Negotiating a New Routine in the Time of Pandemic

My youngest has now emerged from quarantine within quarantine (henceforth QwQ) in our household. They were restricted for two weeks inside our house once they came home from college after having health problems during finals week.

This meant open windows and masks worn during the most mundane conversations — on my part, slapping on a mask before yelling that dinner was ready, and on their part slapping on a mask before picking up their dinner tray outside their door.

I can tell you two weeks of room service, three meals a day and occasional snacks, delivered outside the bedroom door or placed on the deck table outside is no fun for either the cook or the eater.

But now that they’ve emerged from their confinement suite we have to negotiate a new routine within the household. I’ve had to remind somebody a couple times they no longer have QwQ room service.

We also have to negotiate new approaches for an adult child living at home with parents, unable to go about living as young people did before this pandemic forced Stay Home orders.

How does one date when one can’t leave the house? How does one conduct one-on-one dialog with a romantic interest while across the room from one’s parents?


This past Friday was a dinner date. I was warned in advance this was a regular event before QwQ. We’d been discussing options to plan dinner later in the day — the adult child told me I didn’t need to plan for them because they were going to have dinner with their romantic partner.

Okay…you may imagine my eyebrows in my hairline.

Apparently these two lovebirds have been cooking together on Friday nights since they can’t go to restaurants. This time they can’t even meet in person to cook in the same kitchen, but cook together they would.

“Are you going to Zoom a meeting? Will you need a tripod set up in the kitchen?” I’d asked.

These are not exactly the kinds of details for which one designs and builds a kitchen, but here we are, thinking about methods to retrofit my kitchen into a Food TV network set for two.

No extra work needed this time; just a set of headphones with mic and their cell phone along with full use of the kitchen.

In other words, get out of the way, mother.

Not exactly easy since the kitchen is at one end of the family great room and my office is in the middle of the same space. Which means while I am poking around online and moderating comments here, my spawn is cooking away while engaged in discussion with their romantic partner.

The really awkward part: partner can hear me, I can’t hear them, and my adult child isn’t prefacing questions to me or to their partner so that we can’t tell who the question is aimed at before we both answer.

And then after dinner is done and the adult child flees with a prepared plate in one hand and the phone in the other, I’m left with the dirty dishes and other cooking detritus.

As I said, we have to negotiate a new routine within the household. Looks like I need to find something to do every Friday night in the garage, the basement, or the garden. And it looks like the adult child needs to clean the kitchen before taking off for the private part of the date.

~ ~ ~

Another aspect of pandemic life in a multi-generational household I hadn’t anticipated: the late night snack attack.

I dozed off while reading in my lounge chair sometime around 11:00 p.m. last evening, rousing in a heart-stopping fashion when someone banged LOUDLY on my front door. Stumbling toward the door I realized I had no mask with me, couldn’t open the door safely, flailed around in a groggy state, heart pounding, wondering if the lights in the driveway were the police or some other authority figure.

The lights began to back out of the drive as I turned on the porch lights and opened the door slowly. The vehicle pulled away just as I noticed a fast food bag on my porch.

What the hell? Did I get a neighbor’s midnight meal by accident? I looked up and down the street and could see no lights on, no one looking for their — at this point I checked the slip on the bag without touching it — burgers and fries.

The tumblers of awareness clicked into place.

Yelling for my adult child to come down and handle the fast food delivery was nearly as annoying as being jolted awake. They couldn’t hear me with their headphones on while gaming online, requiring yet more pounding on another door.

“Oh — the meal was 45 minutes early, sorry about that,” they said. “How do you want me to handle this?” they asked.

“Good gods, you ordered food with packaging you would have to decontaminate and you didn’t plan ahead for that?”

Much scowling and hand washing ensued, sprinkled with questions and feedback about the delivery service and tipping and how to handle future food deliveries.

Yes, we have to negotiate yet another new routine within the household.

~ ~ ~

I felt really old after the fire drill of late night food delivery by way of app. It never occurred to me to have french fries delivered to my doorstep.

Sure, I’ve joked for years now about a business plan for drone-based app-ordered deliveries of chocolate and alcohol and condoms. I didn’t imagine we’d still use cars for deliveries like this, or that orders would be so mundane instead of pricier upscale items.

But then I didn’t imagine business models relying on a permanent underclass ferrying products instead of flying machines.

I also didn’t imagine an adult child of mine would become so inured to such exploitative business models that they saw delivery of a milkshake or burger as entirely normal and acceptable.

Perhaps the profits are greater in the density of a college town and this now-former student had become too accustomed to a different norm at university, especially since friends also worked for delivery firms. But we’re at the edge of suburbia in what many Americans might consider a small town. This shouldn’t be the norm without green transportation.

Some of the negotiations we need to have are about the ethics of our expectations both in the time of pandemic and in the years ahead during a new normal.

Imagine as this pandemic pushes us deeper into an economic depression how easy it will be to exploit increasingly desperate people. We’re privileged to be able to think about this — we need to use this privilege for good, beginning with greater consciousness about our spending choices and making more donations to local food pantries.

And someone here may be learning how to cook those late night french fries at home, alone or perhaps with their partner or gaming opponents online.

I might even be able to sleep in my armchair through that.


This is an open thread.

224 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    Besides wearing masks and washing your hands and staying home, what routines in your household have been modified because of the pandemic? Do tell here in comments.

    • taluslope says:

      Yikes, too close for comfort. I now have one adult child at home with a second on his way next month from England. Will have to go through the QwQ thing with him and then probably again with his mother later when she flies back from NJ where she is helping with a new granddaughter.

      Most irritating feature of daily life for me now is everyone else wears headsets listening to whatever. Apparently I’m the only one who enjoys the quiet moments within my own head. It’s impossible to hold a conversation anymore because I’ll turn, say something, and then realize they can’t hear me anyway.

      I’m thinking of QwQing myself for my sanity. Apparently unlike everyone else during the Q times, I can’t seem to remember why I needed to be around people in the first place.

  2. rosalind says:

    ah, Rayne. thank you for your peek into life with Covid-19 w/family. living alone has its challenges for sure, but my heart goes out to my friends who are negotiating life w/family 24/7.

    Me: reaching out by phone to friends and fam to stay in better touch. hike 4x week w/bestie, shop 1x week at grocery. reading reading reading. buying new books to support my local indie (curbside p/u). trying a new recipe each week to stave off going boinkers eating the same thing over and over.

    this was my year to do a bunch of travel and have no clue when/if i will ever be comfortable getting back on a plane…once any other country actually allows we US residents back into their countries again. ack. soo surreal.

    • Rayne says:

      Oh, I feel you, rosalind, had been hoping I would travel this year as well. We’d planned trips inside the U.S. and I’d wanted to plan a trip for this autumn abroad but no way in hell am I getting on a plane until after a vaccine and a therapeutic drug have been approved and rolled out.

      I guess we’ll just have to spend more time planning those trips of the future.

    • Valley girl says:

      Hi Rosalind,

      I came across this 2007 article recently, and immediately thought of you. Said to myself I’d post it to you when you showed up. Maybe you’ve seen it before?

      It’s a load of crap imho. I seem to remember that back then this was the most difficult UC campus to get in.

      Gotta love the last sentence.

  3. rip says:

    What a great piece.

    The joys of having children (now in their upper-middle-ages) was watching them flee the coop, stumble and crash and recover on their own.

    I’d be flummoxed on how to deal with another adult’s set of expectations/demands in my home. I understand needing to offer succor and parental support. But most kids after 20+ are way too demanding of “their ways.”

    Kudos for a nice piece with a bit of levity.

    • bloopie2 says:

      “But most kids after 20+ are way too demanding of “their ways.”” Thank you, thank you for that. Our 27 year old (!) is with us, God bless her, until January, as her NYC office has decided to shut until then. What was that old Reader’s Digest column … can this [family] be saved? So many routines have been modified that life outside my little room/office seems hardly recognizable. Still, we are blessed to have the space, the food, and the family.

