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Five Tips for Stylish Mask Wearing

A Middle-Aged Mask Maven Speaks

Five Tips for Stylist Mask Wearing

Wearing a mask is essential. Wearing a mask is the right thing to do. But wearing a mask is driving me meshuga. That’s Yiddish for crazy. But now help is at hand. Here are my Five Tips for Fun, Comfortable, and Stylish Mask Wearing. Read more

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Day 103

Strange Cravings

I’m starting to have visions. Not religious visions. No, more like sugar plums and other sweets plus a few savory treats to round out the picture.

Yes, like someone lost midway through the Sahara Desert or shipwrecked (or pregnant), I’m starting to have intense and highly specific food binge desires.

I close my eyes and see specific dim sum delights — bar-b-que pork buns (don’t tell my rabbi), steamed pork buns (again, please, don’t tell my rabbi) and steamed shrimp shumai (same rabbinical request). Perhaps I could make these delights at home, but a. I don’t have the patience of a Zen master and b. I want to select these treats from steaming dim sum carts racing past me and share them with my nephew Ryan in a jam-pack Chinatown restaurant, either in San Francisco or NYC.

I also yearn for a salty, icy Margarita served with a huge bowl of chips, salsa, and guacamole. These items I can whip up at home, but again it’s about the ambiance, the friends, the crowd, the fun, the background noise.

Ah, well. It’s not like I’m starving. It’s just fun deferred.

But still, these intrusive visions are a bit alarming! I guess as long as the baked buns don’t start talking to me, I’m OK. Right?

And so goes Day 103. Hang in there. May all your cravings be satisfied! Now or not in the not-to-distant future.

Now, fess up! What are you jonesing for?

Day 95

Best Headline of the Week

“Pandemic may end talking to nude men”

The news is usually grim, but the above headline has had me chuckling all week and I had to share it with you! It comes thanks to the San Francisco Chronicle. I thought of not explaining it. After all, it’s so delicious as is but I guess that’s not fair. So, here goes:

The headline accompanies a story by Chronicle sports columnist Scott Ostler who’s delivered a eulogy of sorts for a “great American sports institution …facing extinction”: the locker room and clubhouse interview.

Yes, because of coronavirus safety concerns, it appears those interviews will be no more. In his column, Ostler then details a few of his more memorable locker room interviews and the players and coaches he’s talked to. It’s a fun story and you don’t have to be a sports fan to get a laugh or two.

But oh, it’s the headline that’s still got me giggling. You may recall I covered organized crime as a reporter. I thank my lucky stars I never interviewed any of those guys naked! That would not have been a pretty sight. Oh, no, it would not have been!

That’s all I’ve got for Day 95. Have a good weekend. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Day 94

New Friends ... with Masks?

We all long to spend time with loved ones. An inescapable and aching fact. But what about the thrill of making new friends? How do you make friends when you cannot see their faces? Their smiles? Their full expressions? How do you take the measure of a person when they are masked? The Lone Ranger wore a mask so as not to reveal his identity. Ditto Zorro. How do we discern the full and true nature of new friends? And I’m only talking about friendship. Thank goodness, I’m not searching for a date or a new mate!

Yesterday a carpenter came over for some cannot-wait-for-the-pandemic-to-pass repair work needing to be done. Essential, at least in Handsome Hubby’s eyes. The carpenter is a blast. Not only skilled but funny and nice. I think I’d like to become friends with her but how to commit to friendship without knowing what’s behind the mask? It feels weird. Plunging into a new friendship is always an act of optimism and trust. Doing so without a full facial frontal seems astonishingly bold — and I’m not even factoring in the health risks even with social distancing.

I don’t know. I guess I’ll just tap dance into the night to the tune of “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” even before the fledgling friendship starts.

But, to paraphrase the oft-quoted line from Casablanca, it could have been the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Oh, well.

And so goes Day 94. And remember, despite the inconvenience, keep wearing YOUR mask. Also, if you’re having problems breathing while wearing it, the New York Times offers some tips to help.

Day 92

There Ought to be a Law

Workmen on the roof (or Santa Claus is up there clogging). The noise is making it hard to concentrate. So, here’s one quick marital tempest in a sheltered in place teapot!

