Coronavirus Day 16 – TGIF

Today I stayed off the streets and walked the alleys…not because the streets are busy, but just for something different…

TGIF, or more accurately, TGIFOADFTM – ” Thank God It’s Friday Or Any Day For That Matter,” but that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. And it’s not even Friday, but who cares? Every day pretty much seems like the last at this point, which makes it hard to settle into the normal waxing and waning of the week that most people live by – you know the Mondays representing new starts (who starts a diet on a Wednesday?) rolling into Fridays, which begin a different mindset all together, with Wednesday’s hump day connecting it all. My Tuesdays are pretty much the same as my Saturdays or Sundays now. That distinctively different energy from the weekdays to the weekends is gone. Now, all days seem the same.

Here are my observations and silver linings that I’ve noticed these past few days, with some random thoughts for good measure.

I notice that even though the physical distancing continues when I’m out walking, with distances getting larger by the day it seems, I hold my breath when someone passes me. I’m guessing this is an instinctual reflex more than anything else. Now that it’s come to my attention though, I can’t stop doing it.

I’m enjoying the self-nurturing that’s been taking place under my roof. I’m feeding myself so much better these days, not only because all of the “not so healthy” snacks are long gone, but also because with little else to do, I’m putting a lot more thought and energy into the meals I’m making. It’s giving me a nurturing sense of comfort. Evidently I’m not alone. Stores are having a hard time keeping yeast and flour other shelves as there’s been an upsurge in bread baking.

After talking to a dear friend of mine recently, who cut her hand while cooking (thankfully, she was up to date on her tetanus shot and didn’t need stitches), I realized how important it is now more than ever, to stay healthy and without injuries. I carry those thoughts along with on every walk. No goofing off, Laurie. Now’s not the time.

Procrastination tendencies seems to expand in relation to the “to do” list… the shorter it is, the more I procrastinate. Case in point, I’ve got 2 forms I need to scan and send to my accountant but just can’t seem to get it done…. because I don’t have the time???? Next week. Maybe Monday. Yeah, Monday will probably work. I will do it on Monday! I accomplish a lot more when I’m busy. I am not busy now, although oddly, my days seem filled.

I estimate that at least half of my day is filled with communication… FaceTime, emailing, phone calls and even a letter or two that I’ve written. That’s been a lovely gift. I’m talking/texting/FaceTiming with friends on a far more regular basis. THAT I hope remains long after the quarantine ends.

Pilates on the mat via Zoom has become my almost daily routine and definitely a big part of my social life. There’s a new teacher, who most of us haven’t yet met in person yet, who told us that although she’s never met us face to face, she knows what many of our bedrooms and living rooms look like now. There’s a comforting kind of intimacy in that as she’s coming to US for the pilates classes rather than us going to her via the studio. My pilates on the mat is a big part of my day now. Thank you, Bolder Pilates.

A few days ago, I staged my own little tribute to Kenny Rogers and had an afternoon all Kenny all the time. I’ve got a lot of good memories in those songs. I can’t say I didn’t bust out a few moves on a few of them. The freedom to do what I want, dance parties and themed days included, has me wondering why I don’t do that every day. I may have to carry this over to the “post quarantine days.” (My list of carryovers post quarantine days is lengthening…) I’ve got Jane Goodall’s birthday on deck next week…

I realized last night when I was stacking up my dinner – grain, vegetables, greens, some sort of dressing, possibly topped with nuts, all stacked up, that this type of meal preparation wasn’t a first for me. When I waited tables at Steak n’ Ale in the early 80’s, the employees had to pay for their meals (a discounted rate, but it was still money out of our not very full pockets). What was free, however, was the bread, the rice and the salad bar. The interesting “casseroles” that came out of being both creative, hungry and poor were pretty amazing starting with the base of rice or bread then stacked with veggies from the salad bar, topped with cheese then given to the cooks to heat up. My friend, Vickie Rhodes, was so clever in her dishes that I’m surprised Steak n’ Ale didn’t reformulate some of them for a lunch or dinner special. Yep, I’m stacking my dinners now in the old Steak n’ Ale tradition. The big difference now is not having to eat it in the smoke-filled back room of the kitchen. Thankfully.

