Thursday Thoughts

The Lovliest of All Was the Unicorn
Yesterday morning, obeying all manner of social distancing rules, I went for a walk with my niece Maggie and her two kids. Austin and Lilly were never closer than six feet from me, as they flew like the wind ahead of us on their scooters. Lilly was proud to show me her Brand New Helmet, which I unfortunately forgot to memorialize via a photo. Needless to say (at least for anyone who knows Lilly), it is a unicorn. The park was quite busy, but everyone was very respectful of minding our distances. I saw a few families riding their bicycles around Red Mountain Park Lake. It was lovely to get out and move my body in the sunshine.

Social Media
I have never been more grateful for social media than I am now. Every day, for example, I talk to my sisters via Facetime. Feeling like a hotshot, Jen was even able to figure out how the three of us could talk together at one time. (I hope she can remember what buttons she poked to repeat the activity.) The kids all use something called Zoom, which I don’t quite understand, and don’t need to, apparently. I can still order things on Amazon. Door Dash bring me lunch when I don’t feel like eating another turkey pastrami sandwich. Netflix and Amazon Prime keep me entertained, and Kindle keeps feeding me books. 

Food For Thought
Bec told me yesterday that she did her grocery shopping, and is confident she won’t have to do another shop for two weeks. I think that is awesome, and I would like to follow her example. I’m afraid, however, that I am too disorganized to be successful. Prior to All Of This, I used to shop every day. I’m better than that now, but I still find myself doing a grocery shop every three or four days, I’m afraid. I need to sit down at some point and plan out 14 meals and shop for those 14 meals. I will admit, however, that it always feels nice to get out of the house, even for that little bit.

Golden Oldies
I have been pleased that there is a lot of reading activity on my blog as of late. I am not kidding myself; I’m sure it’s because people are bored silly and desperate to read ANYTHING. Still, it feels good. But I will also tell you that it has been hard as hell to come up with blog ideas given that most of my life is between the same four walls. I think that in the upcoming weeks, I’m going to be posting some oldies but goodies. Bec suggested reposting some of my travel blog posts so that we can all travel vicariously once again. Stay tuned.

Ciao.

Cigars Are Essential

My mood vacillates like the weather. Believe me, I’m not thinking I am the only one experiencing mood changes during this period. In my 66 years on this earth, I have never been through something like a quarantine that lasts weeks upon weeks. I think the longest I’d ever been quarantined prior to this was a week when I had the measles as a kid.

Monday night, Arizonans received the “joyful” news that we are joining much of the rest of the United States in an mandated quarantine. Upon hearing the news, I went into immediate panic mode. I was ready to go out and buy some toilet paper. Two things stopped me: 1) There still isn’t a square of toilet paper to be found in the grocery stores as of yet; and 2) I realized that absolutely nothing was really changing in my day-to-day life. The only place I ever go that is beyond these four walls is the grocery store. And I’m still allowed to go to the grocery store under the rules.

I’m also allowed to get my hair cut, have my toenails painted, play golf, and order food to be delivered to my house when I am sick of cooking. So the mandated order seems kind of silly, but what do I know? It’s all about flattening the curve.

I wasn’t particularly worried about having access to wine or beer, or even whiskey. In Arizona, all of these things are sold in grocery stores. But I thought Bill might have a hard time finding cigars, as I assumed his cigar store would be closed. So yesterday morning, we drove over to the cigar store, and he went into buy a handful of cigars. He came out with the news that the cigar store was going to continue to be open. They, my friends, apparently provide an essential service.

Now, Bill and my brother would both agree with that premise. I, however, am asking myself, did the governor call for a mandatory quarantine just to make himself feel better? Just sayin’.

I’m sick of talking about the coronavirus. I spent the last few days checking on almost everyone I know and love, and they are all doing fine. And they are all sick of talking about the coronavirus. So, I’m going to change the subject.

Our grandson Alastair will turn 15 on April 5. I don’t know how that happened. He was just born. Anyhoo, he is not shy about asking for what he wants. I got a text message from him a week or so ago. In it, he said that instead of a gift, he would like cold hard cashola, which he intends to put towards his Purchase-A-Car Fund. Boom. I love when boys have plans and things are easy.

