Tag Archives: shelter-in-place

Isolation: “Its Like Forever Only Much Shorter”

I’ve never understood how people who once loved and cared about each other can not merely drift apart (which is far more normal than we think) but who end up hating each other. In my early twenties, somewhere around 1969 (I think) I had been living in Berzerkely and wasn’t taking very good care of myself. I became very ill with a form of asthma. I ultimately decided—thanks to the I Ching; the Chinese Book of Changes—to return to Los Angeles and get medical help. I don’t quite remember how I met Susan, but we ended up living together and she literally nursed me back to health. Our relationship didn’t last that long, mostly due to my being an asshole, but we’ve remained friends over the years; perhaps because we shared a lot of the same friends. Susan Marlow is her name, and she sent me this short essay, which I want to share. Self-isolation, social-distancing, shelter-in-place, whatever we’re calling it . . . seems to be fueling some interesting creativity and innovation. I’m happy to share it.

PS – Thank you, Sue . . . for this and, especially, for taking care of me way back in the wayback machine. I’ve long regretted how I acted back then, but I’m pleased we both went on to have wonderful, interesting, and fulfilling lives and that we remained friends. Hopefully, we’ve got another decade or two to enjoy . . . once this is behind us.


by Susan Marlow – 26 March 2020

I am finding this Covid-19 isolation, while mostly strange, not entirely unpleasant. The disease has me frightened. It is such an unknown and one that I want to keep that way.  Yet clouds can be fluffy and white and pretty or dark and sullen. They bring us rain which cleans and they filter and cool the heat.  So too has this isolation that we are living through brought some very interesting and beneficial changes for us all.

“This too shall pass” and “That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” are my favorite quotes. And perhaps that is what is happening.  I actually do not mind being home I am not bored. I have oodles of half baked ideas and partially concocted schemes that I can pick up and play with.  Who knows I might finish the knitting project, or begin my composting and renewed vegetable and flower garden. The composter has been ordered through amazon prime.  I have learned to order household items to avoid shopping. My pointer finger is getting stronger, as I push those order buttons. With each boxed item it’s a bit like Christmas.  

Learning to Cope

I have gone into the garden to collect worms for the composter.  They are busy I hope eating what is in their temporary home. Now I’ve read that there are specific worms that are better than the garden variety.  Wouldn’t you know it there are designer worms available on line 1000 per pack.

I am not much of a cook and my husband (the cook) has grown tired.  His meals are not so exciting after 37 years. So we joined a meal delivery service.  The food comes fresh and ready to prepare with complete instructions. Surprisingly it is a lot of work but very tasty.  My back aches as I stand by the sink cutting chopping and stirring. So I prep the meal early allowing myself time to rest.  Then maybe 2 hours later together we finish. It’s become a very nice, even anticipated activity for the two of us. Time is not of the essence anymore or maybe it is but there is a lot of it to spread about. We don’t have anything to argue about and we are able to laugh at ourselves quite a bit.  I like that part the best.

I should tell you that I have actually been in semi isolation since 2/27 so I consider myself the expert.  I love the quiet streets which remind me of my childhood where a kid could safely ride a bicycle at break neck speed  down a hill across a residential street without much chance of getting creamed unless you hit a pothole and there were fewer potholes back then as there was less slurry, trees were younger and their roots had not yet begun to encroach.  People are out walking cranky children or happy dogs. We are walking Peanuts twice a day and he is now a very happy doggy. We waive at our neighbors most of whom we have never even met. Hundreds of bees are darting to and fro through rain soaked flower beds.  

Maybe people will once again remember how nice this all is and make the necessary changes to keep it that way once this crisis passes.

The amount of world nastiness seems to be reduced.  Everyone seems to be getting the message that we are all in this together.  Borders, walls, languages will not protect us. Jobs have changed and are still changing.  Many types of employment never to be seen again or never seen before. Creativity is running high.  California needs ventilators and someone is crafting them on 3D printers. 

My husband and I seem to be getting along better than ever which amazes me.  We treasure humor and stuff that makes us giggle a bit.  I am checking on friends whom I rarely see.  Despite our limits we are finding common concerns. People are caring for each other even at a distance which I find nothing short of magical. The  meanness that Trump fostered has finally been challenged by something far bigger than that “Stable genius.” He can not buy it, sell it, hide from it, or manipulate it.   Nevertheless, I know he tries.

I am learning more about myself.  I’ve been sequestered for a month now.  I can withstand a fair amount of isolation from others. But I can not stand our 24 hour news cycle. Our TV isn’t going on until 5:00.  

I am finding that when I casually throw out “I love you,” I really do.  I mean it. Likewise, the kiss throwing emojis have sincere meaning to me now.

And so to all my essay girls and guys—stay safe.

🥰      


Social Separation – Day 10?

I’m not sure when we decided it was best to lock-down the ol’ homestead, but I think it was prior to the entire State of California doing so. I know it was before my County’s (Ventura) Health Dept. ordered our current lock-down and shelter-in-place restrictions. My City of Simi Valley was slow on the uptake, (at least in part) because most of the City’s “leaders” are very conservative Republicans and, no doubt, they believed Trump when he declared this a hoax. While it’s too early to draw any serious conclusions from what little data is available, according to VC Emergency, Simi Valley (population 125,851) has over twice the cases of both of the two largest cities in the County: Oxnard (population 209,877); and Thousand Oaks (population 127,690.)

Clear Evidence We’re Winning The Race To The Bottom, And Why You Need To Stay Indoors.

In the last 10 days I’ve been out of the house to shop for groceries three times. All three were after stores had announced special early hours for folks over 65 years old (I’m nearly 73), those with comorbidities (I have several) or whose immune systems are compromised, and pregnant women.

My first trip was to The Grocery Outlet, a store that specializes in purchasing closeouts. I wasn’t looking for anything other than fresh fruit and milk. There was very little, though I did manage to get two half pints of lowfat milk. I purchased a few canned items as long as I was there. They’ve got pineapple chunks for $0.99/can, which I consider a great deal and which is half the ingredients in one of my favorite comfort foods.

My second trip was to Vons, again early in the morning. They are opened from 7:00 am to 9:00 exclusively for the above-mentioned classes of people. It was pretty crowded, but I was able to shop for everything I needed (except eggs) and stay at least six feet apart from other folk. Even in the checkout lines, everyone was maintaining their distance, so it appeared a little busier than it would normally. That was last Thursday, I believe.

My third and final trip was to Trader Joe’s, this past Monday. They don’t open until 9:00 and, until 10:00, they have two lines form from the entrance. One line is for the same classes of people as the other stores, and the second one is for everyone else. They only allow 20 people in the store at a time and, when it’s time to usher them in, they merge both lines like traffic is supposed to merge onto the freeway or from two lanes to one. They also hand each person a disinfectant wipe, which I was quite glad for as I was a bit concerned about having touched the handle of the cart I was using, I don’t wear gloves, but I’m scrupulous about not touching my face with my hands until I return home and wash them thoroughly.

The store was better stocked than I had ever seen it in my over twenty years here. Since there weren’t too many people inside, it was easy to avoid getting close to others. I was able to purchase everything on my list, including eggs! Checkout was fast since it was hardly crowded. I remarked to the guy who checked me out how fully stocked the store was and he said they had just received the first order they actually requested. Up until that order, they were merely accepting whatever the warehouse sent to them.

So . . . that’s about the extent of my forays out into the world in the past ten or so days. I also participated in an interesting Zoom chat with a friend in France, which included several others from different parts of the world. We were discussing the new world of virtual working, something I had introduced to Rocketdyne well over a decade ago and which, unfortunately, had never caught on to the extent it is now necessary. It was an interesting and calming experience.

I’m not planning on going out again for at least another four or five days. I’d like to make it a week before returning, but we may run out of eggs before next Monday.

One last thing; I wonder how many others have experienced the same thing. As a family, our grocery shopping habits have always been pretty ad hoc; that is, we make lists, but we go shopping sporadically. Sometimes we might not go for a few days and others we might go every day for several days in a row. We shop at Costco, Vons, Trader Joe’s, The Grocery Outlet, Sprouts, and others, keeping separate lists for the things we need from each of them (though a couple are at least partially interchangeable.)

We can’t do that any longer. We’re changing our habits so we can shop for a week at one place and at one visit. This has not been our MO, and I find myself struggling a little bit. I am thankful to live where we do, as there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of anything other than paper goods (TP and PT) which people (er . . . I mean idiots) have been hoarding. Fortunately for us, we buy those things at Costco and normally have at least a month’s supply out in the garage.

Also, many people have offered to shop for us and I’m considering taking one of them up on their generosity. What’s holding me back is my feeling that there’s no reason for them to expose themselves. Although I’m older and somewhat compromised, there’s no guarantee they won’t get sick and, from what I’ve read, even those who recover and never require intubation, there may be significant, residual, life-long diminution of lung function. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.


12 Museums From Around the World That You Can Visit Virtually

So . . . looks like we’re all going to be confined to our houses, apartments, or wherever we’re lucky enough to have a place to rest our weary bones, much longer than we’ve ever had to hunker down before. I came across this link and thought I would share, as well as memorialize it for my own use as I attempt to entertain myself and my children. Enjoy!


Google Arts & Culture teamed up with over 500 museums and galleries around the world to bring anyone and everyone virtual tours and online exhibits of some of the most famous museums around the world. Here’s a link to 12 of them.

12 Museums from around the world you can visit virtually


Martial Law or Cocooning?

A deserted Harvard Square

Twitter pic of Harvard Square

“It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.” — John Philpot Curran

I came across an interesting blog post via my Facebook feed today. It’s a personal account of one man’s experiences and some of his thoughts during the Boston bombing and manhunt. The author, Phil Johnson, discusses a few interesting issues, the first of which is the contradictory feelings one has when simultaneously feeling relief you or your friends weren’t affecting by a tragic event, while knowing full-well others have been devastated. He concludes “You can’t really call that luck”, and I agree. It is the dialectic of life, the yin yang of our existence, karma. Poorly understood, I think it leads some to conclude life is a zero-sum game.

He goes on to explain his mental journey from envisioning the perpetrators (especially after seeing a picture of the younger brother, Dzhokhar) as “pure evil” to reading an innocuous tweet of his and thinking “What could be more human that that?” As one who generally believes people are complex and capable of both great good and despicable evil, I found this revelation interesting and somewhat instructive, but hardly new or particularly revealing.

There is one thing he writes about that got my attention, though. Keep in mind I’ve read a lot of personal accounts of the bombing and subsequent activities (you probably have too), so it’s not that I’m dismissive of the personal tragedies experienced. It’s just that this particular issue that kind of lept out at me is something many thoughtful people are discussing, though usually in a slightly different direction than I gleaned from this tidbit. Here’s his paragraph:

“Throughout the day I jumped between Twitter, Reddit, the Boston Globe, and local TV for news. Jeremiah, a PJA developer, wrote a blog post about how social media gave us all our own private situation rooms from which to monitor events, something totally absent during the events of 9/11, when we were still dependent on the mainstream media.”

There are, it seems to me, a whole bunch of important issues contained in this paragraph. One of them is the way our consumption and processing of news and information is being transformed by social media (further encouraged by the alternate realities of the incompetence and disingenuousness of the MSM). In case you didn’t click on the link in the quote of his I’ve provided, consider this other blog post written by a colleague who discusses the communication differences between 9/11 and the five days between April 15 and 19, which I think are truly profound.

However, what I find of greatest interest is sussing out the implications (if any) of the entire City “sheltering-in-place” during the manhunt. I’m not entirely certain how I feel about it. On the one hand, for the period of time everyone was confined to their homes a heavily militarized police force had complete control of the City streets. On the other hand, the people of Boston, Watertown, etc. seemed quite willing to forego a little bit of freedom to expedite the search for a perpetrator they wanted to be caught. So, is their willingness a product of a situation in which most everyone was on the same page regarding the desired outcome, or is it an indication our citizenry is slowly giving control of the streets to law enforcement? Furthermore, is this a good thing or is it something more sinister and less-than-benign?

Some may argue it’s “unpatriotic”, perhaps cynical, of me to question what seems to have been a salutary outcome. However, I’ve never been one to believe the end justifies the means. This is one reason due process of  law is so important in this country. It provides, theoretically, a means to ensure all are treated fairly. As well, it’s hard to be sanguine in the face of the possibility we are slowly giving way to the transformation of our nation into a police state. At the pace I’m envisioning, most would not notice and, once in place, would be difficult to convince it had happened. I don’t have a good answer to these questions. Neither do I wish to be paranoid. I do, however, want to explore the implications further. I would like to see others do the same.


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