It’s like living in a science fiction novel. This is certainly not anything I could have imagined when we began our travels in January of 2015! Our first inkling of the seriousness of the Corona Virus came while we were in Seattle in February. We even considered waiting until the end of March to fly back east because we thought it might be safer then. So glad we didn’t! We’d still be there!
We spent a week in DC figuring out what next. Since it was March, somewhere warm had appeal. We had flown into a hotbed of the virus in Seattle, and the east coast was just beginning to feel its presence. But because the day we landed in DC was the first day our youngest son, Patrick, was told to work from home, we figured that even though we love the city, the densely populated DC area was probably not a good choice.
So we celebrated my birthday at the Hamilton with Patrick and Cary having no idea at the time that it would turn out to be our last dinner out for a very long time. We had been to Amelia Island, Florida, in the northeast corner of the state and liked its location right on the water. It was a town with a lot of character. Cary had returned to the US from Rome to work out details of a special visa and now she was unable to return to Italy. One definite plus of the virus was spending time with our daughter! I found a place for 6 weeks for a reasonable price and we figured that would give us time to try to figure out our next move. Another draw to Amelia Island was we could make it in a day’s drive. So on March 19, equipped with hand sanitizer and Lysol wipes, we began our road trip. We were amazed at how few people were traveling south compared with the massive lines of traffic heading north. We were surprised too by how low gas prices were. We only stopped to use the bathroom. And when we arrived at our destination 11 hours later, we drove through Taco Bell for dinner.
The house turned out to be fine but there was little outside area and because we were avoiding the beaches and crowds that was a drawback. We had a tiny patio with a couple of chairs off our dining room and Cary would take her daily break out in the sun. Unfortunately she also encountered a snake who regularly liked to visit.
The woman we were renting from tried to be helpful and sent out a couple of workers who did their best to get rid of the snakes (Yep, later the original guy had found a partner!) but while the visits were less frequent, they never were completly eliminated. One of the last days we were there, the pest control man rang our doorbell to show me the shedded skin he had found in the front yard and explained it was really fresh. He and his buddy tried to reassure us that the snakes were a good thing that they got rid of rats and other vermin but all that did was convince me that there probably were other critters I didn’t wish to encounter nearby!
Almost as soon as we got to Florida the numbers of Covid cases began creeping up. The governor kept insisting all was fine. Beyond taking an occasional ride in the car we stayed close to home. Most beaches were cordoned off and where there was access there were signs indicating how to stay safe. For the most part they were ignored. We did find a few isolated areas where we encountered few people. When we did go out we wore masks, and used hand sanitizer and socially distanced.
I downloaded an app so we could order our groceries online and have them delivered. Cary and I also did our best to keep online sales solvent! We knew we needed to find another location to extend our stay and quickly found a lovely condo a short distance from our current home. Little did we know when we made the move that we had traded snakes for cockroaches! Oh, the things I took for granted living in Michigan!
I’ve settled into a sort of routine now that we can’t go exploring. Our days from the start were pretty much the same as they are now. I can’t imagine the pandemic before the days of the internet. I use my computer continuously from locating our next place to stay, to paying bills, to participating in an excercise class on Zoom, ordering items on line, and generally just staying in touch with others. I particularly enjoy conversations on Google Hangouts or Zoom with family and close friends. We’ve celebrated many of our kids’ and grandkids’ birthdays and it’s been great fun to actually see the people we’re talking with.
Reading continues to be one of my favoite pastimes. I am working my way through my list of books suggested to me by friends or reviews I’ve encountered on the internet. No matter how voraciously I read the list continues to get longer never shorter. I have often sought out library cards where we stay but given the normalcy with which many Floridians are proceeding with their lives I’m not comfortable visiting the local library. I travel with a Kindle but I love the feel of reading from an actual book. And because our expenses have been reduced significantly, I splurged and even placed an order for several hard copies. (I justify this by telling myself I can pass them on to Cary when I’ve completed them!)
