Part 14 … and final chapter … of

THE YEAR OF LIVING COVID-ANGEROUSLY

Pilates, then zumba, had re-started … outside. It was GREAT, physically and psychologically. It took a couple of pilates lessons to get my balance back … important for someone who pretends to be a retired ballerina. My upper body strength was non-existent, even before the lockdown. Ha! For zumba … I didn’t miss a step. Pun intended, by that “retired ballerina.”

But as cases fell and restrictions eased, classes could be indoors. As I’ve lamented before, the dance room has 1 door from the hallway and 2 doors leading outside … with only 2 tilt-style windows high up in this very tall space. There is no fan, no ventilation. Air-conditioning … that’s so funny I forgot to laugh. Just a heating unit mounted near the ceiling. No typo … that installer was either ignorant or egregious. When the room is filled with exercisers, sweating and breathing heavily, the windows fog up. We see as we drive by. Even before Covid, we’ve explained the difference between ventilation (good) and cold air (bad) … recently, with colorful visual aids to explain how aerosols (deadly) circulate in closed spaces. Alas, the mortal fear of un colpo d’aria … fresh air touching their neck … is a phenomenon to which they seem particularly vulnerable during exercise. Doors and windows apparently are complicit in this plot to breathe. Inside … only when everyone is fully-vaccinated.

The bacelli (fava) are ready … and there are a few peas!

There’s almost a countdown toward our second shot … and, more importantly, two weeks later. Protected against Covid-19 has a nice ring to it. So we began to think about where in Italy we might like to go.

I still check the numbers, but not compulsively. I watch the positivity rate and compare the daily cases to the 7-day average.

Our Italian friends said they are scheduling shots … a few have had both, some have had their first, others still weeks away. Everybody is signing up … but nobody seems anxious (or willing to re-schedule their summer vacation) to have protection as soon as possible.

The freezing temperature in April took its toll. There are no apricots, peaches, plums, cherries … the pomegranate tree and caper bush have been shocked … but apples are starting to appear.

Among the green tomatoes on the myriad of plants, 2 yellow pachino appear! And we harvest 1 purple eggplant … 3 cucumbers … 3 zucchini … 5 beets … 1 lettuce.

The Delta variant … formerly known as Indian … is creeping in. Our second dose cannot come soon enough.

David & I decided that we want to celebrate our immunity with a trip to a favorite destination, a beautiful location … Lago di Garda. Midweek, to avoid as much crazy traffic as possible. Ha! I wrote to Lorna at the resort we love … she replied. But before I could respond, I got a message from my sister-of-the-heart Agat ………

“Let’s meet in Rome. I dare you … [blowing kiss emoji].”

My immediate reply was, “Tell me the dates, we’re there [twin pink hearts].” David was all in.

So I wrote back to Lorna to thank her and tell her nicely that we won’t be coming … about Agat and going to Rome. I hit “send” … knowing that my message must have seemed oh-so fake, but Lorna, if you’re reading this, it really happened that way.

We called Agat … in L.A., but planning to visit her brothers in France … and discussed the rendezvous. Formidable!

I check every few days about the status of the digital Green Pass … the Covid vaccination don’t-call-it-a-passport certificate … that will help us travel. Italy is known for fast cars and fashion, not technology (or promptness), but this is a key to tourism, so I expect the system might be ready without traditional tardiness. The newest info says it will be available at the end of June. Imagine my surprise when an SMS arrived “early” that it was ready. I clicked into the site … typed in the Authorization Code and other information … and there it was. My QR code.

It was Wednesday when David’s and my phones binged simultaneously with messages. “That’s a reminder about our vaccinations,” I said smiling. And so they were. Tomorrow I’d make tomato soup and roast a chicken so we’d have food in case I was too tired, too achy, too whatever to cook.

It’s V2-day. Finally.

We left home at the same time, parked in the same lot, walked to the same line.

But now there weren’t many people. We were early, but within a minute, we were at the desk … the woman using a yellow highlighter to indicate that we were there. Once inside, they handed us the paperwork we had the last time, and within a few minutes, were talking with a doctor. Since I had a small reaction after shot #1, I was told to wait 30 minutes before leaving. David, too. Another short line, and soon we were in the room. The nurse filled out the little white-and-purple card … and I got the jab. I felt this one a bit, felt the meds a bit. But the relief was my main emotion. Then David’s turn. At the nurses’ station, a woman with beautiful fingernails (yes, I complimented her) completed our information on the computer … and printed the official document from Tuscany with the QR code. I asked if she knew when I’d be able to update the app … she said that would come from the national health office, but not sure when.

The waiting room had bottled water and hard candy. The 30 minutes went quickly. And since I had eaten and made sure I was well-hydrated, I felt fine this time.

I took photos of both our official documents, and put the hard copies into the medical books I keep for us. And waited for side effects. The next day, we were a little tired, but nothing debilitating. I had a small bruise at the injection site that went from purple to greenish-yellow in a few days. That was it.

I said we are fully Pfizered. That afternoon, I read the terms pfizered and modernized in the New York Times … and felt clever.

A few days later, I got an email with the code to update my vaccination status on the app … and it included a link to the official E.U. document. I quickly did both, even printing The Document in its vivid dark blue and yellow colors. I took a photo … then folded it and clipped it to my passport. But David only got a text message to update the app. Even the next day. So I went back to my email, typed in David’s information, and voilà … David’s official E.U. document in vivid dark blue and yellow, printed and photographed.

On Amazon Prime Day, we ordered a repeater … to get internet connectivity downstairs. Third time’s the charm … and we entered the late 20th century. Not DSL or Fiber mind you, but at least it’s reliable 4G in the kitchen and dining room.

Italy’s numbers were improving … and region by region returned to reduced restrictions, then the much-coveted white zone. But everyone knows … the white zone is for loading and unloading, no parking please.

I’ll remain cautiously … cautious.

The two weeks until we had full immunity went slowly and quickly … just as the past 16-½ months had gone. But we were not out of the woods. The Delta variant was on the upswing in Italy, more so in the USA … and we realized that travel requirements could change before our trip in September.

In the meantime, we planned our spur-of-the-moment Roman rendezvous with Agat. That would be our celebration of liberation by vaccination.

***

EPILOGUE

Delta variant … we’re double masking again.

Be careful out there.

***

This started as quarantine concerns, conundrums, comments … inspired by my American friend Sarah in Milan … and has become more of a contemporary albeit temporary diary about my Covid experience. It kept going, and I realized I’d need to decide when to write the words The End. Maybe when we get our vaccinations. Maybe when we do something that we did in the Before Times. Like hugging. Then I’d re-read it … and decide if you could, should read it, too.

I guess you read it. Thank you.

The End.

COCOA ZUCCHINI CAKE

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup oil
½ cup cocoa powder
3 cups grated zucchini
3 cups flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1-½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
¾ cup dark chocolate chips

- Preheat the oven to 350° F (170° C). Grease a 8x4-inch loaf pan.
- In a large bowl, mix sugar and eggs, then add oil and cocoa, mixing well.
- Blend in the zucchini.
- Stir in flour and other dry ingredients to form a thick batter.
- Add the walnuts and chocolate chips.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until done.
- Serve at any temperature.
Enjoy!

Life … and cooking … in the Tuscan countryside.