A sign showing a figure inside a house with the caption SHELTER IN PLACE

The COVID Chronicles

A Sheltering-in-Place Journal


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!

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.