Slipping into the future: Days 19 & 20 of Extreme Social Distancing

Saturday slipped by like a zephyr rearranging tendrils of fog. Days are becoming just a bit less substantial; purpose drains like shower-water off my body, lost and unmourned. Nonetheless, we are persisting. Over a week ago, I thought it might be a good idea to have some flour and yeast on hand, just in case we were unable to get bread, so I added them to my Fred Meyer online order, formerly known as Clicklist. Yeah, no bread, no yeast and no whole wheat flour to be had. Guess I wasn’t the only one with that thought. We did get 5 lbs of all-purpose flour, and Terri found some unexpired yeast we’ve had for who knows how long. Then a friend on Facebook posted a super-easy bread recipe, so I had to try it. 

I guess like everyone else, I have my strong suits and weak spots. Sometimes when I’m cooking I get a bit hasty, and combine steps that should be separate, like mixing the dry flour, yeast and salt together before adding the water and mixing. After spending several minutes cleaning dough out of the whisk, which would have worked so much better with just the dry ingredients, I tried to salvage my project. Following the directions purposefully, I put the dough in a covered bowl on a warm spot, and let it sit overnight.

Our beautiful Skagit Valley
Just the way we like it nowadays
Just a pioneer bush in rocky soil with beautiful spring blossoms

Saturday around noon it was time to put the bread into the oven, and see if it was going to be edible, or maybe dried and used for breadcrumbs. Once baked, we let it set a spell, and took advantage of a break in the weather to head out and walk Burlington Hill. When we can’t go further afield, this is our go-to spot. We get about 600’ of elevation gain with a 15% grade with a couple of varied options on which way we go, plus we get some great views of beautiful Skagit Valley. The sky was overcast, and we could see a storm slashing against the Lookout Mountain range, but aside from being breezy and cool, we were just kept company by the weather. We’ve walked here dozens and dozens of times over the years, in every season, but each time we find something to marvel at. 

Well, back to the house, and time to try the bread. Years ago we were introduced to the joys of rustic bread dipped in great olive oil and balsamic vinegar, complemented by a glass of nice wine, so that is what we did. The bread was surprisingly good, and worked well with the EVOO and vinegar, and I splurged and opened a bottle of Pezzi-King Zinfandel from the Russian River area of Sonoma. Remind me to tell you sometime about how I got that … and about our favorite balsamic vinegar. Anyhow, it was like a magical portal had opened up to a world not consumed by contagion, sitting there with my sweet wife and our simple repast, just alive to the moment.

A loaf of bread, wine and thee…

Sunday I felt compelled to get up a bit early and exercise, then sat down with a cup of coffee. Terri soon joined me with her coffee, and we connected the laptop to the TV and tuned in to Cornwall Church’s 9:00 online service. So grateful we are able to recenter ourselves and reconnect with our church and through that, our Creator.

Well, mundanicity calls! Bills continue to come in the mail, quietly insisting on the transference of the ethereal concept of value represented by symbols printed on paper, or pixels on a screen. Meanwhile, Terri had fun looking for some special gifts to send to our grandkids to bring a bit of excitement and projects to their homebound days. I made even more additions to my Wishlist at Fred Meyer, hoping they will be in stock when I get to go on my assigned day to pick them up next Saturday. 

On my way to losing at Splendor

Time to change things up! We pulled out the game of Splendor, easy and fun for two people. Terri won the first game, I won the second, so we had to have a playoff. Unfortunately, Terri won, big time. I’m going to have to hone my strategy a bit more to stay competitive.

I had to sorrowfully say good-bye for now to Zion National Park, Santa Fe, Mesa Verde NP, Chaco Canyon NP and Yellowstone NP. We had a fantastic road trip all planned in meticulous detail, leaving on May 1st. I had been holding on to all the reservations at our condos, but in the morning news, when Dr. Fauci said this would go on for months, I knew any miniscule glimmer of hope I had for this trip had evaporated. I didn’t cry when I cancelled each precious reservation, but I was sad. Then, of course, perspective sets in, and I am aware of the tens or hundreds of thousands who will not survive this pandemic. I think of the millions who will be impoverished because I – and countless others – are staying home or cancelling trips, and all the businesses, large and small, who will lose all their revenue for weeks or months. 

So far, we haven’t binged on TV, Prime or Netflix, but decided to watch a movie last night called Uncorked. It is based on a true-life story of a black man who wants to become a Master Sommelier, and the struggles he faces on that journey. I have to admit we struggled with the dialogue in places due to the black patois, but it was an interesting diversion. 

Well, Sunday also brought the news that the president is extending the national social distancing order until April 30. I can’t imagine anyone is thrilled with the prospect of at least another month of isolation, but I was … gratified … to hear that this is being taken seriously now by this administration. So sit down, buckle in, and stay home, and stay well.

