Notes from the Home Front
Life is just plain weird these days. All of our usual routines have disappeared, short of doing laundry, making meals and watching television. Even our dachshund Toby seems to sense there is something different. We are giving our daughter Hannah and her husband a three-hour break from kids each day (don't worry, they were quarantined for about ten days beforehand) so they can work from home. Noah, Lena and I play board games, do puzzles, watch movies like Mary Poppins Returns and fix lunch. Last week, Lena and I baked chocolate chip oatmeal cookies and banana bread. You can tell they are feeling adrift. Noah very much misses his kindergarten teacher and feels sad. Lena, who kept up a full schedule of schoolwork, violin lessons and after-school sports, is doing on-line lessons and reading at home, but she misses her friends and the stimulation of the classroom.
Since Alison is a store support team trainer at Whole Foods, she's with lots of people. Each day, she puts the clothing she's worn in the wash and takes a shower first thing when she gets home. On the chance that she has inadvertently exposed Booker, we can't be with him. The other night, they pulled in the driveway and we talked from a distance, which actually served to make him feel sad. He plays Fortnight with his friends, walks his dog and hangs out with his stepdad Matt, but is bored and frustrated.
I decided to cancel our every-three-week cleaning lady, Veronica, because we don't know what she may have been exposed to in other homes she cleans. However, I paid her because I know she depends on the income. This means we need to dust, vacuum and clean the bathrooms ourselves. Andy and I decided to order take-out from local restaurants at least once a week to help them stay in business. It gives us a break from cooking and we've been able to enjoy Mexican, barbecue and Greek food from our usual haunts, but without the social stimulus of being in the restaurant with others.
COVID-19 has reached Rowlett, with about 10 cases so far, although there are more in surrounding areas. I expect that number to increase. Pretty much everything is shut down here. I miss being able to go to the library, buy groceries, get a haircut or manicure, go to routine doctor's appointments and do errands. Even though we're taking every precaution and staying home, I have a certain amount of anxiety that makes it hard to settle down at night. I worry about my youngest brother Dave, who is an emergency physician in Ohio.
I suppose the most difficult aspect of this situation is that no one knows when it will end. Life will be altered in ways we can't even predict when this nightmare is over. Stay well, my friends, and stay home.
Although we've mostly been content watching Netflix, Amazon and Acorn (British, Irish, and Aussie TV series), yesterday we decided to take advantage of a sunny day and get out of the house. So we took a drive in the country, safely enclosed in our SUV. A hundred years ago, the town of Rowlett was mainly a farming community. You still see longhorn cattle, goats, chickens on properties near us, including the small ranch right across from my daughter Hannah's backyard where black cattle with a white stripe around their middles called Belted Galloways graze contentedly. We saw lots of people jogging or out walking their dogs, but keeping their distance from each other.
If you get less than a mile out of town, the landscape changes considerably. There you see larger lots with horses ambling through the pastures. We even saw tiny white baby goats attempting to climb a bale of hay. New housing developments, some quite expensive, are popping up all over these once rural areas. We found ourselves wondering where all these folks go to work, as there isn't much around them.
A bit farther out and you are really in the country. You see a mix of mobile homes, small houses and the occasional large older home that probably once anchored a family farm. There are lots of farm buildings, some still in use and others abandoned, as well as small businesses like machine shops, tool sales, etc. Here you see more cattle, including the small herd we saw with newborn calves sticking close to their mamas. Small churches appear once in a while, including Spanish language Iglesias.
We drove through a few tiny towns with names like Nevada and Josephine, where there is almost no commercial development. I'm guessing these folks must have to drive a long way to get to a Walmart or grocery store, or to get medical care. The land is flat with only a few trees and several water towers are visible on the horizon. Fields are plowed and ready for planting.
Our jaunt ended with a drive through the pretty town of Rockwall, just across Lake Ray Hubbard from Rowlett. Some of our favorite restaurants there were delivering take-out orders, but mostly it was quiet. I imagine Rockwall's popular Saturday Farmer's Market and outdoor concerts will not be happening during this time of uncertainty.
