Day 8

Today — 108 years ago — my father was born. He was six during the 1918 flu epidemic in NYC. My mother was one. I wonder about the thoughts and lives of their families during that crisis. What information did they have to guide them? Were they scared or did life go on as usual? Did my family lose loved ones in New York or Europe? I don’t know. My parents never spoke of it. They were, of course, so young, but my grandmother never did either.

I also wonder about the 2020 coronavirus epidemic. What will my children and my sixteen-year-old great-nephew say about it in the years to come?

As I sit and think about these great unknowns, I also ponder a fair amount of minutiae.

  1. How maddening it is that my favorite sweater is — at this moment — trapped at the dry cleaners.
  2. How retailers are going to have some mess on their hands when we consumers finally get to UPS to return all the online purchases that have been accumulating in our houses.

I also deliberated asking my kind neighbor Kimberly who is grocery shopping for us to add M&Ms to the list. It’s not exactly an essential item. It’s not exactly heavy. But is it the proverbial item that breaks the good neighbor’s grocery bag?

And from NYC, just before the order to stay inside was issued, a friend observed a woman stocking up on Cool Whip. She had five tubs of the white faux fluff in her cart, and when the person in front of her wasn’t looking, she swiped another tub from that person’s cart!

For some (me), it’s bananas. For others, it’s Cool Whip. Whatever gets you through a pandemic I guess. But swiping somebody’s Cool Whip? That’s just not cool!

But, wait, bananas with Cool Whip. Hum …

“Yoo-hoo, Kimberly, can I add just one more itsy-bitsy thing to the shopping list?”

And so goes Day 8. Stay healthy. Stay sane with a dash of silliness.

Oh, I’m sorry. One more item. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wants the elderly to get out there and shop — i.e. risk their lives — for the sake of the economy. Speaking on Tucker Carlson Tonight, Patrick said, “Tucker, no one reached out to me and said, ‘As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’ And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in.”

My only reply: Oh, my.

Day 7

It’s Monday. The usual routine —

  • Tidy up the house: √
  • Work on this week’s Muddling through Middle Age blog: √
    (What a struggle — figuring out what’s funny in the Coronavirus Era. Please check out my blog Wednesday to see if I succeeded. Let me know what you think.)
  • Go for the daily walk with Handsome Hubby: √

Those were the “usual” parts of the day in these unusual times.

The unusual parts of Day 7:

  • Ordering prescription medication refills to be delivered instead of just picking them up.
  • Worrying about our health and that of relatives and friends in other cities. Did HH cough? OMG. I just coughed! Allergies or …? At a minimum, we’ll all turn into raging hypochondriacs by this end of this ordeal. (Wait. That’s a sickness too! Oh, no!)
  • Looking at my calendar for the week to get organized, I stared at a void! No appointments. No errands. No meetings. Good Lord! Well, at least, we’re all saving on gas and reducing auto emissions.

But, amid weirdness and worry, there is gratitude. Gratitude for those who show and share love. Gratitude also for the scientists and politicians (albeit precious few) who are listening to the scientists and showing leadership at this time.

Some of the answers to controlling this virus are known. You don’t need me to recite them, but for a thoughtful list of what’s needed in today’s New York Times.

So, again, gratitude for those fighting the good fight. May they stay healthy and be heard.
Best Line of the Day comes thanks to Mike Morris who posed this hilarious dating/etiquette question in Humor Outcasts – “First time with a new sex partner: Who pays for the face masks?” Check out Mike’s story.

Meanwhile, here at Maison Galatz-Wellinghoff, I’m happy to report — yes, we have some bananas. We still have bananas today!

And so goes Day 7. Thus ends a week of sheltering-in-place. May we all stay healthy, safe, and sane.

Day 6

First, an update on our whirlwind social scene:

Last night’s “virtual” dinner was lovely. We dined with six friends via Café Zoom and I have to say it was fun. Not stilted or awkward in the least. Jokes and deep thoughts flowed freely from table to table across the Internet. We didn’t make the same dinner or dress up as other friends have done for their virtual dinners, but we had a blast. We compared the books we’re reading and checked in about how distant loved ones are doing and coping. It’s a strange way to keep “close,” but so it goes in the Coronavirus Era.

Who wants to join us for the next Café Zoom dinner? I don’t want to sound “easy,” but we’re available most any night!

OK. I’m not that easy. My niece Leesa and I have a date Friday to Netflix Party. We haven’t picked the movie yet. Any suggestions?

Meanwhile, isn’t it odd how we, all once super busy people used to operating at maximum warp speed, are re-calibrating and trying to slow down? It’s hard. We’re not doing things “in a New York minute.” We’re not on Daylight Savings Time or Greenwich Mean Time. We’re on Coronavirus Time and it’s awful.