So I found out at which bank he keeps his Purchase-A-Car funds, and used Zelle to send the money to him. Within a few minutes, I got a thank-you text from him. It even included not one, but TWO, hearts.

I will tell you that technology almost always surprises me. But Zelle is more than technology. It is magic. Because it turns out that I don’t even have to know WHERE he banks. I only have to know his telephone number. Hit SEND, and within minutes you get a thank-you text from your grandson with two hearts.

I don’t want to think too much about how that happens and what could seemingly go wrong, but it’s better than thinking about the coronavirus.

The Good Ol’ Days

I just got a newsletter from the Parkinson’s Association of the Rockies. During this time of social distancing, they are very kindly trying to stay in touch with the Parkinson’s community via semiweekly newsletters because they can’t offer their usual seminars, classes, etc. The newsletter I received yesterday was aimed at Care Partners. Caring for Care Partners, they called it. Some of their tips…

  • Enjoying a book or movie in a different room
  • Enjoying several 20 minute walks a day
  • Finding an online exercise class just for you to do
  • Finding a healthy recipe to follow and share with others

These are all good ideas, and I appreciate their concern about those of us who play an important role in the life of our PWP. However, I couldn’t help but notice that there was definitely a health-related slant. Two walks a day? Finding a HEALTHY recipe? This is supposed to make me feel better?

I know. I know. It’s good advice to try to stay as healthy as we can during this period of isolation. But the truth of the matter is that I don’t want healthy food. I want comfort food. I want pot roast and meatloaf and fried chicken.  Because they call that comfort food for a reason. I can’t even imagine being comforted by eating a quinoa salad with tofu. Nope. I want food my mommy made me when I was little.  Because nothing bad happened to me in those days.

Of course, that’s untrue. Lots of bad things happened in the so-called Good Ol’ Days. Our parents just didn’t tell us when the bank account was getting low and they were unsure how to pay the next month’s bills. My sister Bec remembers the Cuban Missile Crisis, but I don’t. It was late October, and I was probably more concerned about what I was going to wear for Halloween than the fact that our country might be annihilated at any moment. There was a polio epidemic in the 1950s, but all I remember is that I drank some red medicine out of a cup sometime in the early 1960s. Bec is the one who told me much later that she remembers that our parents would freak out every time one of their kids got a runny nose, fearing the worst.

Still, there were lots of good things about the Good Ol’ Days. And I came across one of them yesterday when I ran into Joann’s to find elastic for the hospital masks that Bill is now sewing. (Yes. You read that correctly. It’s Bill, so it can come as no surprise.)

Anyhoo, as I was standing in line, I glanced up and saw a display of gum. Now, I’m not a gum chewer. But this wasn’t just any old gum…..

Well, needless to say, I felt 7 years old again. In fact, I might have chewed some Black Jack gum after I drank my polio vaccine. I bought a package of Black Jack and a package of Clove, and took it out to the car, where Bill was waiting.

“Look what I found,” I said to him, showing him the gum.

“Give me the Black Jack,” he said excitedly. “I want to put it over my teeth to make it look like I’m missing teeth.”

Say what? Being a girl, I guess I missed this trick. Apparently the boys would chew the gum to soften it, and then put it over their teeth and open their mouths to show the girls. Mating rituals among 8-year-olds in 1959.

All I can tell you is that, like everything else, it wasn’t like it used to be. The Black Jack gum was not black at all, but a sickly color of gray that wouldn’t even come close to looking like lost teeth. Rotten teeth, maybe. The licorice flavor was substandard as well. As for the Clove gum, well, it was undoubtedly used to cover the smell of the three martinis you had for lunch.

I went home and made some comfort food for dinner!

Times, They Are A’Changing

It’s weird. Things that once felt and seemed completely abnormal now feel normal. Conversely, normal things seem ludicrous and unkind. When I see people on previously-recorded television programs doing things like, well, hugging, I cringe. Egads! I cry to my television. Haven’t you heard about social distancing? Can you please consider the six-foot rule?

