘walk-a-thon’ consisting of 10 circles around the house, whereby my father acted as the official counter and triumphantly waved a white flag (read crumpled up napkin) at the end of my last lap. It almost felt like crossing the finish line at a triathlon…almost.

Riding up and down the yard…