Laments About The COVID Chronicles

Day 25

A Nice Day … for TV Addicts.

Nice if you ignore the pandemic. Nice if you ignore the reality outside your own door. Nice if you don’t mind … Well, you get the idea.

But reality pushed aside, it was a nice day.

The sun was shining. No gloomy skies to add to the general gloom.

Handsome Hubby honored my moratorium on his daily lunchtime recitation on the latest pandemic statistics and headlines. So, that provided blessed relief and respite.

Kind Kimberley, my neighbor who shops for us, braved the massive lines at the market and not only found everything on my list but surprised me with a bouquet of lovely flowers — anemones. She still hasn’t procured my favorite brand of pickles (a request from a former shopping list) and now calls it her “white whale” to which one of my clever children said, “You mean, her “Moby Pic?” No doubt Herman Melville is rolling in his grave at this dilly-dallying (Get it? Dill pickles.) and desecration of his great nautical tale.

I do have one fear for those of us blessed to be safe at home, untouched by illness. I fear we are becoming television addicts. There was a time when I had disdain for people who watched too much TV. Now, I watch hours … and hours … of it. I maintain a list of programs to view which I update with a diligence my checkbook only wishes I similarly applied.

Handsome Hubby and I just binged our way through the new season of Ozark. Next in the queue is Money Heist, but that’s just an appetizer for Fauda which we’ve been anxious to see for what seems like “forever.” Then on April 17, Bosch returns. I know because where once I wrote the dates of theater productions we were going to into my calendar, I now track the season premiere dates for TV shows. Oh, my.

And today when I looked at The New York Times’ weekend entertainment section, I was checking for new movies to stream, not movies to go to. Such is life in the Era of COVID-19.

Today’s FASHION TIP from Unfashionable Me

Wear eyeliner colors to match your mood or your aspirational mood!

  • Blue for feeling blue or hoping for blue skies.
  • Green, in my case to match my eyes and with the hope of looking cute despite the fact that I’m wearing yoga pants and a tee shirt for twenty-plus days in a row!
  • Yellow (yes, I have yellow eyeliner and don’t laugh too much, it’s almost cute) just ‘cause, of course, it’s ridiculous and you can’t help but laugh!
  • Glitter liner in any color because we need a little glitter right now.

And so goes Day 25. Final note: Consider matching your eyeliner to your face mask! Stay stylish AND safe!

Day 24

Toilet Paper Wars

People are not only hoarding toilet paper, but they’re also fighting over the stuff. Not just in the supermarket aisles, but in their homes.

Yes, egads. A mother and a son actually came to blows over tp! At least that’s what happened Monday in Los Angeles County when an adult son punched his mother for hiding the family stockpile of butt paper.

Why did she hide the stuff? you may ask. Well, apparently her bouncing baby — 23-years-old — was using too much. Now I don’t know what constitutes “too much” or why he was using “too much” or what words proceeded the actual fisticuffs, but police were called to the scene at about 3 a.m. The son was arrested and charged with battery.

In the words of the LA County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson, “This is the first arrest I’ve heard of that started out over an argument over toilet paper.”

The mother declined medical treatment. No information was provided regarding the status of the tp inventory.

And while toilet paper slugfests may sound silly, domestic violence is on the rise right now. If you need help, the National Domestic Hotline can help 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). You can also make a donation to this important cause.

Here at Maison G-W, I’m happy to report there’s no squabbling over toilet paper, TV shows or any of the other assorted trivia that goes with this dreary sheltering in place. It was just another “normal” day sequestered at home. Handsome Hubby worked and consulted with clients via phone and all the various video conference modes. I wrote and compulsively cleaned.

My primary cleaning mission – the office bookshelves. Before starting, I made a vow to donate at least a few books to the library, thus freeing up space for new books! I failed. I couldn’t part with one single book. I’m an unrepentant book hoarder.

All I accomplished was transferring seven books from office to bedroom, adding to an already precarious tower of tomes on my night table. Oh, well. At least, the books got a good dusting in the transfer process from room to room.

And so goes Day 24. Enjoy a good book tonight.

