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A Moment for Reflection

FFF(c) Day! Freedom From Fear (coronavirus)

Scenes from World War I were playing on my screen recently. Soldiers were huddled in the trenches, with incoming artillery shells, mortar rounds and sniper fire. It was a constant battle just to remove the dead and injured from the live fire while shrapnel, mud, and debris rained all around them. Everyone wondered if they’d actually make it home alive, not to mention arrive physically unscathed. Unfortunately, many of those who arrived with bodies intact turned out to have “shell shock”, or what we now term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

It is estimated that 40 million people died worldwide in that war; so far, “only” about 2 million people have died from the quiet war of coronavirus. Without the explosions and bloody deaths as stark reminders of this war, many people saw little or no risk, and pretty much continued their lives as they had before they had to wear a mask to get their groceries. But for some of us – those with compromised immune systems or other pre-existing conditions – this felt like an invisible war that was being raged right next to us, and we retreated to our foxholes, shelters we shared with only those who lived in our homes. Anyone else could be an undercover agent carrying Covid-19; trust no one, no matter how much you love or miss them. It was a fast, brutal and stark reordering of priorities. 

Every trip outside the home became an exercise in warfare and spycraft. Need to fill the gas tank? Find a deserted pump island. Oh no, here comes someone! Do they have a mask? Which way is the wind blowing? How close are they going to get? Want to take a walk and get some exercise? Oops, not there, look at all the cars in the parking lot. How many people are on that trail? Nope, let’s find a deserted neighborhood. Groceries? Order online, drive to the store, open the back hatch, put on a mask. What? Why are they trying to approach my window, I stated NO CONTACT! Get the groceries home, wipe down everything with disinfecting wipes, then wipe down the counter. 

Order surgical masks, cloth masks, vented masks (oops, can’t wear that; glasses won’t fog, but my outgoing breath isn’t filtered, and that’s not cool). Order more masks. Get filters for masks. Order surgical gloves. Get an air purifier for household air (seemed like a good idea at the time, will come in handy during smoke season). Search and search for hand sanitizer, disinfecting spray and wipes. Order more masks, maybe these will work better. Take a chance and meet at a “social distance” with friends outdoors. On the way home, discuss whether I got closer than 6 – 10’ during the visit, and if so, how great was the risk of exposure.

One day – March 367th – get in line, and spend nearly two hours way too close to strangers, and get a shot in the arm that may be a first step in getting invisible body armor against this invisible assassin. Three weeks later, go back – where is everybody? – and get the second shot. Tomorrow, March 381st, marks FFF(c) day. We’ve been sent home from the front with a fully functioning body! But. We felt the tiniest shadow of what PTSD might feel like.

Long discussions. What can we REALLY do now? Who can we see safely? What does that look like? What does the CDC say? Hmm, lots of data there, and not a little confusing. Are they saying that to keep us safe, or the people we are with? What does 95% effective mean? Wait, now it’s “only” 90%? What about the variants, are we safe there? I feel like maybe a person emerging from a storm shelter after a tornado has just passed by, wondering if it’s safe to come out. Or maybe like a turtle who retreated to his shell because of an apparent threat, blinking his eyes, and slowly extending his head to take a look around. It’s going to take some time to stop examining every action outside of the cocoon we have built around our home. 

Grass “Pondering” its reflection

We went a little crazy yesterday. We went to Costco … during the Senior Citizen hours to avoid crowds. We actually went a couple of months ago, double-masked, with our tight little list, only getting exactly what we needed, not going down any aisle with another person in it, and rushing out as soon as possible. This time – okay, still double masked – we go up and down dearly every aisle in the store. And yes, we found a few things we didn’t know we needed until we saw them. 

We raced home (I was going to say zoomed, but that word has been co-opted by a now-ubiquitous app), put the groceries away, put on our hiking clothes, and headed out to Whistle Lake to hike a real trail! We took our masks, but only masked up if we saw others who were wearing a mask. It felt so good to not have to find a spot on the trail where we could be six feet or more off the trail, and not struggling to quickly put our masks on before they got too close. We even had two 5 minute friendships, the first in over a year! 

