Week Two draws to a close

27 Mar

27 March 2020.

Pity the journalists reporting today. By the time they write something the situation has changed. I feel the same way. I was going to blog about our Maui trip, but it seemed misplaced as we returned to the hockey-stick upswing in COVID-19. Now that trip seems like a distant memory and we just returned to Lincoln City two weeks ago today.

Green sea turtle on “our” beach.

We are lucky we were not forced to shelter-in-place in Hawaii. It may seem heavenly, but we all longed for our beds and at $299 plus taxes, fees per night for a condo, high food costs, and car rental, mannaggia! (Italian expletive you can decipher yourself) we could not afford to stay there longer!

Quarantine, self-isolation, social-distancing, whatever you call it (yes, I know there are differences but permit me), even those of us whose religion is Practicing Introvert are finding this challenging and I know it is not going to get easier. Following news from my friends in Europe tells me we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Lincoln City is rather removed from the mainstream. We don’t have a rush hour, except when tourists flock here for spring break. Then we get traffic jams in the afternoon. Spring Break had a non-commital start and canceled lodging reservations were a top story on March 16. That changed when the housebound Valley People decided to take advantage of the good weather and escape to the beach and other rural areas. March 21st saw our county overwhelmed with claustrophobic city people thinking they could social-distance themselves here at the beach. Not good for the elderly population of our town that only has two industries: tourism and retirement. Our 24-bed hospital is not going to handle an onslaught. Weekends, where our <9,000 population surges to 40,000 people, are bad enough, and that usually brings cases of sunburn, sprains, and broken bones. Now the governor, our mayor, and the county commission have decreed no short-term rentals. All beach parking is closed as are the parks and open spaces. No hiking in State Parks.

Empty Outlet Mall, spring break under quarantine.

Speaking of the elderly, I do not identify with my age group. I am energetic, technologically savvy (mostly), in decent shape, and deplore talk about aches and pains and insurance plans. Yet here I am avoiding the gym, going to the grocery store at odd hours, standing 10 feet away from neighbors to chat. Thank God the weather has been (mostly) good so Ric and I can walk in the woods (mostly) alone.

Even the Chinook Winds Casino closed. Never before.

Some days I ask myself,” Coronavirus or Allergies?” I started with weepy eyes and stuffy head in February and after a few days reluctantly started self-medicating with Zyrtec and Flonase. In Hawaii even that combo could not overcome everything that assaulted my senses. Of course while we were there the COVID-19 was ramping up outside of China, Italy went on lockdown, and I started to wonder if I was Connie Corona. Happy to report that it is allergies and I will live this way until December, if 2019 is any indication.

While far from bored, I find myself reacting much as I would during a snow siege. Oregon doesn’t do snow well and we have been cooped up for as long as a week by weather. (Portlanders, remember Christmas 2008? My car was frozen to the driveway for 8 days.) On those occasions I obsessed about weather news, looked for any opportunity to safely leave the house, and focused entirely too much on what we were going to eat next.

This siege is not that different except my focus is on the overwhelmingly depressing news and I realize it is not going away as fast as snow and ice.

Homemade PPE available in Patriotic, Sterile White, and Rainbow Dots.

Like anywhere else, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is in short supply in Lincoln County. The call went out for homemade masks to augment the various medical masks in use. I think these will be used in hospice, nursing homes, and so on to free up masks for hazardous use. My sewing machine at the ready, I sought out supplies so I could help. There is no suitable elastic available but scads of fabric. I scrounged up yards of trim to make ties for the masks and managed to turn out 18. This took waaayyyyy longer than I expected. A seamstress in a factory could probably turn one out in 60 seconds. Me? About an hour-per-mask what with measuring, cutting, pinning, sewing, turning, pleating, and top-stitching. With the cost of what I used for ties, even a government contract couldn’t pay the per unit price. Luckily, it’s a donation.

I will make more if they are needed. Maybe sew my own bias ties, which is an ugly chore.

We are trying not to stress eat. In the words of Private Benjamin: “I want to go out to lunch!” How remote that simple pleasure now seems!

I am overly watchful of our food supplies. I stuffed the freezer with homemade soups before we traveled but suddenly it was gone. We are not “stockpiling” but we had some challenges getting that two-week supply in the house instead of going to the store daily as was our habit.

The big gastronomic treats recently: homemade black bean breakfast burritos, a shared raspberry scone last week from our favorite coffee shop that has now closed, Alexa Sweet Potato Fries alongside our turkey meatloaf, and Papa Murphy’s Pizza with beer for Ric’s birthday. We have not started day-drinking (yet).