Coffee with Jesus, Days 17 & 18 of ESD

It was a dark and gloomy day, Thursday March 26th, when I got up. But since there was a chance it was going to clear up later in the day so we could walk, I skipped my workout, and instead went right to work writing my blog post. The days just seem to slip by with little differentiation, and memory fades into the gray mist so quickly and easily. It will be interesting to look back at posts a year from now, and recall the odd mixture of intensity as we consume the horrifying news, and the mundaneness of isolating ourselves in our homes.

Anyhow, I “went to work” after the blog was finished. Last year I was a benefit fair representative for Vision Service Plan (VSP) at several businesses in my general area. It was a lot of fun, right up my alley, and I made a few dollars to  have some fun with! Since then, California, where VSP is headquartered, tightened up the rules on who actually is, and who is not, a contract employee. From what I understand, it’s very difficult to prove anyone who works for you is not a standard employee, and subject to all the rules regarding breaks, vacation, etc etc etc. So, VSP has contracted out benefit fairs reps to a company called VOLT, and I had to do the onboarding process. Twenty-five forms later, and I was done! Of course, who knows if companies will be having their employees gathering that close together again come this fall when they are usually held. We will see! 

Social distancing with daffodils

Terri and I headed out to walk midafternoon, but as soon as I stepped outside, it started raining again. In fact, upriver (where we were headed) looked like it was being put through a power rinse cycle, so we decided to head west and hope for a respite. Made it to Anacortes where we like to walk around the harbor area, and it’s easy to maintain social distance, but it was still sprinkling, and not warm at all. This was a non-starter, so we opted to just go for a drive instead. 

Old farm outbuilding with blossoms

I mentioned the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival before, so I decided to head out that direction. It’s a pleasant drive among all the varied farms in this valley with the beautiful mountain frame, relaxing and nourishing to the soul. I spotted a field tinted a bright yellow, and headed that way. No tulips yet (may be a bit early), but a whole field full of radiant daffodils. We sat and drank in the beauty, then reconnoitered, and headed back out on the hunt. I was delighted to find an old farm outbuilding that is feeling the call to return to nature. There is beauty in aging gracefully!

Spring cloud sculptures with daffodils

Soon we spotted another field, half glowing white, and half the vibrant yellow – narcissus along with daffodils! Normally we would be in stop-and-go traffic here, with no parking and no way to get out and take a photo, but today – staying several car lengths apart – we were able to get out and snap a couple of shots. The lofty Chuckanut Mountains were dark blue in the background, and the sky was putting on a surreal show with grey cloud formations. I was wishing I had a real camera with me instead of my phone, but at least I could capture a sense of what we saw.

Remember the huge issue with the Fred Meyer online order? Well, they DID call me back, and only 30 minutes later figured it out, and gave me a store credit to use on my next purchase. “Just put a note on your next order to use it” she said. Yeah, well, there is no place for notes, except on individual items. I guess we will see – that order is due here in minutes. 

My grandson Kenny tried to Facetime me while I was on the phone, so I checked back in with them once I was done with my shopping ordeal. He loves being out of school, but hates being away from his friends. I got to see grandson Charlie’s new Bearded Lizard, and see the results of some of the work they, along with their dad, have accomplished in their backyard. My daughter is working from home; a task that has gotten a little easier since they closed the mall where her husband works. It was good to see them, touch bases, and be reassured that they are doing okay.

Terri and I looked at our list of friends and family we want to make sure we stay in contact with, so she called her sister Karen, which was a very positive thing for both of them. I called my daughters father-in-law … he lost his wife to cancer not that long ago, then moved out to Portland so he could be closer to Frank, Kalise and the twins. Normally he gets to watch the boys after school, but since there is no school, and since he has another health issue, he is wisely social distancing right now. 

So, there it is, another pandemical day full of mundainish activities. Staying safe, staying healthy, and hope you are as well!

Day 18

Terri and I are very aspirational. Our goal, though, is to be more inspirational. It’s been our desire, for example, to have a daily devotional time together every day. The good news is that our time of self isolation is helping us work on that aspiration, and make it more of a reality. Friday morning, we got our coffee, sat down, and devoted  ourselves. Pastor Kip at Cornwall Church has started posting a resource, encouraging people to fast and pray during this season as we approach Easter, and we’ve been using that as a framework. As we sat in our recliner in our living room, eyes open, coffee in hand, praying for friends, family, healthcare workers and our poor nation, it came to me that if Jesus were here, he’d join us with a cup of coffee and conversation. It was like a light bulb came on, and I visualized Him sitting across from us, engaged in this conversation of love and care for others, and it subtly changed the way I talked with Him. So my new aspiration is to start each day with Coffee with Jesus.

