| No matter what else I do, I have to stop and prepare a decent dinner for my 91 year old dad. He fends for himself for breakfast and lunch. He is a retired butcher, and wants meat at dinner. He also likes fresh vegetables. He gets his fruit at breakfast. It's too bad he's had to give up gardening, but I can't plow the raised vegetable bed. I can pull the weeds, but I can't prepare the soil.
One night recently, I opened a can of Julienne beets. It was a well balanced meal, but the beets brought to mind stories I've never heard him tell before. I knew he liked all kinds of beets. He explained, piecemeal, that during rationing, his mother kept all the canned vegetables under her bed. One night she opened two cans of Julienne beets. He didn't tell me if that was all they had, or where Grandpa was. He just said that he, his little sister-maybe 11 or 12, little brother-maybe six or seven went outside thinking they had just had Christmas dinner!
My dad is quite hard of hearing, nerve deafness so hearing aids don't help. I have to yell at him to have a conversation. I finally got him to say it was rationing during or before the war. He was only a baby in the depression. They received coupons, not like food stamps, but actual coupons for specific items. Milk, cheese, eggs, cans of fruit or vegetables, meat, booze, etc., they all required coupons. Every citizen regardless of financial status had to get coupons or they couldn't shop. Grandma traded with the neighbors for things they preferred over things they didn't. He didn't know why she kept them under the bed. I think maybe she was afraid someone would steal them. No one locked their doors in those days.
It brought up a few other little memories that he shared. I've heard lots of his stories repeatedly, but these were new to me. It's funny that one little vegetable could open up a closed corner of your memory.
I was in awe of the idea. I thought of going to the store the previous week and finding the shelves bare of flour and cornmeal. Who knew that many people still exist who know how to cook from scratch? Then it hit me, there aren't that many, but the ones who do know, are hoarding these products. We all know the shortage of toilet paper, paper towels, Ramen noodles, and certain cleaners. If we had rationing early in this process, no one would be hoarding anything, rich or poor. You'd still have to pay the normal price, but you'd only get what was allowed for your household.
Everyone who lived through rationing now would be old men like my dad or they would have been babies and have been unaware of what was going on. In those days they didn't ration to prevent hoarding or to ensure that everyone ate. The war effort was the priority. Metal had to be used for aircraft and ammunition. Food had to go to the military first. It's hard for us to imagine rationing when we've lived through such times of prosperity and choice.
| My story would be more about things gone wrong.
My dad planted butterfly bushes, which we have always loved because they really do draw butterflies. The bushes have been full and spreading. At least until the last few years. I've been trimming away many dead branches. Last year I was checking for the parasitic vines that wrap around your shrubs and trees and peonies and choke them out. I untwined a lot from one butterfly bush and traced the pieces to the ground. Some very large pieces of wood broke off. The second one, on the other side of the house, had dead branches, but no vines.
This year, I have trimmed away a whole trash can of dead pieces from just one bush, and broke off more to the ground. I pulled all the weeds from around the bottom, but put fresh mulch around the bottom. I looked it up, and I believe both bushes have root rot. Don't know what to do for it.
He also planted a hedge of Japanese hollies along the street, which he keeps trimmed. I noticed yellow spots on them while I was weeding. I looked that up. We have an iron deficiency which is easily remedied. I'm just afraid to go to that kind of store during the semi-quarantine to get what I need. We also have a huge holly tree on one side of the garage, and a compact holly hedge on the other side of the garage. They are beginning to look the same. The acid soil we have needs some doctoring.
We can't grow rosemary. It smells great for a while, but won't last all year. I have pots of sage and chives which grow back every year on their own. I planted a long narrow box of flower seeds and placed it on my deck railing. Some of them were beginning to grow. Tonight during dinner we watched two doves in the box pecking away. They were cheap seeds, so they probably cost less than bird seed.
Deer eat the tulips, hostas, and blackberries. Also, cypress shrubs-mine look like topiary, but only to the height of a deer's head.
One year my dad planted a voodoo plant in the flower bed. Last year, I went on the warpath against these invasive plants. I pulled at least 200 and put them in the trash. Dad would have thrown them in the compost, but I know they would have survived and multiplied. I think I won. I have not seen a single voodoo plant this year, and have weeded that bed several times already.
At a different location, I planted mint. Do not plant mint, bamboo, or voodoo, unless you are prepared for them to take over everything. They're like kudzu, or dandelions, very invasive and very sturdy.