Take church services. No, I mean really. They did take them away from us. Well, most church services anyway. I think there are a few Pentecostal churches that don’t care if their snakes are closer than six feet away from them. Amen. Praise the Lord.

But it’s been three weeks now since I’ve walked into my church to attend Mass. The first Sunday, I felt totally off-kilter. All day long, I couldn’t remember what day of the week it was. I missed the community — and the sacrament — that is Mass.

By the next week, Jen had steered me towards the online Sunday Mass provided by St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. I don’t mean to be dramatic, but I cried through the whole first half of the Mass. It was so good to listen to those familiar words, especially now when things are so scary. I took advantage of the online Mass once again yesterday, and when it was finished, I realized that now watching a Mass on my iPad felt completely normal. I even said the responses out loud with the few brave souls who were assisting Cardinal Timothy Dolan at the altar. Amen. Praise the Lord.

I wonder if our old life will even feel familiar once we are released to live among, and actually touch, others.

I began pondering that a few days ago, when I turned on our television to watch Pope Francis give a special blessing to his flock. His homily — recited in (I think) Italian but translated for us into English — was mind-blowing in its simplicity. I seriously suggest that you tune into You Tube or wherever you can find a recording of his blessing and listen to the homily. It was amazing.

But back to my pondering. I have never believed that when bad things happen to people, it’s because they are being punished by God. Kids don’t get cancer because their parents are being punished. Tornados don’t destroy communities because the people who live there are bad. Pandemics aren’t punishment for misbehavior by God’s lowly humans.

But when things like tornados and diseases and pandemics happen, God wants — even expects — us to bring good out of the bad.

Coronavirus — for all the bad it’s doing — is causing the world to slow down. Families are spending time with each other. In an environment where many kids are rushing home from school, grabbing their homework to work on in the car while they eat a peanut butter sandwich on their way to tennis, or basketball, or swimming practice, they are welcoming a chance instead to sit around in their pajamas all day, playing Monopoly with their moms and dads. Instead of listening to podcasts while riding exercise bicycles in the gym, parents are listening to their kids laugh while riding bicycles with them around the neighborhood. We’re sitting around tables piled high with homemade food that our kids helped make. We’re learning to be kind to one another.

Or at least I hope we are being kind. And, though I know that real life will result in many of the same behaviors, I hope some of it lasts.

Saturday Smile: If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium

I think you all will agree with me that when you are under quarantine and staying mostly in your house with nothing to do but work on puzzles, watch British murder mysteries, or bake things that you really shouldn’t eat, every day seems like the next.

I had a text conversation with my nephew Erik yesterday afternoon in which I offered him use of some puzzles that are sitting in my closet. He expressed an interest, and said if they decide to go on a drive this weekend, they may stop by.

When’s this weekend? I asked him. I’ve lost track of my days.

Today is March, he responded.

#truth

Have a great weekend (whenever that its).

Thursday Thoughts

Put the Groceries in the Boot
I forgot to mention in yesterday’s post one creature comfort I’ve given myself during the coronavirus pandemic: I purchased both Acorn and Britbox television subscription channels. Between the two, they offer every kind of British television show known to mankind. I’m primarily interested in the mystery programs. You know, Hercule Poirot, Doc Martin, Broadchurch, on and on. By time the guarantine is lifted, I will undoubtedly be speaking with a British accent. Poor Bill. He just shakes his head. Poirot in particular drives him crazy.

Going Crazy
Up until the last couple of days, Bill has been able to keep busy. He is now starting to become antsy. He’s started a couple of projects, but they are frankly boring, even to him. So I pulled an old puzzle out of the closet and blew off the dust. It features memorabilia about Route 66. Since he rode the entire road on his motorcycle, he feels particularly fond of this highway. It is killing some time, that’s for sure…..

Earning a Living
I mentioned that we drove to Lost Dutchman State Park last weekend, but couldn’t get in because there were so many folks with the same idea. I posted some photos from our drive, especially of the beautiful flowers. We saw a man sitting in front of a particularly beautiful field of flowers who has carved out a niche for himself — selling the seeds from these flowers. At a dollar a packet, he’s going to have to sell a lot of seeds….