More misadventures in online grocery shopping! I had another delivery scheduled today from an order I placed five days ago. I went in early AM and updated it, then waited. I signed up for text alerts on my order, and soon enough … Madison refunded toilet tissue … Madison replaced disinfecting cleaner … Madison replaced Elderberry syrup … Madison refunded Organic Diced tomatoes … Madison refunded dry yeast … Madison refunded Dave’s Killer Bread … Madison refunded Sodastream CO2 cartridge … Fred Meyer is on the way! Yay! Without more than half my order! And no, they did NOT apply the store credit as I asked for. Still and all, I am very grateful that we don’t have to expose ourselves by going into the store to shop. I just heard that our little county ranked 8th in the world per captita for COVID-19. Probably because 45 of 60 people that attended a practice session for the Skagit Chorale before the lockdown became infected. Anyhow, I REALLY appreciate the grocery store workers, the personal shoppers, and the delivery people for all their work during this tough time. Thank-you!

Another angel is disguise

I don’t know about you, but I have this character flaw – if somebody or something tells me I can’t, it often creates a desire to do just that thing. Now, 99.5% of the time, I don’t follow up on that desire, because there is generally wisdom behind the admonition – “Stay back, dangerous cliff”,  “Speed Limit 70 MPH”, “Keep feet from under mower deck”. “Don’t go shopping or to church or out to eat or meet up with friends”. Oh boy, I want, I want, I want! So, as I endeavour to exercise wisdom, there are a bunch of holes in my life. Sometimes I can find satisfying ways to fill those holes; sometimes someone steps in and helps. Our friend Jamie is a perfect example. He’s been giving me great advice on how to do a professional job painting our kitchen cupboards. Friday he went to the paint store, picked up the paint he recommended and we needed, plus some other supplies, and delivered them right to our house. That is love in action right there, people. 

Live from Studio A …

Once again we shared our Happy Hour with friends Don and Trish. It is always a time we treasure as we swap stories and offer each other encouragement. Later on that evening I was able to talk with David, a good friend down in the Dallas area. Their situation is a bit different from ours as they have no medical situations that compromise their survivability potential, so they are able to connect with their grandkids, and get out and do food deliveries for Uber Eats and Doordash. This year has been one of challenge after challenge for them, a year that should have been nothing but full of joy as he and Jodi celebrate 50 years of marriage. 

How do I wrap this up? I guess I really can’t, because for everyone everywhere this is a brand-new world we are living in. Every day will bring fresh challenges and opportunities. God bless us all as we make our way during this crazy time.

Shopping (Mis)Adventures on Days 15 & 16 ESD

Good morning, everyone! Not quite 7:00 AM on an overcast Thursday, and one of my big projects is this, since once again I’m combining two days for a post. With all the new closures, I’m wondering – and concerned a bit – about being able to leave the compound in a meaningful way, and being able to report anything but “We watched TV all day then went to bed”. I hope not!

Tuesday was mostly odds and ends day. We had gotten our taxes back a few days earlier from our tax preparer, and decided to get brave enough to open them. We were so happy to see that we owed about half as much as the year before, and we had done well in setting funds aside to cover them. Yay! Put them in the mail, checked that off the list. Then a little banking. Isn’t online banking great! The one serious drawback is you can’t deposit or get cash using the app or website … they need to work on that.

I had been thinking about our meal situation, and decided to once again make up a menu, then a  grocery list, then order the ingredients online, and try to get our routine back there. I got the first two done Tuesday. One drawback to getting our groceries online is that they don’t deliver any adult beverages. My Facebook feed has been inundated with companies selling wine and liquor, but I am pretty reluctant to go there. So, I remembered a small wine and cheese shop in Anacortes, got in touch with them, and he put together an order for us with lots of things to try. It was a nice drive there, he brought it out to the car, I fully extended my arm to hand him a check as he extended his arm to get it, so we maintained good social distance. Nice drive, helpful service from Salt and Vine in Anacortes, and helped a small local business!

Soon enough it was time to join Lauren and John, Terri’s sister and brother-in-law for Happy Hour. So great to see them, share a glass of wine and fun conversation. Of course, it would have been even better if we had been together instead of Facetiming, but still, it was a lot of fun! Just one more way we – and so many others – are adapting to the new normal.

Wednesday, March 25 did not look promising when I got up, so jumped on the trusty elliptical again, got all that over with. Since I had not actually placed the order for the meals I had planned out Tuesday, I figured I’d better get on that, since the last time the soonest delivery date was five days out. Got it done fairly quickly, submitted it; once again, no spots in the three day window to be able to pick them up at the store, so I changed it to Delivery ….. and it said “Your order will be delivered in the next 5 hours!” What??? A bit later I get a text, saying it will be delivered by about 10:30, only two hours after I ordered it. Soon enough they were on the porch; we put the bags  in some plastic bins to bring them in, then started unpacking with our safety protocols. It started out fine, but then item after item was something we never ordered. What the heck was going on? Then the doorbell rang; it was our delivery person. They had realized their mistake, and picked up the wrong items. 

All this prompted me to go online and check my orders and what a mess! First it looked like the order we had just gotten, but there were seven items there we would NEVER order, and two from the order that had been scheduled for this upcoming Friday. So I called customer service, waited on hold for over 20 minutes, then spent the next 20 minutes trying to sort things out. Trying being the operative word. The Customer Service Rep is actually getting permission to call ME today so it can be fixed. Not a perfect process!

