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Pandemic Predictions

So. This is fun right?

Creek Thoughts

Well, I know a lot of you are not enjoying this at all. Even my husband is climbing the walls and wishing he was back at work, and the dogs are less and less excited to do his military mission like hikes in the hills above our house. I have been spending my days on hold with utilities, banks, and insurance companies for about four hours everyday (Discover and Progressive have been the most helpful btw), and when I’m not on the phone, I’m doing online classes, trying to write, and cooking like it’s my job. Well, it used to be so…I’m reengaging those neglected muscles, one dish at a time. Speaking of dishes, will they ever end??? Thank god for a relatively new dishwasher in perfect working order, and a Costco amount of dish pods.

But here is our SiP reality check. Both of us lost our restaurant jobs, and have no idea what will be available to us when things get back to “normal” and restaurants reopen (which certainly isn’t a guarantee). We lost our health insurance, but luckily got signed up with Covered California, with no down time in our coverage. I have us on a ton of supplements to boost our immune systems, and besides the Spring allergy scares, we are super healthy. We were already living paycheck to paycheck, and the unemployment benefits were slow to come, and will not make ends meet. I cashed out the remaining investments I had, and will be lucky to have that small but significant amount support us for a month or two (if we do not have to pay the mortgage). AirBnB was a primary source of income that supplemented our living expenses, and was helping me to get out of the credit card debt I’ve been battling since my life went sideways in 2016. But of course, no one is traveling. Since we are in a shared house, I’ve chosen to protect us, by not accepting new reservations, but honestly, no one is booking, so I’ve only had to decline one reservation, and the sole confirmed guest ended up cancelling their reservation. So, no income from that, but also no chance of contamination from a guest. Wine glass half full?

But on the other side, it honestly feels like I won the lottery. I’d been begging the universe for some down time to relax, catch up on projects, learn new skills, and not worry about money. Ha! Well, I’m in the same boat as millions of others that are no longer living paycheck to paycheck, so there’s comfort in that, right? I’m grateful for so much. Our home, our garden that's bursting with kale and carrots, lettuce, and herbs, the pickled vegetables from our winter crop, the batches of kombucha that are keeping us healthy and hydrated, and our stocked pantry, combined with our ability to turn lame ass ingredients, into something delicious and comforting. So far, the only fail has been a banana “ice cream”. Monte has learned to make dangerously delicious fresh bread, and is cooking incredible meals from the heart for both of us, and keeping the kitchen amazingly clean.

I’ve traded, bartered, and sold goods to neighbors and friends, supported small businesses when and where we can, dropped off care packages to my Granny at her care facility (from ten feet away), started sending out postcards (using a collection of stamps in random denominations that a neighbor gave to me) to old friends, and new friends, and overall I feel really, really good about this new community we are building. I’ve found citrus fruit on Facebook Marketplace and Nextdoor, that I’ve turned into a half dozen different things. I’ve made a pain salve that is helping everyone from my elderly neighbors, to my friend’s husband who works in the ER. And just this morning I traded homemade lemon marshmallows made from a neighbor’s fruit, for bleach to do a growing load of whites. I’ve helped a diplomat in Bosnia figure out why his pastry cream didn’t work out, and I’ve had a friend remotely figure out what was wrong with my computer. I’ve spent money on wine from my friend’s shops instead of paying much less for bulk wine from one of the big retailers for our online wine seminars, and I’ve had two friends out of the blue send me money just because they wanted to and were able to. I’ll probably write about that one later, but the gesture meant the world to me.

When I can pry myself away from the computer/phone/tv, I’ve gone down to the creek to think, meditate, or just observe nature. It looks, feels, and smells SO alive, and I’m so grateful for this time for the planet to heal, while we’re all staying inside and off the roads and out of factories. Even the ducks seem more chill than usual.

The other day, I wrote a list of predictions that I decided to share with you, and I’m curious if you have any predictions about what will come out of this? Could be funny, serious, or just observations based on what you’ve seen and experienced thus far. We’re almost at the two month mark, and have no clear end in sight. The truth is, we’re in the thick of it, and all we can do is stay inside, try not to stress, focus on the good, eat as healthy as possible, stay active, and work on ourselves. Hopefully we will be allowed to return to our lives in the next month or so, but it is going to be a new world, with new norms, and hopefully a new level of respect and appreciation for each other and the planet.

Stay safe, healthy, and sane. Take this time to relax, catch up on projects, learn a new skill, reconnect with people in a new way, and as always, focus on making the most of this time.

PS Also take the time to binge things that will turn your brain into absolute mush. Overload is real.

Pandemic Predictions:

  1. This will wipe out 80% of restaurants. Food and meal delivery companies will grow and thrive. Corporate giants and chains will shrink, but remain, and probably account for half of the remaining restaurants, but will have even more automated services instead of fully staffed organizations. The remaining establishments that will survive, will either be exclusive fine dining restaurants only accessible to the uber wealthy, or will be family run operations, with fewer staff, and open fewer days in order to be sustainable. More food will be sourced locally. There will be more care in food delivery options. Wine or cocktail suggestions, more professional delivery drivers, more sustainable packaging, and more options to add to your home dine-in experience.

  2. So many brick and mortar businesses will go out of business. There will be huge vacancies in buildings, and commercial real estate owners will eventually be forced to allow businesses in, at hugely discounted rents in order to maintain ownership. The good and the smart commercial real estate owners will recognize this early, and will do everything that they can to retain good and honest business owners, perhaps for some equity in the company in exchange for lower rent. The greedy ones will remain vacant for a decade.

  3. CSA’s will thrive. More options with adding pantry staples will help so many farmers and smaller producers of handmade goods. Cottage businesses will boom, as will small business service providers.

