Isolation Log: Covid Date 11.a.20

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Jude & Simon enjoy snuggling.

It’s like Christmas! March seems like it was 20 years ago, even though it was only 2 months. When everything was going into lockdown, I had ordered a bunch of supplies online. With the exception of the flour (mostly because I was out of flour), I completely forgot that I had ordered anything.

Last week, I finally received my order of allergy-friendly flour and allergy-friendly “milk.” I was overjoyed. This week, more packages have arrived that I totally do not remember ordering. But they have my name on them, and they are all things I use on a regular basis, so must be I did.

The only way for me to stay safe is to stay home. Unfortunately, people in my area are not being responsible. They are not wearing masks or social distancing. I wear a mask, but if other people do not follow the rules, then it is not safe for me to be out. I will stay home.

In focusing on essentials, the only things I need are food and to continue working.

For food, people have been stellar about bringing me food and filling my cooler. I do not like asking for help, and I do not like to put other people at risk, so I am trying to find a work-around so I do not have to go to the grocery store. I am also trying to find a work-around so that the amazing people who have been helping me can have a break. The doctor told me not to go to the stores, and I do not see the doctor again until July, so those are the instructions I’m following.

As mentioned in a previous post, I have decided to only grocery shop once per month now, similar to when my grandparents had the farm. Worst case scenario, I have to attempt to go to the store once a month at a low traffic time. Best case scenario, I try to figure out how to get things delivered to me. The challenge with delivery is that I cannot order fresh items.

Trying to figure out my new normal, I did find a local company has started to offer touchless food deliveries to people. I will be trying this service at the end of June to order my July groceries. If it goes well, I plan to use it for the foreseeable future. The service uses refrigerated trucks, so I can order fresh and frozen items. They have a “menu” from which to order. It is a company that traditionally services restaurants and schools and is now delivering locally to homes. If all goes well, I will use the service for as long as they provide it. 

I did have a friend drop-off supplies to my cooler today and I am so grateful. I would not be making it through this pandemic if not for so many people helping me. In adjusting to our new normal, I am trying to find other services to “help” me so that I am not taxing my informal supports.

It looks like having coolers in front of homes for food supply drop-offs is going to be a thing here for the foreseeable future.

In other news, I received an application for absentee voting a few weeks ago in the mail. I filled it out saying I need to vote by mail for every election for the rest of the year. Today, I received my first vote-by-mail ballot. It is for the local school board and school budget election. This is my first time voting in a school election. 

The reason why I am voting in a school election now is because the ballot was mailed to my house. It is so much easier for me to vote by mail than it is for me to vote in-person. I wish we could vote by mail for every single election all of the time.

One of the biggest surprises about the mail-in ballot is how easy it is to understand. Not only is voting in person a major pain, but it is difficult to understand the new electronic voting machines that they have at in-person polling places. I found it much easier to understand how to vote with the paper ballot than I do on the machine in person.

There are some throw-backs making a return with this pandemic that I am hoping will stay for the long-term. I am super excited to try this local company offering grocery delivery service at the end of June to obtain my July groceries. I also love voting by mail. It is so much easier and convenient than voting in person. A few weeks ago, I used the special orange envelope to get stamps through my maiboxl from the post office. My mailbox is my favorite accessory right now.

I am loving these services and so grateful to have them. These services are bright spots in a challenging time. Right now, I am super happy about anything that makes my life easier and limits my contact with other people. When I feel safe to interact, I will. It is still too soon and we have the second wave coming. 

What services have you found helpful in the pandemic?

Bathroom Minimalism

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Simon is cleaning Jolene’s ear, while she cuddles with one of her “babies.”

A few years ago, I focused on kitchen minimalism when I was still in the apartment. It definitely made the move from the apartment to the house easier. I have no regrets over anything that I got rid of from the kitchen. I have everything I need for everything I make to eat. I seem to use all of the kitchen items in my cupboards on a regular basis.

Since I recently made the switch to cloth baby wipes to conserve toilet paper for the pandemic, I decided to do a little bathroom minimalism. Many bathrooms tend to be overflowing with items either in the shower or on the back of the toilet. If you have cupboards in the bathroom, we often forget what is there.

I do not get to use my bathroom much, as it is difficult for me to use the stairs. I have a commode I use downstairs. But at least once a week, I do make it upstairs, at least to clean up there. Actually, I do make it upstairs every few days to shower. Even though I could technically use the sprayer on my kitchen sink downstairs to “shower,” that is not preferred unless I am having a day when I cannot do the stairs at all. In that case, I typically go without the shower. I digress.

Here is my process for bathroom minimalism.

Mouth & Eyes

My toothbrush and contact stuff / glasses are downstairs in one of my kitchen cupboards closest to the sink. I have two reasons for this.

First, it is difficult for me to do the stairs, so it is easier for me to have my toothbrush and glasses on the first floor where I spend most of my time.

Second, even when I was in the apartment and there were no stairs involved, I kept my toothbrush and glasses in a cupboard near the kitchen sink. I heard that there are many germs in the bathroom – flushing toilets, etc and it is not good for your toothbrush to be in that environment. Also, I heard it is best for your toothbrush to be able to dry completely between uses. 

