do I have COVID-19?: going to a testing site today

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Today will be the second time I’ll have been tested for COVID-19. The first time, my son worked with someone who tested positive, so I thought I’d get a test too, since we live in the same house. I had no symptoms then, but now I have. For the past several days, I’ve had dizziness, a dry cough, a mild headache that is not in the location of my typical migraines, an itchy throat, and a bit of gastrointestinal distress. Saturday and Sunday, I felt fatigued as well, even skipping my daily walk Sunday on a beautiful January day.

Last Thursday, my son was told by his manager of the coffee shop at which he works that a second of his coworkers had tested positive, and one of them had worked with him on Sunday. He had just taken a test a few days before, after learning of the first positive, but now he was told that he directly worked with this second person. He tried to get in for a test on Friday, but the county-run facility had met its daily goal and was not accepting any more walk-ins. He tried again yesterday, when he would still be in the incubation period for the illness. He woke early, before the testing center opened, and was fifth in line for a site opening 45 minutes later. He is waiting for his results.

I will wait until the morning rush is a bit through and head to the testing center. I am hoping I will be able to not have to wait in a long line because, although much of the queue is outdoors, the line does travel inside a building with narrow halls.

I work in a library one day a week and the rest of the time from home, and my shift is in two days. The library is closed to patrons and I am pretty much working alone when I’m there, but my supervisor, the librarian, is also in that day. I will let her know tomorrow morning about the situation so she can plan ahead in case I do not get my results back in time. She may have to adjust the schedule and have one of my two coworkers eligible to be at work to come in (all the others are older women with underlying health issues).

I will be going to a county-run facility because getting a test through a doctor’s office is ridiculous and nearly impossible. My primary care doctor does not offer testing. Testing for the health-care enterprise she works under is conducted in a far-off part of the county it would take me 30 minutes just to get to (and then how much longer to wait in line, I wonder).

A few months ago, my son tried arranging for a test through his doctor’s office. He was told he would need to have a teledoc appointment first. He was waiting for a link by text to get on the video call, but one never came. Turns out, the link was sent via email. He missed the call and then had to pay $25 for a missed appointment. Doctors’ offices need to be better at administering tests. Why the need for an appointment of any kind if someone calls in and asks for one, advising the office staff that he or she has symptoms?

The only other option is being forced to wait in line for hours at the county sites, which is what I will probably be doing today. Fingers crossed I’m a negative, but I am really not sure. This is one test I hope to fail.

what 2020 gave us . . . and what we’d like to give back

There has never been a year in my nearly six decades on this earth quite like 2020. There have been bad years indeed, but 2020 brought the entire world into a gripping tale whose pages are still being written. How will the pandemic play out? Who will be the winners? Who will be the losers? Who will be the heroes (although hospital workers, including the maintenance crew that empties the contagious waste from ICU cells, top the list, along with essential workers of every kind and the scientists formulating the new vaccines)? And who will be the villains (which is pretty obviously that hideous dictator and his mob, which includes every sycophant who helped put him into office or kissed his boots while there)?

All obvious drawbacks aside, there are some wonderful things 2020 wrought. On a personal level, being able to once again work mostly from home has been a godsend for me. Same for my husband, who no longer has to deal with the daily stress of driving an hour’s worth of heavy traffic each way just to travel 18 miles.

Unlike many other workers who found themselves struggling to adapt to working from home for the first time ever, I have many, many years of freelance work under my belt and the self-discipline and strong work ethic to go with it. I almost look forward to sitting at my desk at a scheduled time each day, powering up my computer, and working away for hours on end. (I realize I am fortunate to no longer have young children at home who need my time and attention while I work. I do remember those days well, and I respect that 2020’s parents have the added obstacle of being their child’s schoolwork facilitator in addition to tending to their own work.)

There is a slower pace to life now. The rat race is still there, I’m sure, but I think people finally realize the cheese is always going to be there, so what’s the hurry?

Another huge blessing of 2020 was the free time I now have to take a daily walk and–added bonus–to walk with a book or a podcast to entertain and educate me. I have consumed more books this year than I have in decades past because of that 30 minutes or more of bliss. Today, with Tom Hanks in my ear reading Ann Patchett’s The Dutch House, I was able to cover more territory than usual because I wanted to keep listening to the Conroys’ story).

