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.

Photo by olia danilevich on Pexels.com

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.

 

the corona chronicles, day 14: a lot of walking, but nowhere to go

It’s been two weeks since the governor issued stay-at-home orders. I have to admit, it’s a lifestyle I can get into. I’ve worked from home for thirty years, and although I work twenty-five hours outside the house now, I still work from home when there are publishing projects. In fact, being at my desk at home is still my happy (work)place.

woman walking toward black sedan parked in front of colorful houses
                                                              walking is the new everything                                                                                                                                              Photo by Belle Co on Pexels.com

But we need to exercise, to get out and get some fresh air and sunshine. So we walk. And we walk. And we walk some more. We can’t walk in parks. We can’t walk on the beaches. We can’t hike in the mountains or even on hills, for that matter. But still, those of us who are mobile will strap on our sneakers and get outside, even for a ten-minute trek. I have always wished to own acres of land, a private place where I could walk all the time.  Wouldn’t that be nice right about now?

I’m just thankful to have a small backyard and an even smaller front yard. There’s a swimming pool in the back, which I will be ever so grateful for this summer, and I do believe this thing is going to drag into the summer months. I feel sorry for people who are crammed into tiny apartments, trailers, or living outdoors. I am fortunate to have a roof over my head where I can wait out this virus.

Yesterday, I had to pick up my dog’s insulin at a Walmart pharmacy inside a Walmart Neighborhood Market. I hadn’t been out to any store in two weeks. My last grocery run was actually run to to me. I had placed an order from Target and it was delivered to my door.

But Walmart pharmacy doesn’t have a delivery service, so I braved the store. There were fewer people than the last time I ventured in three weeks ago. Some items were still totally removed from shelves, namely toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and hand wipes. But paper towels, a few packs anyway, were in the store. I grabbed one, which is the limit.

I am anxious now when shopping for groceries, so I tend to rush through. I got about 90 percent of what I had come in for and grabbed a few items I didn’t. I’ve been making dinner every night lately, and it’s actually something I look forward to–the cooking routine as well as the eating. And I want to make food we all really like. Fresh meat and chicken are still in stores, thankfully, and so are fresh vegetables. I can make plenty of good meals out of what I brought home yesterday.

It’s very likely Governor Newsom may ask us all to not leave the house without a face covering. He is doing everything in his power to tamp down the spread of this disease. He was fast to act initially, and we are benefiting from it. I will probably have to wear a mask to get my groceries next time. I will put on gloves as well. Heck, I will wear a hazmat suit if that’s what it takes to keep myself and my family healthy. Even if I have to wear it on a walk.

the corona chronicles, day 8: being thankful

I started writing a post about the new stimulus package and how it’s not fair that dependent adult students are not getting anything from the package, while parents will be given $500 for each dependent child. My son lives with us, he has a part-time job, goes to school full-time, does everything right, but he can’t get a penny from this program? Well, that’s all I’ll say about it.

air atmosphere blue blue sky
Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

What changed my mind was sitting outside. After a thunderstorm last night and what seems like rain every day or two throughout the month of March, the sun is shining brightly today. It feels good to know that no matter what craziness is going on on this planet, the earth will still revolve around the sun, rain will fill our reservoirs, and life will go on.

I began thinking about what I’m thankful for right now: that rain has brought green grass and blooming flowers, that my golden retriever was sitting by my side, that my four adult kids are all safe and healthy, that I have a roof over my head and a home my two sons can live in without worrying about being evicted (barring any stupid stunts, of course), that I have meaningful work that I can do from home and get paid for, that my husband remains employed through these nutty times, that I have running vehicles, friends I can count on (and a couple I can’t–but that’s for another day), and the simple fact that I can breathe in and out.

I think of the kids who are home with nothing constructive to do, the young adults who can no longer afford rent and are not wanted back at home, the people without Internet or a way to stay in touch with others. Kids will get behind in school. Adults will lose their jobs and not be able to find replacements. Mortgages will not be paid, rents either, and people will lose their homes.

But those are negatives, and I will not go there today. I will be thankful for electricity, cable TV, Internet, computers, phones, toilets, sinks, showers, entertainment at our fingertips. Never before have I worshiped the technology that allows movies and books to miraculously appear in our hands after a few clicks. I have a safe neighborhood to walk in and a backyard to sit out in when the sun shines as it is today.

There’s plenty to be thankful for. The griping will have to wait.

the corona chronicles, day 5: parks and beaches closed

Our mayor announced yesterday that all city parks and beaches would close. The day before, just the lots were barricaded to discourage people from parking in them and to reduce the number of visitors. But now, no one can hike, hang out at the beach, swim in the ocean, or take a boat out on the lake.

gray storage shed on brown sand
Photo by Guillaume Hankenne on Pexels.com

Confinement is being taken seriously, and soon it will drive some up the wall. More and more businesses are closing. People who can work from home are advised to do just that. Those who cannot are going without work and, many, without pay. My younger son works at a coffee shop with a drive-thru window. Frankly, I wish it would close, because the longer it’s open, the greater the chance is that he brings home the virus. But the Starbucks next door shut down and my son’s employer is capitalizing on Starbucks’ lost business. I hope it’s worth it to the owners. I hope my son, who just started this job in January and would probably be the first let go if there’s a reduction in customers, doesn’t come down with any symptoms.

My other son, an employee of the YMCA, is home with pay until the end of the week. The Y is still charging its patrons membership fees while it’s closed. A friend of my husband’s just canceled his membership because of this, and I’m guessing he’s not the only one. No money coming in means no money going out to workers.

I am fortunate that the city I work for is still paying its hourly workers like me, but how long will this last, with talks of budget cuts having started pre-pandemic? So far, we’ve been paid for one week without physically working. Our next pay period ends on April 3. The city was hoping to reopen the libraries by April 6, but that looks pie in the sky.

At my other library, we are still working from home, which is going fine so far. We can do research online for our patrons if they need help. We can also work on other tasks.

I am able to take my dog to the vet today. He’s diabetic and needs his insulin checked every other week. I may ask the vet to send me home with a test kit that I can use without coming in. Maybe I can report to her the result I get and she can monitor and adjust his insulin from that reading. Or I may just ask to come in less frequently. Since we’re almost all home, we can spot if the ol’ boy is doing well or poorly. So far, he’s responding very well to the insulin.

Will weddings go on? We have one to plan for. Our second eldest is getting married in October, but, of course, wedding plans are on hold. The venue, a community center run by one of the local cities, has closed its doors. Brides and grooms who had booked in March and April will have to postpone their weddings for sure and most likely find a new place for the reception. This venue is very popular and is booked at least a year out. We put a deposit down months ago, fortunately. Now we’ll see if the wedding will still go on even seven months out. Everything is so uncertain. I’m glad we haven’t booked a caterer yet.

Typically in March I’m fully in the process of planning our summer vacation. My husband was having a hard time even picking a free week this year at the very start of coronavirus. We finally decided on a week in September. Now that too will have to wait. Who knows what is in store. One thing is for sure, though, even a trip to a local beach will feel like a vacation.

Stay safe. Stay well.