For the greater San Francisco Bay Area, this is Day 4 of the Shelter in Place order. For my partner and I, this is Day 10, as we got a bit of a head start from my own medical needs. I’ve been quietly recovering from a surgery a week before the lockdown started.
Our days are spent quietly, playing around on social media, catching up on publications and articles, turning on the news to catch up on the outside world each evening. I have books to catch up on, and I enjoy doing a bit of writing as well.
I’ve been digging out my old amateur radio equipment and getting it on the air, although due to my location, homeowners association restrictions, and the construction of this building, I have had very little luck with this hobby activity. I do have some 50 year old equipment I have been restoring, and I have a couple of work tables set up in the guest bedroom that I use for tinkering about with this older equipment. I don’t expect to have any house guests in the near future, so I can take over this space more for myself.
The view from the condo looks out over part of the huge Highway 680 and 24 interchange. Roads that crept along in the morning and evening commute are almost empty, and “rush hour” looks like 3AM on a Sunday morning used to look. I see a lot of trucks and utility vehicles going by, most intent on providing what I assume are necessary services, and a good number of private vehicles from the few commuters left on the road.
The downtown area looks like a ghost town. The parking garages in the urban core are all shuttered, and street parking has been declared to be unmetered through the lockdown. Many businesses are closed, and I honestly am not sure if some will re-open. We’ve heard that unemployment claims are way up.
There’s a Kaiser Permanente hospital near here, as well as a CVS pharmacy and a Target store. We’ve heard that these are all candidates for drive-up COVID-19 testing, assuming one meets all the pre-approval criteria, but have not yet seen signs of the expected tents in the parking lot for such a test setup. Kaiser has already set up 19 drive-up testing sites in the region for its members.
Trying to maintain community contacts is a challenge. Rainbow Community Center (RCC) and Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church (MDUUC), both groups that I am involved with, have been experimenting with teleconferencing software to handle team meetings and regular group gatherings. MDUUC has been streaming its Sunday service for quite a while, and last weekend did its first “virtual only” Sunday service, with no audience and minimal staff, all practicing their safe social distancing skills, to provide a service that hundreds watched online.
Both my partner and I are quite active on the public side of Facebook, various private groups, and message boards, all of which feed virtual communities. This can help a little, but I find that I am a social animal, and need some sort of human interaction. Not being able to scratch that ‘social itch’ is frustrating, and has me feeling a bit irritable.
I’ve done some committee and board meetings for local organizations via the Zoom teleconference system, which has worked out very well. I particularly like being able to see other actual human beings, and their facial responses to things I say. It feels much more connected somehow than voice, and far better than textual exchanges such as message boards. Well, as long as folks turn on their cameras, anyway! There are always the shy ones!
I have some books I am reading, and I really should get cracking on doing my tax returns, but I am so easily distracted, especially by my kitchen. The past couple days I have made a Russian rye bread, a sourdough banana cinnamon raisin bread, and blueberry cobbler. They all turned out very well. I’ve been cooking full dinners, from corned beef and cabbage to a nice thick crust pizza, along with salads and sides.
I usually also do a hot breakfast, anything from simple steel-cut oats and berries, crumpets and coffee, to bacon and eggs with a hash or potatoes. Some of that cinnamon raisin bread wound up as French toast yesterday. The pantry is well stocked, and I have no problems improvising with what I have on hand.
Life in this odd enforced isolation is good so far, and my partner and I are getting along well and preserving each other’s sanity. I have to confess that I do dread reaching the point where I have to brave the insanity of our grocery store again, a place that is dangerous for our health as senior citizens now, and apparently overrun by panicked shoppers. Just why do you need two dozen onions and all of the beef jerky, anyway?