A third plus has been staying in contact with friends. It’s times like these when we realize who our true friends are. The one friend I see makes an effort to meet for an occasional socially distanced walk or a half hour talking on her front patio. Another friend, whom I’ve actually become closer to through all this, calls every few weeks to see how we all are doing and keeps me up to speed with her and her family’s life. And I and my best friend have had regular, almost weekly phone chats to stay in touch. I miss visiting her and will never again let a year pass without seeing her.

What I miss could fill many blog posts (our annual weeklong vacation, being able to fly, gathering with family and friends on holidays, seeing my daughter and son-in-law get married in front of a roomful of well-wishers), but that’s for another time. I’m just happy that there are silver linings in that godawful year and, more importantly, there is something to look forward to, with a new administration and hope for not just going back to normal but for a new normal of equality, compassion, and change.

corona diaries, day ??: it’s not even remotely beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

Christmastime is here, but the air is so hot, the sun so bright, and the barometer so low that it feels nothing like Christmastime. Do you know how to make the lingering coronavirus pandemic feel never-ending? Live somewhere in which every single stinkin’ day looks exactly like the day before it and the day before that. Is time even passing? Are the seasons changing? Is there something new to look forward to this month? I wouldn’t know, because I could have sworn that when I woke up today it was yesterday or August 10th or even April 30th, for that matter.

Kid in California, ca. December 2020: “Look, Dad. I think I found our Christmas tree!”
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Save for a few years living in the Bay Area, I have spent most of my adult life in Southern California. Coming from the four seasons of the East Coast, I have yet to get used to this weather. I am envious of the snow in Cleveland today or the rain in Portland, Oregon. To get into even a little of the Christmas spirit I would like to to be able to (a) see a cloud in the sky or (b), at the very least, be able to open my curtains during the day without getting blinded by the ground-skimming December sun.

How could it feel like Christmas when every day is warm, when I have yet to put on long pants or even socks, when I have to change out of a long-sleeved T-shirt after breaking a sweat in the Christmas tree lot? I mean, aside from some Floridians, Hawaiians, and Arizonans, who can say that this time of year? Who would want to?

I’ve always loved the fall and winter, the change of weather, the crispness in the air, the smell of pine needles and rain, the beauty of waking up to fluffy white branches, but I’m stuck with a bare, sandy lawn because the summer was so hot we couldn’t even grow any grass.

So here it is December, yet it feels like I’m stuck in one of those horrible Hallmark/Lifetime Christmas movies that were obviously filmed in the bright sunshine and heat of August, when actors are bundled up in scarves and heavy coats, surrounded by blocks of Styrofoam snowbanks. You can’t see their breath in the “frigid” air, but if you look really closely, you may see a dribble or two of sweat trickling down their faces.

Our governor may need to issue another set of stay-at-home orders similar to the ones when coronavirus first circulated. Hospital beds are once again at capacity; more people than ever are getting infected. The reason the casualties are escalating most likely is that people were gathering during the recent holidays when they knew they shouldn’t have. All I can say is, it’s definitely understandable to try to make a day off feel like a holiday since every day looks and feels the same around here.

Still, we are lucky to remain healthy. That’s the bottom line. But is it too much to ask for December to actually feel like December–or October at the very least? Unfortunately, the pandemic is making this year drag on, and the unchanging weather is just nature’s cruel joke to make us feel that it will never end.

corona diaries, day whatever: needing a mental health break

The week didn’t start out so great: A friend of mine wanted to know if I could take a walk with her, which I was totally up for, having seen very few people outside my immediate family and strangers in the grocery store these past months. Then she told me she and her husband had just been on a cross-country flight home from the East Coast, where they went for no other reasons than because flights are dirt cheap and to see the colors change. After giving it some thought, I texted her to say I wasn’t quite comfortable that she had been on the opposite coast and in an airplane and we’d get together in a couple weeks. She took it well.

Photo by Toni Cuenca on Pexels.com

I did not want to chance meeting up and possibly being exposed, being we have had a couple COVID scares, mainly from my son, who is an essential worker (if you consider making people overpriced coffee drinks essential) and who has had coworkers test positive.

