3/31/2020 of COVID-19 Home Life

My parents came by yesterday. I don’t talk about them much because they have the right to decide whether they want their information online.

Still, over they came. They walked forward and deposited my and my son’s birthday presents on our porch. They stepped back. I unwrapped them: a framed pencil illustration my mother drew of our son, and a beautiful Schwibbögen. My children crowded around me in the doorway and excitedly waved and yelled about schoolwork and the new computer game we’ve been playing as a family, Stardew Valley.

My parents put up a good face. I held my new baby in the doorway as they drove away, waving his little hand for them. I doubt they saw; they probably barely saw well enough to drive if they were crying as much as I was.

I think IT -as Mike calls the Coronavirus crisis- has finally hit most of us. One of my sons came in last night around 9. He sat on our bed. “I’m scared,” he said.

“Oh? Did you have a bad dream? What are you scared about?”

“I don’t know. Just scared.”

Trying to uncover the fear did nothing, so I quickly switched tactics to enumerating everything safe about his situation. We have family, a safe area, a warm house, brothers to take care of him. He calmed enough to sleep in his own bed.

As I was drifting off to sleep later*, I heard and felt the slight change in air pressure that meant our bedroom door had opened. One of my older sons stood in the doorway.

“Son? What’s wrong?”

Bearing his about-to-cry face, he came to my bedside. “I’m scared.”

I hugged him and held him. “It’s okay, Son. It’s okay.”

“Thank you, Mom.”

We walked back to his bed together. I gave him a Melatonin and tucked him in.

…Which might explain why several of us slept in this morning. I awoke to feed Baby at 8ish; finished and got ‘ready’ to pick up a prescription by 10 a.m. Everyone but we parents and my early-riser was still asleep. Costco’s automated phone message played its usual bit, then had a slightly louder recording tell how they have new hours for the warehouse, including a special time for seniors to shop. People picking up prescriptions do not have to wait in line at the door -just tell the guards associates at the exit doors that you’re picking up a prescription and they’ll let you in.

I haven’t written about Costco yet. Usually, it’s my home away from home. I like to go there when we travel, and Utah boasts the world’s largest Costco. Friends have even teased that I ought to travel to all of them and chronicle my adventures.

When I went there to stockpile toilet paper and water three weeks ago (okay -kidding), people were a tad tense. A few, like me, knew what was coming and were purchasing a few extras. A week later, the store had imposed limits on supplies. A few days after that, signs dotted the columns and tape lines dotted the cash registers and waiting areas so that we might stay 6 feet away from each other. Lines formed to get in, separated by cones and pallets; lines formed to check out, enforced by Costco employees.

Today, plexiglass barriers are screwed to the front of all the cash registers. Some workers wear face masks. The receipt-checkers at the exits have clipboards and gloves. No one touches your membership card. Everyone furiously wipes down counters and computer equipment. They spray shopping carts (trolleys) with a pink solution out in the parking lot.

I saw a pregnant woman of Indian features and dress wearing gloves and a dentist-style face mask. They’re probably not doing much for her, but I’d be doing the same in her shoes.

Next on my errands was the post office. They had tape on the floor as well, plus a sign outside about keeping 10 or fewer people in the waiting area. The woman at the desk wore a face mask and she also sat behind newly-installed plexiglass.

Perhaps we ought to start living in personal plexiglass houses.

The oddest part of my experiences is something Pete pointed out in his comments on my last update: people are avoiding any interaction. Told to be wary and stay six feet away, we are also avoiding nonverbal cues that indicate safety. We are not smiling, laughing, reassuring, or talking. I guess we need to learn to be friends …from a distance.

Which is why I find comfort in the snippets of sunshine. A woman asked another woman at Costco where she’d gotten her package of Charmin toilet paper** from; I heard them laughing at whatever the response was, and I smiled at their smiles. The secretary for my sons’ school asked how we were all doing when I called about a registration issue. My friend and I talked on the phone.

I felt like giving up that day we had the earthquake. I’ve mostly stopped obsessively checking the United States Geological Society’s latest earthquakes page since, and was handling each day too busy to dwell on the larger implications of what we were doing. Today, however, I’ve returned to some of that anxiety. The novelty’s worn off, I suppose. We’ve purchased all the extra food we can eat. We’ve got a rough schedule for schoolwork at home. We’ve even finally started a nap routine for the baby. Now, though, comes the most difficult part: facing the long dark of Moria.

But wishing IT away hasn’t worked for most of us. Assuming IT wouldn’t come didn’t work very well, either. My son’s speech and behavior aide last year told me they were working on his Sphere of Influence; what he could control. Me, I can’t control IT. I can’t control the world’s response. What I can control is me. I can still control much of what my family does and is exposed to as well.

So, you may find me writing from within a circle of salt. Still, at least I’m still alive. And writing.

©2020 Chelsea Owens, including photos of the Schwibbögen and Costco
GIFS © GIPHY

*Okay, I was really playing Candy Crush. They’re offering infinite lives all week, which is brilliant for keeping people in.
**Charmin Ultra Soft toilet tissue is worth more than gold right now…

3/29/2020 of COVID-19 Home Life

I’m not certain what time I awoke this morning. We’d all stayed up late watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail. We tend to save shows we don’t want the children repeating for times when they’re out of school.