Next! My garage had gotten pretty junked up recently, with painting supplies that need to be taken care of, finding a new, temporary home for some large 1970’s era speakers I was going to take to Goodwill, and organizing our pantry to make a bit more room for some staples. Nice little project, kept me busy, and looked so much better when I was done.

Deserted streets as we head to Burlington Hill

With all our projects, we decided to keep our walk local, so we headed to Burlington Hill. The clouds had all fled, it was bright and sunny, if only about 53 degrees. Always lifts the spirits to get outside and see the blue sky, see the new life in the world as Spring makes its return. The earth continues to spin on its axis, the sun continues to rise, and this, too, shall pass.

Soon enough it was time to make dinner with all the ingredients we had gotten from our grocery delivery – Sumac Chicken with Roasted Vegetables. So good! Another place where we find stability and comfort.

Well, we turned on the news last night. Overall, we try to limit our consumption of news, but it was time to check in with reality. We were a bit stunned to see that all state parks and all DNR (Department of Natural Resources) lands will be closed. Get out and walk, but not on any trails in Washington. I guess too many areas were experiencing crowding. I get it, but this is a huge blow to us as these are the places that have been our refuge. This will make getting out and finding places where we can relax, get our Nature fix, maintain social distancing and walk or hike very challenging. (Deep breath). We will figure it out, try and be creative. Please share YOUR ideas for getting out and about while staying safe!

Days 13 & 14 – Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping away

Oh boy, I’m going to have to start taking notes about each day. Are your days starting to run together as well as ours? So, Sunday! We both got up reasonably early, so I got the laptop plugged into the TV, and we got to watch the message from Pastor Bob at Cornwall Church online. I have to say we missed the full band, but these are strange times. It was a challenging sermon on the nature of the Trinity; it’s recorded and online if you are interested …

Haenal Road Trailhead

Anyhow, had a bite of breakfast, and our usual fare of Words with Friends, then headed out. We had walked a bit of the Skagit Cascade Trail that starts right here in Sedro-Woolley, so we decided to check out another section. I figured if we got a few miles out of town we’d have substantially fewer walkers,, which proved to be the case. We were out in rural farmland, with lots of cows, horses and goats, plus views of snow covered mountains on either side of the valley. 

Flooded trail!

After walking 15-20 minutes, we saw a sign that said “If trail is flooded, please use alternate route.” Okay, but the one other route was a driveway signed Private Property, Do Not Enter. We headed down the trail, and soon enough it WAS flooded! We were able to skirt by it on a muddy boot-beaten track, until we came to a real creek blocking our way. There had been a bridge earlier, with no water flowing under it, and now a creek with no bridge; looks like it changed course. So, we turned around, and walked past our original starting point to Coal Creek. On the way we passed an ornate mansion, which turned out to be Willowbrook Manor, a very upscale agriturismo lodge.

Hidden Manorhouse

So we got in about three miles of decent walking. On the way back, we drove Minkler Road all the way home, seeing even more farm animals, including llamas and some future photo subjects for my Abandoned Washington Facebook group. Just needed some better light. While we were driving, we decided to make a goal of walking the whole 22.5 miles of the trail, in 1.5 mile segments during our incarceration – err, isolation.

Still painting…

Boy howdy, it’s crazy and doesn’t make sense, but time is actually zipping by quickly (my excuse for putting two days in a row on this blog. Monday I got up, did my regular exercise routine, we had a quick breakfast, then jumped right back into painting again. It was “just” our small hallway, but we started at 11:00AM, and got it all cleaned up and put back together at 6:00PM with just a short lunch break. Five doors to cut around certainly slowed us down a bit, but now all the walls are painted! Woo-Hoo! We broke out the very nice bottle of Moet Champagne our great friends Jamie and Susan had brought over a few days earlier “just because” they knew we were self-isolating. Perfect time for a celebration! Oh yeah – those jeans? Probably over 40 years old, and they finally wore out, the top button ripping out of the jeans. Guess I can’t complain too much about how long they lasted.

Done painting … I thought

I texted my thanks to Jamie, and happened to mention that sometime in the future we planned to paint our kitchen cabinets to match our countertop and backsplash. Well, Jamie is a professional painter, so I ended up with a master-level cabinet painting class over the phone, AND him volunteering to get the supplies for us so we wouldn’t have to leave the house! I think our break in painting is going to be much shorter than anticipated. How are you keeping busy???

Day 11 of ESD – Filled to the brim!

When we got up this morning, the weather mimicked my blog – I Am Gray. Nonetheless, we persisted. I made a spinach and tomato frittata with much assistance from Terri; she made smashed fried potatoes, sectioned an orange for us, and heated up some fabulous muffins she made a few days ago. Feast fit for a Queen, or a King. Played some Words with Friends. Still cloudy, or maybe even foggy. So what, the forecast said no rain today, but some precipitation every day next week, so let’s head out!

