Laments About The COVID Chronicles

Day 35

Blue Monday

Poor Monday, the first day of the workweek, always getting a bad rap in song and in life.

“Every other day of the week is fine, yeah.
But whenever Monday comes – but whenever Monday comes
You can find me crying all of the time.”
Monday, Monday
The Mamas and the Papas

Well, sorry Monday, I hate to add to your woes, but since we’ve been sheltering in place, I’m finding the first day of the week, the hardest of all.

I can handle the quiet and solitude of the weekend. Handsome Hubby doesn’t disappear into his office, hunkering down for long hours of work. Instead, he miraculously relaxes. We read the papers together. Go for long walks. “Pretend” we’re going to the movies and have TV marathons complete with snacks.

But Monday, you arrive and Handsome Hubby retreats back to the office, his computer, and non-stop phone calls. I also head to my office, my computer, and my writing. There are no distractions but the dust bunnies that have accumulated since my last manic cleaning fit of just a few days before. No lunches out with girlfriends. No coffee breaks with writing colleagues. And no meetings at my beloved Berkeley Repertory Theatre. There’s just too much solitude and inactivity.

Of course, since the shelter in place order for the San Francisco Bay area was issued on March 17th, a Tuesday, maybe Monday, I should give you a break. Maybe you’re not the bad day in my blues scenario. And if that’s the case, I guess I’ve got no day and nobody to blame for my blues.

Get It Together

If that’s the case, I’d better shake it off and get busy! There are dust bunnies to annihilate. Journal entries to write. Walks to walk. And so much to appreciate. Good health. Good friends. And you-know-who … Handsome Hubby, who’s busy in the other room, talking way too loud into his headset, teaching clients the ways of good energy efficiency and energy renewable policy.

All things considered, my life isn’t so bad on a Monday, Day 35. I hope your day isn’t a Blue Monday.

🎶 🎶 🎶

And a Blue Monday trivia note:

The third Monday of January is actually dubbed “Blue Monday.” The idea is that’s the day when people are at a New Year’s low because all their resolutions to be better, thinner, and more fit have failed to happen!

Day 34

The Latest Fashion Accessory

So, we’re all wearing masks now. And where once there were no masks, now they are everywhere. I’m not talking about the medical-grade N95 masks that are still in short supply, but the ones the general public should wear when out and about.

I knew that masks were a “thing” when I couldn’t figure out where to keep my own tiny supply of them. Should I keep them in my lingerie drawer or with my gloves and scarves? I actually spent a solid five minutes on the topic before finally concluding I needed a separate, dedicated space for them.

Now a friend’s birthday is coming up. Asked what she wants as a present, she gave a very specific reply. She wants a gift card so she can design face masks to coordinate with her outfits! My friend, a huge Star Wars fan, already tried to order one a la Darth Vader but couldn’t. Apparently, it violated copyright laws.

Yes, face masks are a thing. And they’re going to be in even in the new “normal” — whatever and whenever that is.

And that is about as much as I can think about on Day 34. I hope you had a peaceful weekend.

Day 33

The "New" Front Door

When I was little, my parents warned me, “Never open the door to strangers.” Now, the front door is my new best friend!

Friends drop off groceries, jam, hot home-baked goods, and flowers. Amazon delivers toilet paper, Diet Coke, and still more groceries. My pharmacist delivers too — not just prescriptions but matzo for Passover. She’s a true life — and holiday — saver.

A dear friend of ours in Gardenville, Nevada drops off hams and pineapples to his neighbors. This somehow strikes me as just the sweetest thing of all. Even vegan Handsome Hubby wishes we were on our friend’s appointed rounds just to smile and wave at George from the front door stoop. (And no, George, do NOT get in the car and drive to Berkeley when Judy reads this to you. Do NOT.)

Once when I was a little girl in Tucson, Arizona, I did open the front door to a stranger. The man did not reply to my hello. Instead, he handed me a card, indicating he was deaf and something else. I don’t recall what. He did absolutely nothing menacing. Yet, I was terrified and ran crying for my mother. I hadn’t thought of that incident in ages. How terrible I must have made him feel.

