Learning to love the new normal

The new normal looked good today. Tuesday, as you know if you have been reading here for very long, is my usual grocery shopping and errand running day. I left around 9 this morning, pockets loaded with the necessities —phone, wipe, credit card–mask around my neck, glasses on my face, keys in my hand.

First stop, the dry cleaners. Although I was the only one there, mask was on, cash in hand and I made sure to leave a bit more than my bill. I appreciate their being there for me when I need them. I may not need dry cleaning for months now and I hope they are able to stay in business.

Next was the local grocery store. Glasses off. Mask on. Only one way in and out of the store now which is fine because I get even more steps that way. A clean cart is waiting for me. I thank the young lady who is doing the sanitizing and it startles her. “Oh, sure, that’s okay, thanks.” I’m guessing not many people are telling her thanks.

There are very few customers in the store. Just like it used to be, pre pandemic shutdown. The clerks are busy working and restocking. I chat with a few that I know. I thank all that I see. Again, they don’t seem to know how to handle the gratitude. I’ve heard of shoppers being mean to store clerks, which just blows me away.

One clerk in the deli was stocking the cold case as I came up and she asked if I had found everything. When I told her yes, that I was glad to see the artichoke/parmesan spread back in stock, she laughed. “Yes, just for you, I’m replenishing it right now,” and sure enough she had more in her hand to add to the other containers. I thanked her and told her I appreciated being so well cared for. More laughter.

Only one checkout stand open, just like the old days. The lines are still there to keep us six feet apart, but there just aren’t that many to line up. The store still requires its on bags and I’m glad to see they have replenished those with the handles, too. Two weeks ago it was just plain brown paper bags.

Still empty shelves in paper goods, cleaning supplies and beans and rice sections. I think the soup shelves looked pretty sparse, too. But, basically everything I needed was there. The store was quiet. The clerks were working. Everyone was masked and keeping distance. All’s well with the new normal.

Pondering disinfectant supplies

Where has all the disinfectant gone? People talk about opening up their businesses, but there are requirements and a big one is being able to clean and disinfect all surfaces on a constant basis. Hand sanitizer must be on hand to offer to all who enter your business. Yet, people are asking for more sanitizer and disinfectant.

Our church office still has some sanitizer but running low. The pastor found some at an auto parts store, made by a local beer brewery. The store recommended aloe vera being added. My hairdresser says she is down to her last can of lysol and had to order a less preferred glove if she opens back up. She has always been a cleaning maniac, even prior to the pandemic. I know she is nervous about getting the necessary supplies.

I saw a news piece about the makers of Clorox ramping up production by 40 percent but says they don’t expect their disinfecting wipes to be on the shelves in any kind of number until August. Who the heck has all the wipes? If you are like me, when you went to a store like Target, again pre-pandemic, the shelves were full of these wipes and usually on sale to encourage more sales. I’m still using a canister of wipes bought around Christmas. I have a box of WetWipes that I bought about the same time to use with my storytelling supplies. I take one every time I go out shopping, but I wonder what I’ll use when the box is empty.

The disinfectant has to be there for society to reopen, but will it be there? One more thing I’m pondering.

What I’m pondering

My previous post was about some actual physical tasks that occupy my time. There is more going on, though. I do a lot of reading and a lot of thinking about what is going on. Especially in education.

What will school look like this fall? Will children come back to an actual classroom? Or will there still be online classes? Who will stay home with the children if parents must get back to work? Schools are the major form of childcare and if the schools remain closed, how will parents get to work? How will students get to school? Will more buses be needed to transport children if they are to be spaced apart? How many more teachers and classrooms will be needed?

I wake up in the night thinking about these questions. I have so many friends who are teachers, not just retired but still on the frontline, and I am concerned for them. I have seen the students who need lots of attention and care, in a normal time, and cannot imagine how they will react if they must remain still and in their own personal space. These are children who don’t understand these constraints. Teachers will have much to catch up on since students have been away from a formal school setting for months.

That’s one aspect of life in this pandemic that makes my mind spin. There are others, but that’s enough for now. I’ll ponder more later.

Not complaining, just explaining

I’m writing this at the end of the first full week of May, on Friday, but it will post as Saturday, May 9. That whole sentence sums up my week. Each day ends before I’m ready. The tasks outrun my energy, though, so I often just give in and call it a day. My brain isn’t as sharp in the evening as it is in the morning so I haven’t taken the time to write and put the days into words. But, I’m not complaining.

