“How are you doing?”

That’s the question I’m being asked when I make human contact. Perhaps you are, too. Not asked so much as a health question, but rather as a check-in on emotional stability during this COVID-19 shelter-in-place. Some people are already going stir-crazy.

I usually answer for both physical and emotional health as fine. I really am doing fine. I get up in the morning feeling my usual energized self. By 4 o’clock, though, I’m dragging and ready for the day to wrap up. Yet, just as it was before the quarantine, I’m still ending the day with more to do than I have time or energy for. Boredom is not a problem around here.

While talking to our pastor on the phone this morning, after he had asked that question up there, I explained that I was raised to live like this. Growing up way out in the country, with no siblings at home, a mother who didn’t drive, and a father who dedicated his life to his crops, I lived a pretty sheltered life. As a family we rarely went on trips anywhere besides the grocery story once a month, or into the big city for shopping for back to school and Christmas. Sunday afternoons, after church, we might take a drive around the countryside so my dad could see what other farmers were doing. He always wanted to compare his crops with others or see what new crops other growers were putting in.

There was no public library in our town at that time, and even if there had been, it was miles away. We didn’t have a television until I was six years old. We listened to lots of radio programs and my mother read the paper every day which made me interested in what was going on. The Montgomery and Spiegel catalogues offered a glimpse of another world. I loved going to school and to church.

Even with that small world, I cannot say I was ever bored. Some days I had to look harder for things to occupy my time. Family photographs were a favorite way to spend time. My mother had boxes of them, going back decades. I walked the fields when I was old enough to be out on my own and made up stories. Every time I was able to get paper and pencils, I would write out some of the stories. Some of the field reps gave my dad small notebooks with their logo printed on the cover that he used to keep track of which field needed water or cultivating or planting. He kept track of seed, fertilizer, and payroll in some of the notebooks, and he often gave me any extra ones. I loved them for writing my own stories.

Living a small, quiet life has made this time in history pretty easy for me. Sure, I miss seeing my friends for lunch, reading stories to first graders, and being in church each Sunday, and these activities will eventually return, but until then I will enjoy reading, writing, cooking, walking, and using social media to connect with the outside world. When it gets warmer, I am looking forward to working in the yard and cleaning the patio and garage. Those chores will really keep me occupied. I will be fine.

Starting time

Sleep comes so easily. On Tuesday I sat on the couch, reading a book and nodding off. All afternoon. At 8:30 I was in bed, reading a different book, and nodding off. I gave up, put the book away and tucked myself into the nice warm covers and slept soundly all night.

It is cold here during the night (in the daytime, too, but we’ll save that for another post), and with daylight savings time in place, dark until almost 7 a.m. so the bed feels so good for far longer than it should. This morning, after that good night’s sleep, I woke up just past 6 so decided I must get back to a more regular schedule. Enough of this lying about during a forced lie-about.

I am washing our towels more often. Not quite as often as when Terry came home from open-heart surgery and the surgeon said, wash your towels after every use, but more often than my usual 5 days or so. I change the kitchen towels every day and the bathroom towels every three days. Adding more laundry, just what I need. The hamper was again full, mainly because we are wearing heavy knits because of the cold temperatures (oh, wait, I wasn’t going to write about that today) and changing clothes on a daily basis, sometimes twice a day if we go out into the germ-ridden public.

Because it’s cold (oops, there I go again), I like to use the oven every day. This morning I took out a roll of the frozen bread dough and started a batch of cinnamon rolls. Since I got an early start to the day, the rolls may just be done in time for lunch.

Shopping in the days of COVID-19

Your local stores may be doing the same as here in Fresno, opening early for the elderly and frail to shop in a relatively clean, well-stocked store. Since I usually shop on Tuesday mornings, I decided to make sure I was ready to leave even earlier this morning and make it to our local grocer during the “elder hours.”

I’m usually out of the house on Tuesday between 8:30 and 9 am as that is the normal time for places to open where I make a few stops–the library (now closed), the pharmacy/post office (opening a half hour later now but still providing wonderful service), and Whole Foods, Target, Sprouts, or SaveMart (all still operational) depending on what I need in the way of groceries and supplies.

Unlike some shoppers, I only buy what I need or know we will be using in a short time. This morning I bought a box of Terry’s favorite cereal and a bag of his preferred tortilla chips just because the cereal was on sale and the chips had just been restocked. We are now well stocked on those items.

The stores have changed their bag policy–don’t bring your own, use theirs. Fine with me. It makes the clerks and baggers feel safer. I will store the paper bags for future use. There was lots of cleaning going on at my store this morning. Not a big crowd of shoppers but more than the usual early Tuesday morning  group. Shelves were fairly well stocked. The produce department had a huge variety of everything unlike last week when there were no potatoes or carrots. Still no paper products or eggs. No Log Cabin syrup. I had to buy large bags of tortillas if I was going to get tortillas. Fine. I’ll put some in the freezer.

Since I was able to buy carrots, I’m in the process of making bean soup. Before working on this post I started soaking the beans. The larder is full now. We certainly aren’t starving, for which I am very grateful. We are warm and safe with clean water and working toilets. Tomorrow Terry will have to replenish the cat food supply as those critters also need to be well fed.

Fourth Sunday in Lent

Who knew that we would be spending the fourth Sunday of Lent at home, not in church, when we started on this road to Jerusalem, to the crucifixion and resurrection, on Ash Wednesday way back in February? I remember one year, on Easter, my dad had pneumonia and we stayed home from church. It may have been the only Easter Sunday I ever missed until I was an adult. Even as a grownup, there have been few Easter seasons that I have missed church on Sundays, either the day of Easter or the Sundays leading to it.

