The Farmer's Market in the Time of COVID

I listened to a podcast about the aspirational class late last week, and sure enough this morning I found myself visiting a local farmer's market in order to spend more on what can be bought for less. Perhaps experiencing trays of local fruit and vegetables, along with enticing treats and organic coffee would make more vibrant the grey days of working at home, alone in my study with my computer and a Nestle brand coffee machine and Coles brand corn kernels. Here I could buy produce direct from the person who grew it - without wholesalers or middlemen - as long as I remained 1.5 metres apart from them at all times. The SEO optimised website had promised a sense of community, and as I passed between food trucks and ducked under 1.9 metre high gazebos there were genuine smiles from behind the face masks, unlike the real supermarket where the self-service checkout machines clearly fake theirs.

At least, I hope the smiles were genuine. Most of the clientele around us had a cultivated, shabby chic which kind of matched the odd-shaped heirloom tomatoes, the dry aged beef, and the undersized summer apples we passed, which in hindsight I can see were also a little shabby and definitely cultivated. It was easy to feel out of place, unlike my home, with my computer and a Nestle brand coffee machine. At least the pod machine doesn't try to sneakily upsell me tiny cookies after I start to pay for our morning cups.

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The real test would be how did it taste? Would this experience uplift my sense of self beyond the dross of being an adult all the time, and living in 2021 to boot? My bag of nurtured capsicums, Lebanese cucumbers (a complete misnomer), a sealed plastic bag of lettuce leaves grown in the time-honoured, traditional South Australian way (hydroponically) all went into my Sunday salad. The first forkful, well, about as delicious as something can be considering the circumstances.

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Hopefully if I keep checking in with the COVID Safe App every time I go the government will let me know how many pesticide free tins of artisan four bean mix I buy throughout the year.


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The woman with the fake tan stepped into my office, sat across from my desk and lit a cigarette.
At least, she would, sometime in the next 20 minutes. Smelling the future has advantages, but precision isn’t one of them.


2020 Feelings

I had a lot of feelings during 2020. Here are some of the more memorable ones:

Humidity

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The satisfaction from reading the end of a novella while savoring a delicious craft beer.

The echo of a wood-framed sofa hitting the pavement after a three-story drop.

The paranoia on public transport.

Finding my balance on a bicycle for the first time in twenty years.

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Pricklings from a COVID beard I didn’t need to grow.

Stretching of my stomach after completing another giant Vanessa dessert.

The smell of freshly manufactured olympic weight plates in an enclosed space.

Age of Empires 2 Ranked queue adrenaline.

That first sip of fresh coffee after weeks of closed cafes.

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The cold, winter air fighting to reach the fingers inside my pockets.

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The tickle at the back of the throat after stupidly eating raw almonds right before walking to the supermarket.

Tikka kebab, breast kebab and bolani.

The tension in the bladder during back to back to back Zoom meetings.

Saltiness of that first mouthful of lettuce, hummus and 4 bean mix after days without it.

One side of my body warmed by the fire.

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The grit from a layer of sweat and basketball court dust covering my palms, and the support around the ankles of the Kyrie sneakers, produced in Team USA colours for an Olympics that wouldn’t come.

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Itches of mosquito bites interrupting outdoor salad eating in the garden.

Hiss of gas and the charring of meat filling the air.

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Cheap hand sanitizer’s aroma and the stinging that it brings to the skin.

The ache in my shoulder as the sweat cooled.

The scent of Jasmine on early spring breezes.

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Shampooed dog fur on the inside of my calves while preparing dinner at the official Bradism Raised Cutting Board for Tall People.

The sweet taste of the mulberry that fell from the branch directly into my mouth.

The tingling of my blood, hoping nobody noticed me putting a face mask over my eyes like it was a sleep-mask on an aeroplane.

The heat of a northerly wind on my back, post-sunset strolls on the beach.

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Pulsations from the Compex as it stimulated my hamstrings

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Never-ending water trickling down the fountain.

A Day With A Random Red Bow On it

A tip. If you want to go out in public right now, but still socially distance: visit the cinema. We went to see Fat Man tonight - a Christmas movie! - and had the entire theatre to ourselves.

In further yuletide news, we erected our tree last night, and after the movie we returned to the sparkle of a few lights strung up between its synthetic branches. Probably not enough lights to justify the seven feet of height, but the reflection against the glass doors gave off a sense of a cozy, festive glow.

