What Have I Read?
When we first started hunkering down at home, I had visions of finishing all the books, that are stacked and waiting to be read, in this house.
But, my attention span is worse than ever. I don't read much during the day and when I do, my mind wanders. So I thought I could get through some magazines. But the new ones do not help me escape.
I love pulling out a book at night before I sleep. But I end up reading the same page numerous times, before nodding off. I rarely get a really good night's sleep. That's not new. But having dreams with a Covid-theme, is new. No TV news in the evening, Beth!
So, I ordered a "weighted blanket" online. My 15-pound blankie with pink moons, is supposed to comfort me and help me sleep. I heard about it on NPR. It feels like the heavy drape you wear, when you get X-rays. But it made me feel claustrophobic.
So I used it in the afternoon, when I read in a chair. I picked a calming little book, about making memories. I hoped I would read a little and fall asleep. But I liked my easy little book too much. It didn't make me sleepy.
Am I creating happy quarantine memories? Sort of.
Yahtzee for Two
Actually I love playing games with Don. We've been playing games together for over 40 years.
But, he usually beats me in the games that involve strategy. I need to win more, in Pandemic Times. I'm luckier with our games of Yahtzee, but I get tired of that one.
Game Playing in the Past
My skills are better with games like Charades and Pictionary and Cranium. But they require more people and we only have 2 quarantining in this house.
Actually it's not the games I miss, but the family members who like playing games! In 2005, Don and I hunkered down with my mom and Scott, to await the arrival of Hurricane Rita. On Mother's Day, a half year later, we had Heidi home from college and played some more. Love those home-time-game-memories.
We have tons of puzzles in this house and lot of goofy games, too.
Puzzles are perfect for quarantine time. Very therapeutic. You can work on puzzles alone or together... talking or not... music or podcasts or nothing.
It's actually been fun to see how many people are suddenly doing puzzles. On Facebook and Instagram, there are lots of puzzle postings.
What I really love, is that our kids are also working on puzzles, as they hunker down. Don and I actually packaged up a few we'd already done and sent them to the kids. How crazy is that in 2020, we have been chatting with our kids about puzzles. Strategies, problems with puzzles... favorite puzzles. These conversations crack me up.
These are puzzling times!
To Wear or Not to Wear
In the beginning of April, there was lots of talk about masks. Federal health officials recommended wearing non-medical, cloth face masks. Trump said it was voluntary and he wouldn't be wearing one.
Today, VP Pence toured the Mayo Clinic and didn't wear a mask. He said he'd been tested and doesn't have the virus. That's probably true, but how about wearing a mask as a good role model or to show your respect for those who wear a mask to protect you.
New Rules for Houston
A week ago, Houston began requiring face coverings, in public places.
We live just outside of Houston, but our county doesn't have the same restrictions. I wish they did, since stores will begin opening this Friday.
Last Friday they talked about curbside options. This Friday, non-essential stores will begin opening in Texas. It would be so much less stressful if everyone just wore masks! But I can see it already. I've seen angry reactions to Costco, requiring masks in their store. "I have a good immune system! I don't need a mask!" That enrages me! It's not about you. We wear masks to protect others from us. We don't know if we are carriers.
And if you're going to go out there in the crowds to protest, because you want to go back to work... cover your face!
Or don't. But please promise that you'll tell your people, when you get sick! Maybe they will listen to you, when you tell them what it's like in the hospital.
Appreciate Those Who Do Wear Masks
I've hardly gone anywhere in weeks, but I've worn my mask to the doctor and to the Post Office and I will continue.
I don't love wearing it. It's hot and it's hard to talk.
But when I'm out and I see someone else in a mask, I appreciate that stranger. Our eyes connect and I know we're thinking similar thoughts.
This person gets it! We are helping each other stay safe.
It's such a little thing to do.
People Who Must Wear Masks
I'm especially appreciative of those people who wear masks, for 12 hour shifts!
I just wish the people who think this whole thing has been blown out of proportion, could spend one day, doing what healthcare workers do. Every time I feel a little tired of this Covid inconvenience, I think of my daughter's friend Jessie and her coworkers, offering their nursing skills in NYC. Jessie (in white) has dealt with mask bruises, along with exhaustion and heartbreak, but she manages to smile. Thank you Jessie!
The Best Masks
I'm planning on doing my part and wearing a mask in public, for as long as it takes.
I'm going to associate masks with good things, like new daddies and sweet squirrels at the Pecan Shop on TX-71! XOXO
Science was never my favorite subject, when I was young. But I've grown to appreciate science and scientists.
My hubby-Don is a chemical engineer and both his parents were chemists. I have nothing but respect. Lately I've been missing my father-in-law, as I run across old photos and memorabilia.
Years ago, Don ran across this tiny box at his childhood home. He kept the empty box and I came across it recently.
"Immunization Against Smallpox... Potent until Oct 21, 1934"
Why did my dad-in-law keep this?
It made me curious, so I read up on Smallpox history. The first vaccine for Smallpox was discovered in 1796! It was the first vaccine to be developed against a contagious disease. The modern Smallpox vaccine emerged in 1958, a year after I was born. The disease was eradicated by 1976.
Suddenly a vaccine for Coronavirus seems so much more possible!
On April 23, I caught part of the White House briefing, where President Trump rambled on, with ideas about injecting disinfectant into the body, as a cure for Coronavirus. That was a pretty dangerous thought.
Today, Trump returned to the podium and claimed his remarks had been "sarcasm". I so wish our president would leave the job of science to the scientists and leave the humor to the comedians. As a leader, shouldn't he put the health of the people above his playful games with the press?