      • Rayne says:

        LOL I forgot all about that Reader’s Digest column! Thanks for the laugh!

        Hang in there, bloopie2. In addition to my 22-year-old I may yet have my 26-year-old home as well this year if the economy doesn’t stabilize. We’ll have plenty of notes to compare before January.

        • P J Evans says:

          The ’92 recession left me with no job and not much money; I had to move in with my parents (1200 mile move). It took some adjusting, but I was able to help my parents when they needed a third person, like when my father had to go up on the roof or needed to go into town.

    • Rayne says:

      I’m fortunate that both of my kids are in biotech/biochemistry and the youngest has spent more time in microbiology. They have a much better grasp of the threat SARS-CoV-2 poses than most young their age. It’s made for some extremely interesting conversations and miles-long text exchanges discussing vaccine development and antigenic shift.

      A biotech/biochem degree program was an awfully expensive and wholly unintended way to obtain their understanding of the threat to family members, but they are willing to relax their personal demands knowing full well that this is for the best for all of us. Beats having to bust hump to pay down $100K student loans living on their own, eh?

      And then there’s the looming economic depression. Youngest knows things are going to be rough and a little cooperation now will make for a more relaxed wait. I just wish there was a way to mediate their relationships without increasing risk over the next 18-24 months.

      Nice to see you, rip, stay safe.

  4. Ed Walker says:

    I’m retired, so at first the lock-down didn’t affect me at all. But after the first week I developed quarantine brain. I couldn’t concentrate on anything for any length of time, whether a book, a long-read, writing, or just thinking about the same thing for any extended period. Turns out I missed our social life. I missed having dinner with friends, movies, plays, opera, and the array of socializing that goes with them. It’s like what’s the point of thinking or reading when you can’t talk about it with friends, in long stretches, getting their insights, and listening to them talk about what they’re reading and thinking about, and what’s going on in their lives. And I especially missed dinners with my daughter and her family, and hanging out with my granddaughter who always came once a week for an evening with us.

    When we finally started connecting a bit, it turned out we’d all been reading the same things, mostly about Covid-19 and the political reaction to it, which led not to the pleasant conversations of old, but more venting. Eventually we agreed to watch the same streaming movies and plays and discuss them, as we normally would over drinks. That helped. I started taking long walks and listening to podcasts, which eventually broke the spell of quarantine brain.

    Now the weather has definitely changed, I hope, and it will be easier to get out a bit just to breathe the fresh air off Lake Michigan. I’m getting used to the mask thing. We order take-out from some of the great restaurants here in Chicago, and buy fresh food from our favorite neighborhood restaurant which morphed into a really good Italian deli with great take-out. We take the grandkids on long walks so their parents can work in relative peace, and distance chat with them on their deck for short times, awaiting better weather.

    We’ve been figuring out how to gather with friends for dinners in a low risk way, in gardens or roof-top decks, or maybe in our apartment which is well-ventilated here in the Windy City. Life won’t go back to the way it was before Covid-19, but it will be fine. Except maybe we won’t feel safe in theaters, operas, or movies. Ugh.

    • Rayne says:

      What a relief to know I’m not the only one on Team Emptywheel with pandemic brain. I’d read too much, just too damned much, and I just couldn’t process any more. I wasn’t talking to some of my friends because every conversation would end up devolving to explanations of ACE2 receptors and zinc ionophores and R-naught numbers.

      I’ve not been ordering food; we don’t have the range of restaurants here you have in Chicago, just big chain places for the most part. And with our former student now living in, I’ve been cooking up a storm. At least now I’m becoming an expert on making my own yogurt and no-knead bread, though I would kill for just one meal I didn’t have cook or prep in some way.

      I feel your pain about theaters and movies. There’ve been a couple I’ve wanted to see screened which won’t be the same at home. But I have a cheap projector I bought for my kids a few years back; I’m going to rig a sheet to hang from my deck and try an outdoor home screening to see if it will capture some of the not-on-TV feel. My youngest and I have a Bong Joon-Ho retrospective we want to try this way. If you can get your hands on a projector, give it a whirl.

      Bigger trick for me may be buying our favorite popcorn from a local grower. Gonna’ miss theater popcorn. *sigh*

      Meant to tell you about the Berliner Philharmoniker — they have a collection free online. Might even be worth setting up a sound surround outdoors along with a screen to stream with family and friends.


      • P J Evans says:

        I think everyone has it. You forget the date, you get thoroughly depressed, and *doing* gets hard.

        • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

          It’s really unnerving to get mixed up about what day of the week it is while not on a long vacation

          • P J Evans says:

            I was writing checks yesterday and it took me to the third one to get the date correct. That was even knowing that Monday next week is the one-th of June. (Not that it matters – the first two are going halfway across country.)

            • harpie says:

              It was number 7 for me [both the check and the register], the month was consistently 3 instead of 5…sigh.

    • Rayne says:

      Wow, I haven’t thought of Erma in ages. Used to read her column all the time as a kid. My mom would bust a gut laughing if she thought of me as Erma. Thanks for the chuckle. :-)

      • Valerie Klyman-Clark says:

        Apropos of absolutely nothing-one of my favorite Erma Bombeck’s was about chin hairs. She said she “preferred to think of them as stray eyebrows.”

        It will never not be funny.

        • Rayne says:

          Oh jeepers. Now I have to hunt down some old Bombeck to see what else she wrote about menopause. Thanks for that!

  5. Nehoa says:

    Now working full time at home. Pets (a cat and a dog) think I am here all the time for their benefit and to give them attention. Gets awkward when they start fighting while I am on a Zoom or Skype call :).

    • Rayne says:

      I think pets are a nice punctuation for meetings, reminders that this is not normal and we should have a more relaxed set of expectations of ourselves. It’s going to be so hard to go back to offices where we can’t pet our furry friends when things get stressful, can’t rely on them as excuses to break up overlong conference calls.

      Now if only we could train them to break into internecine fights on cue… LOL

      Thanks for popping in, Nehoa. It’s good to see regulars pop in so we know they’re doing okay.

      • Peterr says:

        I was on a late afternoon Zoom call the other day with about 10 others, that was supposed to run until 6pm. At 5:30, however, the host’s camera suddenly started shaking. “Oops! That’s my dog that just bumped my computer.” We laughed, and then noticed a small dog walking on the top of the couch on which a second person was sitting. A third dog barked off camera, and then two other dogs responded from their owners’ feet. We realized that all these dogs were used to their owners getting home at 5:30, which was either time for dinner, time for a walk, or time for play.

        We ended our meeting at 5:32.

  6. Rapier says:

    It’s about understanding the relative risks.
    (poted on EW Twitter)

    The anti maskers think, or pretend to think, that the cautious people imagine imagine a world of 100% certainty that they will never acquiring the virus. This is wrong. Well I admit some people think that goal is impossible. Adults who can think know it’s about risk reduction. We are grown ups.

    The other thing the antis think is that prevention is hopeless, impossible. That is absolutely wrong.

    Morally, ethically, spiritually, practically, economically and ever other way you can think about it, reduction of the spread as much as practical is the best solution by a factor of 1 million, over the herd immunity case. The fewest cases at any one time is better for their care and as time goes on better treatments will increase.

    The herd immunity case is evil. That’s the Christian case in the US by the way. I’ve talked to a few antis and not a single one ever gave the slightest thought that their spreading of the virus is bad in any way. I mean the very idea that they may infect others does not enter their minds or if it is they never say it to me and I weedle them into saying it. They don’t. They just don’t believe anyone acts of their own volition in order to help of serve others. No, they are far too savvy for that. They despise anyone who says they are thinking of the benefit of others. Because they think they are lying. More than that they think helping others is bad if not evil. This has been the message of Evangelical Christians in the US for 40 years now. When Jerry Falwell moved beyond urging racial segregation to warning against charity.

    Unless or until non conservatives start to make moral arguments to shame our Christians team D will stay lost in the wilderness.

    • P J Evans says:

      The ones who scream about how lockdown is just like house arrest (or worse), and that it’s going to last forever, and want everything opened up now-now-NOW, those are people who are making it worse.

      • e.a.f. says:

        pandemic brain. o.k. I can look forward to that. On 15 March thought the third step from the bottom was the bottom step, fell, fractured my tibia. E.R. surgery, week in hospital, which was ramping up for COVID. then home. Home was 3 guys carrying me up a full flight of stairs to the floor I live on., Sibling has the ground floor. I’m still up here and because I knew I would be up here for 12 weeks, haven’t though much of not being able to go out. Then it hit me, can’t drive my truck.

        The sibling was warned by the G.P. to isolate because of fragile health. We haven’t seen each other since I got home and she saw me being carried in.

        Food is delivered from the grocery store every two weeks. Was prepared for the provincial lock down and had 8 weeks worth of food in the house. Had to have coffee and creamo.

        Have stopped watching t.v. can’t stand the noise. I think its a reaction to the broken leg, so I read short story westerns, which I don’t know where this is coming from. sleep an awful lot, perhaps its the leg.

        I am fortunate that the house over looks green space, so there are forested areas and Mount Benson, with eagles.

        As to not knowing the date, I retired in 1998, so I haven’t known the date for a long time. No financial worries. have pensions, federal and employer.

        Most people I know are happy with the federal government response and our Provincial government’s response. Our chief medical officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry is amazing. She also worked in Africa during the Ebola crisis. there are those who think this should have happened or that, but its easy being a quarter back from the arm chair after the fact. Our P.M. has said the border with the U.S.A. will remain closed except to essential traffic (medical and commerce–trucking). Most except Alberta are fine with that and want it extended beyond 24 June. Our National Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tam is also amazing. Actually all of the chief medical officers have done a great job. they appear for a news conference every day except sunday, when we are told, how many new cases, total cases, hot spots, deaths, in ICU.

        I do worry about the Americans because there is a lack of leadership in many areas and none to speak of at the federal level. My concerns are also the lack of social programs if the economy really tanks.

    • Peterr says:

      That’s the Christian case in the US by the way.

      Like hell it is.

      That may be what portions of the Fundy rightwing believe, but it’s hardly “the” Christian position.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Totally agree as an Episcopalian married to a Roman Catholic. I’m also tired of these Pharisees masquerading loudly as self-proclaimed Christians while not paying attention to who came off the worst in Jesus’ eyes (it’s in Matthew as well as the Didache): the hypocrites who wore their faith on their sleeves.

        And the so-called “prosperity gospel” makes me sick. After all, more than a few of these clowns said to give the $1200-per-capita check for household expenses, etc. to their coffers.

        • P J Evans says:

          Tithes aren’t supposed to be 10% of your gross income, they’re supposed to be 10% of your net – that’s after taxes and expenses. Muslims figure it for 2 or 3% of your gross income: it isn’t supposed to impoverish you or leave you in the red.

    • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

      I think humans are a messy space accident and it is unlikely there is a bearded anthropomorphic voyeur capriciously damning human souls to a fiery pit. It is also true that right-wing religious extremists are damaging our society and the world, and I wouldn’t mind if all organized religion magically disappeared.

      That being said, I know a lot of religious folks who take this pandemic, and the obligations it places on them, seriously. These same folks spend a lot of time helping out others in need without any mention of religion. They care about others and hate seeing the GOP trash our country.

      The civil rights movement has long and deep ties to the Christian Church.

      Maybe consider narrowing that brush a little?

    • civil says:

      I’ll second the recommendation for that article. Here’s another I found useful re: assessing which activities are more/less risky:

      And here’s another link that I watched and appreciated recently, a short piece from Dr. Craig Spencer (ER doc in NYC, also an Ebola survivor) about “We have been trying to bear witness, every day. But we can only scream and Tweet so loudly. This is the raw pain of our reality” (video/animation in the tweet)

  7. bloopie2 says:

    One routine that hasn’t changed too much is the board games. We have a whole selection of them and whenever everyone was home for a holiday or birthday, all six of us would sit down at the kitchen table and go as far as we could into the evening with the trivia or the drawing (“Telestrasions” is great, by the way). Now it’s two or three of them on remote via some video magic our daughter works, but we’re still going at it of the evening, mostly with the trivia as that genre seems most amenable to over the air play. It’s fascinating; I grew up with board games, of course, and now they are going as strong as ever. Did they ever really go out of fashion? What is it about them–the provision of a common topic of conversation for disparate folk? Whatever it is, it’s great; just a bit different mode of operation.

    • Legonaut says:

      Some time ago, I made a suspension rig for my smartphone (out of Lego, of course) that would hang from the light over my dining room table. I join it to a Google hangout so other viewers can see the game board; we’ve had folks joining in from Detroit, Connecticut, Los Angeles and even Australia. Works great for any games with no hidden information (e.g. hands of cards), like the trivia/party games you mentioned.

      Recently, we’ve tried Tabletopia ( with some success (no affiliation). The games provide the assets (boards, cards, tokens, etc.) in a physical simulation of a tabletop environment; there’s some setup/initialization support, but rule enforcement is left up to the players. Kinda like the real thing. :-) Might be worth a look if you seek variety.

  8. PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

    My parents have been doing pretty well with not going out, but every now and then I find out they made a day trip to a small town and went in to a shop. I’m not sure I’m getting through to them that it’s not only themselves they need to protect, but the employees at these shops that might not have a choice about staying home.

    Same with them getting fast food occasionally. How can you look a 60 year old McDonald’s worker making $12 an hour in eye as they hand you food, gloved and masked?

    I’ve stopped ordering things from Amazon or having food delivered as often – I’m not willing to push my risk off on to low wage “gig” workers or delivery drivers. When I do break down I’m tipping a lot more than usual.

    One upside – less traffic in the city, making it easier to try out curbside pickup of restaurants in areas normally congested by traffic. Had arepas for the first time – delicious.

    Talking to my cat a lot more than usual. She still mostly ignores me.

    Hope your kids start cleaning up after themselves in the kitchen!

  9. OldTulsaDude says:

    I notice in myself an underlying apathy that borders on fatalism. Or is that depression? But I think it has more to do with the state of the political world than the quarantine.

      • bmaz says:

        OTD and Harpie. It is okay to be worried. But not fatalism, people paying attention and caring is the cure. It may be depressing at any given instant, but informed people making change is the only real path out of the rabbit hole.

  10. Peterr says:

    The biggest change at our house is the announcement “I’ve got a Zoom conference” or some similar tech-based conversation. It might be me and church stuff, or The Kid dealing with his teachers and classmates, but either way, that means the rest of us have to keep quiet so that work can get done. There’s a big difference between this and simply being on the phone with someone, and the two who aren’t Zoom give the one who is the space to do what needs to be done.

    There’s also a little silent game of Charades that gets played when one of these Zoom meetings needs to get interrupted. First is a wave to get your attention, then the gesture that means “are you on mute?” . . .

  11. Jenny says:

    Thanks Rayne for sharing your “up close and personal” experiences. Have you thought of building a tree house and moving in?

    This pandemic pregnant pause has been a breathing space for me after caring for my sick mom for 6 months. Rough and grueling experience until she died in March. The last 2 months has been warp speed to get my dad to sell his home and discard decades of stuff. I go and do what is needed and then come home to my sanctuary for rest connecting only with family and close friends.

    Being conscious of staying healthy I wear a mask, wash hands and utilize social distancing. Therapeutic is cooking delicious meals, baking and drinking excellent wines. Down sizing because I have too much stuff. Cleaning on the outside is cleaning on the inside. I have enjoyed no traffic, the sound of birds singing and seeing animals return because humans were hibernating.

    For me a time of introspection plus helping those in need.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Jenny, I’m so sorry about all you have been through. I lost my mom in 2018 after sharing caregiving responsibilities with my two sisters for a year. After Mom died we embarked on the emotionally and physically exhausting project of emptying and selling her house. I cannot imagine how you’ve borne up through this in the midst of a pandemic; it often felt unendurable to me during “normal” times. Now I feel blessed to have my father, who is almost 90, still (relatively) healthy albeit hundreds of miles away. I wish you and your father peace and good health.

    • Eureka says:

      Hi Jenny, you continue to be in my thoughts since your mom passed. To enter this phase after a long bout of caregiving, having the spirit to pare down in the midst rising insecurities, is something I admire.

      If you or others have advice on logistics of cleaning out a parent’s (or one’s own) home in the pandemic where you cannot have things like garage sales, etc., to lighten the load, I would appreciate it. I am afraid a lot would have to go to a landfill, creating so much more waste and enormous costs/fees to boot.

      • Jenny says:

        Eureka thank you.
        A huge challenge. First family chose what they wanted to keep then close friends. Gave to charity, Goodwill and Salvation Army; however they stopped taking items because they were overwhelmed (check sites for updates). Habitat for Humanity takes furniture/items but do not pick up, so we took to them. Sold furniture to a buyer, sold on Craigslist and community sites and sold items to friends and friends of friends. Gave away furniture to people willing to haul it away. Recycled lots then threw away that which was broken and old. Boxed up items to eventually give to charity when they open again (just need a place to store). Books are an issue because libraries are closed. Gave away to friends plus some charities takes books. Unfortunately, items did go to the dump (old garage shelves, large broken items, etc.).

        We encouraged friends to take items and pass them on (a friend’s brother moved into a new apartment, he got lots of items). Gave away furniture to those in need. As we went through the process, one thing unfolded into another. It was physically and emotionally draining; however my father wanted items to have a good home.

        Someone suggested to put out items on the side walk in in front of the house with a sign stating “free.” We did not do so but others have with success.

        As for cleaning out my space, I take it one drawer one closet at a time. Otherwise too overwhelming. All a process from one room and one item at a time. Patience; however once in the cleaning zone, you feel light and free. Cleansing is healing in my book. Hope this helps.

        • Rayne says:

          What a lot of work, Jenny. I need to muster some additional energy to do Swedish Death Cleaning around here because I don’t wish on my kids what you’ve been going through. At least the slower pace of Stay Home time before the golf courses here reopened encouraged long-overdue repairs like new shed doors.

          One suggestion regarding the books, assuming they are in good to excellent shape: use Alibris to look for used book stores closest to you. If there’s one within a reasonable driving distance, I’d ask them if they wanted the books you have, will probably need a list, though, of what’s on offer. Might be helpful to take a snapshot of them in a group, spines out with titles showing, and send them that. If they don’t want them you can put them on Craigslist under Free but it may take a while to move them. My mom has long volunteered at nonprofit consignment shops where they take books but if they have too many they simply end up putting them in a dumpster for the landfill. Can’t hurt to Google “how to recycle books” to see if a more local option comes up to avoid the landfill. Best of luck to you.

          • Jenny says:

            Excellent Rayne. Thank you.

            After this experience, I’ve come to the conclusion a “Swap Meet” is needed to share the items and save the planet from too much stuff. I am going for the Zen look.

            • Rayne says:

              Oh! You just jogged my memory. Try looking for a local “swap meet” through I just checked my locale and somebody is trying to offload some books, too. LOL Good luck!

              • Jenny says:

                Great! Also Little Free Libraries we have in my area plus I might just put a box out that says “Free Books” help yourself.

              • P J Evans says:

                When I moved to Texas, I ended up donating books to a charity – I can’t remember if it was veterans or religious, but it wasn’t either the Sallies or Goodwill. (I wish I’d kept some of them.)

            • Ginevra diBenci says:

              Thank you to Jenny and Rayne and everyone offering advice on this daunting process. My father died suddenly this morning in Charlotte, NC (almost certainly of Covid). My two sisters and I are stunned and preparing to do all this from 800+ miles away. During a pandemic. If anyone has specific *long-distance* suggestions to share, I would be deeply grateful. Right now, trying to get phone numbers for his friends from his cell phone which is locked inside his house, I feel like I’m attempting robotic surgery without any robots. Godspeed to all.

              • bmaz says:

                Hi Ginevra, I completely join Harpie and Jenny in condolences and best wishes. It may be spirited at times, but there is a real community here, and they are very good at helping each other through things. When you need to, talk to us.

              • Rayne says:

                I am so sorry, Ginevra. If you have any overlapping persons in social media with your father and other family members you might recruit them to help research other contacts online. You might also contact a funeral home near your father’s location and ask them for guidance as they have surely been dealing with the same challenges with other grieving families. An obituary for publication in local paper as well as a social media version would be helpful sooner rather than later. I wish I had more constructive suggestions but I don’t. Please extend my condolences to your sisters.

                EDIT: Two sites which may offer guidance in case you haven’t already obtained an actionable list from which to start:

                Consumer Reports


                Other community members reading this might do well to browse these two sites and ask yourselves if you have what you need if a family member or close friend should die unexpectedly, or if your family and friends are likewise prepared.

              • Eureka says:

                Ginevra, I am so sorry for your loss. I saw your note on the other page, where this grief mixes with societal betrayal, and I am so sorry for you to bear those compoundments, too. My condolences to your family; Godspeed to you and yours as well.

                I also have to do this from long distance, if I figure out anything practicable beyond what’s suggested so far, I’ll let you know. [I am seriously concerned with things like do we need to get urinals (so also privacy shields?) to avoid rest-stops (and they were closed anyway).]

                Again, my best to you.

              • Molly Pitcher says:

                Ginevra, I am so very sorry for your loss. I know that there is a company, BioOne that specializes in assisting with the home where someone has died. They can handle a home that has has a Covid 19 person.


                You and your family are in my thoughts.

                • Ginevra diBenci says:

                  Thanks are not enough to express my gratitude to all of you, or how much it means to me that you took the time to reach out to me. Rayne, we have located the Charlotte funeral home that took care of our step-mother’s arrangements in 2018, and I will be drafting an obituary to send there. And bmaz, yes, I have noticed the “spirited” nature of the interchange here, but if I hadn’t sensed the depth and good faith of the community I never would have taken my first hesitant steps to join in, and I certainly never would have shared this. All of us owe you, Rayne, Marcy, and the veterans a huge debt of gratitude.

                  • Rayne says:

                    Thank you for the update, Ginevra. I had wondered if you were able to find a funeral home with which you were comfortable handling your father’s death. Hope the last of your family’s responsibilities to your father will go smoothly.

        • Eureka says:

          Jenny, thanks so much for taking the time to relive and share this and lay it all out, and to others for additions. You really did help a lot, and I feel a little sparked to some ideas or different approaches particular to my situation.

          I have to do this with three abodes (helping another), long distance, and move. It’s the lack of ways and ease of getting rid of stuff (to the proper destinations) that’s bogging me, besides travel and managing to get vacation time “at the right time” (avoiding a spike during what is supposed to be our virus relaxment phase, which these yokels are working *really hard* to ruin), and other logistics. Pre-corona restrictions, I had this picture of freely putting stuff outdoors and it going. Will have to prepare, then, for storage of at least some things. And lots of iterative steps. And hope for good weather. I do wish our bodies were of earlier decades ;)

          The other thing, because of all the uncertainty and changes (the recession, the lurking fascism; ancestors who went through the Great Depression and WWII austerities): I find it hard to decide what I will “need”, and so what to keep. [And while our regular donation channels remain shutdown, I have had plenty of time to swill in not deciding.] I am hoping that your Zen attitude reminds me of my own.