Therefore, I keep my toothbrush and glasses in the kitchen, not in the bathroom. I keep them in a cupboard near the sink so that they are not cluttering up my sink area and are out of sight.

The shower

Many times, people have very cluttered showers. There are lots of shampoos, conditioners, soaps, etc in there. For me, this makes it harder to clean the shower because I have to move all of those things for a proper cleaning. I try to have only what I need in the shower.

So, what’s in my shower? Here are the details – my shower has sliding doors, so on the door outside the shower hangs a hand towel and the bath mat. I have a vertical grab bar to help me get into and out of the tub/shower without falling (this was a frequent occurrence before the grab bar was installed). The grab bar also helps me to safely get out of the bathtub if I actually take a bath. 

Once inside the shower, I have a non-skid mat on the bottom of the tub that helps me to not fall down. I have a little rubber thing over the drain that allows the water to drain but catches hair so the drain does not clog. 

On the little soap shelf, I have the plug for the tub in case I want to take a bath. Next to that is a rubber frog (like a rubber ducky, but a rubber frog) for bath tub use.

On the bathtub ledge, is the pump shampoo / body wash. There is only one company I have found in the United States that makes toiletry products without all of my allergens. Therefore, I can only order bath products from this one company. Luckily, their shampoo is also a body wash. It works wonderfully. One item in my shower washes my entire body. 

On the bathtub ledge is also my allergy friendly conditioner, which I use for shave cream. There is no allergy friendly shave cream, so my work around to that is to use conditioner. Next to that is my Billie razor, which is one of my favorite products ever.

That’s it. That’s all I have inside my shower. No caddy. No over the spout hanger. No products lining the wall falling down all the time. That is everything in my shower. I have two bottles of product, a razor, a rubber frog, the tub plug, bathmat, and drain catcher. 

When I am in the shower and the bath mat is on the floor in preparation for me to exit, my bath towel hangs on the outside shower rail, so it is close to grab.

Bathroom sink and medicine cabinet

There is no cabinet underneath my bathroom sink. I do have a medicine cabinet above the sink. Sitting on the side of my bathroom sink is one pump bottle of my allergy friendly hand soap. That’s it. What else do you need on the side of the sink to wash your hands? The hand towel is conveniently hanging on the outside of the shower door.

The following items are in my medicine cabinet: razor cartridges, band-aids, neosporin, small manicure set (nail clippers, tweezers, etc). 

There is nothing else in my medicine cabinet. I have heard that heat and humidity found in bathrooms is not good for medications, such as tylenol. Due to this, all of my medication is downstairs in one of my kitchen cupboards. I have a shoebox of medication downstairs. Every 6 months, I go through the shoebox and pull out any cough syrup or anything expired to take to the medication disposal events in my county. I do not keep medication in my medicine cabinet.

Toilet area

Many homes have lots of things on top of their toilet. Items are either directly on top of the toilet, or on a rack or shelf above the toilet. I have no rack or shelves above my toilet.

My toilet has grab bars on both sides that help me to sit down and stand up. The only thing on the back of my toilet is a box of paper facial tissues. That’s it. If for some reason, I need to take the lid off the back of the toilet, I do not want to have to deal with “cleaning it off.” I have one box of tissues on the back of my toilet. 

However, now that I am using cloth baby wipes for pee, I have a basket of clean baby wipes on one side of the toilet, and a bucket for used baby wipes on the other side of the toilet. I also have a small wastebasket next to the toilet. That is all.

Open Floor Space

I am blessed with a large bathroom. In a corner of the bathroom, I have a chair so I can sit down to get dressed. This helps me so that I do not fall. Above the chair are three hooks on the wall. On the hooks, I hang my towel post-shower, and my pajamas. Sometimes there will also be a hoodie sweatshirt or flannel shirt on one of the hooks in case I am cold. 

Next to the chair, I have a little stand with my “toiletry tray” on top of it.

These are the items in my toiletry tray: 

Flashlight (I have a flashlight on every floor for emergency purposes)

Bottle of perfume

Allergy friendly body lotion

Deodorant

Half pint size mason jar filled with Q-tips that has a reusable plastic lid

Vaseline

Those are pretty much all of the items I need post-shower. I try to make myself as low maintenance as possible.

Bathroom Storage

I do have a closet and two cupboards in my bathroom. The closet contains all my clothes and the cleaning supplies for the bathroom.

In the two cupboards above the closet, are my winter blankets, my hair clippers, extra towels, wash clothes, feminine hygiene items. 

I also have all the back-ups for my allergy friendly items in bathroom storage. I typically order two of each item so I have one to use and one for back-up. It takes 1-2 weeks for me to receive items when I place an order. I also like to place a big order when I do order so that I get free shipping. So there is an extra allergy-friendly shampoo, allergy-friendly lotion, allergy-friendly hand soap, etc in my storage cupboard. Really, what else do you need to store in a bathroom? 

Technically, the winter blankets should probably be stored elsewhere, but I have so much storage space in my bathroom, that I decided to take advantage of it.

How many towels?

A few years ago, when I went through my bathroom, I had downsized my towels, hand towels, etc.

When I moved to the house, I had to buy all new towels, as the bad water the last 4 months I was in the apartment dyed all my towels this funny blue color and I could not get it out.