But that’s not the only reason I didn’t want to see her. I also was having a big, fat case of FOMO, failure of missing out, and it put me in a funk. I have worked from home almost my entire adult life, but because I was also raising four kids and money was tight, I couldn’t take advantage of the “freedom” people now working from home during COVID think it gives them. Add to it the fact that my friend didn’t think twice about taking her husband, who is not in the best of health, on a cross-country jaunt that entailed breathing in stale, recirculated airplane air for 5 hours and mingling with people whose DNA does not match their own, and it kind of made me mad. What they do is their own business, of course, but is sneaking out of town and risking getting or spreading COVID on your return worth it? She also told me she was going to a shower the next day. A shower? My daughter, who got married a few weeks ago in a quickie ceremony in front of a city worker, had no wedding, let alone a shower!

The weather is turning hot again after a couple seasonal days last weekend. And I hate it. This kind of weather gives me migraines. Could it also mess with my serotonin’s juju, I wonder? Whatever the reason, I was not in a good mental state Monday, Tuesday . . . well, all the way through to today, Friday.

I feel like the world is flying by. Four family birthdays whizzed past with little fanfare, including a couple that were milestones and should have been properly recognized. My daughter’s wedding–our one big family event ever–has come and gone with no celebration. Her birthday is coming up in a couple weeks, with mine a month later, and Thanksgiving and Christmas are on the horizon, but nothing will have changed by then.

Halloween is tomorrow. The county and state authorities are discouraging trick-or-treating, which is fine with me. I don’t have little ones anymore. But today was a Halloween celebration at work, and, because of my funk, I decided not to go. I was not up for dressing in costume, which I never do anyway, or seeing people I work with, even though some I haven’t seen for a while. I just thought it was unnecessary and just a way to further alienate those women I work with who are older and not in the best of health and therefore not able to participate because they are considered high risk.

To shake my bad mood, though, I vowed to do something about it, and the one thing I thought I’d do was go to a pumpkin patch. I love one that is on a farm about a 45-minute drive from our house, but I knew I didn’t want to drive that far. The car I have been driving doesn’t run too smoothly anymore–and that’s our newer car. So, I decided I’d use an older vehicle we own and go to the farm that is fewer miles from home. But no sooner did I pull away from the curb than I noticed the flat-tire symbol on my dashboard light up. The diagram pointed to the rear passenger tire. So, I ran a quick errand and went to a nearby filling station for air.

Getting back in the vehicle, I saw the symbol was still on. I then decided to return home, pick up my husband’s key, which isn’t as badly falling apart as mine (thanks, Honda, for using the cheapest plastic ever on your key fobs), because I worry that the guys in the shop would break it further, and head to Costco for a tire repair. But I was almost home when I looked down on the dashboard again and saw the flat-tire light had disappeared! Yes!

I decided to chance it and drive the 23 minutes to the closer farm. It was thumbs-up the whole way, with no more flat symbol. I pulled into the rural farm and took a look around. It was lovely there! There was a small pumpkin patch (tomorrow’s Halloween, so I didn’t expect much), a nursery, a coffee bar, outdoor seating, lovely photo op spots, and a sweet gift shop. I was in a small bit of heaven. I could feel the dopamine leveling off and I was, dare I say it, happy for a short while. This feeling ended, of course, when I turned on the engine upon leaving and saw the flat-tire symbol again. Ugh!

I made it home, without incident, though. The symbol went off again on the drive, which made me sing along with Tom Petty. I was free-falling, indeed. Since luck was on my side, I decided to stop at the nearest grocery store and grab a few things while I was out. Of course, the flat-tire symbol returned when I started to drive away from the parking lot. But I got a little piece of peace today. My brain is less frazzled, and if Trump is voted out of office on Tuesday, it may last for at least four years.

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corona diaries day ?: a corona wedding and life goes on


My daughter was married last Friday. It wasn’t what we all had hoped and planned for over the past year. There was no caterer, no venue, no clergyperson, no flower girl, no cute little ring bearers, no decorated tables, no cake-cutting ceremony, no music, no gown or tux, no vows read at the altar, no family friends, no honeymoon to a far-off land. What we had was a county clerk in a booth, a couple I-dos, and a piece of paper to show for it. But so it goes during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

It was a bittersweet day indeed. I am 100 percent for the marriage, and I’m happy that my daughter and my now son-in-law tied the knot, but I wanted it to be a bit more special. In this crazy year in which more than 210,000 American people have died of an illness that seemed to come out of nowhere half a year ago, though, the two of them were lucky to have pulled it off at all.

Plans had changed drastically in those twelve months. They went from 120 guests down to 50 when it looked like no more than that number would be able to gather to just their family and closest friends when no gatherings outside of single households were allowed in our county. After the brief ceremony, we spread out in the nearby park, socially distanced and masked. We brought our own picnic lunches and beverages and only shared wedding cupcakes created by the groom’s cousin and my daughter’s close friend.