I do pretty well with irises and marigolds.
| My very kind neighbor just gave me a big box of organic kale from her garden. I trimmed it up, washed off the bugs and dirt, picked off the flower buds and cooked it until it was about 1/4 the size. I only used a pinch of salt. Unfortunately, it was beginning to get old, therefore the flowers, and some of the stems, even though small, remained very tough. It's still delicious. You just have to pull the pieces that look as stiff as uncooked spaghetti off your plate.
I always worry that I missed a bug or two, but then again, they cook apart. That might be added protein.
I'll fix some Southern spoon bread to go with it. I was shocked at the grocery store last week to discover the shelves of flour, all kinds, were bare. All the yellow cornmeal was gone, too, which is what I wanted. They had white cornmeal, so I got one. My spoon bread will be light colored, but will still be good.
Thanks, neighbor, for sharing your garden with me.
| I have to say it's easier to keep the house straight when the children don't visit on the weekend. Is the trade-off worth it? I like having just routine clean-up instead of massive scrubbing and moving furniture to pick up candy and chips and little toys that are hiding from me. But I miss them. I think about them a lot. They love to dig, so I think of them when I'm trying to fill the wheelbarrow with mulch from the big pile. They could be helping me load that wheelbarrow and emptying it! Of course, that's only a few minutes and still won't stop them from taking the knickknacks off the shelves and carrying them outdoors. Oh, yeah. I haven't picked up odds and ends, tools, etc., out in the far ends of the yard.
I haven't been reading more than usual. I haven't written more. I have reviewed a little more. So what am I doing with my time? I guess watching the news. We aren't going anywhere in the car, so I'm not losing time driving anywhere. Or using gas. But I am fixing balanced, nutritional meals, maybe more than usual.
I guess I want more productivity. I want to see the results of no company and no errands, but it feels stagnant. I probably am surfing the Net more. Or watching more movies, old ones. We could be doing this a few more months. Maybe I'll do something creative before we're out and about again.
| I'm staying in. Although, I'm not out and about a lot normally, knowing that I shouldn't go out makes me want to go that much more. I usually try to avoid going to the store until I have to. Now I'm making a mental list everyday of things I just have to have now!
I did drive out to the mailbox at the shopping center to mail some bills. The carrier in our neighborhood is extremely unreliable. I took my 91 year old father, just to prevent cabin fever. He wanted to ride around and look at the new construction on our mountain, so we spent an hour almost just looking at new homes, bigger than ours, but with much smaller yards.
Dr, Oz says that if you go out somewhere you should take your shoes off at your door. Leave them there for 24 hours. There's a lot to remember. Shoes will hold the virus 24 hours; so will cardboard, like your Amazon deliveries, or pizza boxes. He says for food deliveries have containers at the door before arrival and a plastic trash bag. Pay over the phone and include the tip, so the delivery guy doesn't linger. At your door, transfer the pizza to a pan and discard the box in the bag which you will leave outside until tomorrow. For Chinese or other foods, wear gloves to open the food containers and empty into bowls or platters. Discard containers in bag. He says it's not the food prepares you need to be wary of, it's the delivery person who has handled the containers just before you get them.
There are times for copper and plastic and wood which I can't remember. Wood I believe is safer. Fabrics will only hold the virus 7 or 8 hours, so change clothes if you went to work or to the store immediately, but you don't have to launder right away.
There have been some important people still working-first responders, pharmacy employees, grocery clerks, and medical personnel. Don't forget truck drivers. They sit isolated in a cab for long hours, so they have been able to safely keep working. Without them, we'd never get the TP or water or potato chips replenished. They still need a place to shower, gas up the trucks and get food, so truck stops have been fully operational. Then there's the UPS guys. Mine usually drops off everyone's boxes up near the door. Everyone in the neighborhood has a long driveway; mine is straight and not that long. I looked everywhere around my house and garage and couldn't find my package due Sunday night. My dad found it dripping wet out on the street the next morning. They never ring the bell or make personal contact, so what was he afraid of?
These are extraordinary times (I know you haven't heard that anywhere) and will never be forgotten by those who survive. It's bringing out the worst in some people, and the best in others. We each have to do our part, to act as we are called.
|“Prayer for a Pandemic” (not my words, but so good, I wanted to share)
“Prayer for a Pandemic” by Dr. Cameron Wiggins Bellm of Seattle, Washington:
May we who are merely inconvenienced
Remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors
Remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home
Remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close
Remember those who have no options.
