I have to admit, that even though we both lost our jobs, and have no idea what the restaurant industry will look like going forward, we are insanely fortunate to be where we are for dozens of reasons. This thousand foot home that I've held onto and love dearly, has come to mean ten fold what it did before all of this. The front lawn that I turned into raised beds for an organic culinary garden seven years ago, has become my husband's new fixation. He's converted my vintage trailer into a makeshift green house, with seedlings lining every surface, and the inside of the ice box. The rooms reserved for AirBnB reservations serve for different spots to plonk down my laptop, and try to focus on online classes, writing, and moving my business forward, while I'm not battling waiting on the phone trying to get through to utility companies and financial institutions to beg for leniency. The backyard has become a makeshift gym for my husband (because the ceilings are too low for him to use the elliptical indoors). The garage has become his new "atelier" where he watches YouTube videos on wood working, construction, and gardening, and has built some incredible projects, and taught himself a ton. The living room is where the dogs are kings and allow us to sit on the increasingly uncomfortable couch with them as we devour hours, and hours, and hours of movies and television series while eating a labor intensive meal and drinking a well deserved bottle of wine from the dwindling collection. The kitchen...well, let's just say I pray for the people without a dishwasher. How on earth do we do a full load at least once every other day for just the two of us? We're both really enjoying making meals, working with what the garden provides, and turning long forgotten about pantry staples into delicious dishes. But MY G O D, the planning, prepping, cleaning, and cleaning, and cleaning...you'd think I didn't used to do this for a living.
The true treasure of this tiny home that is tucked in the most east space in Oakland, is the back backyard. The second backyard. The one that shows the signs of being constructed in 1939 on a fault line, with its decrepit staircase leading thirty feet down to the cracked brick wall outlining the year round creek that marks the barrier between Oakland and San Leandro. A total of four Redwoods just on our property, an ancient Oak, and one of the largest Bay trees I've ever seen. Wild Blackberry bushes and ivy threaten to consume every square inch, and require aggressive cardboard mulching to keep at bay. Last year, thanks to a generous gift from a pair of clients, we were able to build an incredible 10x16 foot Trex deck with my dad, that I'd been envisioning for close to five years if not longer. It was to serve as a space for dinner parties, meditation sessions, yoga, and AirBnB classes (all of which got canceled thanks to 'rona).
I've sat in the surprisingly comfortable modern white plastic Ikea chairs on this deck and meditated, l journalled, day dreamed, and held conversations with my guides. We've had date night dinners there, lit by tiki torches filled with mosquito deterrent fuel. We've cooked meals down there over the fire grill. I find it cathartic to sweep the deck of all of the debris from the squirrel village in the Oak tree that looms over it, even if it doesn't stay clean for long. During the SiP, I got around to fixing a convertible bench/desk, that I've propped up alongside the waters edge, that is absolutely perfect to sit at and read for hours on end. Which for me, as a constant doer, is harder than you'd think.
It was during one of these zone out afternoons, that I spotted not just the usual pair of ducks that have been coming to this spot of the creek for at least as long as I've lived here during the Spring, and have named, but two other couples! Three sets of ducks! Over the past few years I've spotted baby ducks, but life has always been full speed ahead, and I would acknowledge them, love them, and then the moment would pass. This year my friends, I have the time to go full on ducky, and prepare heirloom popcorn for them every other day, and spend hours waiting for them to show up, and then when they do, time disappears (as does the list of ish I swear to get done everyday), and it's like I'm a kid at a petting zoo, except with no parent to tell me I need to go. Truly. I feel like a little kid, so easily pleased and excited just spending time with them, that it has become the highlight of my day. Monte has even been setting down his projects to go down and feed them with me.
Now, Mrs. Pe (I believe the oldest and the one that I got to hold nine years ago when I moved here), and her four babies, will turn into mini Ferrari's when they hear me coming, and will eat popcorn from me as long as I will feed it to them. Mrs. Pe will now eat the popcorn from my hand, and one of the babies has been brave enough to snag a kernel from my fingers.
I feel beyond fortunate. For this time, for my home, for each other, for the planet to heal, for the ingredients that are available to us, for the skills to turn them into delicious and nourishing meals, and for the relationships that have thrived because of social media. Yes, we both want to go back, earn paychecks, see our family and hug them, share meals with friends, and not have this black cloud of uncertainty looming over us, but for now, I am trying to cherish every special moment.
For more updates and duck videos, you can find me on Instagram HERE.