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.

 

Real Life vs. The Blogosphere

The world’s a strange place. Connected beyond imagination, our real lives involve separation and loneliness.

When I was a child, I’d visit my neighbors. The old woman around the corner was a round, loud person with a slight, soft-spoken husband. He puttered around their yard and house, repairing and fixing and amusing himself. She’d invite me in to their homespun, soft-furnitured living room and insist I eat the cookies she’d just made.

They kept a dog or two. Whenever we played outside in our backyard, the dogs would bark. Sure enough, after a few rounds of yip-yip-yip, we’d hear her screech, “Skipper! Quiet!” I could imitate her tone and inflection; still can.

Nowadays, my neighbors are more reclusive. I still try to visit them. I plan a block party each summer. But, it’s different. It’s isolated. It’s even a bit cold.

One time, bearing the Christmas cookie plate I make and gift every year, I rang my neighbors who never come out and socialize. They’d just installed a door camera, I noted. I could hear it whirring as the focus changed, probably recording me. Their teenage daughters’ cars were out front. Their interior lights were on. I could hear their talking before I rang. Yet, no one answered.

Resisting my inner child’s urge to do something less kind, I left the plate on their porch and went back home.

It’s different. It’s rude.

I feel a similar confusion and slight affront where my writing’s concerned. Here, on my blog, I post every day. I write about my thoughts and feelings, my ideas, my odd story plots, my poetry, and -most vulnerably- my depression.

Occasionally, I share what I write to my Facebook page. Like, my personal one that everyone who is my ‘friend’ can read. All of my neighbors are ‘friends,’ although I happen to know they don’t read what I write. Only when I announce I’m having a baby do about a fourth of my ‘friends’ (130ish) click that little Like.

The rest of the time, about 30 people respond.

If I write something depressive, about 8.

In real life, sometimes 1 or 2 come up and say something.

I wonder what things would have been like if I’d become an adult fifty years ago, or even twenty. My mom would tell me that her mom’s neighbors met every morning for coffee. My grandmother said she and the kids of her childhood played jacks together. My husband’s grandmother sat outside with the other mothers in their complex at college, while their children all played in the central courtyard.

Different times. Warmer times.

This age allows me an outlet I wouldn’t have had fifty years ago, or even twenty. Instead of living in the isolation of my two-story house with only the dishes and laundry for company, I have you all.

But, I often wonder, why don’t I have those who are closer? Why don’t they notice? Why don’t they care?

Maybe it’s the cookies.

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—————-

Here’s what I wrote this week:

Wednesday, January 15: Examined the differences between the sexes in “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus (and I’m Adrift in Space).”

Thursday, January 16: Throwback to how to write poetry with “A Muse, The Blues, Some Clues -AKA How to Write Poetry.”

Friday, January 17: Posted the winners of this week’s “Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest.” Congratulations to AnneMichael, and Rob.

Saturday, January 18: Announced the 55th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is what paradise looks like to you. PLEASE ENTER!

Sunday, January 19: “A Small Protest,” in response to Carrot Ranch’s prompt.

Also, “How Much is That Poem in the Window?,” in response to Crispina Kemp’s prompt photo.

Monday, January 20: An inspirational quote from Almost Iowa.

Tuesday, January 21: Poemed “As I Lay, Here.”

Wednesday, January 22: This post, plus “The Island Getaway, a Continued Story (My Part).”

I also published a bit on my motherhood site. I wrote “Did You Go Swimming Today? and Other Post-Delivery Fallacies” and “Short, Sweet, Sleep.”

©2020 Chelsea Owens

Photo Credit: BBH Singapore

The Cure for Depression: Never Give Up, Never Surrender

Hello, there! Feeling depressed? I’m here to offer you a little encouragement.

Cat

Perhaps you are familiar with James Edgar Skye‘s favorite life maxim: Always keep fighting.

What does that mean, exactly? Is he encouraging site visitors to violence? I’m sure you all know that’s not the answer. Despite your astute intelligence, however, do you keep fighting?

