Kiddos & Quarantine

Video portion of multimedia project
Ameeta Swaby • Instagram photos of her child, Avani

Ameeta Swaby and her husband, Steven, both work for the military and currently live in North Carolina. They have two girls, Kaiya, age 2, and Avani, age 4. Ameeta Swaby is currently doing all feasible work at home, and Steven recently returned from a deployment but is expected to start traveling next week.

“We have adapted a new schedule in the mornings,” said Ameeta Swaby. “We are doing breakfast, followed by school for Avani.” Avani’s preschool teacher has been sending work out online for her classes. Kaiya is in daycare, and the parents have been printing off worksheets for her to complete. After schoolwork, the girls play outside for the rest of day, with a nap in the afternoon. While they’re resting, the parents try to get a workout in.

“I think we have built in our own structure, but for us it has felt like weekends all the time,” said Ameeta Swaby. “I don’t mind it. I know Steven misses work but he also is enjoying being home.

Swaby said her daughters love being home, and that they are used to being in daycare from 5 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on the parents’ busiest of days. “Other than the newborn stage, they have never had time like this with both parents,” said Swaby. She explained that it is incredible to have so much family time, and that if her husband was deployed it would be far more difficult. “I have never been a stay-at-home mom and never thought I could be,” said Swaby.

Ameeta and Steven Swaby have been entertaining their kids with a variety of arts and creative activities. “We have been doing Play-Dough, making slime, mosaic art, and anything that is a craft,” said Swaby. “Just trying to keep them busy, outside, and away from the TV.”

Because they are so young, Swaby does not think her daughters will be affected academically. Although she said Avani does miss playing with her friends, and doing ballet and swim.

Ameeta Swaby • Instagram photo of Avani and Kaiya

Quarantine Cooking

How One Chef Serves Local Community

During the COVID 19 pandemic, local restaurants and businesses have taken a financial hit. Beth Broussard, owner and head Chef of J. Broussard’s Restaurant in Columbus, Miss. is one of those affected.

Image Courtesy of J. Broussard’s Website

“It’s a struggle this last week. The first three weeks were really strong in terms of sales, better than we expected,” said Chef Broussard. “But that’s because we have a strong group of regulars who were actively trying to support us.  I feel like it tapered down this last week and I hope it picks back up this week and next with Mother’s Day coming up.”

Chef Broussard has taken the next step by sharing her talents to the frontline workers. 

“We were lucky enough to have a bunch of people in the community chip in some money to cover the food cost for feeding 250 hospital workers,” said Chef Broussard.  “We delivered the food to the hospital on two different nights in an effort to cover as many staff members for each of the departments we fed, the CCU, 3rd floor, ER and the lab. “

J. Broussard’s is one of few local restaurants still doing curbside pickup in Columbus, Miss. 

“It’s (COVID 19) taken the easiest source of income (liquor) away from us,” said Chef Broussard.     “Most of our food simply isn’t at it’s best in a to go box, so we’ve changed what we are offering. And you can’t charge less for food in a to go box because really it costs you more to send it to go than to put it on a plate.”  

J. Broussard’s has offered things from soup starter kits to assorted pastry boxes. Chef Broussard has been posting weekly menus on the restaurant Instagram account where people can order from. 

As for future plans, Chef Broussard said it is very hard for her not to plan for future events. 

“I’m a planner. Seriously, binder style Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation level planner and we’ve had to cancel all these things I’ve been planning for like six months,” said Chef Broussard. 

However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Chef Broussard’s life has not changed much during quarantine because being a chef is not a very “social” job. She has realized that there are things we take for granted in day to day life. 

“The two things I’ve come to value more from the grocery store. Chunky monkey ice cream and Bubly fizzy water,” said Chef Broussard. 

Chef Broussard plans to continue curbside pickup for a little longer until things with COVID 19 settle. 

A Personal Taste

During quarantine, I have felt finding things that I can control made me feel the most at peace when everything else felt like complete chaos. 

For me, baking did just that. During a recession, I wanted to support local businesses but I also know that the future is unknown and saving is important. 

So I chose the equally expensive hobby that is baking. I began with looking through cookbooks instead of searching the internet, with the exception of the internet famous Whipped Coffee. We have so many laying around my parents house.

