Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Sunday, March 29, 2020

End of Week Two of Self Isolation

So far so good!

Not sick.
Not bored.
Not crazy.

Yes, not sick.  I am sort of self-isolating to avoid anyone who is not self-isolating and should be!! Every day that I wake up ok I am grateful.  I don't want this new icky virus and I don't want the flu either - which I am quite sure is still circulating and killing people as well - although we don't hear those totals.  So keeping away from almost everyone and disinfecting stuff every 24 hours kills two birds viruses at one time - I hope.  And so far I don't know anyone who has come down with Flu or Covid-19.

Thankfully, not bored.   My grand daughter is with me and there is no such thing as boredom when a 2 year old is around.  Fatigue, yes.  Boredom, no.  My usual pastimes are lagging.  Not much knitting or weaving going on.  Even progress on Community Board things has slowed.  I am cooking more.  And ironically I don't seem to mind.  This is astounding because I generally hate cooking.  But there is something satisfying knowing what I am putting in my body most likely doesn't have any nasty viruses on it.  I am caught up laundry - because I just have the time.  Watching TV and reading fill about the same amount of time as before.

And crazy?  Probably not!  Usually when forced to stay in the house for a long time like during a snow storm, within 3 or 4 days I get 'cabin fever.'  None of that.  But I did start thinking about seeking out some fiber events during the summer and fall.  I am pretty sure that plans of vendors and shoppers are heating up and will explode when we are finally set free to gather in groups of 10 or more and return to normal living.

Hmm ... 'normal living' in this new world.  I do believe the world has shifted in subtle ways - and will never return to a previous normal.  I don't think I will ever think about public surfaces the same way ever again.  And once the new normal returns this summer, I will get ahead on some supplies like hand sanitizer and hand soap and Clorox wipes and all those things that I will need again next year - because, yes folks, we will be doing another repeat for winter 2020-2021.  Maybe not a full shut down of society, but Covid-19 illnesses will be with us again next winter.  Even with the speedy speedy development of a vaccine and discovering meds to mitigate the illness if you catch it - it won't be available until after the next 'bloom' of this virus.  When it is available I am going to be very cautious about getting that vaccine.  Even with adequate testing, new vaccines can have hidden consequences and at my age - it is best to avoid all the consequences until more is known.

Meanwhile I am keeping myself busy learning to make a diluted disinfectant cleaning solution from bleach, learning to keep my hands off my face (my God, that is hard to do), and learning to treat everything outside the little sanctuary of my condo as suspicious. I celebrate the finding (like a treasure hunt) of items rare and valuable - like toilette paper, Clorox cleaning supplies, Tylenol, meat and chicken.  I am learning to live without my good friend Amazon.  *sigh*. That is the hardest lesson of all.  I didn't realize how much I relied and getting stuff by the single click of the mouse.  Delivery times on some items are long and or just simply out of stock and may not return.  I know, I know ... these are First World Problems!  I think it is good that First World folks get a peek at what Third World folks already know.

Two weeks down ... ?? many more to go!
  It is a marathon folks.  
Be a long distance runner and make it to the finish line
 where ever the heck that is!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Narrow and Wide

Twelve short days!
How the world has narrowed down!
And how it has expanded.

At first it was all about "awareness" - watch where you put your hands, don't run short of anything, don't forget the hand cream for those over washed sore hands, keep your distance even from everyone outside your front door, Clorox wipe down surfaces at home every night, and watch your calendar disappear before your very eyes.  Very narrow close to home pursuits.  Awareness becomes habit after a bit.

But the narrow focus of a 'home bound' person is new to me.  I am not clamoring to get in the car and go somewhere ... so I am not exactly suffering.  Staying at home day after day might be a problem for some, but I enjoy my home and I like the feeling that it is safe (hopefully.)

There is the down side ... being kept within 4 walls with TV and the news as your wider view of the world - which is dismal still.

The latest news flash this morning is a story out of Denmark - a message to the US - "Do More -- Fast.  Don't Wait."  And India has locked down it's country.  Imagine that if you can!  But the latest "news flash" from our President (if you want to call it that) is - "We can do two things at one time and we must 'open up our country.'"  That is 'code' for we must get our economy opened up in the next few weeks because when the economy looks bad at election time - he might not get re-elected.  It is all about him after all.  He wants everything open around Easter!  Maybe he hasn't been paying attention to the medical professionals, the scientists or the governors - or even other countries.  But always thinks he knows best of course.  Experts be Damned!! Someone with no governing experience, no scientific experience and no common sense - knows better than anyone else!

