My First, Very Long, Corona Virus Ramblings

I’m beginning to write this on March 29, 2020, in the midst of the Corona virus pandemic.

My husband Doug and I are retired since 2013, and spend our summers at South Lake Tahoe and winters in Palm Springs. Thankfully, we don’t have any underlying medical conditions in this frightening time.

I’ll go back a little…..

March 15, 2020 There was talk of the virus, and we canceled our St. Patrick’s Day poolside potluck, amid many complaints that there would be no problem. A couple of days later, there started to be more talk about “social distancing”. The Coachella music festival and the Stagecoach festival were canceled soon after.

My husband, at about the same time, mostly ahead of all the talk of hoarding, went to the store with a list that he got from the internet of things to have on hand in case of the spread of the virus in the US.

Beans and rice, some canned food, another package of TP, a package of wipes, peanut butter, honey, bread, crackers, frozen fruit, and a bunch of liquor. Just in case, as I said.

March 29, 2020

We live in a sort of retro mobile park, and we have a little garden at our place, so we’ll be appreciating the fresh chard, kale, lettuce and tomatoes for quite a while. 

Our park is usually very active in the winter, with parties, and exercise, and game playing, and swimming in the big pool. Now, the Canadian snow birds have all flown the coop. I think they were ordered to go home, and the pool is closed. The library and exercise room have been sanitized, so we venture over there to work out a bit.

I talked to my two kids, aged 36 and 41, who live in New York today, and my son has been sick for about a week. He’s had a low-grade fever and wants to sleep all the time. He’s drinking lots of hot tea and taking Nyquil. His breathing is good. He doesn’t want to be tested and be around a bunch of people who have it. His wife and dog are taking care of him.

My daughter and her husband bought a place in the Catskills recently, so they evacuated the city right away, and I’m glad they are up there for the duration with one daughter, out in the woods.

My son and his wife were staying with a friend in upstate NY until he looked too sick and they sent him back to the city. His wife cried as they were shunned.

We’ve been making soups and stews and a pot of delicious beans the last few weeks, Our cooking talents are coming back, but my husband misses our lunches out every day.

Our 85-year old, but spry neighbor is the recipient of our fine dishes and she’s learned how to cook the kale we’ve shared with her.

We’re Catholic, so we missed going to mass the last two weeks. Today we figured out how to listen to our favorite Irish priest in Gardnerville say a mass and homily from a tv studio, a make-shift chapel.

Every day, we do a 15 minute meditation time with Gregorian chants in the background. We’ve been doing that for about two years.

I’ve gotten out my sewing machine and have learned to make the masks out of fabric that are in such short supply. The first three have taken me 3 hours apiece. I hope I get faster.

We’ve gotten in to lounging around in our jammies longer than usual, and I’ve grown to love wearing my slippers.

March 30,2020

My husband has been studying the stock market and making charts of trends in the worst of times. He was doing this even before the epidemic, thinking that the stocks might crash because of the election in November.

So this morning, Monday, he wanted to get up early to check to see if the numbers would go up or down. He mentions words like waterfall and cascade, and possible depression.

A group met over at the hall, sitting 6 feet apart today, to plan how to help anyone in the park that might fall ill, or just need help with shopping. There was talk about us making 100 masks. As I said before, the first 3 took me 3 hours apiece.

I enjoy going outside and seeing the birds that I feed with a feeder. There also seems to be a mockingbird that must have a nest, and those birds keep flying down and trying to peck at my favorite cat that lives outside. I squirted the bird with the hose and the white cat came over and rubbed against my leg.

March 31

Today we got up early, meditated our 15 minutes, and had sautéed Italian turkey sausage with scrambled eggs, and Doug watched the stock market. It was about even.

We have someone the realtor said would come by to look at our place to rent for the hot summer in Palm Springs. We were about to say never mind, but since he had someone, we worked hard and cleaned the place up and then made a nice picnic lunch for ourselves, so we wouldn’t be around when the person came. But she didn’t show. Oh well. We have a nice clean house. We took a little nap, and then I took a bike ride, visiting friends over fences, and only made one more mask. Worked on a jigsaw puzzle on the patio, and Doug talked to a friend on the phone, and we called Annette. We ate leftovers, watched the news, and an episode of Foyle’s War on Roku. So tired at 9:35. It’s time for bed.