Like so many couples this year, my daughter and son-in-law considered putting the wedding off, but until when? What is the magic date that this virus will be history? With no vaccine just yet, there is no reason to believe this virus will be eradicated anytime soon. In fact, it just keeps growing, and now even the president, who didn’t take it seriously at all, refusing to wear a mask or heed precautions, has contracted it. So, with a disease that has afflicted 7.44 million Americans and 35 million people worldwide lurking about, no one can say for sure when it will be safe to move about the country.

My daughter and son-in-law got it right, though. They were more interested in being married than having a wedding. They were more inclined to save the money it would have cost to throw a big party than to see it disappear in one day. They realized that there is no reason to put off for tomorrow what can be done today. If coronavirus and the mayhem caused in the wake of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Daniel Prude and too many others have taught us anything, it is that we are not invincible, happiness and fairness in life are not guaranteed, and life is too precious to waste.

the corona diaries, day 55: may gray and being denied benefits

Not too much has changed since my last Corona Diaries post, other than more people have become infected with COVID-19 and more have died, including three young children in New York State. How sad is that?

I still am working from home, which I love. On the down side, I was denied unemployment insurance benefits because I was told the money I earn from the part-time job I currently hold–and held concurrently with the one I lost–is $9 more than my benefit amount. You read that correctly. Nine dollars! I make $9 more weekly than what the employment department philanthropists want to pay me in benefits. That’s just over one dollar a day more.

What does this even mean? Here’s how I feel: anger

  • I still lost my job.
  • I still am losing income every week.
  • There are no jobs to be had to make up for the lost income.
  • At 13 hours a week, I barely earn much as it is–it’s certainly not enough money to even afford the average monthly one-bedroom rent where I live.

How, then, can the government deny me benefits? Because I still hold down another job that pays barely much more than the one I lost? How is that OK? Should I ask my other employer to let me go too? Would that be better, to be completely unemployed, at which time my benefit amount would be much higher? I’m not asking for more than I deserve.

I have a friend who lost one of his two part-time jobs too. Because the one he lost brought in less income than the one he currently has (same as my situation), he was denied a claim as well. We are both diligent people, trying to make two part-time jobs work because full-time jobs with benefits are so scarce. Yet, we are penalized when we lose one of those jobs.

This government that is denying my claim because I earn nine measly dollars more than they think I’m worth, mind you, is the same one that has bailed out the banks and General Motors and every other conglomerate that has caused hardworking individuals to lose their  jobs because of corporate greed. Un-f*&$#ing-believable!

Both my friend and I went out of our ways to notify the employment department that we currently still hold part-time jobs so they wouldn’t overpay us if thinking we lost both our jobs. Most people would not have done that, I believe, and would have taken whatever handout they received, whether they deserved it or not (see my reference to the banks, General Motors et al. above). But in being forthright, we are without the money we worked hard for. Once again, the government shows that honesty does not pay off. I mean, just look at who was rewarded with the highest office in the land!

But I digress a little. june gloom

We currently are in what the locals refer to as May Gray, which is followed next month by June Gloom. At this time of year, mornings are overcast with a thick, white blanket of sky. If and when the sun does shine through, though, it reveals what I consider to be the most glorious weather. Some parts of town along the coast never see the sun at this time of year. We live far enough east to have (a) lower property values and (b) more sun when it’s key to brightening bad days.

With the coronavirus pandemic still hanging around, there is a lot of cloud cover above us all right now. We don’t know when those clouds will melt away, but we do know they eventually will. Yes, there will be an end to this madness. It’s just not very clear at the moment when the sun will shine again.

the corona chronicles, day 38, a birthday and memories of quarantine-like bed rest

Today is the birthday of my eldest child, my daughter. This is not the first family birthday celebrated in coronavirus quarantine. Our older son turned 27 last week. We celebrated on our patio, with takeout Italian food. His sisters and brother-in-law-to-be came over and we all managed to hang out, six feet apart.bday cake

Birthdays bring on nostalgia, and last weekend I thought about my son’s birth. After having lived in a string of small apartments with two children, we were finally in an actual house, albeit at 1,100 square feet, a small one. But we had saved up enough to put down a modest down payment. We were on our way to home ownership for the first time in our lives. It was a good feeling bringing our baby boy home to our house.

