10/26/2020 of COVID-19 Home Life

Where to begin, where to begin?

I’ve actually been shopping; in person, walking through some stores, touching merchandise and credit card machines and shopping carts. When I have my phone with me, I take pictures of the COVID-19 warning signs. I marvel that, not only are things so different than they were for all my life and my parents’ lives and their parents’ …adult lives, but things are now different by the week.

When in Wal-mart, use what you have. ©2020 Chel Owens

Take shopping at Costco, for example. Waaay back in March when we were going to quarantine for two weeks, I witnessed strict distancing measures, hoarding customers, and the removal of germ-spreading elements like samples or the food court. Months later, when I returned, they’d hung partitions at the registers and signs about shortages. Weeks after that, we all needed to wear masks and only so many people could enter. Still more weeks later, the food court options returned but the tables did not. Lately, they’ve been handing out samples again.

Look, but don’t touch. Definitely do not taste. ©2020 Chel Owens

You know -sort-of.

Like a delicate flower unfurling in springtime, restrictions are being lifted as we return to the way social life was for the past 100 years or so.

At least, that is how many are behaving. I read about people renting venues for their parties if such venues try closing, about parents sending nasty e-mails if their children’s schools want to close, and about how masking children will limit their breathing and cause staph infections on their faces.

On the other side of this divisive coin; I read about how wonderfully China is doing at containing their numbers and curing their people, about what certain politicians are not doing to stop anti-maskers, and about parents nobly keeping their children home (but also complaining about how they are being forced into the role of stay-at-home-mother by MEN).

Meanwhile, Utah’s case numbers are rising rising rising. Like, up to nearly 2,000 new daily cases on October 22.

You’d think that both sides could at least agree on that, but they probably wouldn’t agree on a turquoise shoe, gold dress, or whether they hear, “Yanrel.”

*sigh*

As a moderate, I see both sides. I feel both sides. I’ve even taken to debating a few of my Twofacebook friends over some issues -namely, that China HAS TO BE LYING about their numbers, that the governor of Utah can’t do much more than ask nicely, and that masks do not block oxygen intake and kill our children.

*sigh again*

The main problem, as I see it, is too much of a good idea. Not spreading germs is good; dressing everyone in a HazMat suit is a bit far. Socializing is important to mental health; ‘dancing’ at a crowded club is an idiotic thing to do. Limiting children’s spreading germs is good; hours and hours and hours on a computer is turning my children into crabby monsters.

We’re not ready to unfurl like a delicate flower unless we are willing to house those with adverse reactions to Coronavirus in our own stubborn homes. Likewise, we’re not taking reasonable steps when we treat each other like lepers and won’t even wave when greeted. Haven’t y’all heard of a Happy Medium?

Yep; you’ve released the political in me. In terms of actual news: Utah’s case numbers are terrible. Almost all of the public schools are doing an amazing job of keeping areas clean, tracing exposure, and enforcing the laws. People are participating in sports, dance, and other extracurricular events. Many employers that run computer-based businesses are allowing workers to remain home. I see pictures on my Twofacebook page of families taking vacations and of preparations for trick-or-treating for Halloween.

Ah, Halloween… maybe we’ll leave that political discussion for another time.

Remove your hats, hoods, sunglasses, and animals. Keep the mask. ©2020 Chel Owens

How are things looking in your neck of the woods?

©2020 Chel Owens

9/12/2020 of COVID-19 Home Life

“Do you have your lunch? Your shoes? Your water? Your mask?”

The morning routine for school is more complicated. Each Monday and Wednesday, I ensure that four boys are fully equipped. The downside is they’ve more to remember, in bringing a personal water bottle (no drinking fountain use preferred) and mask (to be worn all day, except whilst eating lunch).

On the plus side, they remember to brush their teeth on their own. It turns out that they can’t stand the smell of their own breath inside a mask when they forget…

Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

School drop-off looks a bit different as well. The children are assigned to line up on the school’s soccer field; by class, six feet apart. An aide marches each class in at the first bell. Latecomers check in through the office, as usual, but I am not allowed to walk them back to their class -a problem when anxiety rears its head.

After school, I retrieve mine from other groups of talking, eye-smiling, laughing children. The elementary students wear their masks, still; the middle schoolers do not. Once home, I make them all drop their clothes in the washer and wash their hands; again, my middle-schooler sometimes ‘forgets.’