The beauty of cleaning out closets… I knew exactly where to find this sad photo of me in my Steak n’ Ale garb…

Bad news seems to be piling on daily and shoulders seem to be broadening at the same pace to absorb it all. A short 2 weeks ago, one piece of any of the news we’re hearing daily would have felt far more devastating on its own than the constant outpouring of bad news we’ve become used to. It’s a bit of a “bring it on” mentality at this point. I’m by no means saying that it’s easy when new stats are presented to us but rather, it’s just something that I’m becoming accustomed to, hard as it is to hear. I know what the lead in story on the news is going to be and likely the story that will fill most of the time slot. My stomach still drops and the fear and sadness still permeate but I know what to expect now. I’ve learned by default the importance of emotional self care. Meditation. Journaling. Writing this blog. All have been tremendous tools for me right now. Thank you for reading.

This was by far the cutest thing I saw during my walk…
This was by far the most creative thing I saw and had me lingering the longest…
This was the most generous thing I saw… (cherry blossom twigs that were almost gone…)
I carried this one home… thankful for the stranger’s generosity.
This was the most “timely” thing I saw (I’m guessing it fell out of a pocket or a pack as it wasn’t empty and yes, I did think about picking it up, but then thought otherwise…
This was the most colorful wall I saw…
This was the most heartwarming thing that I saw..

And something that made me smile.

My walks are my sanity, my inspiration and my connections to everything outside of my own four walls and have become a necessity of my day. Besides some good exercise, I’m getting to know Boulder so much better and every day discover pockets of this very interesting town that I’ve never seen before. Thankfully, the weather has been on my side, almost every day of the 16 days so far.

Stay safe. Stay motivated. Stay creative. And stay home.

Coronavirus Day 13 – Random, disjointed thoughts

Random, disjointed thoughts.

This is hope.
These small paintings are “hidden” all over Boulder. They’re such a treat to find. (about a foot tall)
This one I found on the side of my favorite coffee shop. I’ve walked passed it countless times, but SAW it yesterday.
Perhaps a budding artist who was inspired by the cat paintings??
This one is in a pocket park two houses down from me.

After my last post, I wondered if I’d even be able to come up with enough to write another because in reality, with the exception of a daily 1 hour walk in my neighborhood, I’ve not left my house so what could I possibly have to say? Go figure. I’ve got a lot to say. Maybe it’s because I’m paying more attention now…

So here’s what I’ve come up with, in a rather stream of consciousness form….not necessarily silver linings or rusted metals but just stuff. Plain and simple and a bit disjointed.

When I put anything that starts with a “Q” into my phone, my phone completes the word as “quarantining.” One step ahead of me, phone.

The strange walking dance continues and I’m kind of fascinated by it. I’ll be walking down the sidewalk, see someone a block ahead of me and someone crossing the street to my side to avoid someone else, leaving me in the middle wondering which direction should I go? Somehow it always works, much like a choreagraphed dance or a marching band whose players weave in and out in constant motion without running in to one another. When listening to a podcast when I walk, there are often gaps that I realize I’ve not listened at all because I’m so focused on the scant, but relevant pedestrian traffic. It seems like we need music for this dance.

This whole staying at home thing… I made the comment in my last post that I hadn’t ever spent this amount of time at home unless I was sick or with newborns and even then I don’t think it was that long. There was a time when the threat of having to stay at home was promptly followed by the words, “You’re grounded.” They were familiar words for me during my high school years as I struggled with curfews. I’ve got some good grounding stories, like the one with an escape from my sequestered room, a jump started car and a night out with my best friend that ended in a wreck (no injuries) but will save that story for another time. Let’s just say I’m handling the sequestered part much better now and am not even the least bit tempted to escape. Stay tuned though.

The decisions I struggled with last week as to whether I should cancel or not – car maintenance, dentist appointment, pilates class and a massage, were decisions that I didn’t have to make after all. All were canceled and now even questioning it seems so ridiculous. How far my point of reference has moved in a short week.

Time is fluid and kind of irrelevant now. I’ve taken baths in the middle of the day, had dinner at 4:00 and ate dessert before my dinner last night because it was the better choice. Weekends, weekdays, all the same now. I am trying to keep some sort of a schedule but it’s pretty vague… coffee when I get up, FaceTime sever members of my family, do stuff, eat, do more stuff, walk, eat, do more stuff then head to bed because I’m usually exhausted, strangely enough. The “stuff” is the variable. Somedays the “stuff” is better than others. Today, my morning “stuff” was a pilates class on zoom. That’s good stuff.

Maybe this is more of a reflection of my personality, but I do much better with the quarantining on rainy, snowy, cloudy days. The sunny days are far more difficult. Hunkering down just doesn’t line up with sunny days, blue sky weather. I am grateful for my hour long daily walks and some digging in the garden with hopes that garden centers will be open when the planting begins, but the bulk of my days are still inside, hunkered down and I want the weather to match the activity.