Yesterday we loaded up on some produce to freeze. My God, what a chore that is! Chopping, blanching, chilling, drying, freezing in pieces before you can finally put it in a storage bag. We have time but that is not how I expected to while away an afternoon.

My two post-Maui projects were to be ancestry research and actually studying Italian as my grammar is getting pretty lax. I dabbled in each until the mask project took me away this week.

My paternal genealogy is a bit of a mystery due to adoptions and divorces. Of course it is too late to ask anyone who might have been keeping a secret so I am starting down the path of researching public records. My father was adopted by his mother’s second husband when he was about 14. This is family knowledge. But I cannot get his actual birth certificate until 100 years after the date of the adoption which is still about 15 years in the future. I am using Ancestry.com to try and determine some details. No doubt I will have stories of this journey to tell one day. Now that the masks are made, I might make some progress.

We are not binge-watching any more than usual. We usually have a series going and recently landed on the dark-but-funny “Fargo” TV series. How I love that Minnesota accent! We are always behind the curve on TV as so much was released while we were living in Italy and we had no idea about series streaming here. Catching up has left us with an endless list so as long as Internet service continues to be robust we won’t run out of entertainment.

Maybe my favorite meme so far. Working from the office vs. work-at-home. Have you seen the movie “The Two Popes?”

Studying Italian at the dining room table will take a lot more discipline than I seem to have at the moment. If the Internet fails, there’s always studying or more sewing.

How are things going for you? What activities are keeping you going?

Maui super moon from our lanai.

These clothes won’t see the light of day again for a few months.

20 Responses to “Week Two draws to a close”

  1. Susan Bravenec March 28, 2020 at 11:41 #

    That Pope meme!

    Glad you and Ric are well. Empty shelves are indeed odd to see. We try to shop early in the morning in hopes that things get restocked overnight. Also seem to be fewer folks shopping early in the day.

    Even so, we are only shopping about once a week, less if we can manage.

    We’re doing OK, thankful both kids are big readers (though going to run out of books soon even though I brought home two boxes from my school library). Online ebooks are good too, but many now have long wait lists as so many folks are doing the same thing.

    We’re thankful we can take frequent walks with kids & dog, and have some trails near enough to just go from our door.

    I hope enough people in the US take staying home seriously and we can really slow this thing down.

    Be well, and let us know when you might like to Skype again ; )

    Love, Susan


  2. MARCIA L KAKIUCHI March 27, 2020 at 16:25 #

    How are all of your acquaintances in Italy managing through all of this, Laurel? I do love the masks you made – very creative! I’m trying to watch my food intake but it is DIFFICULT being inside the house all day and walking by the kitchen every few moments! Or staring at the kitchen from the living room couch and snacks just sort of CALL MY NAME! I’m sure of it. Thanks for the update.


    • Laurel March 27, 2020 at 17:38 #

      Thanks, Marcia. So far the Italians I hear from are faring well. They are on Day 19 of lockdown. Ugh! We still go out for walks and have had some drives to spots we can get out and watch the ocean without others around. But the weather has turned and we are going to have to start walking in the rain. Double ugh!

      We are keeping eating under control. We went on WW 18 months ago and keep very few snacks. We are pretty disciplined, although there is a Papa Murphy’s queued up for tonight. We decided that it will be our weekly treat in lieu of the 2 or 3 meals out we would usually Trying to keep from drinking a whole bottle of wine with dinner. So far successful!

      Stay well my friend! Our travels will resume eventually! And haven’t you had some marvelous trips in the past year?


  3. chloe erkenbrecher March 27, 2020 at 15:12 #

    My husband decided taking the garbage cans out to the street yesterday and bringing them back today was about as much excitement as he could stand. i’m baking bread and reading a lot. Trip back to our house in France is no doubt scrubbed. Maybe next year. I am stunned at what has happened in Italy. I heard that there were over 900 deaths there yesterday. They have managed to set the bar very high on how to face this miserable virus and I look forward every day to seeing what our friends and relatives will send from there. I hope that you will stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laurel March 27, 2020 at 17:34 #

      It is probably for the best you are on this side of the Atlantic given the situation in France, or at least in Paris. Ugh! Baking bread would be dangerous for us. We are cooking a lot, even for people who cook a lot. This has taught me a lot about having a full pantry for if “the Big One” hits. We always have had some extra canned goods around, but barely two-weeks worth of food. Once the stores have supplies again, I plan to change my home pantry a bit with thoughts of needing to shelter-in-place when no supplies are getting through. And I will add TP to that pantry. My three-times-a-year purchase at Costco is not enough, apparently.

      Looking forward to seeing Paris in October!