Using lemons from our massive lemon tree, my next-door neighbor Kimberley regularly makes these “to die” for lemon bars. I don’t really like lemony desserts, but every time she makes them, Handsome Hubby goes into raptures over them. He gets so “swoony” over them, I fear he’s going to file divorce papers, dump me, and propose to the lemon bar lady next door.

So, in an act of wifely devotion, I made a fancy lemon pudding. Now, this may not impress you but the instruction to “fold egg whites gently” is as weighty, frightening, and consequential, as being told to perform brain surgery.

To me, the successful folding of egg whites is a near-impossible feat requiring great skill, good karma, and the perfect alignment of the stars.

Well, to my utter surprise, karma and stars came together. The dessert was a feathery perfection. It was so perfect, I went swoony. It was so perfect, I the non-lemon dessert-eating person inhaled two portions. The only person who didn’t go into raptures? You guessed it. Handsome Hubby. His comments: “Not bad. It’s OK. It wasn’t that hard to make, was it?”

Mock my dessert. Mock me. After 90+ days of sheltering in place, I was the one ready to serve something else, perhaps HH’s head on a platter!

Disheartened, I tossed the recipe into the trash and scrubbed up my sugar-flour-butter strewn kitchen in a major sulk.

The next day I brought the lemony leftovers over to my daughter who also likes tart treats to see what she thought. Even before arriving home, I received the following text message: “The lemon pudding is Life Changing!”

I dashed to the trash can at the curb, but I was too late. The garbage had already been picked up. Now I’ve got to search the Internet to find the damned recipe!

So goes Day 92! There really ought to be a law! Oh, and HH is swoony again. Kimberley just dropped off a fresh batch of lemon bars.

Day 86

Does Not Compute!

Infection Rates are Rising; Cities are Opening Up. These two conflicting pieces of information have got me … well, deeply conflicted.

I know we cannot live our lives hiding behind our doors. Still, as one just now getting over a serious illness, I’m not feeling particularly brave — even masked and gloved — ready to greet our new COVID-19 world of social distancing, manic hand washing, and avoiding touching my own face like I have the plague.

Yes, I want to go out, but the expression “Shop till you drop” now sounds ominous and as does “I thought I would die when …” and if I have to social distance when I’m in a restaurant, where’s the fun in that? Half the fun of eating out is listening in … listening in on the conversations at the tables to your right and left.

Aside from friends and family, the places and people I most want to visit are my hairdresser, manicurist, and masseuse. Yet, in terms of those three ladies, sadly, the expression, “too close for comfort” comes to mind. Of course, in my town, the option of booking those kinds of appointments isn’t available yet. So, that “will I or won’t I” angst is still in the realm of pure speculation.

As for running out for an impromptu treat, say an ice cream cone, again I ask “Where’s the fun in that?” How is something a lark if it requires a four-step safety process?

  1. Getting all suited up in a mask, gloves, and, for safety, a face shield;
  2. Talking to somebody/ordering through plexiglass;
  3. Gingerly sliding the credit card through the payment slot and dreading the placement of that now “contaminated” card back in your wallet; and
  4. Then, making a mad dash to your car to shed your protective gear AND douse your hands in hand sanitizer WHILE somehow balancing your ice cream cone;

All that before you can breathe a sigh of relief and finally, “enjoy” your slightly melty treat.

And for me, the activity I most long to do won’t begin for a long while and that is to go to live theater. So, my incentive for venturing forth faces an extended intermission.

So, from my perspective, I’m going slow in terms of re-entry into the world. I’m not typically a scaredy-cat but COVID-19 continues to spook me — big time.

Meanwhile, on a silly note, I saw an ad today for a “best-selling ‘face lift in a jar’ moisturizer,” currently on sale for only $34. The ad promised the crème would turn back time. My question: how far? I’m only looking to go back to 2019, right before the coronavirus sprang forth, and began its deadly assault on the planet. If that moisturizer turns back time just that far, put me down for a jar. In fact, I’ll take two. As they say, it’s a bargain at twice the price!

And so goes Day 86. Stay safe.

Night 49-Day 50

Oh, What a Night!

