Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

Sue and Mo at Harris Beach
Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

Friday, April 3, 2020

04-03-2020 Writing About It

It is now 5:30 AM and I have been awake since 2, finally up at 3 thinking I could possibly write a blog post.  It’s funny how I can procrastinate this simple chore, and yes, this time it feels like a chore rather than a delight.  But it needs to be done. I need to try to track the milestones of our life, not just the great trips, but the down times.  March was most definitely a down time, but it didn’t really begin until March 10, when we laughingly enjoyed what was to be our last pedicure for a long time.

On March 10th, the Virus was still a distant rumor, just a tiny hint of what was to come.  We felt safe enough with our pedicure technicians wearing their masks as they often do. By March 13th, the rumor was big and loud enough that I called my hairdresser and asked if she minded if I cancelled my appointment.  She was still open, but understood completely.  At almost 75 years old, and with a random muscle disease as yet undiagnosed, I didn’t want to take chances.  Now in Oregon, all barber shops, beauty shops, and nail salons are closed along with many other so called non essential businesses.  It is a bit interesting to see what is deemed essential, with liquor stores and pot shops being high on the list.

Many of my blogging friends have done a fantastic job of continuing to write about the complexities of their lives as they deal with the Virus.  Covid 19. It. Some have said we should keep a diary of these times, of our lives as we go through what feels like a truly crazy dystopian novel. I haven’t done that well, in fact I haven’t even tried.  I have days on the calendar that list things that need to be done, but the huge blank spot in that calendar are appointments and outings.  All those doctor and dentist visits, blood work that needs to be done, hair  and nail appointments, dinner with friends, Friday nights at the winery with wood fired pizzas and a bottle of good red.

A trip to the beach, something we have done almost every March since we had the MoHo, cancelled at the last minute.  We had planned 3 days at an RV resort near Gold Beach beginning on March 23.  I called to cancel after social media went into a frenzy about too many people heading for the coast, but the owner refused to refund our deposit, saying everything was fine.  The very next day Oregon’s governor closed the RV parks.  Instead of the refund I would have received, I got a credit for another date in June.  Unknown to us and unmentioned by the park manager was that the cost in June was summer rates, quite a bit more than we planned.  I was NOT happy.

Our planned cruise to Scotland is scheduled for early July, but we are reasonably certain that it will be cancelled as well.  We have the ability to cancel with a full credit for a future cruise just 48 hours before our first airline departure so will wait a bit before cancelling.  Not exactly excited about getting on a long flight or a cruise ship even in July, and am pretty sure we will not be going on that cruise this year.

We are practicing social distancing, isolating at home.  Often, it doesn’t feel much different than usual.  We aren’t hugely social creatures, enjoying our own company, enjoying our home and our little almost acre.

That acre has been a godsend in the last few weeks.  We can still go outdoors when the weather allows and fiddle around with home projects to keep us busy and moving.  I can get 10,000 steps in a day simply walking up and down to mow and rake and haul debris to the waiting dump trailer.  Mo spends more time outside than I do, being less picky about the temperatures and willing to don outerwear to get out there.  I’m more of a warm weather person, I really don’t like working in the cold.  Maybe because I spent so many decades as a field scientist working outdoors in some rather awful weather. I’ll go for a walk, but actually doing yard work in cold damp weather isn’t any fun for me. 

Mo’s big project this month has been getting a solid, level gravel floor in the lean-to area of her wood shop.  She had to mix many bags of cement to enclose the area so that it would contain the gravel.  She then ordered a big load of rock, and shoveled it into the space bit by bit until she had a very nice solid floor. She was happy that she had her trusty tractor to help move the gravel from the pile to the shed. No more blocks trying to level up her sawing table.

Instead of braving the chilly weather I retreat to the sewing machine or make some cards, clean house or cook:  warm pursuits that keep me happy and far from bored.  I don’t think either of us has been even remotely bored in the last few weeks.  But things seem to be getting crazier every day, and the somewhat vague lockdown of just about every kind of commerce in the state of Oregon is beginning to take its toll. 

My dearest friend, Maryruth, came down with pneumonia early in the month, just as her husband Gerald was recuperating from a heart attack and major heart surgery.  It was still a time when I could take them food and groceries, but as the month progressed even that changed.  Maryruth never had a fever, was never hospitalized, but also was never tested.  We haven’t visited in person for 3 weeks now.  She is better, Gerald has recuperated wonderfully, but with compromised immune systems, there are no dinner get togethers, no card playing dates, no girly crafting days to share.

Cooking a deep dish quiche for supper

I can see that I am rambling as I write, trying to recapture how it feels to be required to remain at home, to stay away from family and friends.  Like many others, I am calling more and texting less, wanting to hear the voices of those that I love as they navigate the same scary waters.  My daughter Melody is working from home, but her honey is still going to work.  They made an offer on a house early in the month, before anything was known, and unbelievably they were funded, inspected, appraised and managed to close within a couple of days of the original closing date, yesterday. Is moving considered an essential activity? 

