Monday, March 30, 2020

Notice a Difference?

Yes, the parking lots are emptier if not totally empty in front of our favorite restaurants.  I can order for pick-up, but I am still a little worried about germs for all that.  The photo below was the last time we ate out...March 17...perhaps we were pushing it?

All our meetings have been canceled (which is driving my extrovert husband bananas in trying to find stuff to do.)

We are elderly but fairly active and do not see ourselves as elderly...this has been a strong reminder of how few years we have left on this earth.

Every news report we fall into the "vulnerable" category.

I am close to my children, but we do not talk sometimes for months and that has changed to texting and phone calls several times weekly as they check up on us!

My husband's fishing buddy (in his late 50's) who calls maybe twice a year is stuck at his condo in Colorado and called to make sure we are doing well and to remind us his son, who lives near us, can be called upon for any assistance we might need. Then he tells us his wife's father passed away last week due to the virus...

My next-door neighbor (newly moved in) also offers us assistance if we need it. He is in his late 50s.

Our intermittent helper (gardening and such--the man released from prison last year) calls before he comes to help with mulch and asks if he can bring anything from the store for us.

My own brother ( a real introvert) who never calls me unless we are on travel together and trying to coordinate something or pick a place for a meetup, called to see how we were doing!

I am ordering expensive frozen dinners online as a break to cooking. When I say is like eating out without all the ambiance and wine but the same bill. I also think the serving sizes are much like TV dinners and not going to satisfy hubby.

I spend much of my time washing things...not clothes or dishes...but mail, food packages, prescription bottles, and of course, my hands.

We worked in the children's garden today and I discovered that you have no impulse to touch your face when your hands are covered in dirt. Try it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Life is a Bit of a Hornets Nest

The morning is dark and gloomy at 4:00 A.M. The bedroom is quiet. My mind is racing as I lay in bed and stare at the shadowed ceiling...why did I wake up? Hmmm...  Oh, yes! I forgot to put the food recycle-bags that I had washed into the dryer and we are going food shopping this morning.

Dragging myself out of the warm covers, I put the bags in the dryer and go to make some coffee.  At 5:20 the alarm goes off and I go in to wake my husband.  He seems unenergetic and slow and then tells me he thinks he may have an eye infection!!  I make him get up, wash his face, and then wash the eye with saltwater.  It does not look too bad so we do not cancel our morning plans.  (The eye was better by the afternoon.)

The grocery told us, elders, to get there at 6:00 A.M. when they open so that we can shop without lines and maybe have a chance of finding things.

It is bleak and dark outside. A slight drizzle with cold weather and seems like we are leaving for a trip to the airport instead of just a weekly errand to the village. I get the mail from the counter to take to the P.O. We do not have rural delivery and thus have to hit the Post Office twice to thrice weekly. Hubby has been having trouble starting "my" car and I have been seeing him double start even after the dash says Power On!  I am concerned with his concentration these days and greater confusion with technology.  After arguing with him I make him give me the driver's seat. The computer in the car is clearly not working well. After finally getting the car to turn off completely which takes several shifts, pushing off the start button, and even opening and closing car doors, I wait a bit and then start it as I normally do and it works!! Good thing we are getting an early start.

We head to the Post Office since the grocery will not be open for another fifteen minutes.  I pull into the empty parking lot and the Post Office is well lit.  I push the off button, but the car does not seem to go off.  I do not worry but hurry inside to deposit and get mail.   When I put the virus covered mail and a medium box of snack peanuts and chocolate I ordered from Amazon in the back seat. I try to start the car.  It takes five minutes this time.  I am frustrated as it is hard to see the car settings, etc. in the dark morning.  I rarely drive at night because of this.  Something is clearly wrong and I am just getting ready to call a tow when I turn the car off and we sit for 5 minutes.  I try again one final time and it works!  It is a computer problem.

We optimistically head to the store and I try not to think about the possibility of ice cream melting in the trunk if we load it with groceries and have to wait for a tow.  I have turned the lights to auto, and other stuff to my original settings and tell my husband to please not touch all the settings.  He is feeling bad and I am feeling bad and oh hell...