          I saw a picture of an empty, beautiful beach somewhere, and boy did it look *delicious.*

          • Jenny says:

            Eureka, you are welcome.
            What helped me was one moment, one day at a time. Being in the now. That way I didn’t feel overwhelmed.
            Once you start the process of being in the “cleansing zone,” it will feel fluid and flow.
            You will know what you need. Needs are personal. For me no clutter, using functional items and easy access. I kept a few sentimental items. Everything has it’s place in a clean space.
            My father said he wanted his “items to have a good home.” I agree, so shared much with others.
            You can do it. Sending good vibrations to help you along.

      • civil says:

        If you have a Freecycle list in your area, you could offer items there. If you’re not familiar with Freecycle, it’s a set of listervs around the country where people offer or request items for free, often in good shape but sometimes not, with the goal of keeping things out of landfill.

  12. Valley girl says:

    Rayne, thanks for all your contributions re: the virus since the beginning.

    Here’s my situation: I have cataracts in both eyes, and I had finally worked up the courage to plan to have surgery, thinking of February. Well that got nixed by me. But I don’t see things getting any better soon re: the pandemic, and I stressed out when I try to figure out what to do. I know my sight has gotten worse over the past three months.

    If any one here can offer me a better way than just stewing about it, and having a EW meltdown, please do.

    • rosalind says:

      welp, both sisters-in-law and a good friend just had cataract surgery this year, with good results. mileage may vary. i had a needed medical test cancelled because of covid-19, but they recently re-scheduled contingent on a negative covid test. our local lab has ramped up capacity so i was able to get tested and into the appt. no problem.

      first, i’d check to see what measures the place you’d have surgery are taking re. covid. if they require patient pre-testing, and the staff all wear PPE, then i’d think you’d be OK. but…

    • Peterr says:

      But I don’t see things getting any better soon . . .

      I see what you did there.


      In all seriousness, I’d reach out to your eye surgeon and ask what is going on with their practice. As a pastor, I see a great deal of variation in how different medical facilities are doing things — not because some are careful and some are sloppy, but because each one has different patient loads, different PPE supplies, different physical facilities, etc.

      I stressed out when I try to figure out what to do.

      My suggestion is simple: don’t try. Reach out to your doctor, lay out your questions/concerns, and let them figure it out with you. If you trust them enough to let them poke in your eyes with sharp objects, you can probably trust them to know whether it’s safe to do the poking right now.

    • Valley girl says:

      Thanks rosalind and Peterr. Your responses mean a lot to me. Yes, I need to stop stressing (scared avoidance mode) and get info, as you suggest. I don’t have an eye surgeon yet. Back when I was first facing up to this, I checked around the practices in the Atl area. Too bad Emory Eye got the worst rating, absolutely, as it only a few miles away. The best rated overall is +20 miles away.

      I’m not doing much driving. Only along 2 routes to pharmacy and grocery store that I know by heart, less than 3 miles away.

      I’ve heard only one bad report of many about the surgery, something about wrong distance lens. Otherwise, very positive experiences. I’m just scared b/c I’ve never had surgery of any kind, and don’t like having my eyes messed with. Sigh.

      But thank you both. And Peterr for the very sane advice of let the doc do the worrying.

      • P J Evans says:

        My mother had that surgery, and she didn’t have any problems. I think they use a local anesthetic, but you do have to not stress them for a few days after. (I’m supposed to get the port out of my shoulder. If the virus hadn’t come along, it would have been done already. Fortunately, it’s something that *can* be postponed.)

        • Valley girl says:

          PJ, mother had cataract surgery years ago, and it didn’t phase her at all.

          Hope all goes well with your medical procedure, when it’s possible.

          • P J Evans says:

            They put it in using the radiology room, because they needed to use ultrasound to make sure they got the right vein. It was a local anesthetic with surgical glue to cover the two incisions, and took maybe as much as an hour, though I was there much of the day with all the cr*p beforehand. (Taking it out may be interesting, but I don’t know if they’ll let me keep the hardware after.) It will be three years in November.

            • Eureka says:

              That’s a long time. I remember an old prof saying how medical appliances like ports (back then, lots of folks who had them had them for things like dialysis) become part of the person. Which makes me think that you wouldn’t be the first person (to ask) to keep the hardware, either.

      • drouse says:

        My sister is an ophthalmic surgeon and I’ve learned a bit about the nuts and bolts of cataract surgery. These procedures are the bread and butter of her practice. I think the first consideration is whether the doctor has or uses a specialized surgical center. My sister says it is more common than not for larger practices to have their own facilities rather than use a local hospital’s operating theaters. I would think that would make it easier to control possible sources of infection than in a hospital that might be dealing with COVID cases. Second, experience matters. A good surgeon can restore your vision to near 20/20 with the right lens choice. You are also looking at two separate procedures a month or so apart. It’s an outpatient procedure and takes like 30 minutes including putting you under. It helps if you have someone at home to help with the multiple types of eye drops multiple times a day. Once the doctor is sure about the one the other one will be scheduled. At least that is how things work at my sister’s practice

        So go for it.Specialized equipment makes it so routine that complications from the procedure itself are rare. Even more so in facilities built just for eye surgery. All you have to lose are your glasses. And did I mention the colors? With perfectly clear lenses you will be seeing colors you have forgotten existed.

        An interesting thing about the replacement lenses, In addition to coming in a wide range of diopters, the are twist to lock. They have three tabs around the circumference and the doctor just twists them a few degrees clockwise and they anchor themselves in the cornea. No need for sutures or anything else to secure them during healing.

        • bmaz says:

          Drouse, that is a great comment for VG. Extremely helpful. Every year I go in for an eye exam. Dr. is wonderful, but every time she says, “you are not close yet, but someday we may have to do cataract surgery”.Last time I finally asked what in the world that really entailed, and she basically said what you just did. And they have their own little center at their practice. Still hoping to avoid that day for many more years, but she sure made it sound okay. VG, you will be fine, but do find the right place and doc.

          • drouse says:

            It’s amazing what you can learn when you’re trying to divert the dinner conversation from what’s going on in your life. Dinner talk can be interesting. After thirty some odd years of practice, she has lost a little bit of sense about the appropriate level of gory details over the appetizers. .

            • Valley girl says:

              Hi drouse. I just found my way back to the computer. Thank you!

              I’m responding to the above so that this reply doesn’t get mixed in with responses below. As bmaz indicates, this is excellently helpful and reassuring information. Thank you so much for taking the time to give the details of what to look for and what to expect. Heart emoji.

              Gory details eh? I’m sure you mean the eye drops. ;>)

      • Molly Pitcher says:

        Valley Girl, My mother-in-law turned 90 last week. At 87 she finally had cataract surgery and is REALLY kicking herself. She has been legally blind, if she wasn’t wearing her ‘coke bottle’ glasses, for most of her life. She says the stupidest thing she has done in life was not getting her eyes ‘done’ sooner.

        Her Mother and Grandmother both lived alone, as does she, until 105, so she figures she will get her monies worth from the surgery, but she could have been glass-less for years.

        Take the next step and find a Dr.

    • Eureka says:

      I intend to address everything I know needs attention this summer, like it’s a deadline. (And ‘intend’ puts us in the same boat as not yet making the relevant arrangements, but I’ve at least made/assumed that decision and will back-plan accordingly.)

      I get it about the eyes, I have a thing about eyes, too, and also the no (real) surgery thing.

      • Valley girl says:

        Thanks Eureka. Yeah!

        I was in the presence of a particularly obnoxious teenager who thought it was fun to use two fingers and launch them as if she was going to poke both of my eyes. I warned her that I had a very strong reaction to having my eyes messed with, and my automatic uncontrolled reaction if she kept it up might be to give a her good hard blow to the head. She stopped.

        • Peterr says:

          Years and years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I was traveling with my church’s youth group. At a big worship event, I was cleaning my glasses when I got jostled from behind, and my glasses went flying. Out of my hands, up in the air, and down onto the concrete. This was back before 24 hour glasses were a thing, and I suddenly found myself not just without vision, but my whole role of adult counselor was turned upside down.

          As I looked at the group, I fell back on colors.My internal dialogue was simple: “Bill is wearing the shirt with red and blue blobs, Irene is wearing a blouse with black and blue, and George’s shirt is green.” But then, as if they were reading my mind, Bill and George and all the other boys start trading shirts, and I’ve got no idea who is wearing what. But one of them takes my hand, puts it on their shoulder, and tells me “It’s OK – I’ll be your seeing eye teenager.”

          As planned beforehand, we went to a big amusement park. We’d get in a line, and I’d ask what the ride was, and the kids would make a joke out of it. “This is a big carousel driven by donkeys.” As we got to the ride itself, however, it became apparent that it was a roller coaster, and I’m not a roller coaster guy. At all. Not even a little bit.

          But oddly, because I could not see the twists and turns and big downhill runs, I didn’t have an opportunity to get scared. Gotta love seeing eye teenagers.

        • Eureka says:

          LOL I can almost see the look on said teenager’s face when that sunk in and she (perhaps) withdrew the last poke.

          I first realized I had an eye thing when I got ‘queasy’ in the arms while observing an eye enucleation (for organ donation). Generally nonplussed with procedures and gore and such, but the eyes…

          • P J Evans says:

            The idea of eye surgery makes me a bit queasy, too. Eyes are very much a part of who we are. (The optometrist said I have the beginnings of cataracts, but that was three or four years ago and I think age is changing them more than that.)

    • madwand says:

      I had cataract surgery in both eyes in a surgical center but it was done in two separate operations as the doctor advised if for some reason the first one failed. So had the first then the second two weeks later after the first eye’s vision had stabilized. Everything fine. I had to get a monocular lens not a biocular as the Feds wouldn’t approve the biocular for flight. It probably corrected most of my far vision and I still had to wear glasses for reading and what they call panel distance, instruments and such.

      Having breakfast at a diner and talking about it to the waitress one day, she had got two lens also, in one eye for reading and the other for distance. I thought that was cool and designed for her job and living, however it would take a bit getting used to.

      In my neck of the woods almost no one is wearing a mask under 50. It’s a real shame, the ones who don’t wear masks think they are personally bullet proof and have no conscience about passing it to others. Prior to covid I used to spend my mornings in Starbucks reading the current book and seeking conversations. I was a regular. They just reopened and I went by and the parking lot was packed. So for the moment discretion being the better part of valor, I declined. I’ll let it go a couple weeks and try again. But that means I’m home and my Keurig has to bear the burden of my coffee addiction. I was kinda grateful when I realized, belatedly this AM that they had designed the thing in case you forget to put the cup under the spout.

      My dog is also grateful as I am now home and she can pester the crap out of me. But I’ve tried to make the walks longer, both for her and myself. Have a doctors appointment tomorrow, it’s a six month checkup and ill be masked up with gloves on, hope they are too.

      • vvv says:

        Until recently, my daughter worked at Starbucks (she now works at a short-term facility for girls and young women with eating disorders, suicidal tendencies, etc., more in her current college study area). Because the employees get free coffee and the ability to buy at discount, etc., I have quite a bit of different coffees here.
        Re going to to Starbucks, other than the candy drinks, I never cared for their stuff – it always seemed burned and cooked too hot.
        I’m here to tell ya’s, makin’ it at home (grinding from beans) is some of the best I’ve ever had. Turns out for me, the product is awesome, it was just the prep kept me from there.
        My prescription for you to consider (don’t do it! ;-D ):
        ht tps://

        • madwand says:

          Hey thanks for all that, sounds like your daughter is doing well. That’s great! It’s smiles from baristas like your daughter that make my day, and, I like and miss Starbucks more for the interactions than the coffee, so thanks for the link. Having lived on both coasts I can tell you there is a difference between Starbucks normal fare like Pike or Blonde or Christmas and I stick to traditional coffee, sans shots of expresso or whatever. I’m just guessing the difference is the water. I stay away from the candy also.

          It is interesting though how we all have to replace or modify our lives in the midst of this pandemic, doesn’t seem like anyone gets by without some sort of change.

        • P J Evans says:

          I’m not a coffee drinker, but I gather that the Green Mermaid over-roasts their coffee. (I used to buy closeout coffee at the supermarket and take it to work for the people who wanted a change of flavors. The company provided coffee, but it didn’t have a lot of variety.)

      • Valley girl says:

        madwand. thanks for the added info. You’ve given me more to think about. I’ll have to learn more about binocular lenses as implants. I finally got prescription glasses 2 years ago, to correct my distance vision so I could be sure to pass the driving (chart) test. Lower part (bifocals) proved the wrong choice, b/c I didn’t get a large enough area for close vision… never mind, that probably doesn’t make sense. But clearly lens choice has to take into account what kind of work one does.

        Never thought about one type of lens for one eye and another for the other. I guess your waitress conv. indicated it can work. On the face of it, it sounds like it would be brain scrambling!

        • madwand says:

          Yep I think state of the art is the biocular, I would have done it if the FAA allowed it, they didn’t at the time. If your doc has a surgical center, you’re going to get at least two bills, one from the doc and one from the surgical center. It’s like being in a surgery room in a hospital, but doctors like the arrangement because they keep more of the mula for themselves. In regard to the waitress thing as I understood it at the time your brain over a short period of time adjusts to it, and you have limited problems. However be sure, because like in my case getting new lenses would be very problematic and most likely not worth it.

  13. Peterr says:

    The other big change in our household relates to Mrs Dr Peterr’s mother, who is in an assisted living center about 10 minutes away from us. We are very happy with the precautions they are taking — when they err, it’s going to be on the side of being too cautious, which is just the way it should be. But not being able to see her is tough on me and The Kid, and especially tough on Mrs Dr Peterr. Her mom has a nice first floor room, but it faces an interior courtyard area so we can’t even wave at her through the window. We are responsible for her laundry, so she bags up her dirty clothes and the staff bring it to the front door for us to collect. When we bring anything for her — whether it’s the clean laundry, her favorite snacks, a case of bottled water, or anything else — it goes in a storeroom for 72 hours before they deliver it to her room.

    Now *that* is a lockdown.

    • Eureka says:

      I am really glad to hear that you all are pleased with how things are going at your MIL’s facility, that weight would be unbearable atop the no visiting.

      I tend to let the groceries sit to ‘dry out’ for a few days, though I acknowledge some risk mitigation fatigue.

  14. Tracy Lynn says:

    Business has cratered for my husband and me, so we have had lots of time to consider our next moves if the economy comes back. We also miss volunteering in our community, so when I heard that a local organization needed people to haul donations of food and personal items for the local farm worker population on the coast, we jumped at the chance since we have a large pickup truck. We spent half of Friday loading people’s cars for them once ours was filled and Saturday we caravanned the hour and a half distance to deliver our goodies. Farm workers have no choice not to work. And if they quarantine, there’s no money for food.

  15. Eureka says:

    Oh, goodness. Well, my quarantine brain had in mind what to say until taking the ride through everyone’s very moving replies, and reflecting, and well now it’s coming out differently.

    I’d read the first part of your post and was ~lol cringing~, but reliving it from the lovebirds’ point of view. We used to cook together on Friday college nights (and at his mom’s), and I can only imagine how that would go in corona time. I was especially recalling once when we got some squid to make calamari (hilarity ensued; it was OK). I tried to quickly tell him about your post and the memory and the ‘omg, what would your mom have done’ as I was seeing him out the door to the Place Where Sick People Go.

    That’s one of the weird changes structurally in how we navigate our home that creates a different feeling, seeing him off from where he left his shoes, tools, badges, and whatnot at the door instead of within our normal living space. It gives a 50s-tv-show-ish sense that ends in a rush, and, well, one of ‘seeing him off’ to something. I don’t even remember if I got out the part about, “Remember when we made calamari” — I think I did — before watching him drive away.

    So some changes are daily, and sometimes I pause about their strangeness; the ones that hurt are in moments.

    Like when I stop myself from wrapping him in a hug and kissing him on the back of the neck when he first sits down, like I used to. Now, barring a hood (tho maybe doffing particles anyway) or soapy shower, that’s one of the most exposed areas.

    Or like a flash of betrayal-rage when the news airs some free-rider declaring, “If people want to stay home, fine, let them, they can choose that. But we want to ….. We have a right to …” while s/he cuts someone’s hair in defiance of local orders and caseload. (Shortly after one such , the paper had an article about HCW feeling like pawns in a game with these ‘re-open’ stunts; just the bearing of witness made me feel better). So many people have to be out there every day at so many jobs, besides the (rare) dips out that many of must us take … the propagated binary “stay home if you want to (sissies and weaklings)” is fucking infuriating. Talk about trolls and their myriad methods and misrepresentations of the facts.

    The trauma is quiet and I see and share it from my own point of view. There’s no way to put this to words that doesn’t feel trite to me, but when people you’ve known or worked alongside for years end up in the ICU, some make it, some die, and no one can mourn like normal, and it’s back into the pool the next day… perhaps one’s numbers hit — Sheila Jackson – style — and an invitation to the drive- through arrives …

    And the moral injuries and people’s suffering in new* ways accumulate. Besides what we talk about, I witness how he witnesses things; our own Peircean chains of signification.

    It’s brought home, it is home; it’s part of our family’s and social network’s new normal, it’s just life. It’s quiet, matter-of-fact, there. In the background, sometimes the foreground.

    • Eureka says:

      *This quote from an ID doc is unforgettable now to me as well, and sums our crazy times:

      The patient he can’t forget: “She was in her 50s. She was pretty sick. Her oxygen levels were very low and she needed to be intubated, but she was wide awake — talking, and she wanted to call her grown sons. She wanted to call them before she went on a breathing machine, basically, in case she didn’t get off. She pulled out her cell phone and her battery was dead. She didn’t have a charger and she didn’t know their phone numbers because they were stored in her phone, and just the look on her face when she realized that she could die without ever talking to her sons again. It was tough to watch. That was hard.”

      ‘I usually cry in my car’: 3 Philly doctors talk about months of battling coronavirus

      This is the article re the ‘pawns in a game’ (which I think translates to far more than HCW):

      Help for the helpers: Health-care workers feel more stress and anxiety than ever as coronavirus restrictions lift

      • Peacerme says:

        This story brought me to tears. Again. It’s just life but it seems so much harder when our need to connect is being threatened. The one thing that makes us human is that we are pack animals hard wired to love. Thank god for all of you on this site. Near or far, we need to connect to live. Love you all. Just for the fact that we all know the truth when we see it. And we see it here!

  16. paulpfixion says:

    That was a lovely snapshot of your home, Rayne. I like the image of your adult child asking questions while both you and their zoom/telephone date answer.

    Here in China things feel like they are returning to a more pre-pandemic normal, at least for daily life. Feel being the operative word as there is a heightened unease given the existential angst of a 2nd wave, the political realities that shall not be discussed outside of closed circles, and economic anxiety. Mask wearing in public is over 90% on the streets, 100% in stores other crowded areas. Schools have mostly returned to in person classes, this just happened recently. There are restrictions on travel to other cities even within province, and a mishmash of rules concerning mandatory quarantines and restricted areas.

    The expat community is gathering at cafes and pubs again, but balcony/rooftop barbecuing is seeing a surge as small familiar gatherings and board game evenings have become de riguer. “Charcoal” doesn’t exist here, one must barbecue with actual coal bricks. They take forever to light and then burn all night. At my apartment we have finished painting and almost all of the house repairs in the time of cholera that there are to be done (there are always more), and are turning to the balcony garden and houseplant encouragement.

    Many folks have left. Some remain only because it is more dangerous to return to the States or the UK, etc. right now. There are no non-essential flights into the country, and it was recently reported that those would not be allowed until Oct at the earliest. Many people are stranded back in their home countries while their leases here expire and their belongings become extra problematic. One retired gentleman, who is now miserable in his hometown of Leeds, is going through this. We are going to move his stuff to another friend’s apartment. The other friend is stuck in Cambodia, unable to come back either, but more able to pay for a space he doesn’t inhabit.

    Non-employment visas have been extended so far each time a visa holder is due for a visa run, as they wouldn’t be able to return if they were forced to leave (often they have to leave the country every 60-90 days, depending on their visa, permanent residence is not often awarded here). I view them as the canaries in the coal mine. If their visas are cancelled and they are forced to leave then we will know that work and study visas might soon be next. Every sign of late from the ongoing events in the far western provinces, to journalists being forced out, to the new security law regarding HK, to the official language of “peaceful reunification” being changed to “reunification,” to the online haranguing of the overseas students who would like to return home, points to the gates being closed.

    On a brighter note–it has been fun to have more regular zoom calls with friends from back home as video calling has become more a typical part of life.

    Reading all of the excellent content on emptywheel is a wonderful part of the morning coffee routine.

    • BobCon says:

      Thanks, I’m very interested in first hand reports on how other countries are reacting to declining cases. Unfortunately, the US press seems to have their minds elsewhere.

    • Rayne says:

      Thank for letting us know how things are going in China. Must be odd seeing a population so attuned to the possibility of a second wave while so much of the population here is in active denial about the first wave.

      I’m glad you’re enjoying your Zoom calls. My youngest gives me a hard time that we’re not Zoomers here, that we don’t do other video calling. Nope. I’m afraid my friends will have to do without my mug because I’m such a freak about cameras. I’d just be the box on the screen which looks like a Post-It note.

      Best to you, keep us posted on how things get on in China.

      • paulpfixion says:

        Thanks for the kind words, Rayne. It is odd to see what is happening back home. The folks here see the virus as an enemy they must fight together. Watching the dissonance at home from afar is awful.

        • Rayne says:

          It’s important for us here and Americans abroad to keep in mind much of this dissonance has been cultivated over decades and within the last handful of years, depending on the entities at work. They certainly have been successful at sowing division. Can only hope for the best and keep plugging along.

  17. Legonaut says:

    Mrs. Legonaut & I are both software developers; we’ve both managed to start new jobs in April. (The hardest part has been trying to onboard entirely remotely, with people we’ve never met, working on large legacy codebases with huge learning curves.). Before her new job, Mrs. Legonaut was doing Shipt shopping & deliveries. (Many horror stories; the worst were people going to the store & idling around with no masks/gloves, like it was date night or something, because they were bored & no place else was open.) We know how lucky we are to have decent work, and to have jobs that minimize our personal risks.

    Most of our new co-workers are younger, with young families. In addition to pets making themselves known, the new normal includes frequently having small children join our meetings. (This usually entertains everyone, injecting some levity into a painfully dry meeting, and embarrasses the parent in question.) We cut them all the slack they need; I can’t imagine trying to homeschool/wrangle kids and telework full-time!

