What a Nice Surprise!

I recently learned that my brother can sing, which turned out was not a surprise to all my siblings. I think that after we moved, I was pushed out of the loop of some family gossip. I don’t think it was intentional. It just happened. Out of sight, out of mind!

This new discovery happened when I saw a notification that Uncle Dave had just performed on a Facebook Group called Quarantine Karaoke, and when I heard him singing “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” I was shocked. He was really good, and I was happy to see him enjoying himself since his life has been filled with one punch after the other.  It began with the accident that killed his wife, followed by the death of his nephew, and now with his diagnosis of ALS. But here, in that space, he can enjoy himself for a few minutes.

I called Grandma to relay my news, and like me, she did not know about his singing. Now it is possible that she knew but forgot, but I like to tell myself that I am not the only one in the family who was not told this huge piece of family news.

I explained to her what karaoke is, but I don’t know if she really understood the concept. Then this morning, I had a revelation while in the shower. A lot of my best thoughts happen there. I recalled the sleepovers at my grandmother’s house when we would play with her underarm flab, tweeze the hair off of her upper lip, and watch Sing Along with Mitch.

As I told you in Sleepovers at Grandma’s House, someone would sing a song, and just like in karaoke, the words would appear at the bottom of the television screen so his viewers could all “sing along with Mitch.” Looking back on that show I now realize that Mitch Miller was the creator of karaoke.  Check it out: Sing along with Mitch. 

I can’t wait to discuss this with Grandma today.

He’s No Spring Chicken but….

We had another playdate with the kiddies, an event that I cherish because I know that the chance always exists that the coronavirus may result in losing those visits again. Each time one of us ventures away from our homes, we discuss our movements and decide if the activity requires a quarantine from our two families again.

Our visit was primarily indoors because it had been rainy, so after some marble races, bed making, and a few rounds of Mancala, it was time for another round of indoor miniature golf. (Remember how we played in January.  Fore !) Bryce went to work in the dining room while Dad took a quick nap. He had awoken before 4:00 am that day so he needed to close his eyes for a few minutes.

The holes consisted of a few chairs, boxes, a rolled up drawing, and a couple of placemats. I practiced with the kids until it was time to wake up. When it was Dad’s turn (he thought) to try it out, he grabbed the putter but was stopped dead in his tracks when Bryce said so innocently, “You should skip this hole, Bampa. You are too old.”

What an incentive that statement was! Daddy lined up the shot and took a swing. Aha! It was a hole in one! So much for old age.

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!

Preschool Sadness

It is difficult being a young social butterfly during a pandemic. For those of us who enjoy our solitude and have plenty of projects to keep us busy, it has not been too difficult. However, when you are either too young to understand or perhaps older, with dementia issues, this has been a particularly trying time.

How do you explain to a preschooler, filled with energy and love, that she cannot see her best friend or hug her grandparents? How do you really make her understand why she can no longer have playdates or go to school?

There has been talk of opening schools, perhaps with desks spread out more to maintain our social distance and requiring everyone to wear masks. Is that realistic in classrooms with space challenges, and is that possible with very young children whose modus operandi is spontaneity. Can you really stop that energy?

I have seen young children in China wearing masks. I even saw two little boys running joyfully towards each other, with their arms outspread in anticipation of a hug, after being separated from each other for months. But in China, masks have been commonplace for a long time, unlike here in the United States.

This will be a challenge, and I hope the sadness these little ones are experiencing will not last for long. It was interesting, after hearing about these feelings of depression in the young, that I opened up my news app today to read a story titled “How Parents Can Protect Kids’ Mental Health during the Pandemic.”

I guess a lot of people are having these concerns.

http://bit.ly/2fzdKPK

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!

 Sincerely,

Karen B.

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

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

 

 

 

History Repeats with our Pandemic

I speak with Grandma every day. We just completed another family Zoom session with her. She is quiet, so we are trying to keep her engaged. Today I reminded her of the time her mother was quarantined around the time of the Flu Epidemic of 1918, which has been in the news so much these days.

Her father had recently died, and my grandfather had been called into service in World War I. My aunt believed all this sadness affected my grandmother’s health so she lost a lot of weight. The doctors at her job examined her and diagnosed her with “suspicious tuberculosis,” so they sent her to the company sanitarium in upstate New York. She spent six months there and then was permitted to return home. It was difficult, though, because like the asymptomatic coronavirus patients, Grandma felt fine.

She did not have the Internet to entertain her with Facebook Quarantine Karaoke or Facetime, Google Hangout (which I still have not figured out), or Zoom to keep her in touch with her mom like we do. All she had were letters home to her family, so I can’t complain.

When she finally was released, she was surprised to learn about the friends who were lost to the flu. Her mother did not have the heart to inform her of these losses via a letter.

I hope it is not six months for us, but if it is, perhaps we really will get a summer reprieve!