Even as adults we’re traditionally cautious about opening the door to strangers. Apartment buildings have doormen and buzzers. Homes have security systems.

But today —from a correct social distance —I greet delivery people like long lost relatives, the mailman like my best friend from college who I haven’t seen in decades, and … Well, you get the idea.

Yes, from a world of worry and “stranger danger,” to this time of sheltering-in-place, I know that the word “welcome” on my front door has never before conveyed a more sincerely felt message.

I’m going to close with a photo. I understand there’s a celebration honoring siblings. Apparently, but understandably, not knowing about it, I missed it. National Siblings Day was April 10. Still, although late for the party, I’d like to share this photo of my big brother, Neil Gilbert Galatz and myself. Twenty-one years older than I, Gil died in 2013. He was my hero and I miss him every single day. ‘Nuff said.



And so goes Day 33. Hugs to you all. Hope you having a good weekend. Hang in there. We’ll get through this.

Day 32

Wash Day, Winston Churchill, and Popcorn

Today was laundry day, usually a task that brings me much contentment. ((Yes, I know I’m odd.) Anyway, I did laundry, but it brought no contentment. Like many people I suppose, I’m restless and out of sorts.

To get out of my funk, I needed a little inspiration and turned to a notebook where I jot down quotes I like. Here are some that helped perk me up. I hope they cheer or inspire you too.

“Let everything happen to you.
Beauty and terror.
Just keep going.
No feeling is final.”
Rainer Marie Rilke

“Strike the drum; cry “Courage!” and away.”
William Shakespeare

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
Winnie the Pooh

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
Winston Churchill

And while this next quote, also by Churchill, doesn’t fall into the “inspiration” category, it’s definitely good for a chuckle.

“Men occasionally stumble over the truth,  but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.”

Friday Night Fun

Then, with my spirits refreshed and the sixth load of laundry completed, I got ready for Date Night with Handsome Hubby.

We’re ordering in food for the first time, Greek. Then, binge-watching heart-pumping Fauda about an undercover unit in the Israeli Defense Forces. We usually take our binge-watching with a bit of popcorn and cuddling on the side!

I’ve even got dressed up for the occasion. Well, sheltering-at-home dressed up. I was going for a cool 1950s Greenwich Village beatnik vibe look. I didn’t quite pull it off. Somehow, I wound up looking more Seattle grunge band! Oh, well. Here’s hoping, love is blind!

And speaking of getting dressed up, mandatory wearing of masks outside the home is becoming the order of the day. This is a good thing. Anything we can do to fight the spread of this terrible virus should be supported. As a child, I loved the Lone Ranger and Zorro. So, now we all get to wear masks and be good guys too!

So, goes Day 32. Have a good weekend everybody. Keep washing those lobster-looking hands.

Day 31

We're All Going Bananas – Literally

Yes, it’s official. We ARE all going bananas, but it’s not a statement about our collective precarious state of mind. No, it’s a statement about the fruit. We’ve all been buying a lot of bananas in the past month.

At first, I thought it was just me, obsessing about bananas. Eating them. Making sure I have enough of them. Running out of them. Obsessing about procuring them. I was so obsessed I started worrying I might have a potassium deficiency! That led to a double obsession.

But apparently I was a trendsetter. Because, according to Google Trends, Americans are going bananas over bananas. More specifically, we’re all going bananas over banana bread.

The reasons why? First, with all the frenzied (over)shopping we’re doing, too many bananas were turning brown on kitchen counters and in risk of going to waste. Baking them was the obvious solution to avoiding waste. (Even klutz bakers like me know over-ripe bananas make great banana bread.)

So, in these days of sheltering at home, both mad-about-baking chefs and wannabe bakers are whipping up a lotta loaves. Yum!

Yes, in good times, we may crave cookies and cake, but in bad times, banana bread is best.

And now a bit of banana trivia: Bananas, botanically-speaking, are berries. Betcha didn’t know that!

So goes Day 31. I think I need a nap — and yes, a banana!

Day 30

Let’s Talk about “Kalsarikännit”

Here in the SF Bay, we’re a month into sheltering in place. Folks in other cities and states are hunkering down for the long haul as well. Times are tough. So, it’s time to talk about “kalsarikännit.”

