The year 2020 has been different, odd, crazy, and full of unexpected circumstances. We started quarantining in late February, before the mandates were issued and though prior to the pandemic we were not the type of folks who go out a lot by any stretch of the imagination, we did go out occasionally. A few times a year, we would hit a karaoke bar and dined out here and there probably a couple times a month, mostly Asian food of some variety.
We truly didn’t have to alter our lives too much with this pandemic. Perhaps we already lived a bit in quarantine since we “bought the farm” in 2017. It certainly seems that way. Even with the restaurants soon going to 50% capacity, I have only dined out once since March to meet a girlfriend for some Mexican food. I just like to be home and cook and farm and it is probably safer that way though I am concerned with the fate of all the bars, restaurants, hotels and everyone being affected financially.
I am a born entertainer. Now, not in the way that I invite people over to my house and sing to them or something, (though that has happened). I like to cook for people and gather folks who don’t know each other and watch everyone engage. I especially like to watch first time guests enjoy the sights and sounds of nature at our farm and covered back deck area and watch them look around our groovy hippie house! Hospitality is my thing. It started with cooking dinner for my first boyfriend’s coworkers and friends when visiting him in Cleveland while I was still in college and has evolved to a whole experience that I like to give people. I just adore readying our house or chalet for guests, putting out linen napkins, preparing plates of all sorts of yummies and libations, lighting my oil lamps (see a previous blog on the secret of life which is also about people) asking Alexa to play something in particular that I know they will enjoy and then sitting back. I just love people.
Even during Covid, I don’t believe I have curbed my desire to talk to strangers. Usually it is ME engaging with others, but here is a story about two folks who came to me and because of them both, I am grateful and hopeful for the future.
This summer, while dining on some takeout from a favorite Thai restaurant outside the restaurant, a really BIG young man came up to talk to Mitch and me. He had just eaten his takeout in the car and came to speak with us, telling us he was kind of new to Pittsburgh and wanted to meet some people. So, we had Bryan over to the farm for dinner the very next day and when I broke my wrist, he volunteered to help out in any way. Soon Bryan returned to the farm with a lady friend and they helped Mitch work on a fencing project while I cooked and healed. I feel very certain we have made a lifelong friend. Coach BAM is so awesome!
Jaya is a young woman who would talk with me while checking out my purchases at Tractor Supply. Every time I came in there, you could see her smiling under her mask and she was always so sweet. We would chat briefly and she seemed so interested in the farm that I gave her a business card and told her to contact me. Now, I meet tons of people and have passed out hundreds of cards at supermarkets, gas stations, the post office, etc., and very rarely people contact me. If they do it is usually a man and honestly, he isn’t interested in my cooking, my honey or my blogs. I find many people puzzling, but Jaya took me up on my offer and sent me an email, started reading my blogs and soon we had her over to the farm. I had no idea it would be an hour drive for her to get to us, but she didn’t seem to mind.
During her first visit, I wasn’t sure how old she was and told Mitch, a young lady is coming to the farm. She could have been 16 or 21 and of course that didn’t matter. I just had no idea honestly. Well, Jaya is a 20 year old artist and studying to be an art teacher. She is beautiful, kind, smart and such a talented painter. She seems interested in learning everything I can teach her!
We talked and talked and ate a bit but mostly talked and I began thinking as I watched her, this is the daughter I never had. Conveniently, she could use a local mother figure too so visits with Jaya are just THE BEST. I have taken her hiking, shopping and exploring Pittsburgh, we have painted together, we have had her and her boyfriend (who is an amazing guy in his own right) over for dinner and I can’t wait till the next time we get together. I have so many ideas!!!!! This is going to be a lifetime of fun and I am hoping opportunities to offer advice, help out in ways she may need and be a maternal figure to this amazing young woman.
Because I could also use a mother figure, I will leave you with one more new friend story from the Covid-19 era in my life.
I had my first ever surgery right before the lockdown in early March and the nurse Molly who cared for me while I was being prepped was just so sweet. She saw I had brought a copy of Mother Earth News and a Better Nutrition magazine to read and before they wheeled me in, she wrote her mother’s name and phone number on my MEN magazine and told me her mother and I are two peas in a pod, to CALL HER. So, I did.
We had one chat on the phone then started emailing and we became pen pals. I have never before and may never again meet a woman who has all the same interests that I do. Heck, she even grows elderberries and when we finally did meet in August, after 5 months of sharing farm successes and failures, and talking bees and healthy herbs and foods and husbands, I just knew that she was my soul sister. I mean, SHE GAVE ME 2 GALLONS OF ELDERBERRIES (see previous blog on the trials and tribulations of a professional berry picker) and has bees living in the WALLS OF HER HOUSE that she will not harm. I am working on a way to have them move themselves to a new spot that is a bit more convenient for both her and the bees. That day, we exchanged many handmade and home-made things and she has inspired me to work with colloidal silver. Stay tuned for more on that.
We have been to England to visit a man we met eating a chicken wrap and drinking a Guinness at Quaker Steak and Lube, 300 feet from where we met Bryan. I have made friends with Russians and Bulgarians and folks from other cool places by just saying hello.
You can wear a mask and still not shut yourself off from meeting new people. I challenge you to open up yourself and you never know who will come on in and move into your heart! I’d love to hear about those encounters. Write me, call me, text me… #secretoflifeispeople #putyourselfoutthere #makenewfriends #betheinspiration