Sheltering in Place – Day 70

Mail call is a pretty organized thing around our house these days. And I have not earned the name Decontaminatrix for nothing. Always on the lookout for cross-contamination, how to deal with the mail was initially tricky. But I devised a plan. Playing on the good cop/bad cop routine, one of us is the Dirty Person. That’s the person who picks up the mail that has been dropped through the slot. Dirty Person, usually hubby, takes the mail to a corner of our dining room table where all the dirty mail is placed. Dirty Person picks up a pair of scissors, which are now designated as dirty. Dirty Person (let’s just call him DP from now on)  picks up one piece of mail. Clean person, usually me, is standing by barking orders. I will simply be CP from now on. DP cuts the very tippy end of the envelope off, careful not to cut what’s inside. That’s why CP barks, to make sure nothing gets sliced in half. Then DP presses the envelop together so it opens up. CP, careful not to touch the outside of the envelope, pulls out the contents with her fingernails and sets the contents down on the other side of the table. The process is repeated until all the mail is opened. Dirty Person throws the envelopes away and washes his hands. Clean person disinfects the table, scissors, doorknob, light switch, and the cat, for good measure. Both DP and CP sit down and leisurely read the mail. But, of course, it usually doesn’t go as smoothly as that. Often parts of the contents are glued to the inside of the envelope or stuffed inside in such a manner as to not be joggled free. That’s when the yelling begins. DP starts ripping at the…

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Sheltering in Place – Day 54

Hubby has started calling me his Decontaminatrix. This is because I am always trying to decontaminate anything that comes into the house, us when we leave the house, us when we return to the house, and the surrounding world in general. Today hubby had his first gig since the shelter-in-place mandate took place. He was to perform in the garden of a small private home that houses 8 elderly people. He decided to try it, as there would be 6-foot distancing between them, him, me, and masks would be worn by all. When we got there I did my best to sanitize everything in the garden, even a nearby tree. Armed with Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, Lysol Spray, and hand sanitizer, I tried to create the perfect, germ-free environment. Hubby sang for one hour, played the piano, and entertained the elders and staff alike. All the while he made sure no one came near him and he didn’t touch anything but his equipment. I stayed by my sanitized and distant tree, watching discreetly. If anyone, even a centenarian got too close to hubby or me, I was going to blast him or her in the face with the Lysol Spray. And make no mistake, I would have done it. Because I am serious about this, baby. I am Decontaminatrix. However, everyone behaved themselves, were grateful for his singing, piano playing, and good humor. After his hour’s show, they all retreated into their small home and we packed up the equipment with me wiping down everything twice. It was exhausting. But it was nice, for one brief hour, to have some form of normalcy, if only a touch of it.  

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Sheltering in Place – Day 51

I am a mere shell of my former self. Seriously. I don’t mean weight-wise. I still remain the block-buster gal we all know. I mean as a person. Among other things, I can’t sleep. I seem to be wide awake until 2 am and get up around 7. Then I zonk out between 5 and 7 pm only to repeat this ghastly routine the next day. I miss phone calls, online meetings, and playing with the cat. My cat, Ellie, has a narrow window of awakeness. It’s usually between 5 and 7 pm. These days, other than putting down her cereal bowl and cleaning out her litter pan, I have little interaction with her. Not that she’s complaining. She even sent a letter of inquiry to the governor of California asking when she will get some alone time in this house. She awaits a personal reply or phone call. Naturally, Newsom would have to call her sometime between 5 and 7 pm. Ellie calls Governor Gavin Newsom “Gav,” as she claims he is a personal friend.  I don’t believe it for a minute. She’s not his type. Back to my lack of sleep. Hubby is fine with my vampire insomnia-like state. After all, we are together 24/7, so any time he gets to himself without me popping into his office for a quick hug or to remind him the pots go on the bottom shelf of the dishwasher, thank you very much, he’s happy. On the subject of loading the dishwasher, I fail to understand why a college graduate and an all-around smart guy cannot grasp that putting metal pots next to glasses is not a good thing. Okay, it’s possible I’m becoming squirrely. Talking to the cat. Waiting for Gavin Newsom to phone. Focusing on how one loads the…

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Sheltering in Place – Day 50

