7/9/2020 of COVID-19 Home Life

Welp; things are not looking good, number-wise, out here in do-it-yourself Utah.

Graph

Thanks, Coronavirus.utah.gov. What a lovely blue.

Wednesday marked the single, highest number of new cases reported in a day. Now, we’re no New York City. New York City has 2.5 times more population in it than our entire state. Still, that’s a bad growth rate unless we’re talking earned revenue in stocks.

I remember back when the world shut down, together. My occasional errands to the grocery store pickup or follow-up appointments for the baby were spent driving through nearly-empty streets and barricaded parking lots. Restaurants had signs about being closed and/or ordering online. Everyone locked up at nightfall, even Wal-Mart.

Yesterday, our family got caught in rush-hour traffic on our way up to visit my parents. What is this? I thought, then remembered. My parents and a sibling are two of the few places we go, and I assumed others were similarly, intentionally homebound.

Today, I went to my home-away-from-home: Costco. My experience there, in the last four months, has changed from an uneasy anxiety to over-zealous cleaning to a resigned impatience. A lot of the store has opened up again, sort-of. They still mandate wearing masks, although their cart-retrievers were not doing so outside. The workers at the gas station, outside, were also bare-faced. A woman stood at a samples table inside, although she only advertised her product and did not offer tastes. The food court area showed a simpler menu of two kinds of pizza, a hot dog meal, and three desserts; the condiments were stacked behind the cashier in tiny containers with lids.

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My poor Oxford comma.

Also today, a relative of mine visited with his children. They drove across the country to do so, and have also visited “things we can’t do back home,” like a hot springs resort and the local aquarium.

Another relative drove to one of Utah’s rural communities for their Fourth of July festivities. Word is that the city had a parade and threw candy.

Meanwhile, back in Salt Lake County, we’ve been mandated to wear masks in public. I haven’t seen any policemen to enforce this rule; I have seen nearly everyone complying. I heard that Utah’s governor thought to make the ruling statewide and looked for such information. Instead, I found he’d announced that everyone attending school in the fall will need to wear a mask.

He also said that, if we can’t be good little citizens and bring our case numbers down by August 1, he will put us in the corner -erm, make masks mandatory.

I don’t see what the big deal is, especially considering that our numbers keep rising. If the case counts were at least plateauing, I might agree with my more-conservative friends about their right to bare arms and faces. As things keep climbing, however, I say they’re being needlessly selfish about a small scrap of cloth.

mona lisa protection protect virus

Photo by Yaroslav Danylchenko on Pexels.com

I see the rise in numbers being related to the rise in traffic, travel, and don’t-care attitudes. I want things to normalize again, too, people. I also want to avoid contracting a disease that permanently affects some or kills others.

COVID-19 aside, I’m keeping busy and enjoying my ‘break.’ How’s everything where you all are?

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens

6/16/2020 of COVID-19 Home Life

First, I HATE THIS NEW BLOCK LAYOUT AND ALWAYS HAVE.

Annoying Prompt

Really, WordPress? Don’t you have enough problems?

As to Coronaignoreit, people ’round these parts have lost interest. Coincidentally, that was pretty much the title of the New York Times article I skimmed this morning: “America Is Done With COVID-19. COVID-19 Isn’t Done With America.”* People wear the masks where they need to, but I see a lot of pullings-down or restings-on-necks.

I get it. Masks are annoying and hot. My friend who works making food for a ritzy country club has to wear compression socks, a mask, and gloves all day at her job. …And their air conditioner hasn’t worked properly in years.

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The oddest thing for me about Coronastillhere is how a person’s approach or even belief in the disease relates to politics. Utah’s state epidemiologist, Angela Dunn, agrees: “Opinions about what needs to happen now in the fight against COVID-19 appear… to be split along party lines among the legislative committee members.” She’s referencing our spike in cases (double the number per day compared to when we were in lockdown) and what various Democrat or Republican representatives propose as solutions for the future.

Our governor decided to remain at yellow level till June 20, last I heard. Rural communities want to be green. As Madame Dunn pointed out again, however, disease doesn’t stop at county boundaries.

*Sigh* I think I’ll have to contract the thing at some point, as will my children.

On a funny note, my grocery pickup order was a little off this morning. I didn’t know until I drove back home -and unloaded NINE POUNDS (4.1 kg) of fresh green beans. The computer order shows that I set the quantity to ‘9,’ but that means I would have had to click the little ‘+’ sign nine times when ordering.

I purchased the beans as part of my new diet. The diet involves a lot of vegetables per day; but, as I explained to the grocery store over the phone later, not that many.