But we’ve yet to see Coronavirus. The closest that green-mist plague has come is “possible exposure” to a neighbor’s daughter who is on a school dance team. They were told to remain home for two weeks, test or no.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

It’s odd, this Coronalife. I feel like a closet zealot in my opinions, believing that IT might come again while so many friends and neighbors doubt ITs existence or, at least, ITs potency. I can’t say I blame them, since the friends who take IT very seriously are turning a bit crazy: not answering doors even to their deliveries, washing off the same sort of groceries I immediately put away, and watching from windows as we play on scooters while their children watch iPads.

A relative of mine went off the deep end during quarantine. I never mentioned it till now. That person is fine…er now. But she/he told me that she/he had to make a choice about what was more important: sanity or security. Day by day, I’m being shown that ‘security’ isn’t that secure, so why not choose the sanity?

Sneeze-clouds and doorknob-lickings aside, I feel infection may be avoided or lessened if one uses common sense. Right? And, common sense may still be allowed outside.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

On another note, Utah experienced a massive wind last Tuesday. Elements combined to create the perfect storm. Winds nearing or surpassing 100 mph (161 kmh) tore across the northern part of the state, ripping down trees and signs and felling semi-trucks on the interstate.

©2020 Mary Caputo

I received periodic e-mail messages from our power company. The first said 180,000 customers were without power. Another, the next day, said they’d gotten that number down to 96,000. I didn’t receive another after that, but learned that some did not have electricity for four days.

©2020 Merrily Bennett

I also read stories of neighbors helping neighbors. The National Guard cleared debris, too. In a time of need, people stepped up to the challenge.

Which is the message I wish to convey today, in the shadow of September 11. Despite what some followers may suspect, I remember 9/11. Moreover, I remember the days that followed. In the aftermath of a terrible disaster, we came together for each other. People in NYC wrote messages of hope in the ash coating firetrucks. American flags flew from buildings and homes. Complete strangers sat and talked and cried and comforted each other.

We may be living in this post-apocalyptic setting of masks, signs, and shortages for some time yet. But, if we can remember our humanity, we can get through this. Together, we can get through anything.

©2020 Chel Owens

8/18/2020 of COVID-19 Home Life

Curse you, WordPress, and your ‘new’ block editor a thousand times!!

As to The ‘Rona, everyone ’round here’s behaving like it’s gone and out of there -up till when they enter a store. Kevin, my husband, summed up the odd double-standard in describing a recent work-sponsored river tubing activity to me:

“We didn’t wear masks on the bus, riding up. We didn’t wear masks while tubing. Afterwards, when we went to lunch, everyone got out of his car and put on a mask. Then, when we were sitting right next to each other in the booth, we all took our masks off and ate lunch.”

His exchange reminds me of a friend of mine who has been careful of exposure this entire time. She explained that her children play with their friends only outside, wearing masks. When their cousins came into town, however, she acquiesed to allow her teenage daughter to spend the day at Lagoon (our only amusement park in Utah) -hopefully, still masked.

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By Scott Catron from Sandy, Utah, USA – View from the Sky Ride

I draw the line where I always do: slightly to one side of center. I stay home, wash my hands, wear a mask when I walk inside a store or church, and don’t lick doorknobs. I’m also planning to send my children back to school.

Speaking of, school has been a real hot-button issue. Districts in Chicago and Los Angeles quickly paled at the idea and said it would all be online. According to a local news source, Utah’s governor came out with a 102-page document in governmentspeak that said all children would start school ‘regularly,’ with distancing measures, extra cleaning, and mandatory masks. I looked up said document, and was disappointed to find it only came to 96 pages and included cute graphics to help people figure out what ‘hand-washing’ and ‘mask-wearing’ looked like.

This is a child, wearing a mask. Or, he’s plugging his ears whilst being turned into a cyborg.

I found it to be a helpful guideline for when I may not be feeling up to snuff. I mean, who knew what coughing or a fever looked like before now?

I jest, but find the disease a serious thing. I also find most people not taking it very seriously. I had thought they were assuming the disease to not exist. Since speaking with more people, I’ve learned they think the symptoms have been exaggerated and that their plan is to not be affected by it if they are exposed.

We’re functioning at a normal level, with normal traffic patterns and normal work schedules. Most jobs done with computers are still keeping workers home; Kevin’s been here since March 13. All the workplaces in urban areas or specifically for the government require masks.

In other news, we went camping last weekend. A rest area on the way asked for masking and we all complied. The campsite asked for a three-hour drive, a half-hour of which involved a damaged road through open range cattle country. Read: the site was pretty remote.

