The View From Here

Staying at home: the view from our front porch. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Evening from our front porch. I am SO grateful that we live where we do.

Stay-at-Home Status…

Just thought I’d give you an update on our status. We’re fine and are continuing to “shelter in place.” We’re both still healthy, and 🤞with any luck will stay that way. Le Monsieur is now working from home.

Jeune Homme is staying at his group home. We’re not able to visit him there or bring him to our house, but he is well and all things considered, better off where he is. There’s a nurse on staff, and they have strict protocols in place. He’s happy to hang out and watch videos on his tablet.

Coco is still chugging along. Her appetite is good, and though she’s still a little stiff, is able to get out for a (short) daily walk.

And I’ve been taking a longer walk in the neighborhood most afternoons for fresh air and exercise. (Other neighbors doing the same have all been very conscientious about maintaining distance.) And I’m trying to keep up with yoga and Pilates with a few simple moves/poses daily. My Pilates instructor sent me a link to a video with a mat routine, will try that one over the weekend and report back.

Let’s Eat…

Our 25th anniversary dinner during "shelter in place"...takeout from a local French restaurant. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Last Thursday (March 19) was our 25th wedding anniversary. We’d planned a trip to Las Vegas to celebrate, but of course those plans were nixed. So instead we opened a nice bottle of bubbly, picked up some takeout from a local French restaurant, and had a lovely, low-key celebration at home.

We did a couple of grocery runs when we returned home two weeks ago, and le Monsieur did another one on Wednesday. Markets here are now enforcing 6′ distancing, and he said they were handing out sanitizing wipes to each customer as they entered the store. Dry goods are still scarce, but there’s plenty of fresh produce. Some stores have “senior hours,” some don’t.

I’m not keen on us shopping in person though. We’ve been trying to switch to ordering groceries online, but the local supermarkets haven’t been able to keep up with demand. When we place an order, earliest delivery window is a few days out. Then the market cancels the order the day before it’s supposed to be delivered. 😬That’s happened twice now, and one local supermarket has even suspended online orders altogether. A neighbor recommended Instacart, so we’re giving that one a try.

But salad greens have been plentiful, so I’ve been eating a lot of salads! I usually add some steamed lentils or canned beans for protein, but haven’t been able to restock yet. So I’ve been adding quinoa, which I’ve found is surprisingly satisfying. I make it in the Instant pot:

  • 1 cup quinoa (rinsed)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 minute on high pressure, then allow pressure to release for 20 minutes.

I add 1/4 to 1/2 cup to a large salad. It will stay good in the fridge for a week.

A Little Bit of France

My French Country Home Magazine (Paris special). Details at une femme d'un certain age.

While we are staying home, “armchair travel” can be a fun diversion. Have you checked out “My French Country Home” magazine yet? It’s full of beautiful images and informative articles about the best of French living. And my friend Tish Jett is a contributor!


"Self Made," the story of Madam CJ Walker on Netflix.

We’ve begun watching the 4-part mini-series “Self Made” on Netflix. It’s the story of Madam C.J. Walker, the businesswoman and first female self-made millionaire, who created and manufactured hair products for black women. Octavia Spencer plays Walker (born Sarah Breedlove). I don’t know yet if the mini-series will touch on this, but Madam C.J. Walker was more than just an entrepreneur…she was also a philanthropist, feminist, and politically active (campaigning in favor of anti-lynching laws, for example). What the series lacks in subtlety so far, it makes up for in enthusiasm and some fabulous costuming. I’m glad this story is being told.

Here’s an interesting review from Helena Andrews-Dyer at the Washington Post.

My Brilliant Friend is back with another season on HBO. While this isn’t a light or particularly happy story, it’s, well…brilliant. It’s a story of a complicated friendship, and navigating expectations within a culture that’s often limiting for women. (I’ve just ordered the set of four Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante that the series is based on…)

Fashion for Good

Christian Siriano and Eileen Fisher are just two of the fashion brands who are stepping up to help make masks and other protective gear for healthcare workers!