I spent much of yesterday cooking. It reminded me of when I was pregnant with Emery and was making chili and spaghetti sauce in preparation… pots simmering on the stove and a line up of opened cans and chopped veggies on the countertop. I came to the conclusion that if you’ve got all day to cook, it’s really rather enjoyable and very nurturing for the soul. I made vegetarian chili then realized I had no chili powder so simply changed the name to veggies, tomato and bean medley. I’m pretty much eating medleys for every meal these days… a bit of this, a bit of that and put it on top of rice or quinoa. Soy or peanut sauce for Asian, salsa for Mexican. Done. My daughter AND my daughter in law both brought me needed groceries yesterday – onions, garlic, chocolate… you know, the usual, and they happened to arrive with their goods at the same time. With ample distance between us, we had a nice conversation in the yard. It was so good seeing them in person and not on a screen. So good that I wanted to cry. Meanwhile, the granola I had in the oven burned, but it was well worth it as I got to have a real conversation with Emery and Brooke. It was so strange to not end with hugs. Heartbreaking, really. I miss hugs.

Cooking prep…I actually felt nervous to deplete my canned goods by 5, but a lot of meals came out of them.

And speaking of hugs…I realized the other day that it has been 13 days since I’ve had any physical contact with another human being… 13 days without a hug. That’s hard. That’s what’s hard about going at this alone. When my son Grant was in high school and was headed out the door, I’d ask for a hug and would get an air hug (out stretched arms with the back of one hand slapping the palm of the other). It became a bit of a tradition in our family of huggers, but an add on gesture to the real deal. Brooke, Emery and I all did air hug goodbyes just as a young woman was walking by and she caught my eye, tilted her head and gave me a smile of understanding. It is the smallest moments that have the most impact on me now. Those tiny gestures of reassurance and understanding.

I sifted through the burnt granola, picking out the blackest bits and was able to use it tonite to add it to 2 apples for a small “apple crisp.” This was what I ate first, before my dinner, simply because it was the better choice. Not that the bean, tomato, vegetable medley wasn’t good, but the apple crisp was better, and so it was eaten first. Anyone who knows me well knows that I do NOT like cooked fruit and will NOT eat it, but when all you have are apples and burnt granola to squelch your cravings for some sort of sweet dessert, then cooked fruit it is. My kids will be surprised when they read this. And it was pretty good. I think a lot of things are pretty good now that I’m cooking all my meals and am in quarantine. That point of reference has also shifted.

I’m so very grateful for the spirit of this amazing town I live in. The outreach, the kindness, the smiles, I will always remember this as my real introduction to the town of Boulder. I discover something new with every walk… new pocket neighborhoods that I had never seen before, benches tucked small corners with perfect mountain views and houses that are just plain fun.

Happy house. How can you not smile when you pass a checked “Alice in Wonderland” house?
I hope she’s able to get to the store soon…

A couple of mountain lions were spotted in a nearby neighborhood yesterday, around a mile from my house. This is not normal. The occasional mountain lion on a mountain trail, maybe, but on a neighborhood street, not so much.. Is it possible that the trails are so busy now with the quarantine that the animals simply wanted a place to get away from the humans so resorted to the empty neighborhood streets? Besides a watchful eye for pedestrians, I’m also going to be scanning the neighborhood for mountain lions, I guess. These times are truly not for the faint of heart.

My sister, Susan, said that her local distillery is now making hand sanitizer. Although more than grateful to have it, she said it had the lingering odor of the day after a woodsy. For those who don’t know the term, (which is either a Midwest term or an Olathe, Kansas term….), a woodsy was (or is??) a gathering in a remote area where parents wouldn’t normally look that involved a bon fire, big groups of kids and the likely possibility of liquor. A nostalgic smell, no doubt, but maybe something I wouldn’t want to have lingering on my skin 24/7. Still, kudos to the distillery who have changed their production for the sake of their customers.

I’m feeling overwhelmed today. Boulder has now instated basically a shelter in place order, like much of the country. Although it’s what I’ve been doing for the past 12 days, seeing that in writing felt heavy. My pendulum swings throughout the day from happy, creative and inspired to sad, worried and depressed. After 13 days, I’m used to it, but it still catches me off guard.

In my deep closet clean out last week (or was it the week before???), I found some hand carved angels that I had gotten a few years ago in Santa Fe. Both of them had detached arms so with much pride at my followthrough, I dug out my glue gun to make repairs. Now that their arms are attached again, I’ve noticed an odd external rotation on both of them which I realize now is because I gave them the wrong arms. They look like they’re getting ready for a cheer. READY! OK!! I don’t normally house them on my mantle, but figure a little extra cheer couldn’t hurt. Sorry about the arms, girls.