Missing My Father-in-Law
While doing more quarantine cleaning, I found numerous patents with my father-in-law's name. He had 55 of them.
Don's dad has been gone many years. I so wish he were here and could tell us what he thinks about all that is going on in our world. He gave wise advice as a grandfather, back when our kids had infections and illnesses. I always trusted him and he was never sarcastic.
My Only Sarcasm
So right now, I'm listening to the doctors and scientists who I respect.
Texas will begin opening up the state in a few days. Trump is ready to get stadiums and restaurants full again. But I'm going to be listening to this guy for a while longer.
Quarantine Family of 3
Sometimes I feel like Don and I are sharing our quarantine home, with Alexa. Most of the time, that's actually okay. She is a good sport when she answers our trivia questions or tells us about the weather. But she definitely likes Don better. She always answers him immediately. She tells me, "Hmm, I don't have an answer for that."
Don claims it's because he is polite and says "Thank you!"
Sometimes we talk about her behind her back. "Did you ask her yet? What did she say?" We don't dare say her name, or she will intrude.
But, in the evening I welcome Alexa's intrusion! We're cooking more now than ever and music has made it a lot more fun. One night, we turned on polka music and I almost killed myself. Polka-dancing on the bumpy slate floors, in our flip flops, is not safe. Then, after all our laughing and stumbling, I feared my shortness of breath was a symptom! No! We can't let Alexa's music lead us to the ER!
Don thought we needed an Echo Dot, (mini Alexa) in our bathroom. I was not sure about this invasion. I like to shower in silence. That's where I think.
But Don (who always showers first) likes to start his mornings with music. He generously leaves the music on, so when I get to the shower I can enjoy whatever he has picked.
At first I just laughed and went along with it... or turned it off. But then I began to notice how music altered my mood, each morning.
It's become a thing. I never know what music Don will pick. And thank goodness, he loves a wide range. Some mornings I walk into the shower with BB King wailing away. Another day it's Woody Guthrie. Yo Yo Ma can ease me into a peaceful morning and Frank Sinatra can get me humorously crooning along. I could pick my own tunes, but I kind of like it that Don has some fun starting our day.
Choosing My Own Music
The other day, I took on a huge cabinet cleaning project. I spent an entire day sorting, moving and scrubbing, inside and out. There's no way I would have kept at the tedious job so long, without Alexa's help.
Even though I was the one working, I felt like a spoiled princess, hollering at Alexa. She was at my service, all day long, playing the artists I requested, halting when I didn't approve, playing softer, playing louder.
When I wondered about musical artists from my youth, I just spoke up, "Alexa, play Cat Stevens" and then when I got curious about the artist... "How old is Cat Stevens?" "Is Cat Stevens still alive?"
One song led to another... musicals, symphonies, Irish jigs, tropical exotica music... on and on! I found some old favorites and I discovered some new favorites.
Here are my new Go-To Quarantine Songs!
My Tune to Sooth Coronavirus Nerves: "Begin Again" by the Piano Guys
My Quarantine Lullaby: "Slumber My Darling" by Allison Kraus, with Yo Yo Ma
Isolation Themed Song: "Waving Through a Window" by Ben Platt, from musical "Dear Evan Hanson"
I could go on and on, but those are a few fun discoveries for now.
For weeks, people have been sharing ideas for cooking and reading and TV binge watching. I actually like the idea that everyone is communicating their favorites. I jot down ideas, but I end up just going to my own lists of things to watch, read and cook. I really don't need all these tips. I'm not bored yet. But I do listen to suggestions from our kids.
At the beginning of this whole crisis, our kids chuckled about the Tiger King docu-series. Suddenly, Don and I got hooked on the creepy, addictive, odd, thought provoking series. Suddenly everybody I knew was talking about it. I will always associate the show with the pandemic.
Connecting With Kids
Watching the show gave us lots to chat about with the kids. It didn't exactly lead to philosophical discussions, but some fun ones.
Our Tiger King tangent, sent me on an old photo hunt. I pulled up these pics from our kids back in the 1990's. They have vivid memories of our visit to a private "zoo" in Oklahoma... called Safari Joe's. We determined that Safari Joe was not Joe Exotic from Tiger King, but we had a crazy time thinking about these similar places.
More Ideas from The Kids
Besides TV and movie suggestions, our kids and their spouses have given us good tips about meal kit services.
I still remember back when our kids talked about Blue Apron. Don and I thought it was a millennial thing... something we would never do. But a month ago, we were suddenly asking them for advice. It was such a treat when the first box arrived with ingredients and recipes for 3 meals. Perfect for these Stay at Home days. We've had fun cooking together and sharing our accomplishments with the kids!
It's been over a month, since our first Zoom with the kids. Zoom is just one more thing that those youngins have introduced us to. They've been patient with guiding the oldsters!
After answering so many questions about TV choices and Blue Apron and Zoom issues, the kids were ready to learn from us... or at least from Don.
The kids asked for a Zoom Meet Up, with ukuleles! Don played the uke coach and sent some music and tips ahead of time.
It was pretty funny! We all fumbled along together! Our attempt at "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", needs a whole lot more work! But we had a fun time!
Again, this is something that wouldn't have happened, without pandemic boredom! Yay for the benefits of boredom!
Don the Shopper & Chef
For a couple of years, Don has been our main cook. He likes the grocery store. I don't. He likes to cook. I don't.
Like most households these days, we are cooking and dining at home a whole lot more. So, I've gotten myself into the kitchen!
