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Staying at Home

So… how you doin’?

I haven’t blogged in a while because, well, it’s not like I’ve been out and about, seeing and being seen. I can’t work, as I am “fur”-loughed (no puppy parties, although I personally consider puppy breath essential). No date nights, unless you call side-by-side weeding quality time. No fancy dinners (but lots of takeout). No travel (and no, the grocery store does not count).

But we are still healthy, and no one in our family has gotten sick, so I don’t want to complain too loudly.

So what HAVE we been up to?

We finished the Marvel Universe Infinity Stone movie saga. While watching it we had family movie night almost every day — which was great (although the wine and popcorn diet was not good for the waistline). Now that it is done, we need to find something else, as we have started drifting to opposite corners of the house again and I miss the time with Singer Girl.

Singer Girl has officially finished her first year as a Michigan Wolverine. Officially, her grades say “Passed — COVID,” but she will petition to have the letter grades appear on her transcript as she killed it. She has been working on arranging songs for her a Capella group as she was chosen to be a co-music director for the organization. She has also been writing music and practicing so she can (hopefully) record and perform later this summer. I am loving all this time. I get to enjoy her singing (although we are supposed to pretend we can’t hear her. Don’t ask. It’s a thing.) We chat all the time about school. When she is away, she never hides things from me. But she has other folks to chat with, so she doesn’t need to share every detail with me.

She is getting antsy now, and it doesn’t help that her Macbook crashed. I allowed her to have a girlfriend over to hang out the other night. I felt like such a bad person, as that is still verboten in our neck of the woods. I guess slowly but surely we will have to start dipping our toes into the pool of society. Today we are being risky again. I invited my mom over for dinner for Mother’s Day. I just couldn’t stand the idea of her being alone for yet another event. I’m torn: is that selfish, selfless, or a combo of the two? I gave her the choice — but really I knew she’d come over. She was so sweet to promise she hadn’t been anywhere. I reminded her that I am more concerned about us getting her sick than the opposite. Hopefully, I won’t regret this!

I haven’t signed up for any new fosters since Secondhand Hounds has so many new fosters we can’t keep up with dog demand. But I miss being around new dogs, so I reached out to a fellow foster and borrowed her three German Shepherd puppies for a 24-hour playdate.

This was both a good and bad idea. Good, because I got a fix. Bad, because, like all junkies, I am craving another hit. So I have told other whelping fosters that I am available for more one night stands if they need a break or if their dogs need a little extra socializing. This could be habit-forming.

As mentioned in a previous post, I am obsessed with books. So many have been read, my husband has had whiplash. The other night I sat on the couch, closed a book, and declared it done. About an hour later, he saw me propped up in bed. Reading.

“Didn’t you just FINISH a book?”

“Yes. So I had to start another one.”

He looked at me like I had a sickness. Maybe I do.

Apparently, I have a couple of them.

I also get great satisfaction from purging and organizing. COVID has made this both easier and harder. Easier, because I have the time. Harder, because my garage is packed with giveaways that I can’t get rid of. Which means my projects are logjammed. I rearranged all my costumes into bins and want to put them in the attic.

But I can’t get them into the attic because the attic access is in the garage and there is no room in the garage because of all the giveaways I can’t give away.  And I need to move stuff out of the attic to make room for new attic stuff, but, well, no room in the garage. It’s a circle of hell Dante forgot to write about.

My garage is also crammed with plants awaiting new homes in the yard. I had a Scarlet O’Hara moment sanding in my weed-plagued yard, surrounded by creeping charlie and garlic mustard and declared that, as God is my witness, I will never have a yard this overgrown again. COVID gave us lots of extra time, and spring has been mercifully dry and mild, so I am logging untold hours hacking at weeds. I know the only way to successfully control the weed invasion is not only to eradicate but to build a fortress against future insurrections by planting new stuff. So I asked on Nextdoor for extra plants folks were getting rid of or splitting, and I have battalions of hostas, ferns, Achillea, lilies, and more just waiting to be called into action. Unfortunately, the weather has taken a frigid turn. It looks like we will have several days of near-freezing items at night, so planting is on hold. I am hoping to get back out tomorrow to do more weeding, even if I can’t plant.

