Return of the Coffee Can

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Planning a road trip back in the 1980s typically required a paper map to be able to plot your course from one location to another. This was the time to fish out the old, dog-eared Rand-McNally atlas from underneath the car seats. You could also call the local automobile club and request a trip ticket. This was basically a folding paper map that someone marks up with a marker or highlighter for you to show the way.

According to the paper maps of the 1980s, from my paternal grandparent’s house in Upstate NY to my father’s house in Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C., was about a 6.5 – 7 hour car ride. When my father made the trip, it was always done in 5 hours. There was no stopping, and he made judicious use of a radar detector the entire way. Radar detectors were legal in Virginia; the speed limit in Virginia at the time was 75 mph. Radar detectors are illegal in New York; the speed limit in New York at the time was 55 mph. I am unsure of the laws regarding radar detectors of the other states that one passes through on the way from New York to Virginia.

Another key aspect in the speed of this trip is the no stopping rule. When my father was driving, there was no stopping. He left with a full tank of gas. There was no stopping at any point for gas or for a bathroom break. If you had to go to the bathroom, you had to hold it, wet yourself, or hope that you remembered to bring a coffee can.

Ah, the coffee can. 

The coffee can was used as a bathroom for car rides. It was also used as a bathroom for camping trips and when we were homeless and more transient. As one of my fellow Occupiers noted when I was protesting in the #Occupy camps in 2011 – “Don’t pee where you sleep.”

The coffee can comes in handy for so many things.

The coffee can has now made a comeback in the time of COVID. This is the first time as an adult that I now travel with a coffee can in my car at all times. 

You cannot take a road trip in the time of COVID and make a rest stop. It is too dangerous. First, you have to go into a gas station, restaurant (are they even open?), etc and risk exposure not only by coming into contact with other people but also by going indoors. Second, it is well documented that COVID is spread through bathroom use. 

Since you cannot stop anywhere to use the bathroom, the coffee can is back in style. If you need to use the bathroom, you pull over to the side of the road and use your coffee can just like back in the 1980s. As a child, there was no “pulling over the car.” You just used your coffee can while the car was in motion or suffered the consequences.

With inter-state travel not feasible in this time, we can still travel instate. If you are in the car for a bit, you will need your coffee can for a rest stop. Sometimes I need my coffee can even when driving the car around locally. I cannot stop anyplace.

I have been trying to think if my annual camping trip is even feasible this year. Unfortunately, it is not. I have evaluated every obstacle from every angle. This will be the first time in over 20 years I do not get to have my annual camping trip vacation.

This challenge is what precipitated the resurgence of the coffee can. One of the challenges I was trying to figure out was how to do the road trip to my camp site. I typically make several bathroom stops and at least one stop to put gas in the car. Putting gas in the car is a trying ordeal right now, as I have to wear a mask and gloves and try to get gas at a time when the station is not busy. 

There are other factors involved in trying to attempt a camping trip this year that is making that impossible. But I was also trying to overcome the whole “bathroom stop” challenge in general in case I could at least figure out how to have a beach day this year.

Unfortunately, I will not be able to have any beach days this year either. 

I am in quarantine at least until January, which makes a road trip impossible for me. While everyone else is taking irresponsible and unnecessary risks by traveling, I am stuck at home. However, I do need to drive the car around regularly to “keep it going.” I am now traveling with a coffee can for when I need a “rest stop” on those trips. 

Old habits die hard. This is one coping skill from my 1980s childhood that is making a comeback. I never thought I would see the return of the coffee can. As an adult, I have always said when I drive that I would make as many stops as I needed and go as fast or slow as I needed to enjoy the journey and arrive at my destination safely. I do not want to travel as my father traveled. 

However, that coffee can trick is now coming in handy. 

Have you seen a return of the coffee can as a permanent supply in your automobile?

Word of the Year

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Jude in a basket.

There are blank pages at the end of the dictionary so we can make up new words. This was my response to my 5th grade teacher when she took points off my paper for using the word “learnt.” In red pen, she wrote “learned” on my paper.

Not one to give up, I also pointed out to the teacher that the reason why I used the word “learnt” was because I had read it in a book and wanted to try it out. It was a new word for me. “Learnt is not a word,” the teacher insisted. I even showed her the book I was reading at the time that had the word “learnt” in it. If “learnt” is not a word, then why is it in a book? How did it get there? Why isn’t there red ink in the book crossing out “learnt” and replacing it with “learned.” 