Lake Pondzilla

A short time later we threw the rucksack into the back, and headed out, Deception Pass area being our destination. Our first intimation of a disturbance in the force was all the traffic on Highway 20. Lines of cars. Where did all these people come from? And where were they going? Let’s go to Rosario Beach, I thought. Less well known, some fun little trails to great Salish Sea overlooks. We pulled in to what may have been the last parking spot available, sat there for a few moments looking at the crowds of people, and didn’t see a whole lot of opportunity for great social distancing. Backed up the car, and took it a bit further down the road.

Kelly’s Kettle Trail

When we came around the corner and saw the Deception Pass double-span bridge, we knew we had one less option. “Everyone” was here, filling every parking space, and hiking up to our favorite viewpoint.. We knew the main part of the park below was going to be just as busy, so we pushed on. Saw the sign for Fort Ebey just past Oak Harbor, and decided to give it a go. Instead of heading up to the old WWII battery, we took a side road going the other way, found a lot with several parking places open, stopped and reconnoitered. Most of the people were headed up and over to the beach access; I knew there was a little trail just to the right to Lake POndzilla (true name), so we headed there. Short hike, but we saw a spur I thought might take us on a loop around the lake, so we headed there. Close, but no cigar, BUT it kept going to a service road, which then connected to Kenny’s Kettle Trail. Nothing spectacular, but just a perfect hike through coastal woodlands. And, best of all, almost no one else on the trail! It took us all the way back to the park entrance, so we started off walking the road back, but then found another trail back to the lake, and back to the car. Got in about 60+ minutes of good, solid hiking.

Still smiling!
Ft Ebey View

Then we drove over the parking lot for the battery to check out lunch sites. The area was busy, but we were blessed to find a picnic table with a view away from everyone! Lots of gray water, and gray fog over Admiralty Inlet, but then the fog began to rise, slowly revealing the snow-capped peaks of the Olympics behind Port Angeles. What a glorious finish to that special time!

Old Rosario School

Well, we got side-tracked on the way home. Took a little country road that wends its way around Lake Erie and Mt. Erie, then found an even smaller road off that just begged to be explored, so we did! It wends its way up a small mountain, and is littered with beautiful estates. Once at the top, it inexplicably  flattens out – many acres worth – holding a cattle or dairy farm. We spotted what looked to be an old church, which on closer inspection turned out to be an old school, opened in 1891. Originally it had two stories, with the ground floor the school, the top floor was supposed to be used as a meeting place for a fraternal organization, but never was. Concerned parents had that second story removed, as they feared the frequent high winds there would blow the whole building over! This building taught grades 1 – 12 for years, and was actually used as a school until 1957. It is now a historic site, complete with His and Hers outhouses! We never know exactly WHAT we may find as we poke around these out-of-the-way places.

Once home, I had to jump back on the computer. I had placed an order for Fred Meyer the day before, which we couldn’t pick up due to their space/time limitations, but which they could deliver – five days later! I am very much a planner; I find recipes for a week’s worth of meals, plan the menu, then make up the grocery list for each item we will need. Now, I’m trying to figure things out almost a week further than that, and it’s making this OCD person crazy. I had thought of several items we’d probably run out of during the middle of the night, so I went to modify my list. It worked well (except they wouldn’t take my order to toilet paper), right up until I went to save all my changes. I kept getting error messages, with a note to call their 800 number, which I finally did. Truly, the recording said “We are too busy to take your call. Please try again later.” So I messed with the webpage, and my account, and other options, and – finally – got it to pull up my old order, add my changes back, and it saved! Woo-Hoo! Of course, I still have to wait three more days (delivery between 8 and 9 pm!), but I got it done! 

Then, best of all, I heard from my cousin Bruce. Truth be told, I was starting to wonder if all this daily blogging was too much, and if anyone but my sister Susan was reading it, but Bruce sent me a text letting me know how much he enjoyed it. Once again, little words of encouragement can mean more than most of us will know. So here I am, back at it. Hang in there, Bruce, you got this challenge you are facing! And you – yes, you – if you are reading this, I know you face your own challenges at this unprecedented time. Know that people care deeply for you, so stay safe, and take care of yourself.

Day 9 & 10 of ESD – picnic and more!

Years ago, Terri on iconic fallen tree at Washington Park
Picnic all set up at our favorite spot

Today again dawned bring and clear,pretty amazing for the PNW in the spring, so we HAD to get out. We initially thought about going to  Deception Pass, but I dillydallied about with another project for a bit, so Terri suggested going to Washington Park. Located on an incredibly scenic peninsula in Anacortes, WA, it has 200 acres of mixed forest lands, and tons of shoreline with the  Salish Sea. We have been going there to picnic and enjoy for years; one of our favorite spots in this land of beautiful places. 