We will win this war! (If I wear jodhpurs and carry a riding crop while warring against the weeds, will my neighbors find me wacko?)

We remain committed to getting takeout from local restaurants. Every day I check the paper to see if we have lost any more great establishments! Easter dinner came courtesy of 6Smith in Wayzata.

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Food was amazing — but they were unprepared for the demand. HWSNBN had to wait more than an hour for our order! We have encountered this a couple of times — like when we did Cinco de Mayo takeout from Baja Haus in Wayzata. Again: food was good (especially the margarita mix!), but waiting more than an hour is maddening. These poor restaurants!

Want something cool? Order from Travail Kitchen in Robbinsdale. Their takeout comes with instructions on how to put t all together so it is fresh and hot and ready to eat (and the accompanying videos are delightful).

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Another huge win: biscuits from Betty and Earl’s. I have been wanting to try this place since local media master Jason Matheson opened it up, but have been too lazy to go try it. So when they announced they would do satellite delivery stations, I leapt at the chance. And now I am addicted. Damnit.

 

Not to worry — we’ve been cooking as well! Chinese food, Mexican, grilling, Italian, etc. And yes: there have been wine and popcorn nights, as previously mentioned. Don’t judge.

You know you’ve been home a lot when there is nothing left in your DVR. I know television and movie studios are panicking as they can’t make new content. But know I have o excuse not to watch things I’ve meant to, whether old movies or a new series. Singer Girl has actually decided to try to see all the best movies of each decade as proclaimed by her fave youtube channel, WatchMojo. I want to watch with her, but she has admitted that I am not the best movie companion, as I like to guess what is going t happen. I promised to do better — and pay her for every time I interrupt film, kind of like a swear job. I guess we all need to use our stay at home time to better ourselves!

One way I am now slacking on the “bettering me” front? I have stopped working out daily. Mainly, it’s because the yard work is kicking my butt! But I gave myself a firm talking to about the snacking and extraneous alcohol consumption, and I feel that is compensating. My goal now is to re-enter society one pound lighter than I went into isolation. Not a lofty goal, but again: lots of takeout, wine, and popcorn have made me a bit squishy.

According to the last announcement, Minnesota may get a few restrictions lifted on May 18th. I am not expecting full freedoms, but I am excited for a little bit more. Scared, though, as numbers everywhere are going up, not down. I know the goal isn’t to NEVER get COVID, but to make sure we don’t all get it at once. Like everyone else, I am ready to start planning again  — travel, dinners out, hugs. In the meantime, I think I’ll go get something done.

Or not.

 

 

Silver Linings in your COVID Mask?

We are lucky so far.

We don’t know anyone who is sick (yet). My husband is still employed. I really haven’t found any shortages on the shelves that has made my life difficult. But our lives are a wee bit different, just like everyone else’s — and sometimes, for the better.

This past weekend I was supposed to be sad, as I would not be attending mom’s weekend at my daughter’s sorority at the University of Michigan. Her a Capella group was set to travel to Boston for a workshop and competition. But obviously that all changed. Instead, on Saturday she attended the event online, and I get to hear her sing. A lot.

She has also convinced us to commit to a movie marathon of sorts: we are going to watch all 20-plus movies in the Marvel Universe series (except the Hulk, which she doesn’t like, or Deadpool, because it’s rated R and this not technically part of the saga. but I digress). I’ve never been one to go out of my way for superhero flicks, but it is fun to be committed to this much family time.

We have never had this much time with her since, well, probably since she started preschool, honestly. Day in, day out, we are together. We have learned to respectfully give each other space. I was getting overwhelmed and feeling like I didn’t have any me time, so I created a  schedule. Everyone writes down when they have to be online for a class or conference call, and we all try to stay quiet and out of the way for each other.  I am forced to be more productive at certain times when I know she will be hopping onto my laptop and I will have to get off.