I will continue to listen to the medical professionals and the scientists (like all responsible normal adults should do) - and let the "stable genius" in our White House be proved wrong!  Unfortunately proving him wrong involves hurting others, but there is no way around it if he follows through on his mis-guided path.

So what am I actually doing with all my time?

Right now baby sitting my grand daughter.  Day care is closed and my kids are working from home - which is impossible if a 2 year old is about!  I am thrilled to have this time with her.  But my child care juggling skills are little rusty.  The latest example of my short comings involves potty training.  Not mine but hers!! She is almost potty trained and gets it right most of the time but when she is deep in thought it becomes chancy.  Suddenly she raced to the toilette yelling "potty, potty, potty."  I, of course, race after her, saying "hold it, hold it, hold it."  Ha!  Neither of us is consistently good at this.  She was very wet by the time she reached the toilette, so I lifted onto the seat and left for a moment to get some dry panties, pants and socks (very wet).  Sincerely, I wasn't gone long.  And when I returned she had unrolled a whole roll of toilet paper onto the floor - with a BIG smile on her face - a "loving life" smile.  Yikes!  Now-a-days toilette paper is like gold, so I wrapped it back up - laughing at myself.

Then there is Country House Gent presents Travel's By Narrow Boat! on Amazon Prime.
I googled the description of this 7 season show:
Back in early 2016 and with his 50th birthday around the corner, Kevin Shelley (AKA CountryHouseGent) could feel the longtime stresses and strains of his modern lifestyle beginning to have a very real and serious effect - both mentally and physically. So by early 2017 and with almost all of his worldly possessions now sold, he packed the remainder into his camper van and set off to purchase what would become his new home - a canal narrowboat called Aslan. Thus began an amazing journey, not just along the UK canal network but also in the body and mind of Kevin. Watch as, episode by episode, he slowly transforms from an overweight, red faced, eternally exhausted and unshaven figure of a man, into a leaner, tanned and rested unshaven figure of a man. Along the way, he'll visit many new and undiscovered (by him) places, as well as demonstrating a penchant for the occasional pork pie or bacon and egg sandwich.

I LOVE THIS SHOW!!  I could actually see myself doing this!  How wonderful.  Very interesting, relaxing to watch, images of England I will never ever see on my own!  I love life style shows and this is one of the best.  So yes, there is more TV of the wider world - that has not Covid-19 virus in it.

And I have been asked to fill a position on the Board of Directors of my community until more than "10 people can gather together again" and we can have an election.  Ha.  I have volunteered a bunch of time for them this past year ... so not much has changed when I took this position.  Still doing the same stuff.  But I feel committed to helping and making a difference in the place that I live!  This is how I do it.

Other stuff such as knitting and weaving are mostly done in very small batches.  Maybe once day care opens again I will find more time for these hobbies.  Widen my narrow world a bit more!

So that is it from my little 1375 square feet of space in the mid-Atlantic in the USA!

How are things in your little piece of the planet?  

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Real Life - that feels like fiction

It has been a week since the world
 turned upside down for me.  

God knows, the whole world is reeling from the spread of this virus - we are ALL upside down now.

Was it just last Thursday when I dithered about if I should go to a weekend Fiber Fair just hours from my house?  Spend some down time at the ocean.  Or maybe skip the fair but spend quality time only with the waves and the sand.

How can it be that thought process was only one short week ago?

I have binged watched all the coverage of this pandemic and now it feels like I should take a break.  My head is weary from all the bad news - and I just need to hit the 'pause' button.  But how do you do that when each and every day the pattern of our lives changes yet again - new cautions, new closures, new restrictions, new predictions (dire ones), crashing stock market, death numbers climbing - it would be irresponsible to turn away when you need to stay informed.  But, oh the weariness of it all.

Today I realized exactly what this feels like.  I am a huge fan of end-of-the-world fiction.  You know, apocalypse stories, pandemics, survivalist fiction, zombies, Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) events that interrupt the societal norm ... stuff that never happens, but is so interesting to read.