Over the years, I guess we have made a bit of an art form of picnicking. We bring our own chairs and table. We have either a picnic basket, or a picnic backpack we bring, depending on how far we anticipate walking to the perfect spot. We bring a tablecloth, cloth napkins, dinnerware, a small cutting board on occasion, and often a chilled bottle of Rose’ with unbreakable wine glasses.

Okay, it was only 52 degrees today, but we dress for the weather, and also have a small blanket when needed for extra warmth. Our favorite place to picnic is on the north side, where we get to watch lots of marine traffic pass us by, including our iconic Washington State Ferries on their trips to and from the incomparable emerald jewels, the San Juan Islands. We often see seals, eagles, diving birds, and today, two Navy birds flew in formation over us. And (generally) everyone kept their distance.

Weathered madrona

Not content with the couple of hours we spent soaking up the views there, we headed around the tip of the peninsula to where it faces south. There are multiple trails on the headlands here – just pick one, and start walking! We took one we knew offered spectacular views of the sea, and southern islands, and headed out. The rocky headland has many areas of exposed bedrock, showing the many and deep scars of glacial carving as they slid down from their mountain heights to finally melt in the rising sea. This is hardscrabble land, with stunted, twisted, wind-blown trees and purple and yellow flowers no more than 5mm across or less. 

Tiny flower

We walked the trail until it petered off at a cliff still maybe 100’ above the churning passage below us, where we deemed it wise to stop. We backtracked, then found other trails wending through the woods, finally ending up at the Havecost Monument, a nice granite tribute to the pioneer couple who homesteaded here, then donated all the land to the city. Talk about an enduring legacy! We headed home, satiated with the wonder and beauty of Creation.

Day 10 started off with me getting up early for my exercise routine, and then a perfect lack of communication from me, which I’m blaming on the unique stresses of this moment. We decided to head out on some hitherto unexplored back roads, in hopes of finding homesteads being reclaimed by nature and/or ancient equipment being left to rust in peace. Instead, we found another hidden gem of a valley, filled with beautiful showcase homes on 5 – 50 acres. And so far from anything! While we were driving, we got a great call from John and Jeannie, who had travelled to Arizona for spring training, but who fled home as the realities of possible closed state borders became a bit too real. So great to hear from friends!!

Odd yard art

Not finding a suitable place to eat our lunch, we knew we were close to Arlington, so we headed there. The first park was great, but all the restrooms locked up tight, and well, you know. So we headed downtown, found a great pocket park in the city center, with picnic tables and open restrooms!  We enjoyed our minor repast, then headed back home, hoping to walk a local trail for a bit. Once there, though, we found we were both exhausted. I’m pretty sure it’s taking a lot of our energy to fight the daily stress and challenges we see, and guess that it may be affecting you, too. Practicing self-care, we took the time to rest our eyes for a bit.

So, on to the next project – seeing if I can place an online order with Costco! Then on to crafting another great dinner, watching Chopped or Beat Bobby Flay while we eat instead of a steady diet of non-nourishing news. Stay healthy, friends!

Day 8 of ESD – Out and about

Why am I doing this? Why am I writing every day what my tiny little life looks like? A few reasons. One, this is a worldwide historical event the likes of which the earth has not seen for over 100 years. In 10 or 20 years, authors will be writing books about the great plague of 2020, and they will contain snippets of what daily life looked like back then. There is a small chance that our kids, or grand kids, or maybe even (by then) great-grandkids may wonder what our life was like. So, part of the reason I write is for them.

Another reason I write is it’s a form of therapy for me. For those of you who know me well, you know my mind works a bit differently than others; in this case, over a week ago I felt like this virus event would change my life, Terri’s life, and everyone on the planets life forever, and at age 70, it’s a bit much for me to easily internalize and deal with in an emotionally healthy manner. Writing this allows me to sit and reflect, to go beyond thoughts to marshal my thoughts and make them tangible. It is one coping mechanism in which I have reasonable control.

I’m not writing this for any political reason. Having said that, since it is in part a living history document, I am compelled to say that I am relieved that the president has moved from “This is a liberal hoax to bring down my presidency” to “This is a national emergency.” It is a bit disheartening that the majority Republicans in the Senate voted against a measure to provide relief that the House passed with bipartisan support. They apparently still do not get the magnitude of the situation. Hopefully they will follow their presidents lead soon.

Enough of that. I started off Day 8 with a good-sized To-Do list. First I did yesterday’s blog, then went online to order items I couldn’t find or get from the Fred Meyer Clicklist – bulk organic oats for me, oat groats for Terri, and a case(!) of Nutpods non-dairy, non-chemical creamer for Terri. Mission accomplished!

We then went to a medical specialist provider on a very important, but non-urgent matter, and got an all-clear. It was a tough decision to make to go, but the peace of mind was worth it. No, we did not sit in the waiting room, stayed in the car until they called us in. Yes, we wore masks (yeah, we’ve read all the articles), and used a ton of our dwindling supply of sanitizer when we got back to the car.

