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! 

 

Isolation Log: Covid Date 6.a.20

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Simon jumped into the recycling bucket after he threw one of his toys in there. I helped him to get it out.

When this is all over, I want pizza. 

It sounds like a simple request. Restaurants are open for take-out and delivery right now. The challenge is that I have multiple food allergies, so I can’t just eat any pizza. It has to be allergy friendly pizza. The nearest restaurant that makes allergy friendly pizza is over an hour away. They can’t even get the ingredients to make the allergy friendly pizza.

Normally, I would be able to get a frozen daiya (allergy friendly) pizza. However, with the food shortages, they are not currently available. With the food shortages, I cannot even obtain the ingredients to be able to make one at home. I do cook almost all my food from scratch, but I like to treat myself to a daiya pizza about once a month or so. 

The “specialty” items that people with food allergies require for everyday life are not considered to be “essential” items. Unfortunately, the food allergy community is hard hit in this pandemic right now. 

When the only thing left on the grocery store shelf is a jar of peanut butter and you have a nut allergy … no one should have to make the choice about whether they want to die of starvation or die from eating something that will kill them. However, that is the situation that some people are experiencing in our community right now.

I realize that everyone is making sacrifices right now. I am very happy that I do have food to eat. I guess it’s just hard when there are certain comfort items you want and cannot have because they are not available. So, yes, I am whining that I don’t have pizza. It’s a first world problem. I will eat my lentil loaf for dinner tonight. I am making vegetable soup in my crock pot tomorrow. 

As soon as allergy friendly pizzas are available again, I want one. I think that everything I “want” right now is a food item that is unavailable due to the food shortage.

Food shortages are real, folks.

I am very fortunate that I have people helping me with supplies. I have food and everything else that I need.

Right now, we are sitting tight waiting for anti-body testing so that things can reopen. The world will not be the same after this. We all have to try to find a new normal. Anti-body testing is probably a pipe dream, since there is no covid testing of any time in my county. We just have to hope that we can ride out the second and third waves of this virus.

What foods are you looking forward to having when they are available again? Hopefully the food shortages will end soon and not get worse.

Stay strong out there. #NYTough

Isolation Log: Covid Date 5.b.20

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Snow in my backyard on April 16, 2020

Ending the shutdown and going back to work right now is a terrifying thought. No job is worth your life. In the past 7 days, three people I know have died from COVID- 19. I know 2 right now who have it, but are not hospitalized. This is not getting better. It is getting worse.

Testing in my area does not exist. Only the rich and privileged who have access to a vehicle and can drive can be tested. The nearest testing site is an hour away. I know someone who drove to the testing site and was tested. They passed out after the test and almost got into an auto accident on top of everything else. Many testing sites are drive-thru style, yet the test makes some people pass out.

With lack of testing, the numbers reported in my county are very low. There is also inaccuracy in reporting. One of the people I know who has died was a nurse and has lived in her house for 20 years. Instead of her death being reported in the county in which she owned her home, her death was counted in the county in which she was born. It doesn’t make sense to me.

I guess it doesn’t need to make sense to me. The point is, the virus is everywhere. 

Opening the economy is not worth all this death right now. Public health officials need to get a handle on this before we all go back to work. Hell, if you look at my street and the area in which I live, we are not under any restrictions whatsoever. People are still out doing whatever they want in large groups and driving all over the place. From where I sit, people in my community are going about their everyday lives as if people we know and love are not dying right now.

Maybe I’m just special in that I know 3 people who have died. I guess I have a different perspective.

The COVID response is not going to end with some sort of economic stimulus plan or some big go-back-to-work package. The only way this is going to end is through widespread societal structural changes that the US will never do. So I expect that we will see the death toll to continue to rise and be large.

In happier news, many people in isolation think this is all fun and games and have been sharing stupid things they are doing. 

My stupid purchase right now is that I ordered another set of World Series DVDs. This particular World Series has been on my wish list for a long time. However, the DVD set has always been in the $300 range. With everything going on, the price of the DVD set is down to $50, so I ordered it. 

Yes, it was a non-essential purchase. Yes, I feel bad for having something stupid like that shipped to me. The way I was thinking about it is that if I’m going to die, then I want to see that particular World Series before I die. I’m considering it both my birthday and my Christmas present this year since I did not get anything for my birthday and who knows who will still be alive come Christmas.

Of course, there is a delay in shipping for non-essential items. I probably will not receive the DVD set until next month at the earliest. Everyone else has cable and internet to watch things. I just have a DVD player. I already viewed all of the DVDs I had checked out of the library and am now reading through my stash of books.

What non-essential or wacky purchases have you made in isolation? 

Stay strong out there. #NYTough

The Toilet Paper Chronicles, Part 3

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Daffodils finally came up that I planted last year

Ok, ok. I am starting to have melt down over toilet paper. Can you blame me? Do you know how I grew up? (homeless and without toilet paper – read the Toilet Paper Chronicles, Part 1). 

I think I held up pretty well under the circumstances. I typically have one open package of toilet paper and one unopened package of toilet paper for back-up. When the doctor told me I am no longer allowed to go to a grocery store or pharmacy last month, I had one open package of toilet paper that was about halfway gone with no back-up.

When the toilet paper that I had ordered online 4 weeks ago arrived today, I was down to 2 rolls. 

Granted, I did have back-up. I have a box of kleenex. I have been saving my newspapers instead of recycling them. I also took one of our fleece blankets and cut it up into squares. I even went so far as to order cloth baby wipes off of Etsy last week. They arrived way quicker than my toilet paper and feel like heaven.

Yes, I have gone to the dark side of using cloth toilet paper for pee.

Yes, it sounds gross. But my mother, and many other mothers out there, cloth diapered their babies. If you can use a cloth wipe on a baby, why can’t you use one on an adult? I was reserving the rolls of toilet paper I had left for # 2. That’s what toilet paper was used for when I was homeless as a child. It was the only way to make one roll last a whole month (or for as long as you could). 

The toilet paper that I had ordered online was actually commercial toilet paper. All household toilet paper is out of stock both in stores and online and has been out of stock for the past 4 weeks. So when I was on the internet a few weeks ago, I ordered the large 9-inch commercial rolls from a website that services places like restaurants and gyms. It was the only toilet paper I could find.

I don’t care that the large 9-inch rolls will not fit on my little dispenser. Toilet paper is toilet paper. It works no matter what size the roll. 

I am still going to be conservative with my toilet paper and ration it for # 2, just like how we used to do when homeless. I am going to use my cloth baby wipes for # 1. It’s just like camping, really. I mean, have you ever peed outside? What do you do then? 

My goal is to make the 12 rolls of toilet paper I have last for  6 months or more. Or, at least until the world stops losing its collective mind over toilet paper. I get it. I really do. There is not much we can control right now. We can control the numbers of toilet paper squares we use. 

I guess I have now officially switched almost all of my paper products to cloth. First it was cloth handkerchiefs, then cloth napkins, then cloth cleaning rags. Now it’s cloth baby wipes. Anyone else have experience using cloth toilet paper / cloth baby wipes for pee?