Except - pandemics do happen as it turns out and other stuff in that genre can also happen.  Ok, maybe not zombies, but real life right now feels more like fiction.  What I want to do is just close my Kindle book right now - and everything returns to normal - until I pick up the Kindle again.

Can we just have a 24 hour 'pause,' please?
Maybe if we politely took a vote and everyone raised their hands for a pause
we could get one.

I am getting quite good at washing my hands, wiping down surfaces (inside and out) that I might touch with Clorox wipes, making sure I stay many feet away from others, and cancelling commitments for the next 8 weeks or so.  I am buying ahead like everyone else - maybe not enough to last months, but certainly if I buy one of something normally, today I bought two.  Two or three of almost everything.  Except the stores have gotten wise now - after they were totally cleaned out last weekend - and they mostly limit you to two of stuff!  My household foods and supplies are now at an all time high.  And I don't feel guilty about it at all.  What I hear (since I can't seem to stop listening) is that the next 5 to 7 days will see a dramatic rise in Covid-19 cases (despite the efforts that have been put in place to slow the spread.)  So if I don't have to go out to the store next week - that would be just fine.

The first few days I was constantly reminding myself to do all the protective stuff.  It was exhausting to be so focused on everything single action.  But I discovered today that these cautions are becoming part of my normal way of behaving.  I never touch public surfaces now if I can help it - and when I do I whip out the hand sanitizer.  Yes, I have some of that golden liquid that everyone seeks - from last spring - when I got the flu.   And I have 3 boxes of disposable gloves spread around the condo - some in the pockets of my coats or in my purse.  I hope all this effort makes a difference.  I can't imagine going through an illness that can make me more ill than that flu did last spring.

What I can't seem to wrap my mind around is that these practices probably will be part of our lives until a vaccine is available.  That is at least a year away.  We might get a break during the summer months, but this little bugger virus will be back.  We are talking at least a year or more of vigilance as our only protection!

Is it possible to be that regimented in your personal practices to maintain that level of protection for so long?  I guess the answer must be a resounding YES!

What we are really talking about is a permanent new reality!!

Or, we are all living inside a novel - permanently trapped - with no way to escape!

Am I just over reacting
 or do others feels this is a unreal world right now?

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Judging has no place in a viral pandemic!

Have you experienced it yet?

A subtle judgement because you choose self isolating behavior in this pandemic even if you aren't sick?

I will say that the last few days have been devoted to getting informed, make decisions, changing plans and preparing!  In the "changing plans" arena, I have noticed there is an unexpected sea of opinions circling around every individual "self isolation" decision acted upon.

No matter the subject, there can be a range of opinions all professing to be the "right one" - with little flexibility to admit that there may be no "right" decision for all - just a "right" decision for you.

And so it has been with this Covid-19 virus.

As the world experiences this virus intimately (at the personal social circle level) - it becomes evident very quickly that judgement plays a part.  Person A decides everyone is over reacting and goes on as before ... while Person B decides that if you aren't distancing yourself from others and changing your behavior you are irresponsible.  Judging, judging everywhere.

Maybe an example describes this situation best.

Suppose you have dinner plans with a large group of friends.  One or two decide to drop out due to the virus - and choose to avoid restaurants for awhile.  Pay attention to the comments of others who still plan to attend:
  • "Well, we can't stop living our lives."  Isn't that a kind of judgement upon the person who put caution (staying home) over persistence (going out)?  Wouldn't it be better to say ... "Everyone must decide for themselves, of course."  
  • "Well I have been going out to restaurants for weeks with no problem."  Isn't that a kind of judgement ... one that really says, "See, I am well and nothing has happened to me.  So it must be ok."    *sigh* - Oh ... if the contagion issues were just that simple.
  • Or someone says absolutely nothing -  offers silence as a response.  After all - that doesn't seem judgmental, does it?  While total silence doesn't appear to be judgmental on the surface - it can be perceived as is a negative response.  Wouldn't someone normally respond "Hey, we will miss you this time around.  But I understand if you need to do this."
I am sure there are many little episodes similar to this one playing out in our nation right now.  After all, our illness and death rates do not yet look like China, Italy or even Europe.  So it is easy to wonder why this is such a big deal!!