My firstborn’s entry into the world was much different. Similar to now, I was under a stay-at-home order of sorts when I had her 34 years ago. I was eight weeks from my due date back in 1986 when, at a routine OB visit, I was told that because of the condition of my cervix, I needed to immediately seek bed rest. At the time I was working full-time. (With three more kids to follow, it was, incidentally, the only time I would ever work full-time and have my own work-related health benefits.)

I drove home from the appointment, stopping at the bank and the grocery store, because who knew when I’d be able to get out again, and then came home and lay on the couch, poring over the bed rest section of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I waited for my husband to come home (this was in the days before cell phones) to tell him the news. At a mere 24 years old, adulthood and marriage were still new to me, and now I was facing complications with my very first pregnancy. It was scary times.

Bed rest was not fun. Back in ’86 and only married for a year, my husband and I lived in a one-bedroom, one-bath apartment, with a cat. We had a living room, a kitchen with a small breakfast area, and that about covers it. How I wished in those days for a place with a balcony or patio on which to stretch out in a lounge chair in the fresh air. Rather, our apartment was cramped and dark, and the only outdoor space was a well-traveled walkway that our seven other apartment-dwelling neighbors would pass through from the street to the alley.

The way our unit was situated, there was no direct sunlight at all in the apartment, save for a tiny triangular bit that fell on our opened door. At the top of the stairs leading to our and our closest neighbor’s apartment was a landing only big enough to stand on and place a couple bags of groceries or a laundry basket while unlocking the door. No room to prop even a modest-sized chair in order to sit outside.

I was thankful to be upstairs at least and not on the ground floor, staring at a fence or the alley-side parking lot. At least I could see a single tree in the property next door and an occasional bird perched in it, along with blue sky.

Inside, my one and only physical position was horizontal. Before leaving for his volunteer job at the historical society and then his actual night job as a courier, my husband would pack me a brown-bag lunch, typically consisting of a sandwich, yogurt, and fruit. He’d also leave something similar for me to eat for dinner. On the weekends, he would make dinner, which often was hamburgers, spaghetti, or soup.

I could not drive and could only leave the house to see my doctor and go to the hospital for stress tests to check on the welfare of my unborn child. My entertainment was the few books I had around the house, the daily newspaper, my journal, and the television set. We did not have cable–just four local stations and PBS. We did not even have a remote control, so I would coincide turning the channels with trips to the bathroom or to get another pitcherful of water from the fridge. My only company was our cat, who shared our lumpy, used sofa with me.

Our sole, avocado-green phone was in the kitchen, attached to the wall of course. I didn’t even have the convenience that a portable landline brings. The phone, fortunately, had a long enough cord to stretch to my spot on the couch, but I would still need to get up to answer it or dial.

My friends from work came by one time and brought a pizza and salad. That was the only face-to-face socializing we did. Easter fell during my time of bed rest, and my family, including my newborn niece and her two-year-old sister, came over and had dessert. I stretched out as best I could on the couch while surrounded by 11 people in our small apartment living room.

The night my daughter was born, my closest friend in town was over. My husband cooked up some hamburgers (what else?), and we hung out. She brought over an outfit for the baby-to-be. It was great seeing a friend. When I emerged from using the bathroom, my water broke and I realized I was in labor. Three-and-a-half hours later, my daughter was born. The birth was fast and fierce and painful, and I barely saw my baby before she was whisked off for a night in the NICU.

Those seven weeks of bed rest remind me of this time of stay-at-home orders, except it was much more difficult. Despite what some people are feeling, this isn’t a bad era to be stuck at home. We now have multiple TV sets with remote controls and access to all sorts of entertainment, from thousands of TV shows to new-release movies.

We have cell phones, a futuristic concept in the ’80s, on which we can chat or text at all hours of the day and night to anywhere in the world. We have tablets on which to read a best seller at the touch of a digital button or two. We have social media to see what our friends and even celebrities are up to, which, at this time, is not much different than what we also are doing. Coronavirus, in some ways, has become the great equalizer.