How are things going with you?

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  1. Thank you for the tip on Self Made. Sounds excellent! Have always wondered about her and a four part series sounds perfect.

      1. Thanks for the suggestion of “Self Made“, Sue. Very enjoyable & it took my mind off the pandemic.
        I’m also enjoying “Last Tango in Halifax” that another commenter recommended.

        Be well everyone!


  2. While I have “unsubscribed” from several of the sites I used to get, I continue to enjoy yours. Your photo from your porch was interesting — I love to see life from another’s view. Today you had such a nice mix of subjects – very enjoyable!!!

    1. I’ve done the same thing, Marilyn. I was getting so many emails I had to unsubscribe from most of them and only kept what I really loved. This is one I will always read and cherish.

  3. A lovely view, thoughtful comments and a pleasing update on Coco’s health! I enjoy all your posts, the micro and the macro My life in Sydney is very similar, everyone in the immediate vicinity working from home & ordering groceries for delivery(we received most of our order last time).I’m staying on routine with exercise, my Pilates physio offers a virtual class now, friends connecting via net and autumnal walks avoiding the neighbours but with added anxiety about older family members. I have more time to read. I love reading and I’m finally making inroads into the pile I’ve been collecting since before last Christmas.

  4. Susan — I feel your frustration over trying to order groceries online. We’ve been trying for weeks to find an open time slot for grocery curbside pickup and have only managed once to grab a slot. Finally, yesterday we tried Amazon’s Prime Now for a pickup from our closest Whole Foods and got one that day. Some friends are also using Amazon Fresh. It can be spotty as to what times are available, and I know WF doesn’t have the choices the big chains have, but when it’s a choice between having to go in person (my husband has heart health issues so in person seems risky) and pick-up, you might check the Amazon options.

  5. Your view is beautiful! Love those trees. I need to get away from the news and watch some Netflix. Self Made is on my list! I’ve kept up with my daily yoga via Zoom. My doodle Bodie love it and is right there on my mat with me during class. I laugh through most of the class with his antics! By the way, I ordered the Chico’s pants you have been wearing except in the ankle length. I got the green and then black on sale for $25! They are incredibly comfortable and I love them! Thanks for the recommendation. Stay safe and healthy.

    1. Sue or Teresa,
      I plan to order the pants today. How did they run size wise?

      Thanks & stay well, all!

  6. Love your beautiful tree. We live in a small river town in Southwest Wisconsin. My husband always goes for a morning drive along the river. Last weekend we took a much longer drive. It is relaxing to get away from thinking about this pandemic. I am still going into work every day. I am working in a manufacturing and distribution site which delivers cleaning products that are critical to combatting this situation. For the most part our team is ok with coming into work knowing that we are doing something to help. So far there are no known cases of COVID-19 in our county but it is moving closer every day.

  7. Loved Self Made, Octavia Spencer is perfect in the role. I had heard of Madame CJ Walker glad her story is being brought to the masses. Thank you for giving the info on cooking quinoa in the Instant Pot. I am going to cook dried chic peas and black beans this weekend in my Instant Pot. They freeze very well after cooking and really are much tastier than canned.
    Your blog and positive messages are a bright spot in my day…not many these days…I work in a hospital. Wash your hands and stay home. Limit social interactions as much as possible sadly that means not seeing grandchildren/children in person but…FaceTiming is a blessing.
    I just heard that NYC has surpassed the number of cases seen in China and Italy.
    Stay well, stay positive, stay home.

    1. I love your blog, Susan. Your readers are also very thoughtful and inspiring in their comments, as well. Here in Olympia Washington, the area we live in, is a 55+ active retirement community, so we have lots of trails to walk. So we do that at least once a day. The first week was hard, being worried about kids and grandkids. Now we are resigned and determined to be positive. Thank goodness for books, gardens, face time and yarn.
      have tried several grocery deliveries. My best so far came from QFC. Same day and most items were filled. No TP, of course. Today is my first time with Costco. I ordered last Monday for today ‘s delivery. So we will be good for 2-3 weeks.

