Thursday, April 30, 2020

Notes from Isolation: Final Installment

Our neighbors in our mother city to the north (Nashville) are still under stay-at-home orders. But a few miles south where I live, we're slowly coming out of quarantine.

For Wife and me, things aren't changing that much. I'm still working from home and we are both not getting out much, other than to take our walks and drives. We run into a grocery store, drugstore or hardware store here and there for provisions, and those visits are planned so they are quick. We wear masks.

In each of our cars we keep a bottle of hand sanitizer. They are also strategically located throughout the house, although I much prefer plain soap and water when I'm not away from home.

We have scarcely had anyone in our house for going on seven weeks. We now attend virtual church and our small group meets that way too.

Several times during this time period, we've had friends come sit on our back deck with us for late afternoon visits. Those hours have been precious, and for minutes at a time we forget how the world has been turned upside down in less than two months' time.

Although we have enjoyed some things on TV here and there, Wife and I have learned we are not the binge-watcher types. Instead, as some evenings have stretched before us, we've pulled out some old games and refreshed ourselves on Yahtzee, Chinese checkers and Mancala.

Wife also has a computerized bridge game and I'll sit beside her and we'll play with a virtual partner.

And of course we are both voracious readers.

To be sure, we miss our family. We are getting closer to seeing them, however, and I see that coming in the next week or so.

Some close friends have a lake house in north Alabama, about two hours away from here, and it has a guest house. They have told us, should we want a change of scenery, we are welcome to use it. We have decided to take them up on that, and later today, after my workday, we will drive there and stay a few days.

It's fully equipped with Wi-Fi and it's in cell phone range, so I can work from there as easily as here.

I told Wife last night I feel like we are escaping from something, and half-wonder if we'll be stopped at the border! (I'm kidding . . . . but I do feel somewhat subversive).

In many ways these past several weeks have done a number on me. Some days I've felt downright depressed. Many mornings I have awakened feeling anxious.

But early on, as Wife and I discussed it, we agreed this is a faith-testing time. We have to draw on that, and decide if we really believe what we've always professed to believe. It's so much easier to do that when things are more stable and certain.

There is a verse in Proverbs that says to "lean not on your own understanding." I don't think it has ever been more applicable for me.

As I've previously written, I don't want to get COVID. And I sure don't want to give it to anyone.

So I am choosing to lean not on my understanding and trust the scientists and doctors who know about this kind of thing. And I'm trusting the One who has never failed me.

Because it's all I've ever known.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Do they make 'em like they used to?

You might surmise by this post I have some time on my hands.

Wife is making salsa today. It's one of her signature recipes that most people love. She usually makes it at Christmas as gifts for people, and occasionally during other times of the year just to have on hand. Our entire family loves chips and salsa, so there are never any objections when she decides to make a batch.

She has been making some to take to friends and neighbors during this quarantine/isolation time. We'll ring their doorbell and stand back or, in some cases, we'll just leave it on their front porch and send them a text to let them know it's there.

Anyway, Wife keeps her blender in a cabinet in the laundry room. She asked me to get it out for her earlier today, to use as she was making salsa, and I marveled at the age of this device. We have been married 36 years this July, and she brought it into our marriage. She estimates she had had it for at least five years at that time, so this blender is more than 40 years old.

It runs like a top. It's dependable, and she loves it. About ten years ago, her parents gave her a new one for Christmas. She received it graciously, but I could tell she wasn't all that excited about it. Kind of those "if it's not broke, don't fix it" things.

And the new blender wasn't worth a flip. It didn't satisfy her blending needs near as much as the one she already had.

I can't remember if that one played out, or what, but today we are back to the 40-plus year-old blender and Wife is as happy as can be with it.

So is it true? They don't make 'em like they used to? Anyone else have a valued old machine/device/appliance they won't part with?

Friday, April 17, 2020

Notes from Isolation: Istallment 4

It appears the country will slowly be "reopening," which I find to be a curious word. Has the country really been "closed?"

I suppose, in many ways, it has been, what with all the stores, schools and activities being shut down.

Wife and I have discussed it, and we don't really see much changing with us when the return to "normal" life begins in a couple-or-so weeks.

We are both over 60, so we are considered part of the "vulnerable" population (I promise that's the last word in quotes for this post). We really don't want to get the COVID sickness if we can avoid it.

So while we're going to go see our children and grandchildren as soon as they and we feel comfortable, we are also going to be careful. Daughter says she's not going to keep us from hugging  her children, who are now two and a half and almost six months, but I suspect it will be minimal and there will be lots of hand washing immediately following. But I can handle all the restrictions. I just need to see them.