A wonderful thing has happened, in the last 6 weeks. I've actually started to enjoy cooking. I appreciate that we have food to cook. That helps.
There's no rush. We've got nothing but time... to think about what food to buy, how to get it, how to cook it, where to eat our meal and what plates to use.
I even think about which placemats we should use. I dig through the forgotten pile of oldies and out they come.
Maybe I shouldn't waste so much brain power on these silly decisions.
But it cheers me, in a goofy way. Especially when I drag out old dishes, like the bunny plate from an old set, that our kids used. And of course, we have to use our 40-year-old, Royal Doulton dishes. The dishes were wedding gifts, after all. Love the earth-tone colors of 1979!
I'm in charge of comfort food. Whenever we're able to get a rotisserie chicken, I make a hearty bone broth. That makes me feel very domestic. I've recently had time to converse with some friends about all the uses for bone broth. I'm feeling extra healthy.
Banana bread! The smell of baking banana bread, is calming. But I made the broth the same day. Those odors actually do not mingle well.
Using the Fun Stuff
All this At Home time, is allowing me to dig through the pantry, for under-used appliances.
I had a great time with the Spiralizer! Only, I lost the directions and I had to wing it. That glass of wine did not help. Luckily I didn't stab myself, while fumbling around with potatoes, blades and stabber-things!
Today, Don has been smoking a brisket in this crazy smoker thing. That's a little bit more exciting than banana bread!
Oh boy, I wonder what plates we should use!
Sweet Molly hasn't been a part of our home for nearly a decade.
Oh how I wish she was still with us, to share our home, during these Shelter in Place Times.
Scott looks like he's torturing her ears, but she was happy in this photo. Molly's ears were like a baby's blankie. Stroking those velvety ears could lower your blood pressure in a minute.
Scott and Chali's Lola, hasn't curled up on our sofa in about 3 years.
She moved to California with her parents.
Josie was a little kitten when she first spent time in our house.
Now she's a big girl in Oregon, with Heidi and Jamie. Don and I have to get our pet fixes from text photos and Zoom times.
Why No Pet?
People have asked for years if Don and I would get another pet. All my siblings have dogs. It seems like we should, but I always answer. "Not with our traveling." Most years, we've been we've been gone 1 week a month. Now, with cancelled trips, it makes me yearn for a pet. Especially one that wants to be patted all day long.
I wonder about all the pets right now. I think family dogs and cats, must be liking this sheltering time. Cats might be less thrilled, but most dogs probably love the extra attention and walks.
How are these pets going to be, when stay at home restrictions are lifted? Are there going to be a lot of depressed animals?
With all my home time, I now have time to worry about pets adjusting AFTER Covid! And with the latest news, I now have to worry about the pets getting Covid! Yikes!
There is no end to the worrying!
Today is the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day!
Like other important things, Earth Day is not getting the proper spotlight. But, I tried to turn my focus away from the pandemic and celebrate this lovely morning. I poured coffee into the 2 earthiest mugs I could find and invited Don to head outside.
I was also took out a 2-year-old (pre-Covid) magazine, that had an article about letting trees grow old with dignity.
That was an interesting read, on Earth Day. In an eerie way, it tied into today's news. So many victims of Coronavirus, (particularly the elderly) are not able to die with dignity.
The elderly have been hit by this pandemic more dramatically than the young. But it's not just the disease, it's the treatment. We've heard horror stories about the shortage of ventilators, leading to heartbreaking decisions over who gets them. So my coffee time, in the great outdoors, made me fret over our elder trees and elder folks...
Earth Day Walk
So I told Don we should get our masks and go on a walk. We are allowed to do that!
It was cloudy and breezy and the air felt perfect.
We saw animals that didn't seem to care that it was Earth Day. They also didn't seem care that there was a pandemic.
Turtles and Toasts
The walking paths were nearly empty, but there were tons of turtles looking up at us from the bridge. We made sure to pull up masks when we spotted people coming our way. Two children in a stroller, seemed scared by our faces. Before long, I wonder if masks will look normal to everyone. Or will we get that far, with mask acceptance?
Finally we toasted to the 50th Anniversary, with our water. I bored Don, as I do every year, telling him my memories of the first Earth Day in Tallahassee, Florida.
On April 22, 1970, my diary describes 100 middle school students, marching to a dump with anti-pollution signs. We attempted to clean up the filthy site, but we failed to make more than a dent.
Home to Reality
At home the news brought us back to reality. The numbers Covid cases climb daily.
Today 2.5 million have been infected and 177,000 have died. But the good news is that our earth is getting some breaks, as most of us stay home. Pollution is dropping, skylines are become more vivid and mountains are suddenly coming into view! I hope we all are learning something from this!
On this Earth Day, I also think back to when Don and I got out and enjoyed the mountains and oceans and rivers, all over this country.
This 5-year old pic is making me excited about adventures in the future!
Cheers to Happy Pre-Covid, Mask-free, Earth Day Memories!
This odd documentary is one of my favorites, but I didn't watch, when it recently popped up on TV. I'm sort of drawn to unsettling films that amuse me and worry me at the same time. Like the daily White House updates... I'm curious, but I try to stay away.
I feel a little guilty when I watch the eccentric mother/daughter duo. I feel bad that Little Edie's quirky behavior makes me laugh. That's mean.
But I also feel like I'm laughing at myself, sometimes.
I'm not rich or related to Jacqueline Kennedy, but I can relate. Little Edie was the master of sheltering in place!
4 years ago, Don and I watched Grey Gardens, during my "stay at home" chemo days. We didn't have 28 rooms, but we found ways to entertain ourselves.
