Category Archives: COVID-19

A change of plans

The plan had been for our grandchildren to be here this next week, but those plans have changed. Our grandson came in contact with another child with COVID and has now tested positive as well as having a high fever. Poor guy. He feels pretty miserable. They will have another two weeks beyond next week before they have to return to school so hopefully everyone will recover, stay well, and be able to come for their visit.

I had been buying all sorts of snacky things this past week, foods like chips. Also filling the freezer with foods they like to eat. Remember, these children are vegan but they love ice cream so we always indulge that when they are here.

We made some plans for eating out, too. Unfortunately, one of our favorite food trucks, Planet Vegan Burger, had a tragic accident that blew up the truck and seriously injured the owner and a helper. These are the best burgers I’ve ever eaten, vegan or otherwise, and our grandkids love them, too. The truck has a huge following, but they won’t be back at work for a very long time. The truck is destroyed, and the owner will take a long time to recover and recuperate. Burger King has a fake meat burger that the kids like.

The only plans for the next week revolved around the grandchildren, and with those cancelled, I’m not too sure what I will do. I have a stack of library books I picked up on Thursday so it seems I will make faster work of them than I had expected.

That’s a wrap for the first week of May

It’s sunny and windy on this first Saturday in May. A whole week of the month has come and gone, most of it in absolutely gorgeous weather. Lots of sunshine and high temperatures, and also wind, which is blowing on this weekend morning.

Because I did a large number of loads of laundry on Friday, I have only the towels to wash this morning. For two years now, during the pandemic, I have been washing towels twice a week, on the same days I wash my hair and clean the bathrooms. The protocol has worked well for us, helping to keep us virus-free, so I persist.

While vacuuming on Friday, Terry discovered that Dyson’s brush was not turning when he was doing the carpet. He packed it up and took it off to the vacuum cleaner repair shop. Yes, we have one of those in the city. Terry has used it for decades, keeping our vacuums going far longer than expected.

Before the vacuuming and laundry chores, we went to get our second COVID booster at CVS Pharmacy. Although our two original vaccines were given through our medical provider, the boosters had to be administered at a pharmacy. Setting up the appointments, online, takes so long, but I persevered and we got appointments at the day and time I wanted, which hasn’t always been the case for these COVID shots. I’m thinking the demand has drastically dropped. Two years ago we were so anxious for these vaccines to be developed. A year ago people were lining up to get vaccinated. Now, not so much. Our city has only a 57.8% vaccination rate. Our daughter’s city in the Bay Area is around 89%. It makes me despair.

For the first time in over two years, Terry and I went grocery shopping TOGETHER, after getting our vaccines. The pharmacy is next door to a very fancy, precious, high-end grocery store. I have friends, who for years have told me I should shop there as it’s in our “neck-of-the-woods.” Because I shop so much at Whole Foods, I had always declined, thinking I was shopping at a similar store that carried many of the same things. Over the past two years, though, what with the pandemic and supply chain issues, that has changed. As you may know, Whole Foods is now owned by Amazon, which I do not use at all. Our daughter says I am one of the three people in the world who is not an Amazon devotee.

The Precious Foods Store, as I call it, is locally owned, and I was quite surprised to find so many locally produced products that Whole Foods no longer carries. The store is immaculate. The shelves well stocked. Employees every where and very helpful. The distance to Whole Foods and Precious Foods is similar, so, I guess I’m going to finally listen to my friends and shop at both.

I had an observer in one of my storytelling sessions this week, an older woman who is coming on next year as a resiliency coach. She had a good time with the first grade class who was well-behaved and then stayed for the teacher’s birthday party. One of the parents had brought cupcakes for us all to partake. This was a first in my eight years of storytelling. I enjoyed being a part of a birthday party and celebrating the teacher. I had left boxes of See’s Candy in all of the teacher’s mailboxes the day before for Teacher Appreciation Week. There are only three more weeks at Columbia. This year has passed in a blur. Life goes too fast.

