5/16/2020 of COVID-19 Home Life

As of 12:01 a.m. this day, our severity level in most of Utah has gone down another color. Instead of red or orange, we are now at yellow. The exception to that is the areas still reporting high levels of infection: Grand County, Summit County, Wasatch County, Salt Lake City, and West Valley City.

This would explain how I saw many people out and about today. It would also explain the grocery store worker cheerily greeting me as she loaded my groceries, without mask, while her coworkers stood outside chatting. When I pulled up and called, they also did not tell me to open my trunk according to current COVID-19 guidelines and maintain appropriate social distancing from the associate that will approach my vehicle…

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The pediatric dentist was different, yesterday. They’ve been closed to patients until very recently; considering the nature of dental work, they are still being careful. We were asked to call from our car when we arrived and to enter their office wearing masks. I hadn’t brought my kids’ masks (c/o my helpful neighbor) but the assistant met us with some dental varieties and an electronic gadget to measure our temperatures. I also signed a paper that promised I had not experienced symptoms, did not intend to experience symptoms, and had not traveled anywhere that might have symptoms in the last 14 days.*

Thus began the only dentist visit in my life where everyone wore a mask up until getting his teeth cleaned and examined, a visit in which we all smiled with our eyes and tried not to get high from the fumes of rubbing alcohol.

Less-strict restrictions are good news for the right-wing types, who have been smugly getting under my skin for the past while. It’s funny, because the left-wing types were getting under my skin pre-quarantine.

Divisive

Mommy Needs Vodka shared this on TwoFacebook.

*Sigh*

Farmer-Cowmen like myself often stand around, scratching our heads at the divisiveness.

Hopefully some other cause will come along to distract them all from imminent death by asphyxiation, like the presidential election or …goats invading a neighborhood.

Now, that’s breaking news!

Honestly, we’ve been very fortunate in how Coronavirus has affected Utahns. As might be expected, those who’ve still had to work the service jobs and those who’ve lived a long time and those who’ve increased their risk due to preexisting conditions have been affected the worst.

As to those fortunate enough to be young and fortunate enough to be able to stay home, the reaction’s becoming Old News. To some, it’s becoming a joke. Impatience is setting in; some question or demand when they may return to Disneyland, Europe, or to eating samples at Costco.

For me, day-to-day life has been like a typical summer vacation -without a planned family road trip or excursions to pools or splash pads. In some ways, I’ve felt odd writing about Home Life. I’ve thought to start my report with Well, the boys didn’t want to wear clothes …again. Then, the water heater broke …again. Then, I did dishes laundry weeding dusting toilet-unclogging etc. …again.

I hope good news is the same for all of you and that it stays that way. Keep waiting; keep washing; keep masking. It’ll get better …again.

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens

*I exaggerated a bit. They wanted to know if I’d traveled outside the state in the last 14 days.

 

Photo Credits: Photo by Ani Kolleshi on Unsplash

5/6/2020 of COVID-19 Home Life

I know, I know: “I’m sick of hearing about Coronavirus. Go away, Chelsea, and take that thing with you!”

woman in white and green shirt holding yellow plastic bag

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

But, it’s not going away. Well -it is, just slowly. Hopefully, all this jazz about calmly sitting at home and glaring at your neighbors’ parties has kept COVID’s coming a slow process as well.

On the subject of coming:

“Remember that time I was sick back in February?” my neighbor asked me recently.

“No…” Personally, I don’t remember what I ate for breakfast most days, but she didn’t know that.

She paused, adjusting something I couldn’t see because we were engaged in an old-fashioned telephone conversation -over cell phones, but still talking. “It was when I flew back from Denver. I felt like I couldn’t breathe and then had a nasty cough. I lost my sense of taste for several days; not just one, like what happens when I’ve gotten sick before.”

airplane wing towards clouds

Photo by Sheila on Pexels.com

The ‘Rona’s been a mysterious mist, revealing more of itself as time goes on. Having done a report on the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl for a college paper, I can’t help but see similarities in China’s revelation of facts to the rest of the world. As many have pointed out, however, such hindsight isn’t helpful. “Should’ve” can’t save us. “Will” just might.

For myself and my family, I feel fortunate that we have not been directly infected affected. Our worst casualty is inconvenience. A relative finally got in to her doctor …to learn she has cancer. Another’s been growing increasingly worse regarding mental illness because of the isolation. Yet another lost a good friend -to the virus- and was sad to not attend a funeral.