Day 23

Bill Withers, blogging, friends in need, and Passover …

Yes, a little bit of everything. Sheltered and scattered. That’s me today.

Today’s the day my weekly Muddling through Middle Age blog goes up. So, that was the first order of business. And indeed, it was business as usual. I surprised myself and was efficient and productive. Hooray! I also had a lot of clean-up to do on my website. I stuck to it for hours. Allowed for no distraction until my aching neck and growling stomach called for a “time out.” Fair enough. I had earned one!

But then, that familiar after-lunch slump hit made all the worse by my lunchtime reading of the latest news headlines.

That’s when I turned to Bill Withers Live at Carnegie Hall. His smooth grooves and upbeat tempos propelled me into a more upbeat mood. Just in time, because I wasn’t the only one down today. I propose we make Bill Withers’ Lean on Me the temporary national anthem. We’re all in need of a little extra love — even if it comes via text or phone call. Pass it on. Pass it on.

And speaking of passing it on, tonight is the start of Passover which commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. It is, of course, an ancient celebration, but this year, it’s being observed in decidedly modern ways. Families are gathering by Zoom instead of around the dinner table stretched wide open and supplemented with extra card tables and folding chairs.

In my case, I’m giving special thanks to my pharmacist for her help in completing my holiday meal! You see, Amazon/Whole Foods was out of matzo, the unleavened bread — a cornerstone of the Passover meal. My busy pharmacist kindly took a moment on her lunch break to grab a box of matzo off the supermarket shelf and put it in with my prescription order. And that order was delivered just before my seder — my Zoom seder — began. A regular Passover miracle!

Passover is a story about plagues, resilience, and survival. Now in 2020, the entire world faces plague. We will show resilience, recover, and know joy again.

And so goes Day 23. Thinking of you all.

Day 22

Week 4 Begins

Hands red like a lobster. Butt sore like a pincushion from non-stop sitting. Shoulders ache like they’ve been punched. Eyes bleary from too much TV.

Yes, I’ve got an acute case of shelter-in-place-itosis! And pardon the obvious pun, but it — and I — ain’t cute. Somebody call the hair salon police! Stat!

Of course, I’m not alone, chaffing, but grateful to be safe in the confines of my own home. People everywhere are getting a little silly and a little confused. To help a TV station in Cleveland has instituted a new segment called “What Day Is It?” It’s pretty hilarious. Check it out.

This “day of the week” business reminds me of a time long ago when my mother was hospitalized and medicated, make that over-medicated, for a terrible back surgery. Every nurse and every doctor who walked into the room asked my mother, “Do you know what day it is?” to determine if she was lucid. I get it. She got it. But it was annoying. She just wanted to know when the howling pain raging up and down her back was going to ease up and when she could get the hell out of the hospital. Finally, annoyed when asked for the fifth time that day, what day it was, she turned to her surgeon and said, “You know, I really don’t have an idea. I haven’t written a check yet today. But hand me my checkbook and I’ll pay you any amount of money for a straight answer to the questions if you think the surgery worked and when I can go home. Then when I write the check, I’ll figure out today’s date and know the answer to the question. Deal?”

Nobody asked my sharp-as-a-tack mother the day of the week again! Unfortunately, the surgery was not a success and she was in pain for the rest of her life. But her humor and wit — and love for her grandchildren — kept her going for a long time.

And that kind of resolve, humor, and love of family is definitely what we all need now, right?

Hang in there, everybody. Stay healthy.

And so goes Day 22. For the record, it’s Tuesday, April 7, 2020.

Day 21

Really? Day 21

Three weeks homebound.

OK. For sanity’s sake, better to think of it as Monday, just another Monday, the start of the workweek.

OK. (Much better.) Down to business. Tidy up the house. Get to the desk. Work on this week’s Muddling through Middle Age blog.

Then, for a delightful break, I clicked on a video my friend Laura S sent and watched actor John Krasinski’s SGN (Some Good News). Don’t know what it is? I didn’t either. I don’t want to spoil the fun, but PLEASE check it out especially about 9 minutes in. It is a definite day (or evening) brightener. I laughed so hard, Handsome Hubby ran into the room to see what was going on.