  8. Good morning ☀️
    Please keep blogging, I enjoy your reading your posts!
    We just finished Last Tango in Halifax, on Netflix. A British series about a two seniors who rekindle a romance after their grandsons put them on Facebook. So good, the actors were so believable, I hated for it to end.

  9. Thank you for sharing this. You have expressed an attitude that will surely uplift many of your readers. It is interesting to be given a perspective on life (as we now know it) in another region of the country,

    In Southeast Florida, our circumstances are similar. It is a challenge to obtain food and supplies. I limit trips to the supermarket to essential shopping for perishables and do my best to order staples online from Amazon.Prime and Costco. I have not utilized Shipt or Instacart. Although the risk is low, I have reservations about the shoppers who will handle and deliver the food. Senior shopping became available here this week. For me, it will be a never-to-be-repeated experience. The opening hour was advertised as 7:00 AM; however, when I arrived at 6:50 AM the parking lot was filled with cars and droves of people (including non-seniors) had been admitted to the store early. By the time my cart was partially filled, the conditions defied social distancing guidelines. I decided to leave but had to stand in a lengthy checkout line for more than 30 minutes observing many people cutting in at the front of the line. From now on, I will stick to mid-morning and mid-afternoon when the market is lightly populated and deal with the limited inventory.

    I have been digging out vintage recipes from my files and doing a lot of old school cooking. It’s fills time and is a therapeutic activity for me. I make enough to have one meal and freeze the rest in portions to lighten the load on another day. We will be also be celebrating a wedding anniversary and plan to do as you did to mark the occasion. We have a plethora of excellent restaurants in our area that are struggling to stay afloat with takeout dining and curbside service. Unfortunately, many will not survive this economic challenge.

    I’m glad that your son in a safe place with supportive care in place. The separation from family and friends imposed by this dilemma adds another element of stress. In my life, I have found that most individuals are stronger than they think and rise to the challenge when presented with illness or tragedy. We are a mostly resilient people and will get through this dreadful period.

    Like you, we are fortunate and can take walks and bike rides in a temperate climate surrounded by the beauty of nature. I sincerely wish you and your family health, safety and peace of mind.

  10. I’m glad to hear that you, Le Monsieur, and Le Jeune Monsieur are well, comfortably sheltered and organized to get through this tough time. My guy has been picking up groceries almost daily —it’s the way he likes to cook—but I’ve been pushing to shift that a bit and we’re moving to two or three times a week, might be able to do fewer as we pick up products that haven’t been available.
    And I finally found a streaming service that has Un Village Français so that four years after watching the first four seasons in France, we’re able to watch the years after liberation. Gripping and gruelling, as you know. Toggling between that and Sex Education for light relief.

  11. I’ll be interested to hear what you think of the Neapolitan novels. I didn’t especially like them, mostly because I didn’t find the characters to be particularly sympathetic, yet I read them all, one after the other. So I guess that “compelling” is how I would describe them.

    1. I have rarely read a series I disliked as much as the Neopolitan novels. The first wasn’t too bad, but by the last one, I disliked the characters so much I barely cared what happened to them. I started reading every other page, then every 10th or so. Finally skipped randomly to the end. The popularity of those novels mystifies me.

      1. Lyn, I am with you…Since everyone was raving about them I thought I would give them a try…but no but no!!!

  12. I love the view from your house. I would not be so content to stay home if I did not have an outdoor space to breathe in. I started to rake and clip a few things yesterday and that felt so normal. I go out once a week to get groceries, and we are due for another run, but I am getting more nervous as we both have health issues and the town next to us has just announced the hospital there is infected. Do not want to have to go for any reason. Thanks for all the uplifting info you give us and a reason to check the mail in the morning. Stay well and ‘sane’.