A young couple near us donned masks whenever they left their tent but they were the only ones I saw doing so. I guess most of us felt we distanced enough because of our natural, campfire-enhanced musk.

We saw chipmunks, birds, flies, and a mother deer with her child. She surprised me the first morning; a small herd of cows and calves did the second morning.

Photo by Jahoo Clouseau on Pexels.com

We planned the campout as a last hurrah before school started, as it was set to begin today. Then, the districts sent e-mails saying they would delay till next week. I have five children of differing ages so they will have differing schedules. Two plan to attend M/W and online, and two plan to attend the full-time four days a week with Friday off schedule that the gov’nuh decided.

Our state’s case counts have hovered around 200-300 per day. The teachers will get PPE from the government, and …the First Cases of SARS-CoV-2 in Mink in the United States [were] Confirmed in Utah. Interesting. I hope they learn to wash their paws. Can you imagine making a mink wear a mask?

©2020 Chelsea Owens
Images from Utah’s Coronavirus Education plan may be found here, and are ©2020 The State of Utah.

7/20/2020 of COVID-19 Home Life

Last time I checked in, I shared Utah’s rising case numbers. Things are looking up since then.

And I do mean “up.” Our all-time high was 867 in one day, reported just two days after I wrote. Fortunately, we’re back to numbers like 736, 731, and 788 for the last three beautiful, blue bars of that graph.

I’ve had a bad headache today since the baby awoke at 2 a.m., compounded by another awakening at 5 a.m. As with anytime I’ve felt a little off, I’m paranoid I’ve got The ‘Rona. That figures, since I still do grocery pickup, mask when I go to a public place, and have not agreed to family invitations to public places. Heck; we’ve gotten takeout five times in the last four months.

baked box cheese close up

Pizza: The American Meal. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We did attend church last Sunday. We LDS normally attend every Sunday; with a communal meeting that includes eating bread and drinking water (sacrament) passed around on trays, then a second meeting by age and gender group afterward. Sunday’s meeting was only The Sacrament. We sat with a bench between other family groups. We all wore masks, except Baby Owens. The bread and water trays remained in the hands of the boys distributing them. We even sang with masks on, reading from our individual phones instead of hymn books. Only the speaker unmasked as he shared a gospel message about spirituality from the podium at the front.

My parents also live in Utah, but their local leaders have not reinstated meetings. Ironically, their libraries and recreational centers (swimming pools, gyms) are in business. Different strokes for different counties, I guess.

—–

In terms of shortages and price increases, I’ve heard that hard currency is running low. The cashier at the kids’ clothing store told me, the internet told me, and the plastic partition at the hardware store told me.

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Perhaps you’ll accept galvanized nails in replacement, Lowe’s?

I was able to procure some antibacterial kitchen hand soap at Wal-Mart when I had to go inside. Being 5’8″ tall with long arms helped that procurement. I brought a bottle of hand sanitizer down for any shorter-armed shoppers that followed. The rest of their soaps were in short supply, as were any bottles of rubbing alcohol:

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Who needs antiseptics when you’ve got a lonely roll of gauze?

The biggest news, for me, is The School Issue. I mentioned, before, that I’m following a TwoFacebook Group concerned with returning children to their desks, come hell or high water. Members of said group were prominent at a recent meeting in Utah County, where they vociferously (and crowdedly) spoke in favor of no masks for their children. Since I know many teachers personally and would like them to remain healthy, I see no-masking to be a selfish, nearsighted opinion.

Screenshot_2020-07-18-02-39-44

Just one of the many, many inspiring and educated adults making decisions for her offspring.

Of all the ways to make the news, Utah, you have to pick this one…

I assumed, recently, that my more-conservative friends have seen the light. With stories about reinfection; with more people we actually know getting infected; with areas shutting back down to curb Coronavirus cases -SURELY opinions would change. Not so. One of my more vocal neighbors just posted, today, about articles against masking and how any legitimate information supporting that idea keeps “getting taken down.”

I know restricting or changing information happens. I’ve seen it. However, I also know that I, like other humans, breathe and cough and sneeze. As such, I’m in favor of wearing a mask, using my turn signal, and not randomly kicking strangers in the shins because it’s my right to do so.

In conclusion, here’s a funny image re-shared by a teacher friend on 2FB:

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Sorry; I’m not sure who came up with these. They’re pretty clever.