Little Edie and her mother, lived reclusive lives in their derelict mansion, in the 1970's. They amused themselves with old records and lots of cats. Now and then, Little Edie put on a nice song and dance performance.
During those months in 2016, I felt a little cooped up. Like Edie, I had hair issues and wore a lot of scarves. After watching Grey Gardens, I often let Little Edie's spirit inspire some fun. Don and I got ridiculously creative with my collection of colorful scarves.
Channeling Little Edie
During these quarantine times, I haven't been in the mood to watch Grey Gardens, but I've been thinking about Little Edie and her mother. They weren't staying home for Cancer or Coronavirus. They were home by choice and they found many creative ways to amuse themselves. Little Edie knew how to have fun with "costumes". She carried on with her chatter and dance moves, while her mom watched and sometimes complained.
Sometimes I just need to put on costumes and hats. One day, I greeted my friends on Zoom, with a mask and gloves.
Don has played more of the "Big Edie" role. He puts up with my outbursts. He gets it though. When you're stuck at home, you just find more things to play with. Most of our crazier moments have NOT been captured on film. But the "Dance Like Nobody is Watching" phrase has definitely been put to use.
The documentary is a an odd one and a sad one really. I don't recommend it for comic relief during Covid-time. But it's a good reminder that we all can just get silly at home. Most of us don't have a documentary crew filming, so there will be no evidence to haunt our families in future years.
Cheers to Little Edie and her mom!
All my daily observations come from TV and my morning runs. So my big gripe today is litter.
I run early, so I won't have to decide how to negotiate others on the sidewalk. Once I get past the closed school, everything looks normal... except this! Why would someone drop their contaminated glove on the ground. That's worse than dog poop. It's also a scary reminder of our world. People are concerned enough to wear gloves. Are they scared about contaminating their cars? It's not the first I've seen!
As I passed the Hope Tree today, I noticed something was missing.
I took these photos the day I added my own ribbon to the highest branch on the right. Today, I noticed it was gone. I guess I didn't tie it well enough.
Great! I thought as I ran on. My ribbon is now litter, blowing along the breeze... clogging the gutter... I littered!
Then I felt better when I remembered the words I'd written on the ribbon. The person who finds the ribbon will feel like me, the day I found a deflated balloon with a note inside. (that's littering too) They will be excited with their find!
And then I remembered how we are all fretting over contamination. Nobody will pick up my germ-y ribbon to see what the words say. Oh well, maybe a bird will use it in a nest. I saw that in a book once.
One Week Past Easter
We used to have tons of kids in our neighborhood. Obviously, all those kids from 20 years ago, have grown up. But this year more than ever, I've been thinking of the kids who live in our neighborhood, now. I was sad today when I took down the egg perched in our tree. 10 days ago, I put it there for kids to spot.
That mini plywood egg, was part of a neighborhood morale boosting project. Families were encouraged to decorate a small egg and display it in a window or somewhere in the yard. It would give families something fun to look for, when walking or driving by. It seemed like a good way to show we were all looking out for each other. I was happy to paint an egg and put it out.
But when I ran on Easter morning, I saw very few. 20 years ago, there would have been more eggs. We had more kids then and less technology.
After putting out the little egg 10 days ago, I put Don to work with the jigsaw.
He cut out a larger egg and the next day I played Easter Bunny. I snuck out before my morning run and put the egg at the entrance. Just something fun for kids to spot.
It took me a while to decide where I could securely prop it. Then I suddenly felt weird about putting this silly decoration out. It might fall over and people won't want to touch it. Everyone seems on edge about the rules these days. My decoration might blow over and become annoying trash.
I stood there for a minute, feeling odd. And as I thought for a moment, old memories of the neighborhood entrance came to me.
Hurricane Harvey, gave our entrance a different look. Our entrance definitely looked eerie after we and our neighbors evacuated. Instead of being told to stay at home, we were told to leave our homes. There was lots of worry, but also lots of support. People in our area, are much better at knowing about how to deal with hurricanes, than pandemics.
Angels at the Entrance
I really only stood there a few moments before I decided to leave the silly bunny egg. It was when I remembered the colorful angels that used to decorate our entrance, every December.
For about 10 years, our neighborhood gathered at the entrance for caroling a caroling parade. The angels are pretty hidden behind our group in this photo. But they were a festive addition. Thanks Lorrie, for making them!
So today, I headed out to retrieve the wooden egg.
I did it early when no one was around. Again, I was sort of sneaky... mostly embarrassed. Why again, did I put that bunny-egg out? Kids are all in their houses. Probably no one saw it. Oh well. I guess I did it for me. It was something fun to do. The bunny egg is hiding in the garage, until next year. Maybe young families will move in!
Chats With Dad
I've been trying to call Dad everyday, since his assisted living community went on lockdown, way over a month ago. He never has much to talk about, because nothing is happening in his world.
Not much is happening in mine either, so we talk about the past. Good things... like picnics, in 1973. Dad is 91. We need a vaccine soon, so we can go on another picnic!
We never talk long, and I do most of the talking. I ramble about when we lived in Michigan or Florida or Iowa. He laughs at my stories.
I've been watching plenty of old movies on TV and they remind me of lots of plays that Dad was involved with. It's actually pretty nice being able to ask questions about different shows, that I have only vague memories of.
Dad's Younger Years
But when my questions go further back, Dad gets more talkative.
He tells me about his Dad and the banjo he made from a cigar box. "Where is that now?" he wonders. He talks about his mother, driving his brother Gene to Arizona for college. "For his asthma." Dad tells me. I never knew Uncle Gene had asthma or Uncle Bob played trumpet.
