Tag Archives: Quarantine

“I’m Bored”

Years ago, my children learned those two words resulted in a fate worse than death.

My standard reply: “Here’s a scrub brush and bucket. When you finish washing the house, you can start on the street.”

Since COVID-19, however, my attitude has softened. Don’t tell my kids, but even I occasionally suffer from ennui.

Social media overachievers hasten to inspire me. They play board games as a family, with a minimum of bloodshed. They are pulling high school band instruments off the closet’s top shelf and practicing “Waltzing Matilda” with 500 other old band kids in Australia.

Workaholics are learning new languages, ballroom dancing and 100 ways to cook with vindaloo curry. They are painting bathrooms and portraits, creating life-sized origami NBA players. Some not only have finished Christmas shopping, but also have baked 19 fruitcakes apiece. Beware.

Some even (gasp!) clean.

The antidote for such pathological behavior, as many on the Internet have discovered, comprises consistent doses of nonproductivity. In a noble effort to help save quarantined humanity, I offer the following suggestions:

  • Count the holes in a box of crackers. Hurry, before they, like every other scrap of food in the house, disappear.
  • Teach social distancing to your goldfish.
  • Practice the polka. You know you always wanted to learn.
  • Recall your childhood paper airplane expertise. Fly a squadron late at night or early in the morning, when they’re trying to sleep.
  • Per video call, lecture children/grandchildren on the concepts of “rad” and “groovy.” If they close the connection, educate your cats.
  • Steal one piece from every puzzle in the house. However, if you share isolation with a puzzle addict, I do not advise this unless you have made all your final arrangements.
  • Ask your GPS for directions to Pluto. And no, Pluto, Mississippi, doesn’t count.
  • Practice mastodon mating calls on a garden hose. Believe me, this works. Years ago, when I was working nights and sleeping days, a visiting family’s seven-year-old treated me to an hour’s demonstration.
  • Debate the actual color of taupe.
  • Count the pens in your house that don’t work. Multiply by 23 and divide by 9. No reason. Just do it.
  • The walls may be shaking as your teens play a favorite song for the 41st time. But take heart. Knowing the words and music(?) so well, you can perform it for their viewing/listening pleasure. Then post the video on YouTube.

You can even project your concert on a giant outdoor screen.

Then your kids won’t become bored while they’re scrubbing the house.

And the street.

And the nearest water tower. …

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How have you and your family fought quarantine boredom?

First Bike Ride

Each year, taking our first tandem bike ride, Hubby and I huff, puff and yell at each other to keep pedaling — and that’s just getting out of the driveway.

In spring 2019, however, we had put on major pounds. Dogs that normally pursued our bicycle built for two didn’t bother. Their snores said, “I’d get more challenge out of chasing a parked car.”

Spring 2020, we decided, would be different. Or did Hubby decide? Whatever — I admit all those stay-sane-during-quarantine walks made us fit and ready to ride.

Hubby services and washes the bikes. Buys new helmets. Fires up his cyclocomputer that records mileage, speed, and number of bugs encountered and swallowed.

Despite lighter traffic than usual, we face certain risks. The above-mentioned dogs might supplement their diets with an ankle or two. Some drivers believe bikes are imaginary.  Occasionally, a crazed farmer tries to flatten us with his field planter. Maybe his girlfriend named Daisy dumped him, and he’s hated bicycles built for two ever since.

Still, Hubby and I take to the road.

As we pedal out of town, Hubby supplies most of the power. He also steers, changes gears, brakes, and does maintenance.

Me? As we approach stop signs, I proudly exhibit an innovation: hand signals. Correct, most of the time.

Impressed? Hey, I fill water bottles, too.

Zooming along Hoosier country roads, we spot landscape changes. A new house has sprouted. Young trees have grown. On the familiar route, I notice one homeowner’s switch from planting red geraniums to peach-colored.

“It’s great to be on the bike again,” I yell.

Hubby nods, mostly to keep bug-swallowing statistics low.

After several miles, though, a repressed truth returns full force: we are fit, but that does not mean the bicycle seats fit. A month will pass before our um, muscles, adjust — or total numbness sets in.

Plus, seduced by sunshine on this “perfect bicycling day,” we had ignored the wind’s powerful gusts. With the west wind behind us, we might eat lunch in Pittsburgh.

Then we turned.

Now, with the crosswind, our bike almost flew to Pittsburgh.

Still, even the last gasping miles of our return couldn’t detract from the green rivers’ flowing loveliness. From intoxicating apple blossom and honeysuckle fragrances. From glorious redbuds, as if God had tossed His favorite bouquets to us.

Yes, this first ride is different, and not just because we’re in good physical shape.

In spring 2020, we’re learning to live in the moment. Beauty bursts our hearts with gratitude. We’re extra thankful for health and strength to ride.

More than ever before, we are fit to enjoy it.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you spent more time outside during quarantine?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Missing Church Way Too Much!

O Lord, I thank You that our governor has opened possible ways for Your people to worship in person — though I, past 65, have been strongly advised to stay home. Sigh. OMG, I suppose that lying about my age to go to church isn’t a good idea?

    

Here Comes the Sun

Image by Karsten Paulick from Pixabay.

“Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun.”
                                                —The Beatles

Decades ago, a science book convinced my brother Ned the sun was a star.

I scoffed. How could the big, round, yellow sun and white, diamond-chip stars be one and the same? Anybody with a brain could tell the difference.