GoFundMe
Since the coronavirus entered all of our lives, we have been aware of the various folks we know who are experiencing unemployment because their places of employment are closed. Hair stylists, food servers, stadium vendors, and so forth. But I thought of one employment category that is also likely suffering that no one talks about. What about the all of the home invaders who can no longer safely break into houses and cars while no one is at home? After all, there is now never a time when no one is at home. I suggested to Bec that I might start a GoFundMe page in support of these workers!

If You Get Desperate
I hope by now everyone who needs toilet paper has enough to get them by. I have three stories about the shortage. First, I heard a nighttime comedian (I think it must have been Jimmy Fallon) suggest that if you run out of toilet paper, you can just use your CVS receipt, and it will last a good month. Here is a photo of a CVS receipt from a recent purchase that proves his point…..Second, at long last, I was able to obtain one package of four rolls of toilet paper. That will get us by for a while. The cashier — a young woman — commented on my lucky score. “We ran out of toilet paper,” she said. “We ended up using coffee filters.” Desperate times call for desperate measures. Finally, my sister told me about a friend who lives alone, and works full time. She has been unable to purchase any toilet paper, and was down to her last roll. She went into the grocery store yesterday, and there was no toilet paper to be had. She was quite concerned. When she went to pay, there was a package of six rolls sitting at her self-check station. She considered for a bit, and looked around to see if anyone looked like it belonged to them. And then she decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth. Best guess: someone was trying to borrow more toilet paper than was allowed and got busted.

Ciao.

Creature Comforts

Well there’s a dark and a troubled side of life
There’s a bright and a sunny side too
But if you meet with the darkness and strife
The sunny side we also may view
Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side
Keep on the sunny side of life
It will help us every day, it will brighten all the way
If we keep on the sunny side of life. – Ada Blenkhorn and J. Howard Entwisle

On Monday, my sister Bec blogged here that she found a taste of “creature comfort” in this rather dark period with an ice-cold martini and a bouquet of her favorite flowers, pink tulips. I loved her sentiment, and so did many others. In fact, quite unexpectedly, a number of people commented about their creature comforts on both the post itself and on Facebook, where I download my blog daily.

My sister Jen, for example, said she was brightening her days by giving herself permission to buy Kindle books from Amazon instead of putting the book on hold at the library. A good book that was a click away was her creature comfort. Several people indicated chocolate provided them comfort. Chocolate Reese’s candy bars for one; chocolate for breakfast for another. Bill would concur with chocolate as a creature comfort…..

Another added Diet Mountain Dew and her hope for bright flowers soon as her creature comforts during the pandemic.

I have found it interesting, if predictable, that many people are looking for things to cheer them up. I say predictable because I think, when it’s all said and done, Americans are optimistic in general. Give us a roadblock, and we’ll look at the sunny side. There are examples during some of the roughest days in our history. Images of Rosie the Riveter during WWII. Yellow ribbons around the old oak tree during Vietnam.

Even before posting Bec’s blog, I had people sending me photos of things that were making them happy. My friend Denice, for example, sent this photo of her Christmas cactus that decided to bloom right now. Cactus-strong, she told me…..

 

My brother Dave has been working his butt off moving from one Basha’s Market to another baking bread to fill the shelves so people can have their toast in the morning and their children can eat their peanut butter sandwiches for lunch. He hasn’t complained, because he wouldn’t. But he sent this photo the other day, saying that he had finally gotten a chance to drive a big truck like he’d always dreamed of doing. A creature comfort…..

As for me, here are a few things that have made me happy in the past week or so…..

The orange blossoms are out here in the Valley of the Sun. The fragrance is beautiful as it hits my nose when I go out for my walk…..

When our Canadian neighbors went home, they gave me their geranium plants. Geraniums always make me happy because my mom planted them every summer no matter where she lived. Always red…..

When we were still in Denver, about the time that the pandemic was becoming real to everybody, I looked out in my flower bed and saw these yellow crocus peeking through the debris…..

And finally, last weekend, Bill and I went for a drive. It was a beautiful day with a bright blue sky. We came across this field of flowers, with an old rusty car parked right in the middle. It was all so pretty…..

What are your highlights or creature comforts during this difficult time?