This Ain’t All Bad

There are some remarkable things going on in my neighborhood, here in Louisville. It was warm-ish here yesterday and the sun was out, so the Pastry clan headed out for a brief bicycle ride since we still have that freedom of movement. The flowers and flowering trees have been budding and blooming for about ten days now, which for Louisvillians means the pre-Derby festivities are about to begin. Not this year though. It’ll be autumn leaves, not flowering dogwoods, that’ll be decorating Churchill Downs in 2020.

But no one was thinking about that yesterday afternoon. The four of us had barely strapped our helmets on when we heard singing coming out of a house somewhere on the block. It was a young woman singing something that sounded like a pop tune, I couldn’t make it out. Two blocks into the ride, though, I was in more familiar musical terrain. A high schooler I’d never seen before was sitting on his front porch with a tenor sax blowing Charlie Parker riffs. Now THAT’s some spring music, man!

The whole thing mixed together: the afternoon sun, the muddy spring earth smell, the linden blossoms, the uneven tufty lawns, The Bird music (and the birds). I thought: THIS is a little bit of alright! Just about everyone we came across seemed to think so, judging from expressions. Sure, some of the grins were behind surgical masks, but I could tell they were there.

Speaking for this part of the world, expectations seem to be shifting and appreciation for little things seem to be growing. A high school-aged boy we know had a birthday yesterday. His parents have kept him home-bound the last few weeks, which is pretty remarkable given who he is. His birthday wish wasn’t a new phone or a bash with buddies (which is illegal right now anyway). Rather he asked for an hour-long walk in the park with my older daughter. I was utterly charmed before I became seriously alarmed. In what universe would that have happened before this bizarre chain of events?

I can’t wait for corona to be over, but I hope the rest of this can last at least a little while, because I’m liking it.

14 thoughts on “This Ain’t All Bad”

  1. JOE PASTRY! I found your site only a few weeks ago and was beyond thrilled. Then, I went back and boom, gone. On the internet your fans were offering to send a donation to keep it up and running (myself included). Then, amidst this current COVID 19 crisis, I tried again and wow! I am sooooo happy. Thank you for bringing it back. Not sure what the snafu was but again, there is a community willing to support this resource. Thank you again. Hope you are safe in KY.

    1. Thanks so much Deanna! I had a bit of a panic myself then, back before panic was cool, but my intrepid Tech Gal Wonder got me all squared away. I’m grateful that after all that time there were still plenty of Joe readers out there who not only still used the site, but wanted to help out. BTW I noticed YOU helped out a little while ago. I greatly appreciate the donation! While JP has never been about monetization (as evidenced by the conspicuous lack of horrible, intrusive ads) I always welcome little financial relief!

      Many thanks! Your friend,


  2. Yes, just looked in for bagel recipe for quarantine baking and found you’re back. So glad, and stay well!

  3. JOE IS BACK! I made tamales this past weekend (a pork butt makes for great quarantine cooking – so. much. meat), and thought I’d go look up your wrapping technique. I come back to your site every few months, and while the circumstances are terrible, I am truly happy to see you around again!

  4. This is a beautiful post, Joe. It really is a strange time – so much joy and sadness walking hand in hand. I think the growing appreciation of the little things, as you put it, manages to combine both.

    Even the natural world seems a mite confused. I live somewhere normally spilling over with tourists and students, almost all of whom have evaporated, and on my outings over the past week, the birds in particular seem quite happy with their regained turf … but also a bit forlorn at the loss of their tasty food supply!

    1. Hey Jen!

      Thank you. That was a great afternoon. I’ve since ridden past the sax player twice. Young Joan and I both play double bass, and do a lot of little duets together (believe it or not there are a fair number of pieces for two basses, ridiculous as that sounds). When the weather warms up again I think we may move our practices out on the front porch in the same spirit. We won’t be as good as the Sax Man, but we’ll make a very neighborly sort of racket.

      Funny you should mention wildlife. I’ve noticed myself how unperturbed all the critters are around here. Very inspirational.

      Do I owe you an email by the way? I feel like I do…


      1. You do, but that’s okay – I’m not going anywhere 😉

        What a multi-talented family the Pastries are! I’m sure the neighbourhood would love to hear the two of you play!

        1. I would not go that far, Jen. But they might appreciate a little creative defiance of the prevailing mood! 😉


  5. Hi Joe,
    I have been an ardent follower of your site from about 2006, and I was so sad when you decided to take a break. Just wanted to leave a comment and let you know how happy I am that you are back!!! Much love all the way from Sri Lanka 🙂

    1. Thank you for checking in, Ranmali! It’s great to meet you. I’m looking forward to more projects as the weeks go by. Who knows? I may just keep the blog going indefinitely. I probably won’t be able to post with the same frequency as five years ago, but some posting is better than none. It feels good to be back!


  6. I want to second Ranmali’s email about being happy you’re back! I teach baking classes through our local community college (classes were cancelled through May 1 originally, but through spring/summer? now) and one of my students was just asking about how to start a sourdough starter and how to bake with a starter and I mentioned your blog, saying that even though it wasn’t active it still had some of the best and most informative info on it. So I thought I’d just come check it out and SURPRISE! You’re back!!! So happy — thank you!

    1. Hey Tonia!

      Many thanks for your very kind comment! What with all the shortages of, well, most things associated with bread baking, there’s been a lot of interest in starters the last few weeks. It’s one of the main reasons I started blogging again. Well, that and a technical problem that nearly killed the site! But at least that part is over.

      Sorry to hear about the baking classes. I have a funny feeling, though, that a lot of this will be behind us come summer. Maybe you’ll have a chance to get back in the classroom sooner than you think!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *