On Saturday, I went to the farmer’s market for the first time in months. I’ve been avoiding it because of the pandemic, but the organizers have really mastered the socially-distanced market: the booths are outside the sidewalk, and on the other side, lines extend into the square with spaces marked on the grass with tape. One person at a time is allowed to approach a booth, while foot traffic flows one way around the square, masks required.

There were still crowds of people, which I found… stressful. Eons ago, I was reading the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, as one does, (at least when one is in graduate school for mental health counseling), and was surprised to discover that I met the clinical criteria for agoraphobia. Anyone who’s only been reading my blog since I’ve been traveling is probably equally surprised, but not all agoraphobes are trapped in their houses.

And a pandemic is either agoraphobe heaven or hell, depending on how you look at it. My complete dislike of crowds is now totally justified. Instead of unreasonable anxiety limiting my life choices, it’s a reasonable response to a threatening world! It’s still uncomfortable, however, and I was really unhappy to be around so many people.

Fortunately, right around the time when I was thinking, “I can’t do this,” I walked past a booth that had two magical attributes: no line, and a sign reading, “Harvest Box, $20.” I immediately purchased my harvest box of greens, cabbage, sugar snap peas, green onions, leeks, five kinds of peppers, and a squash, then stopped at the next booth over, added some tomatoes, and headed home. Success!

A box of colorful vegetables
Vegetables, yay!

I didn’t stay home for long, though. About an hour later, I hopped in Suzanne’s car and headed to the docks, where I bought 3lbs of black cod, straight from the boat.

A boat, with a woman selling fish from the side.
Fresh fish source

That afternoon, I made Brazilian seafood stew. I’d link to a recipe, but I actually didn’t follow any of the recipes I found, and I didn’t write down my own. But basically, sauté a ton of vegetables including some spicy peppers, a little salt, a little pepper, and as much hot or smoky paprika as feels delicious (a couple teaspoons for me), add coconut milk, simmer, add chunks of white fish, simmer some more. When the fish is cooked, serve over rice.

a big pan of chopped vegetables cooking
Sautéed veggies. I used onion, carrot, celery, leek, a long red pepper, and a jalapeño. I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture of the actual stew, but I guess I was too busy eating it to remember that I might want a photo.

We ate our stew on the porch and afterward, when we were cleaning up the kitchen, Suzanne asked if I wanted to walk the dogs. Z’s energy level was good and it was a gorgeous day, so I suggested we take them to the beach. We went to Moonstone Beach, where the tide was as low as I’d ever seen it, which meant we got to visit the tide pools and admire the anemones and starfish.

Moonstone Beach at a very low tide.

That night, I decided to do a selection exercise in Affinity Photo. I found a stock photo with a complicated background, and did my best to cleanly select an element from it. Once I’d made my selection, I copied it a few times, then started playing with it. I used layer blend modes, the transform tools, masking, the liquify persona, a clipping layer, the mesh warp tool, a paint brush with low opacity, flow, and hardness settings… I’m looking at the image now and thinking I need to fix a shadow and a highlight, but I’m not going to, because the point isn’t to create perfect images, it’s to learn.

a dragon image
My dragon. I’m honestly so pleased with it.

It was really just an ordinary Saturday, nothing special about it. It was also, simultaneously, an amazing day, one I’m grateful to have had.