We have laptops and desktops and the Internet to do schoolwork and paid work. We have access to a world of information, including how COVID-19 is spreading. We can leave our houses on foot to take a walk or by car to take a drive. We still have access to food from grocery stores, which remain open, and health care if we need it. Most of all, we have time. Time to bond with family, time to read, time to work on household projects or crafts, time to contemplate life. balloons

Not being able to go anywhere we want at any time because we’re stuck in our homes or stuck in a bed is an annoyance–yes, a major annoyance, but still just an annoyance. As long as we’re not sick or dying, we have a lifetime to make up this time we are all at home. My daughter lived to become an intelligent, kind, productive member of society. She and I got through those seven weeks of bed rest together, and we’ll all, each and every one of us, get through however long coronavirus keeps us indoors. I promise.

 

the corona chronicles, day 36: vacation dreaming

You know the saying “Be careful what you wish for”? Well, I’m regretting my wish for warmer weather right about now. After several weeks of cool, gray skies and rain, with a couple sunny days sprinkled in, the weather has taken a turn for the worse. Yes, worse. It’s now hot, hot, hot. The dry air is kicking up my allergies, and, at 91 degrees, it’s too uncomfortable to enjoy being outside. So inside I huddle still, but now, not under a cozy blanket.vacay

The plus side of the summerlike weather is it reminds me of vacation time. It’s around this part of the spring that I am itching for the outdoors, for adventure, for a vacation. By now in any other year I’d have booked a hotel room or an airbnb or two, planned our drive or chosen our flights.

I’d have investigated every potential place to visit at our destination or along the way—national parks, public gardens, coffee shops, brewpubs, museums, lakes, mountains, even cemeteries. I’d have discovered what the local cuisine is like, and I’d have researched restaurants for where to partake in the most delicious crab, pizza, or, if heading to Boston, cannoli (it’s Mike’s).cannoli

I’d have compared this hotel to that to find the one with the best prices, the best views, the best location, and the best amenities and that gives the best discounts. (Free breakfast and parking don’t hurt, either.) I’d have researched rental vehicles and compared compacts to minivans through Costco, AAA, or our insurance company.

I’d have searched online and placed orders for any clothing or accessories we’d need, from swimsuits to SD cards for the camera. I’d have surveyed our mismatched luggage to see what condition we brought it all home in on the last trip.

I’d have checked my list of vacation duties to give to whichever of our adult kids would be watching the house and pets, crossing off pets and plants that are no longer with us and adding instructions on feeding and watering the ones that still are.

I’d have sticky-noted my Moon Travel Guide with sights, restaurants, and places we would want to explore. I’d have checked out and pored over library books, too, and compared notes.

But this year is the year of the novel coronavirus pandemic, making it a year like no other. I and the family will stay home this summer—fall and winter too—and do our part to not make the virus spread.

It won’t be as fun as in years past, of course, and I’ll be a sticky, wet, irritated mess if I have to spend months of 91-degree days in my non-air-conditioned house, but that’s a small price to pay for not getting an illness that has already killed 100 in my county alone. This year, we won’t live the adventure of our lifetimes, but with a little luck and the proper precautions, we’ll still have memories to recall in years to come.

the corona chronicles, day 22: first a pandemic, now flooding; what’s next?

As if the coronavirus pandemic weren’t bad enough, our pool was within one inch of overflowing today. I had to put my MacGyver skills to work, using zip ties to clamp two hoses together while wrangling the sump pump into the pool, getting drenched in the meantime.macgyver-richard-dean-anderson-photo.jpg.860x0_q70_crop-scale

We are having a wacky, heavy storm out of Alaska that is mixing with tropical moisture in the Pacific. This weeklong bout of rain is more typical of January or February during the heavy-rain seasons that come once every several years. With climate change, though, the rain and cold in the cooler months and the heat in summer have turned our typically pleasant weather to more resemble the Pacific Northwest in the winter and spring and Arizona in the summer. (Might I add that while Southern California has a flash flood warning in effect, Portland, Oregon, today is experiencing sunny skies and nearly 70 degrees?)

Since breakfast, just an hour before, I had watched the water travel up the sides of the pool to overtake the coping and come within an inch of the very edge. My husband was on an hour-long work-related phone call when I felt the dire need to start draining rainwater out of the pool. I could not call on him for help, and my sons were practically in comas from having gone to bed too late last night. So into the garage I went, trying to not only find the sump pump but also any hoses to complete the task. I couldn’t find the hoses (my husband has since told me the one he uses was hanging from the wall above the pump–but at five-foot-one in height, I couldn’t see it), so I unscrewed two I have in the backyard attached to the bib.