And so, Day 21 passes — work, a little laughter, a walk plus one memorable read which I highly recommend by a music critic in The New York Times describing the impact that constant wail that ambulance sirens are having on her. It’s an astonishingly lyrical article about this terrible sound — and time — in our lives.

In sum, we at Maison Galatz-Wellinghoff are getting by, day-by-day. We hope you are well. Hang in there. Keep washing your hands. Wear your masks. Pretend you are bandits getting the jump on that evil virus robbing us of all we hold dear.

Day 20

Sheltering Sundays

Sheltering Sundays – bananas pancakes, the newspapers, & no place to go.

It could be a normal Sunday. It should be a normal Sunday. Sleeping late. Getting up to Handsome Hubby’s pancakes and (vegan) bacon. The table covered in two newspapers.

But, unfortunately, it’s the “new” pandemic normal where you (or, at least, I) want to avoid the news and just keep my head under the covers, more ostrich, than informed citizen.

Yes, this is the third Sunday sheltering in place. The third Sunday with no place to go. No theater. No movies. No friends to visit or have over.

For me, and I suspect many of you, cabin fever is setting in.

So, HH and I went for a car ride. And we weren’t alone. A fair number of cars were on the road, doing the same thing, ogling the sights.

It was pretty fun actually, playing “tourist” in our neighborhood, reminiscing about the “good old days” — just three short weeks ago — when we strolled along Solano Avenue, went to the Oakland Museum, and ate at our favorite Greek restaurant.

Of course, as we drove, I was mostly eyeing all the fast-food restaurants, jones-ing for a burger and let me make this 100 percent clear — a hamburger. I mean, yes, I love Handsome Hubby, but sheltering-in-place with a vegan is no walk-in-the-deli, no-walk-in-Morton’s Steak House. It is, well, you get my point, meatless HELL. Yes, I could broil myself a steak, but the smell of meat makes HH blanch or turn green, neither of which are attractive color choices for my plant-based man. So, I suffer in semi-silence.

And while you might think I took a wrong turn off onto a food tangent instead of talking about our brief drive about town, food was the main attraction for both of us — noticing all the restaurants “open” for take-out and delivery. People may be worrying and living indoors. They may be wearing masks when they’re out, but for the ladies (and gentlemen) who lunch and munch and dine, life goes on “gourmet-ing” as usual, at least sort of.

And I’m not criticizing it. Because as Virginia Woolf said in a Room of One’s Own, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”

In addition, all these restaurants and fast-food spots keep a part of the economy going and some number of people employed. So, that’s something.

And so goes Day 20. Unbelievable. Day 20. Stay healthy. Eat healthily.

Day 19

Definitely Groundhog Day

Rain. Boredom. Gloomy Statistics. Yet, also, gratitude that those I love are not part of those statistics. Tidying up the house. Overeating — yikes, gotta watch that! Then, rallying and a grab-oneself-by-seat-of-the-pants moment and onward to a better day!

Yes, thanks to that turnaround moment (and attitude shift) came:

  1. Productivity — working on next Wednesday’s Muddling through Middle Age blog. (I think it’s going to be a good one! Fingers crossed.)
  2. Connection — talked to my beloved doctor-niece in NYC for the update on life and work. She shared a picture of medical tents in Central Park, a sight not seen since the Civil War — a sight most uncivil, a sight most sad.
  3. Entertainment — a now rare treat! I went (virtually) to a Saturday matinee at the theatre. Yes, thanks to the resourcefulness of Berkeley Repertory Theatre, ticketholders like myself are able to enjoy a streamed performance of School Girls: Or the African Mean Girls Play via the streaming service BroadwayHD.

And then, supper time. Time for another lovely supper with friends at Zoom Café.

So goes Day 19. May you find reasons for joy each day.

Day 18

Confession

I’m gonna confess. I was feeling pretty blue this morning. We’re all still heading into the storm and it feels terrible.

Handsome Hubby and I went for an early morning walk usually cause for celebration, but this morning despite the bright skies and the blooming flowers, it wasn’t fun.