Another example of judgment is a statement like this: "Well, you can recover.  Not every Covid-19 illness ends in death."  True.  Actually, most recover.  After seeing a comparison of flu symptoms and Covid-19 symptoms, I admit thinking, "Gosh - no sore throat - my Flu swollen throat last spring landed me in the ER.  I needed steroids to get past that. No sore throat with Covid-19!  Ha!  I could nail this illness with no sweat!"  Well - I have come to the conclusion that my narrow-minded, self-absorbed and selfish thinking self is all wrong.  It is not all about ME and my throat!  It is about US -  and US, folks, is a whole lot of people that could get sick (hospital level sick) at the same time.  The rate of serious reaction and death with Covid-19 is higher than the Flu.  We could break our health system if we didn't lower the speed and spread of infection through simple self isolation.  I also have re-thought that symptom list - shortness of breath?  Yikes!  I like breathing.

When this new virus popped its ugly head in my awareness - back in January - I was one of those who kept saying ---

"Hey everyone, the flu kills.  
It kills thousands every single year.  
Fear the Flu!! 
This new little virus is just a blip!  What is the big deal?  
There must be something they aren't telling us!  
Ridiculous over-response to a blip!"

  Well, it is now March - and I have changed my tune.  And now when authorities (and science - let's not forget science) asks me to change my way of acting, responding, preparing - my way of living ... I listen!

And here is a thought!  
If we don't take all the appropriate and cautious actions recommended by authorities, 
do we really want to end up like Italy?

Ok, I am off my soap box now.  I am heading to the kitchen to wash my hands again!  I am sanitizing surfaces because we are expecting company this afternoon and I will sanitize again after - I want to protect others as well as myself - even if they don't believe as I do.

And no judgements!


Friday, March 13, 2020

Indecision Resolved

So ... I did not go to the OC Delmara Fiber Fair - scheduled for this weekend.

A lot can happen in 24 hours.  

Wednesday afternoon I dithered about whether to attend a Fiber Fair about 2 1/2 hours drive from me.  I had it all planned out to attend.  I started packing.  I spent the previous 3 days getting organized so my absence from my husband was minimal.  I was ready with only one tiny little reservation - Covid-19 was heating up on the national and international stage.  But locally it was just a small blip.  I would go, arrive Friday morning (a work day for most) when they opened and stay a short time at this small fair.

I went to sleep Wednesday night looking forward to the weekend.

Thursday morning's news was concerning.

Reports of imminent school closings were repeated on the news and from friends.  Hmmm... that may impact me.  I don't have any school age kids, but I am my grand-daughter's back-up for day care.  Day care establishments follow public schools in some announcements.  Right then I decided to go to the ocean but not attend the fair.  I could have 2 days of just me time: the ocean, my audio books and my knitting.  And I would minimize my own exposure to this virus so I could baby sit my grand daughter.

Later Thursday I heard from my daughter - who is in a leadership role in a Continuing Care Retirement Community.  She asked if I could pick Milo up on my way home Sunday.  There was a chance she might be working long hours and she was worried about her dog.  Well, of course.  Fits perfectly into my schedule.

Late Thursday afternoon our Governor held a news conference.  He announced sweeping changes - closing the schools for 2 weeks and canceling all gatherings of 250 or more people - for government, parades, religious institutions, entertainment venues and social gatherings.   He closed our ports, encouraged work from home and other measures designed to protect the citizens.  While the number of reported cases remained small compared to other areas, he was taking these steps to get out ahead of the expected increases - and maybe disrupt the contagion cycle by severely limiting gatherings.  I was proud of his actions.  Compared to our President's methods - our Governor looked like a knight in shining armor - ready to do battle.

I still could go to the ocean since I didn't plan on attending the fair anyway.

Then my daughter called again.  Her community was on lock down - meaning no visitors.  She wondered if I would be willing to return from my weekend early to get Milo if needed.  She was drafted into working the weekend with expected long hours ...  for all available staff - specifically staff without children - as they expected big absenteeism due to child care concerns from school closures.  And to complicate things, 2 members of her resident community were currently being tested for Covid-19.  Should any one test come back Positive, she would be quarantined a long with everyone else - and not allowed to leave for 2 weeks - not even for her dog.

