Life in the Time of Virus Part 1

Today I am both mad as hell and also feeling a bit overwhelmed.  The number of confirmed cases of virus continues to climb in our county, yet I went to the grocery this morning to find people with no masks – both customers and store employees.  I’m feeling overwhelmed because the store looked like a plague of locusts had been there and scarfed down everything in the store.    I was in my mask and my gloves.

I really don’t understand people here.  The governor did not issue a stay at home order until the end of March and then she exempted almost every activity.  Even at that point, my observation was that people were acting like the virus had nothing to do with them.  The town council continued to hold weekly meetings.  People were shopping for clothes and meandering around Walmart.  Certainly no one was concerning themselves with maks or gloves.

The stores ran out of hand sanitizer first, followed quickly by paper products.  Now I can’t even find hand soap.  The stores have no canned or frozen vegetables, sometimes there is no chicken, and as of this morning, there was no produce except a few things here and there.  Yet, on the White House COVID briefing last night, they said that the food chain is secure and there is plenty of food.  I wonder where they are hiding it?  It certainly wasn’t at the Winn Dixie in town or the Publix in Montgomery.

Tuesday, I was out of corn starch.  I went to the Publix in Montgomery and all they had were a few small cans.  So when I went to the Winn Dixie today and found the large containers that I usually buy, I bought 2.  That’s what leads to food hoarding – I tend to overbuy when I see something I use, because I worry it won’t be there when I need it again.  It appears that milk and milk products are also in short supply.  Is this because the farmers are dumping milk?   So again, when I found 2 containers of fat free milk, I bought both, but really only needed one.

I’m not a hoarder by nature.  It surprises me to see that all of my freezers are filled with food.  My grandmother raised a family through the depression, so I know how to create meals with cheap cuts of meat and pantry items.  Funny, I don’t remember her actually teaching me this, but then I have seen her feed a lot of people with just what happened to be in her pantry.   Right now, my pantry is full, but then I tend to buy quite a bit under normal circumsances to have on hand.  Sometimes living in a rural area that is a ways out of town makes you think ahead.

I notice that the price of groceries is going up every week.  It makes me wonder if it is a matter of supply and demand, or just that the grocery stores, that normally operate on a slim profit margin are taking advantage.  If not the store that are taking advantage, then perhaps the suppliers are.  But there will come a point, with so many people out of work that people won’t be able to buy anymore, and the suppliers may find themselves with product they can’t sell.

Last night I felt really overwhelmed.  I couldn’t find any masks to buy and my current N-95 is getting messy.  My dog seemed like she wasn’t feeling well, and I started to panic about that.  She is afraid of the vet and will not do anything they want her to do, unless I accompany her.  I had visions of having to drop her off to get Xrays and her being afraid, because our vet is only offering curb service.  The news was talking about having to deal with the virus not only for the remainder of this year but into 2021.  I’ve already watched our investments fall and I have thanked God that we don’t need them to live on, at least not yet.  I find that with too much time on my hands, I worry about things that I cannot control.  Even though I know better, my mind just goes there.

With the sunshine this morning, I am able to push away all the negative thoughts.  I won’t turn on the news, because it is the source for anxiety.  I’ll be like Scarlett O’Hara, and think about it all tomorrow.

Until next time, Elsie



A Country without Self Discipline

I have been carefully watching what is going on in our country, since the virus epidemic started.  Governors that refused to shut down beaches because of the economic drain it would cause if they lost the Spring Breakers.  The Spring Breakers that refused to stop partying and ignored physically distancing guidelines.  People that seemed to believe that none of this applied to them, just because their state, for a moment didn’t have a lot of cases.  States, that even when beseeched by the federal government to issue “stay at home” edicts, refused to do so.   People refusing to stay home and still out shopping and socializing as if there was no risk at all.

Americans cannot help themselves – they eat until obesity takes their health.  They shop and run up credit card debt until they can’t pay, and then file for debt relief.  They refuse to buy health insurance, saying they cannot afford it, yet they are driving a new car.  They say that they can’t afford to save for retirement, and they act like it is not their fault that they have no savings when they are not able to continue working.  There are those that work just long enough until they qualify for social security disability, then work for cash and don’t report it as income.

We have become a nation lacking in self discipline.  Now that we have a crisis, it is quite apparent that we can’t discipline ourselves even for our own good, and certainly not the good of others.  The economy is temporarily broken and people are out of work, wondering how they will meet the bills, as if they have never heard of having an emergency account.  Small businesses are going under, because they can’t open and are undercapitalized to survive.  People have never learned to cook, so they are depending on delivery services and drive thru fast food to survive.