We get two carts and wipe down the handles, sides, etc. and our hands with wipes I carry in my purse.  An Asian elder rounds the corner followed by his Caucasian wife.  They both smile and I smile back and ask her if she brought coffee.  She says her hubby has already had his coffee and I am wondering if she did not realize I was attempting a joke.  Something I do when I am nervous and frustrated.  (It isn't until much later I wonder if the Asian man is feeling the prejudice or does he always smile?)

The store is quiet and everyone is polite and keeping their distance.  For the first time since this nightmare started, I see some customers wearing gloves and a few elders wearing masks.  I find most of what I want except bleach.  I am down to half a gallon and use it to wash my veggies.  I hurry past the produce section as I got my first order of produce online yesterday.  (I had opened the box outside, brought in veggies and fruit and dumped them all in a sink of bleach water for about three minutes, rinsed them thoroughly, let them air dry and put them away.  I get little choice in what they deliver, but it will help me stretch my cooking imagination to prepare veggies I do not like.)

Remembering what produce I got, I select bananas and strawberries in the store and celery.  I have a feeling that this ordering online will not deliver the more fragile berries, tomatoes, etc. I zoom my cart past toward the meat.  Hubby cannot eat red meat due to his allergy so it is all turkey, duck, and chicken.  I have plenty of seafood in the freezer but the fresh seafood counter is totally closed.  I see the paper products aisle is 90% empty but I do not need any of that anyway and hurry on to the other aisles.

Hubby has taken a second shopping list and the second cart and is on his way to the opposite side of the store for the dairy.    We buy more ice cream these days to handle our boredom.  I cannot live without coffee creamer and have 3 jars now!

We get everything we want except the bleach.  I get to the counter with only one cart ahead of us.  The elder customer in front of us says that it is nice the store sets aside time for us old folks.  When she has paid, I put up my recyclable grocery bags on the counter and assure the clerk that I have just washed them.  Her response indicates she does not really care, or perhaps did not hear.  We talk lightly about the pandemic and she admits that she is immune-compromised.  She is a young thing in her 20s.  As we wheel our two half-filled carts away I hear the customer behind me ask the clerk if she is holding up under this virus panic.  Everyone seems to care about the vulnerable.

Both of us load the trunk quickly as the rain is now starting up again getting everything wet.

I get into the car which starts exactly as it is supposed to and we head home.  Lots of Lysol wipes on most things such as door handles, car steering wheel, etc. and then we wash our hands after everything has been put away.  I think we are good for 7-10 days.  

This whole experience made me realize how tense we are.  I felt as if I had just caught the last plane out of Cuba and all it was was a weekly errand!  And this will probably go on for a month or two more...

Monday, March 23, 2020

The Pause

Most of us have put our lives on pause. If you are retired, this is not a huge difference in the pace you used to set each day. It is a bit frustrating if you are very social and love your  meet-ups. It is a bit frustrating if you participate in social sports or even gym activities, but making a sacrifice to save lives is not all that difficult! My daughter lets her little girl out to ride bikes with a good friend a few times each week. They are told to stay 6 feet apart when talking. My granddaughter must have some social connections at the age of 12,but who knows if she understands the seriousness of all this. That is her life overseen  by her parents. She spends the rest of her freetime on the snapchat APP of her phone or doing her homework online. She is not a stellar student, but also someone who will make it through school as above average. 

My oldest grandson is a teenager and smart enough to be able to handle the homework in an efficient manner and  spends too  much time playing online games.  He is very close to his uncle, my son, so they connect electronically at the end of the workday.

The youngest is nine and tries to keep up with his teenage brother but is somewhat lost because team sports have been the  central  part of his life outside of school.

I do not  think any of my family realizes how  long this hunkering down is going to last.  

I  have restricted my going  out to maybe twice a week...maybe once more as we do  not get rural  delivery of mail.  I wipe the mail down with a bleach  and  water cloth  and let it sit for a short time before I open it

I am now getting my vegetables and fruit via delivery.  Getting the first box in  two  days.  We  will see how that goes.  I may try to get all my groceries via delivery.  My neighbor and I are planning  on leaving the box  outside the house and bringing stuff in to clean in the house.  