This first cookbook I chose to use was The Grand Heritage. It is a cookbook from the 1980’s written by the women of Lowndes County in Mississippi. It is still a staple today and often given as a gift to new residents of Columbus. 

The first item I baked was a sour cream coffee cake. It was decadent and delicious while only lasting a few hours in our house. 

The most popular item I have baked during this time is Blueberry Pound Cake that is an old family recipe. 

My grandfather planted 300 blueberry bushes when I was a kid. We always have frozen blueberries around so it is an easy go to dessert. 

This pound cake is the perfect summer treat and is sure to win over the whole family. 

For this recipe you will need one box of yellow cake mix, an 8 ounce block of cream cheese, one stick of butter or one half cup, a 3 to 5 ounce box of vanilla pudding, 3 eggs, one half cup of canola or vegetable oil and two cups of blueberries, fresh or frozen. 

It is best to do this with softened cream cheese and butter. That way it is really creamy and mixes well. Then I like to use my Kitchenaid Standing Mixer with the paddle attachment to mix all the ingredients together, except for the blueberries.

 After the ingredients are mixed together, it will be a thicker consistency than cake mix but should be a little less thick than cookie dough. Fold in your blueberries with a spatulat making sure not to squish them, this is especially important if using fresh blueberries

 Put it in a greased and floured bundt pan. My favorite way to grease and flour in a pan is to put solid crisco on a paper towel and wipe it around the pan. Then you add about half to a whole cup, depending on your pan size, of flour and shake the pan around making sure to get it in every corner and section. 

This keeps your pan from sticking to your cake and makes it easy to dump out. 

You bake at 325 degrees for about an hour. It will be golden brown and if you stick a toothpick in it and it comes out clean and dry your cake is done! 

Let it cool or eat it warm! I like to sprinkle powdered sugar on it or eat it with a bowl of vanilla ice cream. 

This will for sure be a family favorite and an easy starter recipe if you are not a baker by nature. 

If you would like to see more of what I have been cooking, check out my Quarantine Cookbook!

Golf Industry Finds Ways to Combat COVID-19

Photo Courtesy of Rivermont Golf Club

For golfers, the month of April breeds excitement and promise as the weather begins to warm up, flowers start to bloom, and on the first full week of the month, The Masters begins.

This year has thrown a wrench into those plans as the PGA and Augusta National Golf Club decided to postpone the tournament till November due to COVID-19. With the rapid spread of this virus having put a halt on many professional sports and businesses, the golf industry has been able to sustain itself for the most part. According to the National Golf Foundation, as of April 26th, 58% of the country’s courses were open for businesses, up from 49% the previous week. Around 70-80% of the courses in the south have been open since the beginning of the month.

Chris Cupit, owner of Rivermont Golf Club in Johns Creek, Georgia has kept his club open but with tighter restrictions and limitations for player and staff safety.

“Golf courses all over (the country) have established about 25 ‘best practices’, so courses are requiring either walking or one person per golf cart, they have removed scorecards… we’ve locked bathrooms, closed clubhouses, and even tees that we hand out to our golfers have been stopped.”

Cupit says that along with these measures the rules of the game have also shifted.

“The cup is raised up out of the hole, meaning you don’t have to retrieve the ball or even touch the flagstick. That new method allows the ball hitting the cup to count as being in the hole.”

Some other methods have been put in place to limit the amount of contact with the flagstick as some courses have implemented mechanisms on the flags that allow for the golfer to use their club to pull up on a disk that takes the ball out of the hole for you.

Cupit’s club has also increased the intervals between tee times.

“Whereas we used to tee off groups of four every eight to nine minutes, we now tee off every 12-15 minutes. There’s fewer tee times in the day, but some courses are seeing tee times booked as late a six P.M. with these later days.”

Cupit believes the demand for golf is still prevalent and is a good way to stay active and social while still adhering to the guidelines set into place to help combat the virus.

“(Golf) is one of the few outdoor activities you can do while keeping proper social distance and have some semblance of social activity. If anything I think the demand for golf has gone up.”

The National Golf Foundation has researched the demand, or lack thereof, for golf during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The NGF has interviewed “core golf consumers” weekly to see how they feel about the virus and their feelings on whether or not to play during this time. As of April 26th, the majority of golfers surveyed have expressed having an “itch” to play and believe it is ok to play, however still a large number are anxious and wary of stepping onto a course. That number has decreased in the past week, presumably because of the push to have states phase back into reopening nonessential businesses. Much of the concern still being the contraction or spreading of the virus to others.

