The Grace of the Grandmothers



woman holding pan with food
Photo by cottonbro on

It’s a cold but clear still early morning here in the soybean field. I took Oakley for a quick run around the house just now. A little earlier I did yoga for the morning. I’m on my second cup of tea.

While it might sound pretty normal, it shapes up to be another infamous day in my life’s timeline. In an attempt to stave off the spread of COVID-19, the state of Illinois will be under  a mandatory stay at home order (as in shelter in place) at 5 PM tonight. So far five people have died from it. I don’t recall the number of people who have it, but there is one reported case in my county. We’ll still be able to get out for walks as long as we observe social distancing (staying about six feet apart) and to the grocery store and medical appointments, but for the most part we’ll be working and staying home.

The announcement came during noon news yesterday. I watched the briefing later in the afternoon when Governor Pritzker announced his decision to sign the order. He’d consulted with epidemiologists, statisticians, and public health experts. After last weekend’s blatant disregard of the stay at home suggestions, he had to make it official. Not done lightly because he knew jobs were at stake, but because lives were and those are more important.

So came the news. Not with the collective shock of the assassinations of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, Jr.; not with the gasp of Nixon’s resignation; not with the violent chaos of 9/11. It’s much quieter than that, except for the hoards spilling into the street to binge shop, even though we can do that at leisure over the next couple of weeks.

Well, so be it. My first question to myself was what would my grandmothers have done, what did they do in similar circumstances.

First thing would be make sure there was enough food for everyone. We’d done a big haul/stock up the week before, so Hubby and I are set. I picked my way through traffic  to the pet store where I get Oakley’s food and grabbed a few more bags in case of interruptions in the supply chain. His food is made by a Milwaukee-based company,  so I doubt it, but just for my own peace of mind I went. And found out that pet stores are considered a necessary business and will be open.

Second, touch base with relatives, blood and spirit. We talked to Gram at least once a week (she lived in Massachusetts) and Grandma (across town) daily.  Talked to my brother. He and Sister in Law and kids are fine. Will call my sister later today. Texted with one of my friends last night. All good so far.

Third, engage in spiritual practice. Grandma quietly prayed when she woke up, again at bed time, and as needed through the day. Gram would make coffee, then sit with her prayer book and slide the crystal blue rosary beads through her fingers as she laid her petitions at Mother Mary’s feet. I’ve meditated and done yoga. Spiritual practice doesn’t have to involve a deity of any kind; just engage in some activity that helps you feel connected to the whole.

Fourth, find something enjoyable to occupy your mind. Gram read and knitted bandages for the leper colonies that were still in existence in the post-WWII era. Grandma cooked, crocheted, and listened to the radio. I’ll find something to do. We can and will still get out for walks. And I have a stack of books to be read.

Gram and Grandma survived two world wars, the Spanish flu, and the Great Depression. They went through rationing, scrap collection, watching pennies during the Depression, and a myriad of other things with grace and strength.

I think I can stay home with the same.




A Tempest of Tofu and Toilet Paper

tofu on white bowl
Photo by Buenosia Carol on

So we prepare in case we have to duck and cover and quarantine as COVID-19 follows its story arc. We already had enough nonperishables for at least a week on hand. This past Monday I made a post-yoga run to the market where I prefer to buy fresh items like bread, chicken, and fruits and veggies.  People were buying a little more than usual, but nothing panicked or rushed.

Next stop was Whole Foods. Again, busier  than usual, carts a little fuller than usual,  but nothing indicating that the world was at risk for turning on its ear. Not unlike getting ready to hunker down for a storm.

And then Costco for fish, cheese, pasta, and a few other items that make life pleasant. If you can think what would happen if an imminent blizzard and the zombie apocalypse happened the day after Thanksgiving, you get the idea.

I nearly kissed the driveway when I came home.

You know those shoppers who discretely peek into others’ carts and quietly pass judgement on the contents? You caught me. I’m one of them.  I try not to. I understand that not everyone has the blessings of socioeconomic circumstances that I have and may not have the same taste that I do, but there are times.

Such as the Costco shopper who navigated a flat cart–one of the ones that’s used to haul plywood or other items that don’t fit into regular carts–full of mostly junk foods.

