For now, the kitchen cupboards in the Meeker Estate are stocked to the gills.
Stuffed in one cabinet are the basic staples: boxes of cereal, a loaf of wheat bread, instant maple-syrup oatmeal packets, bags of low-salt popcorn, cheesy crackers and Animal Crackers – I prefer the giraffes and gorillas. On the second shelf are cans of soup including chicken and rice, sirloin burger with vegetables, beef and vegetable, cream of chicken, spicy sausage in a gumbo-like sauce and cream of celery. There are also containers of dried fruit and a jar of Salsa.
My wife has stockpiled many cans of mushrooms, while she limited me to only one pop-open can of Vienna Sausages, which I first mixed with white rice and butter starting in college 40 years ago. Just as I loathe the thought of biting into mushrooms, my wife can’t stand to see me devour Vienna Sausages. My wife is from Teutopolis so it must be a Germany-versus-Austria thing.
The lower shelf also includes a pair of glittering bottles filled with diet-lover liquids called "Skinny Syrups." (I will be very desperate when I pop those open, indeed.) The shelf also has cans of peach slices, crushed pineapple, a packet of pumpkin spice, pudding mix boxes and a few cans of chili beans. And, like any true American cupboard, there is a container of creamy peanut butter.
Just in that one cabinet we probably have enough food to produce lunches and dinners for a few weeks. Naturally, we have more vittles and mixes in the tall adjacent cabinet and plenty of frozen food items, including hamburger, chicken, sausage and eggrolls, shoehorned into the narrow refrigerator freezer and the small cabinet freezer in the basement. There are also several containers of low-fat ice cream in both the fridge and freezer. With warmer weather popping up this month we cherish our ice cream breaks.
We ran out of room for a chunky bag of potatoes so I placed it at the top of the basement staircase with plenty of clearance for my feet so I wouldn’t end up careening down the stairs. My wife’s first words on hearing the commotion of any damaging downhill descent would be: "Herb, did you smash any of the potatoes?" My presumed answer after regaining full consciousness cannot be printed in this newspaper.
There is plenty of beer in the icebox, too. And across the kitchen are several bottles of whiskey and rum stored in a cabinet near the stove. And we are well-stocked on soft drinks and the fridge has an automatic icemaker. We can self-medicate our way through the Coronavirus Lockdown.
We are not hoarding. We are not selfish. We just don’t know what to expect in coming weeks or even months. Besides, whipping up a meal at noontime or the end of the day is becoming a fun activity more than a tiresome chore. But I still don’t like doing the dishes, whether it’s cleaning or drying.
Some of our meals together these days bring back memories of when I was a teenager and sat down with Mom and Dad for an early dinner after my older siblings flew the coop. Both my parents had put in a hard day of work, but they made sure to eat together whenever they could for supper. I never remember my parents arguing during those supper times. My long hair back then did produce some arguments at the dinner table.
One benefit of the stay-at-home lifestyle is many families are getting closer together. Certainly, there are hardships during this pandemic. But we are rediscovering something that is important: working together so we can get through this.