To protect his workers, Cupit has closed down the food and beverage portion of the club as well as the clubhouse and pro shop. Golfers are told to call to make their tee times and before teeing off the first hole, golfers must check in with the starter who is stationed at the first tee box.

Rivermont is a private club, which helps in limiting contact with employees as members have an account that can be billed as opposed to requiring person to person transaction to be able to golf.

“Now the golfers, instead of coming in, checking in, paying, going through all of those different contact points with our employees, they literally unload their golf bag, go to the first tee, check-in remotely and get charged to their account.”

Despite the trying times we find ourselves in, Cupit hopes that golf can be a way for friends and families to responsibly get out and stay active. The industry has been impacted greatly, much like other businesses, but has adapted and made it so golfers can enjoy the sport they love safely and responsibly.

COVID-19 Blog #5 – I Can’t Believe People Actually Started Ingesting Disinfectant to Prevent the Coronavirus

It’s been a bit of a struggle to finish this semester out strong, which I’m sure many people can relate to. The accommodations made by the university definitely help to assuage my concerns, but I feel that if there was one specific thing about life in quarantine that should be emphasized is how being stuck in the house saps your energy. If it isn’t obvious, I definitely haven’t managed how to maintain motivation while working from home. But there’s only a couple of weeks left, and time flies. It’ll be over before we know it.

Also, following my previous discussion about the stimulus check situation and how I said that people deserved more, I was glad to at least see news of a possible new stimulus package that will give more people access to consistent funds. Even with a lot of businesses reopening soon, statistics show that the majority of people worry about it extending the damage of the pandemic. A better stimulus package would allow the financial strain of not working to not be as heavy.

Alas, businesses are reopening — and not just barbershops and restaurants. 40,000 people visited Newport Beach, CA, yesterday, which is nearly half of the 85,000 population. It’s horrifying to think about the possibility that if even a handful of people on that beach unknowingly had the virus, a large scale outbreak could overtake the city. And the worst part is that many people were probably motivated by the misinformation that sunlight can kill the coronavirus when it is not as cut and dry as it sounds. It still boggles my mind that not only did the president (apparently ‘sarcastically’) broach the idea of injecting disinfectant to kill the virus but also some people actually did it, causing Lysol to publish a statement telling people what is already on the label of any disinfectant you could find in a store — DON’T INGEST IT.

Reflecting on the past couple of months, besides the chaos of the world as we know it now, it has been amazing watching my fellow classmates and I document this experience. As much as I’ve been meaning to, I haven’t kept a journal for some time since high school about four or five years ago, and I’ve missed that outlet. These blog posts, while not deeply personal, aren’t always the easiest to write just because it’s difficult to document daily life when it doesn’t feel like much is going on. However, it has allowed me to expand my thinking, in a sense, which is why I often bring in what’s going on in the rest of the country and give my thoughts about how I feel it affects me, my family, the future, etc. I’m also really excited to be wrapping up my story about essential workers at Chicory Market. I got to talk to a few interesting people, and I expect this piece to be one that I always look back on considering the importance of this time period we’re in. A lot of good work is going to come out of this project and despite my worries and anxieties about the future, I’m proud to be contributing to it.

— Nigel D. Dent

COVID Blog #5

Jake Davis

After much procrastination and several failed attempts at other projects I finally recorded some basketball content. My brother and I initially wanted to create YouTube videos that focused on the NBA 2K videogame and incorporated analysis of the real game, player’s strengths and weaknesses, etc. We did not know what exactly we wanted to do for our first video and had logistical issues recording both of us and trying to screen record the game action.

We then shifted our focus to fixing the issues we had with the game given the excess amount of time on our hands. We recorded a video where we edited some player’s tendencies, attributes, and jumpshots, explaining why we made each change and how it would affect the way they play. We also wanted to include clips from games to show alongside our footage but could not find any that were legally usable. We also discovered the audio was inconsistent and the screen recording lagged at certain points.

We finally settled on recording a podcast rather than a video. That solved the issue of keeping two people on camera over a screen recording, which ended up looking cluttered when edited together. We are now recording a series of podcasts discussing former players, highlighting legends whose legacies have faded with time, pointing out statistical anomalies and trends, and of course ranking players on our all-time lists. I am currently editing the first podcast, our discussion about Celtics legend John Havlicek.