On the deck at Anthony’s

And then (drum roll), Terri suggested we head in to Anacortes, and maybe find a restaurant with an outdoor patio where we could have a glass of wine. And we did! Anthony’s had two patios open, and the one in the sun didn’t even have anyone else on it. We ordered one of our favorite appetizers, Calamari, and a glass of wine, and marveled at where we were, and what we were doing. 

Our guard is still up a bit. Still leery about being too close to unvaccinated people, dining inside a restaurant, and returning to in-person church services, to name a few. But now there is sooo much more we can do than we’ve able for the past year, it’s almost intoxicating. We’ve missed so very much this last year, and we ache to see our kids, grandkids and friends, but we survived. American could end up with three-quarters of a million dead before there is a near-zero risk of contracting covid, and our hearts break for those who have lost family and friends, and for those whose bodies will never fully recover from this disease. Yes, we took extreme measures; now all those sacrifices will begin to pay off as we reintegrate with society. The storm clouds are clearing, and we emerge, ready to build again.

This fish literally jumped out of the water onto the bank while we were eating lunch. We felt a bit like a fish out of water ourselves on FFF(c) day. I flipped him back in the water – he stared at me for a moment, then swam away.

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Today Is Tomorrow

And the next day, and the next, and the next…

It was 315 days ago we started what we termed “Extreme Social Distancing.” No shopping, grocery or otherwise, no church, no friends over for meals, no trips to see grandkids, avoiding like the plague anyplace where we might come within 6’ of another human being. Laughably, my blog post on March 12 – that fateful first day – wonders if this new life will last six to 12 weeks. Ten months later, with a strangled vaccination roll-out and new, easier to catch, maybe more deadly coronavirus variants popping up like mushrooms after a fall rain, we are being told it could be another ten months before we can feel somewhat safe in the company of anyone other than those living in our house; yep, just Terri and I.

Mount Baker at eventide from Cap Sante, Anacortes, WA

We do all our grocery shopping online, roll up to Fred Meyer, the back of our rig is opened, bags deposited, the door closed, and off we go. That will typically be the highlight of that day. If the weather isn’t horrible, we have a couple of choices; drive to Anacortes, where we walk in a ritzy neighborhood with views of the Salish Sea where we are the only walkers on the sidewalks. Head to Little Mountain Park, where one of the many trails has few, if any hikers, or out to LaConner. We drive to the very end of the marina area, walk the sidewalks along the shoreline until we get to the cute, touristy town with closed shops and empty sidewalks. 

Once in a while we will head to Whidbey Island during the week and find a deserted beach to walk, or sit with a meager lunch and ponder the timelessness of the wind and waves. Or we may try and find a backroad in our tri-county area we haven’t been on yet, running out of options there.

As we were nearly home driving back from one of our micro-excursions, we looked at each other, and I asked Terri “What do you want to do tomorrow?” And we both laughed. “Today IS Tomorrow” we said. Our yesterdays, todays and tomorrows are becoming indistinguishable from each other. There are no sharp calendar edges on our months, only the slow shape-shifting of seasons. 

Occasionally punctuation marks seem to appear out of nowhere. Friends moving away, a few very social-distance encounters with a couple friends and family. A short road trip to a condo where we will continue the extreme social distancing, but with a view other than our four walls for a few days. News of hard times for family members, reports of illnesses and death of friends family members. Astoundingly disturbing news from the other Washington. They all come in fast, hit hard, and dissipate like morning fog. 

Maybe like you, I want to live a life with meaning. The visceral knowledge that we are like the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire singes my days. Days like dry tinder, flashing into flame, but with no wood to make a meaningful fire. Incense carrying my prayers that I may play my part in the plan, to make at least a bit of a difference in a world crying for justice and mercy. 

So I scratch and peck, send a text here, make a call there, write a letter to the ethereous internet, jump on a Zoom with anyone willing to share time with us, or join a meeting where they have to let me in. A flash in the pan, a speck of gold dust, reminding me of the richness of relationships now reduced to electrons on a screen, and a yearning in the heart. 

The light of my life!