I am working out more. We know when each other will or won’t be in the home gym, so I am scheduling my time better. On a normal day I would say to myself “at some point today I need to hop onto the treadmill.” Now, because others want to hop on, I schedule it and it gets done.

There are more walks, too, and not only by us. Our neighbors are out more, and we are talking with ten (at a distance, of course) more than perhaps we ever had. Everyone is friendlier. Everyone has the time to chat — and we crave it.

With the workouts, I realized I need new shoes. I can’t go to a mall, so I reached out on the socials and was flooded with suggestions of local businesses that are making it possible to shop.

I am adamant that we use local businesses when possible. Yesterday, the rules changed and they want us to wear masks. Amazon is, of course, sold out for a month, so I went back on Facebook and asked, “who is making masks?” I had five options within 15 minutes.

I am overtipping like crazy, and paying people for services I ma not receiving, simply because I can and I want to help directly, not just in am anonymous “donate here” kind of way. For example, we are still paying our housekeeper. I also reached out to her and asked if she had a family member who could use the clothes we had purged from closets. yes, I could give to Goodwill. But if I can give it directly to someone I know, I feel less helpless.

Speaking of helping however we can, HWSNBN and I gave blood yesterday. You should do that as well.

HWSNBN, as I mentioned, is still working. However, his commute is much shorter — just a walk down the hall to his office. In the first few days of this, I learned a lot about what was coming by overhearing his conference calls. I’ve also learned a lot more about what he does on a daily basis, which has been interesting.

Relationships are weird when you are housebound. I can tell when he is procrastinating: he cleans, does laundry, putters around — usually in my arena. Don’t get me wrong: I love him helping out. But it has been harder for me to know my place with the lines so blurry.

I’ve also learned a lot more about my daughter and her academics. I have proofread a few papers for her, and in some ways, I feel as lost as I did when the kids hot about 5th grade in math. Out of my depth for sure! I have always been impressed by her scholastic work ethic, and now is no different. I am grateful that she has school work to help keep her busy.  I do hope the restrictions ease up when her academics end, or we could we in trouble. In the meantime, she is growing her own kombucha for a botany class, speaking Spanish at a level that would be acceptable on a Madrid street, and watching all the pandemic ramifications from the POV of a student who hasn’t decide whether to major in psychology or sociology.

She has been so respectful of social distancing! Yesterday marked the end of her 14-day quarantine since coming back from school. So today, I grudgingly allowed her to visit a friend in a distant way: they kicked a soccer ball around in a park. No close contact, just back and forth passing. I worried she’d get dirty looks (some folks are calling the cops on kids), but thankfully that didn’t happen.

Tonight I was going to order takeout, as we are trying to support local restaurants a few times a week. But HWSNBN wanted to cook, so I let him. Tomorrow someone from The Lakes Running Store will drop off shoes for me to try (I could get used to this), and I will see if my mask supplier needs provisions.

And I will try not to dwell on the latest losses, or that my son is serving on a probably COVID infested aircraft carrier, and that my dad lives in a nursing home, the front line of this wretched viral war.

I will enjoy the fact that my husband and daughter are messing up the house and eating all the food.

It could be worse.

 

Would it Help if I Worried?

So there’s this bug going around…

No, I don’t have it — yet.

Am I the only one out there not freaked out, but still get that it is a real thing? I mean, I know I will likely get it, or at least be exposed to it if I haven’t been already. I also assume that, sadly, I will know someone who dies. That’s an awful thought, but the odds are likely.

In the meantime, I am not sitting around wringing my hands and obsessively watching press conferences or reading charts or graphs or statistics.

My life has changed, sure. Date nights are gone. So is any personal space. My activities at home have to be curtailed to accommodate our home being turned into an office and school space.

The first time it started feeling real for our family was on our trip to Seattle Feb 27-March 2nd. That was about the time it started breaking open in Washington. As we wandered through museums and tourist attractions, rode planes and Ubers and ferries and monorails, ate samples at food markets and didn’t wash our hands enough, the bug was out there, closing in.