We comfortable in our snug little house with Toby for company and prepared to ride out this storm. Hope all of you are doing the same and staying well. Cheers.
The Coronavirus Blues
Like most senior citizens, we are in quarantine for the duration. Luckily, we stocked up on groceries at the beginning of last week and already had lots of paper products. However, when those run low, we'll have to order food and supplies online with delivery from our local grocery store. I guess the good news is that we are spending almost nothing on gas, eating out or shopping. On top of this, I've had the mother of all head colds . No fever, but a nasty, productive cough. I did see the doctor, who put me on an antibiotic as bronchitis was beginning, the usual drill when I get an upper respiratory infection. It's finally getting better. I had to cancel a long-planned trip to Connecticut to see a friend, because she was sick with the flu and because it didn't seem safe to fly.
We've kept in touch with our three grandchildren through FaceTime, which, I have to tell you, is no substitute for hugs and kisses. Their worlds have been turned upside down and our daily routine of giving kids breakfast and getting them to school is gone. School has been cancelled and may not resume until next year. Poor Noah burst into tears, saying that he missed his kindergarten teacher, Ms. Garcia. They are not able to get together with their usual group of playmates, either. On-line lessons are to begin next week. Hannah and Reagan are working from home, but it's been difficult with kids barging into the office at every opportunity.
Trying to fall asleep, I found myself thinking about all the life events that people are having to cancel. Graduations, weddings, birthday parties, high school proms, church services, etc. Andy, who loves sports, now has nothing to watch and no sports talk shows. I know he'll miss baseball this spring, as well as his beloved European soccer games. The whole thing seems rather apocalyptic at times, like nothing the world has experienced in recent years.
On the plus side, I can still take Toby for a couple walks a day, enjoy the birds singing and admire the trees bursting with their spring green leaves. Andy and I are pretty used to being homebodies. We still like each other and get along after 50 years of marriage, so there's that. Some of my friends are not so fortunate and find themselves very isolated with no one to talk to. I pray that our country can come out on the other side of this disaster, but for now there seems to be no end in sight. Stay well, everyone!
Spring is here in Texas, with blooming Bradford Pear trees and daffodils popping up everywhere. Pansies grow in profusion and soon there will be bluebonnets (the state flower) covering the hillsides. After lots of recent rain, the grass is coming up green and will soon need bi-weekly mowing by our lawn service. Toby (our six year old dachshund) and I walk every day and are enjoying the mild weather before the summer heat sets in.
This week also marks the last day my adorable grandson Noah will be five. Tomorrow is his sixth birthday party and excitement reigns, with plans to have friends join him at an indoor gym/entertainment center for kids. I'm baking cupcakes with Toy Story picks atop the frosting, so it should be fun (and very noisy). Noah is at such a fun age right now. He is obsessed with Pokemon cards, loves Fly Guy books and has an endless supply of energy. Noah still comes to our house each morning for breakfast and to be dropped off at school. Three days a week, we have him after school and the other two, he goes to a nearby sports center for games and activities.
I see less of Lena and Booker than I would like, but they are into their own activities these days. Lena takes the school bus each day to the sports center, where she is learning volleyball and basketball with her best friend Olivia. Some days, I pick Booker up after school, so he can hang out with a family friend I also take back and forth to school. Like most preteens, they are busy texting on their phones but also like to play board games or shoot baskets in the driveway (thanks, Uncle Pete for the new backboard). We have Sunday dinner at Hannah's so everyone can see each other at least once a week. Once our pool is open for business, everyone will be over here lots, which will be fun.
I'm waiting for my next freelance assignment from Nemours and have begun reaching out to other organizations to drum up additional business. It relieves boredom, since I seemed to have flunked retirement, and gives me an opportunity to earn a few extra bucks. In the meantime, I'll enjoy the warmer weather and slower pace.
I'm Chris Barabasz, retired from a 35-year career managing communications for health care development (that's fundraising for you civilians). I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer. My husband Andy and I moved from Delaware to Texas to be closer to our daughters and three adorable grandchildren.