Yard workers and delivery do not come into  the house.  I am certainly hoping we do not need repairs.  My friend 's refrigerator just died and she got new one.  On that same day, Best Buy, which sells appliances, emailed all  its customers that they will sell and deliver appliances, but no longer install them!  They will get them to  the front door and the rest is up to you.

We planted spring potatoes in the volunteer children's garden, but not  sure if  or when community children can help us harvest.  It was just hubby and I.  We  canceled the get-together with volunteers  to pre-plant all the vegetables in small trays to  place under grow lights and hubby spent  4 hours doing  it  himself in the basement.

My daughter  had planned a long weekend  in the nearby mountains  with us, but the cabin owners canceled and refunded the money.  My son and his wife planned a weekend with us at the C&O canal in a cabin.  That is in May and might very well  be cancelled.  We have a late June trip where my husband was going to take the oldest grandson on a SCUBA diving trip to the Bahamas.  My son was going also.   I was going just to make the the three males behaved themselves.  That is farther away in time, but I will not be surprised if flying out of the country is unadvisable in June!

So life is a bit of a bore.  Even our brief  consideration of taking a chance drive up to see the cherry blossoms has been  canceled as D.C. said too many people were enjoying them!  Even  though they are all outdoors, it was too crowded.

We still  have the  local parks with their hiking  trails, but hubby and I do not know if they are crowded as this weather warms.  We will have to see in the days ahead.

Mage from Postcards From the Edge is back blogging after her lengthy illness.  But she returns to the pandemic that has us all staying home.  It is good to read her "postscards" once  again, though.  Blog connections with you all are more important than ever,  helping us realize that life goes on and we can keep each others spirits up virtually with  absolutely no exchange of bacteria or  virus!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Different Strokes

My husband and I are very different in personality. He is much like an over-eager lab. He loves people, he is on the phone, he likes to run errands and he is the one who makes friends. I like people well enough. I do not mind having someone over for tea. Except the young man that came last week stayed for three hours and I was worn out by then. This was just a few days before we all have decided to stay home. 

Last week we had our last meet-up with someone who had requested a yard visit regarding issues with drainage and protection of nearby water flow areas.  Hubby was enthusiastic in his response with all his advice until the lady politely stepped back and said, "I'm sorry, but I am trying to make some distance between us here."  Hubby smiled and stepped back.  This virus is hard for him in so many silly ways.

Therefore, this mandate by our Governor to not hold meetings or go out to gyms or restaurants, etc. has left a big hole in my husband's days. He watches cable news, he gardens, he even ran 4 miles on the elliptical today, but all of it is him pacing, pacing, pacing. I, on the other hand, am relieved that all those meetings got canceled. I hate going to them anyway. I love people, I really do. But they are like hot sauce for me. A little goes a long way.

I visited the grocery store today for weekly shopping and was somewhat surprised at how bare everything was.  Freezers were 80% empty and paper products the same.  There was even a small dent in the fresh meat counter and the seafood counter was empty.  I got enough to survive another week.  The store was about 30% full of customers and everyone was hesitant and cautious but polite.  I am out of analgesics and was going to get some Ibuprophan but a lady next to me said she also needed that and since there was only one box, I told her to take it.  It is not something that will mean life or death for me...and it may be important to her.  I did get the last sack of flour, because ...well cookies...that is sort of life and death.

Today I am editing a report hubby wrote before we send it on to someone else for approval.  But before this, I played with some spring photos.  Hoping what I post below brings you some peace of mind in this murmuring chaos. 


Sunday, March 08, 2020

Stuff You May Not Know

While our illustrious leader is trying to keep the numbers down for infection in this country, he has explained that he really understands "this stuff" probably due to his fantastic genius gene pool. I understand, folks, that he does sound racist, but it is just "straight talk."

Anyway, I am sure you all have moved your laptops to the sink so you can wash your hands every 15 minutes while blogging, but be sure you do not knock the electronics into the sink. I am not the genius that our illustrious leader is, but I do grasp the concept of water and electricity as something not good!

If you are flying and wearing a mask, please let all us bloggers know how you are handling the eating and drinking part.  I have a plane trip in June and I am guessing this may not be on the wane by then.

I actually like the elbow bump greeting and the bowing greeting as one is joyously young and reflective: a coolness and the other is proper and dignified.  I think I can pull off either at my garden meeting next week.  