Taking care of Mrs. Zody

Each week I email the first and second grade teachers, telling them about the book I will be reading, any special details about what we will be doing, and including PDFs of worksheets.

This week I wanted to let them know about the treat I was bringing–a plastic egg with a chocolate egg–for each student. This is the only time all year that I bring something for the students to eat. I always leave the eggs with the teachers to pass out in a method they want. I read It Wasn’t My Fault the week before spring break as there is an egg in the story, perfect for this time of the year and perfect for handing out a plastic egg with candy.

I included a note this week that I would be coming without my mask but would be happy to wear one if the teacher wanted me to. It’s been a month since California ended the mask mandate for schools and most students and teachers have stopped wearing their masks. Each week I saw fewer masks. The county’s case load has dropped and we are now rated in the low zone. I’m trusting my vaccines to take care of me. None of the teachers wrote back asking me to wear a mask, but I took one just in case.

Good thing. In the third class, when I walked in, maskless, one student who was masked, raised his hand and asked where my mask was. I asked him if he would like me to wear my mask. “Yes, we don’t want you to get sick.”

As you can guess, I put on the mask and continued with the story. All of the kids lined up and hugged me as I was leaving.

California’s mask mandate

Because of rising cases, California has renewed the mask mandate in public places, no matter your vaccination status. December 15 to January 15.

I’ve never stopped wearing a mask when going out. But, and it’s a big but, I don’t go many places. I did stop wearing my mask at church because everyone was vaccinated. Guess that doesn’t matter, though, as we know a few who have caught COVID even with being fully vaccinated, and with a booster shot. So, back to wearing my mask EVERYWHERE.

If I can tell stories to small children while wearing a mask, I can do it elsewhere. I have found that many older people cannot hear, or understand, very well when I am wearing a mask. I haven’t had problems hearing, but I do have to pay closer attention, especially with children who sometimes mumble.

If only everyone would get their vaccination.

California reopens

Lots of excitement in California as the state reopened with the end of most of the protocols like masks, distancing, limited capacities for restaurants, bars, movie theaters, gyms, stadiums. Stores and malls can return to previously regular hours and no limit on customer numbers. The local zoo reopened all of its exhibitions including the ones indoor with guided tours.

All of this reopening, along with school and summer vacations, the city traffic has increased. Many people have moved here during the pandemic due to our lower cost of housing. It’s pretty easy for tech workers to come here, buy a half million dollar home, and work from home, something they couldn’t do in the expensive Bay Area.

I’m giving myself a lot more time to drive across town and to remain calm, reminding myself that I have all the time in the world. For right now, I’m keeping that pandemic mantra. I may feel different as more obligations pile up.

I am concerned about the increase in traffic accidents. Many drivers act as they are the only one on the road, or should be. Speeding, unsafe lane changes, red light running. Then there are those road rage shootings. I guess those people don’t feel that they have all the time in the world.

One thing Terry and I have yet to experience in this post pandemic world is dining out. We were waiting for the reopening of a couple of our favorite places that are very tiny. Maybe next week.

Just because you are vaccinated

Warning: this is a rant

I know so many of my dear Readers have been diligent in the past 15 months, following the protocols for the pandemic: staying away from others, wearing your mask, taking hand sanitizer and/or wipes with you everywhere. We have stayed vigilant, and for the most part stayed healthy, until we could get our vaccine. The vaccinations have made us happy, but don’t let them make us complacent. There is still a virus, and all its mutants, out there, waiting to strike. Those in Michigan have seen another surge, probably brought about by spring break travelers, but nonetheless, the surge has created problems for the medical personnel.

During the whole pandemic, I have been shopping at Whole Foods, where protocols are in place to the inth degree. Usually I go on Tuesday mornings, early, but that didn’t work this week as I had to be somewhere else on that day. Thursday morning, again very early, made sense. The store is still requiring masks, offering sanitizer, keeping the baskets cleaned and separated. The door is monitored. The stocking clerks work as efficiently as possible. There is a sign at the door encouraging people to shop alone, not in groups. It has been pretty much obeyed. Today, things took a bit of a change.