Hold on, we just have to hold on. Hold on to what we have, to the munificent blessings a mere glance reveals. Hold on to the investment of time spent in extreme social distancing that has kept us safe so far. Hold on to the lottery-like promise of a vaccine that could maybe possibly hopefully who knows begin an emergence into a new normal. If you have met me in person, you know I am a hugger. Know now that my hugs will be a bit tighter, a bit longer the next time we meet. Know that my tears will probably flow when I see you in person. Know that my heart aches and yearns for that time to come soon. I have hope. I am clinging to a hope for a better, brighter day for you and me on this glorious world. And, speaking for myself, one way or the other, I am confident and cling to the hope I have in the next world. 

May there be Peace, and let it begin with me.

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The Battle of New Year’s Eve

I should have known that my New Year’s Eve plans would go off the rails a bit when after multiple tries, I couldn’t get any fennel for a fabulous mussels in white wine sauce recipe I wanted to make.

It had felt like I’d been waging my own private two-front war against the pandemic; one physical and the other mental. The physical battle has been tough, on each and every one of us. So many have lost this battle. All that the survivors will have will be memories of their loved ones lost in this great war. Most of the rest of us have sacrificed coveted times with mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, grandkids and friends. So many are still in the trenches, fighting for us, trying to keep us alive, no matter how safe we thought we were being, or even if we thought it couldn’t happen to us. 

Many of us have sacrificed vacations, anniversaries, honeymoons, funerals, graduations, travel plans. We’ve given up dining out, shopping in stores, going out to the movies, going to church, five-minute friendships with strangers, and a thousand other common, ordinary things we took for granted. And that’s just the physical side.

On the mental side, we are fighting an invisible enemy, lurking anywhere, just waiting for a lax moment to ambush us. For us, extreme isolation seemed to be the safest way to keep each other alive and healthy. Several times it has felt like we were in a newer version of the movie Blast from the Past. We occasionally emerge from our bunker, and drive around old haunts, marveling at new construction springing from the ground like mushrooms after a rain, or with pangs of nostalgia as we see places we loved that will only return in our memories. Then we return to our bunker, close the hatch behind us, cross another day off the calendar, and wait for a day in the hazy future when we will emerge into a world that has been changed forever.

Fighting an invisible enemy takes its toll. Isolation takes its toll. I want to attack, fight and defeat this enemy, but all I can do is hide. My fight or flight response has been maxed out every day for nearly a year, and I’m tired of running from a particle too small to be seen by the human eye. As I lay awake on New Year’s Eve Eve, my mind, addled by sleeplessness, decided to declare a personal war against the virus on New Year’s Eve. I’d show it! I won’t be cowed! I’m going to make that whole day a huge party, and win this battle it has been waging against me in my own mind. Along the way, there was a distinct possibility that this battle may involve a bit of consumption of my favorite anesthetic to salve the wounds I had borne.

The day started off with my making our favorite frittata, maybe the best ever using chipotle flavored olive oil. I was going to serve Mimosas along with it, but my practical, Scotch side made a rare appearance, and convinced me that the bottle of bubbly would probably go flat before we finished it. The fritatta was fabulous, but now my plans were off track a bit. 

Several days earlier, I had a brainstorm, and ordered a Smoked Gouda from Fred Meyer, and three of my favorite cheeses from The Cheesemonger’s Shop in Leavenworth, WA; a Kerrygold Aged Cheddar from Ireland, a Blue Stilton from England, and Humbolt Fog from Cypress Grove in Arcata, California. Along with that we had some Rosemary Crackers, Artisanal Rosemary Bread from Avenue Bakery, a Limited Release Olio Nuovo  Extra Virgin Olive Oil form Durant Olive Mill in Dayton, Oregon (a gift from our friends Gary and Linda), Hummus with veggies, and Honeycrisp Apples for lunch … while we watched Shrek. True confession, I’d never seen it before, but Terri loves it and wanted me to see it. Why not? Having fun was a big part of the battle in my brain. Oh, and we shared a VERY nice bottle of Sonoma Zinfandel, a perfect accompaniment to this repast.

Next up, a great video reunion with our great friends Don and Trish, who just moved into their new house in Texas. Laughter, tears and wine flowed as we caught up with each other, their absence and distance a part of this new reality. Two hours whisked by like a brightly burning meteor lighting the sky and disappearing. 