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If anyone needs a few pounds, let me know.

In reading over my past updates on Coronayesit’sstillaround, I see I conveyed my fears, panic, and sometimes sadness. The last post only showed the spray painted defacement of our state capitol building. My updates on Costco are about how everyone’s required to wear a mask. I wrote about food shortages and nervous dental visits.

In truth, there is good in the bad. In further truth, there is almost all good and a few bad.

Residents around the state of Utah offered to help clean the graffiti from the capitol building and the ensuing protests were peaceful.

Don Gamble cleans off graffiti at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Sunday, May 31, 2020. Daylong protests moved across the city Saturday after a peaceful demonstration to decry the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis turned violent. Protesters vandalized buildings throughout the downtown area before a curfew was enforced in the evening.

That dude’s name is Don Gamble. Thanks, Deseret News.

Costco is the wonderful place I know and love, without food samples but with masks.

While stores encourage limits on meat and toilet paper, there is no shortage. I walk through a completely-full Costco and arrange pickups from a grocery store that receives new shipments every night.

The dentist is still an odd experience, but not as odd as entering the bank lobby wearing a face mask. Businesses used to post signs about removing sunglasses or hats or beards for their security systems; now, they have signs encouraging a face covering.

I’ve resisted the urge to give someone a finger-gun greeting so far.

In my world of blogging, I’m at least one segment away from finished with Going Postal. I intend to write a description of my process and design for it after that final installment, and then I’m OUT OF HERRRRREEEEEE!

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens

 

*1984-style, that article was named “The U.S. is Done With COVID-19…”

Photo Credit: Photo by Hans Reniers on Unsplash

5/31/2020 of COVID-19 Home Life

I went to the hardware store yesterday. Although I was unable to record actual numbers, I estimated about 1/3 of the shoppers and nearly all of the workers wore masks. I don’t mind the more-conservative, DIY-types; I figured those hardworking sorts would be very likely to shop for their own building supplies and gardening equipment. What concerned me is what always has: they don’t think distancing is important, so they aren’t minding their space.

I also went to Costco, for the second time since they severely increased their rules. Last time, everyone wore masks and adhered to restrictions. This time, even the workers seemed more relaxed. “Place your purchases on the conveyor belt,” the cashier told me, though she was still scanning the items of the person in front of me.

Costco Sign

The temperature’s rising. Birds are singing. Our lawn is burning where the sprinklers are broken (hence, the trip to the hardware store). People are out jogging, biking, walking, and hopscotching.

On the drive to the two stores, I passed a splash pad. They’re more recent inventions. Basically, water squirts out of tubes and holes in the ground all across a cement park. The splash pad was PACKED.

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I’m not blameless; I took four of the boys to a public park for the first time on Tuesday. They played in dirt and on the playground and had a wonderful time. I visited with a neighbor who also happened to be there. She told me they weren’t doing “inside playdates” yet, only “outside playdates.” In point of fact, she said they’d been to the selfsame splash pad I’d observed being crowded.

Furthermore, she and her family are planning a road trip to Mount Rushmore. Don’t worry -they’re renting an RV and will be outside for all their activities. She knows that the Founding Fathers and Roosevelt aren’t likely to contract Coronavirus in their condition.

Several friends and neighbors have traveled or are planning on traveling. I don’t know of any who are flying …yet. I can’t say the same for SpaceX, but they looked pretty protected in their suits.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The official officials of COVID-19 in Utah aren’t sure if moving to Yellow Quarantine has led to more cases. We did have a spike in cases reported after Memorial Day weekend. We also did have people unable to test during that weekend, so those numbers might be a catch-up situation.

Ambivalence aside, Coronannoying is still around. It’s apparently devastated our Navajo community and wreaked havoc amongst any nursing homes it visits. I know it’s old news. But if there’s one thing pregnancy taught me, it’s that wishing uncomfortable situations away doesn’t work.

The biggest news, however, is not of contagions. The biggest news involves a very sad, divisive event in Minneapolis. I stay moderate on politics; the protesters in Salt Lake City, yesterday, did not.

The wall outside our Capitol Building, ©2020 ABC4 News

I’ll likely get more vocal about my opinions and ideas as I age. For now, I will say that I disagree with violence, hatred, and destruction from anyone.

On that note, I hope for resolution and return to peace. I hope people calm down and work together. I hope restaurants open again, stores open again, tourist destinations open again, and SCHOOLS OPEN AGAIN.

Between what super-conservatives are saying on a super-conservative Facebook group someone added me to (who knows how that happened?) and the proposed state guidelines on education, I’m not sure we’re heading toward …reasonable yet.

