Safer at Home Journal For My Kids, by Kat

From the mind of a far better writer than I, here is Kat of The Lily Café‘s beautiful perspective of this Coronavirus year, in a journal letter to her children:

Dear Kids,

We had so many plans at the beginning of 2020. Museums, beaches, lots of time with your grandparents, a trip to see some cousins up north, zoo visits, and Disneyland at least 3 times. There was Kindergarten graduation, a fun summer, and the start of compulsory school for Brother to look forward to (the last more for Sister and Mom than Brother). It was going to be a fun year.

And then something happened at the end of last year. People in China were getting sick from something unknown. Kids, it turned out to be the coronavirus. Since we have friends and relatives in China, I kept a close eye on it. I watched it spread in Washington and then Northern California. It was only a matter of time before it hit us in L.A.

We had a month and a half before people started to worry, before cases here started to be due to community spread in early March. Our school district was the first to shut down. Honestly, I was ready to pull Brother before then because Dad works with people who travel a lot and I was afraid of infecting his classmates and teachers. Thankfully, the district decided to close for at least 2 weeks.

It turned out to be a lot longer than 2 weeks. It was the rest of the school year. It broke my heart hearing Brother and all of his classmates ask when they were going to be able to go back to school. Back then, school was weird. We were given a list of assignments to complete each day and class was only 30 minutes twice a week. Though it was fun to watch them prepare for graduation. Still, being home instead of the classroom was rough.

The week after the school district closed, our mayor shut down the city. The county and the state followed. We weren’t just doing school from home, we were also stuck at home. It was eerie to see the streets so empty. Weird that Dad took the freeway to and from work because there was suddenly no traffic. Strange to not be able to go to the market every week. Bizarre that Dad had to wait an hour or more outside stores in a long line before he could dash in and get one thing.

March turned into AprilMayJuneJulyAugust. I’m sure it’s the 200th day of March by now. Not really, but it feels like it sometimes. Masks started making their rounds and people couldn’t hug or shake hands anymore. Inside, it got louder with Brother home and Sister becoming more vocal and active as she turned 3. Sister’s was our first pandemic birthday in our family and it was weird to do it over Zoom, but we did get to see relatives who live far away, so there’s one silver lining to this whole pandemic thing.

Summer was almost agonizing. Restrictions started being lifted, reopenings began to roll out. More people emerged from their homes. And then the protests started. Protests for racial justice. Protests calling for police reform. Protesters gathering with and without masks. It was inevitable that cases were going to rise, the deaths were going to rise, the hospitalizations were going to rise. And they did. They all did. Public Health seemed to freak out, and back into our homes we were forced.

Not that it changed much for us. Dad still went to work on a modified schedule and the rest of us just stayed home. No beach trips, no Disneyland trips, just weekly Zoom sessions with family. Since we live in a densely populated area, even going out for walks freaked me out. Being high risk just made me want to stay inside and press myself against windows to soak up every bit of sunshine instead. But it did help that it was just too hot to go outside.

But, with the rise in cases, reopenings turned into more restrictions and closures. And more protests to protest that. We did manage to go out for dinner in early July, near the beach, but I spent the next two weeks anxiously waiting to see if any of us developed symptoms. It was too exhausting, so I decided we were never doing that again.

School started in late August. Fully online. Zoom classes 9-12 Monday-Friday. Asynchronous (school work) became our new least favorite word. Though I have enjoyed getting a bird’s eye view into class for Brother. I love knowing exactly what he’s doing, what he’s supposed to be learning. I hate that he’ll only do his asynchronous work as long as I do it alongside him. I feel like I’m back in First Grade, but that’s kind of okay because I don’t even remember being in First Grade. I’ve loved seeing Brother’s progress. It’s been hard on Sister, though, because she has to keep quiet and I keep going back and forth between her and Brother. She does like to try to get involved in class, though, and I wonder if she’ll remember any of the things Brother is learning. She keeps saying she’s ready for school and wants to go to First Grade. First on the list, though, is becoming fully potty trained. Oh yes, distance learning and potty training have been a real ball. Kids, I do not recommend this. If you remember your mother being a complete nutcase, this is why.