Or, are you in my preferred category of fence-sitting numbness?

Worse yet, are you all alone, hiding from everything except the dark recesses of your mind?

That is no way to fight.

Don’t roll your eyes at me; you’re the one practicing bad habits. …Yes, I intend to get dressed and eat something besides these cookies. Yes, I’m wearing exercise clothes because I’m going to do something more aerobic than climb the step stool to reach another package of cookies.

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Hmm. Maybe we both need to step up our game.

Way back in January of this year I revealed the most secret of secrets: The Cure for Depression. Over the next few weeks I then discussed the secret steps involved.

In fact, last time I wrote about figuring out what’s helping and sticking with it.

Are you still not trying any of these?

Again, that’s no way to fight.

Fight is an action verb, and not one like “yawn,” or “scratch.” Think about what you picture when someone says, “Fight.” It’s not a person laying amidst packages of desserts, feebly raising a hand to scroll through this article and resolve to think about trying something tomorrow.

It’s pride.

It’s power.

It’s a bad-ass mother who won’t take no crap off of nobody!!!

The “nobody” we depressive types need to address is most often ourselves.

Think of how you would get ready for a physical fight. Besides psyching yourself up with a little mirror speech (which, by the way, is like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), you place your feet and hands in a defensive stance. Given time to prepare, you might wear protective clothing, train with a professional, and bring something besides air to smack the enemy with.

D’ya see the correlation? Your daily, healthy practices arm you for the fight against depression: a fight with your own, flawed mind.

It’s a battle we face every day, but one that is easier if we’re prepared. After following the recommended steps, that battle doesn’t even happen some days. Isn’t that worth fighting for?

Yes, it is. Now, get out there. Keep fighting.

Never give up. Never surrender.

 

Photo credits:
Whitney Wright
And Giphy.

 

*Chelsea Owens is not a licensed anything, except a Class D driver in her home state, and shares all information and advice from personal experience and research.

Christmas Musings

I am the fifth to admit that I overdo things. That’s better than last, mind you, though not as good as third might be.

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I delude myself that I am simple, efficient, and practical. I only own a Pinterest account because I had a writing job that involved saving pictures for crafting articles. I eschew the latest fashion or home-decorating trend. My children receive rules and guidelines but no sort of life-planned-out Supermom schedule. And, despite being in this Stay At Home Mom profession for over a decade, I do a terrible job at housekeeping in general.

I’ve decided I’m trying to get fired -but that’s a side topic for another post.

Back to fifth place: I’ve had a busy two weeks. In fact, we need to go back at least three months because events then affected the crunch of now.

Not that I voluntarily hurt my tailbone in a really really really bad way. I did, however, schedule a surgery on November 6. I also neglected to remember that Thanksgiving was on the fourth Thursday and would therefore arrive not-too-long-after that surgery. Then, I forgot that we all usually attend The Festival of Trees… which precedes a holiday most of the world celebrates… and that led to a service project for the boys’ principal, an annual Christmas newsletter to be sent with cards, decorating for Christmas, a son’s birthday party (with a theme and guests), and cookie-making and distribution.

Congratulations on getting through that last paragraph. You can rest, here, with me.

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Even though I do not re-label juice boxes for birthday themes, I tend to take on a lot at one time. I also have a high standard of perfection. Maybe I think things are more exciting that way?

I mean, I not only did everything in that too long; didn’t read paragraph, I also have been trying to uncover the house from the molding lump it degenerated into whilst I was recovering/ignoring it. Add shopping for presents and food, plus wrapping all the gifts for everyone, and my cup runneth over six feet below the surface of the well.

I mean… I spray-painted Costco milk boxes to look like Minecraft blocks. My Christmas newsletter was a paragraph for each of seven well-known poems, incorporating bits of A Visit from St. Nicholas AND news about each family member. My cookies were all from scratch.

Maybe I really am one of those Supermoms, just one who sometimes wears pajamas in public ’cause I love my comfort.

Maybe everyone overdoes his life, and it’s not just me.

…Tell me it’s not just me?