I have three towels, four hand towels, and about 8 washcloths. I am one person, so this works for me. All of my towels are beach towels, so they are multi-purpose. I love using beach towels as everyday towels because they are bigger and I can cover my whole body with them. Plus, the beach towels feel more plush and luxurious than normal bath towels. I typically use about two towels a week. I figure I have a third towel in the unlikely event I have company. 

The third towel can also actually go to the beach as a beach towel. I have plenty of towels for one person. I rarely have company. 

Conclusion

Of course, everyone’s bathroom space is different. I am fortunate in that I have a large bathroom that allows me to move around safely and can accommodate extra items like grab bars and a chair to help me. 

Everyone’s bathroom routine looks different. I try to keep mine as simple as possible. I’m sure that for most people, their shampoo and body wash are two completely different items. For me, the one company that makes my allergy friendly stuff has a shampoo/body wash combo (and that’s the only way it comes), so that is what I use. Thankfully, even though it is one company, I do have choices in my shampoo. For example, I can choose tea tree oil, unscented, lavender, etc. So while I may have one shampoo/body wash choice, at least I have multiple options. 

If you are still in quarantine, maybe take some time to look at what is in your shower. Do you really need all that stuff? Only have what you need, and not only will you shower more safely, but it will be easier to clean. 

Isolation Log: Covid Date 10.a.20

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Jude likes to snuggle on the couch.

One of my really good friends of over 20 years passed away from COVID this week. This is the fourth person in 9 weeks that I know who has died of COVID. This pandemic has been very hard for me emotionally, and the fact that I am surrounded by irresponsible and ignorant people is not helping. 

Last weekend I went into my work office and protesters were downtown wanting everything to reopen. I overheard one of the evil neighbor kids asking their parent what coronavirus was, and the parent responded “something people made up so you don’t have to go to school.” 

My local school district has been delivering lawn signs to congratulate graduating seniors. They are doing this in large groups of 15-20 staff where no one wears a mask or bothers to social distance. They were all milling around in the street and hugging. 

I will remember the irresponsibility and blatant disregard for safety displayed by my local school district by voting “no” on the school budget increase this year.

Everytime I see these things, not only does it make me terrified to leave my house, but it just plain makes me cry. I do not understand how people can be so ignorant and think that this is fake, when I have experienced such profound loss and death.

One person commented this week that everyone who is dying is elderly. This is not true. Of the four people I know who have died, they have all been in good health with no pre-existing conditions and under the age of 65. I have another friend whose 6 year old is currently in ICU with the disease.

How many more people have to die before people in my area wake up and take this seriously?

I am heartbroken and terrified.

Protesters complain about their “rights” and say they don’t have to wear a mask.

If you refuse to wear a mask, you should be charged with negligent homicide. 

That’s what it is. It is a very simple concept to understand. It is exactly like drinking and driving. If you are stupid enough to drive when you have been drinking, you can kill someone. If you are stupid enough to leave your house without wearing a mask and staying 6 feet away from people, you can kill someone. They are one and the same. The only difference is that a car accident is a quick death; COVID-19 is a slow, long, painful one. 

My greatest challenges are figuring out how to obtain food and working. As long as I can do those two things, I can manage everything else. The challenge is that I can only control myself. I cannot control people around me. If people around me refuse to wear a mask and social distance, then it is not safe for me to leave my house. That makes it very challenging for me to work.

My region of New York is reopening. Of course, it is too soon and people are acting stupidly. Our COVID rate has tripled since reopening started. But that’s ok. People in my county do not care if people live or die. I never thought I would live in a world where the value of a human life is nothing, but here we are. 

On to the good stuff for this week …

After waiting over 7 weeks on an order I placed back in March, the allergy friendly flour and allergy friendly “milk” I ordered finally arrived! I now have food to be able to eat breakfast again!

Once the flour and milk are gone, that is going to be it for a very long time. The factories that make my allergy friendly specialty items are closed. They estimate that when they do reopen, it will take them at least 2 months to get back to capacity. 

I currently have about 8 cups of allergy friendly flour. However, I am going to set about 2 cups of it aside to save for Christmas. I am anticipating that it will be a long time until I am able to obtain my speciality items again, and if I save 2 cups for Christmas, I can make something yummy to look forward to when we enter the second or even third wave of the pandemic.

I am so happy to be able to have breakfast again!

I have been working on minimizing my bathroom, and will be doing a minimalist bathroom post soon.

My neuro symptoms have been getting worse with the heat and I am relying on my rollator more. Luckily, I do not have to drive to work right now, so I am not a danger to anyone else when my vision goes and I am not balancing well. 

As challenging as the tech issues are, I am very happy to be able to work from home. I enjoy being with my cats. I feel safe here. I am also afraid of what will happen to my house once I do go back to work with all of the children running around unsupervised. It was Memorial Day weekend last year when someone took a baseball bat to the side of my house and traumatized my cats. 

Right now, I am taking one day at a time.

I am working from home with my cats where I am safe and very happy about it. I am so thankful to still have a job.

I would love to be able to go out and do something, but unfortunately, I am unable to do so because other people act stupidly. If everyone would wear a mask and abide by social distancing, I would be able to leave my house safely. I can only dream. 

After knowing so many people who have died recently, I don’t want to be next. I can’t leave orphans.

Wear a mask. Stay 6 feet away. 