But people have become tired, restless, and disgruntled. As an introvert, I love not being obligated to be anywhere, not having to socialize, and, honestly, neither of you have really complained. But not everyone is like us. And not everyone likes wearing masks. Or keeping their distance. As the year winds down, we’re in a really bad place. Look, my asthma makes wearing a mask difficult. I can’t wear one for more than 30 minutes before I start feeling lightheaded. My inhaler is my accessory. But I’d rather suffer than be infected or infect someone else. So I get mad when I see people not wearing masks, hear people gathering, watch people get close to each other when they don’t live together. I suffer because I want to survive the pandemic, and I can’t help but feel people are too self-centered to do the things that actually protect people, loved ones, so I get angry, and now we’re in trouble. I’m sorry if all you remember from this time is me complaining about people. It’s been so hard keeping both of you inside and I’m sure you’re dreaming of playgrounds, but just thinking of all the unsafe things people are doing when Dad and I are both high risk makes me too anxious.

Deep breath. Kids, as I write this, we’re basically back on lockdown. Our governor, idiot and hypocrite though he is, has divided the state into regions and decided that, should the percentage of available ICU beds drop below 15%, the whole region will go back into a stay at home order. That happened in early December for us. The last number I had was 5% of ICU beds in the Southern California region were available. That was December 12th. We wear masks, stay home, and keep our distance in order to protect our healthcare workers. Part of me wants to be mean and hope people start going to the hospitals, only to find there are no beds available and not enough healthcare workers to take care of them. But that is a terrible thought. Instead, I’m wishing, hoping, and praying we can finally do what we need to do in order to actually save lives.

We broke 10,000 cases in one day on December 6th; 12,000 on December 10th; and 13,000 on December 11th. That was our county alone. It’s been climbing. Hospitalizations are at an all time high. Deaths are starting to creep up. There is absolutely no way we’re going anywhere any time soon. Dad is even working from home more often now. This is so much worse than it was over the summer, and, honestly, I’m scared. What if Dad and I do become infected? We’re both high risk and we would both end up in the ICU. If there are beds left. At this point, getting infected would be a death sentence for us. And we’d leave both of you orphans. It’s scary, and it makes me mad. It makes me want to lash out at people. I’m scared silly of leaving both of you alone, and I’m hoping that, as you’re reading this, I’m still alive and well. And I’m hoping I’m not scaring you too much, but, well, this is what life is like right now. History in the making, I suppose.

Kids, right now, you’re 3 and 6. Both of you are homebodies, so not much is new. Yes, you miss the zoo, beaches, museums, and Disneyland, but I’m so proud of Brother for being so aware that it doesn’t actually bother him. Sister is just too young to realize things are different. Dad and I aren’t hiding anything from you, but we are doing our best to protect you, protect ourselves. I’m hoping your memories of this time are hazy, and you’re focusing more on Christmas right now than how bad our country is. And, oh, yeah, this was an election year. No real clue what’s going on with that, but I’ll update you on January 20, 2021.

But some good things have happened. The US is back to sending astronauts to space from American soil. We got to watch the last SpaceX-NASA test flight with grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins via Zoom, as well as the first actual crewed flight to the ISS in mid-November. If anyone asks, the astronauts were in quarantine before leaving Earth, and we’re pretty sure the ISS is the safest place for humans right now.

My darlings, I wish things were different. I wish things were better. But, most of all, I wish you don’t remember this by the time you’re old enough to read this. I especially hope you don’t remember my fear, worry, anger, and frustration, but, if you or your kids have a history project on this point in history, yes, it was really rough. On the bright side, a vaccine is rolling out (shipped December 13th!), with widespread availability by the summer. As scared as I still am, I can’t help but have my fingers crossed you’ll both be in school in the Fall. Safely, of course. Otherwise, if you end up being homeschooled, this is why. If I’ve learned anything this past year, life is all about those silver linings, the little bright spots, and I hope you’ve learned that, too. If not, better hop to it! Mom’s orders.

Love always,
Mom

©2020 Kat of The Lily Café

Photo by Jan Kopu0159iva on Pexels.com

Kat is an intelligent, analytical, creative, thoughtful, honest, and caring writer. She blogs about everything from book reviews to ratio baking to her detailed approach to motherhood to her own serial story, Queen of the Garden Girls. In her spare time, she promotes other bloggers and reads and comments on their work. Kat is also a wife, and mother to two beautiful children. I’ve had the great pleasure to know her since stumbling across her site with my mothering one. Thank you, Kat.

A Tribute to Gary of Bereaved Single Dad Blog

It’s been a while since I wrote a tribute piece; all the more reason to cobble one together.

Tonight, I wish to honor Gary of A Dad trying to cope with the loss of his Partner and becoming a single parent. Real, authentic, and (in his son’s words) a muppet; Gary mixes relatable humanity with life lessons and heartwarming morals.