 

This week in review, because I’m taking tomorrow and the next day off. So, there!
Wednesday, December 19: Down-Home Marital AdviceWhat’s your take?
Thursday, December 20: The day my kids got out for Christmas Break. So… I got the days mixed up and posted The WINNER of the Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Molly and Gerard!
I also apologized for messing up, in The Most Sleep-Deprived Time of the Year.
Friday, December 21: Skinwalkers, XLVI.
Saturday, December 22: Christmas Cookie Limericksterrible rhymes about my baking exploits.
Sunday, December 23: This post.

I also almost thought about planning on the possibility of catching up on my Reader’s Feed. If you see that I left a comment way back on December 12, then I finally have. My apologies if you’ve felt slighted in the meantime.

Christmas Cookie Limericks

There once was a mom in the ‘burbs
Who thought, for her neighbors, to serve
A plate full of treats;
She filled cookie sheets
With stars, bars, and fudge squares superb.

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Once baked, cooled; then frosted and stored,
The mom looked with pride at her hoard.
“Don’t eat them!” she warned;
Then, her advice, scorned –
Her snack-taking not aboveboard.

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Thus laden with cookies in hand,
She followed her gifting program.
Though many, afraid
Of free calories, stayed
Inside while they spied from their door-cam.

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How’s the Weather Up There?

A blogger I enjoy reading mentioned she is on the shorter side. I was surprised; she writes with a comfortable confidence and lexicon. She bestows advice, sounds self-assured, and describes life events that intimidate me.

I had pictured her tall.

And, I hadn’t realized I pictured her as tall.

Also, I didn’t realize that I had yet again broken a personal rule: don’t judge another as ye hate to be judged.

I may not have made up the phrasing for that rule on my own, but it’s how I feel. Most of my life I’ve heard or felt or experienced opinions based solely on appearance. My sorest issue is age: “Oh, that’s because you’re young,” “You’re too young to have seen this….” “Wow. You’re so young!” Hardly something to complain of, I know; yet, it’s a way of demeaning me and my wisdom, experience, and perspective. I have felt a distinct shift in treatment after another woman learns my age.

Another box I hate being placed in is the female one. Because I have boobs I must automatically like Pinterest, have my nails done, watch ….(what are women watching these days?) The Bachelor?, read romance novels, enjoy the color pink, and not have a reasonable opinion about politics or mechanical objects.

The list continues, and is the main source of why I hate being categorized.

I forget that I turn around and apply the same principle all over the place with height. I probably forget this because I am usually taller than other women and enjoy a small level of not being bothered or harassed as much because of it.

That, and my RBF. …Something I also learned the term for recently, because my expression may have scared people away from enlightening me…

The point is that I simply did not know I was hypocritical when it came to height until I finally got some higher altitude, and shortly thereafter met my husband’s family. This initial realization came about around 18 years ago.

His family is mostly very intelligent and talented as he is …and is on the shorter side. His oldest sister barely reaches 5 feet tall with static in her hair; her husband just an inch or two over. When I first met this sister and her family I thought something like, They’re like cute, little hobbit people. I’ve also thought some sort of wonderment that they are whole, complete, extremely bright and opinionated peoples (their entire little family, including all six children they now have) and yet are so small.

Like, how rude is that?

The second time I distinctly noticed I had become a height-ist was when I met my only brother’s wife. She’s taller than I and I found the experience disconcerting. I realized I walked about the world acting like the pickup truck in a lane of sedans.

It’s true.

I mean, I am unfailingly polite to strangers. I am deferential to people like store clerks or overladen mothers or anyone approaching a door or the elderly. When I pay attention, however, I see others automatically yield the right of way. I am given a space in conversation. I am listened to when I apply myself. I had nothing to contribute to the #metoo movement and was confused by how many females had issues.

Is it really all due to height?

I’m certain it helps.

Way back when I took an acting class in college, we learned about rôles. We read that every single time a person interacts with another he engages in a psychological exchange; a battle, even. The result of this is an assignment of rôles and a placement of one person over the other. We learned it in relation to how we needed to act a scene, but I’ve found the idea revelatory in the real world.