I’ve also had some irritation in items out of stock for pickup orders, in trying to plan ahead, and in not being able to keep a device with microphone and camera intact. Yes, another accident befell us. Our derelict iPad of half-a-decade’s age fell to the basement floor in a second karate-related accident. The defendant claims gravity reached its apathetic hands up against an already-unstable iPad stand…

Speaking of technical mishaps, I need to enter a Costco today. I haven’t been in weeks. A computer we purchased recently has had no end of problems with the keyboard input and network card. Why, for the love of gaming, would anyone want a computer to forget ASDWX in the middle of strafing?

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They’ve posted store rules that I’ll need to wear a mask. Here’s me, wearing the PINK one my neighbor made me. Being the only female in a predominantly-male household, she assumed I’d need more femininity.

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In other news of stores and merchandise, Smith’s grocery store told me they were fresh out of chicken breasts. I was able to procure a whole, frozen chicken but not pieces of it. The worker kindly explained that, since the Tyson plant had closed, they were seeing their store-brand meat disappear faster. Others I’ve spoken with said similar things. So, maybe we ought to stockpile a bit of meat…

We actually tried to get a small chest freezer back when things started getting crazy in March. When I called to follow up on our purchase a month later, the representative explained that ALL appliance suppliers’ chest freezers were on backorder till July or August.

Again, inconvenience.

I find myself rushing in thoughts or actions, then suppressing the behavior. We need more: meat, clothes, gasoline, emergency supplies, Tylenol, etc. Frankly, I don’t. I have enough. It’s just an inherent panic and a need to do SOMETHING instead of wait.

Wait.

Wait.

Wait.

Everyone’s sick of waiting. Here in Utah, the waiting time’s dimished. They’ve stepped the panic level down a titch.

Plan to work - Risk Gauge Image

What a lovely graphic of Utah’s COVID-19 plan.

We’re at Code Orange now. Oddly, this move resulted in an increase of reported cases. 🤦 I guess we’re a work in progress. I suspect the COVID Team suspects such results, and will move the dial down to yellow once we stabilize again.

We’re doing what we can, which is mostly not doing much. The relaxed restrictions are nice; the boys’ room moms arranged for drive-by parades of their teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week this week. We got within breathing range of one of my son’s teachers, for a selfie. She and her aides stood together on the sidewalk to receive presents and posters. I realize I’ve developed an automatic anxiety at the sight of crowds. I ought to turn it off, now that we’re allowed to congregate in groups of 20 or fewer -although that’s still stupposed to be in a social-distanced and masked manner.

Because of bat-man, we are all masking like Batman…

In last news, our European trip was officially rescheduled for 2021. Maybe I’ll get to wave to a few of you after all.

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens

Other Photo Credits: Dries Augustyns

4/20/2020 of COVID-19 Home Life

It took me three tries to get the accurate date today. I went through the same exercise yesterday (Sunday, apparently) and again for that-day-that-comes-before-Sunday. Once the boys and I decided the phones and computers had the correct date, I realized we’ve been staying home for a month and two days.

Time flies when you’re looking back. It i-n-c-h-e-s when you’re looking forward.

Speaking of, Utah’s state governor announced that we’ve graduated to less-stringent measures. The state parks have opened to non-county residents. By May, people could sit inside a restaurant to eat. To combat that sedentary option, he also anticipates the re-opening of gyms. Furthermore, elective surgeries will resume. He stressed the importance of still maintaining social distance and rocking the mask.

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Word is that the world will adopt a currency of toilet paper and surgical masks.

The announcement came after our county’s mayor extended her Get Yer Butt Back Home order till May 1. After the governor lightened up, however, she has renamed her order to Stay Smart, Stay Safe.

Utah’s Coronavirus crack team said we need to approach the reopening as a dial, like on a dimmer -not like an on/off switch.

Word must’ve not gotten around, because a posse protested two days ago.

Protest

They’re not social-distancing. I mean, obviously. (© The Salt Lake Tribune)

I don’t get it. Then again, I’m not out of work because of all this.