I infuriated my 5th grade teacher. She refused to put points back on my paper. She proceeded to make an example out of me in front of the class. I think about this every time I read something that contains the word “learnt.” Learnt is a real word and it is in the dictionary. Go ahead, look it up. 

The challenge with dictionaries is that you have to know how to spell the word to look up the word. Well, if I knew how to spell the word, I wouldn’t need the dictionary, now would I? Of course, this was in the 1980s before things like computers, Microsoft Word, and spell check.

Not only were there blank pages at the end of the dictionary for adding new words, but the dictionary companies have made a big deal in recent years about the addition of new words to the “official” dictionary. The dictionary has even started a tradition of proclaiming a word of the year. 

I hear all of this on the news and don’t pay too much attention to it. The dictionary has yet to choose a word of the year that excites me. Some of the words that they have added to the dictionary are stupid, and hopefully, passing fads.

I heard a new word these past few weeks that excites me. It REALLY excites me. I have not been this excited about a new word since the “learnt” fiasco in the 5th grade. 

I do hereby petition that this new word not only be added to the dictionary, but that it should also be proclaimed Word of the Year for 2020.

The 2020 Word of the Year is … covidiot.

It is a portmanteau. A portmanteau is a word that is formed by combining two other words to form a brand new word. Covidiot combines the words “covid” and “idiot.” 

Covidiots refuse to take the pandemic seriously. They do not wear masks. They do not social distance. They hoard items. They are truly selfish and stupid people who knowingly put other people’s lives at risk and don’t care about it. They refuse to stay home. They are the ones running around holding coronavirus parties and screaming “Open it up, suckers! We want money, who cares who dies!” (One of my county legislators actually said that.)

Covidiot is a very accurate description of over 90% of the people who live in my county. Finally, a one-word term to accurately depict my frustration with the general public in my geographic area. 

I am surrounded by covidiots. 

I now have a hypothesis that the only way to cure a covidiot is if the covidiot actually gets COVID-19 so that they take it seriously. Or, maybe if the covidiot experiences the death of a loved one from COVID-19, then they will be cured from their covidiotism. We will see. Unfortunately, logic does not seem to work on a covidiot. It appears we will have a vaccine for COVID-19 before we figure out a way to cure the covidiots. 

Have you learnt any new words recently?

My Quarantine Life: Week 20

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My johnny jump ups I planted last year came back this year. I put some in a flower pot.

Reusable shopping bags, loyalty cards, quarters for Aldi carts … these are all items I do not currently need. I removed the bags from the car and brought them inside. I took the store loyalty tags off my keychain as well as the Aldi quarter holder. I will not be going to a store for the foreseeable future. I have not been to a store in almost 5 months.  I only get things if people bring them to me, or they can be delivered. I now have boxes to break down and put out with my recycling. The reusable bags are not needed.

This is the new normal in the pandemic.

I have a box of “work stuff” in my kitchen near the door. I was expecting to return to the office this summer and just load the box in the car. Now that my quarantine has been extended until January, that idea goes out the window. Yet I cannot bring myself to do anything about the box. I am using things inside of it as I work from home. I just don’t want to admit it myself that I still have to work from home, so I refuse to unpack the box. I strongly dislike working from home. 

Quarantine is not fun anymore. If I am honest, the fun factor wore off back in April when people I know started dying. However, this is the new way of life.

There is an article in the local newspaper today about how all of our local businesses are working remotely right now. I am very, very happy to know that this truly is the new normal and that I am not the only one in this situation. I am also very happy that working from home is a safe option. I am not ready to die yet. 

There has been little news out of Congress this week on how they are going to help all of us. All I know is that no one agrees on anything. They do seem to agree on giving us all another $1,200 payment. It would be nice if they could just approve the $1,200 payment all by itself and then go back to bickering over the other aspects of “relief.” Unfortunately, these things tend to come as packages, so they have to agree on the package before we get another $1,200. 

The ultimate answer to this situation would be to institute Universal Basic Income for all Americans. But of course, that is too “European” for the good ol’ USA. So we will all just suffer and die out. At least the United States is good for showing the rest of the world what NOT to do in a pandemic. 

The library is ending curbside service and is moving to traditional “you have to go to the library and go inside” service. I will not be able to get any more items from the library. I am actually okay with that. The past few books I got, I was not able to get through because they were just too depressing for the times we are living in now. 