Given that most of the reporters and those being interviewed are working from their homes, I’m finding myself as focused on trying to see the titles of the books on the shelves that they always seem to position themselves in front of as I am with their words. There are some nice libraries out there. Some of them could use a bit of tidying up, but am guessing they’ve not had the kind of free time that I have.

I took an all day creativity class a few weeks ago and the first thing the teacher told us to do was sit quietly in his open doored studio and simply listen. We then talked about what we heard – actually we wrote poems about what we heard then painted it, but that’s another story. I often walk with ear buds in, listening to music or podcasts or books but today, I took them out and simply listened, inspired by the class. I heard song birds, the faint sound of children playing, a hammer pounding and a woodpecker (hopefully in someone else’s yard) and took a moment to stop and simply absorb it all.. What you can hear, see and feel when all the junk is peeled back, is truly amazing. It sounds like a radio station that has gotten tuned in and sounds so much clearer once the static is gone.

There is so much that I miss but at the same time, a day hasn’t gone by that I’ve not seen something in my neighborhood that has given me pause and a big smile. I’m seeing so much more than I used to.

And here’s the biggest silver lining of my day…

Boulder lit up the Flagstaff Star on the mountain that I mentioned in a previous post to “raise the hopes of our beloved community” amid coronavirus pandemic. It will be the guiding North Star for so many who see it at night. I’m blessed to have a clear view of it from my bed. It felt like a big hug last night. Thank you, Boulder.

Thank you, Boulder.

Coronavirus Day 10 – Our good side is showing

3 people ahead of me. It almost felt “crowded.” We kept our distance.

It has been 10 days since I’ve left my house, except for my daily walks. This strange routine is actually starting to feel somewhat normal now except for the lingering thought that I’m sick. No, not with coronavirus, but sick with anything else because there has never been a time in my life that I’ve not left my house for 10 days (except for walking) unless I was very sick or with newborn babies and even then, I’m not sure it was 10 days.

My silver linings column is growing at a much faster rate than I anticipated. Thank goodness. Here’s what I’ve noticed in the past few days:

The positive humanitarian stories on the news just keep on coming’…. the neighborhood online informational group I’m a part of has had a constant stream of people wanting to help in any way they can. People who want to help are teaming up with those who need them. It’s so incredible and encouraging to see.

People in Boulder and neighboring towns are suggesting that we dig out our boxes of Christmas lights and put them up again simply for the beauty of it. There’s talk about lighting up the large star on Flagstaff Mountain that is lit up at Christmas and is so big that it is visible from most of Boulder. The only other time the star was lit up when it wasn’t the Christmas season was during the hostage crisis in 1980. It seems like we all need to be able to look up at the mountains at night and see a huge star.

Old friends that I’ve not talked to in a while are reaching out to connect. What a gift that’s been. The gift of time has blessed us with so many unexpected gifts.

I’ve felt more connected to Boulder than I ever have since moving here 7 months ago… all of this happening while in the confines of my home. The places where I exercise have all added classes through the zoom app and last evening I did pilates with 7 or 8 others while in the privacy of my living room. We enjoyed a little “happy hour” afterwards and shared our experiences and feelings with each other while enjoying a virtual glass of wine or cocktail with one another. These are the beautiful pieces of the fabric of humanity that are getting woven together, row by row in our shared experiences of isolation. THAT is my PLATINUM lining.

The plea and the response for people to use carry out to support the local restaurants in town, all with appropriate measures being taken to get the food to the customers safely, has been very popular. I’ve even seen small clothing shops offer to deliver items purchased (online) to your home or they are also happy to bring them to your car for pick up. I know these creative suggestions are going on all over the country and the positive response seems to be growing.

The grocery store clerks, the medical professionals, the truck drivers, the postal employees, the warehouse workers, the garbage men, the restaurant workers, the sanitation workers are now our heroes and we’re finally noticing the good work they are doing and have been doing all along.

We are acting independently yet together for the greater good with the sacrifices of our daily routine and I can’t say it enough….. we are ALL in this together. It is community spirt at it’s best and is showing us how well we stand together as a species to protect the few in an almost primal manner.

I’m in continual awe of the beauty that’s being uncovered when we are forced to set down our well-honed ability to be busy and simply be instead.