On Wednesday the 10th, HWSNBN was sent home from work to self-quarantine. He hasn’t been back to work since. That was the first way the pandemic has affected the family. We are lucky that he is still working — but keeping puppies quiet during his conference calls has been challenging.

At my weekly marketing meeting for Secondhand Hounds, the animal rescue I work for, we discussed possibly changing our upcoming events. I reached out the next day, Thursday, to my upcoming puppy parties (that’s what I do: I run our puppy party division), assured them that animals can’t spread the virus, but if they wanted to reschedule, that’s fine. No one took me up on the offer.

The next day we sent another letter, informing that all events were canceled, whether we liked it or not.

About that time my daughter and son were starting to feel the ripple effects where they are.

Singer Girl goes to school in Michigan (Go Blue!). She loves it there. I told her to prepare for things to change. I told her that her A Cappella group’s trip to Boston would likely be canceled. She said no way (it was canceled). I told her folks would soon be leaving. She said no way. The local kids started heading home temporarily. The school canceled classes for two days to decide how to handle the situation. They went to online classes. She wanted to see what would happen with all the social stuff. When St Patrick’s Day and Aca prom and here sorority’s charity event were all canceled, she was stunned.

I told her she would be coming home soon. She said no. She was still working; in fact, she was working more than she ever had, to cover the shifts of all those who had left already.  She also worried about exposing us to anything she had come in contact with.

I told her she would be coming home. She said she didn’t want to leave her friends. I said just start emotionally planning for it. She rolled her eyes, and we hung up.

Two hours later she called and said, “Ok: come get me.”

So last Thursday I drove 10 hours to Michigan. We packed her up the next day and drove back on Saturday.

Now, we all have to juggle wifi and quiet time so she can do her studies, HWSNBN can do his work, and I can stay sane while they step all over my routine.

Sailor Boy is supposed to change duty stations this summer — to Italy. Not sure if that’s going to happen now. The military is taking some major steps to deal with the virus, and his day to day life has drastically changed. He calls every day, and we discuss the latest development. Will he go to Italy? Will he stay with his current ship? Will he deploy? Will the navy help him move? Will I have to go to Washington and help?

Weirdly it’s like wartime. It’s what he signed up for, I tell him. In a lot of ways, this whole gig reminds me of what I imagined WW2 was like. Folks are sacrificing and stockpiling. We are being told to use supplies wisely. Many common items are hard to come by. People are churning out homemade masks and hospital gowns to protect health care workers. Neighbors are checking in on one another. Again, we all are waiting for that shoe to drop: who will we know that will pay the ultimate price?

Rescue is all weird now too. We have been told to stop doing spay and neuter surgeries. We’ve already cut our office staff to a skeleton crew. On the plus side, more people than ever before want to foster.  Sadly, we are unable to take in as many animals as we usually do, as we have cut down on transports to minimize potential volunteer exposure. So we have fosters just waiting to help, and we can’t get needy animals to their waiting homes.

On a day to day level, my life isn’t radically different. I am not worried. My philosophy for most of my life has been to plan for the worst, hope for the best.

In 2015, I saw a movie that pretty much changed my life: Bridge of Spies. Tom Hanks stars as an attorney on cold war America, called upon to defend an accused Russian spy. He funds the situation distasteful, to say the least, but does his civic duty Upon meeting the spy in jail, Hanks’s character explains the gravity of the situation, while the accused spy calmly listens. hanks, exasperated, asks why he is so calm. Isn’t he worried?”

“Would it help?” the Russian replies.

Would it help? Does worrying help? No, of course not. It just stresses you out. So from that moment on, whenever I get that nagging feeling, I pause and take a breath. Rather than waste energy worrying, I take action. Do what I can to take control of the situation, then let it go.

That’s where I am now: I have done what I can to prepare. Now I breathe. And wait.

Stay safe.

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