Generations before us had self discipline because there wasn’t any choice.  There were no credit cards, so they had to wait to buy something until they could afford it.  They saved their money, instead of frivolously spending it on things they didn’t really need.  They learned to make do.  They didn’t have to go to the gym, because they worked out keeping their lives going.  Back in my grandparents day, they didn’t have social security disability, so if you got hurt doing what you used to do, you found something else to do so you could earn money.  People prided themselves on self sufficiency, because to accept help was shameful.  You did not want to be charity case.

We are no longer a nation of self disciplined individuals and the younger we are, the less self disciplined we are.  We have grown up in a time of abundance.  The adults in our lives have provided us with everything we wanted, as soon as we wanted it.  We value our wants, over our needs.  We value our personal needs over the needs of others.  We value quantity over quality.  We no longer care how we will be judged by others, because we are taught that the only opinion that matters is our own.

So we come to the virus, and we should be surprised by the attitudes of many that seem to believe this illness has nothing to do with us.  If we are asked to stay home, we do so if it suits us, no matter the consequences.  We may or may not physical distance ourselves, we may or not may not wear masks if we are asked.  We will self-justify our behaviors because at the end of they day, no matter what we say, we believe that what we want is all that matters.

Some of us hope that this virus will serve as a wake up call for our self serving attitudes.  We hope that it will make us wake up to personal responsibility and stop thinking that someone else will take care of the problem, with only minor inconvenience to us.  Make us realize that throwing money at a problem isn’t the only possible solution.  We hope these things, but I don’t believe it will happen.  Once the crisis is over, we will continue to lack self discipline.  We are utterly incapable of showing the same strength of character that previous generations have shown in times of crisis.  And that should be the wake up call we all heed and regain our self discipline.

Until next time, Elsie


This time of the virus has really gone a long way to defining what is essential to me.  I’ve seen the saying “when you have your health, you have everything” go from theory to reality.   I now use a different scale to weigh what is essential to my well being and the running of my household, and have a different definition of what it takes to make me feel good.

One of my essentials is my immediate family – my husband, my dogs and our cat.  I am glad that my sister and I are able to speak daily on Facebook.  I am more bothered by the estrangement from my other sister.  I’ve offered her an olive branch (and I am not at all sure what I did to cause our estrangement), because I don’t want to be the person that engages in a power struggle of being right.  She hasn’t taken the olive branch, but I still send her upbeat emails, hoping that she will reach out.

The clothes that I once deemed essential have been reduced to leggings and a tee shirt.  The shoes that I deemed essential to looking pulled together are reduced to a single pair of black flats.  This is not to say that I won’t want to dress up when I am back to going out, but for now, these are my essentials.

My creativity is an essential in this crisis.  I’m spending more time thinking about dishes I make for dinner.  The abundance of food that I have always taken for granted, has been diminished and I’m having to think about introducing new ingredients to my cooking.  I can’t take for granted that the farmer’s market will be there or that I will find fresh fruits and vegetables in the store.  Since chicken has become scarce, I find myself wanting to stretch the chicken I have on hand into multiple dishes.  I don’t live in an area where there are a lot of restaurants offering take out, and no one delivers out here.

My E-book.  With bookstores closed down, I love that I can still order books online and download them.  Reading is and always has been an essential part of my life and nothing about our current situation has changed that.

In the past I have spent a lot of time thinking of new decorating ideas or wishing this or the other thing was different.  Now I realize that my house is fine as it is – that it provides the shelter that we need in uncertain times.  Projects that I planned to do this year are postponed for the near term or may not get done at all.  And that will be okay.

Finally there is nature.  Despite the situation, Spring has arrived.  The trees are leafy and the shrubs and blooming.  The weather is getting nicer.  I watch the birds in their brightest feathers coming to the feeders on my porch, listen to them chirping and watch them gathering materials to build nests.  Yes, I am still having to cope with squirrels on my feeders, but this morning I noticed a mama squirrel, her mammary glands prominent.  I know she must be feeding babies in a nest in the trees.  I have a Facebook friend who posts the most gorgeous sunrise pictures every morning – because no matter what happens, the sun will rise every day.   Nature is one of my essentials.

Of course, there if coffee -that first cup in the morning; sharing toast with my toast crazed hound dog; my Beau kitty jumping up on my keyboard because he wants my attention.  Talu still seeks me out for bones and Lady, who seeks me out for love and petting.  The feel of clean sheets on the bed and fresh towels in the bathroom make me feel good.  Inside my home, it’s pretty much business as usual, no matter how scary or crazy the outside world gets.

Until next time. Elsie