I’m already losing track of time and days of the week. Today is my late brother Mal’s birthday. I’m usually terrific about noting the special milestones in my family. Yet, without needing to look at a calendar (Why bother? I’m not going anywhere, right?), I almost missed acknowledging this important date.

The second way I know I’m getting a little unmoored: I took no joy in the Sunday New York Times. Growing up, the Times, especially the Sunday Times, was the family Bible. This Sunday, it wasn’t just the news that made me sad, it was the actual physical paper. Should I touch it? Is it germy? Ah, paranoia!

On a MUCH BRIGHTER NOTE, I just finished reading the draft of my friend Laura Shea’s latest novel. Since it’s a draft, there’s no point sharing the working title of this whip-smart mystery which involves a college drama department, drama and drama queens abounding, PLUS some deadly bees, but if you’re looking for an entertaining read right now, check out Laura’s two other mysteries, Murder at the People’s Theater and A Dying Fall. And for your serious theater geeks (i.e. people like me) consider Laura’s book, A Moon for the Misbegotten on the American Stage: A History of the Major Productions.

And so goes Day 6. Stay Healthy. Remember to wash your hands. Happy/safe/productive back-to-work-at-home Monday.

Day 5

Not much to report from Maison Galatz-Wellinghoff today.

I decided to take the day off from reading the news non-stop and banned Handsome Hubby from sharing the latest statistics. I’m not exactly hiding from the world but felt a mini-break was needed.

Here’s the best laugh of the day: Asked on the phone how he’s handling sheltering in place, HH’s best friend replied, “I’m an introvert. I’ve been preparing for this all my life.”
Saturday night we usually go out to dinner or have friends over. Of course, that’s not happening now. But adapting to the times, we’re participating in our first virtual — i.e. video — dinner party.

Yes, the world is different right now. At least for this dinner party, I don’t have to clean the house beforehand (or afterward, come to think of it).

So goes Day 5. Stay healthy. Be a little silly and smile.

Day 4

Good things come in small boxes or from the kindness of good neighbors …

Our sweet neighbor Kimberly texted mid-morning today to check how we’re doing and also offered to grocery shop, not just once but on an ongoing basis. Wow.

And about payment? I offered to run over and put some money her mail slot, but Kimberly declined, saying, in the short run, all she wants is lemons from our massive, blossoming tree.

Dilemma: Dare I ask for a few of her daughter’s delicious lemon bars or is that too greedy? I could lie and say I’m “just” asking for noted lemon-lover Handsome Hubby.

Of course, I instantly took Kimberly up on her kind offer. And yes, I asked for bananas. I asked for bananas today! (Please see prior journal entries. Bananas weirdly have become my sheltering-in-place comfort food!)

And on the subject of food … and men. Handsome Hubby and I have wildly different sheltering-in-place work/snack habits.

I work, check-in with friends and family, snack. He works and then takes a break by gorging on the latest statistical, medical, and political intel about the virus. If he actually emerges from his office to get a real snack, he munches and simultaneously disgorges updates on all the gloom and doom. I love the guy, but …
If I had a theme song today, it would be a rewrite of Helen Reddy’s 1972 hit “I am woman. Hear me roar.” My version: I am woman. Hear me munch.”

Handsome Hubby’s version? “I am he-man. Hear me virus numbers’ crunch.”

OK. That doesn’t quite have a ring to it. Sorry.

And so goes Day 4. Be kind. Stay calm. Be well.

Day 3

I’ve always been so proud to brag about “My niece, the doctor.” Now I’m hating that my niece and her husband are doctors. More specifically, they are hospital physicians who will serve on the frontlines as the coronavirus intensifies and hospitals swell with patients. My niece was born on my birthday when I was 12. So, I’ve always considered her my birthday “gift.”

Now I want this gifted child, alright this gifted, accomplished woman and her husband to abandon their professional responsibilities, grab their son, come out West, and be with the rest of the family. The virus is in all 50 states, but at least they wouldn’t be working among the desperately ill. They’d be with us, the pathetically anxious, absurd, and over-protective.

But this is wishful thinking. My niece and her husband won’t abandon their posts. They’re staying put, gearing up — with countless other physicians, nurses, lab technicians, and support staff — to take care of the people who will need their expertise and kindness in the weeks ahead. And for that, I am, of course, incredibly proud of them.

We’re going to see a lot of heroes in the days ahead. We are, in fact, already seeing them.
On a lighter note, here’s the funniest conversation today from the Galatz-Wellinghoff manse:
I put on a pair of yoga pants this morning. They were “aspirational” yoga pants, mind you. I don’t do yoga regularly, but I thought if I put them on maybe I’d be inspired.