Yes, I had my first night out since the San Francisco Bay area shelter in place order was issued in March. Unfortunately, it was to the Emergency Room.

I was running a high fever that kept rising and I felt like a Boeing 747 had landed on my chest. I wasn’t coughing (much) and I still had a sense of smell and taste. It seemed more pneumonia than COVID-19.

Talking on the phone with my doctor, he agreed but said “No matter” to the ER I had to go and since enough of the symptoms overlapped with COVID-19, I needed to enter through the specially-designated coronavirus entrance, carrying a handmade sign saying “I’m here for testing.”

Handsome Hubby dropped me off. We waved good-bye and I admit I worried it might be for the last time. I admit I was terrified.

Through the Door

But once I crossed through the threshold of those doors of Alta Bates Hospital, my heart rate which had been pounding painfully suddenly slowed. I instantly felt safe. There was calm everywhere. And I knew I was in good, caring, unrushed, focused hands, hearts, and minds.

I first sat, alone, in a fairly large isolation room, staring at a TV screen watching news stories of projected soaring COVID-19 death rates mixed with eHarmony dating ads!

Then, a nurse walked in and things started happening, one, two, three. Pulse-ox, temperature reading, questions, lab work, EKG, chest X-ray, and the dreaded COVID nasal swabs. Note the use of the plural — swabs. Maybe I’m special, but I got two swabs. One for each nostril. Not pleasant, but quick and necessary. (Although I did offer the nurse $2, a buck per nostril to skip it. She just looked at me like I was well, sick.)

Each step of the way, I was informed about what was happening and what the results were. There was none of that “you’ll have to wait for the doctor for the results.” No cumbersome forms to fill out. In fact, I only signed one form when I left. No repeating 10 times what medication do I take. None of that. It was all straight to the business at hand. What the hell was making my chest hurt? Why did I have an alarmingly high heart rate and why did I have such a high fever?

The Upshot

After six hours in an immaculate private ER room being cared for by the kindest nurses, technicians, and doctors, I got my diagnosis. No COVID-19. No pneumonia. And no blood clot in my lungs. Instead, some variation of your basic flu virus exacerbated by an untreated thyroid condition which made my whole system go haywire.

Tylenol, IV fluids, and pain medication brought the fever and heart rate down, slowed my racing (and admittedly frightened) heart. It also made it easier to breathe. And with that, I got to call Handsome Hubby to come to pick me up and go home. Never did Telegraph Avenue in Downtown Berkeley look so pretty at 4:45 a.m. It made my heart race — in a good way.

Oh, what a night.

So, went night 49 and Day 50 (since I slept all day).

Day 47

A Disgrace to My Gender

With apologies to womankind, everywhere. I hang my head in shame and confess. I have failed. The weekend is here and I have nary a chore, nary a task, nary a “honey-do” for my honey to do.

Yes, the unthinkable has happened.

But these are unimaginable times and after six weeks of sheltering-in-place, I have run out of chores for Handsome Hubby to do. He’s fixed the leaky faucet outside. He’s replaced the burned-out lightbulb at the top of the stairs. And he — finally — cleaned the garage.

HH used to be a regular Mr. Fix-it, but as he’s gotten older (and less patient), his mantra became “Hire somebody to do that.”

But when the San Francisco Bay shelter-in-place order came down, he couldn’t get away with that anymore. So, I got to re-activate the “honey-do” list and man, oh, man, did I have fun with it! I listed ten million and twelve pesky little things I hate doing around the house. And HH — to his credit — went through the list, one-by-one, and knocked off the dirty little manly deeds.

Who’s Laughing Now

But now the list is complete. So, who’s having the last laugh?

Obviously, HH.

With no more chores to do and hours of “quality” weekend quarantine time ahead, I know HH is thinking three words: Die Hard (and) Terminator.

Yes, payback is a bitch. Now I’m the one going to suffer, sitting there watching those damned movies for the ten zillionth time with him. Talk about a chore!

Please, Dr. Fauci, help! Please let me shelter-in-place somewhere else. As Barbra Streisand sang in Funny Girl, “Would a convent take a Jewish girl?”

Oh, well. So, goes Day 47.