Not familiar with the term? That’s alright. I wasn’t either until I read about it in — you guessed it — my beloved New York Times. “Kalsarikännit” is Finnish and translates roughly into “pantsdrunk.”

Apparently, the Finns have an affection for it — no, make that, a tradition of — getting drunk in their underwear at home. Now I suppose this is better than getting drunk at a bar and then going out and navigating the icy roads of Finland, but frankly, I’ve been in Helsinki in winter and there is no way I’d want to sit around in my underwear doing anything!

Still, I don’t quite get this “tradition.” Drinking alone doesn’t sound appealing. Besides, I don’t like the taste of alcohol or the way it makes me feel. So, overall, even fully clothed, I’m pretty much a drinking lightweight.

What’s also curious to me is the Times decision to spotlight “kalsarikännit” in these troubled times. Does the publication that prides itself on printing “all the news that’s fit to print” really think this story counts as newsworthy or socially redeeming?

Although now that I think about it, drinking is clearly on the mind of a lot of people judging by liquor sales. And it definitely was a concern for one 93-year-old woman in Pennsylvania who held up a sign in her window requesting “I need more beer.” Well, Coors heard her plea and delivered 10 (!) cases of the stuff!

And so goes Day 30 — oh, my, Day 30! Stay safe. Stay sane. And really, stay sober. No “kalsarikännit” — at least with the windows open!

Day 29

What is Essential?

What is essential? It depends on who you ask and when.

For instance, until January 1, 2020, and a massive overhaul of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, a US skipper could throw a troublesome sailor in the brig for minor offenses and feed him the essentials — bread and water.

Today, Americans across the country are on a mad hunt for a different sort of essential — toilet paper, and also, flour and yeast. Plain it all on hoarding, panic buying, and lots of comfort baking.

I had an early sheltering-in-place yen for bananas. Then, M&Ms. But happily, I’ve been well-stocked most days on both. However, consumer alert: I have NOT been able to order basic Oreos for two weeks. Is this a looming national crisis or merely a Galatz-Wellinghoff household cookie jar tempest?

And Exactly What IS Essential? And To Whom?

Meanwhile, the Amazon employees who are the lifeline for sheltering-at-home people like me are complaining about unsafe work conditions AND the buying practices of consumers.

One Amazon protestor was spotlighted on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver this past Sunday. He was unhappy with the person who ordered a dildo, saying something to the effect, “Really, people, this is an essential item? This is something I need to risk my life to procure for you?”

So, this, of course, leads me — tongue-in-cheek — to ask, “What is an essential item?”

Point A: I’m sure the person who ordered said dildo, stuck at home, possibly alone for who knows how many weeks, believed it was essential, possibly lifesaving.

Point B: I ordered a fly swatter which at the moment was 3000% essential. I am bug phobic and could not believe I had misplaced my fly swatter nor could I face the thought of life trapped at home without one.

That said, I have two subpoints to make about this essential purchase:

  1. I resented the fact deeply I needed to order a pack of 3.
  2. I resented the fact even more deeply that I had to order them in pastel colors.

Still, they were in stock and would arrive in 2 days. So, that was good.

Even the shipping Gods at Amazon consider fly swatters consider priority items essential and prioritize them for shipping in the new Amazonian delivery world order!

Hirsute Pursuits

Point C: I just ordered the fancy spritz-on gray hair root concealer I so DESPERATELY need. I ordered a two-pack of the stuff. It’s not cheap. It’s not a color perfect match. And it smells a bit nasty. But it conceals my dull gray roots and doesn’t make me look like a striped hyena in the process. It — at least in Amazon’s eyes — is not an essential item and will not arrive for 3 weeks. For the love of Aphrodite and Venus, how is covering up a pudgy middle-aged woman’s dingy gray roots not a priority? I mean, come on, Jeff Bezos? Have a heart! I’m hanging on here by a thread, trying to maintain my grip and gratitude. But every time I look in the mirror, I feel that thread fraying. Please hear my plea and personally intervene. Does it help to know that I subscribe to the Washington Post even though I live in California? Does that score me some Amazon shipping points?