Height or lack thereof places one in a higher or lower position, literally.

For my part, I can’t help it. I’m not going to chop off my legs or walk around on my knees. (Although I have noticed I slouch more around a room of shorters and stand more upright in tallers.) On the flip side, we’re not likely to give less-tall peoples stilts, either.

Instead, let’s remember two important things:
I can, and am willing to, reach the cookies on the shelf above the fridge for others.
And, shorter people live longer (according to my husband).

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Bakery Blues

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Edward sat, staring at his monitors. “My uncle works at a cookie factory!” He remembered his nephew, Sam, bragging to his class. “The cookies with M&Ms!” Sam’s peers had been duly impressed; M&Ms were a much sought-after candy for preschoolers.

Edward had felt a little proud, but also knew the poor kid wanted some credit for having an uncle drop him off, instead of parents like the others had.

“Do you get to eat all the M. M. cookies you want?” a boy in a red shirt had asked.

“Didja bring us some?!” A small girl in braids demanded. A tiny chorus of, “Oh, yes; did you?”‘s and, “Where are they?”‘s immediately followed her innocent query.

Luckily, their sweet, young teacher came to the rescue. Walking up behind the excited group, she placed her hands gently on Sam’s shoulders and looked up at Edward. “Shhh! Shhhh!” She quietly reprimanded, till the chattering stopped. “I’m sure we can have Sam’s uncle come and talk to us sometime about his job.”

“An’ will he bring cookies?” The girl asked, determinedly.

The teacher smiled at her, then up at Edward. Edward shrugged and looked down at his shyly shuffling feet. “I’ll talk to Ms. Prutt about it,” she said.

As baked desserts and giant mixing machines and oven temperatures automatically scanned beneath his bored scrutiny, Edward easily recalled and replayed the entire exchange. He thought about what he would tell all those eager children if he were to go in and talk honestly about his job.

“Well, kids,” he imagined saying, “First, I get to scan my name badge. Then, I walk to a magical land called a locker room.” Riveted, that girl with braids would yawn. “After changing into a protective jacket, hard hat, goggles, and ear protection, I pick up …a tablet computer.”

At that point, Edward was certain, Sam would ask if Edward got to play games on the tablet. “Yes,” he’d have to answer, “The games are called Spreadsheets and I check little boxes to mark whether the equipment is working.”

They’d be so interested, he might have the entire class asleep two hours before naptime.

He sighed, watching the millionth cookie pass by the electronic eye. He decided a nap on his part might be averted if he went down for another physical inspection. Glancing at the million and first cookie on the conveyor belt, he determined to visit the Inspection and Packing area.

A short trip out of Monitoring, across a catwalk, down some gleaming stairs, through Personal Sanitation, and out an automatic door brought him in front of that same line of cookies. A handful of workers in masks, hairnets, and gloves idly monitored the cookies. The M. M. cookies, he told himself.

“Hey, boss,” a man named Asay said, looking up to see Edward. He probably smiled.

Edward smiled in return. “How’s it going?” He and Asay used to work together in Mixing, before Edward trained and applied for his current position. He’d talked to his friend about moving up as well, but Asay claimed to like Production better. Now that Edward had been an inspector for a few months, he found himself agreeing with Asay’s perspective.

“Bored yet?” Asay teased, guessing accurately. He casually removed a cracked cookie, sliding it amongst fellow discards to the side.

Edward pretended to be indignant. “Of course not!” He continued, “We, in Inspections and Monitoring, are never bored.”

Asay laughed, leaning over the conveyor to look more closely at the new batch. “Hey! These have all blue M&Ms!” He exclaimed.

Curious, Edward walked forward. Sure enough, the first five cookies had all three chocolate candies in a blue shell. “Should we keep ’em?” Asay wondered aloud.

They both watched the cookies move down the line. They reminded Edward of the cute class of preschool faces. Blue was Sam’s favorite color; the boy would love to pull one from a package. Edward could even hear Sam’s exclamations: “Look, Unca Eddie! All blues, just for me!”