April 1, 2020

I heard after I went to bed, and was looking on email to see that the Desert Sun editor finally, after about a week and a half, decided to publish my story called, “The Corona Virus: Our Personal Retreat”, after all. The editor said he needed a photo of Doug and I, and would send out a photographer.

We got dressed earlier than usual, and I even gave my hair a little curl. Then the editor sent me an email that it might not happen today. I said I wish it would, since we got all spiffed up.  The photographer and assistant for lighting came, and took photos of us out in front and beside the garden. Then, they, wearing masks, asked if they could take some pics of me making the masks, so they came in. After they left, we cleaned off everything with wipes that we thought they might have touched, but they didn’t really touch anything.

During the day, we took a couple of walks, talking to friends at a safe distance along the way. I decided to give one of my masks to our friend, Annette, so we caught her sitting on her front porch and set it on her railing. Today Riverside county said that everyone should wear a mask outside the home. I came home and made a couple more masks.

I watered the garden and picked some kale and lettuce for us to eat.

Doug’s been enthralled with the stock market and making some wise bets in the bear market.

I called my ex-husband, Walt, in the Yountville Vets Home, and made sure he got the care package of snacks we sent him, since he’s been in quarantine for about 3 weeks and eating meals on wheels food. He didn’t know who had sent it, but he loves all the variety of snacks.

My son in Brooklyn called on facetime, and he’s feeling better, not as tired, but coughing, and no fever. He got up and cooked some pasta for his wife and himself for the first time.

We had our weekly call on Zoom to most of Doug’s kids and some of the grandkids at 7 pm so we could all check in on each other.

April 2 We still wake up feeling great, and hope that we’ll be saying that for a long time. Doug wonders if he’ll get it. He feels like he’s in “that category”, since he’s almost 78. We’re both healthy though. I think we’ll be fine, as long as we’re careful.

It’s been in the 80’s and it would be great to go swimming, but the pool’s closed. 

I’ve been telling everyone I talk to about my article that should be in the paper on Saturday.

A friend said she wanted to buy a mask from me, and I hated to charge her for it, but she insisted. I said $5. The next person that asked how much, Doug said $10!,  surprising me, but it turns out that’s how much they cost in the store. We’ll see.

I keep on trying to make a mask that’s comfortable for Doug, trying out different elastics and bias tape, etc. I’m finally getting the hang of what I like best. 

April 5, 2020

Not sure what made me forget to record what was happening the last couple of days.

There are more restrictions every day. Now the county doesn’t want any groups larger than 2, and everyone should wear masks outdoors. 

We got our new, more powerful air conditioner installed today, and think we’ll probably stay in PS longer, since they frown on travel, and people coming in from other areas to Tahoe. 

My article was in the paper yesterday, and I enjoyed all the positive comments I received on Facebook.

Today we’ll watch Father Oliver say the Palm Sunday mass on line, and we’ll hold on to our palms from last year that we had out in the car all this time.

This afternoon we plan to have a sing along outside with 2 neighbors that play the uke and my guitar. Our friend will sit in the driveway with an umbrella and a mask I gave her.

At 4 we plan to have a Zoom happy hour with friends Tom and Sarah in Virginia.

April 6, 2020

Today is my daughter’s 42nd birthday. I can’t believe it’s been so long since the day she was born, my first child. Today we talked on Facetime, while she was with her husband at the place that they magically bought recently in the Catskills. They talked about their honeymoon, of 2 years, will last another 50. Yay.

I started to make a few masks, sewn around the first time with the elastic in it, and then I’ll pin it together in the evening while I watch TV.

My friend Sue came by to ask  for 4 more masks at a discount since she’s buying them for her neighbors. We have an emergency task force in the park now, and there is a block captain for each area to check on everyone to make sure we’re okay.

Tomorrow there will be some food from the food bank for us to shop from at the hall.

April 7

We walked over to the hall with our masks on, carrying paper bags. I brought over a copy of my article to post on the bulletin board, but found that someone already had!