Within 24 hours - I went from:

  • going away this weekend and attending the fair, 
  • to going but not attending the fair ... 
  • to, finally, not going at all.

It was a crazy 24 hours.

Today it is beautiful outside.  I am sure it is amazing at the ocean.  I am spending the day getting my grand dog (who I love and would hate to see caught up in any possible 'quarantine drama,' as well as relieving my daughter's mind) and unpacking my many bags of things I was taking to the ocean.

After all is said and done - I am just a little bit disappointed.  Getting away would have been nice. But these are exceptional circumstances and require exceptional actions.  And I would never put anything ahead of my kids needs if I could help it.

But ... 
here is a message to you, Covid-19.  
Stay away!  
I am washing my hands
 and disinfecting stuff,
 and buying ahead,
 staying out of crowds, practicing social distancing, 
and changing my personal schedule!  

It would add insult to injury if I got this stupid virus now. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

To go or not to go! That is the question!

This stupid new virus has everyone tied up in knots.

Stores have bare shelves where Disposable Vinyl Gloves, hand sanitizer and face masks used to be.  Ok, I get that!  Kind of a helpful barrier to ward off causal exposure to this new virus - that NO ONE has resistance to!  And then there is the bottled water and toilet paper shortage!  What is with that?  Someone please explain those two items to me - and why I should be hoarding them.  That reaction seems to be connected to extreme weather events - not illnesses!  Unless I am missing something ... that is just crazy behavior!

And washing your hands!  Well, yes, we should have ALREADY been doing this because of the flu - which I think I am at greater risk of catching even with my flu shot from last October!

But still the warnings about this virus are rampant and listening to them just makes good sense.  It is highly infectious with a higher mortality rate especially among folks my age.  So I listen and make some changes! I upped my hand washing.  I believe social distancing is a good idea.  I buy some appropriate items when they are available: a box of disposable gloves and some antibacterial soap.  I am pretty much set with hand sanitizer because of last spring's flu event! I always have an ample supply of Clorox wipes. I try (in vain) to keep from touching my face!  (Seriously, is anyone completely successful at that?) We always have too much food in the house (I am a food hoarder who hates to cook ... go figure!) So I think I am prepared should COVID-19 pop up in my local county - which it hasn't yet!  But who is to know - the thinking is that COVID-19 is already present in the population generally at lower levels and the only "popping up" that will be reported will be someone who gets really sick, is tested and maybe hospitalized.

But here is the REAL dilemma.  Warnings abound about avoiding large crowds.  Events are being cancelled.  Schools are making arrangements for 'distance' learning in our area (despite the fact that there are only 20 confirmed cases in our state.  Flights are being cancelled because they are empty.

And I have plans this weekend to attend an event.

To go or not to go!  This weekend I have plans to go to Ocean City where the Delmara Wool and Fiber Fair is held.  This is a yearly event - small in nature - maybe 35 vendors.  I'll be driving (no public transportation) and I planned to attend the event on the first day - Friday - when attendance will be smallest as it is a work day for most.  In fact I am hoping to arrive as it opens.  In the past it is not a 'sardine event' like Maryland Sheep and Wool in May where people are shoulder to shoulder at times.  Social distancing should be easy to achieve at this March event. I so look forward to going to these kinds of Fairs - especially since they take the place of any real vacationing -  my husband won't travel any more.

At present I intend to go as planned.  After all, COVID-19 will be with us probably now as a regular "visitor" like the flu into the future.  I can't lead a life that is always filled with avoidance until a vaccine is available!  My practical voice says that a few simple measures at a small event should be enough.  But then you turn on the TV or radio and the news seems a bit grim.  And my practical voice  changes its message saying - is it worth the risk?

But ... oh, woe is me
 if this impacts Maryland Sheep and Wool in May!

How are things in your small part of the world?
  Are you spending any time

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Worth a Listen - There is a new virus in town!

Grabbed this video from another blogger!

It is definitely worth a listen.
A more detailed and reasonable description of what is happening in the world
than what you will get on a short news clip on TV or radio.


Sunday, March 1, 2020

Change or Crumble or ...

My grand daughter turned two in February.  