I walked by Handsome Hubby who looked at my ample (OK. More than ample) (OK. OK. Too ample) derriere. He asked if I was “running low” on clothes and needed to do laundry. ccHuh? “I mean,” he rushed on. “If you are, I’d be happy to help do a load or two.”
Ah, romance in the time of the coronavirus!

And not that I’m obsessed, but yes, we have bananas! We have bananas today! Thank you, Amazon.

And so goes Day 3. Stay healthy. Stay six feet apart. Wash your hands thoroughly.

Day 2

People are allowed out for necessities, but what does that really mean? I need a manicure and hair color. Sure, I can hold out a while but check back in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, do Crayola crayons cover gray roots?

Amazon delivered packages at 9:35 a.m. today. You’d have thought it was Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza all rolled into one. I was so excited. But not as excited as our dog. When I opened the boxes, they were filled with dog food and treats. Well, at least Olga’s covered for the next three weeks. Although not to be bitchy (Yes, she’s a she.), our black Labrador does have a lot of gray hair.

Only Day 2 and already the inevitable has begun. My cleaning mania has kicked in. I started with the linen closet, dusting shelves and refolding sheets and pillowcases for no good reason. Next in my sights — the china closet. Beware cups and saucers. Get ready to be rattled.

The San Francisco Chronicle described the mood well — “An air of disquieting calm.” Comparing notes with friends via phone, text, and email is both comforting and discomforting. Is this how people felt during WWII, waiting and worrying, not knowing what to expect?

And yes, I’m still jonesing for bananas, but resisting the urge to go to the market which seems, perhaps correctly, like a life and death expedition. All-day I’ve been humming that old tune, “Yes, we have no bananas. We have no bananas today.”

How do I know this 1923 novelty song in the first place? Benny Goodman and Spike Jones recorded it. Al Jolson did an operatic version — in blackface, no less! Jim Durante performed it. The Muppets too. But that I know and remember it? Well, the “sheltering-at-home” mind boggles!

And so goes Day 2. We’re all healthy. Good wishes from our house to yours.

Day 1

Shelter-in-Place is the official order. Here in my cozy home by the San Francisco Bay, non-religious me is blessed.

My family is healthy. We have food stocked in the pantry and freezer. Clients are on the phone, clamoring for Handsome Hubby’s billable energy-efficiency expertise hours. Those clients may be sad he cannot fly all over the country and world on their behalf right now, but I’m happy because he’s home and ironically getting some relief from chronic jet lag!

My Muddling through Middle Age blog gets written from home. So, apart from debating what’s funny amid global pandemic, my work goes on uninterrupted.

We are, however, out of bananas. So, Nirvana it ain’t.

It poured last night, just poured. Rain seems a good sign. Rain seems cleansing We need it. Northern Cal doesn’t need a drought. Doesn’t need wildfires.

When I got up and dressed, I decided to — as my mother used to say — “make an effort.” I figured if Handsome Hubby is going to have to look at me and just me for 21 days, I’d better “make an effort” to look decent. So, I put on some make-up. But my “efforts” were laughable. My hand was shaking as I applied eyeliner. I looked more Cruella de Vil than cute mistress of the manse.

Our neighborhood garbage pick-up happened hours later than usual. Why? My anxious mind instantly went into maximum worry mode. Were the workers sick? Had anarchy broken out and no-shows were rampant at the municipal dump center? By the time the truck rolled up, I was so relieved I almost rushed outside to greet the men. But I knew that over the noise of the truck, I’d have to stand very close to them, thus failing proper social distancing protocols. So, I just waved from the front door stoop. “Thank you for coming. Stay safe and healthy.”

Clearly, I’m turning into a lunatic. It’s only 9:15 a.m., Day 1.

Yesterday, a close friend, a medical professional, called to say she was going to be tested for the virus. Mid-way through the conversation, she said, “Wait, when were we last together?” She then did a quick calculation and decided that if she tested positive, I’d need to be tested too.

That possibility sent me into a tailspin. I felt no symptoms. I repeat, no symptoms. But the fear was unbelievable. I started shaking. I don’t think I’ve done that before even when I had pneumonia and a temperature of 104 degrees! It took hours to calm down. Happily, my friend’s test was negative.

Aside from a couple of failed attempts to buy groceries online (and the joy of seeing the garbagemen), it was an uneventful day. Handsome Hubby worked. I worked. Even our dog Olga was quiet. With fewer people walking by and fewer deliveries, she had fewer opportunities to bark and play guard dog par excellence.

So ends Day 1. No suffering. Just a touch of cabin fever and mild discomfort at the idea of not having our “wants” instantly fulfilled.

Me want banana!