  13. I loved the Neapolitan Novels, all four books were excellent. I started reading them after watching season one of My Brilliant Friend. HBO did a “brilliant” job with the production. The casting, the cinematography, the muted colors – perfection!!
    The story of a 60 year friendship between these two girls is not always uplifting but it is beautifully written. Haven’t started watching season two yet. I hope you enjoy reading the four books as much as I did.

  14. Thanks for your post. What is the name of the Chico’s pants you are wearing. I want to order some.i also love your choice of glasses. Keep well.

  15. I’m glad you’re well and safe. Thanks for the tip on the show: I saw it listed and wondered whether to watch it. Your recommendation pushed me to do so. Stay well.

  16. Thank you for your thoughtful updates in these challenging times. I too am grateful for our spacious home and garden. We had been having the downsizing conversation recently but after this experience, I don’t think I will be revisiting that idea. We are fortunate to have a very good local market a couple of blocks away which is well stocked and opens at 6:30. There was only one person in the store when I last went at 7:00. Funny how something like this shifts your priorities. Be well.

  17. Nice post.
    Both my hubby and I work for the same employer and we are soooo fortunate, we are being paid to stay home for as long as this lasts. Said employer is also donating a lot to the cause.
    We are starting seeds and growing more veggies than usual. Lettuce is esp easy to grow so I added a few extra willow raised beds (Master Garden Products, made in Washington state) just for mesclun, butter lettuces, chives, etc. the beds are easily moved, stored and very affordable.

    Our street is very close-knit (block parties, progressive Xmas parties etc.) so everyone is connected via email chat, checking in on each other, esp the seniors.
    Some people have put up their holiday lights in solidarity.
    Thanks for the uplifting posts 🙂

  18. Susan, I look forward to your posts everyday and agree they are a bright spot in my day! It was fun to see the view from your front porch. My husband and I are both retired. We are keeping busy during the day, walking our dog – short walks like yours because he is 13 years old, talking walks just the two of us and working out. We are fortunate to have some exercise equipment in our basement. We enjoy TV in the evening and love your suggestions. A fun documentary to watch is called Hitsville: The Making of Motown. We have used FaceTime to connect with our two sons and have had two Face Time Happy Hours with another couple.
    Stay well!

  19. I’m glad you and everyone around you are safe. I am a lung patient and it’s been 2 very stress full weeks. I have been in self isolation but my partner still had to go to work. But now he has decided to do working for 4 weeks. Pff that takes off a lot of stress. I make quinoa salads too. They are good right. Stay safe!

  20. Love your blog! I have been a follower for sometime and really enjoy your observations. These are challenging times, especially for those of us who are “seniors”! my hubby and I are travelers and sad that our trip to Morocco this week was canceled. Tentatively, we are rescheduled for Oct. Praying this crisis has passed by then. Stay well!

  21. We also have a pleasant view from our house, and I’m grateful for it. We sit outside when it’s not too chilly and talk. I’m happy I married an interesting person!

  22. Thanks Susan for this lovely post. I so enjoyed the variety of subjects. I’m going to try your Quinoa recipe. Pur pantry in running low. I never thought I could ever get to the bottom of my pasta drawer. Guess what? Anyway Bob and I are doing the same thing you are. Luck and health to us all.

  23. Thank you for your blog and the lovely view from your front porch – snow has finally melted here in Central NYS. We have returned to one of our favorite British series – Foyle’s War – and are enjoying it again. Cooking simpler meals and trying some new recipes – some successful and some not – also weeding out some of my many cookbooks that are destined for the library book sale which will happen – who knows when. Take care and stay safe.

  24. Your front porch view is lovely. I found it very soothing. Truly this crisis has made me count my blessings. I’m thankful to be sheltered with a kind and funny husband and to have some open space around me. I’ve campaigned for years for a move from our rural home to a location closer to “civilization”. Now I can see some positives to living in the woods. (Though a nice long walk in your pretty neighborhood is very appealing!) This is day 18 of our self-isolation. We made a trip to the grocery store a week ago and hope to stretch our supplies for another week at least. My husband is over 65 and though he has no health issues, I don’t wish to take any chances.
    Thanks for continuing to post. I know it must be difficult to come up with content in this situation. It’s a small thing in the grand scheme of things, but finding your post in my morning emails gives me a reassuring sense of normalcy. Stay well.

