Life shifts, but we aren’t out of the woods, yet

The tall grandchildren have returned home. The furniture is back in place. The floors have been vacuumed. The laundry has been done. The bathrooms cleaned. The cats are coming out of hiding and returning to their usual routine. All the household surfaces still need to be wiped down and food supplies have run dangerously low, but we are not starving. This next week will see more return to normal.

The normal may even look a bit pre-pandemic. My car has not been washed in over a year. Although both of our cars are garaged and each has been driven only about a thousand miles, they have accumulated a layer of dust and mine seems to have attracted a few birds while away from home. Since I ventured into many places last week, this week I am going to the carwash. I checked and found that our favorite place in town, where I have been going since the 1970s, has put protocols in place to keep employees and customers safe.

I have always allowed the grandchildren a couple of drawers in the guest room dresser for their belongings, and this time I cleared the whole six drawers for them since they are bigger and they were coming for a whole week with lots more “stuff.” Those drawers now house my storytelling puppets and supplies so I packed everything up and moved it all to the storage unit for the kids’ visit. I’ll go get and unpack the three containers, return the containers and pick up our standing fans. It’s getting warm here, and since I’ll be at the storage unit, I might as well use the trip to my advantage.

Groceries will be restocked somewhere along the week. My usual Tuesday shopping morning looks good. I have dry cleaning and library books to pick up. A friend’s husband is having back surgery early Monday morning and if possible, I will go sit with her while she waits.

It all feels a bit more “usual,” rather than pandemic-like. I have to be careful, though, to not become complacent. The virus is still roaming around out there, just looking for someone to attach itself to. We continue to hear of people getting sick and dying so we know we are not out of the woods. We hear so much “light at the end of the tunnel” nonsense, but I don’t see it that way. That light could well be a freight train bearing down on us. I’m continuing with the protocols that have kept us safe this past 14 months.

Post-pandemic re-entry in overdrive

I may have tried to re-enter civilization a bit too quickly, or with too much gusto.

As previously posted, the grandchildren are here this week. They are no longer tiny grandchildren, or even small grandchildren. They are TALL grandchildren. Our granddaughter is actually a smidge taller than me and her other grandma, Nana. Which doesn’t say a whole lot since Nana and I are probably shrinking and we never did have much in the way of height.

Leeya and I have been in the kitchen every day, making things–creme brûlée, brownies, caramel corn. We have gone shopping every day, too. One day was the mall where we went to H&M and Forever 21. Another day was the art supplies store and DSW. Then Judah joined us a couple of days to go to a small, local bookstore and two thrift stores. You know, the important stuff. Clothes, shoes, books, art supplies, and a few other odds and ends.

Nana came one evening, after work, to take the Tall Grandkids to dinner at Chipotle. For an hour or so the house fell silent. The cats came out of hiding. Then, they were back, with more stuff. Nana brought them all of their Christmas gifts. The parents have been warned they will need to bring a U-Haul to carry it all home. There are boxes and shopping bags all over this house.

So many places. So many people. So much conversation. So much activity. All in a short time. Whew. I think I have burned out in re-entry! Oh, and there are still two more days of the visit, but I have decided that today we will stay home, except for the trip I will make to pick up vegan burgers and fries.

Post Easter week is still spring break

April 6, the day our local school district begins to return students to the classrooms, if the students feel comfortable going back. I was in conversation last week with the yearbook advisor in that big inner city high school where I worked for a couple of decades, plus. I, too, was yearbook advisor for nine of those years, but never during a pandemic. The worst year for me was the 9/11 attack and finding a way to record the history along with the regular school activities. The current advisor tells me only a few of her yearbook students will be back on campus, which surprises me. I would think they would be the ones wanting to get back and fill the last 80 pages of the book with all the details surrounding this monumental return to school. The kids haven’t been on campus for over a year.

The return to semi-normal is no where near normal as there will be students still learning from home as well as the ones on campus and the teachers will be responsible for delivering curriculum to all of them. The elementary students will only be on campus two days a week, alternating with another group. It has to be this way to keep the distance on campus that is required for COVID protocols. I know some parents are screaming for 5-day-a-week, on campus, instruction, but our schools have always been too crowded to do this well. The pandemic has sure shown us the underbelly of organizations that have been overloaded and undercared for.