I’m thinking that now older people are vaccinated, they think they can throw caution to the wind. NO! Our city is still in the RED tier, which means the case rates are still high enough to keep some things closed and/or limited. We are all cheering for the next tier, orange, and even more so, yellow, which from things look, most of California will be in by May. Fresno County? Maybe not. This morning I found more people in the store, not crowded, just more people. Then an older couple (that means TWO people) came very close to me in the produce section. I skirted around them the best I could, but with two of them, it was harder. I noticed one woman left the area immediately.

This couple showed up in two other areas while I was shopping, and again, I quickly maneuvered around them, skipping one area entirely, as they seemed to be “camped” there. Finally, I was in the checkout line, behind a lady with a cake. Fairly quick transaction. I waited for the cashier to call me forward, from behind the red line, to put my groceries on the conveyor belt, put my card in the reader, and take out my WetOne to wipe down my hands. Before my groceries had finished, here was the older couple piling their groceries onto the conveyor belt, not waiting for the cashier to sanitize between customers. I wanted to scream, “stay back behind the line,” but I didn’t. I decided, instead, to come home and write my rant.

My assumption is that these people feel safe, now that they have been vaccinated, and want to return to the way it was. Not yet, people, not yet.

The slow return to post-pandemic life

Wednesday morning has a bit of post-pandemic feel to it. I was up early to do my regular routine of washing my hair, but that’s where it stopped. Wednesdays usually involve cleaning the bathrooms and washing the towels. I’ve been doing that for over a year now, during the pandemic. This morning was too busy to take time for those housekeeping precautions.

I was out the door by 8, with my hair dried and makeup applied. Usually, at 8 am, I am doing my exercises. I picked up two+ flats of flowers and delivered them to our church’s preschool. The director had mentioned at the March board meeting that the teachers would be doing a plant unit after spring break and would like flowers to plant around the campus. I agreed to bring some but didn’t get to it last week, what with my busyness with the grandkids. Yesterday, seeing beautiful flowers while shopping, I remembered, and checked my planner. Sure enough, I should have delivered them last week. Emailing the director to see if they were still needed, I learned that NO ONE had brought any flowers, last week or this. So, I made sure that there were plenty for small hands to enjoy planting.

The next stop was across town, at a local produce vendor I discovered during the pandemic. He would normally be delivering produce to schools, but since they were shut down, and he still had contracts with growers to take their produce, he started selling to the public. Wow. Fabulous local produce. The highest quality. The nicest fellow, too. He had strawberries that I wanted for jam-making. So, got a flat of berries and came home to process them. The jam is doing a slow-boil while I type this, close by. I use apples for the pectin for the thickening agent as well as long, slow cooking to caramelize the sugar. The smell is divine. First batch of the season, so I guess I can call it post-pandemic jam?

I have heard from all four of the Columbia teachers to whose classes I have been reading. They are all ready to continue their virtual storytelling, and one will be later Wednesday afternoon. Some of the kids will be in class, and some will be at home, all of them on their computers, watching and listening to me. Another class on Friday and then back to my regularly scheduled story times next week.

Since I’m doing it from my family room, the storytelling still has the pandemic feel to it, but otherwise, things are feeling a bit more un-pandemic. I’m wearing my mask every where and using my sanitizing wipes. Didn’t change clothes, though, since I was wearing a jacket and did remove it and put it in the wash when I got home. Little by little.

Addendum: the preschool posted this little video on Facebook of the kids planting the flowers.

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.

The just and the unjust in a pandemic

The days streak by, and here we are, beginning the third week of the new year. It was an “online” week.