      • chloe erkenbrecher March 28, 2020 at 09:28 #

        Good luck on that last sentence.


        • Laurel March 28, 2020 at 09:42 #

          Ever hopeful! Have to have something to keep me going!


  4. Christine March 27, 2020 at 11:31 #

    Laurel, Glad to hear that you are both well and safe at home. I loved your use of the word “mannaggia”, something I often heard from my mother say growing up. Here in Maine, we are seeing the number of cases sharply increase from one on March 12 to 168 today, with the first death recorded today as well. The governor has mandated the closure of non-essential businesses and made recommendations to others, in particular the larger stores. We do not have a stay-at-home order, but I suspect that will come before too long. I live in rural Maine on about two acres of property, so I do not have neighbors immediately next door. Being retired and living where I do, my lifestyle has not been affected too much, although I limit my store outings even more than before. During a recent trip to Walmart, though, I was shocked to see the empty shelves, particularly in the food section. Never would I have dreamed that Walmart, of all places, would have empty shelves. We have gone, it seems, from embarrassing abundance to embarrassing stockpiling. Meanwhile, my heart is aching and breaking for Italy as I watch their daily numbers increase and view the empty streets on webcams of places I have been and others I have hopes of seeing. But it makes me smile and feel pride in my Italian ancestry when I see the videos of everyone singing from balconies and applauding healthcare workers. Hopefully, it will start turning around soon, for all of us. Take care..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laurel March 27, 2020 at 17:28 #

      Ahhh, someone got “mannaggia!” Yea! We keep saying our activities haven’t changed that much, but of course, no gym means a rainy day with no exercise and daily shopping is done for now. The empty shelves are quite strange, aren’t they? The local chains and even independent stores cannot get dried beans for some reason. They order them but none arrive. Chicken is rationed at Safeway and Fred Meyer along with ground beef. Once the hoarders have their freezers and pantries full, maybe it will get better. I will need TP in another 4 weeks!


      • Christine March 28, 2020 at 04:30 #

        By the way, with regard to your ancestry research, have you looked on familysearch.org? Their records are free to access, just sign up for an account. Depending on where and what you are looking for, it might be helpful. Stay safe and well.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Laurel March 28, 2020 at 09:42 #

          Great tip! Thanks! Hoping to get back to that project later today.


  5. Maarja March 27, 2020 at 11:27 #

    Laurel, I loved this post…you just made me laugh!
    We are basically “stuck” in USA until we can get back to France. I totally get the idea of expensive condo rentals. Our two month house exchange was cancelled so we have been going house to house doing house sitting for friends. Soon we will go to our son’s house but three generations in one space for two months might be a bit much: Hopefully we will be able to return to Provence before end of May. We were so hoping to see you two! I’ve made face masks too and now am out of elastic so I’ll have to start up with ties! Bises🐞

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laurel March 27, 2020 at 17:24 #

      Oh good, I got a laugh! So sorry to hear you are “stuck” here but maybe for the best as France is having a tough time, isn’t she?

      can you even rent lodging for less than 30 days (or more) at this point? Lincoln County has cut off all rentals under 30 days.

      We had every hope of hooking up with many friends in Portland after our trip. Ah, well, best-laid plans. Still planning to be in Europe in the fall ourselves! Must stay optimistic. May you and yours around the world stay safe!


  6. graciamc March 27, 2020 at 11:06 #

    Thanks for a great post. I plan to give making face masks a try this weekend. I’ve been doing a Skype story time with grandsons (K & 1st grade) for an hour every day while both parents are trying to work from home. Quite a song and dance to keep them entertained and not leave me hanging alone on the monitor!!


    • Laurel March 27, 2020 at 17:20 #

      Remote child care via Skype: how creative! We were just chatting today about how hard it would be to have children about all day, in the house and yard, needing schooling and entertainment! I do wish we had adopted a cat by now, though.

      Stay safe and we will see you on the other side!


  7. jono51 March 27, 2020 at 11:02 #

    Love the Pope meme! Glad you are well.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Deb Fischer March 27, 2020 at 10:52 #

    My sisters in Ill are also making masks. Yes, been thinking of you and glad you are adjusting creatively . . of coarse you are! Any reflections of your time in Italy . . with what they are going through now? Maybe a future blog topic?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laurel March 27, 2020 at 17:18 #

      Hi Deb! I hear from friends in Italy. The people I know seem to be safe and taking good care. I don’t really have any basis for comment except to say this is a culture of closeness. They live in close proximity/high density in the cities, are very social (nightly walks, long chats, lots of kissing), and I can not imagine how hard this has been for them, now on day 19 of a lockdown. Still hoping to go back in the fall!



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