It was at that point I heard a thump against the back window, something I dismissed as my imagination until like a horror movie a second thump came, and a third, louder. Stepping closer to the window I witnessed scarabs the size of fully-grown raspberry in a child's hand crashing into the window, shaking their brown and gold bodies back upright, and flying back into the glass again.

Christmas had arrived.


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Through The Looking Glass

The first day Summer started the same way as the first day of spring - and the first day of winter - mango and banana smoothie.

Ironically, it was routine that I bemoaned at the start of 2020, where I recklessly vowed I would shirk predictability and venture out of my comfort zone again like days of old.
In my head I figured I would find a new comfort zone, probably in a different suburb and/or a new kitchenette. I would ride a bicycle. I even bought a new PC and monitor.

Covid came along and yet I still found a way to say yes to things that scared me. I even did away with breakfast smoothies for a few days there. Though not for long.

Today was a big day on that journey of change for (hopefully not just for) the sake of a journal entry.

My new monitor arrived. It's curved.

Masks

I've believed since the outset of this pandemic that wearing a mask on your face can protect you and others from infection.

This has been very easy to believe because up until last week I lived in a place where there'd been seven months without any community transmission, and we were all living life like that community behind the walls in The Walking Dead - untouchable.

Of course then there was community transmission and I had to put my money where my mouth was. Not literally. I put a mask there instead.

Like most of my novel purchasing decisions in adult life I turned to OzBargain to work out how to buy face masks without feeling like I was enabling shady organizations from profiteering off a pandemic (or feeling like I was paying too much).

I went to the supermarket today and I wore a mask. It was fine. Based on some of the terrible facial hair I have represented as a grown man, there was no way I could pretend wearing a mask was below me. I forgot I was wearing it after about five minutes. A child did point at me and gasp in the cereal aisle, but that was because I was tall.

When I consider my life statistics and compare historical supermarket visits to my hand sanitizer usage, I'm honestly surprised I hadn't considered doing this before.

Panic Frying

About 2.5 million minutes ago I was sitting on a coach in Salzburg waiting to commence the Sound of Music bus tour that would eventually take me to the small, tourist town of Mondsee on the banks of a lake by the same name.
It was a sunny day, and we wandered along cobbles from the Church of St Michael to the shore of the lake where a small kiosk was selling ice-creams, and I remember we didn’t buy one.
This was definitely the right decision. Not just because you could have poured about a litre of premium Bavarian beer for the price of a single ice cream, but because if there’s a prevailing memory of that day it wasn’t the food I ate, it was the sight of that sparkling lake under those magnificent mountains.

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We did snack on something in Mondsee, in the shade outside the monastery in front of something that was a fountain or a roundabout. What we ate was probably apples and nuts, but the fact that I don’t remember only helps to add weight to my theory that when you’re on holiday it’s not about what you ate, it’s about what you saw.

I mean, that said, I remember the ice cream I ate in a back alley in Munich's Old Town because I ordered it (badly) in German. I also recall the currywurst in a bun I ate for dinner that evening because I have tried multiple times to recreate that experience using Aldi sausages and Keen’s Curry Powder since (never successfully). That sausage sticks in my mind probably because it was the first thing I ate after about eight hours of touching down, making it through customs, taking the Zug to the city and checking into the hotel. And I remember the pork knuckle I ate up on the hill at Kloster Andechs. I also remember cooking some orange capsicums and kidney beans and German taco seasoning in the kitchenette of our hotel room overlooking the Alter Botanischer Garten. I even remember the ice creams we ate under the shade of the Französischer Dom on a super-hot 35 degree afternoon in Berlin.

But, the common theme connecting the European food and lakes I find easy to remember is not what I ate, but just that I took a photo or somehow commemorated the experience at around the same time. Really, this makes the panic buying of many of my fellow South Australian’s so much less justifiable. If I can only recall a handful of the things I put in my mouth during a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Bavaria then what does my diet during any period of life really matter? These significant moments of our existence will not be remembered by what we ate, but by what we experienced while eating. So what better time than a six day lockdown to improvise with the forgotten, unwanted or panic-bought-in-March items in the back of the pantry than now?

Be wary of pizzerias.

Be wary of pizzerias.