The grandchildren are with us this week, the second week of their spring break. Their district returned to on-campus instruction a few weeks ago for the elementary students and the middle and high school students go back next week, after spring break. Our grandson goes two days a week and our granddaughter will be on campus four days a week. She isn’t looking forward to it. Big change for a kid who hasn’t been at school for over a year and who has done very well with virtual school.

On Monday we stayed home all day and goofed around here. Leeya made brownies, one of the things she requested we do this week. Today there will be shopping and then maybe an attempt to make creme brûlée, another request.

Commenting on those Blogger blogs

Those of you dear Readers who use Blogger (Google) may find comments from me today. Surprise! I finally had time this morning to open old Mac, sit and read, and actually get the comments to “stick.” Sometimes I write a comment on your Blogger blog, but it disappears when I try to post it. The old Mac has an ancient version of Safari that will no longer update and it seems happy to let me post to what new Mac (with the latest and greatest Safari) says isn’t safe.

What I think is really “funny,” is that the weird commenters who love to leave their “boomers should die” comments are allowed and I’m not. Maybe they too are using an old computer!

Aging forward from PBS

I am stopping by here and quickly leaving this suggestion with you all:

If you have not seen the PBS show, Fast Forward, about aging, then I highly recommend it. Terry and I watched it Tuesday evening and were impressed. It makes one really think about all the things one must consider as they age, not just where to live, but how to live, and what one will encounter both physically and emotionally. I know if Ronni Bennett was still writing her blog that she would suggest it and have lots to say. I have more to say, but for today I have a full schedule and must be off, but feel free to watch it and leave your thoughts.

We’ve been doing this for over a year

Doing what? Writing about the pandemic, of course. My writing. The writing of those who I read. All of us. Writing our pandemic life across the pages of our blogs. What do we think? Where do we go? How are we managing? Or, in some cases, not managing. You’ve all been there, along for this ride through a crazy time like no other we’ve known.

But, how about others? Those we don’t know. Who don’t know us and what we have written. Are there others out there writing out their life in pandemic pandemonium? I found this online literary magazine that answers these questions. It’s answered some of my questions and opened up some new ideas and pages for me. Perhaps you will find a new insight, a new writer, someone with whom to commiserate.

Here’s my personal view–those of us who write have done better than most.

Conversations with my eye doctor

My last eye exam was two years ago when I was getting prepared to renew my driver’s license. I had gotten automatic renewals on the license for at least 15 years, but because I had turned 65 since the previous renewal, I had to show myself at the DMV and take an eye exam, a short written exam, and get a new photo. I also wanted to get REAL ID since I was going to all the trouble of showing up at the DMV office. For all that, I wanted to be sure I could pass the eye exam part so wanted new glasses. My eye doctor laughed at that time because even without glasses, my vision was good enough to pass the DMV’s exam. I guess they have very low standards which really scares me when I think about all the people on the roads who might not see as well as I do.

The main reason for this year’s eye doctor appointment was that I needed to replace the frames I got two years ago. The frames are beautiful and I love them in every way EXCEPT they are metal and I have a metal allergy. I’ve had the allergy for decades but forgotten all about it because I just don’t wear metal, until those fabulous new glasses. In the past year I’ve been wearing the glasses more because my close vision has changed and I need them for around the house. I never wore my glasses at home before because I could see well enough and was comfortable with reading without the glasses. The increased use caused the allergy to flare and my hairdresser pointed out, the last time I was saw her, that the back of my scalp had red scaly patches. That’s when I remembered the problem. The ear pieces had triggered those patches.

I not only needed to update my lens prescription, but I needed new frames. The optometrist’s office was happy to comply. I have a fairly young optometrist who took over the practice a couple of years ago. She is fun and smart. We both love to talk. Although the office had to pivot, drastically, to handle the pandemic, they did it. All of her staff has stayed well. The place is sanitized to the inth degree. The staff all wears scrubs now that are left at the office for cleaning. Terry had an appointment there last summer and the directions had been, wear a mask and come alone. I laughlngly told Dr. Jensen that had become our mantra during the siege. We didn’t travel together and we always wore a mask. She said she wished more people would be that accommodating.

