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...


  1. I can feel your anxiety in your words, Tabor. It is a difficult time. But you sound like you are doing all you can, following the guidelines and being cautious. That's all we can do... except hope and pray that it's enough. Please continue to be safe.

  2. I don't do the store and have not for years during the winter since I can't do the flu shots. My husband returned from what we hope will be the only visit for a week and said that the time for the elders had filled the store. They were driving out as he arrived, and they had police cars to move the traffic smoothly. He had not gone for the early hour and by his time there were less in the store. I am not sure if pushing all of us elders in one time will prove better for avoiding those already contagious. So many things to worry about and I do worrying without any help.

    To add to our upset, our old cat died on the week-end. I have a best friend who let me know she has colon cancer after having had breast cancer. Her husband is in a care center for a stroke he had a few years back. Anyway, what my friend told me was this and then added-- 'And how was the play otherwise, Mrs. Lincoln?' I loved her sense of humor because it does feel that way right now-- one thing after another and we have to try to laugh as the alternative is cry. I did a lot of that when our beloved old cat died. My bad news seems overloaded but what is the alternative...

  3. Interesting reading about y'all's experiences. The car can add a lot of tension to an already tense time. I hope the repairs aren't too bad.
    Last week I saw no masks, gloves, or wiping down anything. This morning, (my last grocery run for a couple of weeks), I saw wiping down handles, masks, and half the people (from last week). The atmosphere was somber, and felt more tense.
    Thank you for the tip about washing produce. I stopped buying it, but when I begin again, I will wash it the way you do. I will Tabor my produce.

    1. All you need is a tablespoon bleach per your plastic dish pan.

  4. I picked up our order the the grocery store this morning. They shopped it and brought it to the car. The line going in was orderly and spaced 2 metres. When someone left the store another was able to enter. There was a station before entering for sanitizing, wiping, and gloves too I think. Senior hour there is 8-9. I think they also have plexiglass barricades for the cashiers now too, but I haven't been in yet.

  5. I thought I was set to not go out to a grocery store for awhile and then I ran out of my prescription eye drops. I did cancel a visit to the ophthalmologist for a follow up. I was surprised that they are not just doing emergency/critical care patients right now. I see two different dentists and they have both closed their practices for the time being.

  6. I'm not too nervous as we live in a rural county and only 4 confirmed cases, none in my town. even so, I ran two errands Monday one being the grocery store for just a few items but that will probably be the last time til the next grocery store trip. our store has red squares on the floor every six feet at the checkouts to show people where to stand and now has plexiglass shields between customer and checker. also, she wouldn't take the money directly from my hand. I was to put it down on the shelf and then she picked it up.

  7. Interesting that so many of my blogging friends are writing about our daily situation changes. It's making me feel a little bit better and giving me some ideas about how to get through this "new normal." Hope the mechanics can figure our what is going wrong in your car. Those intermittent problems are the worst! :-)

  8. Glad your car made it home. Good ideas from seeing your day's trip, for me to adopt. We do separate carts and lists also and I "zoom" around also! Andrea

  9. Dang cars! So happy you made it home. That would drive me to drink when I got home. I have those underlying medical issues and so have my groceries delivered by the store ($) or my kids who are close thank goodness. They leave them on my patio. I do the same grocery cleaning routine you do. Bleach is hard to find here too, and brown rice.

  10. I will need another grocery run late next week. The fewer of these the better. I find people aren’t making eye contact which I find unnerving!

    The car sounds so frustrating. Hope it gets resolved to your satisfaction.

  11. Ok, now I am all primed for our grocery shopping trip tomorrow morning. Seniors get 7:00 to 9:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays at our local Safeway. We'll be wiping down carts, wearing gloves, and masks, which I just made. I will be tense also. Then all of the cleaning when we get back home. That's just how it is now. It sucks.

  12. These are amazing times.

    Therre's no way we could have separate lists, i have to watch like a hawk or we will have more impulse items than the stuff we went in for.

    Hope you can get the car tended soon.

  13. More than likely more than two months. We might as well get used to it. I am wondering if all this wiping down and cleaning is going to stop me caring about eating as much as I do now. Could there be a reducing diet in the offing? The whole thing is a bit of a nightmare in spite of being really quite sanguine about it. I do have disturbed nights too, nights when I wake in the middle of them fretting and working and being anxious.

  14. I really enjoyed this morning essay.


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