I’m both humored and touched by the ongoing awkward dance we all are doing as we pass each other on the street giving each other the appropriate distance, which by the way seems far greater than the 6 feet I saw just a few days ago. I’ve got to say that being on constant alert to oncoming pedestrian traffic takes a bit of the meditative process out of my walks.

I’m losing my sense of time and no longer feel drawn to check my watch throughout the day. What difference does it make? There’s no place I’m supposed to be. I’m starting to wonder, besides exercise classes and the store, where was I going so often when I left my house what seems like multiple times a day? I’ve had many a day when I start preparing dinner only to realize later that I’m eating earlier than dinner is served at my parent’s retirement home….. 4:00 or 5:00 if I’m feeling more sophisticated. It’s the bookend to my morning coffee that gives my day form.

The supply of good snacks are going down and the words with friends invites are going up. Little feels certain to me right now except for uncertainty itself. Distraction, distraction, distraction. Today I sewed 24 cloth bags of varying sizes for me (and who ever else wants some) to be used as re-usable gift bags. It’s small but is part of my commitment to making less waste and trash. I’m looking into sewing masks next, but am not sure about procuring supplies.

Sewing station… this morning there were nice views from the skylight of blue skies and melting snow.

Melissa Ethridge comes into my living room daily now for live concerts on Facebook. Thanks, Melissa (she’s a Kansas native…. I feel like I can act like she’s my pal).

I’m having very detailed, story-like dreams and should start keeping paper on my nightstand. I think this comes from the percolation of my thoughts all day long with little opportunity to share them, short of my FaceTime chats. Oh and those FaceTime chats? They are my joy and my sanity.

I stopped dying my hair years ago. To those that still dye their hair, my heart aches for you in the coming weeks/months. Who doesn’t love a cute hat though?

More creative wall paint.

This was a wall in front of a house. The vibrant colors were very striking!

The not so silver linings, or “rusted metals” as I’m going to start calling them, are:

The good snacks are almost gone, in part because portion control seems to be an issue for me and also because 10 DAYS! That’s why.

I miss my kids. I miss having places to go and a calendar that was starting to fill up.

I miss plans. I miss people. I miss plans with people.

I have moments when I just stop and will collapse into tears because plain and simple, I’m afraid. I know I’m not alone there and also know that we are collectively trying our hardest to push through the negative thoughts while focusing on the positive. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.

There is still a lot of good happening though regardless of the dark cloud that has settled over the world and that’s where I’m trying to put my focus. I’ve heard more than one person comment on the “reset” this is giving the world AND its inhabitants. No doubt, we will all be changed from this.

I bought these flowers the last tine I was in a store… 10 days ago. They are on their last few days and I’m feeling sad about that as they make me so happy.

Coronavirus Day 8 – Hunkering Down

OK. Day 8 of hunkering down in my house.

Here’s what I’ve come up with for my silver linings (as well as a few “rusted metals” that couldn’t be ignored).

This is a time when we are seeing the very best AND the very worst of humanity. I’m so pleased to say that the bests are winning over here for me. I went out walking yesterday, enjoying the 60 degree temps that were quickly replaced today with snow, and was so struck by what I saw. Everyone I passed, and there were several given the perfect spring weather, gave me the appropriate 6 feet of distance and followed it up with eye contact, a smile and a wave. Every. Single. Person. It was comforting and made me feel so welcomed. I wasn’t the newcomer who didn’t know anyone, but rather, felt like I had become a part of the fabric of the neighborhood simply by our shared experiences. People were out on their porches listening to music or were enjoying the springtime temps while working in flower beds and gardens (all covered up by a good 6 inches of snow now). It was the boost my gloomy mood needed.

Kids are so resilient. My grandson, Arlo, is connecting with his preschool class via Zoom and is able to listen to his teacher read to the class via this program as well as see what the other kids in the class are doing in their homes. I FaceTimed later in the day and he told me he has school on the computer now because everyone has a “birus”… He seems totally fine with the new way to do school because he’s almost 3 and that’s how almost 3 year olds respond to things. Life goes on. Easy enough.

Thank goodness for Netflix. Thank goodness for my computer and the internet. Thank goodness for shelves of books. Thank goodness for yarn and needles and knitting patterns.

It may be time to start writing letters again, because why not? And because in cleaning out desk drawers, stationary seems to be something I buy frequently but use rarely.

Thank goodness for FaceTime. I feel so much more connected simply by seeing faces on my phone.

It feels good to have raised kids who are showing their love for me in their protection of me and daughter who is providing me with a wealth of knowledge on building my immune system.