Images ©2020 Chelsea Owens, unless otherwise noted. Blog post ©2020 Chelsea Owens

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, though 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

Going Postal, XIV

Continued from “Going Postal, I,” “Going Postal, II,” “Going Postal, III,” “Going Postal, IV,” “Going Postal, V,” “Going Postal, VI,” “Going Postal, VII,” “Going Postal, VIII,” “Going Postal, IX,” “Going Postal, X,” “Going Postal, XI,” “Going Postal, XII,” and “Going Postal, XIII.”

Ron was just your average sort of guy: tallish, wideish, oldish, kindish. He drove his reliable old pickup with the reliable old hardtop around the neighborhood every day; often, he drove around several times a day.

Some of the residents talked to Ron. Most did not. Most didn’t notice him or his truck, despite its nearly always being full to bursting with their latest Amazon packages and Domino’s pizza coupons.

Mrs. Hempsworth remembered the last time she’d spoken to the mailman, although she couldn’t recall his name. She thought about their odd, stinted conversation as she peered at her community mailbox from behind her lace bedroom curtains.

Not only had she not seen the white-haired, blue-eyed mailman much lately; she’d not seen her packages for two weeks. When she phoned the post office, no one picked up. Didn’t they know she couldn’t drive? Didn’t they know she didn’t own a car? Didn’t they know that a lady like her couldn’t trust a driver these days?

Mrs. Hempsworth shuddered.

In her seventy-two years of life, she’d never imagined life the way it currently was. Even her father’s tales of The Great Depression or the racial tensions of the 60’s and 70’s didn’t seem as bad as now. “Oh, how I miss it!” she sighed, thinking over her childhood, happy marriage to Lloyd, and lonely retirement.

She’d had Bunco. She’d had an eventual prospect of Happy Meadows Retirement Home. She’s had Days of Our Lives, for Pete’s sake. Now, she had a television full of bad news. She had neighbors who’d left or barricaded their doors. She had nowhere to go because nowhere was safe.

A noise from downstairs startled her from her reflections. She didn’t move; the old, heavy bureau was already in front of her bedroom door and all her necessities were in the room with her.

She sighed. “May as well get it over with.”

The sounds from below increased: furniture moving, drawers opening. She closed her eyes and imagined her phoning the police; imagined a time, now gone, when the police both existed and responded to home robberies.

Expecting masked mobs or bobbing flashlights, Mrs. Hempsworth opened her eyes and looked down at the street outside her front walk. The street, however, appeared mostly empty. The only thing she could see was a white, covered pickup truck, parked at an odd angle to the curb.

THE END

 

©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.

hans-reniers-mE6e5-5jLu8-unsplash

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

Going Postal, XIII

Continued from “Going Postal, I,” “Going Postal, II,” “Going Postal, III,” “Going Postal, IV,” “Going Postal, V,” “Going Postal, VI,” “Going Postal, VII,” “Going Postal, VIII,” “Going Postal, IX,” “Going Postal, X,” “Going Postal, XI,” and “Going Postal, XII,”

Not much happened anymore outside little Charli‘s window. Not much happened in the house, either, now that her big brother and daddy and mommy stayed home. Now, they all played all day like she did, but also not like she did.

“Go away!” her brother, Jer, snapped when she tried to watch his screen.

“I’m busy; not now,” was Daddy’s answer every time he worked on the computer.

“Why don’t you go play with your toys, or with that letters game you like so much?” Mommy said, also watching a screen.

Charli didn’t understand why Jer kept his headphones on, why Daddy gave his computer a mad face, or why Mommy sighed as she played on her phone and sat in the empty hair-cutting room. No carpool drove up and honked. Daddy didn’t have ‘at work.’ Mommies didn’t come get a haircut from her mommy.

Even Santa didn’t always come. Instead of the nice man with white hair, Charli sometimes saw a scary man with scary eyes holding the smile-presents as he climbed their front steps. She never saw when he dropped the boxes on the porch because she hid behind the blue curtains until it was safe.

The smile-boxes were the same, and there were more of them. She didn’t know why Daddy wanted so many; if they were food like Santa told her, why did they need so much? Mommy still got food from the store; Charli just didn’t get to go with her anymore.

“Oh, I don’t go into the grocery store,” Mom had told her when she asked. “They shop for me and bring it out to the car. If you came along, you’d sit in the car and that wouldn’t be fun for you.”

Charli thought about that explanation as Mommy helped put her shoes on. “Why are we going to the store today?” she asked.