We stood 6 feet apart outside, on the chalk lines that had been drawn. The person in charge of the Emergency Task Force, Jerri, made announcements that isopropyl alcohol was needed so someone could make hand sanitizer, and old t-shirts for making some kind of masks.

Our temps were taken as we entered the hall, and I gave one more of my masks to a friend who had bought it from me. We were instructed to open our bags as if trick or treating, and beans, and canned pears, Wheat Thins, and small packs of Oreos, and lettuce, oranges and apples were given to us by people wearing gloves and masks. This will prevent us from having to go to the store for a longer time.

I saw an ad for Lay’s potato chips, and had to get in to our stash that I knew we had in a drawer. Only a little bowl though.

I’m supposed to be writing and making masks, but I decided I could spend time looking at Writer’s Market for a book publisher for writing idea I’ve had.

Since our friend Pat the handi-man installed a bigger air conditioner in our room, we’re having him put the smaller one in our little bedroom, so it will also blow in to the kitchen, which gets pretty hot. 

The pink full moon showed itself from behind passing clouds tonight.

April 8

We listened to the rain all night and in to the morning.

Doug’s doing amazingly well making some money and protecting our assets on the stock market. It’s his new hobby. 

I sent a mask to a nurse in New York, instead of to Jennie’s friend Ember, a nurse in Hawaii, at her request. I wasn’t sure how much postage to use, so I put on a global stamp and a frog forever stamp. I ordered a postal scale, but it’s taking time to get here.

My hair’s been pretty wild, and I decided to curl it a little, just so I don’t start letting myself go too much in this weird time.

April 9

We thought yesterday was Thursday, Holy Thursday, when the priests in the Catholic church wash the feet of the disciples. We read the wrong reading when we did our little meditation in the morning.

It’s raining today, off and on. We took a little walk over to Annette’s to visit her with our masks on. She stays on her porch holding her little poodle dog, who has just been shorn and was shivering. We stood under our umbrella on the street.

I decided I should do something about writing, so I wrote a query to a magazine, using the guidelines that I learned in the class that the kids gave to me. Later on I see that the last query that I sent to Via, the AAA magazine is being passed on to another editor for them to look at. That was kind of encouraging!

Tomorrow we plan to go grocery shopping, since we decided to stay in Palm Springs till May 13th. We’ll celebrate our birthdays here and then see if we can leave. We’ve changed our mail forwarding dates.

In the evening we watched more of the old movie, Jesus of Nazareth, up to the point that Judas identifies Jesus in the garden. When it’s time to go to bed, we watch a couple of old Jeopardy shows on Roku, and try to get 5 right in a row. So hard!

April 10th

Senior times to shop at Ralph’s supermarket is 6-7:30 am! We got out of here by 7, without breakfast, and armed with a long, paper list, gloves, our masks, and a couple of wipes, we left the phone in the car, and I didn’t bring my purse, so no germs can get on those. Everyone was well-behaved in the store. It was clean and pretty well stocked since we were one of the first ones in there.

Neighbors came by and bought 4 masks from me for $5. each the agreed on, fair price.

April 12

It’s Easter today, and we just texted the kids, and talked to some on Facetime. It’s a strange time. We watched Father Oliver’s livestream mass. He finally got it in to his church and out of the little studio. He mentioned his friends around the country, including Palm Springs, and we smiled. Then at the end, when he processed down the aisle, I was waving at the screen, and he popped his head back in to view, and smiled and waved and said Bye-bye! We looked at each other and laughed. 

After breakfast, I made chocolate chip cookies to share with neighbors. I told them they were untouched by human hands. I had let them cool on the cookie sheet, and then with gloves on, I opened Zip-loc bags, and scooped up 2 cookies for each bag with a spatula. I walked around with a bag, wearing a mask and gloves and everyone loved getting a little Easter gift.

Doug made us a great leg of lamb, and I made gravy and heated up some Bob Evans mashed potatoes and he made us a salad. We ate a Reese’s peanut butter egg, a couple of cookies and coffee chocolate chip ice cream with whipped cream. It’s a feast day, right? I felt sugared out, and uncomfortable as we worked on our puzzle out on the patio.