I am going to be very unhappy if handshaking as we know it goes away. It is a gracious gesture and a sign of a civilized society. I taught all of my children they should offer their hand and look a person in the eye. Surely we can find a way to still practice this age-old gesture and still stay healthy.


There have emerged two schools of thought on how we've handled COVID.

The first one is the one that pays great attention to the science and believes it was absolutely necessary to shelter in place, stay at home, social distance, etc. To not have done so would have resulted in exponentially more cases, many more deaths and an impossible burden on our health care system, much worse than what we've seen.

According to this way of thinking, we are beginning to see fewer cases, and a slowing of the spread, because of the precautions that have been taken.

But there's another school of thought that holds we went way too far and are close to that slippery slope of losing the way of life we hold dear. What? We live in a free country and we're being told where we can and can't go? We've gone too far, they say, and the supposed models about all this were wrong. Look at what it's done to the economy -- all the lost  jobs and wrecked lives, while people are still getting sick.

There's an idea on this side of the argument called "herd immunity" (oops I broke my promise) where we should have just let the virus spread as it was going to, let those die who were gong to die (people die, and that's just how it is) and many would become immune even before a vaccine is developed.

(I know I didn't adequately explain that one, so look it up for yourself if you want more details).

I lean toward the first camp, although I've had my moments of thinking this is ridiculous. But when I hear the docs who are advising the White House (Drs. Fauci and Birx), and the surgeon general, speak, I just have to go with their expertise.

To be sure, I'm uncomfortable with all the government intrusion into our lives, and I do think it's time for the slow resumption of a more normal life, but I lean toward thinking, although perhaps some things could have been done differently, we needed to do what we did (and are still doing).

And it's what I'll continue to do for a while.

I'm fortunate to be able to work remotely and work for a company that's supportive of that. If this had happened pre-internet, things would be have markedly different.

All of this is one man's opinion, of course. If I've learned anything through all of this, it's that everyone has one!

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Every Moment Holy

A couple of years ago for Christmas, Daughter and SIL gave a book to me I have come to love. It's called "Every Moment Holy" and it's a book of liturgies for everyday life.

It's a great resource for when you need to put a voice to a prayer, but aren't quite sure how.

The author lives in a Nashville suburban community not far from me and I was able to track him down. He was kind enough to schedule a meeting with me so I could write about his book and him. The meeting, of course, had to be changed to a videoconference, but he kept his commitment to meet with me. It was a real treat to get to meet him.

The piece I wrote ran this week and I'm sharing it with you here:

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Notes from isolation: Installment 3

Wife and I have gotten pretty serious about the social distancing thing. We're ordering groceries online and our daily outings generally consist of the walks we take. We'll take an occasional drive, and we'll occasionally pick up food from a place that's preparing takeout. Hopefully our support, and the support of others, will help keep them in business.

Last Sunday we took a drive on the Natchez Trace, a beautiful highway a few miles from us that runs from Nashville all the way to Natchez, MS, and is protected by the Department of Interior, kind of like a national park. There are no billboards and if you need gas, you have to get off.

Anyway, it's a wonderful little gem near us and there are some parks along it where there are some great hiking trails. We took a picnic lunch with us to one of those and enjoyed it there, then took a short hike. Many folks were doing the same thing, but everyone was being careful to keep a safe distance.

I hope our parks don't close after the action our governor took today.

He issued a stay-at-home order today, after he had issued a "safer-at-home" order earlier this week. The safer-at-home order was a strong suggestion, while the stay-at-home order is a genuine order, the violation of which is punishable, I suppose, by jail time. I don't know that they would really haul someone in; I'm guessing if you were found in violation, you'd get a warning and maybe an officer would follow you home.

I don't know because, once again, this is all unprecedented.

And I'm not sure if that means our park trails are going to close. I hope not. We're walking a lot in our neighborhood, but for a change of scenery we'll go to one of the nearby parks that has walking trails.

Apparently the powers-that-be could tell from cell phone data that people weren't staying in as they were supposed to. I don't know how that works but it kind of gives me the creeps because it's rather big brother-ish, don't you think?

Of course, if you work for an "essential" business, you go to work. Since I work for a bank, I'm essential, but I'm back office, so we're at home. But if I wanted to go in to work, apparently I could carry something with me proving I'm a bank employee and I would be OK.

Other essential businesses include, among others, construction businesses, car repair places, grocery and convenience stores employees and places providing curbside or delivery services. I am pleased this includes my favorite craft brewery, and I have been by there a couple of times to show my support and make a purchase.

It's all very bizarre. I can't imagine what online church is going to be like Easter Sunday.

But then again, I haven't been able to imagine a lot of things that are happening right before my eyes.