May we who have had to cancel our trips
Remember those that have no safe place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market
Remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
Remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country,
Let us choose love.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
Let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.
| Right after I wrote my blog Thursday night, they closed the city schools for two weeks. I live just across the county line, but they then announced all the schools in the state would be closed for two weeks. I starting getting notices Friday that the theater where I volunteer has canceled almost everything through April 5 and many things beyond that. (The schools in my area are letting the custodians and others work to earn a paycheck by sanitizing the schools while they are empty.)
I took my dad to two grocery stores Friday to get our St. Patrick's Day items on sale, and the regular things at one of them. These stores were jam packed with people, a lot of the elderly wearing masks, most people wiping down their carts. All the Ramen noodles were gone! Bread was picked over, except for the bakery. Canned vegetables had empty shelves. I got one of the last bags of dry beans. Cleaning supplies were running low. Yogurt was almost depleted. The seafood section was completely empty and lights turned off. They still have frozen fish and shrimp.
I went to the drug store to pick up two prescriptions today. The store was very busy, but not as many as usual were at the pharmacy counter. Next door, the Tractor Supply store had a large crowd looking at chickens in the parking lot; the baby chicks are kept inside. That crowd didn't mind brushing up against strangers.
On the good news side, Friday morning, a prominent doctor announced on TV that Roche laboratories has improved the testing of COVID-19. Once they receive the test, the patient can get results in four hours. So advancements are being made daily. I am confused about obtaining a test. Many places are having drive up places to get a test, so you have minimal exposure to others. I realize they are waving co-pays, but don't they still have to process paperwork. And is a prescription needed? The same doctor said that you should be able to get a test on demand, just because you don't feel well, or you think you were exposed to someone. That leads me to believe you need a doctor's order to get a test. This doctor pointed out that you can get an HIV test just to be safe; you don't have to feel sick.
Every death saddens us. We hate what this is doing to the economy. Some people feel that not enough has been done and not soon enough. Others complain that too much was done too soon. Nothing will please everybody. The most heroic actions will not please everybody. A large part of personal safety falls on us. We have to practice hygiene properly, refrain from vacations and stay away from crowded places. I am concerned about how many businesses will close this spring, and how many people won't have jobs once this is over. Lower taxes will help those who keep their jobs. Meanwhile they are forced to use sick time, vacation leave and holidays to help cover the time off. The year has just begun.
We're not having church Sunday. It's canceled in keeping with the rest of the state and local churches, not out of fear, but with a concern for the safety of others. Many church goers are elderly and in the high risk group. They're going to attempt some live stream thing and let us know how to get it by tonight.
|How do you feel about how the corona virus is being handled? Are you personally worried about your safety?
This is a two part question. There are still so many unknowns at this point, that it's impossible to handle it perfectly. I think the officials are doing the best they can at the state, local, and federal levels. There are enough tests for health care workers and people who feel sick or may have been exposed. However, the processing facilities are not prepared to handle the volume expeditiously. Several weeks ago I heard a health care expert say that a vaccine is about a year out. so it's possible this nightmare may linger. Hopefully, with testing and containment, it will slow down its spread.
The travel ban to and from Europe was a surprise announcement Wednesday night, but it doesn't start until midnight Friday. That gave approximately 48 hours for people to go home on either side of the ocean. I think it was the right thing to do. Italy has open borders. so that's why all of Europe except the UK is included. The UK is more contained, and testing before boarding anyone.
Leaving special measures, like school closures, to the local communities is also the proper thing to do. Nothing in my local area has been shut down, and we're pretty safe. We have a top notch hospital with state support. No one is turned away for non-payment. Everyone gets treated no matter what for anything. So far, no corona virus. Other areas are in danger of spreading the disease and need to take their own drastic measures. We hate what it's doing to the economy, but human life is more important than prosperity.
The public needs to stay calm, however. Two weeks ago, Costco had sold out of its own brand of toilet paper. It was getting low on bottled water, as people took furniture carts full of water bottles out to their cars. Kroger has put limits as of today on certain items per order. This includes cold medicines, aspirin, etc. Of course, there are ways to get around that if you're really greedy. You make several orders a day when different people are working I think it's better to be mindful of others and share the available supplies. This should pass or die down in a month or three. More supplies will be coming in later. People should buy for no more than two weeks in advance.