Point D: All of this discussion makes me wonder what’s next. Will Walmart, Target, and Costco stores stop selling ‘nonessential’ items such as toys and clothing? Oh, my! That’s already happening in parts of the US.

Point E: I don’t have any more points which I fear makes me pointless!


And so goes Day 29. Be sure to check out tomorrow’s Muddling through Middle Age blog. I’ve got a new public policy initiative for Dr. Fauci to consider – “Social Distancing for Spouses.” I’ll be posting it early Wednesday morning on my website and also on my Facebook Muddling Me page!

Day 28

The First Day of the Week

Monday, the first day of the week … or is it?

Some people say the week begins on Sunday. Many calendars agree. Other calendars list Monday as the official start.

Now, complicating life, at least my life, is Handsome Hubby’s reckoning methodology. Follow along: it’s a doozy! He’s keeping track of time based on when the San Francisco Bay area shelter in place order came down. That was on March 17, a Tuesday. So, for HH, the week — or rather, the weeks — now begin on Tuesday. Welcome to my life!

As many of you know, we’ve been strictly adhering to the sheltering-at-home order, venturing out only to go for daily walks. Well, today I needed to run an errand. It was only my third time out in the car in 28 days. So shocking. The usually bustling UC, Berkeley campus was deserted. The streets downtown were virtually empty with just a few cars on the road. Most pedestrians wore masks like scattered bands of bandits. Stores were obviously closed. Neighborhoods were likewise empty. Just a few people were out jogging or walking with children and/or pets. Everybody waved or nodded at one another. And I bet garbagemen never received so many greetings as they went about their routes.

Back at home, I scored a personal best! A round of applause, please. Overt envy allowed! I managed to hit the “schedule delivery time” button fast enough twice and arranged for TWO food deliveries — one from Amazon and one from Whole Foods. Bow before me! Mama’s got game!

News from the Birds

In the category of bizarre US pandemic news: there’s a huge national chicken wings surplus. Apparently, the cancellation of March Madness-NCAA basketball tourney was a big blow to the wings biz. It’s a fact.

As a side note, the Washington Post’s chicken wings-gone-bust story quotes an expert identified as the “lead animal protein economist” at a bank. This amuses me. An animal protein economist?

And from silliness to inspiration: if you’re in need of the latter, please watch this amazing video of Andrea Bocelli singing, you guessed it, “Amazing Grace.”

And so goes Day 28, Monday — the first day of the week, obviously!

Day 27

Easter Memories

Easter, 2020: the religious cannot go to church. Easter egg hunts are limited to the family backyard.

Easter, 1986: millions gathered on St. Peter’s Square to worship.

It was a beautiful, moving sight — a sight I was lucky to witness firsthand and up close.

Yes, in 1986, this American Jewish girl sat in front of St. Peter’s Basilica as Pope John Paul II spoke and prayed in multiple languages to the multitudes of faithful assembled there.

Yes, I sat there in awe on a bright sunny day, humbled to see a sea of people united in joy and harmony. Even though it was not my holy day, not my faith. But it gave me faith in the goodness of people to come together in a moment of peace. I knew it was something I would never forget and, of course, I never have.

I had this amazing experience thanks to my tenure as a White House Fellow and work as a Special Assistant to Secretary of State George Shultz. We were at the Vatican that weekend for a series of meetings.

Today I cannot help but recall that astonishing Easter so long ago as I think about the struggle families are having figuring out how to celebrate both Easter and the Jewish holy day of Passover. Zoom seders with family and friends scattered across town and continent are not a “tradition” anyone wants to repeat nor are religious services carried via video conferencing FaceTime chats between grandparents and grandchildren where the little ones end up sobbing.

But Easter is the story of resurrection. Passover is the story of survival from slavery and plagues. So, in time, Easter 2020 will be but a memory. Happier Easter memories will be made. More joyous Passover seders will be held.

Till then, stay healthy and I hope the Easter bunny did, somehow, make it to your house. Hugs to you all.

So goes Day 27.

Day 26

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas for Hoarders

Sometimes a Picture IS Worth a 1000 Words …



What else can I say?

Oh, disclaimer: I don’t know if they are functional!

So goes Day 26. It’s Saturday. You knew that, right? Stay safe … and silly!