A lovely old home in Oregon for my daughter who loves history and old houses

My grandkids, Melody’s family, are all somehow magically safe at the moment, with Xavier, the most immune compromised with Type 1 diabetes on paid leave from his job at Fred Meyer.  My two grandkids and their two roommates share an apartment in Albany, Oregon, with one working at Home Depot, one working at WalMart, one currently unemployed but with some savings, and Xavier at home.  They are being careful and they are not ignoring the warnings.  Millennials and younger, they are paying attention. I am proud of them.

Deborah, a financial manager at Southern Oregon Head Start is considered essential, even though the facilities are closed.  She is getting paid and even if she weren’t she has a gazillion hours of sick leave she can use.  Her honey is retired, with a stable income as well. With unemployment applications topping 10 million so far, I am incredibly grateful that the family has resources and is safe.  What I miss are the weekly or biweekly Deborah Sunday visits.  Grandson Matthew is at home across the street, and we wave when we see each other.

Keith and my grandson Steven, and Deanna installing new hardwood floors in their home

Daughter Deanna and her husband, the truckers, are miraculously at home at their property in Northern Washington. They planned a month off to do some down time, to work on their home and property before all this started.  Now they are trapped there, without income, but unwilling to go back on the road and get stranded somewhere unable to move.  The airplane engines that they transport are stopped cold at the moment, and other drivers who do what they do are spending most of their time waiting in truck stops with no open restaurants.  It is hard on their savings and their retirement plans, but at least they are trapped at home instead of somewhere far away in a truck.  They also have property to play on and plenty of home projects to keep them busy, a freezer full of food, and plenty of isolation in a very tiny remote community.  I am grateful that they are safe.

I took down the St Pat’s decor, and put up Easter.  I do love the Easter decorations, but realized this year that love is mostly based on knowing that I will be sharing an Easter meal with family, and the decor is just a backdrop to brighten that precious family time.  Something that will not happen this year.  Back in mid March when I put it up, I did think that maybe this would all be over by Easter.  I know some of the world thought that as well, but now we know better.  Social isolation will no doubt last at least through April and probably much longer.

So many people have said what am feeling:  the days are all running together.  We have settled into a routine that is only broken when one or the other of us waken in the night and then we sleep till 8 or even 9am.  Unheard of around here!  We are binge watching Newsroom after dinner, if you can call two episodes a night a binge.  It is for us.  The Sunday night airing of the final season of Homeland can take my mind off of anything else.

The dog knows when the 4 pm chime rings it is time for her walk, and at 5 it is time for her dinner and at 8 she is insistent that it is her bedtime.  The days are pleasant, sometimes even lovely. 

I am enjoying uninterrupted time for quilting,working on a bed quilt for Deborah.

Another dear friend in Idaho is a crafter/card maker and turned me on to the Tim Holtz Facebook Live demonstrations on Saturdays.  She sent me some Tim style cards, so different from my somewhat regimented and orderly card making style. 

The Stampin’ Up style of cards I am used to making

I learned that it is very hard for me to just cut loose and get all crazy with random stuff, and was surprised that there is such a big learning curve to the chemistry of the particular style of Distress card making.

Learning to make wild colorful creative backgrounds, Tim Holtz style

It is very similar to why I had so much trouble trying to play blues piano when I was trained classical, as much as I loved the Blues. Laura is inspiring me to just cut loose and play with the colors and the paper and don’t even try to think of what it will be like in the end.  Challenging, and just what is needed to take my mind off of what is going on in the world around us.

Yesterday the sun came out after many gray, drippy days.  We needed the rain, and I don’t mind it, but I so miss the sunshine.  Even with a hard frost on the grass in the early morning, the day was gorgeous.  Mo and I treated ourselves to a drive to the compost center for a truckload of nice rich compost for the annual flower garden on the sunny side of the RV shed.

I love putting fresh compost down getting ready for the annuals in this garden

We enjoyed the gorgeous spring day during the 20 minute drive along the Rogue River.  We stopped at the drive through of Rogue Roasters for coffee to go for the drive.  It was an exciting outing for us.  I carefully wiped the credit card and the coffee cups with Clorox wipes from our last container.  Mattie even had a puppicino.  These are tiny cups of whipped cream that Starbucks has for dog customers, and the local Rogue Roasters was happy to oblige when I asked.

We have 18 more days of toilet paper, which I had stored prior to the hoarding kerfuffle.  I always try to keep the TP in the cupboard so I don’t have to shop for it often, so I was prepared.  Who knows if I will be able to get more, but I am getting a bit nervous about it. We are planning to head to WinCo on Sunday morning. Local conversations on Grants Pass Community Chat indicate that they are doing an excellent job of practicing social distancing, and are fairly well stocked.  We will see how that goes. So far we haven’t had any desire to brave the 30 miles and unknown that is Costco.

As others have said in blogs and facebook posts, not much to report.  Still, it seems important to write it down.  Someday we could all look back and say, wow, that was something.  Someday it could be completely behind us.  Then again, someday we could look back and say, that is when the end of the world started, or the beginning of a new word we don’t recognize.  It could be anything.  That is the uncertainty of these times that makes writing a blog feel so disjointed, that makes life feel so disorienting.  We are adjusting to a new reality, and no one really has a clue what that reality will bring.