Old Habits Die Hard

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Simon in the window enjoying fresh air.

In times of stress, it is common to fall back on our coping skills. Some coping skills are positive and some coping skills are negative. As we age, we gradually replace negative coping skills with positive coping skills. When you know better, you do better.

Some coping skills are not necessarily negative, but there comes a point when a particular coping skill is no longer needed because you have overcome the problem. Either the life situation has changed so that you do not have that problem anymore to require a coping skill, or you have adapted to the situation in such a way that it is no longer a crisis which prompts coping skills.

This coronavirus pandemic is unlike anything we have ever lived through before. It is prompting all types of coping skills in people, myself included. 

I keep trying to find something to equate to our current situation. After all, the beauty of coping skills is that if they work for one crisis, they will probably work for another.

I spoke earlier how the pandemic is worse than when I was in New York City on September 11. I stand by that statement. At least in 2001, one could leave the City and escape somewhere else where life was still relatively normal. In this pandemic, there is no escape. It is pervasive. It alters our daily routines, habits, and life. It even alters our homes, which is the place of sanctuary for many. Your home is like your lair where you can freely be yourself, and now your place of refuge is being invaded by “working from home.” 

In trying to somehow wrap my brain around this pandemic and what it is doing to life, the only situation with which I can equate the current situation is when I was homeless. Even that is not completely accurate. The only parallel between homelessness and the pandemic is the stress and the scarcity. Trying to figure out how to get food and basic supplies. Other than that, the comparison is an oversimplification. I have someplace safe to live with my family. The only challenge is how to get supplies safely.

Below I am going to outline three coping skills that have made a resurgence for me in the current crisis. I honestly never thought I would have use for these coping skills again. I thought I had finally gotten to a point in life where they are no longer needed. I thought wrong. 

Old Habit # 1 

Toilet paper. Oh, yes, you knew I was going there, didn’t you? Toilet paper is the story of my life. When I was growing up, I would have to make one roll of toilet paper last 4-6 weeks. Now, due to the coronavirus, I have decided I am going to do the same.

I am going to make a 12-pack of toilet paper last for an entire year. I am probably going to be doing this until I die. 

Buying one 12-pack of toilet paper each year saves money. By using less toilet paper, I can take the $5 or $10 I would have spent on toilet paper and use it instead to purchase food. Yes, our economy is that decimated. Food shortages are pervasive and real.

I am supplementing my one roll of toilet paper per month with cloth baby wipes. Some people may complain that this creates more laundry. They are small. I do not think it creates more laundry. Plus, now that I am wearing pajamas twice instead of once, there is “space” for the cloth baby wipes because I am going through less pajamas.

In fact, I am actually saving water by using cloth baby wipes for pee. I flush my toilet less. When I use paper toilet paper, I typically flush the toilet every 2-3 uses so that the toilet does not get clogged with the paper. Using cloth baby wipes, I only flush the toilet once or twice per day. There is no paper in it, unless there is # 2, which gets flushed immediately. 

Old habits die hard: I am only using one roll of toilet paper per month, similar to when I was growing up and would have to save the nickel change from food stamp purchases to be able to afford one roll.

Old Habit # 2

When I was in grad school, I would work Tuesdays through Saturdays instead of Monday through Friday like all of the other executives in my office. My grad classes were on Mondays, so this worked well for me. Weekends were Sundays and Mondays. I loved it. 

It was also nice having a weekday off, because if I need to schedule a doctor or some other appointment, I could do so without having to take off of work. The only challenge was that some places are not open on Mondays. For example, I remember I could never get my hair appointment on a Monday because the salon was closed on Mondays.

Trying to work from home during coronavirus has been a challenge due to little to no internet service. I type things into google docs so that I can copy and paste into an email when I do have internet service. I hope that I can get things in fast enough to be able to send the message before I lose service.

Also, being that I am in the high risk group, I am extremely apprehensive at returning to the office and being surrounded by my coworkers who have many many more exposures than me. I do not feel that is a safe situation. I can only control myself. I cannot control people around me.

I have asked to change my current work schedule from the Monday through Friday back to the Tuesday through Saturday format, and it is going great! I actually get decent internet service on Fridays and Saturdays so I am able to get more work done. This is in contrast to Mondays, where I spend all day waiting for one web page to load, and it may not even be the web page I need. 

Also, if I do have to go into the office, which I did this past weekend, I have the entire place to myself. I can get things done with minimal exposure. I have always worked well independently.

Tuesday – Saturday work reminds me of when I was in grad school. Summer 2015 was one of the best summers of my life, so there are good memories of this work schedule. I feel good.

Old Habit # 3

 Make do or go without. This was the mantra of the Great Depression and it is again the mantra of the Great Depression part 2. It was also what got me through the 4 months of hell when I found out my rent on my apartment doubled (with 2 weeks notice) and I was trying to buy the house.

I have spent so much money on trying to get food these past two months that I have completely blown my budget. It’s different when you have to have other people shop for you and then reimburse them. It’s also hard when you are trying to keep a week’s worth of extra food on hand in case people can’t get to you right away. I am dependent on when other people go to the store.

I do not want to ask people to go to the store for me because then they are putting themselves at risk for me. So I’ve been telling people to let me know when they are going to the store for themselves and I will just add to their list. 