Hand sanitizer may be okay in some instances, but nothing takes the place of soap and water. You need to wash between your fingers and rub for 15 seconds (Happy Birthday sung twice). It helps to put the liquid or foam soap on before diluting. All frequently used surfaces, like hotel counters, fast food counters, grocery checkouts, drug counters need to wiped down frequently with antiseptic cleaner. Lysol and Clorox both make excellent wipes to kill germs, but you must let them air dry. Don't wipe dry. They are excellent for door knobs and toilet surfaces. When you get home from the grocery store, wash your fresh produce and wipe off the tops of cans before you open them. (You don't know who has touched that avocado or tomato or orange before you picked it up.)
It must be an airborne disease as well as tactile, since sneezing and coughing could pass the germs. However, the air circulating systems on planes do a top notch job of filtering the air. You are in more danger sitting next to a stranger than breathing the air of the plane. Which brings us to staying at home instead of going to sports events--it is temporary--and the movies. Don't take your children to the Gymboree or whatever those kiddie play places are called. Even if they sterilize the equipment daily, that may not be enough to protect the children.
Sadly, you must hold off visiting Grandpa or Aunt Sadie in the Senior Community, or anyone in convalescent care, like after surgery or a severe accident. You could be a carrier to a vulnerable person.
Apparently, I am not concerned for myself. I have enough yard work to do that I won't get bored if we are told to stay home. And there's all those books I haven't read. Fortunately, we are always stocked a little in advance. We have some money saved up, so we can keep getting drugs and paying bills. We do not live or die by the stock market. If my area gets hit like Northern New York or Washington state, I will probably feel a little panic.
|Prompt: All sorts of wacky and unusual holidays can be found when you search for "weird" holiday. If you were purposing an unusual holiday to be posted on an internet forum, what would it be?
Right now just about every day is designated for something special. There is Pizza Day, Cupcake Day, Doughnut Day, Brownie Day, Cookie Day, Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, etc. These all help promote and sell these items. There's probably a day for hamburgers, French fries, and fried chicken and many others. There's International Woman's Day, Perfume Day, and Lipstick Day. I'm positive there is an Ice Cream Day, Potato Chip Day, and Spaghetti Day.
There is Teachers Day in May, Doctors Day in March, and International Nurses Day. Aunt and Uncles Day is in July. There is Secretary's Day, Employee Appreciation Day, and Boss' Day. There is Book Day. I'm guessing there is a Trash Collectors Day, Housekeepers Day, and Gardeners Day. Probably a day for carpenters, plumbers, and house painters. I'd probably be hard pressed to come up with a first-time, unique holiday.
Maybe an Indoor Plumbing Day! Only a hundred years ago, my state was still trying to enforce the new law requiring every residence, even in the hill country, to have an outhouse. People objected on the grounds that the government did not need to meddle in their private affairs. It took another fifty years to get people to switch to indoor plumbing. So celebrate that day by flushing and taking a shower, but not at the same time.
|Prompt: There are about ten days left until the first day of spring. What are you looking forward to about spring?
The one thing I'm not looking forward to encountering is pollen. I know it's necessary for nature to continue the life cycle and insects to pursue. But we humans just weren't meant to intermingle with it. I sneeze and cough all year now. It's worse in the spring. I lose my voice. I can't afford to have someone else pull weeds and clean the yard, so I have to wear a face mask when I go out.
I love seeing the bulbs come up. My irises have popped up and the jonquils are blooming. The tulips have popped up through the ground as well, but as soon as a flower appears, the deer will have their midnight snack. I will soon be able to return my potted plants to my back porch. They are in the garage or laundry room right now and look puny, but will come back to life with warmth and all day light. Actually, my pots of chives are under the wheel chair ramp. They can survive the winter out doors, but I wanted to keep the snow and ice off of them. We had little to none. They will burst into beautiful purple blooms which are edible (they taste like hot onions and will burn your mouth). Some of my sage plants have disappeared, and I love the smell of those.
With the warmer weather, I will stop shivering in church. I can also send the kids outside to play when they come to visit. I can have landscape lights because of them or garden stakes. But indoors, they have wrecked my exercise bike, opened uncirculated coins, and taken knick-knacks from the book shelves out doors. They also think things in the laundry room are for play dress up. I can't watch them all the time. They sneak off while I'm busy and act like my house is just some big mystery for them to ransack. Outdoors is better for their type of destruction.
I'm allergic to mosquitoes and they love me! They start to appear in spring, too. I live in the Southeast which is rampant with them. Nevertheless, I enjoy sitting on my back porch and smelling my flowers and herbs and watching the birds. The birds are there all year round, and so are the tree rats, which some people call squirrels. The sounds and the colors from this porch are wonderful. That I do anticipate.