I fall flat, I’m certain, but here is my effort to replicate his style and pay tribute to his daily blog posts.

Meal Plans

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Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

Had to use a photo from the free media library as I didn’t think to take my own today. Was too busy putting out flames.

“So, last time I used the grill, I noticed it was really dirty. I pushed all the burned stuff into the bottom through little holes, but then saw I couldn’t get it out without taking the grill apart…”

My husband and I were between work and night, between school for the boys and free time on the computers, between dinner and eating it.

Evening had come without meal plans, as usual. I’d searched the freezer for what meat might be hiding and discovered chicken breasts from the mad rush to stockup last March. Surely if I could defrost them enough we could grill them the rest of the way, I thought.

“…Well, when I closed the grill cover, those old pieces all caught fire…”

Hm, my husband said, I wondered why I smelled smoke.

He hadn’t seen the entire grill in flames. Thankfully.

While the fire died down so the gauge didn’t read 750 degrees I mixed up a sauce for the well-done chicken. Oil’s good for a sauce, and vinegar, and this bottle called Pizza Seasoning and salt and pepper… Turns out oil’s also good for a second round of incineration.

So, dinner was also between: between raw and burnt black.

It’s not bad if you put barbecue sauce all over it, one son said at dinner. His piece of chicken was more sauce than bird but he ate it.

Life doesn’t always turn out how you plan either. Sometimes you plan a wonderful dinner. Sometimes it’s a good idea to get takeout. Most times, at the between times, you make do with what you’ve got.

And perhaps pull out the barbecue sauce.

——

If you’d like a better representation of Gary, visit his site. The poor guy’s only got a few thousand adoring fans.

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens

A Tribute to Geoff LePard of TanGental

I’ve wanted to replicate Geoff’s style for awhile now, but he is a very …unique sort of writer. Take Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and Mark Twain; then add a little brain injury or late night staring at hedgerows and you’ve nearly got him.

Since I’m not those authors and lack any hedges (I’m American), I’ve vowed to do the best I can. Geoff writes spot-on reviews of plays or movies, brags about his amazing garden (with pictures), and includes the occasional stint into poetry. Most of the time, however, he comes up with the strangest of short stories (supposedly) based on photo prompts.

The final sort is what I chose to mimic. I give you, therefore,

Tricks and Stones #writephoto

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‘What d’you think, Francisissi?’

‘Hard to say, hard to say…’

‘But you do say it’s him; tell me you say that, at least.’

Thomaquinas scratched a gravelly spot near his ear. He attempted to pull at his robes near another, equally irritated area, but failed. ‘Hard to say…’

A puff of dust exited Fran’s facial orifice that once resembled a mouth. He should’ve expected this; should have brought along Patrireland or even Thérieux. No, maybe not Théri. Last time she’d literally talked the ear off the poor soul –

Thom shifted uncomforably. He always shifted uncomfortably, of course, but managed to convey that this particular discomfort came from his needing to answer Fran and not, as was usual, from a necessarily stiff figure.

‘So is he a close enough resemblance to try it?’

Thom considered, his features a blank slate as he did so. He nodded, dropping a few chinks of neck in process.

‘Right.’ Fran raised his arms stiffly to meet Thom’s. Their palms touched in a small crumble of grey dust. Fran winced.

Aiseray isthay oulsay omfray ethay astpay, the two intoned. Aiseray isthay oulsay omfray ethay astpay!

More dust and chips of rock fell as they attempted to raise their arms. The ground rumbled. Grass wilted. A doe, as surprised by talking stone as readers are to find a doe suddenly inserted in a paragraph, leaped away. The statue before the chanting pair shook slightly, else shook because the ground beneath it did.

Beginning with a muffled ‘Eeeur,’ and ending with a shouted, ‘Rrrrraugh!’ the man before them began moving. Dust, bits, and the odd bird excrement flew at Thom and Fran from his stretching limbs. Uttering a final, Omfray ethay astpay!, they stepped back apace and dropped their hands.

‘Yeaurgh!’ the third man said. He shook and twisted at his immobile robes, then fixed blank, grey eyes on his rescuers. ‘What’s this, then?’

‘Francisissi.’

‘Thomaquinas.’

‘Eh?’ Tilting his head to the side, he smacked at an ear. Smallish rubble and powder drifted from the downward side of his face and rained on the wilted grass.

‘Are you,’ Fran queried, ‘Simeter?’

‘Who?’ Their companion tilted the other way, smacking more grey detritus to the ground.

‘Simeter,’ Thom ventured, ‘Or, maybe …Paulsus?’