I am also reading and keeping up with my podcasts that are still being produced. When we heard that the legendary Powell’s Books in Portland, Ore. was closing stores and laying off employees we promptly ordered nearly $200 in books, buying everything off our wishlists in an attempt to do what we can to help them stay afloat.

Most of my favorite podcasts are still being produced, though most of the sports ones have been cut from twice or thrice a week to only once. I regularly listen to The Lowe Post, a basketball podcast from ESPN’s Zach Lowe, The Bill Simmons Podcast, a sports podcast hosted by the Ringer’s Bill Simmons, The Hoop Collective Podcast, a basketball podcast hosted by mutliple ESPN reporters including Brian Windhorst, and Recode Decode, a podcast hosted by journalist Kara Swisher where she interviews celebrities, tech giants, and politicians about various big-picture topics.

Is this the new normal? Podcasts, reading, and videogames for weeks on end? Every time I check my news feed or turn on the nightly news there are more stories about death tolls rising, people gathering to protest the stay-at-home orders, and doctors and nurses bearing the brunt of it. Nobody knows for sure how long this will last, and more protests will mean more time in quarantine (a fact lost on the numbskulls).

I criticized people complaining about the lockdown in the early days of last month, (or as they will be known from now on “the before times”) thinking that I would enjoy being able to sit at home and do nothing. I shouldn’t be surprised by my own naivety but it goes without saying that I’d give my right arm to walk into Farley and have a normal class right now.

COVID Blog – Number 4

What a week. School work is finally starting to lighten up.

I got to spend some more quality time with my niece. I got to anchor Newswatch from my bedroom. Pretty sweet, right?!

It was a very productive week. I even got to spend some time in the music studio. I had to give a witness account the the police. How exciting!

One thing on my mind – all the reports of ease on COVID restrictions is giving me relief. But is it a false sense of hope? In my realist nature, I have basically written off next semester as another online semester. Many other people have more optimism than that. I wonder – who’s right? What are the chances?

I hope I’m wrong.

Will You Accept my Challenge?

When I was little, a week used to seem far away, but eventually, that week transformed into years. Growing up, you always hear about how fast time flies by from your parent’s tipsy friends at awkward dinners you weren’t entirely excited about, and I always thought uh-huh. Still, it wasn’t until I graduated high school that I started to realize how fast time can slip through one’s fingers. It absolutely amazed me how fast not only my highschools years swam by but what seemed like my whole life that I was about to leave behind in Austin to go and experience a new adventure in Mississippi. While I was petrified with fear and excitement, I went into my freshmen year of college with a better understanding of how time tricked us. I promised myself to take advantage of every moment of college to create something beautiful instead of taking advantage of it. I thought I had time all figured out, but then COVID came, and suddenly, a week felt like an eternity again.
Today marks my 42nd day of quarantine. That is only eight days away from 50! Never in my most boring dreams, which I can remember at least, would I be capable of spending this much time locked inside a restraint world. I know that everyone’s lifestyles have dramatically changed recently, but I would like to argue that people as active and extroverted as I may be struggling with the stay at home order more than some. The struggles of and an energetic lady trying to shop are nothing in comparison to what some families are going through. I am beyond grateful to be complaining about boredom over what I could be in these uncertain times.
My friend’s mother always used to say, “Bored people are boring individuals.” It was always kind of an odd saying, but still stuck to me every time I felt like complaining, and this quarantine I have been thinking about those words more than ever. I was left to ponder whether being bored, even if it is in a stressful situations such as the one the world is in currently, made me a boring person. I would like to think I am anything but boring, but her mom had a point. Bored people sit around being lazy and complaining about their work and lack of effort over pushing aside the inner nagging to allow your selves to do actual quality work.
So while this quarantine’s 42 days have passed by excruciatingly slow in most people’s minds, including my own, I have challenged myself to never say that I am bored. Whenever I start to feel that dreadful feeling that whispers to me that I should lay on the couch and finish a full season of a television in one day just to complain about how unproductive I was, I require myself to think about three things that a non-bored and annoying person could do. Time may seem to be moving wickedly slow, but on my 42 days of quarantine, I dare all of yall to accept my Quarantine can’t make me boring challenge.