The One I’m With

May 9, 2020

“Love seeketh not itself to please, nor for itself hath any care, but for another gives its ease, and builds a Heaven in Hell’s despair.”
~ William Blake

These are challenging times emotionally. The shelter-in-place directives have meant that most of us are spending either much more or much less time than usual with each other.

Modern technology has enabled us to interact with others somewhat, but many formerly mundane in-person visits, those with less than six feet of separation, seem precious in hindsight, like the lunch date I wish I could go back in time and hug for just a few moments longer.

Sofia (pictured above) is my quarantine-mate. She turned 18 on March 24th. Unlike a friend’s daughter of the same age, who is graduating with the class of 2020, Sofia’s current life probably isn’t much different than she expected, except for the fact that her mama is home almost all of the time now.

Sofia’s been with me since her first day on Earth. I found her, abandoned along with her 3 brothers, inside a shoe box that had been left in a shopping cart outside my local grocery. I took the one day-old kittens to the local emergency vet and learned how to feed them with a bottle and wipe their little backsides after they ate. I had to create make-shift incubators for them after one of Sofia’s brothers died in my arms, having no mama cat to snuggle up to and keep him warm. I managed to keep the others alive. Her brother Folster passed away 18 months ago, at the age of 16, lying on the bed next to me and Sofia. We both miss him.

Sofia and I can annoy each other at times, like any roommates. She has a somewhat jarring and insistent meow, seemingly incongruous with her beauty, like a feline Fran Drescher. Hearing that “waaahhhh” on a loop when I’m trying to disinfect groceries, work on my laptop or sleep in for just a few more minutes has required me to summon my conscious breathing skills on more than a few occasions. There’s also such a thing as too much of me, apparently. After Folster’s death, Sofia insisted on sleeping under the covers with me, spoon-style, every night. Lately though, with the near 24/7 togetherness of the quarantine, she is occasionally choosing to sleep by herself.

Many folks are grieving the past, having experienced personal and financial loss, and the uncertainty of our future can be unsettling. As overwhelmed as I sometimes feel in these days, I try to stop and remember to be grateful for what is certain: this beautiful gift of life and love that is my dear companion of 18 years. The extra moments I have with her now will one day be a precious memory. I don’t want to miss them while regretting something that has passed or guessing what may come with the future. Sofia is here and she is now. She is my precious present, my soft, sweet, silver lining surrounding this COVID-19 cloud.


Peanut Butter and Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips is a delicious baked alternative when you run out of eggs.

Peanut Butter and Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips
The banana replaces the binding quality of eggs in this recipe and also adds a delicious extra dimension of flavor. I sometimes substitute the cocoa powder with vanilla or chocolate hemp protein or whey protein powder.* You can use chunky or creamy peanut butter, but make sure it’s the natural kind that you have to stir first.

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 very ripe, medium-sized banana
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup natural peanut butter, stirred
2 tablespoons sunflower seed oil, plus more to prep pan
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350°F

Grease bottom and slightly up sides of a 9″ round cake pan or an 8″ square pan with a little oil. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa or protein powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix well with a large fork or whisk.

In a medium bowl, mash banana until smooth. Mix in sugar. Add milk, peanut butter, oil and vanilla. Mix well.

Add banana peanut butter mixture to bowl of dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips just until evenly distributed.

Scoop batter into prepared pan and even out surface with back of spatula or spoon.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean (there may be melted chocolate on the tester, but not uncooked batter).

Cut into 8 pieces.



One Response to “The One I’m With”

  1. Astrid Kastenberg

    Gina! Your little Sweetie Sofia! She is so beautiful!!! I cannot believe 18 years have passed. It was so heart warming reliving the story of how she came into your life. I’ll never forget you having to use I think doll baby bottles??? Reading about Folster made me a bit melancholy. You know I don’t do cats, but only yours. Lol. I loved me some Folster! He felt like my first favorite Luigi incarnated! Although alone together on the East side, you and Sofia are always in my Westside heart and mind. XO

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