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Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020 ends with my first dose of vaccine, potential end to our national nightmare

As a volunteer at Englewood Health, formerly known as Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, I was offered a first dose of Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine to prevent the coronavirus disease, which has killed more than 340,000 Americans this year. 
After I entered the hospital on Wednesday, I was asked to put on a mask over the mask I was wearing and to sanitize my hands. Other visitors were subjected to temperature checks, and the hospital cafeteria was closed to outsiders, including me. 

We ate healthy and stayed healthy, explored the great outdoors


HACKENSACK, N.J. -- "Lines." 

That is my answer to the headline on the front of The New York Times for Kids section last Sunday:

"If I had to describe my 2020 in one word, it would be _____."

When the quarantine began in March, nine long months ago, I stopped going to the gym and no longer was able to visit patients as a volunteer at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, now known as Englewood Health.

That meant that as an older American, food shopping was my only means of exercise, and on my trips to Costco Wholesale, Whole Foods Market, ShopRite and H Mart, I encountered long lines of masked shopper shifting from foot to foot as they waited to get in.


The second word I'd use to describe 2020 is "monotony." 

I pretty much get up every day before 6 a.m.

First, I make coffee, then after showering, I eat a big breakfast of leftovers or prepare an egg white omelet for other family members.

I also go food shopping early during senior hours, take a midday nap, eat or prepare dinner as early as 3 p.m., settle down in front of the TV around 4 or go for a short drive to a nearby town, then go to bed around 10:30 p.m., and get up during the night 2 or 3 times to go to the bathroom.

We spend a lot more money on food than most families of 4 because I am a pescatarian who hasn't eaten beef, pork, lamb or poultry for a decade, and my wife, son and mother-in-law are dedicated meat eaters.

This year also has seen us buying as much organic, pesticide-free food and produce as possible; only wild-caught seafood; and making sure they only eat meat and poultry raised without harmful pesticides and growth hormones.

And as an older American and amateur cook, I also have had to watch out when using recipes from The Times and other sources that are filled with artery clogging butter and cream, excessive sodium and sugar.

Beside covid in 2020, another health concern that was exposed by Consumer Reports magazine is the real danger of microplastics in our air, and our food and water supplies.

That prompted me to replace all of our plastic food-storage containers with glass, and brew our morning coffee in a stainless-steel percolator my mother used more than 30 years ago.

The water never comes in contact with plastic because the Farberware percolator has no plastic parts, unlike the cheap Mr. Coffee machines I used for years.

2021 and beyond

Amid the surge of new coronavirus cases after Thanksgiving and Christmas, I got a lift when I received an email from the hospital, inviting me and other volunteers as "members of our health-care team" to get a first dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, and I already have an appointment for the second and final dose.

That means the volunteer program at the Englewood hospital may resume, possibly as early as March, and I can once again visit patients to comfort them and offer words of encouragement after their open-heart surgeries (I got a new heart valve in September 2011).

I'd like to see my wife, son and mother-in-law get the Covid vaccine, too.

The Jan. 20 inauguration of Joe Biden as president and Kamala Harris as vice president also is something to look forward to, and I hope they can speed up the vaccination program nationwide, and end our national nightmare.

Panic buying in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic resulted in long lines of older American like me during the senior hour at the Costco Wholesale warehouse in Teterboro, above. Despite signs urging social distancing, below, shoppers with carts had a hard time keeping away from each other.

After I shopped during the senior hour at Whole Foods Market in Paramus, I stopped on the way to my car to take this photo of millenials and other younger shoppers who had lined up to get into the organic and natural foods supermarket.
For our Sunday fresh fish dinner, I often waited on line at the H Mart in Ridgefield, above, until the Korean chain opened a new supermarket in Little Ferry on Dec. 23, 2020, nearly 18 months after the old Little Ferry H Mart closed.
We started off our Christmas dinner with a cooked seafood salad of Alaskan King Crab, Canadian Lobster Tails and Argentinian Red Shrimp dressed with fresh lemon juice, Dijon Mustard and ground cumin.
One of the rare high points of 2020 was the availability of previously frozen wild Sockeye Salmon fillets at Costco Wholesale after the fresh wild salmon season ended in early October. I grilled these portions on the stovetop for 8 minutes and dressed them with a saute of fresh tomatoes and sliced garlic.
On Saturday afternoons, we usually order takeout from nearby restaurants, including Seafood Gourmet in Maywood, above; Lotus Cafe in Hackensack for great Chinese-style seafood and vegetables; and Kinyobi in Hackensack or BCD Tofu in Fort Lee for delicious Korean specialties. We also enjoyed takeout from the U Pie & Lobster Co. in Englewood and Greenhouse Juices & Cafe in Teaneck.

During the spring and summer, we made day trips to Brendan T. Byrne State Forest, above, and Wave Hill Public Garden and Cultural Center in the Bronx, below.

Using a list I copied from The New York Times many years ago, we also visited public sculptures and monuments in Manhattan, including this tribute to Duke Ellington, the legendary jazz band leader, in Harlem.
Closer to home, I was wowed by this dramatic sunrise over Hackensack as I drove down Euclid Avenue on the way to Home Depot to pick up a large recycling bin I had ordered online.
We were walloped with a big snowstorm on Dec. 17, 2020. I grimaced when I was watching TV and heard one of the anchors of the CBS Morning News introduce a report from Suffern, N.Y., and call the town "Sufferin', N.Y."

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