  25. Thank you so much for the instacart suggestion I was able to place an order for delivery and because of this service I am able to continue to stay home and hopefully avoid the virus Thank you again

  26. Thanks for the suggestions – the French Country Home magazine and “Self Made” both look good! I wanted to let you know that I had a great experience yesterday with Instacart at my local Stater Bros – (you can select whichever local grocery store you want). I was very pleased, especially with the quality of the produce I received! I highly recommend them!

  27. On Monday, here in New Zealand, we were given just two days notice of total lockdown for all other than essential services. So thankful we’d had a family dinner on Sunday with my two sons and grandson. Timing was also spot on when my husband’s son recently became a father so we’d had a short plane ride to see his first grandchild. Whilst this lockdown is initially 4 weeks, we suspect it will continue for much longer. We had to do some fresh food shopping yesterday which, instead of being a leisurely paced task, became a somewhat military exercise with lines painted on the waiting area and a ‘one out one in’ regime. Boy was I glad to get home after such a tense experience. We are only allowed to go straight to the supermarket, pharmacy or petrol station and only local walks observing 2 metre distancing. We are all living in our household ‘bubbles’ and cannot associate with another bubble. There are increased police patrols and the army is on standby if required to prevent bubble breaking. At this time we are so grateful to live in an island nation of only 5 million people and, like you, lucky enough to have a green outlook.

  28. Susan, I enjoy following your blog because it always seems to be in tune with my life. I love your current emphasis on what is going on in your life at home.

    We too have a relative in a group home and being confined to the house has been challenging for him, as well as the staff.

    I’m also enjoying reading everyone’s recommendations about shows and movies, as well as books. Perhaps this could be a regular part of your blog.

    I plan to declutter all my cupboards and wardrobes over the next few weeks, including all those clothes that I’ve not worn in ages. Any tips on how to do this would be welcome!

  29. Thank you for your earlier recommendation on watching, Counterpart on Amazon Prime. I followed your advice to stick with it through a few episodes. I think it was episode 4 when I really started to get into it. I think it was the one at the school. Anyway, as I suggest this to others, I think I’ll suggest starting there then going back. I stayed up late several nights as I just couldn’t stop watching! I found it so interesting how the actors were able to keep their dual roles similar but different enough. It must have been fun for them to exercise their acting muscles in this way. Now, I’m on to your other suggestion, Babylon Berlin on Netflix.

  30. I live in SF Bay Area. Our county has cases, and the adjoining county has highest number of cases in our area. The last time I ventured out of the house was exactly 2 weeks ago to shop at our local produce place. It wasn’t too crowded, but the Costco across the street had an overflowing parking lot. It is day 13 for DH, as he ventured out the next day for a haircut. Due to age ( almost 70) and health issues we are trying to survive without actually shopping ourselves. Luckily we had started stocking up on staples about 7-10 days earlier. We have used Instacart 3 times now. It was easier to get a delivery slot the first time, but shelves were so empty, about half our items were replaced or just not available. Finally on the second order we got eggs and onions. The third order we were finally able to get chicken. Now the next available slot seems to be about 5 days out. Feel lucky to live in California where so much of our fresh food is grown, and happy to still get my fresh berries that I eat for breakfast. We also signed up for “ farm fresh to you”. Got our first box at 3 in the morning! Also have ordered some frozen fish – but have yet to receive that. It requires more planning, and flexibility. All these delivery services have been swamped, so there are definitely growing pains. Hopefully things will calm down soon.

    Thanks to all the commenters – so interesting to hear the different perspectives.