Dr. Jensen also wondered, out loud, about the need to teach people to wash their hands. She told her husband that was a bit scary that people hadn’t been doing that prior to the virus and it was just simple hygiene. I commented about the dearth of cleaning supplies at the start of the pandemic. “Didn’t people have cleaning supplies on hand?” She agreed. Same with flour and yeast. What the heck was that all about? Wouldn’t you have those ingredients if you bake? YES! I had said the exact same thing. And, if you didn’t bake, was this the time to start? I keep wondering about all that flour and yeast that disappeared from grocery shelves. Do you think people used it? Or, is it all still sitting in pantries across the country?

We laughed and talked and laughed some more. Then I went to pick out new frames. The assistant did a good job directing me away from frames that had any metal that would touch my face. She and I also chatted about this crazy allergy I have as she has a relative with the same condition who insists on buying earrings that she can’t wear. My sunglasses are prescription but only need new lenses since the frame is plastic. For the time being I will continue to wear my old glasses (I’ve been doing this for over a month already and seen a huge difference in the skin issue) because they are plastic and the prescription works well enough.

Hard to find time to sit down and write

As I wrote in a previous post, these few weeks leading up to Easter are packed with obligations, activities, stuff… I’ve often wanted to write, but just couldn’t stop long enough to do so. Right now, I am waiting for a load of laundry to finish before I head out to pick up produce from one of my pandemic pivots, so I’ll send a few words out into blogland.

When I get back from that errand there will be a few more loads of laundry and two virtual storytelling sessions. This is the last week of 100% virtual schooling for our district. After spring break the students will shift to a hybrid model. One day everyone will be at home, virtually doing school. Two days a week half of the students come to the school building and the other half are home and then they switch for the other two days. It’s going to be confusing. It’s going to be hard. I’ve told the teachers that they can let me know if and when they want me to come in, virtually, to continue with stories, and if there comes a time when guests are allowed on campus, I can be there in person. I’m really not sure how or when any of this will happen.

The plan right now is for our grandchildren to be here the first full week of April when they have their second week of spring break. Again, as I’ve written before, I hold these plans loosely in my hand. The rest of this week and the week leading up to Easter are filled with things for me to do. I will attempt, once I’m done with this week’s storytelling, to tell you, dear Reader, more stories about what is going on around here.

Resilient and hopeful

Five months of virtual storytelling. Who would have ever guessed, last year at this time, that we would still be out of the classroom, but able to share stories that build resilience in small children. I have become quite comfortable with the video storytelling. I try to channel Mr. Rogers and think about what the children need in this time. There is lots of grace, both for children and me, as we make sure our cameras and mics are on at the right time. Lighting is still an area where I struggle. This week’s book has dark illustrations so I redid lighting on the fly.

Today, when I finished reading the book, The Bad Mood, and shared the jingle and then showed a handout for thinking about what you do when you have a bad mood, one little boy piped up with, “Mrs. Zody when we go back to school, you have to bring us all the papers and read us all the books again.”

I was quite touched, and explained that I wouldn’t be coming back to school for awhile, until visitors get permission. Another student said, “it’s okay with us, you can come to our room.” It will be exciting when I do get to be on campus and see these kids in real life. Of course, with the split schedule, it may take a few days each week, if and when it happens. I am hopeful, as I told the students to be, that we will see each other before the end of the school year.

What makes you glad?

There was a rainstorm overnight. We desperately need rain so the pattering sound on the patio roof at 1 a.m. made me glad. There are many small things that make me glad. A really good mocha every morning. The sun coming up over the rooftops across the street (well, you can’t have that and rain). A FaceTime chat with our granddaughter who has made herself a hidey-hole in the closet which makes her glad. Really good books from the library, one after another since the first of the year. Discovering more children’s books that would be good to share with second graders next year. A decent, kind, well-spoken president in the White House.

So much to make me glad right now, knowing that with spring will come summer, my most favorite time of the year. Although it is cold, wet, and dark this morning as I’m writing this post, I know that warmer, drier, sunnier days are coming. The grownups are in charge again as we make our way through this pandemic, and they have a plan. Although, I worry about those who, like small children on a walk with their parents, want to run ahead and get into trouble, not listening to the voices warning them off of what lies ahead. Steer clear of those who think they know better than the medical and science people.

The next two weeks have that pre pandemic frenzied feel with lots of obligations and appointments. As I look at my calendar, I’m glad I’m still here to do these things and that I have chosen most of them, but a small voice is saying, “choose that which makes you glad, do that which gives you joy, jettison the rest.”