On the plus side, I’ve decided to count my blessings:

  1. We are not living through the pandemic of 1918, when we didn’t have Amazon.
  2. We’ve got the internet, which allows our connecting to others, working from home, and playing or watching games and shows.
  3. My family and I do not live in an urban area, in a multi-unit apartment building.
  4. Our local stores offer grocery pickup.
  5. If food gets scarce, my LDS upbringing means I have enough dried black beans to get us through at least two months. It won’t be pretty, but we’ll have regularity and protein.

Amazon is great, as is grocery pickup. The only problem is costs are rising. I needed to replenish our regular household cleaners this last week, and couldn’t believe how expensive they’d become.

Either everyone is panic-buying, or people do not use soap during non-panic-buying times. I’m just glad I’m not desperate. I also know how to mix some of my own all-purpose cleaners. If worse comes to worst, we’ll forage for bits of bark to replace the soaps. Actually, I have boys. We’ll all just start smelling of a more-natural musk.

In better news, the boys’ school released a video of each teacher reading a small line of encouragement. Home life looked good on them; some of the guys were going Rip Van Winkle with the facial hair. We drove past their school after this week’s grocery pickup this morning, then ‘visited’ a favorite teacher of theirs.

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Pretty much the state of things.

My boys seem resilient and unaffected. When I suggested that my pre-teen might video chat with his friend, he asked, “Why?” Only when I said they could arrange for playing chess online did he consider it a good idea.

Their conversation went something like this:

Hey.

Hey.

So… what’ve you been doing?

*Shrug* Staying home.

Yeah. Me, too.

So… wanna do chess or something?

Okay.

…When can you?

Ummm. Probably Wednesday from 1-3.

Okay.

Okay.

Actually, for accuracy, you need to read it with an awkward pause after every two lines. I’m not sure if it’s a guy thing to be so verbose and animated but …yeah, it’s a guy thing.

For me, I finally caved and installed an app called Marco Polo. My friend told me about it awhile ago but I hated the idea of recording myself. That, and my phone has never been the top of the class. My reward after install was a video she’d recorded that day, over a year ago. I cried watching it. Since then, we’ve made videos back and forth a few times.

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Yes, we look exactly like this; and not like we’re calling from the closet, in the dark, after not showering all day.

They’re a bit longer than my son’s conversation with his friend.

What have you been able to do lately? Is the weather warming or cooling? Have you called a friend, or maybe just played chess with him?

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens

Other Photo Credits: Mika Baumeister
Rubén Rodriguez
Tai’s Captures

4/13/2020 of COVID-19 Home Life

I went out again today, out beyond my four walls. I’ve been trying to limit trips to once a week, in accordance with our county’s laws and common sense.

We passed a Costco on our way. I recalled how, at my last ‘adventure,’ my oldest son and I tried to shop there for milk. Costco has been more fun each time I’ve visited; their newest attraction, then, was limiting how many people could enter the store. We stood in a line that snaked around pallets inside the entry, out the opening, down the sidewalk, and around the other side of the shopping carts’ new home.

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I used to enjoy parking where the carts were. I’d pull right up to the sidewalk. The boys would jump out and race or push each other or yell as they raced and pushed each other. We could always smell something wonderful baking. Perhaps that’s why we often returned home with their oversized ‘muffins.’

On the day my son and I tried to get milk, we waited for half an hour without moving. Signs on cones and tape lines helped us measure our distance. The wind blew. “I wonder how effective six feet away is when we’re standing downwind,” I mused. The wait proved too long, wind or no. Like many others, I chose to leave and try a different store.

Today, we did not go shopping. Our destination was The Pit, itself: the doctors’ office. Yet another son needed his checkup and the baby needed his four-month visit. The office is split into a Well-Child side and a Sick-Child side. My happy baby has had cold symptoms -no fever- for over a week. At the behest of the staff and their posted sign, we entered the condemned half. I’d been dreading the visit for that very reason, but it proved a blessing. The office has been encouraging Telehealth visits for sick patients. We were the only occupants. From what we observed upon departure, the Well side was quite busy. Ironic, no?

My phone beeped with a notification during the visit: the Salt Lake County mayor extended her Stay Home, You Idiots order till May 1. Yes, ma’am.

Utah’s state governor has been broadcasting daily updates around 1:30 p.m. The last one I watched included his wearing a mask and encouraging us to do so; the one before, information about a loan to help small businesses.