Our church sent the order of service with links to the music that we would have sung. Terry sat in his chair and followed the prescribed order, beginning at 10 o’clock with prayer. I did chores around the house, praying as I went. I addressed Easter cards that I will send to the military members of our church. When Terry was reading the sermon, I was writing a letter to our grandson. I folded towels as I am now washing them more often. More laundry, that’s what I need.

When the service was finished, Terry poured himself a cup of coffee and had a cookie, just like coffee fellowship at church. He joked about the need to make another pot of coffee, something he is often called to do on Sundays when more people linger after the service. Why do I think that after this long period of confinement church attendance will swell on Sundays again?

In the afternoon Terry worked in the front yard, I took the backyard. We pruned, we swept, we raked. For some strange reason, there are a few pea plants growing under the pear tree. They may be from the dried peas I was feeding the squirrels who threw them out of the tree where I put the day’s rations. The plants are growing willy-nilly and needed to be staked. Terry cut up limbs he had pruned a month ago from the mulberry tree and as he did so, I took four and put them in the ground. We will see if the pea plants use them to grow upward.

I used the last few pieces of fruit and kale to make juice after we finished the yard chores. I’m a big believer now in juicing produce along with taking a daily probiotic. Our immune systems are healthy. Tuesday I will be back at Whole Foods replenishing the fruits and veggies.

A day of bungling

It is a rainy Saturday here in the central San Joaquin Valley. We need rain so that is a good thing. Bill the Cat, though, went outside and dug in the mud which meant his feet had to be cleaned when he wished to return to the house. It took both Terry and me to do this task. One to hold him, one to clean him.

The towels were filthy when we finished so that was one more load of laundry to do. I had already made an additional load to the laundry piles when I finished unloading the hamper and realized the liner bag did not smell very good. We have a tall wicker hamper that has been around for decades. The linen liner that came with it wore out pretty quickly but I was fortunate, one time when traveling, to find a very heavy duty bag/liner at Potterybarn. I took the liner out to be washed and Terry vacuumed the hamper.

Terry unloaded the dishwasher, run after breakfast, and broke a dinner plate in doing so. I made tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch and put the butter on the wrong side of the bread. Terry changed the sheets on our bed and when putting them in the washing machine, poured the detergent into the softner dispenser, not a new trick as I’ve done that before.

It’s been a day of cleaning up messes, changing things around, redoing what we had started. A day of bungling. But it’s okay as we have no demands on our time, no obligations to fulfill, no place to be. Even the yards must wait for us since it is raining.

Addendum:  Remember I wrote on Friday that if we had a motorhome we could take off for Yosemite? That got changed this morning when the park service closed the gates to Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon National Parks. Guess it’s a good thing we didn’t buy that motorhome.

What weekend get-away?

Friday’s morning news program had an ad about “your weekend get-away,” which made Terry stop and ask, “what get-away?” The whole state is pretty much in shut-down. This prompted me to come up with an idea:

If we had a motorhome (because hotels are closing here in California), we could go to Yosemite (all business is closed down there but the parks are open), and camp. The price of gas is very low now. We could take all six cats with us. It would be perfect.

Ha. There are a whole lot of disconnects in this harebrained scheme, the biggest one being that we don’t have a motorhome, have never wanted a motorhome, and I refuse to camp. Then there is the part about the cats…

No weekend get-away for us.


So, today…

I was up at 6:15 with plans, but they were immediately scrapped when I opened my Facebook and saw that the place I was picking up lunch for a friend had shuttered for the duration. My friend, who is working from home, and I texted back and forth, and since it was also raining, decided to postpone our get-together until sometime next week. That’s the way life is in these days of shut-down and shelter-in-place. You push things down the road.

Even though it was pouring rain, I delivered gift cards for a local grocer to our church’s office. There will be needs and the cards will be requested. The staff is still at the office even though we have closed the preschool and disbanded congregational times. I told the pastor that these were such desperate times that I parked in the handicapped space just because it was the closest to the door and there were only two other cars in the whole parking lot. He joked that the next thing I’d be doing is driving on the wrong side of the road. “Nope, there are already others doing that out there.” This shutdown seems to have brought out the aggressive speeding drivers.

Back home I sent an email to the deacons, bringing them up-to-date on the church happenings and changes that have been made. I mailed a stack of cards to members who I will not see in the next couple of weeks and who will be celebrating milestone birthdays and anniversaries. I got another stack ready to mail tomorrow, including cards to my sweet grandkids whose cards to me and grandpa arrived in this morning’s mail.

I sorted a few loads of laundry and have filled the day with that task. I also made a potato salad as it’s just good comfort food, and I needed some comfort. The whole time I was doing chores, though, I was praying, which I had recommended to the other deacons.

Perhaps it’s the days accomplishments. Perhaps it’s the settling in to a new schedule. Perhaps it’s the comfort of God telling me that this is for the best and for a short duration. If we can keep people out of the hospital, then we will have succeeded. This is not for punishment, it is for safety.  Our medical providers are just not equipped for a full blown pandemic. Most of us know that emergency rooms, in regular circumstances, are overwhelmed.

A friend who is an archivist suggested we all should be writing about our days during the COVID-19 time for an historical perspective. Those of us with blogs are doing just that. So, until tomorrow…