“The guidance for K-12 education addresses the resumption of school activities, including sports, under jurisdiction of district and school authorities in adherence to indoor and outdoor guidelines. Additionally, hand sanitizer will need to be made available to faculty and students in each classroom and regular hand washing routines will be instituted. Faculty and staff will need to wear face coverings when social distancing is not possible. Updates regarding face coverings for students will be provided by local school and charter boards in consultation with health department officials.”

-Governor Herbert’s Executive Order of May 27, 2020

I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt, and assuming they are referring to colleges and universities with these guidelines. Most adults can put on a mask or sanitize their hands. Most children can barely wipe their bottoms.

I fully intend to drop all media for the summer, but promise to pop in with news like this as appropriate. I hope news from your corners of the world is better, and continues to become so.

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens

 

Photo Credits: Me, Photo by Sophie Dale on Unsplash, Pexels, and ABC4 News

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

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…

Costco, My Love

In celebration of an upcoming commercial holiday and to help inspire others to enter The Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest, I will write a love poem every day this week.

Never able to be serious, this poem is dedicated to the megalith that is Costco:

Whenever I run out of bread,
Or cheese, or eggs, or e’en a bed;
Or when it’s time I must acquire
A brand new set (or two) of tires;
Or, hanging there, a frozen goat;
A lamb, a fridge, some pants, a coat;
There’s only one place I may go
Where membership card I must show
And cheese and choc’late samples flow
And impulse buys include cargo:
My own, enormous love, Costco.

Image may contain: one or more people

Food on Your Family

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There is a recall out for chopped Romaine lettuce.

Normally, I am unaffected by produce recalls because my lettuce was purchased thirty days ago and I am still telling myself that I’ll eat it. I can cut around all the brown spots, right? We’d hosted a family party Sunday, however, so I bought that huge package of Romaine hearts from Costco the day before.

As each heart was ripped out and discarded, I had the mental image of pulling cash from my wallet and throwing green bills away.

Which leads me to a common question I hear: how much does it cost to feed a family?

I have four boys. They’re young, and have always had modest appetites. My husband, who has never passed 150 lbs in his life, says he feels full after soup. Still, our food costs are going to be more than a young couple working full time or a small family of three.

Plus, kids grow. They eat more when they grow.

I lived with my younger brother when he was a teenager. I’m safely estimating that I’ll have that TIMES FOUR in a few, short years.

One perk to having children is that people will occasionally offer me free food. As in, Chelsea, I’m moving and am just throwing away all the food in my fridge. Do you want to come over and see if you can use any? Or, I’m going on a restrictive diet and left some pantry items on your porch. Give away what you don’t use.

It almost makes up for how much I spend otherwise. Actually -no, no it doesn’t.

Whenever I think I’ve got it bad, however, I think of larger families. We’ve hosted my husband’s sister’s family of eight children a handful of times. Don’t worry -we’ve returned the favor. But adding six people to ten is easier: just kill two chickens instead of the one and throw a bit more flour into the roll dough.

I may go into Costco to buy bread and come out with a new set of tires, but my weekly trips and expenses for food are about equal to my sister-in-law’s daily ones.

One of my favorite films to watch growing up was Yours, Mine, and Ours, with Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball. Although it has many pertinent scenes, every time our relatives come stay I replay the grocery store part in my mind. In the film, the poor cashier enters the products manually. Tub after tub of oatmeal follows bags and bags of Wonder bread, AND they have two more shopping carts to go after all that. The cashier totals it all up; they spent $126.63 (the equivalent of $920.87, using online inflation calculators).

The North family really could have used a Costco.

We took our ten house guests to the world’s largest Costco last time they were here. My husband was at work, so we may have resembled members of a certain lifestyle involving two wives. Each adult manned a shopping cart and helped herd the dozen children roaming around us.

It was somewhat exciting to purchase 36 hot dogs, multiple loaves of bread, 5 lbs of cheese, and enormous bags of chips -and know that we would eat it all within the week. We filled the carts with food and diapers, plus children in time-out.

I felt overwhelmed projecting how much regular grocery bills must cost. And, as with any large organization (recalls aside), their family has waste. have waste, and feel that I do fairly well planning out meals and reusing leftovers.

I find myself mentally calculating what the cheapest take-out meals are (Chinese food, pizza, or chicken “on the bird” from Costco), least-expensive home meals are (bean soup, grilled cheese and tomato soup, pancakes), or how often we can visit relatives at mealtimes.

I mean, when the boys do hit puberty, I’m going to be in trouble. Donations? GoFundMe, maybe? Actually, taking a full-time job might be the best option.

I wonder if Costco is hiring.