Throw in multiple food allergies to that mix and the food shortages of food allergy specialty items … well, it’s been rough.

So my mantra is to make do or go without. I literally have no extra money to spend on anything. If you are expecting me to “stimulate” the economy, forget it. The only thing I am doing is paying my essential bills and food.

To this end, I have cut out all non-essentials. That includes hair cuts. Hair salons are still closed right now anyways, and even when they do reopen, I do not feel safe enough to go back. 

I am going to isolate and socially distance myself for a very long time until I am sure this is over. It could be years, and I am okay with that.

This means I will be cutting my own hair. 

Previously, “make do or go without” meant that I only had my hair cut twice a year. My hair was really long – down to my butt. What I learned was that only getting it cut twice a year saved me money but was horrible for my hair. My hair ended up so damaged that I ended up having to get it cut into a bob. 

Many people have said that I should grow out my pixie and that I can save money on haircuts by just letting it grow long again. The problem is, that is not healthy. Plus, long hair is a major pain. Now that I have had a pixie, I am not going back to long hair again.

I finally got a pair of clippers and buzzed it off. The clippers were $60. Since I usually pay $50 for a haircut, it will only take two hair cuts for the clippers to pay for themselves. If I do not go back to the salon and continue to do my hair myself, that is money saved I can use for food.

It is going to be a very long time, possibly even years before I will feel safe enough to go back to a salon, to be honest. Make do or go without. I am making do by cutting my own hair. I will go without the salon. 

Another way in which I am making do or going without is air conditioning. I still do not have enough money to get air conditioning for my house, even though it is medically necessary. Heat exacerbates my neuro symptoms. I have to go without, so I am making do.

We are supposed to get a heat wave later this week. I do not have money to buy any more black-out curtains for the windows, so I am going to go ghetto and tape towels and blankets over windows in addition to the curtains I do have. The more I can block the light, the cooler it will be in the house. Or, at least, I hope so. We will see how bad my neuro symptoms get. 

I am making do and going without air conditioning because I can’t afford it, no matter how medically necessary it may be.

What old habits do you have that have come back to help you cope with the pandemic?  

 

Isolation Log: Covid Date 9.a.20

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Jolene is a happy baby.

Bubble space. It’s a pretty simple concept that I would teach to all my pre-school students back when I was teaching. I spent over a decade as head teacher in an inclusive classroom in the public school district.

An inclusive classroom meant that my class size was limited to 14 students, about 25% of them had some sort of disability (usually on the autism spectrum), and I had a dedicated teacher’s aide in the room with me at all times. In addition to the dedicated teacher’s aide, there would be other professionals such as occupational therapists, physical therapists and social workers who would frequently be in the classroom working with a particular student on a certain skill or with a topic.

My weekly lesson plans included not only the basics such as letter recognition, pre-reading skills, science, colors, numbers, but also social and emotional skills. We would use modelling and positive reinforcement to help teach kids how to be nice to others.

One of the big social emotional skills taught in my classroom was the concept of bubble space. As many of the children in my classroom were on the autism spectrum or had some sort of sensory disability, many of them did not like to be touched. 

I would teach all the students that they live in their own personal bubble. If you take both your arms and hold them out, that is your imaginary bubble space. If you measure fingertip to fingertip like that, it is also supposed to roughly equal your height, but I digress.

Kids were supposed to ask before entering someone else’s bubble space. For example, you should ask someone first if it is okay to hug them. This was also a great exercise in teaching kids the difference between good touch / bad touch for abuse prevention. If someone enters your personal bubble space in a way that is not okay with you, then you need to say something about it. Always tell two adults. This is in case the first adult does not do the right thing (report it), hopefully the second adult will.  

The point is, everyone has a personal bubble space.

Now, I have seen a marked decline in society since I stopped teaching pre-school. I’m not sure what has happened to people from the time they left my classroom at age 5 to adulthood, but it seems like the entire world has forgotten the concept of bubble space.

Do I need to go back to teaching pre-school and invite all of the adults? Get with the program, people! Bubble space!

Bubble space is essentially the same thing as social distancing. For some reason, many people, or, at least, many people in my area, are unable to social distance. Why do you not understand the concept of bubble space? Four year olds get it, but the adults have forgotten.

It’s not hard. Yet people do not seem to be able to do it.

I live in a bubble and I would appreciate it if people would respect my bubble space and not enter my bubble. 

Why is this concept hard?

Bubble space is no longer a part of the manners I teach to pre-school children. Bubble space is now a life and death concept for every human being on the planet.

This is a reminder from one of your educators to please remember what we taught you in pre-school and respect the bubble space. It’s not hard. I can’t get over the fact that 4 year olds get this, but somehow adults don’t. 

Did you get dumber as you got older? Or do you think once you hit the age of 5 this no longer applies?

Maybe someone needs to hire me to teach adults now instead. 

Wear a mask and stay 6 feet away from people.

Life Verses

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Jude in the basket I use to help me get things up and down the stairs.

We all have sayings or quotes that speak to us in life. Someone in my news feed posted their favorite Bible verses recently. I figured I would share my life verses that I have chosen for my funeral. Although in our COVID world, I’m sure I’ll just be thrown in the cremation machine and forgotten due to social distancing measures since I’m not online on a regular basis.

Here are the Bible verses that speak to me. They may be even more relevant now. 

“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going. Through suffering, these bodies of ours constantly share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.” – 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (NLT) 

What are your favorite Bible verses?

Isolation Log: Covid Date 8.a.20

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I finally got a nice photo of Simon. He is sitting in the fabric box.

What can I say? We are going to re-open too early. It is glaringly obvious that some people think the economy is more important than human life. So people will die and nobody cares. Wave two will be deadlier than what we have experienced. Or, at least that is what the history of pandemics tells us.

Where I am, the food shortages are getting worse. I am now out of anything to make breakfast. I have used all of my allergy-friendly flour. There is none to be had in the stores. The order I placed online in March has yet to arrive. I do have three boxes of allergy friendly cereal, but no allergy friendly milk. The milk status is the same as the flour status.

I do have rice, beans, chicken, pork chops, potatoes and carrots, so I can make food. I just won’t be having traditional breakfast foods. I can no longer make breads or muffins.

The health department only counts confirmed COVID cases, not presumed positives. This means, you have to be tested. My county just started testing for COVID-19 last week. We have been quarantined for almost 2 months, yet they JUST STARTED offering testing now. Sounds smart, doesn’t it?

They say because we only have 33 positives, we are doing a great job and can re-open. Yet there are 140 presumed positives quarantined because there was no testing in this county prior to 7 days ago and they do not have transportation to get tested. 

No one wears a mask. When I drive the car once a week to keep it going, parking lots at every single business I pass are full. My neighbors are having house parties every week because they are out of work. There are groups of 10-15 people running around between 5 different houses.

Three times I have narrowly avoided neighbor kids getting way too close to me during my daily outside time. They say that coronavirus is a hoax. They taunt me and say they can get as close as they want to me because coronavirus is not real. My doctor told me, coronavirus has a 90% chance of killing me given my medical history. But according to the neighbors, my doctor is lying.

I like to have daily outside time, and it makes it hard to go outside my house when people think none of this is real and try on purpose to infect others. There is no recourse for this behavior. The police have other things to do.

The house next to the one with the evil children in question is COVID positive. That person spent over a week in the hospital with a 105 temperature. Yet, the neighbors still think COVID is not real. We are all just having one awesome vacation.

I know 3 people who have died from COVID and 2 more who currently have it. Yet, according to everyone in my county, none of this is real.

Welcome to the Twilight Zone. 

I haven’t been feeling well in the past week or so. My doctor’s office said since I am in the high risk group, I should go to the hospital. But there is nothing anyone can do. There is no cure. They try to make you comfortable. I do not want to go to a hospital. I will either live or die in my house with my cats. I am comfortable here. I’m not getting close to other people, so I’m not infecting anyone. (To be honest, I do not think I have COVID. I think it is my neuro issues acting up). 

Unlike my neighborhood children, who are actively trying to spread the “fake” disease that they think is so hilarious. It’s the new game they are playing since there is no school and no internet here to do school online. You can only sit a kid down with a worksheet for so long.

On to the positives – 

I am really happy to be home with the cats. I am thankful for this house. I may be a reluctant homeowner, but I can tell you, I am thankful for this house now. This house has survived both World Wars, the Spanish Flu, and the Great Depression. It will survive COVID and the Great Depression part 2.

People are still dropping supplies off to me by using my cooler. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for that. The fact that food is delivered to my cooler reminds me that there are good people in this world. That’s one of the few things giving me hope right now.

This week, in addition to the 2 bags of groceries in my cooler, was a small bag of 5 cloth face masks. Even if no one else in my area uses face masks, I do. Face masks have been proven to work.

While people have been good about bringing me food, I have been so focused on food (and what I can’t get due to shortages), that I have forgotten about other supplies. My calendar this week reminds me I need to change the furnace filter and it is the last one.

I placed a call to my local, small business hardware store from where I usually get the filters to see if they are open. Not only are they open, but I have an appointment day and time next week I can go there to get the filters. Since I am in the high-risk group, they are going to make it even easier for me. Not only am I going at a special “low traffic” time, but they told me to call from the parking lot to pay by credit card, and they will bring the supplies out and put them in my trunk so I have zero human interaction.

Now, the doctor told me I am not supposed to go to the grocery store or pharmacy because I am in the high risk group, but I think a transaction like the one the hardware store is offering me will be okay. That is essentially how I am getting food anyways – people leave things in my cooler. Except this time, the hardware store will be putting things in the car trunk for me.

God bless the essential workers and everything they are enduring right now to keep us supplied and safe. Not only is this hardware store keeping me safe, but it seems like putting things in my trunk is safer for the employees as well. 

This will get worse before it gets better. We are reopening in a few week and many more people will die. At some point, I have faith that people will get a clue and realize that human life is more valuable than the economy. 

The fact that people are putting food in my cooler for me is what gives me that hope in humanity.

Thanks. 

 

Retro Farm Life

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All 3 cats have learned to share the cat tree.

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, farmers used to leave cash in their mailbox. The mail person would leave stamps for the farmers. This was common practice in rural areas, as the only time that farm people would go into town was for church on Sundays.

