Journal Entry: Desperate Measures

I don’t want to write about it. How can I not?

A little earlier I was outside visiting The Chef, who’s been doing yard work on this exquisite early spring day, raking leaves in the garden where we tried to grow veggies with mixed success last summer, but this summer will convert to a cutting garden with only flowers. Look, (he pointed with the tines of the rake), how some of the lettuces from last year are trying to come back.

Resilient, I thought; it’s almost like, I don’t know, some kind of virus.

I don’t want to think about viruses right now, and yet here we are, all of us. Not one of us gets a pass.

Dogs don’t understand viruses, but they certainly sense worry and anxiety in their humans. This one does, absolutely. He knows something’s going on, but remains resolute about expectations and maintaining schedules and sticking with his people. Dogs really dig their routines. This dog is still rising early with me every weekday morning and going to work. We’ll do it unless and until the state of Vermont or the scourge stops us. We get in the car and drive, we arrive at the office and go inside, stopping nowhere between points A and B. I wipe down surfaces and sanitize or wash my hands until they’re raw. I stay six feet from the few colleagues who aren’t working from home now. We pretend this is normal and go about our business and meetings and calls as usual.

Scout takes his work life seriously.

Meanwhile at home, we cook and clean and exercise, almost maniacally. The mud room smells like Lysol, and my hands smell like bleach. Yesterday we arose at the crack of dawn so we could be at the grocery store the instant they opened, a suggestion one of the store’s checkers made last week when I asked. Come early, he said. We restock late the night before. But be advised, people start lining up at the door at 6:30.

So we came early and sat in our car, like others around us were doing, because it was cold. Then at about two minutes ‘til, people began climbing out of their cars and queueing up, just like the checker said. An older, arthritic woman came hobbling over to take her place in line behind us. She wore a surgical mask and every step she took looked painful.

“This reminds me of Halloween,” she quipped to me.

Not so much, I was thinking. For most people, Halloween’s a joyous occasion.

“More like the zombie apocalypse,” I said, a notion which didn’t resonate with her at all.

Once inside the store, the little crowd hustled to grab and wipe down their shopping carts, and then everybody—including The Chef and I—made a beeline to the paper aisle. There was enough toilet paper and paper towels for everybody to take a single package, and then it was gone.

There was exactly no camaraderie among our small group, who had stood in line in the cold together. People instead considered each other with suspicion. At least, that was what I felt. As for all the other aisles in the store, there was not much inventory. We came out okay, because we don’t tend to go for the processed and packaged fare lots of people do. Still, I found the absence of inventory worrying. And the unwillingness of most shoppers there, especially in the checkout lanes, to observe the six-foot rule. That, or maybe people just can’t conceive of six feet.

When we came home, I emptied the groceries from all the bags and onto the kitchen floor, which I recently bleached. Then I used warm, soapy water to wipe everything, which took me a solid 90 minutes or so. I swabbed down the inside of the fridge and carefully arranged food, oldest in the front, newest in back. I washed down produce in warm water and loaded up the crispers. I tossed the frozen food into the freezer, and today The Chef emptied it, scrubbed the bins, pitched some old mystery food, and then completely reorganized everything. This was an excellent idea, as he came across all kinds of things hiding in the bottom we didn’t know we had, including unopened bags of the organic peas, corn, and green beans we like.

So bring on the zombie apocalypse, I suppose. We have frozen peas and corn.

In the midst of all the chaos, I’ve continued down the path towards being a healthier me. I won’t bore you with the details. I just call my plan ‘mindful eating’ and it appears to work, because I’m pleased to report I’ve shed 20 pounds since late October or early November or thereabouts. Fifteen more, and I’ll have achieved my goal. Funny how one’s notion of what constitutes a ‘treat’ evolves over time.

Yesterday I decided Scout and I needed to go for a long run out in the country, as the weather was perfect and our spirits—or at least mine—needed lifting. Copious amounts of squirrels, birds, a single errant chipmunk, and abundant piles of horse poop—a day filled with horse poop to investigate is a banner day when you are Scout. And unlike the harried grocery store shoppers, the other walkers and runners whose paths we crossed were effusive and friendly to us.

Is there anything more cheerful than a clothes line in the country? I think not.

Today and yesterday one of the yoga teachers at my gym (now closed ‘til further notice), whose classes I’m especially fond of, livestreamed her classes from home. I availed myself this afternoon, much to the amusement of a particular canine, who first decided the yoga mat was a new, squishy, interesting, not at all bad dog bed. And then once class got underway he bestowed slobbery kisses upon my face whilst I was in downward-facing dog, a captive audience, you might say. So that hour was a restorative and challenging and funny respite from this misery.

Earlier in the day today I baked my great-grandmother Gracie’s biscuits, and later I made soup with Yellow Indian Woman beans from my ex-sister-in-law-but-still-my-sister. Just before that I talked to her and we commiserated.

I hope you and your loved ones are safe and well and you’ll find some moments of beauty or levity (hopefully both) in every day until this is over. I hope soon we’ll be focused on green shoots poking up through soil and visits to the garden center and which flowers will go where and what we’ll put into the galvanized tubs on the back deck this year. And replacing our rotted deck wood with fancy new composite boards. And putting up the gazebo for another season, and pulling the outside furniture out of winter storage. And watching Scout take up his sphinxlike position with his belly on the warm patio, waiting for the unfortunate grey tabby who will wander under the gate and into the yard. Then Scout will give chase, the cat will escape through two pickets, Scout will smoosh his face into the fence like a cartoon dog, the cat will jeer at him from the other side, and we will howl. Unbelievably, this scene will play itself out again, day after day, all summer long. If we are alive and well enough to witness it. Today I am thinking of all of humanity and hope not to feel compelled to write about this many more times. I hope. Be well.

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