From there we headed to a small intersection near Deming so I could do one of my side-gig evaluations. Glad I got it done when I did, because all my other future shops were cancelled while we were gone! Yep, Terri and I are both without jobs right now. We got a letter from VisionPlus, our previous employer, and they are now only seeing patients with emergent eye problems. If you are picking glasses up that you previously ordered, they will bring them to your car for you. Wow. Many more people who really need incomes are without.

Rusting away in the shadows

Anyhow,  it was an absolutely beautiful day out; the job had almost zero human contact, with good social distancing for those few short moments. We  had packed a lunch, so we took the Loooong way home. I had driven by the Mosquito Lake Road multiple times over the nearly 50 years I have lived in this area, and had never driven it. Apparently, the general area for much of the space it occupies is known as Welcome Valley. We were surprised by how much human habitation there was, and how nicely maintained the homes were. I brought a camera, and got several interesting shots of someone’s collection of ancient trucks. I will try and get them uploaded and onto this post. 

The last load of logs

We ended up at a county park, where we parked with a view of some mountains, and with a pair of eagles doing their aerial courtship above us. They were too far away to get a good video or photo, but it was great to see. Headed back to Sedro-Woolley from there, and got in the long line at the pharmacy to pick up an Rx. More than a couple of cars drove in, looked at the line, and kept going. Hey, we have time to kill. Or at least thought we did, when I remembered we were supposed to have been in Burlington over an hour earlier to pick up our grocery order we had placed online a few days ago. Terri called them while we were still waiting in line, and fortunately, they said just c’mon on over when you can. We headed over once we got the Rx, followed the procedures, and got our groceries! When I was telling the Clicklister my frustrations with the app, she gave me a couple of great tips on how to get the exact items I needed even if I couldn’t find them online. Yay! 

Wrecked cabin on Mosquito Lake Road

Headed home from there; Terri set to work making the kitchen sparkle, and I went to the MPR (multi-purpose room) to pay bills and other tasks on my list. Yeah, even with this world-changing viral moment, it looks like companies still want their money. Done. I also went online to cancel reservations to stay in Portland at the end of April as the concert we were headed to had been cancelled. I tried to get a refund on the tickets, but good luck trying to get in touch with Ticketmaster. I ordered new car tabs and stamps, then went online with Cornwall Church to give them my usual donation since we won’t be there in person for some time. If you are looking for a fabulous video venue for worship, check them out!

Whew! We had packed a lot into this day, so were happy to reheat a great meal we had made earlier in the week, sit back, and relax with a bit of TV. I guess even that will be interesting going forward, as I hear pretty much all filming of shows has been suspended. Thanks SO much for reading, and stay safe out there.


So much goodness and flavor!

I had to willfully ignore the beautiful sunshine as it streamed in our windows this morning. So gorgeous out for mid-March, albeit with frost. But we were on a mission today to complete the painting in our main living area. To help provide strength and stamina, Terri made an amazing breakfast, an Italian take on a breakfast burrito, and one of her fabulous muffins. Wow!

Well, we DID need that energy! Started prepping and painting by 11:00, and finished by about 6:30. Oh man, we will feel it in these senior bodies tomorrow, but all that is left is to paint is the small hallway. With five doors, it will present its own challenge, but will definitely complete the look.

Turned out even better than we hoped!

Finally sat down for dinner pretty late for us; wish I had taken a picture of it! Tuna steaks encrusted with wasabi peas, roasted green beans, and a baked potato. So darn good! It’s amazing I’m only about 7 lbs overweight with my sweet wifes great cooking!

Read this evening where some scientists are saying we may have to continue social distancing for 18 months! I don’t pretend to know how this turns out, but this is all pretty mind-boggling right now, and tough to comprehend. We are taking it one day at a time, and trying to not borrow trouble, but wowsa. At least we have a whole new look in our living room, in which it looks like we will be spending a lot of time.

Day 6 of ESD – Changed it up!

You may remember from my previous post that I neglected to get an ingredient at the store that we use constantly – chicken stock. And not just any chicken stock, mind you, but the only one we have found that doesn’t have tons of sodium. Luckily, I found even a little bit more in the freezer, but now we are totally out. Plus there were a few other items we could use, so I made out a list, and let it set a spell. 

Now that there are several confirmed cases of Covid19 in our county, and I hear one death, I am even more reluctant to venture out to the stores. I’ve been aware for some time that Fred Meyer offers shopping and even delivery services, but felt no need to avail myself of those services. I even downloaded the FM app quite a while ago to take advantage of their digital coupons, so I figured this was as good a time as any to see if this could work for us. 

First, I went online with my Chromebook, and searched all over the FM web page, but was a bit surprised to see that the Clicklist option is not available there. Bummer, because I’d sure prefer to use the larger keyboard! [Note: When finishing up, I found how to use my Chromebook to access the Clicklist option, and have the link here.] Oh well. Got my phone, opened the app, selected my store location, and started making out my list. It was quite a job. Obvious search terms came up zeros, and some items didn’t come up at all. When I finished, I tried to see how to submit it and get the process going. There was no option to do that!

