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.

Screenshot_2020-03-31-11-50-38

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.

pexels-photo-230325.jpeg

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

Following Dreams

I wake after little sleep. Only hours ago, I walked the lonely aisles populated by night dwellers. “You look how I feel,” the cashier had said, voicing my thoughts before I’d worked out how to speak.

Today’s my child’s birthday. Mentally, I list what needs completion: cleaning, baking, decorating, dinner, church, children.

Husband stretches and wraps an arm around me. “I’ve got to go,” he coos. “Choir rehearsal this morning.” Surprised, I check my calendar.

Someone has posted a quote about making life what you will. Follow your dreams.

I rise groggily from the bed. A busy day awaits.

 

Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction