MY LIFE – Sheltering in place

MY LIFE – Sheltering in place

Where to even begin?

Long story short, just to put it all in perspective, the first case of the coronavirus in this country was diagnosed in January and brushed off as of little concern. “No worse than the flu already going around,” they told us. Any voiced concerns to the contrary were dismissed or laughed down.

Fast forward to the end of February, beginning of March as the cases multiplied and people died, and even then, as many of us began to worry out loud, we were still being assured against all evidence to the contrary that it was pretty much a tempest in a teapot being hyped by the Democrats and the fake news.

Three weeks ago, on the advice of my daughter, I headed out first thing one morning and did some shopping. Not hoarding. Just stocking up against what was increasingly looking like a storm of possibly mammoth proportions approaching us from China.

Medications that we depended heavily upon China for were first on my list, followed by what I referred to as survivalist foods, meaning non-perishables not normally found in my pantry. Things I might need to rely on should things get really bad. For example, if I might need to hunker down indoors and/or if the stores might be forced to close or if supplies became scarce.

Like I said, no hoarding, just basics, like a couple cans of spaghetti and meatballs, powdered milk, two or three cans of pasta sauce and a box or two of elbow macaroni, and extra flour and yeast to see me through should I run out of bread. I later added ramen noodles, a fresh jar of peanut butter since I was down to less than half a jar anyway, things like that. Oh, and a six-pack of toilet paper because you never know.

Long story short, my emergency food supply now sits in three small plastic supermarket bags in the back hall right by the kitchen door.

Also part of the same “long story short,” upon the current recommendation of experts everywhere, I have placed myself in the “sheltering in place” mode.

I am now pretty much safely tucked away in my home. I have only ventured out into the world twice, both times at the crack of dawn when almost no one else was about, to pick up fresh milk, fresh fruit, and fresh meat while I still could, including the two boneless spare ribs I am looking forward to oven-barbecuing for dinner later today.

I’m also glad now that I bought a box of disposable gloves a few months ago, because right now I wouldn’t leave home without them. I put on a pair before I go and take them off when I return, and I keep a few spares in the car, too, just in case. It’s all about keeping myself safe. Remember the whole “shovel-ready grandma” thing the Tea Party liked to talk about a few years back? Well I find myself in that dangerous age bracket now, but to tell you the truth, I’d prefer that the shovel not be deployed just yet.

And yes, I am washing and washing my hands. I have a plentiful supply of Dial antibacterial bar soap to keep the germs at bay, and an industrial-size jug of Eucerin hand cream to help keep the skin smooth and healthy.

Social animal that I am, living the life of a hermit takes some getting used to (hence the two early morning shopping runs). I am adjusting to life in the slow lane, but I don’t know what I would do without my books. A bookworm all my life, I am enjoying being able to lose myself in a book for hours on end, and fortunately, my supply at hand is unbelievably good. The day before lockdown I was at Barnes and Noble for my regular weekend browse and came home with three new books, two of which I have already read and passed along. I am now halfway through the one I was saving for dessert, a New York Times bestseller titled “The Giver of Stars,” and I still have at least another dozen-and-a-half waiting in the wings.

There have, of course, been a few disappointments along the way.

The March 13 church-sponsored trip to the MGM Casino in Springfield, Mass., that my friend Terry and I had so been looking forward to, went on without either of us on board. A long ride on a packed bus just didn’t seem at all prudent given the coronavirus risk involved so we bagged it.

Tickets to the much anticipated new Broadway play, “Mrs. Doubtfire,” on March 31 have also been a bust. All of Broadway has been shut down until at least April. We will no doubt see it at a later date, but still …

And last but certainly not least, our trip to Normandy is now toast. It wasn’t until June, but with all the uncertainty about the spread of the virus, and the international flight and all, after much thought we decided to cancel. We can always try again later.

On a more serious note, please keep our health care people in your prayers. The storm that had been gathering since January (yes, dammit, January) has still not even crested yet, but because of ineptitude, inactivity, and criminal stupidity on the part of our federal government, our medical people have been put at grave risk, out there in the trenches doing battle without the basic equipment needed to keep themselves safe. Critical shortages of masks, gloves, gowns, and eye shields persist. With nowhere near enough test kits, they are working blind with no idea who the carriers even are. And with only a fraction of the ventilators projected to be needed, who knows what will happen to the patients they are trying to save.

As a retired RN, I am deeply concerned. And on a personal level, I am terrified. My nephew Frank is an MD, his wife Jamie is an RN and they are both out there in the thick of it.

Rhea Bouchard Powers is a writer from Cumberland.