My heart melts at seeing the community service for the small businesses my daughter has put into place. I woke up to a bag of goodies that she had delivered to my back door from a local shop we both enjoy. Her already huge heart has grown 2 sizes and mine has grown 3 just hearing about what she’s done.

Productivity seems to be proportionate to time. The more time I have, the less I am accomplishing. My mojo from early few days has waned. I’m working on resurrecting it, but am not sure exactly how to do that.

Cooking is more fun when you pretend you’re on a cooking show with a live studio audience (not like I’ve done that, but am just guessing…)

I weave in and out of being lonely during the day and content and seem to be on an every other day with my mood cycles. Yesterday wasn’t great and by the end of the day, the emotions of myself, my neighborhood, my town, my state, my country and my world, started to feel heavy. There’s really no way I can escape it except by distraction…. and I know there’s a world of people in the same boat. There is so much comfort in the collective energy of that! And so I write. I knit. I watch old movies and new series. I read and I dance when the mood hits and the music is right and today, I spent a lot of time simply looking out the window because regardless of how dark life feels right now, I still have a view of the Flatiron Mountains from my window, made even more beautiful by a half a foot of big, fluffy flakes of snow.

Even after 8 days, this still feels very odd…. Groundhog Day kind of odd, and even after 8 days, I still wake up and moments later think, oh, yeah… this. Again. And again. And again. So far, I’ve not rolled over and simply gone back to sleep. So far…

There is a lot of creative painting on buildings and fencing in my neighborhood that I never paid much attention to before…

I walk by this almost daily. Today I truly saw it for the first time…

The good snacks are going fast and I seem to have forgotten what a single serving is.

Thank goodness for online exercise classes from my local studio and a flight of stairs that I’m thinking of pairing with a National Geographic program in the background to simulate hiking. I may even throw on a light pack and my camelback to hydrate. Yeah, things are going just fine over here…

With a little National Geographic TV in the background, I’m seeing some serious hiking today….

This forced slow down, simply because so much of our lives have been cancelled, is showing its light on a lot of creativity. For instance, I’ve got a running thread with some girlfriends whose subject now is “Covid 19 playlist”…. you know…..”Help”, “Don’t Come Around Here No More,” “Get Back,” and so on. These are connections that are keeping me sane and laughing. And the laughing is so darn important.

In the time of social distancing, I’m seeing an increase in connections and more depth to those connections. We are all learning how to stretch through uncertainty and find comfort in the smallest of things that I may not have even noticed before and THAT is how we will all come out of this better people. I know I’m not alone when I say that I feel like a reset button has been pushed and I’ve got the time now to actually contemplate what that means for me and my place in this community.

I’m surprised by what brings me to tears these days and it’s not what I thought it would be…. seeing neighbors talking to each other in their yards while standing 6 plus feet apart, or seeing Arlo sitting in front of a lap top next to his Dad looking at his friends and his teacher on the computer screen or the photo of the man on the patio talking to his elderly father on the phone who is sitting in a chair on the other side of slider doors. These things bring tears to my eyes because they show so much heart. It’s that heart that is propping us up right now when we’re all starting to slump into postures that look like question marks.

One day at a time…or one hour if that sounds more do-able, is how I’m keeping a forward pace. There’s a lot of growth that’s silently taking place right along side the fear, the frustration, the loneliness and the worries in homes across the world right now. We are finding out just how innovative, creative and motivated we can be when we have little to work with and that is how a wheatie with a dab of peanut butter spread on it becomes a peanut butter crispen, my friends (reference previous post if this sounds like nonsense…and even then it still might….)

Oh and Andy Griffith re-runs? They still hold up in a simple, homespun, apple pie, conflict always resolved, kind of way and is a nice way to off-set some the more pulse racing and conflict-filled shows I’m also watching. Aunt Bee would have no problem whatsoever staying at home baking pies. Be like Aunt Bee.

Empty, quiet streets…. eerie and peaceful at the same time.
Spring’s eternal hope….

Onward and upward. Tomorrow’s another day. Stay healthy.

Coronavirus. Day 6 – Day 6. From “Corona what?” to “There’s no hand sanitizer or toilet paper to be had in Boulder County”

Thank goodness for this…
Empty, ghost-like streets that are normally bustling.