I also didn't know that when Dad was teaching at U or Arkansas, he used to come home at lunch and play chess with my mom. I told Dad that I remembered my very first chess game...
Zoom with Dad
Yesterday, I got a text asking if I was interested in having a Zoom call with my dad. I didn't have time to plan or fret or worry about how odd this would be, to see my dad's face and for him to see mine. We're used to chatting on his landline.
But I jumped at the chance. I answered the invite and immediately felt comfortable talking with staff member, Chris. She wore her mask and chatted with me, before taking the ipad to my dad's room.
Poor Dad had no advance warning and seemed a little confused. Chris left her sanitized device, in Dad's hands and he fretted a moment. "What are they doing with this film?" I explained. Then I had him rotate the ipad, when I realized he'd been seeing me sideways for 5 minutes. Then I took him on a house tour!
I showed him the Sicilian Knight that our family bought in Italy 50 years ago. I held my cell's lens to the knight's face and I could hear dad laughing. He remembered the crazy puppet.
I "took Dad" into the living room and teased that I might play piano for him.
Instead, I showed him my favorite photograph, displayed on top of the piano. Dad knows the whole story of this wonderful picture of Grandma, when she was a child. The photo shows a scene in a silent movie. The crowd is gathered around my grandmother. Her character had just been hit by a car.
Then I stepped outside and showed Dad the palm trees, with their rustling fronds.
I pointed the camera towards the pool and asked him to help me spot some June bugs. I told him that my quarantine boredom has led to lots of bug rescues. He laughed and told me the pool needed cleaning.
So that was a first! We both laughed a lot and Dad admitted it was a lot more fun than he expected.
I'm so grateful that the assisted living staff has worked to connect their isolated residents with family. I'm also grateful that Dad is healthy and able to chat! A month ago, Dad's dear friend from his community, died of Covid. 4 more died after her. I am finally beginning to feel hopeful.
Telemedicine With Doc P.
This morning I had my first Telemedicine appointment.
A month ago, I would have been totally stressed at the idea of FaceTiming with my oncologist. But I've at least had a little practice, "Zooming" with friends and family. I set up my little tripod and made sure I had a book and coffee, just in case there was a wait.
It was actually pretty funny, sitting there waiting for my appointment, staring at Dr. P's portrait. He apologized when he got on, 40 minutes later.
His other appointments had taken much longer than he'd expected. He was relieved that I had good internet, since he said 90% of his patients don't. Whew. His world has gotten complicated.
I assured him I had been reading and was relaxed in my own home. True. We chatted for longer than I expected, since I knew he was behind.
Dr. P went over my labs and he reminded me to drink 64 ounces of water a day. But the main thing that I will remember of our appointment was his answer to my question.
"How much more vulnerable am I to Coronavirus, because of my cancer history and treatments?
Dr. P said his biggest concern for me, was my age! I jumped for joy! Ordinarily, that remark would make me cringe.
"You are over 60."
But he assured me that my blood work is normal and has been for a long time. He knows that I exercise and eat well, but he also knows I'm in that vulnerable age group.
It's funny how lifted I felt after I got off. For weeks, I've been trying to ignore the fact that I am a Cancer Survivor.
How much more vulnerable am I? I've peeked on the internet for answers, but saw so many different ones. I was scared to ask Dr. P, but now I'm feeling empowered with what I learned. He didn't say my history means nothing, but I'm happy to know that age is my biggest factor. Can't do a darn thing about that.
Learning How to Shop
Even those who are mostly staying home, have to navigate this new way of living... during Quarantine Times. Getting groceries is something we're all dealing with.
First we just worried about how panic shopping would affect the supplies in stores. Then we had to decide what was the safest way to get groceries. We've had groceries delivered and today we took on curbside shopping. At least Don and I could go together and make an adventure out of it. We had our "just in case we need 'em" masks.
Curbside shopping isn't new at H-E-B. Some people have been doing this kind of shopping for a while. But I noticed an added sign, when we parked. It asked us to stay in the car.
I insisted we put a "Thank You" sign in the back. Don thought that was kind of dumb, but I figured this is the time to "Err on the side of kindness". Don put a tip in a baggie and we tucked it in the back. Surely that's okay to do? I feel like we over-think every move.
Don and I were oddly nervous, waiting for our cart of groceries to arrive. But as soon as Asmita greeted us through the back, she put us right at ease. Her smile was evident, even with her mask. She loaded us quickly, but we still managed to converse about the beautiful weather and everyone staying healthy.
Thanks Asmita and all those workers, who allow us to get food into our homes!
No Cabin Fever
Don and I are not suffering from cabin fever, unless cabin fever is what you get when you're missing your cabin.
Yesterday, we left our home, as if we were escaping from cabin fever. We drove 3.5 hours and ended up at our cabin... feeling sneaky and guilty and odd. It was strange seeing signs like this one, on the freeway.
We reached Sunrise Beach, in the early afternoon. The little community of retirees and weekenders is usually quiet on weekdays in spring. But it was eerily quiet.
We didn't see another car as we drove into the "village". But we did see deer and a sign that reminded us that times are different. I felt that huge wave of guilt, that we are following our "Stay at Home" orders in two different places. That seems horribly wrong and indulgent. In Michigan, you're not allowed to visit your vacation home.
The weather was beautiful when we arrived. I wanted to sit on the deck and read, but we had come to check on things and do "chores". Don got out the lawn mower and I faced cobwebs.