A Twofacebook friend posted a re-posted snippet from a doctor in NY or somesuch. It was an amusing bit despite the message, because the author introduced horrible traits of COVID-19 with specific, sometimes humorous examples. I could not find the darned thing in searching for it this evening; sorry. One of my friend’s commenters suggested the article was in error because the author said COVID is airborne and WHO says it is not.

Two interesting articles: WHO’s statement, and a story about a choir group infecting each other despite washing hands and not hugging.

Last week marked my birthday and one of my children’s. Our traditions usually include the birthday person choosing his dinner and cake, apart from suggesting presents he’d like. I also prepare and present the birthday person with breakfast in bed. Since all of those activities required food, I placed an online order with our local shop …then discovered they were three days out in being able to prepare it.

20200325_200154

It’s supposed to be a motherboard cake.

Another child’s birthday approaches this Saturday, so I just finished an online order for his requests. Yes, the store is now booked out till Friday. I intend to dilute the remaining milk with some of our (expired) powdered variety.

My order is for fresh items we can’t store, like bananas, and some cake decorations.

Like most of you, I find my irregular drives to be surreal experiences. Yesterday’s post office run took me past empty restaurant parking lots that advertised drive-up or delivery options STILL AVAILABLE. Twofacebook friends lament cancelled concerts or Spring Break trips. I receive the occasional e-mail update about this dentist now closing, or this doctor or this specialist I haven’t been to in five years anyway. It’s good to know I can’t go, if I miss them.

Despite the doom and gloom, I feel an overwhelming level of community support and love. There are still idiots, naturally. There are selfish acts and short-sighted people. Overall, however, we’re sticking it out for the greater good.

woman about to reach camera

Photo by Wesley Souza on Pexels.com

Utah’s governor issued a ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe‘ directive. Our Salt Lake County Mayor issued a ‘can smack you if you break these new suggestions’ directive. Our county has the highest number of cases, but we’re also the most populous and densely-packed area in little ol’ Utah.

I’m realizing that the long-term plan is for us all to be exposed at some point, but in a spread out manner. We can’t turn off the world forever.

But that world keeps turning. I keep turning on it, in my tiny corner and in my tiny world. So, I hold my boys when the panic hits. I hold a handful of chocolate chips sometimes, too. I tell my mother I love her. I tell my relatives with anxiety to not panic. I tell my relative doing his medical residency that we’ll pray for him. And, like everyone else, I wonder when we’ll return to whatever normal might be.

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens

3/26/2020 of COVID-19 Home Life

I began the day reading about the half-life of our current friend, Mr. Coronavirus. Honestly, I felt quite pleased to read their naming it “Coronavirus half-life,” since I wondered if that term applied to pandemic-level pathogens. It turns out that viable samples live longest on stainless steel and plastic; shortest on copper (MLM opportunity, anyone?). They also concluded that asymptomatic people can spread it…

Actually, I began the day the same way I begin every day lately: awakened by a beautiful, smiling, very hungry boy. His food meter runs out around 5 or 6 a.m., which isn’t bad for a bedtime of 11 p.m. Still, I’m not getting much sleep. I therefore spend the morning hours perusing Twofacebook (which, by the way, is much more interesting and more popular now) until I feel guilty, then venture into safer hobbies like Candy Crush. The article on half-life of a virulent pathogen was an odd peak in dormant curiosity.

8:00 or 8:30 or maybe 8:50 a.m. Feeling tired (go figure), I decided to nap. The baby did not decide the same, but I thought I could squeeze a half hour in before he got too noisy in his complaints.

9:00 a.m.: My teenager’s school called to let me know that he’s not turned things in.

9:00 a.m. also: My next-oldest son’s teacher e-mailed to let me know he’s not turned things in.

(For the record, my other children are completing their assignments.)

…I finally got the day going with the kids and schoolwork and feeding Baby (again) and feeding me, and even squeezed in a shower.

Phone’s alarm went off around 11:50 to notify me of a doctor’s visit for my third child. I alluded to this being Birthday Season. Three of my offspring go in for checkups, virus or no.

Which was my one social venture of the day.

The office door bore a sign advising everyone with cold symptoms to simply stay away (guess they didn’t read about asymptomatic carriers). The waiting room was empty. They’d removed their prize dispenser: a little toy machine that accepts special tokens for good patients. The front desk workers looked and acted about the same.

The backroom staff, however, all wore masks and gloves. They seemed tired, anxious. Or, maybe I seemed that way. My son’s doctor joked that she’d had to purchase scrubs again because she’d given hers away after medical school. So: masks, gloves, scrubs.

A bottle of hand sanitizer on the exam room table had a label on it: DO NOT STEAL MEDICAL SUPPLIES, with a description on the back about how it was primarily for use by the staff -yes, the staff wearing gloves and masks.

20200311_125121

We went home and washed our clothes and hands.

The rest of the day passed as usual, which means I spent it trying to keep them all on task, away from each other, and then still completing their household chores. We couldn’t do outside time on account of snow, so they were more in each other’s business than usual (read: fighting).

High point of the day: my teenager learned he needed to make a healthy meal. He’s a food snob. He disdainfully showed me the other students’ finished ‘meals’ of pancakes (from a mix) and spaghetti (from pre-made stuff). Quarantine aside, I think all of them do not know how to cook. Not my son. He surprised us with completely homemade beef enchiladas.

My pickiest eater raved about the meal. Of course, we didn’t eat till 9 p.m., but I’m certain the meal deserved the praise even without starvation.

IMG_0130

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens, including photos