Tonight, with my favourite Afghan takeaway closed, I dug out a mix of herbs and spices I’d assembled months ago and marinated and skewered a chicken breast fillet I bought on Monday night when Vanessa had fortunately needed an ice-cream run. I barbecued it and we ate it with some old potatoes and half an onion I’d been saving just in case. It tasted great. I washed it down with some hard ginger beer cans that have been sitting in the fridge n-1 for as long as I can remember. A year from now I would have had no recollection of any of this, had I not written this journal entry and taken this photo:

I forgot the garlic.

I forgot the garlic.

What will tomorrow bring? In 2020, who knows? Hopefully my Coles delivery. If not, I’ll probably be making more lasting memories with a pasta cooked in the Italian sauce our real estate gave us when we bought the house, some tins of tuna, and the last third of a bottle of Shiraz that’s been sitting on our bench for two weeks now. After that it could get really interesting, culinarily and otherwise.

The Things November 18th Would Bring

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As seen on the Official Bradism Raised Cutting Board for Tall People

2020

When I submit this entry it will be the 2020th one I’ve posted on bradism.com. Unless I am hit by a (let’s face it, extremely debilitating) case of writer’s block for the next two months it will also likely be the only time in my life the entry number and year are a snap.

In olden times I liked to use milestone entries to reflect on where I was a mile earlier, but given that the universe is treating 2020 as a chance to mix it up I figured I would use my 2020th entry as a snapshot of life in 2020 for me, Brad.

It’ll be something we can all look back on in the coming years and decades to remember what my specific life was like.

Starting with the most important thing...

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This is my Fridge in 2020. I’ve had this fridge for about five years after I got taken by a commercial saying it used different coloured LEDs to keep fruit and vegetables fresher, longer. (Note - actually seems to work). Here it is in our kitchen. Featured magnets are mainly of Nash and calendars from the vet which Vanessa wants to keep for some reason.

There’s also a photo of me, my brother and my Dad on the day we carried this fridge up two flights of stairs in my old house. I got that photo turned into a magnet for all of us. A “fridge fridge magnet” if you will. I could turn this photo into a magnet and that would be a “fridge fridge magnet fridge magnet.” Well, that’s Christmas sorted.

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I’ve only taken a couple of photos of the inside of my fridge over the years, and in hindsight it’s something I wish I’d done more because it’s fascinating to reminisce and reflect on how your diet changes over time.

Well, if you’re the kind of person with 6% of 2019 entries that are tagged “Breakfast” you will find this fascinating.

The 2020 fridge census is extremely Vanessa & Bradism. Bulk meals, including one pre-bagged for transportation to work to minimise backpack leaks. Low fat, low sugar yogurt (for breakfasts). A kilogram of hummus. A shitload of protein bars. And some very fresh looking fruits and vegetables.

Okay, this was really the most important thing...

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My 2020 couch. It has motorised recliners and headrests. And that's Nash, looking particularly unstressed by the events of this year.

Fun fact: this photo completely confused Lightroom's new auto-geometry feature.

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This is Vanessa in 2020, with a giant coffee. Yes, that is a protein bar she’s eating.

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This is my house in 2020. The roses are in bloom right now. I don't want to add anything else incase I dox myself.

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This is my car in 2020. It’s a comfortable drive, with nice quality of life features, and it was relatively affordable.

It’s a very Brad car: bigger than average, but does its best to blend in. Here it is at the lookout above the Barossa Sculpture Park on a crisp winter morning in 2020.

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This is the backyard in spring 2020. The mulberry tree is fruiting and somewhere in there the slugs are eating the strawberries before Nash can get to them.

I recently paid for the water feature to get fixed and that bubbles all day which is very pleasant.

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My bike and my backpack, 2020. These are ranked number 1 and 2 on the list of “my things most likely to topple over after I put them down”. This picture illustrates the only way to guarantee they'll both stay upright - lean them into each other, like when you tape a buttered piece of toast to the back of a cat.

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My office view, 2020. Also featuring my office view from 2014. On my desk is my coffee cup from 2019, and my coffee cup from 2006.

If you take a step back from where this picture was taken you’ll crunch a very, very mouldy almond.

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My home office view, which I spent an unexpected amount of time at in 2020. It’s kind of crazy how I sit in the same seat during the day making “important business decisions” involving people's time and an organisation's money, and then at night get beaten by teenagers at Age of Empires II or write journal entries like this one.

Lots of classic callbacks here on the 2020 desk, including my HD 515s, Uniball 207s and my 2019 coffee cup from above photo.

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