My grandparents were like this. In addition to going into town for church on Sundays, which was the only time Grandpa was not in overalls, there would be one Saturday a month trip into town. On the once a month Saturday trip, Grandma would be dropped off at the grocery store to pick up that month’s supplies, while Grandpa took the truck to Agway to get feed for the animals and any other supplies needed on the farm.

My grandparents’ farm had chickens, cows, pigs, horses and geese. There may have been more animals, but those were the ones I remember. Due to my age, my farm chore whenever I visited would be to collect the eggs from the chickens. I hated this job. The chickens do not like having their eggs taken and would peck at me. More than once, I would be found running screaming through the yard being chased by a chicken with my egg basket dropped on the ground somewhere behind me.

Because I was small when my grandparents had the farm, I did not realize that they would buy stamps through the mailbox. Or, if I did know about it, I had forgotten. I was reminded about it this week when talking to my mother.

Earlier this week, I was super excited because an orange envelope appeared in my mailbox letting me know I could put a check inside it to purchase stamps and any other mail services I need. 

I told my mother how happy I was to have this service so that I do not have to go to the post office during the pandemic. That is when she reminded me – buying stamps through your mailbox used to be commonplace on farms.

My mother and I had a great conversation about how things used to be when I was growing up. We were able to talk about things that happened that totally went over my head as a child, like buying stamps through your mailbox. I told my mother that I am glad she is here because I still have a lot to learn from her.

I have said before that one of the best things about this pandemic is that people actually have time to connect with other people and have more meaningful interactions. As part of my minimalism journey through the years, my goal has always been more quality human interactions. However, I realize that other people are more busy than I am and have other priorities, so they do not prioritize human interaction as I do.

Talking to my mother, she said that quarantine wasn’t that big of a deal for her. Growing up on the farm, they did not go out much. As I said earlier, there was the once a month Saturday trip, and then church on Sundays. You only made your grocery trip once a month. Groceries were to supplement what food you had from the farm.

Growing up, we always had venison for meat. My grandfather and all my uncles were hunters. We never had ground beef because it was expensive. Many people who meet me think that I am a vegetarian because I do not eat beef. I am not a vegetarian. I do eat beef – if it’s cheap. As someone who grew up dirt poor, beef was always out of our price range, so it is something I am not used to having. It is not a necessity, it is a luxury item.

My mother and I had a great conversation about how things used to be and realized that things do not change all that much. Well, the world has changed, but when you are used to farm life where you did not go all that much, then quarantine is not all that different.

As we are in this quarantine situation, I have been seriously evaluating my wants and needs. I have also been thinking more about my routines.

Grocery shopping once a month sounds really good to me once this is all over. Previously, I had been grocery shopping twice a month due to my pay schedule. If I can switch to once a month, then that reduced my potential exposure for when the second and third wave of the coronavirus comes through. 

There was also a time in college when I was having a very hard time financially that I remember going grocery shopping once for three months. I would get my student loan money, get a bunch of food at the store, then when it ran out .. well, that was it until the next semester student loan payout.

There are some items I have ordered online as a result of the pandemic that are set up on an autoship basis that I am going to keep going once the pandemic is over. When you think about it, it is similar to the old buying stamps through the mailbox routine.

Another aspect of farm life we reminisced was that one Saturday per month was haircut day. My grandmother would put a sheet down on the kitchen floor. She would place a stool in the middle of the sheet. Donning an apron, she would stand there with a pair of clippers while one by one, my grandfather and then my uncles would sit on the stool without a shirt on to have their haircut. The girls would sit on the stool and my grandmother would take a pair of scissors to cut all our bangs straight across so they were out of our eyes. 

Right now I have a pair of hair cutting scissors that I have used on myself. I have not been able to get clippers because there are none to be had. I have already said numerous times how happier I am having short hair because it is easier for me to take care of. I am totally fine with using the scissors to cut my own hair for right now. 

When clippers are available from the manufacturer again, I do want a pair. My goal is to go back to farm life and start doing my own hair so that I do not have to pay to go back to a salon again. Yes, there is a very good possibility that I will just buzz all my hair off at some point. I think it will be easier this way.

These are trying times and we need to remember what is an essential need and what is a want. As much as I like my hairdresser, paying $50 for a haircut is not an essential need. I can do it myself, and probably will from here on out. 

I wonder what other retro aspects of farm life will be making a comeback? Are you planting a victory garden? I have toyed with this idea, but since I do not do well in the heat and the initial monetary outlay are detriments to me right now. 

This is the perfect time to remember and evaluate what is important and what is not.

Welcome to My World

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Jolene likes to sit in the kitchen sink.

Every day I leave my house, I never know if I am going to come home. I could have an allergic reaction while in the community and end up in the hospital. Back in 2014 when I was still teaching, one of my students spilled milk in my lap. I have a severe dairy allergy and went into anaphylactic shock once the milk absorbed into my skin. I was intubated, and then spent several months in ICU on a ventilator along with kidney and liver failure.

This is how I live every day. If you think my dairy reaction is bad, my nut reaction is worse. It has now been over 10 years since I have had an allergic reaction due to something I have ate. All of my reactions have been from touch.

For example, if someone has been eating handfuls of almonds, then gets in an elevator and pushes a button, they have transferred nut oils to that elevator button. If the button is not properly cleaned, the nut oil will live on that button for up to 21 days before the protein breaks down.