Do Not Return to Earth

“Do Not Return to Earth,” says Buy N Large’s CEO ©The Disney Company

I also recall some plan involving visitors to our state being prompted to self-report COVID-19 symptoms. In researching it further, I learned that the texting system didn’t quite work the way they wanted:

Since the system’s launch Friday, [Joe Dougherty, public information officer for the Utah Division of Emergency Management] said, “a number of residents in the state received alerts in their homes, in their bathrooms, and in other locations when they were quite far from the borders.”

“Some people clearly got an annoying number of messages,” Dougherty said, some of them 15 times.

The state learned, Dougherty said, “that these messages will sometimes alert much farther than the areas that we intended.” He apologized to people in the St. George area and the Uinta Basin, both in Utah, and Oneida County in Idaho — north of the Utah border — for being sent repeated messages.

-“Utah’s ‘bold experiment’ to text alerts to road travelers to collect coronavirus data ends abruptly, ” The Salt Lake Tribune, April 12, 2020

Most of my exposure to COVID-19 is online. I watch the updates, read what friends share on Twofacebook, and connect with blog friends worldwide. Some states have put plastic caution tape around their gardening and outdoors supplies. Others have curfews and gathering restrictions. From what I can gather, every country is trying to “flatten the curve” through distancing measures.

LA, who lives on the front lines of New York City’s Coronavirus Action, tells quite a different story than mine. After all, the virus doesn’t have such alarming numbers mathematically. It’s when those numbers apply to highly-dense areas like hers that math gets used in real life. Even if you’re in the “1% death rate” camp, that’s 84,000 of 8.4 million people. That’s also not how many get infected, need respiratory aids, and have lasting health problems.

There’s a children’s book I loved as a child, Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock. In it, Anansi the spider discovers a mossy rock with the power to cause unconsciousness when verbally identified as such.

Anansi

“Isn’t this a strange, moss-covered rock?”

He uses this to trick each animal and acquire his or her food. One animal is never tricked, because she has been watching Anansi the entire time. In fact, Little Bush Deer figures out how to give that tricky spider a taste of his own medicine.

As I’ve been watching Coronavirus since it first broke out in China, I’ve felt like Little Bush Deer. Watching and planning gave me more toilet paper than those who then rushed to install a bidet. It allowed me to anticipate closures and distancing. However, far more animals have dropped than I expected. Far more areas of the forest have been closed off. Conflicting news about the rock and its potency is causing some animals to demand stricter closures while others bare their teeth and say, “Make me.” I never knew the forest could look like this.

I, like many others, feel lost. What plan now, besides a long wait? There seems to be no other.

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens

Photo credits: Hello I’m Nik 🎞
© the Almighty Disney Company, c/o Youtube
and, Amazon

4/9/2020 of COVID-19 Home Life

What kind of joke does the CDC recommend?
-Inside jokes

We all got out of the house today, then out of the neighborhood, then down the road, then up to the grocery pickup. I used my cellular telephone device to contact the waiting store associates.

“Please open your hatch to maintain social distance as part of our COVID-19 measures,” the man on the other end of the phone said.

He and I did a little back-and-forth of which items were out of stock and whether I could get something else for them. They had no chicken breasts, egg roll wrappers, mushrooms, or ground beef. Guess we’re not having egg rolls or hamburgers. Wait -he thought the butcher had brought out some more meat since they pulled my order and would check on the beef…

A nice woman worker dumped everything in the back of my minivan, said a cheerful, “Hi,” to my children in the backseat who were about one foot away, and pushed the button to close the hatch. Maybe she planned to wash her hands once she got back inside, much like the Harmon’s cashier last week who used a mini washing station after the guy in front of me paid in cash.

Once we returned home to unload, we discovered a ratio of one grocery sack per item. We also discovered there was no whole ham. They had the flimsy-sliced sandwich variety, so maybe we’ll try to bake that for Easter Sunday.

The most annoying aspect of this whole ‘shopping trip’ apart from the week-ahead wait, the inability to specify how ripe I like my bananas, and whether two one-pound packages of ground beef could count as one two-pound package; was the quality of the graying steak. Yes, it’s grocery store steak. But, today is the last birthday of our Birthday Season and we wanted our $30 of meat to be edible for birthday dinner…

Coronavirus-Quarantine-Funny-JokesI swiped this from BoredPanda.

