Monday, July 6, 2020

Go The Distance

 It looks like the theme for Summer 2020 is the Distance Dinner, and I am happy for it.
All of those months of not seeing any friends or family, locked down within our own household bubbles, are seeing a warm-weather reprieve.  Initially I invited friends over for drinks only, but I really missed having the whole social experience of sharing a meal together.  I've hosted three different distance dinners on our patio (which was the subject of my last post), two with the same group of friends and one with my aunt and uncle. 

I have to admit that the first time it really frayed my nerves.  One of my best friends is immune-compromised so we have to be extra careful as a group to follow recommended protocol.  I was literally going mad all day with Lysol wipes and thoughts of how it could all go wrong.

We know now that the virus transmits quite well indoors, and that outdoors is the place to see and talk with friends.  It is still imperative to stay six feet apart however, and to minimize contact between households with dishes and drinks.  How to do this and stay safe?
 What I've done is created extra dining space by adding on a table and placing couples at the recommended distance.  The first time I even used a measuring tape to be sure that I was distancing the minimum six feet.  I wear gloves to set the table and I disinfect surfaces as I go along.

I think it is key to ask guests to bring their own drinks and glasses.  This has worked really well, my friends and my aunt and uncle have all brought their own baskets with drinks, ice and glasses.  This erases contact with wine bottle handling and pouring, really important as the hours go on and the drinks create a mood of conviviality. 
It's a very long table.
 I have to admit it can be difficult to hear conversation.  Of course we are all getting older, and with a military man in our group as well as a musician we have some hearing aids in the mix. 
 We've done both take-out food and more recently I served food from my kitchen.  The take-out is quite seamless, everyone gets their own dishes that we've ordered ahead of time. It's a great way to support our favourite restaurants while making the whole event super easy for the hosts. 
 When I served food from the kitchen I tried to prepare ahead of time as much as possible, and then served each couple their own platter of main course and sides.  I divided the salads up into bowls for the couples to share.  This made certain that the physical distancing was still in place throughout the dinner.
 The bathroom can be tricky!  My method is to disinfect the little bathroom off of the kitchen, easily accessible to the patio, and then to provide a big basket of white linen napkins.  Guests are instructed to each use a napkin to dry their hands and throw it in a laundry bin tucked next to the sink.
 Then the guests need to take a Lysol wipe and disinfect the surfaces before leaving the bathroom and coming back outdoors.
Lysol Wipes
I am enjoying this while it is still possible.  Here in Ontario our cases are falling, and in our own county face masks have been mandatory for two weeks.  When will we be able to socialize indoors?  I'm guessing that it's not going to be a good idea for a long time.  As the weather cools down this fall we may not be able to have distance dinners at all.  Even if we stay six feet apart indoors we are all sharing the air, without the cleansing benefit of wind.  And of course it would be really very tricky to attempt drinks or dinner with a mask on.

I was speaking to my friend Laura this morning and she joked that we might be having drinks outside in the snow, in our parkas.  I'd better order some firewood this fall for our outdoor chiminea! 

Wherever you are I hope that you are safe and healthy.  This is certainly a stressful time and some areas are being hit really hard by the virus.  Every day it is overwhelming to keep up with the news and to think about what the next months hold for us.
Seeing friends and family, however far down the table, feels like a balm for the soul.  I hope that you are able to do so as well!

Take care and you can always reach me by email (my comment form is still broken).
Love, Dani