‘Who, me?’ The once-statue’s face nearly broke as he broke into a grin. ”Fraid not, boys.’

Thom turned and fixed Fran with a stonelike stare. ‘Well,’ Thom gulped, coughing from swallowed dust, ‘Who are you?”

‘Dominizza,’ Dominizza shrugged, ‘The pizza deliverer.’

——

I probably murdered it, so sorry to Geoff. To the rest of you, try him out if he’s your cup of tea.

 

Photo Credit: unsplash-logoZac Farmer

©2019 Chelsea Owens

A Tribute to Stephen Black of Fractured Faith Blog

Tonight I visit Stephen Black’s blog, Fractured Faith. As I wrote in my review of his bookThe Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: Skelly’s Square, I’ve known Mr. Black for a long time. We’re like those college students whose friends were friends, and found ourselves drawn to the same awkward punch bowl at those friends’ parties.

Stephen’s blog deals mostly with life issues and his observations and encouragements in dealing with them. He also promotes his book, has hosted some writing prompts, written rap-reminiscent poetry, and occasionally talks about marathons and running.

In tribute to an old friend, I give you my attempt to mimic a typical Stephen Black blog post:

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Has Life Ever Surprised You?

This morning en route to another working day, I was surprised to see into the back garden of a house I passed. I could see into their garden because the fence and tool shed were smashed in, done for. Debris from fence and shed, scattered tools, and the churned earth bore testament to what caused the damage, but whatever vehicle had done it was long gone.

I imagined the owners of the house coming out to the same scene as me. What if they only discovered their back part in pieces that morning? Would they feel the shock and surprise I did? How would they react to this unwelcome discovery?

Sometimes in my life I’ve felt like those owners, an unwitting party to unexpected disaster. I’ve written about some. My father’s death, for example. Failing to make the time I wished for on a run. Rejection e-mails or no response to my book queries.

At those times I did not react as would be best. I stood in shock at the damage. I turned to bad habits. I turned away from my wonderful, supportive family and toward shallow friends and the world’s attention. I gave up, and even granted power to the demons of OCD to tell me how wrong I was to try. I stood in the car tyre ruts in my back garden and despaired of any positive outcome.

But the old me is someone I don’t have to be anymore. I am not he. I can look over the scattered debris of my life and choose to act, instead. I don’t need to cry over broken wood and tools when I know I can pick up the pieces and move on.

Maybe cleanup will take time. I might need assistance from loved ones. I may need to seek professional help to repair the damage, to build a new fence and shed. It might take time or a few pints of honeycomb ice cream, but I won’t be alone to solve it.

We are masters of our lives, even when we do not feel like it. We may not be able to control whether something drives through our lives and leaves us in shock, but we can control our reactions. We can control what we do next. I know we can.

Have you ever had an unexpected event take you by surprise?

What did you do to recover and rebuild your life?

——

If you enjoyed my wee tribute, head over to Stephen’s blog and drop him a ‘Follow.’ The poor guy’s only got about 11,000 followers.

 

Photo Credit: Image by Thomas Schink from Pixabay
©2019 Chelsea Owens

A Tribute to Masercot

I love the bloggers I’ve met online! As such, I want to pay a monthly tribute to my favorites with a post in their style.

Today’s author is Charles, AKA masercot. Although his “Moosehead Stratagem,” “Ask a Genetically-Modified Bio-Engineered Super-Intelligent Dog,” and history lessons are …interesting reads; Charles is most famous for his irreverent lists on varying topics. I will therefore attempt just such a list, in the voice of masercot.

Why It’s Better to Not Be Bright

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Instead of staying up all night wondering if life has meaning, you can stay up all night watching reruns of “Saved by the Bell: The New Class.”

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If your girlfriend just smashed the car into a cement piling and called your number, she’ll immediately say, “Oh! I forgot!” and call someone who can help instead.

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Pretty much nothing at work is your fault. Even though it probably is.

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You’re a shoe-in for any political office. Don’t worry about how to get there; people with money and slightly more brains will help you.

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Whenever your grandmother turns to you and asks what Thirteen Across is, your dazed and blinking expression will help her realize you’re singing the theme song to “Saved by the Bell” and she’ll have to ring for the nurse.

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Offers like “extended warranty” and “variable interest” sound interesting and exotic.

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Since ignorance is bliss, you’ll be euphoric. (That means you’ll be stupid.)

—–

I know I fall a bit short of the master so, if you liked what you read, give masercot a Follow.

 

Photo Credit:
Daniel Mingook Kim
Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens