Notes From Coronavirus House Arrest
I have now lost count of the number of weeks we have been on some level of shutdown, with only two or three memorable forays into the outside world. As with many bloggers, I am looking at the changes this pandemic has made to my lifestyle. Take a look at these notes from my experience and let’s compare.
For the basics, I am working at home, and still set a morning alarm. I get dressed, even. Yes, every day.
Some of my worst habits are actually paying dividends. Like buying supplies for a home improvement project that gets put off until I forget what I was going to do. The payoff is when I find an unopened package of two N95 masks sitting right where I left it longer ago than I will admit in public. One each for Mrs. JPC and me, to be used in our rare ventures into the great outdoors. Had it been a 5 or 10 pack (and had we been younger than we are), I would have donated them to health care workers. But just two hardly seemed worth it.
We were already well set for disposable gloves. For reasons explained below, we are still working through a 500-count box of food-service gloves that have actually been quite handy in the decade we have had them. I think we may be down to the last 350 of them, though.
I have written before that we belong to both Costco and Sam’s Club. A One-package-limit on toilet paper is not a problem when that package has something like thirty rolls. It’s like that with eggs too.
We have discovered that Sam’s delivers. Costco might too, but Mrs. JPC discovered this about Sam’s first. We have gotten a couple of orders. Coffee is an essential, by the way. One evening we were drawn into their website and drooled over candy. There were something like 300 choices, though many of them were sold out or were available for in-club purchase only. There is nothing like an evening spent jonesing over the idea of mega-packs of Zagnut bars (for the Mrs.) and Hostess Donettes (both chocolate covered and powdered) for yours truly.
Another benefit of the SamsCo lifestyle is that we have fairly generous quantities of staples on hand. No, not the metal ones for your Swingline, but the stuff like butter, sugar, flour and canned soup. And taco seasoning. I have been amazed at how quickly I have run through a pack of 20 or 25 flour tortillas. But perhaps I shouldn’t be, seeing how easy it is to do the “taco treatment” to leftover meat of all kinds. Beef? Chicken? Pork? It just doesn’t matter – when you have tortillas, salsa, cheese, and canned diced tomatoes to add to your taco meat, every day can be Taco Tuesday.
Cooking has been fun, sort of a puzzle. Some meat gets pulled out of the freezer and the research starts. What (besides tacos) can be made with it. The 1 1/3 pound of ground chicken turned itself into some fabulous chicken meatballs. And because there is lots of dry pasta and multiple bottles of sauce available, a good time was had by – – two.
Upon running out of bread we had lots of flour and such. Yeast, however, was a problem. But . . . beer bread!
Not all of our culinary experimentation has gone so happily. Mrs JPC found a recipe for cinnamon rolls made with Bisquick. I was skeptical. Fan of industrial, processed food though I may be, it has been my experience that nothing good comes from a box of Bisquick. But we made them. And I turned out to be right. We tried to work our way through the result (“maybe if I try another one, I will find it more appetizing”) but we finally gave up and threw out the half remaining. I should note that baked goods have very rarely seen the inside of our trash can. Fortunately, there was brownie mix to soothe our disappointment.
My, everything seems to have been about food up to now. Perhaps this is why I have been avoiding our bathroom scale. Let us move on to other things.
Crucial items can change with household needs. Spring is here and it will soon be time to start cutting grass. My transition from paid lawn care to self lawn care has worked out well for a pandemic, and it is time to fire up the new mower. The spring oil change is on the to-do list, and there are still 3 quart bottles in the garage from when we had a car with an insatiable appetite for the stuff and I bought it by the case. But who would have figured that my new mower would require – an oil filter? I am not about to spend all the money for my first-ever new riding mower and not take care of it, so it will be necessary to mask-up and go buy an oil filter. Grumble. No, wait – Amazon to the rescue! Which brings the benefit of additional delay without the guilty feelings that often accompany it.
One of my duties at Church is that of Lector – I am one of those people who gets up to read the designated first or second reading for the week. There are enough of us at my parish that I get on the schedule about once every 4-5 weeks. My preferred times are at the 5 pm Mass on Saturday or the 11 am Sunday. Because the 8 am Sunday is not widely favored, I often find myself slotted in there. So when our Archdiocese cancelled public masses, the first scheduled date I get out of was – – – an 11 am reading? I would have felt much better about getting out of an 8 am time slot. I wonder if if anyone would have accepted a trade for a mass we are not going to have anyway?
Easter was spent at home for the first time in memory. We did, however, manage to assemble a “Zoom brunch” which involved a traditional family Easter-morning favorite in three different kitchens at three different locations, to be consumed simultaneously via videoconference. Though a not-great substitute for a real gathering, it was amazingly fun.
I had been complaining about not having any large snowfalls this past winter. Getting snowed-in is like a little holiday – everyone else is snowed-in too, and the world seems to slow down just a bit. I have learned that getting “virused-in” slows the world down too, and a lot longer than just a couple of days. At least I don’t have to go out and clean the driveway.
Vintage poster from publicdomainpictures.net
Yesterday was the one month mark for me working from home. During that time I went on a 12 day stretch without leaving my property; come to think of it, I am in a stretch every bit as long right now.
I’ve enjoyed it. Like you, I get up, get dressed, and go (downstairs) to work. While I gained a few pounds at first, I’ve dropped back below 190 pounds, so that is good.
The biggest problem has been work. Not from the house, but having the ability to work from home when I oversee an abundance of employees who cannot and are still reporting to their regular work locations. It has been extremely tension-inducing for them, it has been an ethical dilemma for me (I can stay home, they can’t), and the days have been extremely long. The worst started at 7 am and ended at 10:30 pm, every bit of it being virus related.