Well, it was too late to make dinner now (and it wasn’t going to be the fabulous Mussels in White Wine), so we found some of our frozen “Planned Overs”, turned on the TV to watch “Bosch”, our latest Prime binge, with a tiny splash of bourbon. Looking back on the day, and on my private battle, I figured I had fought well against a huge opposing force. I had not totally won, but neither had I lost; I was satisfied to call it a draw, head to bed, and rest to fight another day in a new year.

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I Am Leery…

Not Timothy Leary, He’s Dead. (With apologies to the Moody Blues)

Occasionally I get an opportunity to fill out surveys. I got an easy one the other day – it asked me how many miles I had driven in a 24 hour period, starting at 3:00AM the previous day. That was easy; I just put a zero in every box. In fact, due to the steady rains setting in and other factors, I haven’t left the house except to pick up our mail in four days. 

View from Little Mountain

It did get me to thinking, though, about how constrained our activities have become. Basically we get out to pick up groceries that someone else has picked out for us from the list we send them; we get out to do nearby hikes or walks, and occasionally we get out to just to drive around, and see if we can find a road we’ve not been down before. We are pretty leery of doing much else, especially now that the numbers of coronavirus are increasing exponentially all around us. 

Like many others, we were super excited to hear about the efficacy of the vaccines that are in the pipeline. We can finally start to dream about doing more, and expanding our horizons! Visiting grandkids, friends and family, shopping (especially at Costco), movies, dining out, wine tasting, returning to our favorite places, travel – oh my! We can’t wait for the vaccine … but we have to. We are optimistically thinking that we may be inoculated by April. But then Mr. Leery started knocking. 

First of all, 95% effective sounds pretty great, especially when the flu vaccine is generally about 60%. But if you had a 5% chance of winning a $1million lottery, you’d buy a ticket every day, and might win twice a year. The good news is that I’m guessing we will be in the first 30% of people that get the vaccine, so that’s good! On the other hand, it’s projected that 50% of the population won’t get a vaccine, so that means even though we may have a high level of protection this spring, 70% of America will still be getting infected, and trying to infect us. 

We’d love to go to a movie, but there we are, cooped up in a room filled with strangers, and always – ALWAYS – someone coughing their lungs out, floating their aerosolized pathogens while they eat their popcorn and drink their Coke. I’m pretty leery about that. 

And, Oh! How we miss dining out and Happy Hour! Oh, but wait – there we are again, in a room of strangers having unprotected gastronomy, blissfully sharing their exhalations of joy with us. Yeah, maybe not.  (Korean Study: Infected after 5 minutes from 20 feet away)

We are hoping to fly to Texas to see friends there. Yeah, “they” say flying is safe, but we’ve all seen videos of passengers who refuse to mask up, and they are serving food again on flights, so everyone’s mask will be off in that cramped aluminum coffin hurtling through space for hours and hours. That pretty much takes leery to the limit.

So, our joy at the great news of the vaccines has been tempered a bit by a healthy dose of reality. When will we be leery-less? Maybe when everyone who wants a vaccine has had both shots, even though the rest of the nation will still be playing hot potato with Covid-19. Maybe when they stop reporting hospitalizations and deaths from coronavirus, and mass shootings become the story of the day again. In the meantime, we’ll do what we can with what we have. Words with Friends, anyone? Or online Hearts while Zooming? Or…

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 7 ESD – FINISHED PAINTING (almost)

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.

Day 4 of Extreme Social Distancing

The run on stores is real!

Day 4 of Extreme Social Distancing. My eyes popped open at 4:50 AM on the fourth day of our Extreme Social Distancing Regime. It was OMB calling again, and I had to take the call. Old Man Bladder has ruined many a nights sleep; this morning I had planned on getting up between 5:30and 6:00 AM so I could hit Fred Meyer about when they opened at 6:00 to try and avoid lots of shoppers stocking up for their own needs during this tumultuous time. I did get a space fairly close to the store, but was a bit surprised at how many shoppers were out this early. I had seen reports recently of panic buying and empty shelves in stores across the U.S. There were what seemed like dozens of worker bees restocking produce shelves, empty of produce. I had come prepared with a huge list both for the menu I had prepared for next week, as well as staples to get us by for as long as possible, as this may be my last grocery trip for weeks. 