Day 6. From “Corona what?” to “there’s no hand sanitizer OR toilet paper to be had in Boulder County”

I know that accurately this isn’t day 6 of coronavirus hitting the United States, but it is the 6th day of behavior changes for me. 6 days ago, after talking to my sister, Susan, who lives in an area of western Massachusetts that has been hit hard, I thought that maybe it was time to make a major grocery store run, just in case. This is not my usual style for two reasons. First, I haven’t lived in a house with a decent sized pantry since I divorced 14 years ago, at which time I started shopping and planning my meals on more of a day by day schedule. Second, I’m not much of a planner so my first reason has worked well for me. But, in trying to be responsible and ahead of the curve, I went to the store, to fill up with the predictable staples and followed the crowds that seemed to be gravitating to the toilet paper aisle because that’s what crowds do. They follow. Much to my surprise, I realized that I was a day or two or maybe even several days late on this then quickly learned that the hand sanitizer situation was the same. I did find some disinfectant counter cleaner, which is really pretty awful on hands, but it is better than nothing and has been delegated for outside of my house only (I’m using good ole soap and warm water while home, which is 99% of the time now). I stocked up on beans, rice, stock, canned tomatoes and the like on shelves that were getting noticeable thin, buying more than I had anticipated simply because of the diminishing stock and because it seemed to be what every one else was doing. I had a sinking feeling when I left the store. Moods were somber. People were anxious and afraid. This is real.

Once home, I started cleaning because that’s what I do when I’m not sure what else to do. This isn’t cleaning floors, walls and surfaces, but rather is cleaning, sorting, stacking and re-stacking every vessel in my house that holds stuff. Given that I only moved in 7 months ago, I don’t have a lot of excess or unstacked stacks, but I had enough to keep me busy and my mind distracted for most of the morning. Some may wonder why I didn’t immediately go to my computer to start writing – anything -just to write, because that’s my other go to but when I did, I discovered that my spacebar no longer worked, making for a challenging read. Seriously computer? Now? How’s that for timing? (I’m typing this out slowly and with difficulty on an iPad while I wait for the external keyboard that I ordered). Organizing and reorganizing was a good stand in for my writing and as a Virgo, it’s what I do. A messy drawer turning into an organized wonder raises my pulse and gives me tremendous satisfaction. It’s an odd addiction, I know, and one that’s not always visible as I seem to like the process of tidying up more than keeping things tidy. Again, it’s what Virgos do for fun when no one is watching. I was also trying to stay away from the news as I have a tendency to not be able to pull myself away once in its grip. This is a time when Friends reruns are much more suited for me than is any news show, even NPR. An episode of “That Girl” keeps coming to mind….Ann (played by Marlo Thomas) was having a New Year’s Eve party and had more people come than she anticipated so her snacks were in short supply. Wanting to be a good hostess, she turned to the backs of her cupboards and came up with a dab of peanut butter on individual wheaties cereal flakes. And voila! Peanut butter crispens were invented. Although I have plenty of food and am not finding the need to dig around the bottoms of cereal boxes for snacks, I feel like I’m in a peanut butter crispen situation right now. It’s time to get creative and find things to occupy my day that hopefully will turn out much better than anticipated. I’m looking for my own version of the now famous peanut butter krispen ( or at least famous in my family as it’s become code for getting creative with very little.)

So, with the tv off and the music on, I cleaned, I sorted, and I organized my closets to within an inch of their lives until I wondered what I was going to do the next day and the day after that and well, the next few weeks. My daughter, my son in law, my 5 month-old granddaughter and my almost 3 year-old grandson are all in self-isolation after spending time in Aspen, an area that’s been hit hard, and since I spent time with them when they got home, I’m reluctant to see my son and daughter in law and 1 year-old grand daughter who also live in town. That, added to the fact that I’ve not formed a strong social network yet in Boulder have left me in a definite place of isolation.

I like living alone, but have to say that when I realized that 4 days had passed and I hadn’t spoken with another human, face to face, this extrovert is struggling a bit. We are social beings and although I like settling in for some alone time as much as the next guy, this is a whole lot of a lot. There is great comfort in knowing that I’m not alone in my aloneness though and I’m in a constant search for linings that are silver, or even brass at this point.

We are all facing a new reality and I’m learning a lot about myself during these quiet days, starting with how much I need nature to maintain a modicum of sanity. Daily. I’m fortunate to live in a town that’s surrounded by nature – mountains, streams and several trails are a short walk straight down my street. This morning I walked down my street, to a gentle trail that fronts the Flatiron Mountains. I walked at least 15 minutes before I passed another human being. This is not normal in my neighborhood. I’m two blocks from downtown and normally there are bike riders, runners, skateboarders, walkers and even the occasional hover boarder. The street is never as empty or as quiet as it was this morning. There was a definite awkwardness when I got closer to the first person I passed as we scooted as far away from each other as possible, which had me stepping over the curb and onto the street to give each other the 6 feet suggested. I hiked up a mountain trail for a short while (I wasn’t prepared for hiking so didn’t even have water on me) and realized as I began to encounter a few other hikers that I feared them more than the mountain lions that have occasionally been spotted in the area. How odd. How terribly odd. Yet as awkward as it was to move as far away from a passerby as I could, while they followed the same protocol, it was a gesture that felt touching to me as it was showing such respect for one another. We truly are all in this together.