“Because,” Mommy said, pulling on the shoe straps, “I need to get our groceries. Daddy went to the post office. Jer wanted to go with Dad.”

“Why did Daddy go to the post office?”

“Because they didn’t deliver some of our packages.”

“Why didn’t they deliver our packages?”

“We don’t know, Honey. No one’s answering the phone.” Mommy sat back and smiled her tired smile. “No more questions. Let’s get in the car.”

They walked through the house to the car in the garage. Charli waited for Mommy to buckle her in her Big Girl Seat, then waited for Mommy to buckle her own seat belt. She watched Mommy’s face scrunch and her eyes move while the car went backwards. Mommy turned back to look where she was driving. Charli looked out her window.

The world outside the car window wasn’t fun, like the house window wasn’t fun. She twisted around and waved buh-bye when Mommy turned onto The Busy Street. Just before she turned on her game, Charli saw Santa park his truck by her house.

The scary man was with him.

Continued to “Going Postal, XIV.”

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens

Going Postal, XII

Continued from “Going Postal, I,” “Going Postal, II,” “Going Postal, III,” “Going Postal, IV,” “Going Postal, V,” “Going Postal, VI,” “Going Postal, VII,” “Going Postal, VIII,” and “Going Postal, IX,” “Going Postal, X,” and “Going Postal, XI.

Art perched in his favorite, familiar location doing his favorite, familiar thing: scouting for the mailman. Ron had been unpredictable over the last few weeks; if the government wouldn’t use it to spy on him, Art had considered installing a camera. Maybe he could ensure the feed stayed on a closed circuit. His brother, Larry, knew a guy who knew about that sort of thing.

An approaching white pickup truck grabbed his attention. Art raised his binoculars; yes, it was Ron. It was also Ron’s usual time and his usual parking spot. Art frowned as he saw Ron exit the vehicle and scan the area -that was not usual.

A rustling came from behind the porch, followed by a thud. Art had enough time to drop the binoculars and turn before a strong, dark arm pulled at his neck and a sharp, bright blade glinted across his view. The arm tightened. The blade brushed against his cheek, then poked into his neck.

“Arthur Jackson Williams,” a tough voice said.

Art tried shifting but the knife turned painfully. This guy knew what he was doing. “Who are you?” Art whispered.

The guy gave a short laugh. “Yeah, right. Let’s just say I owe your man, Larry, a thank-you.”

“Larry? Uh -we don’t talk much… I barely see him-” More pain came from Art’s neck, cutting off what he thought to say in a deep intake of breath.

“Don’ waste my time lyin,’ man. Larry talked about you all dah time. He talked about you’ deals, about you’ connections, about you’ weapons -” Right next to Art’s ear, the man added, “Even about you’ precious Rachel.”

Art’s mouth felt dry. He didn’t know how this guy knew about Rachel. He didn’t even know who this guy was.

“I think you know enough to share some of that stuff you’ve been hoarding. If not…” Another twist. “If not, I think you know where your body’s gonna end up.”

Art swallowed.

“So, you’re gonna tell me dah combination to that room downstairs, nice and slow. Then, you’re gonna put on some fancy bracelets I’ve got for ya. Then, you’re gonna keep your trap shut with this tape till I get what I want.” The guy spoke so close to Art’s ear that Art felt his hot breath. “Otherwise, I kill you and bust into dah room anyway.”

Art’s instincts failed him. “You won’t hurt Rachel?”

“Only you, princess.”

He gulped, then slowly whispered, “Oh three. Fifteen. Sixty-seven.” It was the birthday of one of America’s greatest leaders. Art recalled that fact with happy pride just before the world went dark.

…..

The world still looked dark when Art awoke. His head hurt so badly he rolled to the porch’s edge and vomited into the hedge. Through spotty vision and throbbing headache he scanned the area but saw no one. “Eurgh.” Unsheathing his favorite knife, he stumbled to the front door and opened it. He stumbled into the house. He stumbled down the stairs. He stumbled to the end of the hall and stopped at the open, swinging door to the armory.

No sound came from the dark, open door. He moved forward, still blinking against intense pain. Stopped. Sighed. Yes, many of his guns and a few ammunition cases were gone; but, there -still in her place of honor- hung Rachel.

Art groped forward to the Springfield Model 1816 Musket and stroked her barrel. “Rachel,” he whispered affectionately.

Continue to “Going Postal, XIII.”

©2020 Chelsea Owens

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.

sophie-dale-ibD7j7IXXAs-unsplash

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.

jet cloud landing aircraft

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