I definitely need some exercise and yet, with so few wearing masks I’m not comfortable venturing out very much. After hunting online I found a Zumba class. I’m not very coordinated but doing something like this via Zoom might be a good way to begin. Much to my surprise, the woman I contacted, the course instructor, Sue Russell, lives in England. She has a background in education and is a fascinating, creative individual with absolutely endless energy. She invited me to chat after class and now it’s become a routine for us to chat on most days after Zumba. We connected right away because of our common interests in education. She has lived in the US and for one of her many hats, she writes guided reading scripts for students of various ages on a wide variety of topics. I can’t help but think during the pandemic this might be a really engaging way of involving kids, particularly in history. The kids could practice their parts on their own and then do it all together on Zoom! What fun! If you want more information check out her website: https://www.plays-r-ussell.com/product-category/my-school-play-scripts/hot-scripts-jan-feb-march/
I think I’ve done more cooking in the past few months than any time in our married life. And most of the time I’ve enjoying finding new recipes and trying new things, especially in the land of seafood. I’ve always liked to cook and now that we’re not able to eat out at restaurants I am becoming more adventurous in the kitchen.
Once I was able to find yeast I even gave bread making a shot! And we’ve enjoyed it so much that I’ve added it to my weekly routine. It did require the addition of a few kitchen items. I’m afraid I’ve become quite dependent on Amazon.
Three years ago my friend Rita taught me how to knit. She didn’t warn me however that it would become addictive. I find it really relaxing, except when I’m trying to figure out how to correct my repeated mistakes! It is nice to have my mentor only a text away! I love to visit yarn shops, but for now I have to be content with picking out yarns online.
But my major splurge has been a keyboard! Because it appears that we will be in the States for a long time forward, we’ll be driving our own car and have the luxury of space that we don’t have when we travel abroad.
The two things I have really missed over the past five and half years are my piano and my dog. Haven’t quite figured out how to resolve the dog issue yet! And I do worry with my new hobbies that I’m acquiring more “stuff” for us to travel with, definitely not a good thing after spending so much time and effort sorting and getting rid of all our stuff! Bob never says anything but I’m pretty sure he’s not pleased.
Card games provide another diversion for us. Bob and I (and Cary when she was with us) play a lot of cribbage or rummy. For the past few years, I have kept a running score of who wins the most games in each location. Right now we’re pretty even. But one of my favorite activities continues to be Trivia. I found a Team Trivia game online that has now become part of our weekly routine.
Most recently we play with Patrick, in DC, and Cary in Rome. (This means that Cary has to get up at 2 am to participate! The entire time she was with us in Florida she worked remotely with her colleagues in Rome which meant that she started her day about 3 am Florida time. So it’s not as though she’s been unfamiliar with strange hours. )
Bob kept insisting he needed a beard trim and I knew he was serious when he decided to order a set of hair trimmers and asked if I’d undertake the role of barber. It didn’t turn out too badly…well, at least the first couple of times. What do you think?Most recently as I began to trim his beard and hair I thought the cut was unusually close and then I realized I hadn’t put the guide on so it was acting as a razor. I had started in the back so luckily he wasn’t able to see the damage! Lucky for me he is very laid back about it and continously says, “It’ll grow back.” On the other hand I desperately need a hair cut and while I took some thinning shears to it once, I’m afraid to go any further.
Given the time we have on our hands, Bob and I both signed up to make calls for the Democrats. This was short-lived as we soon learned that all our calling is done through phone banks and the contacts are all people who have already been identified as friendly calls. We found it a very inefficient way to make calls given that most people today have cell phones and don’t answer those that are unidentified. When we did occasionally reach a voter, they informed us they had already been called on numerous occasions. Hopefully, we will soon find a more efficient manner to be of support to the party.
Cary was able to fly home to Rome in the middle of May. She was dressed with gloves, a mask and a carried sheet to cover her seat. But she had to change planes twice; first, in Atlanta and then in Paris. When we took her to Jacksonville we found the airport eerily quiet but she didn’t encounter too many hassles and she managed to stay healthy!
Our kids continue to work remotely. And we, like everyone else, wonder what the next year will be like. Our oldest granddaughter is a sophomore at Central Michigan University. She’s decided to continue her classes online this fall. Luckily she can commute to campus if she needs to. Our oldest grandson will be a senior in high school this fall. What will his senior year look like? A few years ago while visiting Cuba I thought about how difficult it must be for the Cubans to not be able to travel anywhere outside their own country. Never did I dream, as Americans, we would be in the same situation. How lucky we are to have such a huge country to call home!
With the weather getting a lot warmer and with hurricane season fast approaching we decided it was time to move on. Still concerned about Covid 19 we didn’t want to travel too far so we decided to rent a place for July and August in Winchester, Virginia, about 11 hours north of Amelia Island. This way we can be close to both Patrick, and Stephen and Sadie’s family without being in a heavily densely populated area. Who knows after that? Here’s a toast to the end of the Corona Virus! Until next time, stay safe!