Today we had an adventure! And how my adventures have changed recently. A little more than two months ago, I was doing things like cruising through the Panama Canal and watching the engineering feat of locks up close and personal. Then we visited the rain forests of Costa Rica. I even saw a sloth! Or the guides told me I did. What I really saw was a dark blob way up in a palm tree. But if they said it was a sloth, it was a sloth. After all, they live there. They should know. It’s up there somewhere. That darkish blob to the left. Or right. I forget. But the world has changed. Two months later found me back in San Jose knee-deep in a pandemic, housebound like the rest of the world. But today was different. We got up at the crack of dawn and masked, gloved, and panting at the leash, drove to our local Target for Senior Hour Shopping. We actually arrived early and I stood in line – practicing safe distancing, of course -and waited for the store to open. Meanwhile, hubby drove to a nearby gas station and filled up the car with gas. Then hubby joined me in line and the doors opened at 8 am. Only 10 of us were let into the store at a time. We were in the first group, too.  Excitement abounded! The whole store practically to ourselves! But would they have anything? Yes, yes! What treasures we found! Beyond my wildest dreams. A large bottle of hand sanitizer (only one to a customer). A 3-container set of Clorox Disinfectant Wipes. Kitty litter that cost only 12 bucks a bag. Dawn Power Wash.  Steak, pork loin, and even dried beans got thrown into the shopping cart. I was…

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Sheltering in Place – Day 44

Today I started the final chapter of the latest Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries, Casting Call For a Corpse. This novel has taken a really long time, probably close to 18-months. It’s not any more complicated than the others, but I’ve been a little busy, what with one thing and another. Let’s face it, just trying to decontaminate groceries from the possible contamination of COVID19 takes me awhile. I keep forgetting what I did and when I did it. That means I have to start all over again. But back to my books.  I can’t say I crank them out, anyway. It usually takes 10 to 12 months to finish one to my liking. Then I turn it over to my content editor and friend, Baird Nuckolls, and then the line editor, Paula.Grundy. That’s another month or two in the hopper. When writing, I often hang myself up on research and details. Take today. The protagonist and her husband are flying to Paris to celebrate their 6-month wedding anniversary. Sounds romantic and glamorous, right? Truth be told, it didn’t take long to check out nonstop flights, how long it takes to get from San Francisco to Paris, the time difference, and stuff like that. But I needed to know what time they had to leave Calfornia in order to get to Paris to make their 8 o’clock dinner reservation the following evening. I just couldn’t get it. It’s an 11-hour flight with a 9-hour time change. My math skills, which are challenged to begin with, couldn’t get what time they arrived in Paris. After about 20-minutes, I gave up and dashed into hubby’s office for a little help. Well, by counting his fingers and my toes we worked it out. They leave San Francisco at 8:50 pm (that’s a real flight…

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Sheltering in Place – Day 41

Today Hubby and I went to Lucky’s at midday on a Sunday. Nutso, right? We were driving up to San Francisco to have a sidewalk visit with hubby’s 95-year-old mother and her granddaughter, our niece. How did we wind up at Lucky’s? Niece asked up to bring up some milk. That’s what it started with. We were going to get the milk at the nearby mom and pop store. Then we got a call back from niece asking if we could pick up a “few other things.” Unfortunately, we said yes. No good deed goes unpunished. I wanted to go to our local organic grocery store, but occasionally I listen to hubby. Big mistake. He thought Lucky’s would have everything niece wanted.  Lucky’s was packed. Social distancing at its worst. And even though there was a small sign saying no one could come into the store without wearing a mask, such was not the case. And it certainly wasn’t enforced. Unlike us, a lot of people were in the store, no masks, no gloves, and acting as if nothing was going on in the world. Whatsoever. Recent visitors from Mars, perhaps? Then I had a banana incident, but possibly I was the banana. I was standing my safe 6-foot distance from a man who was examining bunches of bananas as if his life depended on it. Or maybe his salary. I suspected right away he was a shopper. I’ve never seen any man who cared that much about what a banana looked like on the outside. Anyway, while keeping a patient, safe distance from him,  a woman dashed by, clipped me on the shoulder, and headed straight for the bananas. My reaction to what she did surprised even me. “Hey! Lady!” I yelled. “I’m doing my 6-foot distancing here, waiting…

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Sheltering in Place – Day 34

I have decided I don’t know what I’m doing anymore. So I concentrate on the days when they’re gorgeous and sunny, the fresh air, the flowers. I try to write. It has helped. But still. We have suffered a loss. Hubby’s sister passed away two weeks ago Sunday from Covid19. Yes, she was not in good health. Yes, she was older (69). But it happened out of the blue. Between the time she came down with the symptoms, was tested, and died, only 4 days passed. The fallout has been tremendous. Especially for her mother (still alive at 95), and her daughters. And my husband, her brother, is sad, sad, sad. I try to help. I try to find the right words. But it is hard. Grief is hard.   Hug those you love just a little longer today. For me. For them. For yourself. Remembering the ones who leave us is hard.  

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