Lockdown Journal: Day 20 (Perfect Circles)

by | Apr 15, 2020 | COVID-19, Johannesburg | 12 comments

If you’re new to this blog series and don’t know what’s happening with South Africa’s 21-day (now 35-day) lockdown, my first post  has all the details. Or read all my lockdown posts.

Welcome to Lockdown Day 20. Twenty days, each of which feels like a year. It’s like two decades of lockdown.

For me, it’s been a day of circles.

Trixie and me in the round bathroom window.
Lockdown photo Day 20: Trixie and me in the bathroom window.

I spent the first half of today feeling unproductive and hating myself for it — a mental game I often play even in “normal” times. I didn’t exercise (sorry Xolani), I didn’t follow a routine, I didn’t do my taxes. I tried to make progress with a story I’m working on but mostly didn’t.

I did a lot of dishes. (I can’t figure out how I’m generating so many of those lately.) I swept the floor of the swimming pool but the algae wouldn’t come off. I thought about going food-shopping — I haven’t left the house in nearly ten days — but I’ve ordered a lot of food online and realized there’s nothing I urgently need.

I felt useless and a bit desperate, like my mind and body were running in circles.

The tide started to turn when my bell rang (always an exciting occurrence these days) and it was my food delivery from the Refillery. The Refillery sells dry goods — pasta, cereals, beans, grains, dried herbs, etc. — with a “zero waste” ethos, meaning customers go to the shop and buy food using their own reusable containers. I had heard the Refillery was open during lockdown and wanted to try it out.

The food I ordered — coffee, bulgar wheat, dried cranberries, herbs — was delivered in brown paper bags. (Obviously there’s going to be a small amount of waste at times like this.) I had fun photographing everything, transferring it into containers, and photographing it again.

Items from the Refillery
A few of my items from the Refillery.

I have a lot of herbs now so it’s time to get cooking. And I’m relieved I wont run out of coffee.

Spirits lifted, I finished preparing my lunch of salad, scrambled egg, and the half-risen pot bread I made yesterday. I decided my half-risen bread actually looked quite pretty on the cutting board, and took it outside to photograph.

Half-risen bread.
My circular half-risen pot bread, which tastes kind of like sourdough cornbread.

I can’t remember what I did for the next couple of hours. But I’d already mentally written off this day so probably not much.

In the late afternoon I took a walk around the garden. The light was beautiful and I remembered a blooming day lily I’d seen yesterday morning and wanted to photograph. Alas, the lily wilted in last night’s rain.

I circled around to the other side of the house. Trixie was trailing behind me, as she often does. Smokey also appeared, down from his hedge for dinner hour.

Suddenly I noticed the round bathroom window and stopped to take a self-portrait in its reflection.

Round bathroom window selfie
Bathroom window self-portrait. Trixie is walking past at my feet.

This window provides such nice symmetry with its bisected sphere. The garden ornament on the wall behind me added a circle within the circle.

Then Trixie jumped into the window, photobombing at exactly the right moment, and the picture at the top of this post was made.

This, my friends, was lockdown magic.

Today’s Worthy Cause

My friend Elodie — a “Frenchie in love with Joburg”, as she calls herself — has started a great new Instagram account promoting local businesses called @Find_the_locals. She features different local shops that are open during lockdown. Thanks to @Find_the_locals I learned one of my favorite bakeries, Patisserie de Paris, is offering free delivery for bread and other baked goods. [NOTE: A friend just informed me Patisserie de Paris is NOT open for walk-in business, only deliveries.]

Find the locals

I have become obsessed with supporting local businesses since the pandemic started and I’m realizing there’s a subconscious reason for that. The local economy is our lifeline during times of crisis, and yet local businesses are currently at dire risk of going under. COVID-19 proves what we already knew, deep down: We need to stop relying on the global supply chain to keep ourselves alive and start turning to our own communities.

Supporting local businesses feels amazing and the food tastes way better. So follow @Find_the_locals and start thinking about ways you can support your local economy.

I’ll circle back tomorrow for Day 21.


  1. Lesley Clark

    Paper bags, torn into pieces, make a great addition to your compost heap

    • 2summers

      I’m super ashamed to confess this. But I don’t have a compost heap. Need to start this ASAP!

  2. Louise Whitworth

    Every day, even before I get to lunch I’m like – where the hell are all these dishes coming from?!! It’s relentless!!!

  3. Margaret Urban

    I’m with you on the dishes thing. Totally crazy how they multiply ????????

    • 2summers

      Yes. It’s weird! For me I think it’s because I’m making more of an effort not to waste food and eating up all the food takes a lot more prep work.

  4. Nancy McDaniel

    I love the idea of The Refillery – South Africa is SO much better with all things recycled and upcycled than is the USA (but I am sure you know that). I admire your honesty in reporting your ups and downs and productiveness or lack thereof. It’s OK I think. I really haven’t felt down that much. Just worried about the state of the world (and the USA but I won’t get into a political screed here). I think my “pot bread” might be easier – you might want to try it:
    No-Knead Bread

    · YIELD One 1 1/2-pound loaf

    · TIME 1 hour 30 minutes, plus about 20 hours’ resting time


    · 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting

    · ¼ teaspoon instant yeast

    · 1 ¼ teaspoons salt

    · Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed


    1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

    2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

    3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

    4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

    • 2summers

      Thanks so much Nancy! Will definitely try this if I can find some yeast 🙂

  5. Catrina

    Love your circle photos, including the circular bread!
    I haven’t touched my taxes either. They were due at the end of March, but because of the virus, the deadline has been extended to the end of May. So the tax forms continue to sit there…
    Wishing you a magical day 21.

  6. Lani

    Beautiful circular window 🙂


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