So, the app has a “Your Location” section, and a “Home” location. Clicklist is not available in the “Your Location” part; I had to go to the “Home” location, select Clicklist, and THEN find my local store. The list I had spent so much time on was not available here – why do they even bother? So start all over, with the same hassles as before – except some of the items I eventually found earlier could no longer be found no matter what I tried. The chicken stock? Yeah, no. The Low Sodium Tuna? Yeah, no. The pump hand soap Terri likes – or even the alternative store brand? Not available for pickup, ship only.

So, I found alternatives for some things, and struck out on others, placed my order, paid for it, and then … and then, they asked me for my feedback on the app! Hahahahaha, yeah, baby, I’ll give you feedback. So anyway, the order should be available to pick up Wednesday at 1:00PM. They will bring the groceries to the car, and I drive away.

So, after that interesting experience, we headed to Mt. Vernon so I could pick up more paint and more painting supplies. I thought I had it figured out pretty well how much paint I would need, but it’s going to take an extra gallon. Glad Sherwin-Williams is having a 30% off sale! From there we headed to Terri’s side gig, which is performing inspections and visual audits of service stations. 90% is outside, with just a few minutes in the convenience store, and virtually zero contact with staff or customers. Takes her about 40 minutes, and puts a little extra jingle in her pockets. When I go with her, I generally take some reading material, but this time I called my middle sister, Cindy, to see how she is coping with this “new normal.” We had a great, far-ranging conversation, and shared some of the impacts we are feeling, and some we fear are to come.

On our way home we called our friends Don and Trish, who are suffering from upper respiratory congestion, to see how they are doing. They are living in their trailer for about a month here, and forgot to pack a thermometer, so they were pretty concerned, especially for Trish. Once home, we had a quick bite, and prepared to head out to walk Little Mountain, when Terri got a call from our shared son, Nate. He and his wife and their four kids live in the Seattle area, so we are quite concerned about them. Fortunately, they are now both working from home; their biggest issue is creating a new normal for their kids; a struggle for over 1 million kids in our state right now. It was great to hear from him, and touch bases.

Sunny, but a bit cool and windy!

Then, fun and games, we got to do a video/telephone conference with our financial advisor on the day the Dow suffered its worst loss in 30 years. Yay. Fortunately,  I had mentally prepared myself for just such a time as this when we committed our funds to an advisor, and we had picked one out who understood our situation; so far, our anchor has held during this storm, even though we (like everyone else) have taken a bit of a beating. Hang on, it’s gonna be a wild ride, people!

So, we did get out on this beautiful, sunny day, got in some exercise, and got to see some great views of our valley as well as trees budding out in the promise of spring to come. Then, later on in the evening, our friend Al called to check in and see how we are doing! 

We never tire of this view

We had started our day out with the news that Governor Inslee had used emergency powers to close every restaurant, bar, gym, meetings of more than 25 people, and more, and that San Francisco had ordered a “Shelter In Place” edict for 7 million people. Scary times. But then, we were able to reach out and connect with friends and family, and other friends and family reached out to connect with us. No question we will all be going through some times that will sorely test us, but I’m thinking what will get us through is Faith, Friends and Family! Hoping and praying that maybe this unprecedented situation will clear away some of the dross our country, and our world, has accumulated, and we can refocus on things that really matter. Stay safe, and reach out to someone today, okay?

Day 5 of ESD (Extreme Social Distancing)

Well, this is a bit later than I hoped, but hey.

Living room before

Sunday! We were both up and around reasonably early today, so got to relax with a cup of coffee together before the day started. We are fortunate in that our church has offered live streaming for years, so when Washington State banned all gatherings of 250 or more, it was all ready to take it to the next level, and live-stream all services. We had taken advantage of the live-stream option before when we weren’t 100% health-wise, so I have getting it set up pretty well dialed in. We hook the computer up to our TV so we don’t have to crowd around the laptop screen, and we have much better sound than the laptop could ever produce. Sure, we’d rather be there in person, just not right now

Once church was over, we had breakfast, then dove right back into painting again. Got a huge chunk of it done; two major walls, one middling size wall, and another coat for the fireplace. I had guessed it would take about seven hours, and we finished up at 6:00 PM, exactly seven hours later. What do you think? Now just one more good sized wall, the kitchen, a hallway, and one triangular wall where the kitchen ceiling transitions to the vaulted ceiling in the main living area.

Still lots of work, but getting closer…

So, the other night, Terri went to make dinner. Remember that shopping cart that was filled to overflowing? Yeah, guess who forgot to get chicken stock for the recipe. Fortunately, when I unloaded our old fridge to get ready for the new one, I noticed we had several small ziplock bags we had filled with chicken stock and frozen. Disaster averted! And the 5 Bean Chili was fantastic! But, this new recipe ALSO called for chicken stock, so we had leftover 5 Bean Chili. I’ll call that a win any day.