Because home life isn’t really so bad. We’re not the sort to socialize often. We plan one family trip a year, usually involving a visit to a relative or destination that’s about a day’s drive away. Being raised LDS, Kev and I have a lot of children and a month’s supply of food storage* to feed them. I know how to cook and bake. The boys all like board games, computer games, reading, and impromptu wrestling.

The annoyance is the sudden reminders that something is different.

It’s driving down the street and stopping to talk to my overly-generous neighbor who can sew, then having her offer two homemade masks with instructions on how to remove one after going out in public.

It’s kids on bicycles tailed by anxious parents, all veering out of the way of oncoming pedestrian traffic.

It’s all the signs at the stores about staying away from each other and new hours of operation.

It’s doing a Google search for the boys’ doctor’s office and having Google advise me regarding COVID symptoms.

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It’s planning birthdays with just us, and with a week-ahead grocery order.

It’s that niggling feeling that I need to remember a forgotten thing, like closing the garage or turning the stove off or setting the garbage out on Wednesdays.

Since I’ve determined to control what I can control, I need to pull that niggling part to the fore when I leave the house. I need to only wave at the neighbor kids. I ought to wipe down our incoming packages. I shouldn’t drop in on my friends or relatives.

But I also do not need to get up and drive the children to school, back from school, back from school again, and back from school again. Karate class is online, so no more driving to and from that studio. No more incessant Costco trips, and fewer post office runs…

Speaking of, I offered outgoing dice order packages to our local, white-haired, blue-eyed postman. He handed me a new bin for tomorrow’s orders, then said, “Wait. I need to decontaminate it.” Pulling it back, he made a grand gesture of brushing something unseen from the side before offering it again.

“You’re sure casual about it, considering you go to everyone’s houses,” I noted.

He shrugged and said, “It’s only a matter of time…”

I hope not. He’s a really nice guy. When we’re not social-distancing, I’ll make him a plate of cookies.

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Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

 

Last one:

What goes great with a Corona virus?
-Lime disease

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens

*It’ll be dry black beans and five-year-old Limas, but they’ll survive.

 

4/4/2020 of COVID-19 Home Life

Today’s my son’s birthday. We were planning a birthday party for him, before. “You know this year you get to have a big party, right?” I’d said to him. “Make sure you’re thinking about what you want to do and the friends you’ll want to invite.”

Fortunately, my baby-surgery recovery and our other birthdays made it so we didn’t get past that point in conversations. I didn’t have anyone or anything reserved. We hadn’t invited people. All that happened is that, when Utah’s governor first announced the schools were closing, my son asked, “What about my birthday?”

“Well, we’ll plan to have it after school’s back in session. If things go longer, we’ll have it in September.”

Looking at maps of the spread of Coronavirus, I’m thinking we’ll push his party till next year.

World map showing countries with COVID-19 cases
Global case numbers are reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) in their coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation reportexternal icon. ©2020 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Another event’s been affected by all this, for us. Kev (my husband) and I were planning on our first-ever trip to Europe. We had to commit to going last year, and have been paying toward it. I’ve also been stressing about it; thinking and praying about whom to leave which boy with for three weeks.

Although the organizers have not officially told us this is the case, we think it will be cancelled. More than the money is the idea that I was *this close* to something that’s been on my bucket list since I was a girl. Not much is still on that list, mostly because humans haven’t developed self-aviation.

Birthday parties, vacation plans, weddings, funerals, baby blessings, Disneyland, the dentist… all cancelled.

We’re not the only ones affected. A friend complained about missing their family cruise. Another listed all the concerts she couldn’t attend. What whiners, right? There are people dying after near-suffocation from a disease they contracted at Wal-mart.

But, we are not trying to be shallow. We are dealing with massive change.

My favorite example of this, pre-COVID-19, is in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. <Spoiler Alert> Planet Earth is bulldozed to make way for a hyperspace expressway. The protagonist, Arthur Dent, escapes with Ford Prefect (an alien in disguise) just before the bureaucratic aliens known as Vogons blast us to nothing. Arthur is an Everyman. When Ford tells him what’s happened, he can’t grasp that Earth and everyone on it is gone.

“There was no way his imagination could feel the impact of the whole Earth having gone, it was too big. He prodded his feelings by thinking that his parent and his sister had gone. No reaction. He thought of all the people he had been close to. No reaction. Then he thought of a complete stranger he had been standing behind in the queue at the supermarket two days before and felt a sudden stab: the supermarket was gone, everyone in it was gone! Nelson’s Column had gone! and there would be no outcry, because there was no one left to make an outcry! From now on Nelson’s Column only existed in his mind. England only existed in his mind. A wave of claustrophobia closed in on him.