  31. Oh and want to add a couple of things:
    1- besides FaceTime we are using ZOOM app to stay in touch with family and friends, especially virtual Happy Hours :)., it’s free 🙂
    2- if you use services like housekeeper, gardener, hair salon, dog walker, etc. *and* you are able to continue to pay please do so and let the person know that you will continue even in the future. It’s making a huge difference to service folks so they can plan and relieve some anxiety. I’ve talked to a number of people and they’ve said this has helped them sleep at night. Which helps me sleep at night

    1. The lady who cleans our house has done so for 25 years.
      I said to husband, “do you think Suzanne should still come?” and he said, “who’s going to clean the house?”
      So she’s still coming.

  32. I am so glad that you, hubs and son (and Coco!) are doing well. I had not received an email post from you in two weeks and thought perhaps you had decided to discontinue during the virus, but then decided to check online and am very glad that I did (I re-subscribed). You do indeed have a beautiful view from your front porch. Thank you for continuing your blog. It is always so uplifting. It’s the first thing I read in the morning. Everyone, we will get through this. Stay healthy!

  33. I’m so glad you are both well.

    I read all of Ferrante’s series in a sort of fugue state, bewildered by how beautiful, fierce and original they were. I’m also loving the HBO show. It’s more overt, but I feel like it’s helping me understand the books in a more cognitive way, in retrospect, if that makes sense.

    I miss my Chinese elm:(. Yours is so beautiful, brings it all back.

  34. Susan – I’m outside of Seattle and we can’t get Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods or other deliveries scheduled at all. I have done pickup at Target for non-perishables like my favorite La Croix and tomato sauce.

    My saviour has been Imperfect Foods. The food isn’t really imperfect (and I’m really picky about produce). But they also have other things – meats, scallops, shrimp, chicken, sausage, lentils, french bread, oatmeal … sometimes even La Croix. You might want to try their delivery service. They didn’t cancel on me in the last four weeks. They may have a free delivery for the first order but I get free shipping over $75 which isn’t hard, as this is our weekly shopping during the quarantine. They are in 43 states, so check them out.

  35. I stocked up my pantry back in late Jan/early Feb. as for fresh food, I am spoilt – my local greengrocer, butcher, fishmonger and bakery are all doing home deliveries. The supermarkets have halted online deliveries due to demand, but will not deliver to the elderly and disabled. These inconveniences are nothing compared to the devaststion of hundreds of thousands of workers losing their jobs overnight and the fear health care workers must feel going to work each day. Everyone stay safe.

  36. Lovely yard!
    It’s good your son is staying at his home. Sticking to his routine and being surrounded by familiar people would be better than being stuck with parents. Given that he’s been in that setting for some time if he’s been exposed there isn’t anything you could do anyway.
    I made a decision when I shopped for this shut-in that I didn’t want to be at home with a lot of tempting sweet snacks, and that’s worked out pretty well. Fewer trips to coffee shops have done my waistline a bit of good.
    I will say that most of our trips out, we have a small grocery within walking distance so we have been by there a couple of times, have been to replinish salty snacks.

  37. Maybe it was just a fluke, but shopping mid-morning at my local Ralph’s was a breeze. Last week my son did our shopping, arrived at nine and had to wait half an hour outside because they were only allowing 50 people in the store at a time. Thursday morning at 10:30 I walked right in and the store was virtually empty of people. They still had plenty of food, with the exception of rice, beans, pasta and spaghetti sauce. I had a cloth mask to wear, wore gloves and used a bleach wipe to clean my cart. I used alcohol gel before I got in the car, and after I unloaded the groceries, and before I put them away, I washed my hands thoroughly. I didn’t feel at risk, nor did I have to worry that I was putting anyone else’s health at risk.

    You and your readers might be interested in this article from the LA Times:

  38. It was so funny to see that magazine cover, because that same magazine has been on my kitchen table for weeks now. I ordered it some time ago so my husband would have it to look through prior to the trip he and my daughter were taking to France, but it didn’t arrive until after they left. Then their trip was truncated by Paris closing down, and now that magazine is just a gentle (and beautiful) reminder of everything that’s waiting there when they or we go again.