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 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 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.

the corona chronicles, day 4

Monday, 23 March 2020

It is Day 4 of being sequestered during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Both the libraries I work for are closed. One remained open through last Thursday. The other, a city-managed branch, had shuttered several days before that.

person holding covid sign
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I am still working from home for one library. I have work to do for now but wonder when things will slow down. If this stay-at-home edict remains in place for, say, two or three months, I can’t imagine there would be that much to do from home. Right now, I have a few assignments to take care of. I may have to get creative in coming up with activities in the future, but we have to be doing something work related to be paid. For now, I have plenty.

To get out of the house, my husband and I took a little drive yesterday. It was nice getting a peek at the ocean and seeing something other than our home surroundings. We are lucky, though. We have a house with two floors. It’s not big by today’s standards, but it’s adequate. We have a backyard and a front yard, so, there, we can convene a little bit with nature if we need to. This morning, when I let the dog out back, I noticed three sets of paired-up birds: sparrows, a couple birds that looked like muddy-colored robins, and mourning doves. They were not practicing social distancing, but isn’t it telling that that thought sprang into my mind at the time?

We also live within walking distance to a large regional park. Unfortunately for us but fortunately for others, “our” park has been flooded with people. So many people, in fact, that the parking lots had to be closed off to prevent visitors. (That can only mean that our neighborhood streets will soon start looking like parking lots.) People were not practicing social distancing. It’s the same as at the beaches, whose lots were also barricaded, and some other attractions that draw huge crowds. It’s a matter of time before San Diego’s pride and joy, Balboa Park, is off-limits. What crazy times we live in.

Today, I’m trying to find enough work to fill up my typical 5.5-hour day. I’ll also take the dog out for a walk—maybe in the streets, though, and a little later in the morning or early afternoon, when the typical walkers are back home. But there’s nothing typical about our times.

To say I have zero confidence in our commander in chief is an understatement. How I wish we had a real president, one who doesn’t lie, fib, make stuff up, whatever. What a kid he must have been to raise!

Well, back to work I go. At least I have something to fill my hours. I feel bad for people who are out of work and out of pay, like wait staff and hair stylists, whose tip money was rent money. Or the minimum wage worker who, even if they are allowed to take some kind of unemployment insurance, surely it won’t be enough to pay the bills. Yes, landlords and mortgage lenders are supposed to place a moratorium on collecting rents and monthly payments, but eventually all that money is going to need to be repaid. What then if these people can’t get enough in restitution to cover those payments? There will be, in my opinion, evictions and foreclosures galore. How sad.

Be safe. Stay safe.