Pandemic Challenge

“Are you brushing your teeth with that toothpaste,” Dad asked while pointing to the nearly-empty tube of toothpaste. I smiled, and he responded with a mild expletive. He was not happy. I was another step closer to winning our latest pandemic game, which is focused on toothpaste.

Our latest game is similar to the one we played several months ago with toilet paper. In that game, which was made easier because we were able to use separate bathrooms, the goal was to see whose roll of toilet paper would last the longest. Dad won, but that was not surprising because it is a well-known fact that men use less TP than women. I won’t elaborate on the obvious.

During the toothpaste challenge, we are both working on the same tube of toothpaste. The winner is the last one who is able to squeeze that final drop of paste onto their brush. Each day it is getting more and more difficult to fill our toothbrush. We have resorted to flattening the tube and rushing to the bathroom to be the first one to brush our teeth.

I am determined to be the winner.

Not the DMV!

Ever since we left New Jersey, the DMV is not something I think of often. When we moved to North Carolina, we had to get our cars inspected, but that could be done at places such as Jiffy Lube or some gas stations. We only went to the DMV to take get our driver’s licenses when we moved there.

Once we moved on to other southeastern states, we learned that there were no requirements to have our cars inspected. Que sera sera was the motto of Georgia and South Carolina. So I only visited our local Motor Vehicle office to get my license when I moved to the state, to obtain a temporary handicapped sticker after my hip replacement, and to get a Real ID to so I could fly on an airplane without a passport.

So it was a strange situation which brought the DMV to the forefront of my thoughts again. Here’s what happened.

Uncle Dave mailed me some documents, and on Saturday, he called to ask if they had arrived because he got a notification that they had been delivered in the morning. I check the porch, looked in the bushes, and then went to the mailbox, but I found nothing. I called him back and got the tracking number from him, which claimed the envelope had been delivered to a P.O. Box at my local post office at 9:48 am. Well that was certainly interesting because I do not, nor have I ever, had a post office box.

Monday morning I made an inquiry at the post office where the envelope had allegedly been delivered. I waited, and waited, and then was asked if I had one of those clustered mailboxes (no), or if I ever had a P.O. Box. I was told to hold a minute, and I could hear some shuffling around while the number of my house was being discussed.

When the nice post office worker returned to the call, he informed me that the envelope had ended up at the DMV. How interesting! Apparently, this happens frequently enough that the post office routinely receives mail that has been mistakenly delivered to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

My envelope should arrive at my house on Tuesday. Let’s hope so.

Coronavirus Hair- Part 2

Yesterday was another “adventures in covid-19.” I say adventures since we are the lucky ones because our health has not be impacted by this insidious disease. We are only inconvenienced, which is nothing to complain about by no means.

Since the rain had stopped, Dad decided to venture out of our little cocoon of safety in order to visit a new local salon, “Karen’s Kutz.” He heard wonderful comments about the proprietor, aka Mommysmeanderings! So we went out to the patio, where I draped him in an old sheet, and I organized my tools of the trade: a comb, scissors, shaving thingy, a mirror, and a spray bottle of water in case his freshly washed hair began to dry. I think I was much more excited than Dad.

I had prepared by watching several videos for tips on cutting curly male hair. I began by carefully shaving the hair from the back of his neck. “This is fun,” I thought as I then moved onto trimming the hairline. I then grabbed my scissors and moved on to the back of his head, holding Mr. Pointer and Tall Man together to form a line for cutting.

Dad’s curly hair made it both tricky and easy to work with, because while it kept curling as I tried to maintain a straight line, the curliness was hiding any mistakes I might make. Next was the most dangerous part of the job: the hair around his ears. But I was ever so careful, and I am happy to report that I did not do a Van Gough on Daddy’s ears. I snipped and I combed, working from side to side and back to front.

When the job was completed, I gathered the hair clippings to spread over my most deer-eaten plants because I had read somewhere that deer avoid plants surrounded by human hair.

I am happy to report that Dad looks much better, and he even admits that I may have gone too easy in a few places. So when the rain stops today, I hope to encourage him return to Karen’s Kutz for another round!


Coronavirus Hair

Everyone is getting tired with staying inside, getting fed up with seeing few people in person but those in our immediate household, and just a little embarrassed at looking at our multicolored roots and long hair. If you live in my state of South Carolina, that is no longer a problem because we can go to indoor restaurants, gyms, tattoo and massage parlors, pools, barber shops, and hair salons.

My family and friend know that I watch and record the daily data so I will know when I am comfortable venturing out, particularly to get my hair done. Until that time, I had to take matters into my own hands, so in March I purchased a pair of scissors and a box of root touch-up. I also purchased toilet paper at Sams Club. I saw the writing on the wall way back then.

Last month, Dad helped me do my roots, but one box was not enough because there was a lot of work to be done. So with two boxes in hand, I donned an old shirt that was headed to clothing recycling and then mixed up the magic potion. I took care of what I could do on my own with the gray hairs I could see and then handed dad the brush. (This is called trust because he was working out of eyeshot.)

He painted away, and every so often I heard him exclaim, “Oh, wow!” as he discovered how bad it really was. I was not happy with his little comments. We all know that he has lost much of the hair on the crown of his head, but he has somehow managed to maintain a lot of his original brown hair. (I would rather have gray than none!) He also commented that he could understand why it costs too much because it is not an easy job if done well.

Anyway, when he was done, I rinsed, conditioned and dried, and voila! It looked great. Dad’s response: “You owe me $100.”

Ee I Ee I O!

I have not written for a few weeks because, as it turns out, staying at home during this pandemic has kept me busier than I had anticipated. We are cooking more and experimenting with more recipes based upon what food is on hand, talking on the phone to friends and family much more than before, gathering and graphing data of daily Covid-19 cases (that’s the mathematician in me), and learning how to farm from inside our home.

My jalapeno pepper plant that I saved last year from the deer attack produced peppers throughout the winter while nestled in the pot near my kitchen window. Now it’s beginning to flower again and produce a new round of peppers. Hello Mexican night!

My Instacart shopper brought me home a sad-looking, wilted basil plant, but with a little tender loving care I was able to revive it and am almost ready for my famous red pepper and basil pasta sauce.

I am also watching the pot out in the yard, where I threw a package of basil seeds several weeks ago and am now beginning to notice a few small leaves peeking out of the soil.

Now to the really fun plants. I learned that you can purchase a bunch of scallions and then regrow them by placing the white stems in a glass of water, and if successful, you never have to buy another bunch ever again!

After watching those green onions grow, I went to the good old Google machine and searched for other edibles that can be regrown from scraps and low and behold, I learned I could grow my own Romaine lettuce. I admit I am not a huge fan of Romaine. I prefer spinach leaves in my salad, but this sounded intriguing so I decided to give it a whirl.

I retrieved the bottom of the plant that Dad had just thrown in the garbage . It was inside a bag so it was not yuckily (is that a word?) covered with food garbage, and I placed it inside a wide glass filled with just an inch of water.


This process allegedly takes about 10 days, and then it’s time to move it to a pot of dirt. So let’s see what happens. I will let you know.

Until then, goodbye from Old McMommy!

You Want to Give me What?

Each of us in our immediate family has begun to dip our toes in having our food delivered. I know we are lucky that we have been able to do so, and each of us has our own reasons for not venturing out into the grocery stores. I am grateful to the people who have shopped for us because they, like our doctors, nurses, and first responders are also heroes in our Covid-19 world. As I mentioned recently, this point was highlighted in an emotional news segment in which a mother wept as she spoke of her daughter—a grocery store worker—who had lost her life by simply doing her job.

Today I am writing about some of the laughs Dad and I have had while putting together our shopping lists, because these days, we all need to smile about something. For those of you who have not yet experienced home food delivery, I want to explain a little about how it works.

For us, we have used the Instacart App, which enable us to have our food delivered from Publix, Kroger, Sam’s Club, Costco, and CVS. The stores vary according to where you live. Since Dad is our family shopper, he has been developing a list and adding items before they are needed. The app informs him whether an item is available, and if not, it offers him a substitute. This is where the fun begins.

When he decided to cook some Mexican dinners, he added low carb tortillas to the list. The replacement was a fun alternative, but it did not fit in with his dinner plans. He was offered Breyers carb smart ice cream.

A Mexican dinner is not complete without some cheese, but when that was unavailable, Instacart’s response was a choice of Genoa salami or turmeric chili matcha green tea. The tea is allegedly full of antioxidants and is said to energize your body, but will it melt on my burrito? I don’t think so.

While we are still not needy in the toilet paper department, Dad is still on the lookout because he does not want to wait until the last moment. When he recently asked for the heavily desired bathroom product, he was told that he could have Reynolds wrap instead. Now there is no way in hell that anyone can convince me that this will work.

I can’t wait until he works on the next list!


What’s Next

Each day the Covid-19 cases and deaths grow, and as a mathematician, I can’t help but look at the numbers, update my own statewide charts, and make my own predictions despite knowing that the data is inaccurate. As an example, in my state, the reported cases were 2,792 yesterday, while the possible cases are estimated to be as high as 19,476. That is a difference of sevenfold!

Dad and I are personally remaining at home except for our evening walks, but I worry about what will happen on Sunday because religious services are not banned here in South Carolina. The changes by our governor are just recommendations rather than mandates. Is he kidding?!

“I can’t speak for other governors but this governor is not going to intrude on the First Amendment. That is an absolute right. We are encouraging pastors and others and any house of worship and any congregation of any kind to use social distancing. That is go online.”

Governor McMaster encourages churches to “keep doing it that way or have the service outside with social distancing or if you must have a congregation under a roof then use that social distancing. But that First Amendment right is very important, just like the others. We are respecting that.”

I have tried to find the humor in how we are all living under the order to remain at home, because if I don’t, I will do nothing but cry all day. But it is hard not to do so as I talk to Grandma and know how sad she is to be unable to have her regular Saturday visits with Aunt El and daily drop-ins by Aunt Ar.

I watch the pleas of our hospital personnel around the country, and yesterday I cried along with a newscaster as she spoke with a woman who had lost a daughter with cerebral palsy who had been working as a grocery clerk.

We get daily updates from my friend who was finally feeling well enough to drive herself to be tested even though she is still ill.  I worry about Uncle Dave, who is at the beginning stages of ALS and is now sick with what he believes is the flu. Last night he needed some Tylenol for his headache and something to help with his nasal congestion, but he could not climb the stairs to get his medicine. That makes me so sad and angry.  I am trying from afar to convince him to get tested, because his lungs are still strong and he may need medical intervention to help them remain strong.

I fear that Trump will open up businesses, and while many governors will disagree, I know that mine will not be among them, so Mark will return to work. As a result, Dad and I will not be able to interact with the grandkids for a very, very long time. While our two families have been maintaining our social distancing, we have been hanging on to the hope that we will soon be permitted to get together. But a back-to-work order will ruin that dream.

What will happen next?


The Elderly Will Get This

Now that we are following the latest “suggestion” of remaining at home until the end of this next month (I am a rule follower for the most part), I am adjusting to this new world by having my groceries delivered to my home. I was excited to learn of a family connection to a fresh vegetable dealer at a nearby farmer’s market. (Is this the same feeling of euphoria one has after scoring drugs?)  After paying with cash the first week, I decided I would follow the lead of one of my kids by installing the Venmo App.

For anyone ancient like me, let me tell you that it is a way to pay for items digitally, which I finally decided would be safer for my vegetable dealer even though she assured me that she has no problem with cash.

I spent too much time the other day trying to install Venmo on my IPhone, so I sent a note to the Venmo help desk. I received a list of six suggestions. I tried all but the most drastic measure, which was to restore my phone to its original factory settings. I finally gave up and sent my Venmo customer support person the following Goodbye Jocelyn email:

Hi Jocelyn.

 I tried all your suggestions except restoring my phone. That is not happening! I do not want to spend any more time on this project by doing that and then lose all my apps, contacts, etc. 

Being someone not willing to give up without a fight, I then tried to install the Venmo app on my IPad, but I had the same problem. It gets stuck after “click next to complete linking to bank” when I tried to add a bank account.

I did not want to do this from the start, but my children made me feel old for not having the latest app. I guess I can’t blame them, because I am sure I rolled my eyes when my parents got stuck in the past.

On top of being made to feel old by my adult children, I recently learned that our government considers me elderly and in need of extra precautions even though I am not on Medicare yet unless Bernie claims victory and convinces the world that he was correct all along.

So I will go back to doing what apparently is the way to pay for things by elderly people, but in this time of worrying about glitter-sized coronavirus germs, I will wipe down my cash with hard-to-get antibacterial wipes before paying the very nice woman who is getting me fresh veggie at the local famer’s market and hope she stays virus-free.

Now I have the remainder of the afternoon to settle down in my rocking chair with my latest book before my next Zoom session with my truly elderly mother.

Thank you for taking the time to try to help me, Jocelyn.

 So long Venmo and back to the days of yore when everyone used plain old cash!


Karen B.

“Elderly” mother, grandmother, and generally-good-with-technology citizen

  And that, my friends and dear family, is a wrap!




Our New World

We are currently living in a whole new world. We are scrambling for toilet paper, washing our hands until they are raw, isolating ourselves from our loved ones, learning how to homeschool our children, and having food delivered to our homes.

I am slightly ahead of the panic, because I purchased our toilet paper on March 9, when there were just 566 confirmed cases in the United States and 7 in my state. World Market closed its doors at the shopping center near me in December, so I was able to stock up on wine at 50% off. That was a particularly good score!

Dad ordered disposable gloves the day before we got our supply of toilet paper, and on March 11, we went to a restaurant where we ate in for the last time. We were a little nervous, but not everyone at our table was anxious. The proposed restrictions of March Madness was a hot topic of opposing views. The tournament was canceled the following day.

Since then, we began to get more cautious. I picked up a book from the library the day before it closed, and we got take-out from our favorite Asian restaurant. Dad had his gloves on when he picked up the order.

Our town was not so concerned, since it permitted a rib cook-off in the local park on March 14—an event which drew 2500-3000 not-so-concerned residents. I was furious when I saw videos of people eating their ribs with their hands and then grabbing the communal containers of barbecue sauce. But our state epidemiologist said, “There is no need to cancel public events.” Hmm! Will our state have an uptick in cases traced back to the event? We will never know, because it appears our state is not tracing the trail. There were 2800 positives and 58 deaths  in our country the day of the barbecue.

Obtaining groceries in a coronavirus world is different. During our final visit to the grocery store, we both wore our gloves and we maintained our social distance, something that was not the order of the day on March 17. On that day, there had been only 33 positives and 1 death in South Carolina, but nationally, there were 4500 positives and 88 deaths.

We visited with the kids several times through the window, once at our house and a few times at theirs. It was both fun and extremely sad. We threw leftover bags of Halloween M&Ms out the window to them, but Lily cried because she wanted to come inside. Bryce had to pee, so our plants got fertilized.

I hate this, but this is what we need to do for now. For Dad and me, we are not working in a hospital like my sister, we have a roof over our heads, and plenty of food and TP. While we miss you all and are disappointed that our trips to visit each other have been postponed, we really cannot complain. We will just continue to hide from the world until it’s safe to come out again.

A Wholel New World





They Are Talking About Me!!

After receiving my Medicare card, I thought that was the final nail in my “you are officially old coffin,” but I was wrong. With all the talk about the mysterious coronavirus infecting people on every continent but Antarctica, I started researching who is vulnerable.  I breathed a sigh of relief when I read that “the coronavirus outbreak is getting worse and warned elderly and sick people to avoid traveling or circulating in crowds.”

Well, that’s certainly not me, so I can just get on with my life while at the same time follow safe practices such as diligently washing my hands more often and for twenty seconds and fist or elbow bump rather than shake hands. Then I read that the U.S. Surgeon, General Jerome Adams, emphasized that people over sixty years old are the most at risk from coronavirus. By the transitive property, I realized that I AM ELDERLY! OMG!!

I called Grandma and informed her that her two first-born children are now in the elderly population. She responded, “Then I guess that means I must be ancient!”

I was not prepared for this shocking revelation.