“He tried again: America, he thought, has gone. He couldn’t grasp it, He decided to start smaller again. New York has gone. No reaction. He’d never seriously believed it existed anyway. The dollar, he thought, has sunk for ever. Slight tremor there. Every ‘Bogart’ movie has been wiped, he said to himself, and that gave him a nasty knock. McDonald’s, he thought. There is no longer any such thing as a McDonald’s hamburger.

“He passed out.”

I remembered this quote as I drove around on my once-a-week errands, feeling a slight jolt at empty restaurants and neon signs about what part of which business was open. I remembered the quote while we watched LDS General Conference this morning; while the camera panned over an empty exterior shot of the building where 21,000 people would have been meeting.

Mormon NewsroomGeneral Conference, April 2019. Thanks to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for the picture.

Surreal.

The good news is that I think I’m through all the Stages of Grief now. I skipped from Shock to Depression, swung back to Emotionless, and am now resigned to Acceptance. My family and I are still here, are fine, and are just staying home. I can stay here in my own, four walls. I don’t need to worry about what if because those who are in charge have removed the stresses I had, outside of my four walls. If IT can stay outside those walls as well, then we’re set for months.

And, we’re making lemonade out of lemons. My son and his brother set up a Minecraft server and invited his classmates. We’ll wait and see what happens with Europe. The LDS church leaders are broadcasting from a small room, with their chosen speakers sitting six feet apart.

The latest from LDS General Conference: Church membership tops 16.5M; afternoon session begins with a virtual vote
(Photo courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) General Conference begins at a small auditorium in the Church Office Building with top leaders socially distanced amid the coronavirus pandemic. ©2020 The Salt Lake Tribune

I’ll bake a birthday cake and make enchiladas from the ingredients I picked up from my store order yesterday. I’ll wrap the presents our postman delivered. I’ll remember to look at this from my son’s perspective, because all he wants is a happy birthday.

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens

3/31/2020 of COVID-19 Home Life

My parents came by yesterday. I don’t talk about them much because they have the right to decide whether they want their information online.

Still, over they came. They walked forward and deposited my and my son’s birthday presents on our porch. They stepped back. I unwrapped them: a framed pencil illustration my mother drew of our son, and a beautiful Schwibbögen. My children crowded around me in the doorway and excitedly waved and yelled about schoolwork and the new computer game we’ve been playing as a family, Stardew Valley.

My parents put up a good face. I held my new baby in the doorway as they drove away, waving his little hand for them. I doubt they saw; they probably barely saw well enough to drive if they were crying as much as I was.

I think IT -as Mike calls the Coronavirus crisis- has finally hit most of us. One of my sons came in last night around 9. He sat on our bed. “I’m scared,” he said.

“Oh? Did you have a bad dream? What are you scared about?”

“I don’t know. Just scared.”

Trying to uncover the fear did nothing, so I quickly switched tactics to enumerating everything safe about his situation. We have family, a safe area, a warm house, brothers to take care of him. He calmed enough to sleep in his own bed.

As I was drifting off to sleep later*, I heard and felt the slight change in air pressure that meant our bedroom door had opened. One of my older sons stood in the doorway.

“Son? What’s wrong?”

Bearing his about-to-cry face, he came to my bedside. “I’m scared.”

I hugged him and held him. “It’s okay, Son. It’s okay.”

“Thank you, Mom.”

We walked back to his bed together. I gave him a Melatonin and tucked him in.

…Which might explain why several of us slept in this morning. I awoke to feed Baby at 8ish; finished and got ‘ready’ to pick up a prescription by 10 a.m. Everyone but we parents and my early-riser was still asleep. Costco’s automated phone message played its usual bit, then had a slightly louder recording tell how they have new hours for the warehouse, including a special time for seniors to shop. People picking up prescriptions do not have to wait in line at the door -just tell the guards associates at the exit doors that you’re picking up a prescription and they’ll let you in.

I haven’t written about Costco yet. Usually, it’s my home away from home. I like to go there when we travel, and Utah boasts the world’s largest Costco. Friends have even teased that I ought to travel to all of them and chronicle my adventures.