Not ready for zombie apocalypse, but we are good for a couple of weeks, maybe.
Still SO much more to do!

I got the last Brussels Sprouts, some rotting onions (discovered after I got home), had to settle for non-organic lettuce. Good news, the chicken was on sale; but the frozen vegetable section was virtually empty. I kept an eagle eye on the shoppers, as they did me, but no one coughed on me! They we sold out of my organic no-salt diced tomatoes, but they did have one last 12 pack of my TP made from recycled paper! My cart filled to overflowing, with no space left on the bottom, headed to the lone checkout station that was open. I was next in line, and started unloading. By the time I was finished (with over double my usual cost), I looked as I left, and there were well over a dozen people in line to check out. Whew! I learned two things – this was the busiest they had ever been at this hour, and the shop online option? Yeah, they said it was at least a three day wait for delivery! Good  heads-up for when our perishables run out next week.

Once I made it home and unloaded the sacks and sacks of groceries, I was dispatched to pick up the paint for our living area. I had phoned the order in earlier, so all I had to do was pay and walk out, once again with no other customers in sight! Yay! Well, my joy was short-lived, as I immediately started prepping for painting, and then actually doing the painting. It didn’t take me long to realize that I was over 10 years older than the last time I did this. But I powered through, and got the entryway and a wall done by 4:30. As I was outside cleaning up my major mess with paint brush, roller, roller tray and trim paint bucket, a car pulled up near me, and held out a bag. Jamie and Susan with a bottle of Moet champagne along with the nicest note showing their love and support for us during our time of self-imposed isolation. WOW! That bottle WILL be cracked open when we finish painting, for sure! How are your friends doing? Anyone need help or encouragement, or just a note showing you care? I think we will all be needing this in days to come.

Well, howdy, Friday the 13th

News we saw last night: Public schools in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties are closing until April 24th. Renowned chef Tom Douglas is closing 12 of his thirteen restaurants in the Seattle area. Another top-tier restaurant, Canlis, is closing temporarily as well. All major sporting events are gone. No one knows how many COVID19 cases there are in Washington because of a shortage of testing kits, and the long lead time to process the tests we have. For some reason, instead of falling right to sleep, it took me an hour or two to finally drop off. Go figure.

“Just paint the dark part…”

Plans had already been put into action for today, so we followed through. Took Terri’s car in to get the snow tires changed out for her All-Season. She stayed in my car while I made sure the lobby of Discount Tire was virtually empty, then we scooted away, and headed for Sherwin-Williams. Our prayers were answered when we determined that they had zero customers inside, and only a couple of staff, so we could make a stab at picking out new colors for our living area. Went pretty easy, took less than an hour! Might have taken longer if I had actually ventured an opinion, but had already determined that might not be the best course of action.

“Does it need another coat?”

We bought a couple of quarts to take home and slap on the walls, had a quick lunch, and I was pressed into service as the paint guy. “Just paint the area over the fireplace, so I can see what that looks like.” Okay. “Would you paint this area in the kitchen so I can see how it looks with the stainless steel and the backsplash and counter?” Okay. “I really need to see how this goes with the couch and oak furniture, just a bit on this wall?” Okay. “You know, I really can’t tell about the fireplace, I really need all those other colors gone, and a second coat so I can see the true colors – I’m not sure if I like this color.” Okay. “You know, this wall over here…” I think that’s enough. Really. Time to clean up the paint brushes and roller.

“Just paint some there so I can see how it goes with the furniture

Finally, finished; time for Terri to get on the elliptical while I come up with a menu and grocery list. Plan is to head out at O’dark thirty tomorrow to avoid the crowds, and restock the pantry to stave off starvation. Or keep from going into the frozen left-overs stash. I wanted to check out Costco when they opened, but a friend posted that a friend of theirs went, and the lines stretched out to the very end of the store. Not my idea of Social Distancing … wish me luck Saturday!