Edward, standing near Asay on a busy production floor, turned to his friend. “Of course we’ll keep them. What kid wouldn’t want to find one?”

Asay’s dust mask pulled to each side as he grinned. “Yeah,” he said. “You’re right.”

They both watched the cookies for a few seconds longer; Asay more closely than Edward. Edward had a thought. “I’ll see you around,” he told his friend, turning to leave.

“Okay, bro,” Asay answered, waving behind him.

Back through Sanitation and out the other side brought Edward to the ovens. He continued on, waving at a few people he knew and trying to look authoritative. Soon he was at Mixing and Shaping, his old stomping grounds. Three people worked in this area. The younger two were chatting and watching the enormous mixing machine. Soon the scooping mechanism would deposit balls onto the baking racks. For now, it was churning and the workers were idle.

Edward approached the third person. She was sitting on a special stool just after where the dough would be placed on sheets and given candies. Standing to her side, he spoke loudly, “HELLO, CAROL.”

An old woman turned to smile pleasantly up at him. Her grey curls were kept at bay by a company hairnet and her gnarled, gloved hands rested on a company uniform that covered her lap. “Why, hello, Edward,” she replied warmly. “How are you?”

Edward waved vaguely. “Oh, fine, fine,” he began; then, “I’M FINE. HOW ARE YOU?”

If possible, Carol smiled more widely. Edward had the fleeting idea that she was exactly the sort of worker children would expect to be at a cookie factory. They wouldn’t expect her to be hunched over machines in a hairnet and plastic apron, of course. Carol belonged in a homemade apron, proferring a steaming batch she’d just pulled from her kitchen oven.

“I JUST WONDERED,” he yelled over the mixer and age-related hearing loss, “DID YOU HAPPEN TO SEE A BATCH OF BLUE M&M COOKIES?” He glanced at her face, and caught a wry smile cross the old woman’s lips.

Carol shrugged, raising her clasped hands. “Now, wouldn’t that be a nice surprise for a small child?” She asked him innocently.

The mixer buzzed, startling Carol and her two coworkers to action. Scooping cups lowered to the surface of the dough and began lifting and depositing balls onto baking sheets. Each ball passed beneath the M&Ms depositor and on to the ovens.

The youngest worker pulled the first ball from the tray and ran it through a nearby Composition Tester; it passed. The second watched the progress of the machines, ensuring they were all clean and moving easily.

Carol, as Edward knew well, closely monitored each passing pan. Every cookie must have three M&Ms. If they had more, she was to slide it to the side. Fewer than three, to the other side. When the batch had finished moving down the line, she would carefully place the removed balls onto their own pans. Those with extra(s) had one or more removed. Using a bin of M&Ms to her side, she added chocolate candies to dough balls that had too few.

“Yes, Carol,” Edward answered, out of her hearing. “Wouldn’t that be a nice surprise?” Smiling to himself, he began walking back to his main work area.

“Well, kids,” he now heard his future self saying, “At the cookie factory there is a grandma named Carol.” He planned to look around the room and ask, “Do you have a grandma? Does she make cookies?”

He climbed the stairs, warming to the story forming in his mind.

“Carol is just like your grandma, but she makes cookies for all the children in the world.” He’d bring out a bag. Why not? They got to bring home remnants, as long as they never re-sold them. Holding it so they could all see, he’d say, “Carol’s main job is to put the M&Ms onto each cookie that doesn’t have enough. One day, she pulled three blue M&Ms from her bag. ‘I wonder,’ Grandma Carol said, ‘if any little boys and girls would like to have a cookie with THREE BLUE M&Ms.'”

Sam, the boy with the red shirt, the girl in braids, and the rest would watch him closely; they’d wonder if he had brought them just such an amazing cookie. Edward paused at the door to Monitoring. Could he get a full batch of cookies like that? Maybe he could even get all reds, all yellows, or all greens.

Entering his office, he planned to ask his manager that afternoon.