Hoses and I have never been friends. It’s impossible for me to get them screwed on tightly enough, and today’s attempt was no different. But I did the best I could. A set of Dollar Tree zip ties came in handy to secure the sump pump’s flexible hose to the end of another. When I had first attached them, the flexible hose filled with water and sprang loose in seconds, flailing around like one of those inflatable men attached to an air pump. Except this was happening with the force of water, which moves a lot faster than air . . . and is a lot wetter.

When my husband finished his call, he came outside to see what was up. By then, I was drenched from head to toe. The hair I had neatly blown dry, was now dripping wet and sporting a nice wave, I might add. My sweats were soaked through and I was peeling off socks that had become like a second skin. At one point, I had kicked off my fake UGGs for good (they were a pain to put on and off every time I came into or out of the house) and just went for it, sloshing through puddles and slogging through mud with just my stocking feet slipped inside a pair of old clogs.

My husband is still outside perfecting my work. When all is said and done, the story of the Flood During the Pandemic of 2020 will have turned from a “me” story to a “we” story. But that’s OK as long as the hoses are hooked up properly and the water is flowing out of the pool and down the driveway.

Still, what’s next in this saga? We’ve been enduring a pandemic, and we now have raging storms. Could a locust plague be far behind?locust

 

the corona chronicles, day 20: where has all the flour gone?

Supplies of flour, yeast, and toilet paper are still scarce online, and price gouging is in full force during the coronavirus pandemic. If you would like a 12-pack of cans of mixed Coke and Pepsi flavors (I mean, what are these, the leftovers no one drank at the last summer barbecue at the Bezos house in 2019?), you will be set back by $24.99 on Amazon.com. And if you choose to spend that much on soda, you’d better not be all that thirsty, because you’re likely to get those mismatched cans  (all with sugar, nothing diet) by May if you’re lucky.

If you’re not willing to wait, you could place an Amazon Fresh order or one through Amazon affiliate, Whole Foods Market. Go ahead, look through the bounty of products offered through Fresh and Whole Foods. Why, you would be able to buy your entire week’s worth of groceries, even getting fresh produce, meat, and dairy products delivered right to your door. Or would you?grocery

I have more than 90 items in my Amazon cart divided up between Fresh and Whole Foods, and yet I cannot check out or even select a delivery time from either one. Every delivery day offered is filled every time I go on the site to purchase. This has been ongoing for the past five days. At first, I was elated to be able to select fresh foods on Amazon and have them brought to my house. Now I realize that I can order all I want; they’ll just not get delivered to me. Ever.

I could try Target.com again and have someone from Shipt do the shopping and deliver the food to me. But the last time I did that a few weeks back, I received two-thirds of the items I had selected. The reduced load had brought my free shipping fee up to $9.99, without my knowing it, and I threw in a $20 tip to the Shipt person. So, I basically paid $30 to get an inferior selection of food (the Shipt worker substituted cheese sticks for mozzarella, for instance, and two bags of mixed cauliflower and broccoli florets that were turning brown for fresh broccoli).

Not wanting to relive that experience and knowing that Shipt workers are feeling undervalued by Target and demanding better working conditions, I braved a local grocery store. I chose the one closest to my home, just a mile away, which is an independent grocer. This store has gotten me through tough times before, namely the Great Grocery Strike of 2003 (it’s a union shop, but on a different contract than what governed employees at the Big 3 grocers at the time).

asparagusI knew this store would come through again. And boy, did it! I was able to find everything I needed, only having to sub another yogurt for my preferred brand, which was out. Still, I was able to find my favorite sourdough bread, all the veggies I needed, fresh chicken breast and beef (which I’ve taken up eating again since it’s sometimes easier to find than chicken or fish), the elusive flour and, hallelujah, toilet paper! There weren’t bundles of Charmin or Angel Soft, mind you, but rather hundreds of individually wrapped commercial-grade toilet paper rolls. Shoppers are limited to four single rolls, and I came home with all four along with knowing that if everyone takes the maximum, the amount on the shelves still should last another couple weeks.

I got everything I’ll need for Easter dinner as well: a spiral ham, cabbage, and a 10-pound bag of potatoes. And I threw in a bottle of rosé to boot, because nothing makes cooking every night more pleasurable than imbibing in a bottle of wine.keils

What my local grocer did was not only give me the food and non-perishables I needed, but restore my faith by reassuring me I won’t go hungry–or without toilet paper–during this pandemic unless, that is, I solely place my orders through Amazon.com.