Last week went fast with three Zoom meetings and three virtual storytelling sessions. I ran errands on a couple of the days. Grocery shopping. Library. Dry cleaners. Because I went grocery shopping I was able to cook some wonderful meals. We ate well. I read every day. We watched DVDs from the library. Right now it’s the series Pie in the Sky every evening and on Saturday afternoon we went back in time to the movie “White Christmas” which was fun since we had watched “Holiday Inn” right before Christmas.

One of the Zoom meetings was with the church deacons. Although it’s a new calendar year, and we often change our job titles with the change of the year, no one seems interested in doing that so I continue as moderator. This particular meeting was a pleasure as we had a large sum of money to distribute to various food agencies. It’s fun to give away money. I wish I had a million dollars I could dispense. The needs are huge here in the San Joaquin Valley as I’m sure they are in many places in this nation. As we finished allocating the funds, we decided to keep back some of the money in our account as we see a problem with evictions coming down the pike in another month.

My anxiety levels are high due to the upcoming inauguration and the bunch of terrorists who want to disrupt life in the United States. For over four years I have said we haven’t seen the worst with the guy who was inaugurated in 2017, and I feel there is more worser and worser still to come. Yes, double, even triple negatives.

I’m also watching the madness with the COVID vaccines. Those who should be getting the vaccines, like frontline workers, school employees, mail carriers, bus drivers, farm workers, are being held back while those well-to-do 60 somethings push to the front of the line and get their vaccines, leaving none for those who are in the trenches, working every day. A friend who works for the county was asked to volunteer with distributing the vaccine at the county fairgrounds. He said there is a lack of manpower to handle all those who are coming and there won’t be enough vaccine, either. I’m missing something. Why isn’t this vaccine being given like the flu vaccine? Through pharmacies, doctor’s offices, medical centers? Even our local school district gives flu vaccinations, and does it well. Why are the well-heeled trampling the frontline workers to be first?

Today is a holiday to celebrate the life of a man who loved justice and put his entire life on the line for it. It’s a good day to stop and think about how we are being just in such unjust times. Are we helping or are we hindering those who have been trampled?

Keeping up appearances

My hairdresser was asking me last week when I was in for a cut and color if I ever thought of letting my hair grow longer. When I was young I had shoulder-length hair. (didn’t we all) But it never really worked for me as I had to work too hard to keep it looking good. As I got older with a job and a child, I decided I needed a really easy hair style, one that took almost no work and so got my short hair style that I’ve pretty much had for 40 years. During the late 90s I let it grow a bit, but it made me look so old because it pulled my face down and it was also getting gray, and not a pretty gray.

With that explanation, my hairdresser commented that I had really healthy hair so she thought it would look pretty if it was longer. Then we switched topics to skin care. She wanted to know what I do to keep my skin looking so good at my age. MY AGE! Well, okay, I am inching closer to 70, but… The best advice for good skin when you get old is to have good genetics and take care of your skin when you’re young. I’ve never gone out in the sun for very long, always worn sunscreen or makeup with sunscreen. I’ve never smoked. I eat well. I sleep well. And I have my father’s genes. All of his sisters had beautiful skin. My sister had beautiful skin.

We next talked about what the pandemic has done to people’s appearances. We’ve relaxed our routines. We weren’t able to get hair appointments for months. (This is where I feel fortunate because I never missed a hair appointment due to my hairdresser working out of her home and only taking in clients who she trusted.) When working I put on makeup every day of the week. Monday through Friday for school, Saturday to run errands, Sunday for church. My sister and I talked about this years ago because she too always wore high quality makeup and felt that it helped her skin. But with the shutdown, I’m not leaving the house for days at a time, so no need for makeup unless I’m doing a zoom meeting. And now, a storytelling session three days a week.

I’m not going to wear my uniform when doing the storytelling. I had already decided, last year, that I was going to give up the uniform shirt with police insignia and instead wear fun, bright colors. Yesterday I wore an orange t-shirt with a lion on it.