However, the food has been great. We’ve had more homemade pie, pudding, and cookies than ever. I’m eating better overall and simply feel better because of it.
A coworker, who is not religious, told me he couldn’t help but wonder if this was a divine way of hitting the pause button and prompting all of us to reprioritize our lives. That has stuck with me.
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I have found that I have a much greater difficulty concentrating when working from home.
Last evening we did discover a leftover meat that was not conducive to a taco conversion – corned beef. We did turn it into a very nice “reuben patty” (a reuben sandwich with everything but the bread because we had no rye bread available) and it was quite tasty.
It took me a couple weeks to adjust, but now I’m doing ok on quarantine. The one thing I wish I had was a small lumbar pillow for my desk chair. I do miss date nights with my wife.
But now *every* night is date night!
Yup, this is ending week 4 of working from home for me. I’ve found I really like reviewing contracts & drawings on paper and miss the printer/photocopier.
This week we’ve had Easter ham-a-rama. Spiral ham on Monday, curry ham tortillas Tuesday, ham & rice Wednesday and potato ham casserole Thursday. I think tonight we’re picking up pizza. I doubt it’ll have ham on it.
My insurance company sent me a nice email that we can get a premium reduction if we’re working from home. I doubt it’ll offset the adder for putting the Mustang back on the road and adding our son back to our policy now that he’s home.
For my church duties I’ve missed playing guitar a few times. But we get an order of worship emailed so our family can make our own music, and a Vimeo sermon. Then we have a giant zoom congregational prayer with 100 households on the meeting. It works surprisingly well.
Oh I forgot to add my 17 year old daughter can bake and she’s made apple pie and cinnamon rolls from scratch. Extremely yummy, and we brought my Dad a couple of the rolls. Quality baking helps with isolation. 🙂
The copier is a sore point with me. A year ago I had spent two days with various tech support people to get an elderly copier/scanner hooked up to my new computer. All was well until we switched from Comcast to ATT for our internet service. There is something about the new modem that isn’t playing well with the copier setup – so the copier I thought I had I actually do not have, unless I want to mess with thumb drives.
I have wondered if it would make sense to cut all but comprehensive insurance on one car, seeing as how I have put maybe 50 miles on one car and 0 on the other in the last month. As it is, my company is giving a substantial rate reduction for the next couple of months, so better than nothing I guess.
Yes, baking is fun. It is even more fun when someone else does your baking for you. 🙂
Hey we did have a pot roast with all the root vegetables of onions, carrots and potatoes and leftovers of the meat was turned into beef stroganoff with portabello mushrooms and dried onion soup mix. We’re do for another repeat soon 😉😎
And no we DID NOT buy or seriously consider buying candy 😂
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It sounds like you are making the best of things JP, all self-contained during this time of quarantine. I’m not a good cook unfortunately and not that creative for my meals since I live alone. Because I don’t like to shop in the Winter, nor drive in ice and snow, I load in pantry provisions in the Fall, enough to last from November until the end of April. Because they predicted such a brutally cold and snowy Winter (which never happened as you know), I picked up some perishables throughout the Winter and was able to stretch these pantry items a little longer.
Since I’ve worked from home since 2011, there were no issues there, but my boss teaches a labor law class and they went to e-teaching a month ago. He now knows how to Skype which is more than I do and I’ve never tried Zoom either. He has been going to the office a few times a week, but is a sole practitioner so does not interact with anyone in the office and masks up beforehand as our office is in Detroit. Stay safe in your corner of the world too.
It sounds like you are bearing up pretty well. Having been working from home all along, it appears from here that your life has been altered less than normal. Still, it is altered for us all in both large and small ways. Stay healthy!
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Thanks JP – my life is not altered much at all; however work has slowed to a crawl and it had begun a descent before COVID-19. I am hoping things pick up once more things are open again – currently all of our clients are in “shutdown mode” too. Thank you and the same to you.
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I’m jealous of your brownie mix. In my foray to the grocery store on Monday there was NO brownie mix in either of the two stores I frequent, in fact no cake mixes, flour or yeast – the whole baking section was empty. I do have some refrigerator Cinabon cinammon rolls stashed away in the freezer though, so life isn’t all bad. I’ve been out four times in the past month, twice for my every 3 week grocery run, once for a drug run to the pharmacy for curbside pickup, and once to the bank to pay income tax. I go back and forth to check on my mother, a few blocks, but otherwise my car has not been driven enough and is starting to feel sluggish. It needs a good spin, but I’ve been walking every day to get some exercise so I don’t feel as sluggish. Such is our life these days.
No kidding, I wonder if all those people are actually baking or if the baking supplies are sitting on folks’ shelves instead of the store shelves?
Mrs DougD is off on another cleaning frenzy, she found some 7 year old yeast packages that we’ll take a chance on and now she’s scrubbing the grout in the kitchen for the first time in 22 years 🙂
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No grout here, but my floors need sweeping….and dusting…..I haven’t resorted to spring cleaning yet….but may tackle the windows if it ever gets warm enough to do it.
The brownie mix is a perk of our Costco membership, where a box of brownie mix is like 6 boxes from the grocery store. The flour is starting to run low, and I have wondered if it will be available the next time one of us goes out. Flour and sugar are definitely not Costco or Sams items, as I have no desire to buy 25 or 50 pounds of either.
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Our nearest Costco is an hour and a half drive away…..our course with cheap gas now it might be worth the trip!
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