Then I faced dirtier jobs with varmint poop and dust and weeds and wasp nests... I usually hate these chores, but there was something cathartic about my cleaning frenzy. Honestly, there is something about Coronavirus anger that makes me clean like an angry fighter! Actually it's not the virus that angers me, as much as the president and how he's dealing with this.
The best thing about the cabin, is that we have no TV. There are certain faces I can't stand to see on my TV screen. Our space felt peaceful and serene.
At night we had a fire and pulled out the old games. We have no internet, but we turned on the radio and listened to Austin's NPR station. Suddenly we were brought back to reality. Every show, every podcast was about Covid. We got out the old ukuleles.
In the morning, the skies were red. I can't believe we are heading home and not staying put. This is where we should be spending our quarantine time!
But how do you Zoom with your kids, if you have no internet?
Every four months, I have have an appointment for blood work and consultation. Three days ago, I called to cancel mine. Surely they weren't expecting me to come in and put chemo patients or myself at risk. This wasn't urgent.
I was told about all the precautions that the office was taking and that there was no need to cancel. I still cringed. I was also told I could postpone. Or I do a Telemedicine appointment, but then I'd have to get labs done elsewhere.
So, I kept the appointment and this morning, I headed out with my mask and gloves. I also took my little mascot, Ms. Donkey. Yes, I'm way too old for a security toy. But I took this goofy friend to all my appointments in 2016. She helped me keep my humor and kick Cancer's butt.
I parked at the medical building and approached with my friend. I figured, she'd help me kick Coronavirus' butt... if I got near any germs!
I stepped inside the deserted building and headed up to the 4th floor. There was a table set up, outside the office for screening. I was asked health and travel questions and had my temp taken. I laughed with the very cheery woman, who was covered in protective clothing. I showed her my fine donkey mascot and she laughed with me, as she put a band on my wrist, announcing my 99.0 temp. Guess that wasn't too high.?
In the waiting room, I saw lots of reminders about keeping our distance. The other 4 patients in the room, wore masks.
I had been stressed for a couple days about whether I should keep the appointment. But once I arrived, everything felt calm and clean.
The good old holiday tree was trying its best to lighten our moods, with some pastel decor and lights.
The TV however was not doing a good job of lifting my spirits.
What happened to HGTV? Why are we having to stare at the medical station with creepy chatter about Cancer?
After an hour waiting, I was the only one in the room. The others were chemo patients, who had been called in for treatment. I eventually got word that I was going to need to make a Telemedicine appointment. There had been some miscommunication and suddenly I was being told the office was closing to all, but patients doing treatment. I get that. They are incredibly vulnerable. But I'd been waiting... I'd put myself at risk... I'd tried to cancel. I was a horrible, fretting patient who got her way. They rushed me back and took my blood. I thanked them and apologized and thanked and apologized.
I drove home feeling horribly guilty. Those patients and the staff are dealing with scary, stressful issues, every day. I begged them to do my blood work. Why didn't I quietly leave.
But I also drove home feeling like a huge weight had lifted. My lab results will help answer some questions. I have been worried for a couple months about what my past cancer history means, related to Coronavirus. How much more vulnerable am I?
In a couple of days, I'll have my results and I'll have my Telemed appointment with Dr. P. I can find out just how vulnerable I am.
Plus, I was relieved that they rushed me through so fast and there was no time for scales and blood pressure pumps. I used my own when I got home and I it wasn't exactly low. But I do feel a lot more relaxed, now.
My goal is to stay out of all doctors's offices and hospitals for the rest of this pandemic!
Sad Shopping Center
I carried my cellphone on my run yesterday morning. I took a detour to check out our neighborhood shopping center.
It was early, so I wasn't surprised to see the empty parking lot. It was sad, knowing that hours later, it would look pretty much the same.
I walked down the sidewalk and studied the notices on all the windows. We've lived in this neighborhood for over 20 years. We've used so many of these small businesses.
I looked at the sign on Dr. Closs's office. It made me miss our old pets, Molly and Figaro. Now is the time of all times, when I most miss having pets!
The nail and lash salons were closed. No surprise. The liquor store has not closed down. I guess that's essential. Curbside liquor shopping. Crazy.
I'm sad for these businesses and all their employees. There are so many unknowns. How long will they need to be closed? Will they even be able to re-open?
The surprising news is, that right in the middle of all these pandemic closures, we have a new store opening. It's been over a year, since Randall's Grocery Store closed down. Now, Al-Rabba is opening, with foods from Pakistan, African, India... How about that!
At 7 am, I was able to peek at the clean grocery carts and look through the window, hours before opening. I'm so excited to have a nearby grocery store, with new and curious foods to try. But I'm staying away from stores right now. Guess I'll have to wait a while.
We've Had Practice
Actually, Don and I have had lots of practice celebrating holidays, with just ourselves.
We haven't had kids around on Easter, in a long time. But I was envious this year, of all the families who have been quarantining together. Our grown kids and spouses are good sports. We could have had a lot of fun with egg hunts and mimosas.
I had no egg hiding or brunch making chores, so I headed out early for a sunrise run. It was nice to have the paths to myself. The sidewalks have been more busy lately.
When it got a little brighter, I saw an Easter duck. He did not move aside on the sidewalk, so I lectured him about social distancing as I passed.
It was quiet in the house, but we had some festive bunnies and eggs.
I always love a little holiday decor, but I had more fun than usual, with my silly eggs and rabbits, this year.
For much of 2016, I felt the same way about holiday decorating. There were many months when I was anchored to home, due to cancer treatments. Putting out my whimsical favorites, kept things positive. So much feels the same now.