Besides, had anybody ever suffered from star burn? Huh? Huh?

Image by Pexels from Pixabay.

Eventually, my teachers forced me to admit Ned was right. However, this April, I find myself playing cynic again. Despite Indiana’s strong evidence to the contrary, scientists insist the sun is still there.

Whether you believe the scientific or my sensible view, one important expectation remains: with May’s imminent arrival, here comes the sun! Let sun rituals begin!

North American ceremonials are less all-encompassing than ancient Aztecs’. They believed they perpetuated the sun by sacrificing human hearts. But we do follow the sun’s dictates year after year — despite protests from dermatologists, who prefer we live in subterranean caves.

Nope. No ritual is more sacred than sunbathing. Women will pay big bucks for the smallest amount of fabric they’ll wear all year, then don cover-ups and hats. When quarantine’s over, we hope to set up beach umbrellas and tents. We’ll slather ourselves and our kids with gallons of sunblock. A fog of its fragrance, similar to fall’s smoke from burning leaves, will fill the land. All to protect ourselves, at any cost, from the sun, for which we have yearned the past six months.

However, that’s not the only odd chemistry set in motion by the sun’s advent.

Grill addicts will barbecue every meal outside, including romaine (which is wrong on so many levels). Picnics will dot the land. Despite sun worship, everyone calls dibs on shady spots.

All part of the love-hate rituals we keep religiously with the sun’s advent.

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay.

We also up our junk food consumption to proper warm-weather levels. Dieticians, citing the availability of fresh produce, delude themselves that we will eat healthy.

Seriously? In six decades, I have yet to encounter a single concession stand that sells carrot sticks. Unless they’re deep-fried. And dipped in chocolate.

Unfortunately, when the sun gleams through dirty windows, we sense a moral obligation to wash them. Our cars, too, as the slush excuse won’t work anymore.

We also fertilize grass we don’t like to mow and bushes we hate to trim as well as plant flowers we hate to weed.

Amazingly, we don’t avoid these rituals. On a lovely spring day, we may even embrace them, because here comes the sun, ready or not!

I think we’re ready.

Even if we get star burn.

Image by jplenio from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite sunny pastime?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Blame It on the Quarantine

O Lord, thank You for brain cells — though they seem to have vanished from our household lately. You know that in our absentmindedness contest, Hubby and I are neck and neck. But OMG, having placed the coffee pot on the Keurig, I think I have the coffee pods’ vote.

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer

Lord, Thank You for the ingenuity that created Skype, Zoom, and other programs so we can connect with family and friends. With classes, churches, and businesses. Yet, in future post-quarantine days, OMG, what will we do when we’re done talking and click accordingly — but those people refuse to go away?    

Wise or Wussy?

In December, we villainize the Grinch, but he’s an angel of light compared to Germ Gremlins, lurking throughout the winter. Eventually, after counterattacks with antibiotics, chicken soup, vitamins, herbs, oils and oatmeal-mud baths, we conquer illness.

Sort of.

Recovering engenders a dilemma almost as uncomfortable as the sickness. Should I return to work? Or continue to nurse my illness at home with medicine and movies?

Our parents’ generation posed one diagnostic question: “Are you breathing?”

If they detected movement of a Vicks®-coated chest, the response never varied: “Get out of that bed, you lazy bum!”

Resistance might result in an employer dragging the unfortunate to work by the toes, à la J.C. Dithers, the comic strip boss of Dagwood Bumstead.

Sometimes a tough stance works. The Greatest Generation accomplished great things.

However, some of that generation also puffed cigarette smoke into kids’ ears to cure earaches.

Today’s extreme critics of the do-while-dying work ethic declare no one should leave home until she/he passes a germ-detector test and submits to a complete-body Lysol® spray.

Perhaps Homeland Security should include such procedures at airports. Sitting by a living petri dish doesn’t exactly ensure safety. Maybe disposable hazmat helmets might be issued on flights?

If an inventor wanted to make big bucks, he might market preschool hazmat suits. Sleep-deprived parents not only would make him a billionaire, but also their patron saint.

Yet medical experts issue warnings about overprotection, lower immune ability and allergies. Attempts to make the Germ Gremlins extinct can backfire.

So how does a person of the Not-So-Great Generation who rejects Gremlin paranoia make the wussy-or-wise decision?

For once, technology proves helpful. Many can work at home until fully well. Opponents protest that this takes all the fun out of being sick. However, the benefit of wearing ratty bathrobes remains.

Still, we must escape quarantine some time. Recovering from flu, Hubby and I craved our church’s spiritual and social encouragement. After service, though, we dashed out the back door to avoid handshakes and hugs.

Wouldn’t a universal “I’m-almost-recovered” wristband come in handy? Then we wouldn’t have to proclaim from the rooftops that we shouldn’t shake hands. That we’ll admire a new baby from afar. That we’ve recently been slimed by sick grandchildren.

Even at the cost of perpetuating Germ Gremlins, we must avoid avoiding others. In John Steinbeck’s 1960s classic, Travels with Charley, he criticized a restaurant that boasted “food untouched by human hands.” Lives untouched by human hands would allow the Gremlins to wreak even worse havoc than the Grinch. We need each other like we need food and water.

I need hugs every single day. Shun family and friends to stay wussy-well?

Not wise.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: When do you choose to return to work?