I’m reading so many posts that speak of boredom. Guess I’m fortunate as there always seems to be something else to do. Like yard work. So much didn’t get done this week. Maybe next week. Like laundry. It just piles up since we change clothes after every trip out. Towels get changed three times a week. Kitchen towels, daily. Along with all that yard work, I’ve been washing the patio furniture covers. And cat bedding. Then there was the ant plague in the middle of the week in the kitchen. We seem to have it under control with heavy doses of essential oils.

Meal prep takes up much of my time. I shop once or twice a week for food and supplies. I buy what I find and fix meals around what I buy. We did splurge this week and got takeout at our favorite Chinese restaurant. The family had closed the restaurant when shelter-in-place took effect, knowing they weren’t able to do takeout in the manner directed by the city. After two months, closed down and making changes, they reopened this week for very short hours for takeout only. I ordered on their second day and drove across town to get dinner. Actually, enough for two days’ worth of dinner and lunch on one more.

Phone calls, FaceTimes, note writing…all of these take time. Good stuff and I’m thrilled with the technology and the ability to connect with people. I also like keeping the postal service busy!

Online purchases. Yes, me, doing something I haven’t done much of before. I prefer going to the store and picking out what I want to buy, but life has changed so I have changed that behavior. It was like Christmas on Thursday–coffee, chair, computer–all delivered to our door. Then Chinese food for dinner. All ordered online. I am still awaiting one more online purchase that may take awhile to get here–face masks. These are special ones, with big smiles. I hate face masks but will wear them and if I can add a bit of levity with one, I will.

And with that, I will end the explaining of why there hasn’t been a post all week. Just a lot going on. No complaints.

Small steps every day

A Facebook friend posted this poem today. Speaks volumes about how to live through any crisis. Small steps…


My grandmother once gave me a tip:
In difficult times, you move forward in small steps.
Do what you have to do, but little by little.
Don’t think about the future, or what may happen tomorrow.
Wash the dishes.
Remove the dust.
Write a letter.
Make a soup.
You see?
You are advancing step by step.
Take a step and stop.
Rest a little.
Praise yourself.
Take another step.
Then another.
You won’t notice, but your steps will grow more and more.
And the time will come when you can think about the future without crying.

– Elena Mikhalkova

Let’s find the joy in each day

It is an absolutely gorgeous morning here, especially in the backyard where I have been spending some time, watering, pulling weeds, and feeding the squirrels. The wind chimes ring out with every breeze. The air is so clean. The birds are singing. Although I know many are suffering in these days of staying home, these days are giving me so much pleasure. I am in no hurry for the world to start up its madness again.

A former student, Class of 2000, sent me a lovely package that arrived Friday afternoon. I was feeling rather disappointed in people when this came, out of the blue, to cheer me on. She wrote a warm greeting, filling me in on what she is doing during the shutdown (she has a very high-powered job in real estate management), learning to sew and redoing her backyard into an oasis for her children. She included a face mask she had sewn just for me. I am so pleased at how well she is handling this time, and her words encouraged me and gave me joy.

It occurred to me last night, after hearing the news of more people protesting the virus shutdown, that, what IF these are the good days? What IF we have a reoccurrence that sends the world into an even worse time? What IF more people not only get sick but are unable to keep up the economy we have now? So, with those thoughts, I decided to enjoy every moment, every day, giving thanks for the life I do have. I am, indeed, one of the privileged and that could change at any time. For today, I choose joy.

Yay, it’s May

I have no idea where April went. There was Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. Spring break was in there, too. We had lots of cool showers here. Everything grew out lush and green and vibrant. I still have chocolate bunnies and eggs from Sees Candies because the school shut down right before I would have handed out all those treats.

My pile of books for March storytelling still sit in the family room as we’ve had no meetings since February to return or replenish our supply. And now it’s May, the last month of the school year. A time for awards and goodbyes. The month when we would turn in all of our books and materials. But not this year.

The last week of April has been so busy that I didn’t even realize I hadn’t posted here all week until I turned the calendar and saw that today, May 1, is Friday. The end of another week. Remember when you had a job and Friday seemed to come so slowly? We were always cheering for Friday because it meant the end of the week and two days away to rest and recuperate. Now, every day can be Friday. There are plenty of days to rest and recuperate.

The Ladies Who Lunch will again be the Ladies Who Zoom later today. It will be interesting to see how many show up. Even though we have all the time in the world, some of us are still “busy” doing whatever it is we do. Just like when we would meet for lunch. It’s all about priorities, not whether there is a pandemic or not. I am staying very busy, never bored around here, but I always have time to stop for a moment to write a note, a card, a blog post, or to visit with friends. Hope you are doing likewise. No matter what month it is.