We didn't exactly go all out for breakfast. We only had a few eggs and 3 pieces of bread left. I made French Toast. I haven't made French toast in forever.
I'm acting like we're barely getting by with food. That's not true. We're just low in the breakfast department. It was just right. I had lots of appetite left for jellybeans.
Concert from Milan
Our biggest daytime activity, was watching TV at noon. We watched Andrea Bocelli, perform live, in Italy. His 'Music For Hope' Concert, began inside Duomo Di Milano. He began his solo performance with 'Ave Maria'.
Then he moved outside and ended the concert with 'Amazing Grace'. I had chills, listening to his voice, singing out to the empty plaza. It was comforting to imagine all the homes in the world, watching him along with us. Millions of people, moved at the very same time.
In the late evening, we got to work on dinner.
Before we sat down, I decided to invite some guests to our quiet table. I grabbed a few bunnies. They stared while we ate.
At 9 pm, we set up the laptop and suddenly had family to share in the celebration! We've had a couple Zooms Happy Hours with our kids in Portland and Sacramento, but we had more this time. With Don's sister in New York and her son and family in Lake Tahoe, we had almost all the timezones covered!
Our gathering was something we probably never would have done, without the Coronavirus Shake-up! We would have all been busy with our own plans. What a hoot, with all 11 of us, gabbing together!
I so hope there won't be many more holidays, tainted by Coronavirus. I especially hope that, for families who are dealing with more, than inconvenience. For those who are ill or have lost loved ones, there will be no celebrating. For those who are stressing over financial worry and job loss, I hope that Easter and Passover and Springtime, has offered a good distraction.
Cheers to all the family video celebrations/connections, that have popped up in the last few days! A first for many! Hopefully the connecting continues after Covid!!
We all know about social distancing. There are some creative ways to remind people.
My brother in New Orleans, shared a couple of good ones.
6 Feet Apart at the Liquor Store
I saw this reminder at Spec's, on my 7 am run. It looks very Easter-y.
I'm not even going in stores, so I'm not sure how good people are being in the stores. I do see people on sidewalks and most are courteous. Some walkers cross the street to avoid each other. Ordinarily that would seem rude, but instead we all say, "Thank you!"
Social Distancing at Church!
Easter is tomorrow and I'm really wondering which churches will be open. Our governor in Texas, has decided that churches are essential. Easter services are allowed, if they keep social distance. Do these churchgoers think God will protect them? Even if they have services outside, they could still be crowded!
These photos show the Easter service festivities in Florence, Italy in 1969. Our family avoided crowds, even though there were no pandemics, at the time. We watched from a hotel window. These images make me cringe. Luckily the Pope is planning virtual Easter at the Vatican, tomorrow.
Drive - In Church
The only church experience I would recommend, is the kind you attend in your car.
Don and I came upon this one in Daytona Beach, a few years ago.
We couldn't resist. We arrived on a Sunday morning, with our mugs of coffee. The grass filled with cars. I didn't spot any robes or pajamas, but I did see pets in cars. The music and sermon came through our radio and car horns honked, as a sort of "Amen!" now and then. It was a pretty fun experience.
This Easter, I think people need to worship at home. Save your Easter bonnet and white shoes for next year!
Friends and Technology
April has become the month of tech connecting! In March, there was a surge in texts and emails. Everyone was baffled over quarantine worries and we all seemed anxious to reach out and check on each other. In April, everyone seems ready to see faces!
This whole world of Zoom, Skype and FaceTime, is exploding. Early in April, my friend suggested a FaceTime call. I stressed a bit. Video chatting with friends is new to me. Yikes. I'm not exactly looking my best these days... nor is the house. But I ran a comb through my hair and set up the phone. CJ and her girls suddenly appeared and what a treat, to see faces along with voices! Those girls made me smile!
A couple days later, I connected with 2 college buddies on FaceBook. One suggested we set up a Zoom Meeting and next thing you know I was volunteering to host. Why did I say that? I don't know what I'm doing. I'll mess this up! But I need to being learning new things... it's the least I can do.
I figured it out and sent my invites, then I worried all morning that it wasn't going to work. Then of course I wondered how odd this would be to chat with Marla and Martha! Martha and I have reunited in recent years, but I haven't seen Marla in over 40 years. This is crazy!
It was awkward for only a split second and then we were all laughing and reminiscing and catching up and carrying on...
It's odd, because we could have done this years ago. Old friends have been re-connecting through social media for years. But it's odd how Coronavirus has brought people together. We all have this Pandemic in common. We share about our worlds and compare.
Marla described her world in Chicago... teaching her students from home... dealing with the complications of being married to a doctor who is trying to keep from contaminating their home.
Martha described her neighborhood in Denver, where residents come out at 8 pm each night to howl. She was able to show us her yard and her sweet pups. It feels good to connect our worlds.
After 1.5 hours, I got off exhausted and giddy and lifted. What an amazing thing.
I usually don't fret about getting older. Well, maybe I did at 50. But this Covid-thing is being extra evil, with the old folks. That's me. People over 60!
But I pretended I wasn't 63 today. I got up early and ignored my aching joints, on my run. Then, Don made me coffee and a yummy breakfast sandwich. Both tasted even better with my happy dishes.
Don and I had all day together. Nothing new about that.
We worked on a puzzle and played our ukes. We're getting better! And I talked on the phone with a few special people.
In the late afternoon I got a surprise on the porch, from my neighbor. She happens to be quite an amazing Italian cook!
She even made birthday flags! I've never had birthday flags before!