When I went there to stockpile toilet paper and water three weeks ago (okay -kidding), people were a tad tense. A few, like me, knew what was coming and were purchasing a few extras. A week later, the store had imposed limits on supplies. A few days after that, signs dotted the columns and tape lines dotted the cash registers and waiting areas so that we might stay 6 feet away from each other. Lines formed to get in, separated by cones and pallets; lines formed to check out, enforced by Costco employees.

Today, plexiglass barriers are screwed to the front of all the cash registers. Some workers wear face masks. The receipt-checkers at the exits have clipboards and gloves. No one touches your membership card. Everyone furiously wipes down counters and computer equipment. They spray shopping carts (trolleys) with a pink solution out in the parking lot.

I saw a pregnant woman of Indian features and dress wearing gloves and a dentist-style face mask. They’re probably not doing much for her, but I’d be doing the same in her shoes.

Next on my errands was the post office. They had tape on the floor as well, plus a sign outside about keeping 10 or fewer people in the waiting area. The woman at the desk wore a face mask and she also sat behind newly-installed plexiglass.

Perhaps we ought to start living in personal plexiglass houses.

The oddest part of my experiences is something Pete pointed out in his comments on my last update: people are avoiding any interaction. Told to be wary and stay six feet away, we are also avoiding nonverbal cues that indicate safety. We are not smiling, laughing, reassuring, or talking. I guess we need to learn to be friends …from a distance.

Which is why I find comfort in the snippets of sunshine. A woman asked another woman at Costco where she’d gotten her package of Charmin toilet paper** from; I heard them laughing at whatever the response was, and I smiled at their smiles. The secretary for my sons’ school asked how we were all doing when I called about a registration issue. My friend and I talked on the phone.

I felt like giving up that day we had the earthquake. I’ve mostly stopped obsessively checking the United States Geological Society’s latest earthquakes page since, and was handling each day too busy to dwell on the larger implications of what we were doing. Today, however, I’ve returned to some of that anxiety. The novelty’s worn off, I suppose. We’ve purchased all the extra food we can eat. We’ve got a rough schedule for schoolwork at home. We’ve even finally started a nap routine for the baby. Now, though, comes the most difficult part: facing the long dark of Moria.

But wishing IT away hasn’t worked for most of us. Assuming IT wouldn’t come didn’t work very well, either. My son’s speech and behavior aide last year told me they were working on his Sphere of Influence; what he could control. Me, I can’t control IT. I can’t control the world’s response. What I can control is me. I can still control much of what my family does and is exposed to as well.

So, you may find me writing from within a circle of salt. Still, at least I’m still alive. And writing.

©2020 Chelsea Owens, including photos of the Schwibbögen and Costco
GIFS © GIPHY

*Okay, I was really playing Candy Crush. They’re offering infinite lives all week, which is brilliant for keeping people in.
**Charmin Ultra Soft toilet tissue is worth more than gold right now…

3/29/2020 of COVID-19 Home Life

I’m not certain what time I awoke this morning. We’d all stayed up late watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail. We tend to save shows we don’t want the children repeating for times when they’re out of school.

A Twofacebook friend posted a re-posted snippet from a doctor in NY or somesuch. It was an amusing bit despite the message, because the author introduced horrible traits of COVID-19 with specific, sometimes humorous examples. I could not find the darned thing in searching for it this evening; sorry. One of my friend’s commenters suggested the article was in error because the author said COVID is airborne and WHO says it is not.

Two interesting articles: WHO’s statement, and a story about a choir group infecting each other despite washing hands and not hugging.

Last week marked my birthday and one of my children’s. Our traditions usually include the birthday person choosing his dinner and cake, apart from suggesting presents he’d like. I also prepare and present the birthday person with breakfast in bed. Since all of those activities required food, I placed an online order with our local shop …then discovered they were three days out in being able to prepare it.

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It’s supposed to be a motherboard cake.

Another child’s birthday approaches this Saturday, so I just finished an online order for his requests. Yes, the store is now booked out till Friday. I intend to dilute the remaining milk with some of our (expired) powdered variety.

My order is for fresh items we can’t store, like bananas, and some cake decorations.