For a minute, things seemed normal. Then we walked past the sweet little children’s park three blocks from our home. No children. No dogs. No activity. Just yellow “caution” tape. Yellow “caution” tape everywhere … on the picnic tables … on the jungle gym set (is that what it’s still called?) … and all around the little blue bouncing hobbyhorse. It looked like a crime scene.

An empty city bus rolled by. Without even thinking about it, I waved to the driver. She waved back. Such forlorn gestures.

Strange times.

Back home, I decided to engage in some retail therapy. I’ve resisted so far, but there’s only so much online hunting for toilet paper and Purell a woman can do. I needed a little fun.

I was amazed at how quickly and cunningly clever retailers have adapted to our new online work and play-at-home reality.

One ad for a blouse promoted “Style for the camera,” adding “For a video call or a virtual happy hour, you’ll be ready for your close-up.” The blouse didn’t strike my fancy, but I loved the pitch!

Another ad for a pale lime green pajama-y two-piece number hailed “the new business casual” with its “laid-back looks for the commute-free life.” All I can say to that is whoever thought I’d long for the days of toe-pinching heels and waist-constricting Spanx?

And guys, be of good cheers, there’s stylish sheltering-in-place fashion fun for you, too! I found a section of chic exercise clothes. It came with the promise “No membership required” — “exercising from the comfort of home is easy when you’ve got the right gear.”

Yes, it’s a strange world.

And so goes Day 18. Stay healthy and chic or, at the very least, cozy and comfortable!

Day 17

Getting Old

You know you’re getting old when …
You’re in the “at-risk” age group.

You know you’re getting old when …
Your neighbor grocery shop for you instead of you offering to do the same for others.

And today I added another way to tell “you know you’re getting old” to the list:

You know you’re getting old when …
Because your wonderful cleaning ladies can’t come over, you’re on your own, giving your house a top-to-bottom deep clean and at the end of it, you’re utterly EXHAUSTED. I mean the can’t move, can barely lift a finger, can barely write this journal entry kind of exhausted. I mean the pathetic kind of exhausted. I mean I am pathetic!

And it’s not that I consider myself a pampered princess. I clean all the time. In fact, I’m one of those people who prep and pre-clean the house before the cleaning ladies arrive. (I don’t want them to think we’re slobs!)

I used to think cleaning was relaxing and enjoyed the sense of bringing order out of chaos. But today’s full-on cleaning assault, well, that’s a different story! Moving the couch, vacuuming the stairs, doing all the laundry, ironing, all in one marathon session. This was a challenge. And it demonstrated that I’m really out of shape and I’m really old.

Well, one thing’s for sure, as we continue sheltering in place, I’ll certainly have plenty of time to get my cleaning muscles back in shape AND also to get even older! My birthday’s not that far away!

And so goes Day 17. Good wishes from the spanking clean Maison Galatz-Wellinghoff.

Day 16

Freedom Firsts

Each dinner we have at Café Zoom, I ask friends, “What’s the first thing you’re going to do when we get the ‘all clear’ signal and can go out unfettered and free?”

Most of my women friends — including me — say “manicures and pedicures” or “for a haircut and color.”

Yesterday my back was killing me. Of course, it was my own fault. I decided to re-arrange some gigantic flowerpots on our deck. Ouch and double ouch! Happily, today my back is OK. So, I can cross going-to-the-chiropractor off my growing “Once I get out of the house” to-do list.

Pool Shark Handsome Hubby is heading to the pool hall first chance he gets. For Valentine’s Day — which seems oh, so long ago — my own version of Paul Newman in The Hustler bought us slick pool cues and we haven’t had a chance to break them in yet.

But the best answer? That came from our sweet friend Howard, one of the kindest men I know. Howard is going to his mother’s house to give her a hug and a kiss.

Today the sun is shining here in Berkeley, CA. So, I’m reconsidering the mani/pedi/beauty shop answer. Those chores are definitely needed, but they hardly qualify as celebratory footloose and fancy-free “get out of jail” picks after all this time sequestered at home, after all this time worried and frightened.

So, I’ve got a new answer: For my first post-quarantine joy ride, I’m hotdogging it straight to Baskin Robbins for an ice cream cone — one with rocky road AND chocolate chip. Care to join me?

And so goes Day 16, daydreaming of better days.