Such as this past Thursday. After a self care appointment, I made a shopping trip to stock up on nonperishables at Trader Joe’s: chocolate, tomato soup, pizzas, and a few extra cans of beans and tomatoes. Oh, and olive oil and tahini. And try to score that most precious commodity, toilet paper. They were out, but no big deal. I took my place in line, then reflexively glanced at the cart in front of mine.

The guy in front of me had twenty four  (24) tubs of tofu, a dozen bags of frozen hash browns, and five bags of rice.

And this is after I had chosen to get the no-sodium tomato soup because there were only two cartons left of the regular. I can add my own salt, and someone might have a picky eater who wouldn’t deal well with the no-sodium soup.  Not a big deal.

But what in the name of all that is sacred does one do with that much tofu? Make a vegan brunch for the neighborhood? Make breakfast burritos for the disadvantaged? It stays good for two or three months in the fridge and up to four in the freezer, granted. Paraphrasing Chris Rock, “Good Lord, that’s a lot of tofu!”

I shook my head all the way home.

Time like this are good ones to have a dog. It’s good to come home, have an affectionate greeting, and then sit down for a conversation that makes sense.

Late Friday came the announcement from Governor Pritzker: starting Tuesday, all K-12 schools are closing down for the rest of the month. I ran out before Oakley’s pickup time to see if I could grab a small pack of TP, but no luck. I did get spray cheese (for his pills) and some other items that make life a little nicer so we wouldn’t have to deal with any more trips, hopefully.

Hubby, up in Michigan, made a run to a nearby ethnic market where he found some huge jars of tahini and a bail of TP. He escaped with his life. He’ll be home tomorrow.

So we are ready. We are ready to quarantine if need be, but mostly it’s a relief to be safe and sheltered from the crazies.



Love in the Time of COVID-19



white and red round medication pill on persons hands
Photo by Mari Monpari on

We have a flakey stock market. We have daily doses of intrigue, skullduggery, corruption, and oligarchs exerting influence on the 2020 presidential election.

As if that wasn’t  enough to be anxious about on a daily basis, we now have the coronavirus, a/k/a COVID-19 to deal with and no real leadership from Washington. The CDC’s epidemiology department landed on the chopping block early in this administration. All information released to the public has to be vetted by a science denier who impeded his state’s  government’s response to the HIV epidemic. Test kits are few, far between, and cost more than some cars I’ve driven. And if we’re lucky, the vaccine is still a year out from distribution. If the general public can afford it or if insurance will cover it.

Collective deep breath. Collective exhale. Spanish flu. Bird flu. Polio.  Black Plague. How do we get through this latest pandemic?

  • Find trusted local sources for information such as your state or county health departments. They should be able to tell you what’s going on with COVID-19 in your area, what symptoms to watch for, and practical ways to protect yourself, such as washing your hands.
  • Find an international news source that you like (CBC and BBC are two of mine) or go to WHO’s (World Health Organization) website.
  • Check Dr. Weil’s  website for more practical information, including hand washing and tasty recipes to boost your immunity.
  • Several medical consultants on news shows this past weekend recommended preparing for possible interruptions in the supply chain due to illness-related worker absences. Stock up on nonperishables or freezer friendly items for a couple of weeks just in case, and maybe grab some extra supplements and over the counter medications to be on the safe side.
  • Wash your hands, try not to play with your face, especially around the eyes and nose (she writes while scratching her eyelid).
  • Show your neighbors and vulnerable members of the community some love as this unfolds. SNAP doesn’t cover cleaning and hygiene supplies, so I’ll be making a run to get extra paper towels, spray cleaners, and soap for the local food pantry. I would love it if you would join me.
  • Consider a fun and practical arts and crafts project: make your own hand sanitizer with vodka or gin combined with essential oils such as oregano or tea tree. There are lots of recipes on line for homemade hand sanitizer, so Google away.
  • Have leftover gin or vodka? Google “craft cocktails” for suggestions on using it up. The Mystery knows we could all use a drink by now. Make it a good one.
  • Oh, and one more time for the people in back: WASH. YOUR. HANDS.