I was thinking that the animals would be taking over soon, without anyone in the pool, and then when I looked in it, I saw a reptile that looked like an iguana swimming around in the deep end!

April 13

Today is Monday, and Doug is watching the downturn of the stock market. He makes a few hundred dollars every day, and it keeps both of us interested.

I received my postal scale in the mail, so I knew how many stamps to put on the envelopes to send Jen and Lucas and my cousin Lonni their masks.

Doug just read in the Wall Street Journal that wolves have been seen in San Francisco, and dolphins have returned to Venice! It turns out that the dolphins story was a hoax, but we believed it could happen, since the cruise ships can’t dock there anymore.

April 15, 2020

Today is my sister Lorraine’s birthday. She’s 83, and she and her husband have been isolating with the help of their daughter. She goes shopping and has spent holidays with them. Last night all of their kids and grandkids made a happy birthday parade for her through their driveway, complete with balloons, and honking. She filmed it on her phone and cried. 

I gardened today, and pulled out about 30 aloe vera plants, that had multiplied so much. In two of the areas I planted a little castor bean tree sprout that a friend gave me. Hopefully it will live through the summer, with the help of a neighbor who waters for us. The maintenance man here, George, happened to drive by and was glad to take the aloe plants off my hands for his garden.

We finished off the 1000 piece bird puzzle and 5 pieces were missing. It was new too.

April 16

We slept in till 8:45 this morning, since I didn’t have any alarms go off. Guess we needed it. We meditated for our usual 15 minutes, ate breakfast, and then called my niece Martha, who is isolated in a little in-law apt. She had iodine radiation treatment yesterday, and can’t go in to her house for over a week, since she’s radioactive! It’s for thyroid cancer treatment. She sounds good so far, and her husband rick is delivering meals to her through a window.

I spent a bunch of time on the phone to Kaiser and Medicare, getting transferred several times, and got so frustrated, I went out in the heat and yanked out more aloe plants and devil weed while Doug made us lunch of yummy Nathan’s hotdogs. Air conditioners and swamp coolers are very appreciated today. It’s 88 degrees.

We turn off the TV sound whenever the president comes on with his daily briefing. It’s such a waste of time, but if we see that Dr. Fauci is speaking, we’ll turn it up.

I said today, that when Biden is elected, God willing, he should have Dr Fauci, Bill Gates, and gov. Cuomo in his cabinet. We’re also hoping that Amy Klobochar will be chosen as VP.

April 17

It’s our 16th wedding anniversary, and we decided to have our first meal from a restaurant in a month. We ordered a pizza from Mario’s, and our favorite waitress and owner answered the phone. She and her husband are the only ones working. We gave her a card with a copy of my little article in it, and $50, to make up for all the tips she’s missed from us. We also saw the 2 monsignors picking up an order too. We had been wondering how they’ve been doing. They are also big fans of Kim and Mario’s. Kim gave us a big bottle of red wine at half off, and a free dessert since it was our anniversary.

We came home and put a big ham in the oven for dinner, and then took a little drive to escape, up hwy 74 toward Idyllwild. We just went as far as Mountain Center in the San Jacinto mountains, but it was good to get out of the car and walk on a trail a bit.

We worked on our puzzle out on the patio, had drinks, and then folded laundry together in the evening while watching tv. Happy together.

April 20

I got all excited that this was the day that the street sweeper comes. It’s every other Monday. Last night I swept some bougainvillea flowers out in to the road, and then I heard him whisk by on Calle Amigos at 7 am, so I jumped out of bed and swept some more out in to the center of our street, giggling at how smart I was. He just came down Divina on both sides, now at 9:30, so I’m very satisfied.

April 22

We’ve been trying to get up earlier the last 2 days, since the temps here in Palm springs have jumped 10 degrees. Today it’s up to 100! We’ve taken a little walk before breakfast, but after our meditation. It was harder for Doug today, since he hasn’t had any Turmeric for a few days, and he realizes that it has really helped his pain. It’s coming in the mail soon. That’s one of the reasons we haven’t left for Tahoe yet. I ordered a few things that should be delivered this week. We ordered a stationary bike on EBay that was only $20. New. We’ll see what that looks like. 