  4. More people will turn to farming, home gardens, hunting, and urban homesteading. Backyards will have chickens, goats, and beehives; front lawns will be replaced with culinary gardens. Trading with other community members will become the new norm via online platforms, community bulletin boards, and community food bins. Canning and preserving will be common practice. Pantry’s and freezers will be filled with homemade and exchanged goods and meats.

  5. Plant medicine will gain more traction and respect. Mushrooms will be the new super food in capsules, and in dishes. Cannabis and psilocybin will replace alcohol and many other pharmaceuticals associated with mental disorders. There will be a new need for psychologists specializing in plant medicine treatments. More attention will be paid to ancient plant remedies, and medicine cabinets will be filled with natural alternatives, and fewer lab engineered drugs.

  6. Medical treatments and appointments will be more common online in video meetings, with newer technologies, tests, and medicines that can be sent directly to your home. Hospitals and doctors offices will be more of an assembly line process of scans and tests. Remote veterinary services will also be available.

  7. Life skill classes will make a huge comeback, from cooking, to preserving, to hunting, butchering, foraging, sewing, carpentry, etc. These hands on and remote classes will thrive.

  8. Working from home will be the new norm. Home offices will be the next big design trend, with workout equipment that will integrate desks for virtual meetings. Quiet, insulated spaces for VR meetings. Companies will pay to have “meals” sent to the employees home, and will have stipends for exercise equipment, or trainers to be sent to the house. Designers in this field will thrive.

  9. Safe rooms/bunkers will make a comeback, and people will continue to hoard basic necessities, food, survival equipment, water reserves, home protection, and generators. Solar and home batteries will become big business. Water treatment and purifiers will be important too.

  10. Travel will boom, with more people creating bucket lists filled with life experiences, instead of material accrual. Train travel, chartered boats, camping, and excursions to remote destinations will be the most sought after. Budget travel will be possible with people opening their homes and offering cultural experiences, inexpensive flight options, and renting of people’s vacation properties, boats, trailers, and cars as a way to make money and fully utilize their investments via the sharing economy.

  11. Trading, bartering, and cash transactions will make a comeback. People will pay much more attention to their finances, and will trust financial institutions less. Houses will get paid off sooner, bills will be prepaid, and quality will be valued above all else, as people will respect their purchases more for longevity and dependability.

  12. New technology will continue to be sought after. New VR machines, communication devices, home security and technology, efficient and smart home appliances, solar and water powered technology, and electric vehicles will be in high demand.

  13. After seeing the effect that having people not contributing to the pollution has had on the planet, there will be new demands on technologies eliminating pollution and waste. Everything from air, to noise, water, to recycling and waste. Packaging will have to be compostable, or made out of exclusively recycled materials. Cars will have to be energy efficient, as well as public transportation. Forests will be replanted, and dirt farming will become more popular.

  14. There will be streamlined ways to clean and sanitize our indoor environments. Devices made for homes, businesses, rooms, buildings, hospitals, gyms, and public transportation. Something with UV rays, non toxic cleansing mists injected into the air, and something like a carwash, but for inside use. A top to bottom cleaner and disinfectant. Surfaces in public buildings and vehicles will be made of non porous materials, and will be easy to clean. This will spur on an even more modern and minimalist design. Outdoor spaces and parks will be where the design will shift.

  15. Plants to filter out toxins and to crank out oxygen will be everywhere. Entire walls in peoples houses, buildings with living walls on the inside and outside. Roofs of business will host culinary gardens, and outdoor lush zen gardens.

  16. Gas stations will be replaced with charging stations and battery swapping machines. The new version of a gas station will be filled with healthy snacks and beverages, and fresh food grown on their roofs with water recycled from their carwash. Local goods will be available at them, and mechanics will be more available for services pertaining to electric vehicles. I see a franchise opportunity. Most people will charge their cars at home or at work, so these will be more “service stations”.

  17. Transportation will be more geared towards vacations and family gatherings since most of the shopping will be done online, and delivered. There will be a greater need for comfort and luxury in vehicles, since people will be in them for longer amounts of time. A technology for doing guided tours based on the car's GPS will become a growing business. Marketing will come in the form of fast food mentions, gas stations, and independent businesses vying for customers to stop and spend their money.

  18. Trailer travel will become big. Companies renting trailers fully furnished and outfitted with camping needs will be huge. Glamping and other outdoor vacations will continue to grow and thrive, along with standards and expectations.

  19. Paid, in-home virtual concerts will be a new thing. Via VR, or on-demand, people will be able to attend concerts from all over the world from their home, in groups, or solo. Ticket prices will be reasonable, and the artists will make a ton of money via pay per views. Outdoor festivals will likely grow in popularity as well.

  20. Group gatherings and meals will be more common. Pot lucks, rotating supper clubs, book clubs, skill classes hosted at someone’s home, or in a unique environment, will become a more important aspect of socializing. People will be more engaged, and prioritize these interactions more than they did prior to the pandemic.

  21. Skilled workers will be in demand via companies like Task Rabbit. They will be paid more, but expected to do more, and be more professional in their appearance, demeanor, cleanliness, and service.

  22. There will be a need for “life tutors”, service professionals in all fields, that will come to your house and “teach” you how to fix, grow, cook, build, and do things on your own. This will be for all of the people that are trying to learn skills via YouTube, Pinterest, and other online platforms, that need help in person to figure out how to make them work, or what they are doing wrong. This will be everything from gardening, to simple electrical and plumbing, baking, setting up a computer, tv, or other technologies, decorating, sewing, crafts, makeup, organizing, etc.