If at some point in that 21 days, I get in the same elevator and push the button, I will have a nut reaction. How severe my reaction is depends on how much of the nut oil I absorb through my skin.

I always have what I call “allergy spots” on my skin from touch reactions. These are open wounds that sometimes bleed, sometimes leak clear fluid, and take several months to a year to heal. If I absorb enough of my allergen through my skin, I have the whole stop breathing and need an epi pen reaction that sends me to the hospital.

Every single day I leave my home, I don’t know if I’m going to touch something that is going to cause that reaction or not.

With current events, COVID-19 is operating on a similar basis. We have learned we can catch the coronavirus from surfaces. We can catch the coronavirus from asymptomatic carriers. Every day we leave our house, we don’t know if we are going to be exposed to the coronavirus or not because it is every where and it is invisible.

Welcome to my world with severe food allergies.

The world we are living in right now that involves masks, cleaning supplies and gloves is the world I live in every single day. Except instead of trying to kill coronavirus, I try to avoid nut oils and dairy that have the potential to kill me.

I was talking to one of my friends this week who made the comment to me that they can finally empathize with my disability of having several severe food allergies that react by touch. There is not much difference for me dealing between dealing with the coronavirus and my food allergies. Both are invisible things that yield the same result: intubation, a ventilator, and possibly death.

If my food allergies had an 80%+ chance of killing me before this started, I now have a 90%+ probability of death if I have a reaction during the coronavirus. 

While the coronavirus situation is not easy for anybody, I am hoping that the experience will give people a little bit of insight as to what life is like for people with severe food allergies every single day. 

This is a horrible way for people to empathize with what we live through, but here it is.

So the next time you complain about having to wear a mask and gloves when you go out, think of people who live with this concern every day. People with severe food allergies like mine go to work, school, and stores every day of our lives not knowing if today is the day we are going to touch something that causes a reaction that will send us to the hospital.

Hopefully the good hygiene habits of wiping down surfaces and washing hands will continue once the pandemic is over. It is not just COVID-19 that kills people, but things like nut oils too. You may enjoy that peanut butter sandwich, but to someone else it is lethal.

The First Rule of Minimalism

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Jude decided to sit in the fabric box.

One of the first rules of minimalism is to put like items together. By putting like items together, you can rid yourself of duplicates and make an accurate determination of just what you have and what you need.

Maybe it’s because I have a challenge doing stairs, but I do have duplicates in my house. There are items I have on the first floor that I also have on the second floor. For example, I have a vacuum cleaner on the first floor and I have a vacuum cleaner on the second floor. I have a hard enough time doing stairs without falling when it is just me on them, forget trying to carry a vacuum cleaner up and down steps. In this instance, having the duplicates makes sense for my level of functioning.

There are times when duplicates do not make sense and that is when we minimize. Early in my journey, I remember going through my kitchen cupboards and putting every single coffee mug on the kitchen counter. I happen to really enjoy glassware. 

When I put all of the like items together, I discovered I had something like 38 coffee mugs for one person! I could use a different mug every day of the month and not have to do dishes. That is entirely gross and also unnecessary. I paired down the coffee mugs so that now I have 8. 

This weekend I was working on the upstairs of my house. The goal is to make the upstairs as empty as possible. I spend 95% of my time downstairs, as stairs are a challenge for me. If I can reduce the amount of stuff on the second floor, then everything will be on the first floor where it is accessible to me. 

While working upstairs, I happened to remember that the first rule of minimalism is putting like items together. This is helpful in identifying duplicates and being able to rid yourself of too many items.  I also discovered that putting like items together is helpful in this time of pandemic to remind us of how much we have and to be grateful for it.

Everyone is having meltdown right now about not having enough supplies. Some people are hoarding. Last week, I was down to two rolls of toilet paper when I received a shipment of 12 rolls, bringing my total up to 14. 

When I started to put like items together upstairs last weekend, I suddenly remembered that there was also a roll of toilet paper in with my camping gear. I got it out and put it in the pile of 14. Then, I discovered that way in the back of the bathroom cupboard was 4 individually wrapped rolls of emergency toilet paper. 

First, I would not have been able to access those 4 rolls if I was having a bad balance day because I had to stand on a chair to reach them. Second, I took the 4 forgotten rolls and added them to the pile of toilet paper and I now have a grand total of 19 rolls! I officially have enough toilet paper to last at least until the end of the year, if not longer. I also relocated the toilet paper to a place that is easier for me to reach so I do not have to stand on a chair and am fully aware of exactly how much I have.

Because this house is so large, I kind of have things spread out everywhere. Going back to the first tenet of minimalism has been helpful in getting me to identify and reduce clutter. When you put everything together and see how much you have, it is easier to get rid of. I am going to continue to work on reducing the items upstairs by either boxing them to leave or rehoming them someplace downstairs where I can use it. 

Remember when looking to reduce the clutter that is in your home – start with just one item. Make sure that item has a place. Only keep however much of it you need.

Are your items spread out all over your house too? They probably are! Houses are meant to be lived in and life is messy! Take an hour during quarantine and identify an item you want to minimize – whether that is coffee mugs, sweatshirts or something else. Gather all of that item in one place and reduce. You will be glad you did!