It was a fun and joyous event even if she was over-tired from staying up late at my house the night before.  (You do know ... at grandma's house the rules are pretty flexible - like bedtimes!)  Ha!  Her cute little self is pretty much as pure as the day she was born!  Too soon for any real negative 'foot prints' to change that little soul - because she lives in a happy loving home with two caring parents and extended family who loves her with a passion that I never knew as a child.

Opening Birthday Gifts with her Mom

It got me thinking about how 'life' changes you as you walk gingerly through it - stepping over or side stepping difficulties until they can no longer be avoided - and you have your very first negative 'foot print' on your child-like self.  It could be the addition of a sibling that divides your parents' attention from you.  Or an early form of bullying from a peer who is too young to know empathy or compassion.

For myself it was at age 6 when an alcoholic father did something that forced my gentle mom to warn him away, or she would push the baby bottle she was using to feed my infant sister "down his throat."  At age 72 I still remember that scene like it was yesterday.  I think that was the first foot print on my child-like self.  Other memories - less clear - followed over my childhood years - probably not retrievable as a self protective mechanism.  But early changes such as these made me more docile than my true nature probably.

School years were a struggle as well.  I was not a good student - maybe not academically gifted or maybe just too impacted by a less than happy home.  My memories are jumbled but I remember making friends easy - certainly not part of the "in crowd" but not an outsider either.  Inviting friends into my home was infrequent and sleep overs never occurred because in an alcoholic home you couldn't be sure it would turn out well. Best to cover up that fact. In addition bullying is not limited to just this generation.  But I managed to side step those issues by being willing to mold my self to the will others.  I'd learn how to side step difficult personalities thanks to my father - it was just as easy to side step difficult peers the same way.  Many many foot prints were stamped on me in those years by my father and by my peers. I emerged my teen years as a person who was liked but not necessarily popular, content but not necessarily happy and eager to be independent without necessarily knowing what I would do with my life.  A middle of the road person who finds the 'middle' less foot stomp worthy.

When I married I managed to side-step repeating history - no heavy drinking spouse for me.  Chronic drinking would be a 'deal breaker.'  And, to this day, it would still be a deal breaker - even after 50 years of marriage.  I guess that was the first time in my life that I ever put my opinion and my desires ahead of others.

But marriage at 22 years of age is a "crap shoot."  The person you are at 22 (in many ways not fully formed) may not resemble who you are at 72!  So it was for me.  Lots and lots of foot steps trampling  me forcing me to Change or Crumble.  I chose Change.  And change made me harder.  Those 50 years were filled with the highs and lows of children of my own, professional challenges, and heart breaking elder caregiving for 3 family members.  I learned step by step, that I couldn't be all things to all people.  I learned that I was a limited resource and if I wanted anything of me left of me for me - I needed to draw lines in the sand in each and every relationship.  Boundaries were my survival mechanism.  Even with my own children - for whom I would give my life - alcoholism would not be tolerated.  Thankfully - that illness has not found its way into their lives.

Even my spouse - has planted footprints on me that has changed who we are together.  Small little red flags that waved gently in my face at 22 before marriage are still waving glaringly in my face at 72!  It is true that you should never assume you can change anything about anyone.  Those red flags have formed me.  After all ... it is Change or Crumble!  I don't Crumble!  Not in my nature.  I got tougher, more willing to stand up for myself, less willing to choose the middle ground.  And the changes in our married relationship that those constant red flags have forced ... have changed the nature of our married life.  I have often commented that I am not the person he married 50 years ago. If I was, he may not have married such a firmly formed me at 22.  He, however, is very much the same person I married all those years ago.

So I guess there is a third response to life - Change, Crumble or Static!

Wrestling with her dad!  I think she is winning!

My grand daughter - how I wish I could protect her from all those negative kicks in life that change who you are.  Or maybe I should just wish that the changes in her life will all be positive ones... ones that make her a better human being as she grows.  Strong, compassionate, smart, brave.  Shield her from those things that make her hard, selfish, cynical and judgemental.

Reading a book with her Aunt.

Or maybe I should just be grateful that she has the strong foundation of 2 loving parents and close loving extended family - and with those few vital building blocks she will be able to weather all the footprints that want to stamp her out - she won't need to Change, or Crumble or be Static.

She will ... Flourish!