On February 26 the President said the following:  "[W]hen you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that's a pretty good job we've done."  As of March 8 and 15 minutes of the writing, we now have 500 cases of Covid 19 in the U.S.  He is a genius, but not a whiz at math.  One of the cases is just 60 miles north of where I live.

Am I panicking?  Not for me or even for my family.  I do panic for that younger minimum wage worker that has to meet the public every day and who has no healthcare.  He/she just needs to hold on until the GOP brings that Replace part of the Repeal for their healthcare.  It is unfortunate they could not get it passed when they had control of both Houses of Congress for two years.  Now the politicians have brought it down to theater like wearing gas masks during sessions of Congress.  (Course that guy has a few drunk driving issues, so I understand why a virus would be a joke for him.)

I may very well get it--the virus.  I mean just count how many times you touch something that someone else has touched on a normal day out...your credit card, the gas pump, the door handles of every building you enter, the buttons on elevators, the faucets and toilet handles, the glasses the waitress/waiter places on your table, the plates that are touched on the edges by God knows how many people, the seat rails on trains and metros, the handrails of escalators and stairs.  Even every can of beans, carton of milk, a container of eggs and container of gum may have been handled just a few hours before by someone who is asymptomatic or just slightly tired and fighting the virus.  Of course, they recommend that you wear gloves, but I also know that I am very touchy-feely with my face!  Spend an hour and count how many times you want to scratch your nose or wipe your eyes.

Are you terrified yet?  One woman at a Trump rally quoted a Psalm explaining why she had no fear and that she would be safe.  I do not know my Bible...not even sure where that lovely white tome with the gold edges is...!  I am sure I could not find the Psalm and God just shakes his head at me when I ask questions, although Psalms was my favorite when I was a teenager.

Well, we got an email today from a woman who was supposed to go on our wood duck box maintenance trek and said she had to bow out.  She had met up with some friends who had been on travel several days ago and yesterday she had a sore throat and was feeling "pecky".  

Keep me posted and for certainty...move that laptop aside and go wash you hands.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Spring Cannot Come Too Soon

It seems this week is just one roller coaster ride after another. My daughter-in-law was in Nashville this week for work and slept through the tornado! It did not damage her hotel, thankfully. She was not aware of the tragedy until breakfast the next day. She dodged that bullet! Many young children died or were injured, it seems. My daughter is flying to Nashville for work this coming Monday for her company. I never know where my family is on their various work trips, and maybe that is a good thing. As the current Coronavirus spreads there will be more teleconferencing, I am hoping.

It is only a matter of time before the virus reaches our state. You can see Johns Hopkins' COVID map that shows it appears at entry points to the US. My state has finally put up a map on testing. There is so little testing going on, that the numbers will be sure to climb when they test. Fortunately young and middle-aged healthy people will probably not be deathly ill but will have to be prepared to miss several weeks of work.

While buying some make-up remover packets in the drugstore a few days ago, I stood behind a stocky black man neatly dressed in a state sports jersey and a knit cap. He was buying a package of cigarettes. He reached deep in his pocket for the needed remaining 30 cents in change, spilling coins onto the floor. He handed the clerk a coin the size of a quarter and she said it was not valid currency, perhaps some chip from a game(?), as she handed it back. He reached in his other pockets and still could not come up with the needed 30 cents. He finally said he would go check his car and come back. I stood wooden Indian still refusing to help him as I hate the cigarette habit. I looked him in the eye with my best stern grandma look as he turned and said I was sorry I could not help him, but I did not like that dangerous habit. He smiled politely and then hubby, who is ever the good Samaritan even if it means buying poison, reached in his pocket and brought out the change. The black man thanked him and looked sheepishly my way before he turned and walked to the door. Such an addictive danger.

Super Tuesday of 1/3 of the primary states' voting determines whom I vote for before I even get a chance to vote. My first two choices already dropped out! My third choice was not super strong. I will vote blue no matter who, but I wish the system was not so crazy.

I have gardeners coming next week to plant trays of seeds for my husband's project and I have to clean the basement before they sprinkle planting soil all over it...I also should make cookies...spring is coming closer each day.