Like most of you, I find my irregular drives to be surreal experiences. Yesterday’s post office run took me past empty restaurant parking lots that advertised drive-up or delivery options STILL AVAILABLE. Twofacebook friends lament cancelled concerts or Spring Break trips. I receive the occasional e-mail update about this dentist now closing, or this doctor or this specialist I haven’t been to in five years anyway. It’s good to know I can’t go, if I miss them.

Despite the doom and gloom, I feel an overwhelming level of community support and love. There are still idiots, naturally. There are selfish acts and short-sighted people. Overall, however, we’re sticking it out for the greater good.

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Photo by Wesley Souza on Pexels.com

Utah’s governor issued a ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe‘ directive. Our Salt Lake County Mayor issued a ‘can smack you if you break these new suggestions’ directive. Our county has the highest number of cases, but we’re also the most populous and densely-packed area in little ol’ Utah.

I’m realizing that the long-term plan is for us all to be exposed at some point, but in a spread out manner. We can’t turn off the world forever.

But that world keeps turning. I keep turning on it, in my tiny corner and in my tiny world. So, I hold my boys when the panic hits. I hold a handful of chocolate chips sometimes, too. I tell my mother I love her. I tell my relatives with anxiety to not panic. I tell my relative doing his medical residency that we’ll pray for him. And, like everyone else, I wonder when we’ll return to whatever normal might be.

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens

3/26/2020 of COVID-19 Home Life

I began the day reading about the half-life of our current friend, Mr. Coronavirus. Honestly, I felt quite pleased to read their naming it “Coronavirus half-life,” since I wondered if that term applied to pandemic-level pathogens. It turns out that viable samples live longest on stainless steel and plastic; shortest on copper (MLM opportunity, anyone?). They also concluded that asymptomatic people can spread it…

Actually, I began the day the same way I begin every day lately: awakened by a beautiful, smiling, very hungry boy. His food meter runs out around 5 or 6 a.m., which isn’t bad for a bedtime of 11 p.m. Still, I’m not getting much sleep. I therefore spend the morning hours perusing Twofacebook (which, by the way, is much more interesting and more popular now) until I feel guilty, then venture into safer hobbies like Candy Crush. The article on half-life of a virulent pathogen was an odd peak in dormant curiosity.

8:00 or 8:30 or maybe 8:50 a.m. Feeling tired (go figure), I decided to nap. The baby did not decide the same, but I thought I could squeeze a half hour in before he got too noisy in his complaints.

9:00 a.m.: My teenager’s school called to let me know that he’s not turned things in.

9:00 a.m. also: My next-oldest son’s teacher e-mailed to let me know he’s not turned things in.

(For the record, my other children are completing their assignments.)

…I finally got the day going with the kids and schoolwork and feeding Baby (again) and feeding me, and even squeezed in a shower.

Phone’s alarm went off around 11:50 to notify me of a doctor’s visit for my third child. I alluded to this being Birthday Season. Three of my offspring go in for checkups, virus or no.

Which was my one social venture of the day.

The office door bore a sign advising everyone with cold symptoms to simply stay away (guess they didn’t read about asymptomatic carriers). The waiting room was empty. They’d removed their prize dispenser: a little toy machine that accepts special tokens for good patients. The front desk workers looked and acted about the same.

The backroom staff, however, all wore masks and gloves. They seemed tired, anxious. Or, maybe I seemed that way. My son’s doctor joked that she’d had to purchase scrubs again because she’d given hers away after medical school. So: masks, gloves, scrubs.

A bottle of hand sanitizer on the exam room table had a label on it: DO NOT STEAL MEDICAL SUPPLIES, with a description on the back about how it was primarily for use by the staff -yes, the staff wearing gloves and masks.

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We went home and washed our clothes and hands.

The rest of the day passed as usual, which means I spent it trying to keep them all on task, away from each other, and then still completing their household chores. We couldn’t do outside time on account of snow, so they were more in each other’s business than usual (read: fighting).

High point of the day: my teenager learned he needed to make a healthy meal. He’s a food snob. He disdainfully showed me the other students’ finished ‘meals’ of pancakes (from a mix) and spaghetti (from pre-made stuff). Quarantine aside, I think all of them do not know how to cook. Not my son. He surprised us with completely homemade beef enchiladas.

My pickiest eater raved about the meal. Of course, we didn’t eat till 9 p.m., but I’m certain the meal deserved the praise even without starvation.

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©2020 Chelsea Owens, including photos