I’m tired of doing things on the computer and sitting on the couch so much. We’ve set our alarm for 2:15 to remind us to do the old knee exercises we used to do on the bed in Tahoe. The pool being closed is a real problem for our well-being. 

I try to call people I know that are ill or elderly or just lonely. It actually makes me feel drained, but I think I should do it. I love them, after all.

It’s 3:15, and I just went out to the garden to pick some kale to have with dinner. I think it might be the last time, since most of it was covered with aphids. I had to examine each leaf and threw the rest in a pile. Bending down to do all this in the heat wasn’t fun, and took longer than it should have. When I came back in, dripping sweat, Doug looked at me and said “You’re all red in the face! What have you been doing?” I think I’m ready for Tahoe now….

April 25

It turns out that I was mistaken about yesterdays date. That’s what’s been happening, I hear. Everyone’s forgetting what day it is.

I decided that I had better clean up my potter’s wheel out on the patio today. It’s shady out there, but it’s still warm. 

Lots of birds are at my feeder. I give them peanut butter sandwiches, and now I’ve tried peanut butter in between corn tortillas, since I haven’t been going to buy the usual suet blocks or blocks of seeds. They’re going to miss the buffet when I’m not here.

I’ve never seen so many little hummingbirds, I think a lot of them hatched recently, and they love our lantana and bougainvillea, and they come over and check us out every so often. 

This was grooming day for Doug. I trimmed his hair out on the patio. He was very brave. Later, I gave him a patio while we watched some of Casablanca. The callouses on his feet require a battery powered sander.

Every night I walk out the front door to look at the stars before I go to bed. Tonight, the sky was so clear, maybe not so polluted, because of less folks driving, and I saw many more stars and constellations than usual. The big dipper was right over me, and Orion had moved over toward the mountain, and its bottom point was behind it.

April 26

It’s Sunday today, again. We heard that Father Oliver wasn’t going to say mass today. He said “I’ll let Father John be the star this time.” We’ll see if we can tune in to the Palm Springs church.

We took a walk after breakfast to beat the heat and stopped at Annette’s to visit. This time we got to sit on her porch, 6 feet apart, so Doug didn’t mind staying longer since it was cool and he got to sit down. 

April 28

We got up early this morning, at 6:45, and did our usual meditation before breakfast. It’ll be 104 degrees today, and we’re thinking about leaving tomorrow, but it’s so hard to get anything done in the heat. Every time I go outside for 15 minutes to get anything done in the garden, sweat pops off my head. 

We went over to the hall for the food give away, and we got 2 bagels, and this time they had vegetables and really nice oranges. We don’t need much, since we’re leaving soon. I left a new package of hair ties and a hair dye box. I haven’t been dying my hair lately. 

I brought over my sprouts of castor bean trees to Jerri, to babysit them for me for the summer. I planted 2 of them along the side of our place, but I don’t know if they will make it through the heat.

We had a Zoom happy hour with our friends Tom and Sarah tonight. We’re getting better, and can sign on more easily, as we get used to it.

Our freezer and fridge are getting emptied out on time, and tonight Doug made us Ciopinno with added scallops and shrimps, and some broccoli that we got from the handout this morning. After we clean out the fridge, we’ll put some of our underwear and socks in zip lock bags in there so the elastic doesn’t deteriorate in the sometimes 126 degree heat of the summer.

May 12, 2020

It’s been a very different few weeks. Since it was getting progressively hotter in Palm Springs, we finally did leave on April 30th, and took turns driving up 395. We made it within 9 hours, only stopping for gas and to pee, very carefully and sanitarily because of the virus.

We drove in to Tahoe at about 7 pm, and drove past all the casinos, which were closed. A small one permanently. It was eerie how this normally busy resort town is so empty, reminding us of a ghost town. Signs say “Keep Tahoe strong, stay home!”

Happy to be back home, we delighted in our comfortable condo, lit a fire in our new electric fireplace and had a drink and talked. 