I am back to reading through the books I already have in my house. I am completely fine with that. I have two bags full of books to read right now. Some of these books I have not read in years, so they are nice to revisit. 

On the plus side, I am very happy to be home safe with my cats. I do have people that check on me every once in a while. 

I am alive and well. I am so happy to be alive. I am also praying that Jesus comes very, very soon.

Life is very hard right now. But I am so happy to be with my cats. 

 

My Quarantine Life: Week 19

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This bird visited our feeder recently. The front part is primarily all red, and the back is black and white.

Cases of COVID-19 have doubled in my county in the past 2 weeks. We now have more COVID cases this month than we had in the 3 months we were in “lockdown” combined. People continue to just go where they want and do what they want and no one wears a mask. I have yet to see a single person wearing a mask on the rare times I get to leave my house.

A few weeks ago, I said that my goal was to live until my next birthday in March. Given the current circumstances, my goal is to live long enough to see Christmas. We are all either going to end up dead or unemployed.

This week, a 6th person I know has died. I have now known 6 people who have died since April. I have never had 6 people I know die in one year before, let alone in a 4 month time frame.

People I know who can go to stores tell me that shelves are still empty in places and that there are limits on certain items. For me, nothing has changed. There are still food shortages in the allergy community. Many items I cannot get at all because they are not there. When I am able to get food, I am paying 3x or 4x more than before the pandemic.

I am very happy that I get this time to be home with my cats. I try to keep things as normal for them as possible so that they do not know we are in the middle of a global crisis. The only thing that is different for them is that I am pretty much home all the time. I am not sure if that is setting off alarm bells for them or if they are just enjoying it. 

I can say that if I do die, these months home with my cats are the happiest of my life. I love spending time with them. 

That said, I am so sick of this pandemic and wish it would just end. 

I am hoping to be able to get some relaxation this weekend. I have now been working 14+ days straight without a day off because people seem to think “working from home” means “available all the time.” Even when I tell people it is my day off, they say “but I just need …” and continue talking. If anyone calls me this weekend, I am going to hang up on them. Fair warning. 

I am extremely grateful to still have a job, but I am really over this “working from home” shit. 

Being in quarantine when everyone else is running around makes me feel forgotten. Instead of calling me for work and yelling at me about pandemic related issues I cannot control, it would be nice if someone would just call to ask “how are you?”

The hard part is, I do not have much to talk about right now since I am still in quarantine. My big excitement of the day is when a new, unknown bird visits my bird feeder.

We are all living in our private hells right now.

Stay safe, be kind, and please wear a mask. 

My Quarantine Life: Week 18

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This was at my doctor’s appointment yesterday. It was my first human contact in over 120 days.

Isolation Log was supposed to be a fun Star Trek spoof. Except isolation isn’t fun. This entire COVID-19 situation is not fun. 

Yesterday, I saw my primary doctor for a check-up on my “health conditions.” It was the first time in over 120 days I had been touched by another human. Due to the virus and my health conditions, my quarantine has been extended until at least January 2021. Quarantine is my new normal. It’s time to adjust.

There was a TV commercial long ago about buying the world a coke (as in coca-cola soda pop). We are beyond that now. What the world needs is a hug. Even if the world doesn’t need a hug, I do. I may ask the doctor to hug me at my appointment in January. 

Quarantine is the new normal for the foreseeable future, so instead of isolation logs, we can chronicle my quarantine life. I am still not supposed to go to the grocery store, the pharmacy, or pretty much anyplace where there are other humans in the same building as me. This is mostly because there are cases locally of COVID-19 travelling through HVAC systems and infecting people even when they are “distanced” from each other. 

I am not supposed to ride in a vehicle with another person I have not quarantined with (actually that piece of advice applies to everyone, not just me) the doctor told me. 

The good news is, in addition to curbside “touchless” pickup being okay for me, I am now also “approved” for outdoor socializing. I actually have already done this twice prior to the doctor giving me the okay because it seemed safe to me. I can socialize with other people outdoors as long as everyone wears a mask and maintains the 6 feet of distance. I have not been approved for “indoor” socializing yet. Anyone who comes near me anywhere is supposed to wear a mask.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around all of this. Even though I am okay at home and very happy to be home, I still really want a hug. I miss humans. 

The goal is to take one day at a time and to remain as safe as possible. My biggest challenges are food and work. As long as I can take care of those two things, then I am fine. 

Speaking of food, we still have huge food shortages in the food allergy community. There is also price gouging. I used to spend $4 for my allergy friendly flour. The same package is now $21. I have lost almost 10 pounds due to the food shortages because it has been hard trying to get food when all of the shelves are bare. Since I weigh less than 100, I don’t really have 10 pounds to spare.

Hopefully someone somewhere will figure out the problems with the food supply so that the food shortages end. If I am able to live long enough to see my next birthday (in March), I really want pizza. We will see if that happens. Pizza is one of the things I have not been able to get due to the food shortages. 

So, my quarantine has been extended and it is time to adjust to life with this as the new normal. Quarantine life is not a temporary thing. Even if the virus ends and my quarantine ends in January, I will have lived this life for almost a year by that point. It is time to get used to it. 

Welcome to my quarantine life. 

 

Isolation Log: Covid Date 15.b.20

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I got two books and a movie for my first curbside library pickup during pandemic times.

Contact free library pick up! Woo hoo!

The day in March that it was announced the libraries were closing was the day that the magnitude and severity of COVID-19 became real to me as an actual threat. 

I was at the library on the last day it was open before closing. We had a book club that night. The librarian said we were allowed to check out anything we wanted with no limits. I came home with two bags full of stuff. When I got home, I cried.

Libraries are a lifeline. The library is an important place to me for many reasons. I was very happy when I bought my house that I am in walking distance to my local library. This made me ecstatic. Since moving into my house, I attend adult craft class at the library. I started an adult book club at the library. I use the library for internet access. The library is where I would go to use the internet for my online class through Berkeley last fall. I have attended music concerts on the library lawn in the summer.

Libraries have always been a safe haven and place of respite for me. When I was homeless, libraries were a safe place to take a nap. Libraries are a place where you can be in air conditioning to get a break from the heat outdoors in the summertime. 

Libraries are a huge source of entertainment. Not only can I get books, but also DVDs. That saves me money so I only go to the movie theatre if it is something I absolutely want to see. It also means I have less clutter inside my house. Instead of spending money on books and DVDs, I can use my money on other things. I get books and DVDs free from the library. The books in my home are only my absolute favorites that I read repeatedly. 

As I went through the bags of items I checked out of the library in March, I returned them to the return bin outside the library. I went through all the items and have been content with the books and DVDs inside my house.

When the librarian called me this week to let me know that contact free curbside pickup is now available, I was overjoyed. No one is allowed in the library for safety reasons. However, you can request items online or by phone and can pick them up curbside contact free.

You can ask for exact books, a favorite author, or have the librarian choose something for you. 

I successfully picked up items last night through the contact free curb service. I am so happy to have library access again. We are not allowed to interlibrary loan items (which makes sense). You can only get items that are already at your home library. 

I cannot tell you how much I have missed the library. I am so happy they have figured out a way to safely provide services to us once again. Contact free pick up protects both the library staff as well as the person checking out items.

Thank you, library! I have missed you! 

Isolation Log: Covid Date 15.a.20

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I am so thankful for strawberries. This was the second time in 4 months I have been able to get fresh fruit due to food shortages.

Day 100 of captivity. The natives are getting restless. I have had enough of being stuck inside my house because other people refuse to wear masks and distance. I have no faith in humanity to do the right thing anymore.

It has now been 100 days since the doctor told me to stop going to the grocery store and pharmacy. It has officially been 111 days since I have actually been to a grocery store myself.

I am so tired of COVID-19.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter if I’m tired of it or not, this is the world in which we live. At this point, I’m just waiting to die because people are not wearing masks and distancing.

As frustrated as I am with the situation, I do not feel as though I am missing out on anything. I have altered my behavior to keep myself safe. Due to multiple food allergies that react by touch, I did not go very many places before the pandemic. The changes I have had to make to my routine have not been huge. So what have I changed? Here’s the list:

Groceries: This one has been the most challenging. I am so thankful and so grateful for the small army of people who kept me supplied throughout the worst of the pandemic so far. I have now successfully been able to receive grocery delivery so that I am not putting my friends at risk. I am now grocery shopping once per month. As long as I have food to eat, I do not mind NOT going to the grocery store. I loathe shopping in general. I am not missing out on anything by no longer going to the grocery store. I am fine with contactless grocery delivery once per month.

The Gym: This is the time of year when I am running outside. I typically use the treadmill from October to April. I am not missing the gym right now. That may change come this fall and winter. As long as there is not ice on the ground to cause me to fall, I will run outside. I do not feel like I am missing anything by not being able to go to the gym.

The Library: I do miss the library. However, I am taking this opportunity to reread every single book on my bookshelf to make the decision whether I should keep the novel or get rid of it. So, I am using this time to engage in a minimalist exercise. I miss the people in my book club, but we have been able to keep in touch with phone calls and letters. The library recently reopened for touchless curbside pickup only. I have requested two books and a movie for curbside pickup. I will let you know how that goes when I pick up my items. I am thankful for the touchless pick up option. If we end up officially quarantining again, I am content to read what I have in my house to make my “keep or donate” decisions.

Church: I have found a podcast that I am able to listen to and enjoy to hear Bible messages. Of course, this is in addition to Bible reading. It’s nice to hear someone’s perspective on how the Bible applies to daily life. I am fine with doing church by podcast. I don’t want to physically go to church and then meet Jesus by getting COVID-19.

The salon: We have reviewed this one previously. I am now shaving my head, which means I do not need the salon. I do not feel like I am missing anything here. In fact, I am using the money I am saving by NOT going to the salon to help pay for groceries. My groceries expense has increased about 3x due to the food shortages and price gouging.

The grocery store, the gym, the library, church and the salon are pretty much the extent of my social outings before the pandemic.

A friend recently expressed concern that I am still isolated (this is by recommendation of my doctor, remember). Yet, I am totally fine being isolated. I did not do much before the pandemic. I do not feel like I am missing anything by not being able to go any place. People’s cavalier attitude regarding this virus right now is scary. It is not worth my life to go out someplace when I have no need or desire to go anyplace. I can communicate with people through letter writing, phone calls and text messages. I’m fine.

Another concern raised by a friend is that they want to see me for coffee. If we weren’t having a pandemic, I would be open to that. Every contact you have with someone is an exposure, so seeing anyone in person right now is not safe.

However, we can still have coffee. Make your coffee and then call me on the phone. There. We are having coffee in a safe way. 

Things around me are reopening. People I know are taking HUGE unnecessary risks with their health and safety that I am uncomfortable taking. Unfortunately, if I come into contact with those people (like at work), then they are exposing me to all of their risk taking. I’m still waiting for my execution date.

People and businesses in my area are not doing enough to keep people safe right now. The safety measures are not being enforced in my area. People are being remarkably careless. No errand is worth my life at this point in time. 

We must remain vigilant. The pandemic is not over yet. As frustrated as I am with 100 days of captivity, the alternative is death. I have three little ones to take care of at home. I’ll take captivity. 

Stay safe. Wear a mask.

End of An Era

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I have to drive the car once a week to keep it going during the pandemic. This is a few miles from my house.

There is a hockey team in Canada made up of Catholic priests called the Flying Fathers. There was a horse named Onion who beat Triple Crown winner Secretariat in a Stakes race. These stories and many, many more, I have heard and loved over the past 24 years.

It was recently announced that my favorite radio program, Only A Game, is being canceled this September after 27 years on the air. I have been listening to the show for 24 of those 27 years.

Only A Game is one of the very, very few things that has been consistent for me through this pandemic. Every Saturday, I can listen to Only A Game. Even though there are no sports right now, they still manage to produce the hour-long sports show weekly. Only A Game is so much more than sports commentary for that week. We learn about the history of sports and heartwarming stories of athletes. 

Through the years, Only A Game has seen me through all four of my college degrees. Only A Game has been one of the few things in my life that has always been there for me, similar to my Adirondack camping trips.

With the pandemic even canceling my camping respite this year, I have been clinging to Only A Game like a lifeline. 

To say that I am heartbroken over the impending cancelation of Only A Game is an understatement. I do not listen to Only A Game for sports scores or speculation. I listen to Only A Game to learn about athletes, sports I love, and to be exposed to sports I maybe don’t love or perhaps even heard of. 

The show has a portion called “Three Stories You Should Know.” That segment brings me up to date on what I need to know for the week. Other than that, it is the in-depth vignettes that keep me riveted every week. 

I learned about a current Major League Baseball star who is also a star on the rodeo circuit. I learned about a photo of an Olympic swimmer that made the rounds on US Navy submarines during WWII that was a kind of inspiration to the troops. I have heard about marathons, scuba diving, soccer, and pretty much every sport out there. 

These are stories that I will not get to hear or learn about once Only A Game is gone. No other radio show or podcast even holds a candle to how well done Only A Game is or what it teaches me.

When Only A Game goes off the air this September, it will be truly the End of An Era. I have no idea what will fill the space left in the void. To be honest, I don’t think anything will. Yes, I can read the newspaper or listen to the radio for sports scores and standings. That is not the point. The point is that Only A Game takes me way beyond scores and standings and teaches me so much more.

I will continue to listen to Only A Game faithfully each week until it is time for the program to sign off the air. I will admit that I have shed many tears this week upon hearing of the upcoming cancelation. 

Anyone who knows me well knows I grew up on radio. I have certain stations and programs that are close to my heart. I listen to radio programs like how other people have their TV shows. Only A Game has been my favorite for over half my life. No other radio program has had a bigger impact on me than Only A Game.

I’m sure that I will be shedding more tears between now and the cancelation this September. Until then, I will keep listening to and keep loving Only A Game each week.

Isolation Log: Covid Date 13.a.20

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Jolene likes to ride on the rollator when I roll.

Trust no one. I feel like I am channeling Fox Mulder from the X-Files. You just don’t know where people have been. The health experts say that about 40% of COVID cases come from asymptomatic carriers. So you may feel fine, but you can still transmit to someone else.

I have been thinking a lot lately that people wearing a mask is just like wearing a condom for sex. They say when you sleep with someone, you “sleep” with every other person that person has been with. That’s why wearing a condom is important. Unless both parties have been tested, you don’t know if you are a carrier for HIV for some other STD. If someone does not wear a condom to prevent disease transmission, then you refuse to have sex with them.

I wish wearing a mask could be the same.

People should wear masks like they wear condoms to prevent disease transmission. You just don’t know where people have been. When someone is not wearing a mask and gets within 6 feet of you, you are then coming into contact with every other person that person has been in contact with. Same scenario. 

Everyone in my area is going around like nothing is happening. No one is wearing a mask. It’s still not safe for me to go out. If someone refuses to wear a condom, no sex. Since people in my community are refusing to wear masks, I cannot safely leave my house. 

That sucks for me. I should not be a prisoner in my own home because other people refuse to take proper precautions. I still stand by the thought that people who refuse to wear masks should be charged with negligent homicide. What do we need to do to make that a reality?

I won’t live long enough to see a vaccine, a medication, or any type of law that is on par with the risks involved. Someone is going to end up killing me as soon as we have to go back to work in our office. Even if my coworkers wear masks and take appropriate precautions, I don’t know where they’ve been. They may (and most do) take more risks than I do. 

Trust no one. With 40% of COVID cases coming from asymptomatic carriers, you just don’t know who has it.

Wear a mask. Stay 6 feet apart. 

On the plus side, I can say that I am very fortunate in that I am not in need of anything. Sure, there are a few things that would make my life easier. However, I am not experiencing any crisis as long as I stay in my house. 

Your right to “not wear a mask” infringes on my right to “live my life.” But I guess your rights are more important than mine. Just another week in isolation wondering when someone else is going to kill me when I have to go out.

This can’t go on forever. I feel like I’m on death row. I know I’m going to get killed when we go back to work. I’m just waiting for my execution date. 

Until then, I am very happy at home with my cats. Even if the internet sucks and the heat makes my symptoms worse. I would rather struggle to be alive than be murdered by someone’s negligence.

I am very happy to be alive at home for as long as it lasts.

Five Reasons Gladrags Rock!

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Some of my Gladrags in pretty patterns.

Disclaimer: If you are uncomfortable reading or thinking about feminine hygiene products and all that entails, then you should stop reading now. Please go find something else to do. If you are okay with bodily fluids, then keep reading. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

As I have been simplifying my life, I have changed many things from paper products to reusables for various reasons. This particular switch came out of pure necessity and just a little bit of panic. Never in my life did I give any thought to feminine hygiene products. My period has always just been Something To Be Dealt With And Painfully Endured each month. I have always used disposables. I use an insane amount of disposables because they seem to be so insufficient for my needs. I have dealt with leaks and stains on underclothes, pajamas, sheets, towels, and some pants. It’s all part of being female, right?

Then came the pandemic. Of course, that first week at home, guess what happened?

Yup, not only did I have my period, but I ran out of feminine hygiene products. There were no more to be had anywhere. There were none in the stores. There were none online. Everyone was so busy freaking out over The Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020 that they didn’t notice the Great Disposable Pad Shortage of 2020.

I proceeded to call all my female friends to see if anyone had any extra supplies lying around they could drop off to me. I figured if I could borrow 2 or 3 from each person … I would have enough to get me through the shortage.

My friends came through for me. God bless them. People dropped off feminine hygiene supplies on my porch so I was able to get through my cycle. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t desperate.

I successfully got through that cycle with the help from my friends. How long was the shortage going to last? How would I get through the next cycle and the next? Everyone is freaking out like “Yo! Toilet paper!” And I’m just over here like “Can a sister spare a pad?”

You all know how I found toilet paper workarounds. I have been saving my newspapers as a last resort option. I am now using cloth baby wipes for pee to minimize my toilet paper use. But what to do about pads? At first, I thought to just wad up toilet paper. I’ve done this when my period started unexpectedly and I needed something “there” for the 10 minutes it took me to go grab a disposable. But toilet paper was scarce too. Then, I’m like, well how about washcloths or something? I was grasping at straws here, people. 

It finally dawned on me – you know that saying “on the rag?” It’s because women used to actually use rags before disposables. Can you imagine a world before disposable pads? I couldn’t.

Lo and behold, God Bless the Internet. Cloth pads are a thing. An absolute thing! 

There are many different kinds you can get from many different makers. I did a little bit of research and decided that a company out west called Gladrags was making a product that would meet my needs. Even though I did some research, I was skeptical about using cloth, but I was also desperate, so I ordered 2 or 3 just to try. They came quickly and with frequent washing, got me through a cycle. I liked them so much, I ordered more. I used all cloth pads for another cycle.

It’s a miracle! It’s amazing! I know I sound like a crazy infomercial right now, but this switch from disposable pads to cloth pads is truly the best thing to come out of the pandemic for me. They are by far the best paper product to reusable switch I have made. These things are so stellar, I just had to do another “Five Reasons … Rocks!” posts about Gladrags cloth pads.

For those of you who enjoy “Five Reasons … Rocks” posts, check out:

Five Reasons Garmin Rocks!

Five Reasons the 1812 Challenge Rocks!

Without further ado, I am proud to present:

5 Reasons Gladrags Rock!

  1. Cloth pads are dependable. You do not have to worry about running out. Whether there is a pandemic or not, I always have feminine hygiene items without having to go to the store. I have cloth pantiliners, cloth day pads, and cloth night pads. I have enough cloth pads to get me through my cycle. Every cycle, every month, from now until menopause.

2. Cloth pads are going to save me an insane amount of money. First of all, if you haven’t heard, when the U.S. Congress passed the CARES Act, a huge coronavirus relief bill, there were a lot of little things tucked in there along with your “stimulus check.” The CARES Act just made it possible to use Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to be able to pay for feminine hygiene products! This means that instead of paying out of pocket for supplies, your period is now considered a “medical” thing, and you can use your medical funds to pay for period supplies.

Every once in a while, someone in government gets a brain … thanks to the CARES Act, I was able to use my HSA to pay for my cloth pads. So I did not have any “out of pocket” expenses, which was great, since I am now paying 3-4x more for groceries due to food shortages.

Also, since I now have a complete set of cloth pads to last my whole cycle, I do not have to buy disposable pantiliners or disposable pads again. That is going to save me about $120 a year from now until menopause. I used roughly $200 in HSA funds to pay for my cloth pad set, but will be saving $1,800 from now until menopause.

3.  Gladrags are exceptionally well made. They come in pretty patterns, so my period is actually kind of fun now. Yes, I did just put the words period and fun in the same sentence. Sounds insane, doesn’t it? No more sticky white plastic in your underwear. Gladrags stay firmly attached with one little snap. There is no moving or bunching. They stay where you put them. Que light and the sounds of angels singing here.

Gladrags really know what they are doing in design. I am super surprised to find that cloth pads are way more absorbent than disposable pads. I also have no leaks in any sleeping position. No more blood on underwear, pajamas, or sheets. They almost make my period feel – easy.

Cloth pads are super easy to clean. Just wash in cold water. I throw them right in with my laundry and hang to dry. I “presoak” in cold water to prevent stains. They come out just fine. When I bought the first 2 or 3 to try, I washed them by hand in the sink so that I could reuse them more quickly. Now that I have a full set for my entire cycle, I just wait until laundry day and throw them in with the rest of the cold wash items. They are ready to go for next month.