I’m trying to settle into this new reality, that seems different by the day according to my mood. I hit a low spot yesterday afternoon, feeling the heaviness of the isolation and loneliness like a` weight sitting on my soul. We are social animals and to have to isolate in our homes simply is not our nature. I can’t afford to start spinning in a downward cycle this early in the game so knew what I had to do and turned on some good ole rock and roll and danced. Alone. In my kitchen. Ladies choice. Dancing around my island for 3 or 4 songs was the energetic reboot I needed. It’s the smallest of moments I’m clinging on to these days. Another new routine that I’ve come to covet is my Face Time with my sister, Susan, in Massachusetts. We’ve always liked good phone chat but adding the visual to the call has added so much.

New sweater?? It’s cute. And your hair looks good today…

Thanks! And doesn’t it? Wouldn’t you know… good hair day when I’m not leaving the house at all. Sigh..

She gets up and walks me into the kitchen to stir the soup. I can almost smell it. (Susan is a good cook.) I wish I could stay for lunch.

I’m almost right there with her. It feels good. I will take what I can get and that little bit of face to face on my small phone screen feels like a lot right now.

This isn’t easy. The isolation is foreign to me and has come at a time when my calendar was filling up with lectures and classes and group hikes, all of course now cancelled. There is comfort in knowing that I’m not alone and when I think that so much of the world or at the very least most of my town is sitting on their couches wondering what next in between times of cleaning and sorting and creating and cooking. I’m alone but I have great company in all of this. I can’t get too far ahead of myself as it’s too daunting, but am trying to savor the joy in the small moments. The Doors playing L.A. Woman while I danced around the island in my kitchen was a good start. Oh, and speaking of L.A…. I was supposed to go in a few days to see Philip Glass with Grant and Katie. The concert is cancelled and now my flight is cancelled too…. a decision that was tough to make and that I shed a few tears over, but it was the right and the safe thing to do. I’m blessed to have 2/3 of my kids here in Boulder but desperately miss the other third. Especially now.

I’m trying. I’m digging deep within myself to access my sanity reserves that I know are there as I’ve dipped into those pools before. Rain is coming, which will make my communal moments with nature a bit more challenging but thought that maybe with some National Geographic programs on in the background, maybe I could run up and down my stairs for a bit to simulate a nice hike. The Met has operas online that I can access, there are Broadway musicals online and the same Spanish programs that I’ve visited off and on for years are still there for the taking. Susan said she could possibly be en pointe by the end of all this if she decides to go with the online ballet classes with fluency in French to boot. There really are a lot of creative options that organizations have generously provided, but the one that seems most appealing to me right now is simply the quiet exploration of self, and taking note of the process as there’s some pretty rich stuff in there to uncover. I say that today, on day 6. By day 10, I may be doing online ballet in my slippers.

My silver linings today are :

There are a lot of places to “go deep” when in quarantine…. and not just my closets and drawers. I’m pulling back some long drawn curtains into parts of my soul that I’ve not visited in a while. There’s some good exploring going on.

When you move slower, you see a lot more and things you never noticed before suddenly become relevant, like the fact that there is one chair in my front room that when seated in I can see 11 pieces of art and or photography. It is now my favorite chair in my house.

My connections to people, although not face to face or in person right now, are seeming far more meaningful as their importance has soared.

Crocus have impeccable timing.

I don’t do well when I have stockpiles of good snacks when it comes to what a single serving size is… this is not a revelation of quarantine as I already knew this about myself, but it is a new challenge given the well-stocked kitchen shelves I now have.

Even when I have little, ok nothing, scheduled, I still struggle to get my laundry out of the dryer in a timely fashion. After 2 days, serious wrinkling sets in. I think I hate to do laundry.

Eye contact. It’s pretty important. So is smiling.

Aren’t old photos just the very best??? I’m going to start texting them to my kids. I’m not sure they even know what my prom dress looked like my senior year! Time to share.

Laugh. Move. Laugh some more. Find your peanut butter crispen and reach out to those you love.

You have to find the moments…11 pieces of art that I can see from this chair. It’s a good spot.