In the morning, after breakfast of things we had brought with us, we took a walk around the grounds to see the many daffodils and tulips that were coming up. We got a call from Doug’s dentist, surprisingly saying that someone had called to say that they had found Doug’s wallet full of money and checks on the bathroom floor at the rest stop at Mammoth Lakes, where we had stopped! We got the good Samaritans number, and he arranged to send it to us. Finally, it arrived, intact. Doug said right away, that his “faith in humanity had been restored!” We sent them a nice reward yesterday. 

On Sunday, we were “attending” mass on our computer, and a knock came on the door. It was a community officer, saying that it had been reported that this unit was occupied. I told her that we were the owners and always spend 6 months here and 6 in Palm Springs. “So, you’re not just up for the weekend. You do this every year?” “Yes,” I said, “Please don’t send us back to Palm Springs! It’s 104 degrees there!” She laughed, telling me that Tahoe didn’t want any tourists coming up and bringing the virus with them. I reassured her that we had been sheltering in place for over a month and were healthy, but we would continue to keep to ourselves.

On the 1st of May, we took a careful trip to Grocery Outlet, with gloves on and masks, and stocked up. We had given a lot of our stockpile away in Palm Springs, because we didn’t want to travel with so much, and stored what wouldn’t be destroyed by the heat in the shed or the house. Then we went to Safeway to get what they didn’t have at the other store. We encouraged each other to use hand sanitizer when we got to the car. Coming home, we washed our hands thoroughly, and Doug washed all the fruits and vegies.

I took to baking bread for a couple of days. I’ve been putting it off, since, because folks are staying at home and trying new things, stores have been sold out of flour and yeast. Beer bread first, and then a yeast bread, adjusted for high altitude. It was too good, with lots of butter, and a real treat, but we shared the warm loaves with neighbors, wrapping them in foil with gloved hands. Gotta get back on the diet!

May 7th was my (Pat’s) birthday, but at 11 pm on the 6th, Doug tripped on a throw rug and landed on his right shoulder, and had to go by ambulance to Barton Memorial ER! The EMT told me I should stay home, since I couldn’t sit in the waiting room because of the virus. I would have had to stay in the car for hours in the freezing cold. So, I waved good-bye to Doug in the ambulance, looked up at the full moon and went inside to try to sleep alone. Happy birthday to me, I thought.

At 6 am, they called for me to get him. X-rays showed that he had broken the head off of his humerus! He was scheduled to go to a Kaiser orthopedic doc tomorrow, in Roseville, 2 hours away. We drove down, and saw 2 doctors, and it was decided he would have surgery to repair his shoulder at 7:30 the next day.

We decided to get a nice hotel, which was discounted because of the virus, and was only $95. We figured a nice one would be cleaner, and it also had an interesting looking restaurant at the corner, Tahoe Joe’s that did curb-side pick-up, the latest thing in dining out. We ordered “dinner for two”, which turned out to be 2 huge meals, including a crab cake appetizer, and stored away our leftovers in the fridge. Doug slept in the arm chair, and I in the bed, and then we got up early for his surgery.

They had me drop him off at the admitting security guard, and wouldn’t let me go further. I watched him walk to the elevator by himself and had tears in my eyes. I spent the rest of the morning fielding Facebook comments about my birthday and Doug’s condition. I snacked on our leftovers, and got myself some cappuchino at the nice machine in the lobby, wearing my mask, and answered phone calls and texts from all the concerned kids.

By 10:30, they said he was done, and I could pick him up! He was kind of high and happy from the drugs they had given him, and we drove home to Tahoe, happy that this time he didn’t feel the potholes in the road.

Then there was Mother’s Day on the 10th, and Doug’s birthday on the 11th, which included another barrage of Facetimes, texts, emails, and well wishes for a speedy recovery. I’m exhausted with the internet, and we’re both thinking that it’s a good thing that we get along with each other, with all the closeness we’ve been experiencing.

Tonight, we’ll do a weekly Zoom video call with all of Doug’s kids and our grandkids. It’s good to keep in touch this way, since we’re not supposed to have any personal contact with them. It would be nice to be able to see the kids face to face, in person. Some day….

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