Southwestern Dinner and Zoom-time!
After opening some birthday goodies, Don and I had an enchilada dinner. Then it was time to spiff up a little, for our Texas-Style Zoom Happy Hour... at 8:00 actually.
The kids in California and Oregon, wore cowboy hats and bolo ties. We toasted with margaritas and after lots of chatting and laughing, I got a very special video surprise.
Kermit Plays Happy Birthday!
Kermit Ruffins played his trumpet from New Orleans and added a "Happy Birthday Mama Beth!" at the end!
After Kermit's Happy Birthday, Don and the kids sang me another. What a treat!
Don's Birthday Creation
Later, Don sang all by himself, when he presented me with a fine sweet treat.
It's not every birthday that you get 2 birthday "cakes" or 3 birthday songs. Not everyone will be able to say they celebrated a Coronavirus Quarantine Birthday, either.
It was a good one after all!
I Love Picnics
I've been known to choose a picnic over a restaurant, for many birthday celebrations. It seemed like an extra good plan for this year.
Since rain is expected on my big day tomorrow, we packed lunch and chairs and headed to Pecan Park. We already knew the picnic areas and playgrounds were shut down. Which is good.
We are allowed to use the park paths, if we keep social distance.
We stayed away from the paths and tables and ate our lunch, overlooking the lake. But we're supposed to be staying home... but we're encouraged to get out... it's confusng.
These ducks are cute. I didn't get pictures of the aggressive ones that kept invading our picnic, looking for handouts. Even the turtles were lifting their heads like evil serpents, in search of treats.
A lone squirrel kept inching towards us... Were they just hungry or were they giving us a creepy message that we weren't supposed to be there? I didn't enjoy the animal encounters.
There were a few people on the paths. One or two wore masks, to remind us what's going on, these days. One family of 6 was lined up, fishing. They were like us, sort of breaking the rules. We were using the park, not the path. Oh my.
There were lots of rules being broken. The gazebo was taped off, but a hot plate was plugged into the electric socket. I guess it belonged to the tree trimming crew that had stopped to have lunch at the one table, that wasn't taped off. There were 7 of them squeezed around the table. (I didn't take their photo) The workmen were playing cards. Have they heard of Coronavirus?
The workmen left and some other people arrived to use that table. They unloaded a hookah pipe and went back to the car to get another. What is going on?
I promise, we stayed far away from others. My Nikon's zoom makes it look like we were breaking social distancing rules.
We didn't linger long, before we headed to our car. I don't know what rules we broke, but I felt guilty and weird being at the park, watching activity.
This was my first and last Coronavirus picnic! Well, I don't know. It is my last Coronavirus-Birthday Picnic.
Forced to Clean
Junk can be interesting and curious, but I don't like it filling up the garage. But at least our self quarantine time, has forced us to face the chores that we love to ignore.
Today we worked in the garage. We haven't parked a car in this garage since we moved here 20+ years ago. So it's a mess and today we made some good decisions. We found lots to get rid of. But what do we do with it? Our city's recycling and bulky trash pick ups, have been put on hold indefinitely.
But we did make some progress. We've been storing lots of stuff that belonged to parents... and we unearthed some surprises.
We found a book with 55 patents, that Don's dad is responsible for! I had no idea!
And we found a framed Calder, that I for some reason didn't remember we had! It was in my family's house, years ago. We found no spiders or mice. Yay!
So being trapped at home can lead to some fun discoveries!
Signs in Sugar Land
We've been staying home, so I haven't been aware of local changes. When Don drove me to the (off hours) post office the other day, I studied the world around me. I saw closed stores and long drive-thru lines. I spotted a couple drivers wearing face masks. I looked at cars and license plates and wondered, "Where is everyone going? Are we really supposed to worry about where people are coming from?"
When I saw this sign, I cringed. I get it, that each state has their own rules and that some states are more affected than others. But when our country is hit with a Global Pandemic, it seems creepy that our borders suddenly have new meaning. We seem so divided. Will they really start having checkpoints at state lines?
Smart Financial Centre
This sign is 1.5 miles from our home. Usually the gigantic beast of a sign, announces upcoming shows that are coming to the mega venue. Today, the sign wasn't luring us to buy tickets to see The Celtic Woman- Celebration or The Bachelor Live on Stage! Those shows are cancelled.
Instead, the parking lot at Smart Financial Center, was set up with tents for drive-through testing. I've seen this on the news, but didn't realize this was happening, so close to home. Will I be one of those people someday... rolling down my window to welcome a swab in my nose?
Signs I Like
There are other signs that I like much better. They are the ones that people have made, to cheer one another.
My sister-in-law saw this one in their New Orleans neighborhood.
My brother and sister-in-law in Boise, ID saw a few chalk messages when they walked their dogs. Evidently a young neighbor wrote messages to his friends, in front of their homes. What a sweet thought.
On my early morning run, I spotted a new sign, that cheered me up.
I returned and added my own ribbon. I used a Sharpie to write positive words, before I tied it to a branch.
I started this complaining list/blog, in May 2016. I posted 200 gripes about my breast cancer and then I was done.
On March 13, 2020, I started venting all over again, when another disease (starting with a C) interfered with my life. Only this time, it was affecting more than me. I ranted for a year, until I got my vaccine in March 2021.
Coronary Artery Disease was the reason I restarted this blog on September 26, 2021. This time it was Don who was dealing with a worry that started with the letter "C".
Coronavirus and Cancer, Coronary Artery Disease! All are evil, but none can totally get me down... if I vent! I usually end up feeling a little more positive at the end of each post!