Wait! Anybody need any chores done? It’s not strictly sheltering-in-place, but if you have essential tasks that need doing, I’m willing to lend HH out. No charge — mask and gloves included. The tradition of the weekend “honey-do” list must be upheld! Besides, there’s a Die Hard marathon playing Sunday. Save me! Please!

Day 46

Cheating

Here at Maison Galatz-Wellinghoff, we’ve been having a lot of discussions lately about “cheating.” Not the marital infidelity kind, thank goodness. Not even the nightly dinnertime vegan-carnivore dustup — “Come on, a little bite won’t kill you, you know.” But rather we’ve been debating how strictly to adhere to the shelter-in-place order.

Until very recently if gold stars were given out for shelter-in-place obedience, Handsome Hubby and I would win them. No contest.

Aside from daily walks and two Sunday car rides, HH has not left the house for one single outing. Until yesterday, I’d only gone out twice, once to pick up brisket from a friend’s house — yum — and the other time to pick up handmade masks from my quilting friend Rachelle — lovely AND practical.

That’s was it. Groceries and other needed supplies all arrived via Amazon with back-up support from our next-door neighbor, kind Kimberley.

Yes, we’ve been the poster family of sheltering-in-place. But like many people, we’re getting restless. Not go-to-the-beach, consequences-be-dammed restless, but restless never-the-less.

Yesterday, I ventured forth to meet my hairdresser (on the QT) to pick up my customized hair dye, latex gloves, applicator brush, and instructions — all in a brown paper bag no less like I was some sort of tippler grabbing booze for a midday nip!

Was picking up hair dye essential? After six weeks of fast-growing hair with roots sprouting faster than crabgrass on an acre of Kentucky bluegrass sod … you betcha, hair dye was essential or at least, essential-ish.

Today I ran out “for just a minute” to pick up a birthday cake for one of my kids. And as if that’s not wild and crazy enough, I’m actually going to see my kids — from a safe social distance of six feet (actually more) — for a birthday party. Party hats and masks included! Gloves optional. We’ll dine al fresco — food, cake, and presents placed strategically on the patio table in the center and we’ll take turns walking to the table to grab the food. (I guess these precautions give new meaning to the phrase “dine and dash.”)

Of course, being restless isn’t just about wanting to go out. It’s also about being less vigilant. I know I am. Yes, I’m still washing my hands like a wannabe surgeon. Yes, I’m still giving the stink eye to any passerby who dares to weave and bob near me when I’m out walking. But in subtle ways, I’m less wary than I should be. I open packages right away when they arrive without first wiping them down. And I’m not quite as fastidious about swabbing down doorknobs and counters as I was initially. I know I should be. I mean to be. But I’m exhausted. I cannot keep up the pace that non-stop vigilance mandates.

Happily, there is one thing I’m not exhausted about doing — giving thanks for the health and safety of my family and friends! For that, I have boundless energy. Yes, I’m a little bored. A little weary. Yes, I’m cheating a little bit here and there (and I’m not talking about M & Ms), but most of all, I am so grateful.

And that really is how it goes on Day 46. Have a good weekend. Please don’t go to the beach or anywhere crowded. Gold stars all round if you don’t!

Day 44

Love in the COVID Era

Oh, ladies. I don’t mean to brag, but oh, my man and me! We’re so simpatico! So attuned. We’re actually operating on the exact same wavelength!

Our birthdays are coming up and we bought each other the same gift. It’s true. I know because we both cannot keep a surprise and as usual, we rushed to gift each other early.

“How romantic,” you say. Well, sorta.

You see our gift to each other was pulse oximeters. We both read articles alerting people to the danger of reduced oxygen levels as an undetected precursor to more serious COVID-19 symptoms. So, without alerting or alarming one another, we both jumped on the information and ordered oximeters STAT!

STAT, but still, medical devices as birthday gifts? I guess it’s just a sign of the times when loving spouses are more interested in monitoring their mate’s oxygen levels than getting their heart’s racing with new sexy lingerie.

Oh, well!

But now that I’m sporting my new fancy oximeter — complete with neck and wrist cord — I guess you could say, I’m sheltering-in-place with benefits!

Oh, my!

And so goes Day 44. What can I add, but that I’m thinking fondly of you all?