When I have to return to the work office instead of working from home, I have a cute little bag that came with my cloth pad kit to put the used one in to take home, so no one knows I have it. No different than taking a disposable into the bathroom with you. No big deal. As a plus, cloth pads don’t smell like disposable pads do. Admit it, we all know it, disposable pads smell. You always worry about other people “smelling” you. Cloth pads don’t smell.

4. Cloth pads are so comfortable. I almost forget that I am wearing one. They are way more comfortable than disposable pads. I wish I had known cloth pads existed 20 years ago. My period is no longer Something To Be Dealt With and Painfully Endured each month. Not that I look forward to it. No way would I go that far. Let’s just say my period is no longer uncomfortable.

Cloth pads keep me cool. Disposable pads are basically plastic. They are hot and sweaty. As we all know, my MS symptoms are exacerbated by heat. I am so happy to be using cloth pads now and not have that additional heat source provoking my symptoms each month. I feel like my body temperature is cooler when I am wearing a cloth pad compared to a disposable pad. I am no longer sweating to death “down there.”

If you don’t already think I am crazy, then this one is really going to throw you for a loop. Since switching to cloth pads, my flow is not as heavy and my period ends sooner. When I purchased my cloth pad kit, I was highly skeptical that 10 day pads would last me my entire 5-day cycle. I usually go through like 8 disposable pads in a day. My period is long and messy.

However, the two cycles that I have been through with my cloth pads, my flow has gone from heavy to more moderate. I have less cramping. Also, my traditional 5-day cycle now appears to be a 4 ½ day cycle. The 10 day pads that came in my kit are more than enough for me to get through my cycle because I am now bleeding less!

Of course, this could just be my body changing. But it’s interesting to note that I have only had this experience happen with the two cycles where I only used cloth pads. I will see if it continues.

5. Excellent customer service. I have ordered various food items online during the pandemic and waited 2 months to receive them. Gladrags customer service is amazing. They let us know they were running behind. Yet, I still received my order in about a week. This was going from the west coast to the east coast. A week is fast even when its not a pandemic. In pandemic times, that’s like overnight service!

One of the orders I placed, an item was listed as backordered. That was fine with me, I am waiting on everything else in pandemic life anyway. Well, even though the item was on backorder, I still received it way earlier than the backorder date listed, and someone had put a nice hand-written smiley face on my invoice. They are literally shipping things as soon as they come off the sewing machine!

I had chosen the “surprise me” option for designs when I ordered my cloth pads. I mean, come on, I’m bleeding on it. Who cares what it looks like? I’ve been using plain white disposables for years. They sent me a variety of very pretty patterns to make my period fun. There’s that word again! Gladrags could have just sent me one color or one design. Yet in the middle of pandemic chaos, someone took the time and the care to send me a variety of very pretty designs. Thank you! 

The people at Gladrags are working very, very hard to be sure we all have period supplies during the pandemic. God bless those workers! 

Not only did my orders arrive quickly, but they were very nicely packaged. Each order also came with a little booklet of clear instructions on how to use and clean my cloth pads. 

Conclusion

The only thing I have yet to test when it comes to cloth pads is wearing them while running. I was only able to do one run on my last cycle because the temperatures were in the 90s and my MS symptoms were way too bad to run even with my cooling vest. I was having a hard enough time rolling with my rollator. 

The one run that I did, I used a disposable. I can tell you right now, that was a mistake due to the cramping and severe discomfort I had after. My concern with running with cloth pads is chafing. I’ll have to experiment and let you know if that is true or unfounded. Of course, the ultimate test will come when I train for my next marathon. 

I will see how they feel when I take them for a run. 

Please note, that I have not received any compensation or “gifts” for plugging Gladrags. I did receive a discount on my set, but all sets were discounted for everyone the month I ordered it. So, it’s not like the discount was special to me when it was available for everyone.

If Gladrags does not work for you, there are many other companies and makers out there to be able to find cloth pads. You may not be able to get over the “ick” factor, but if you do, you will be hooked. Trust me, once you try cloth pads, you won’t go back to disposables. Why, oh why, were disposables ever invented in the first place? Well, I’m sure someone is making a boatload of money off of disposable pads. But they aren’t getting my money anymore. Making the switch to cloth pads is the best thing to come out of the pandemic. 

Gladrags Rock!