    The biggest change in our household is the constant anguish at all of the needless suffering, and the anger/outrage at the pathetic responses of our minority leaders and their asstard enablers. Several folks upthread have spoken of the ennui and near-paralysis resulting from trying to stay abreast of events, including but not limited to the pandemic. I certainly share that, especially since I’m online all day anyway & it’s way too easy to look at the train wreck.

    • Rayne says:

      Onboarding entirely remote can be rough — hard to feel like an intrinsic part of a team when one doesn’t have direct physical office space relationship with them. But a lot of this depends on management and what they do to ensure cohesiveness. Hope things will feel more holistic, unified as time goes on. With kids and pets entering into calls, probably feels more like a family business. LOL

      I feel you about the constant anguish. Just so goddamn frustrating to watch everything burning down and the encouraged denialism. No wonder this dog has remained so popular.
      Graphic: KC Green, Gunshow, January 2013
      [Graphic: KC Green, Gunshow, January 2013]

  18. Das Robot says:

    I happen to live with an authority on these things who doubles as my live in doctor hahaha!

    We have quarantine zones. Car, truck, motorhome and house. Nothing enters in any zone without being disinfected. Nothing goes into the house zone from the “outside” that hasn’t been disinfected or, if worn, it stays outside the house or goes into the washing machine. Shoes are particularly suseptable to picking up nasties off the floor. Her vehicle is disinfected after she comes home from the clinic/hospital. Mine three times a week.

    We do not use bags any more just plastic milk crates. Huge change! I doubt we’ll ever use a bag again! Yay! We sanitize the cart, shop, load the groceries into the cart while checking out and then from the cart into the crates in the truck. We’ve learned through this that bags for groceries of any kind are 100% waste. Even the reusable ones. As we load groceries (packaged) into the crates we spray them with 3% hydrogen peroxide and let it sit on the ride home. Veggies, fruit or open packages are put into produce bags if needed and disinfected at home.

    All packages delivered to the house get sprayed down with HP also. We use Lysol fabric disinfectant where needed but make our own alcohol wipes. We’ve been pretty good on hand sanitizer but I prefer food handler gloves and have an N99 reusable mask and she has N95s. I don’t have to wear it much except in stores or picking up lunch for her.

    We’ve doubled down since things are opening up some bc we know the people who didn’t care before care less now. Fact.

    • Das Robot says:

      OT but I’m just all giddy re the Florida Jones vs DeSantis ruling. If this stands Rs may never win a Presidential again for at least a few cycles. No path w/o Florida for Rs.

    • Rayne says:

      Milk crates — what a GREAT idea! I have a couple here which aren’t being used, would be so much easier to spray down than my reusable poly fabric bags. I am so fed up with the plastic waste which had grown bad with Trump’s trade war but has now gotten worse with this pandemic. Bothers me even more that the proliferation of plastic bags represents polypropylene which should be used to make masks and gowns/scrubs for health care workers.

      We’ve set up a staging area in the garage for decontaminating whatever enters the house. With the weather having warmed up I’ll have to set up a receiving cooler for items in the 72-hour hold stage in addition to the existing auxiliary fridge. I feel so bad for elderly folks who still live at home and are trying to handle this rigmarole on their own, must be exhausting to do the week’s shopping.

      I’ll have to get some hydrogen peroxide in larger quantity. We’ve been spraying everything delivered in plastic with alcohol but it does a number on some printed labels. HP won’t do that. One thing I want get is a steam cleaner. I have a steam floor mop which has been great but I’d like a handheld cleaner for fabrics and automotive interiors. Suspect some items will show deterioration earlier with so much exposure to disinfectants, steam might be an alternative provided the item can handle heat.

      Thanks for sharing your quarantine routine. It’s aggravating having to go to such lengths this far into the pandemic but better safe than sorry — and I’m glad you’re here and healthy.

      • bmaz says:

        I too like the Das Robot milk crates idea. Frankly, they are probably easier to portage (and clean) than even burlap or fabric reusable bags which we currently use here.

        • Valley girl says:

          A couple of liquor stores near me put out empty cardboard boxes. I had collected some 3 dozen late last year to pack with items for donation to the local kidney foundation thrift store. Some are full, but others are empty, as the thrift store has for now suspended pick up (and donations of any kind).

          I use free the cardboard boxes to keep groceries in- in my car trunk and hallway. One neighbor has been very kind about getting groceries for me. She phones when she’s outside my condo, and I use the remote to pop open the trunk lid. She puts the groceries in the cardboard boxes, and later I go out and with appropriate care, bring them to the hallway staging area where they stay in quarantine.

          I wish I had the luxury of a garage, but don’t.

            • Eureka says:

              I use cardboard boxes (or the large paper lawn bags) to ‘dry things out’ or store until laundering or reuse (shoes, uniforms), & for acquired dry goods. Better ventilated is safer, and IMO x the studies, corrugated cardboard would max harbor SARS2 x 24h, I don’t see it as a huge object-to-object transfer risk (and in any case should be max ~ 24h).

              I other words, that’s largely what we use here for similar purposes.

              Also have no garage, so I just trip over my grocery piles occasionally while they dry out, when i need to get into the ‘out of the way’ corner in which they reside (lol).

              • Eureka says:

                I use the most ventilatable boxes i can fit for the space (wider/lower profile but high enough to keep dog out) to maximize ventilation/ satisfice containment-to-ventilation needs.

                IMO (and per studies to date, namely that NEJM one on SARS2), cardboard is more ideal than plastic-based or smooth-surfaced containment surfaces. (Unless you want to get into cleaning plastic, or have the additional time to wait it out.)

              • Eureka says:

                ^ (Tho while noting the ~24h figure for cardboard, I let the stuff in it rest a few days as permissible. Homemade confidence intervals +/- mixed-surface packaging of the contents, and I am not one who cleans everything that comes into the house. Instead, it sits.)

                • Eureka says:

                  Also, I read with interest about people with cleaning supplies. I wouldn’t even know how to get them, they are never at the store in my ~monthly sojourns (I can’t even get a bottle of bleach or isopropyl or wipes of same).

                  • Das Robot says:

                    Dollar General oddly enough has been fantastic. Morning or two after their truck arrives. Ours shows up on Sunday. Check the link I pasted for what you need to buy. Google make my own wipes. Easy-peasy.

            • Das Robot says:

              Just that they’re harder to clean and eventually break down. They waste paper. Long term the plastic is better but the boxes are better than bags. Look into finding the crates and you’ll have a permanent solution forever. Spray them down with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide and let them dry and you’re good to go.

              • Eureka says:

                Thanks Das Robot for the tip, I’ll call one of their stores in my area to see if/when they have any basics.

                Maybe VG and I are the only ones still playing under card-table tablecloth forts, but reusing the boxes is a simple, free, easy solution for me for now. Originals still going strong.

                Also, I would definitely not call it wasteful of paper to reuse (or pre-use) boxes or bags before they reach their final (or intended) destinations in the recycling.

                Oh and those liquor store boxes are the best, with their shape, sturdiness, and dividers as needed — too bad they can’t be had anymore. I did hear about the insect risk (from their points of origin, like grocery stores) from the news. Caveat freecycler for sure.

            • Geoguy says:

              There is a concern with cardboard boxes. They can harbor bugs, real ones like roaches. The boat charter trade people don’t let their guests carry boxes onto the boats. They are to be emptied on the dock and each item inspected as it is carried aboard. Milk crates are a great idea. If you don’t like the idea of stealing them, you can get similar crates at stores that sell containers. The best ones have flanged bottom corners so they can be stacked.

      • Das Robot says:

        The authorities tell me that steam may not be ideal bc the heat would have to be somewhere near 112 degrees which is a bit much for what you’re trying to accomplish. We checked because her yoga studio at home gets up to 105 degrees but that’s not enough (from her reading-YMMV). We use Lysol disinfectant spray (EPA Reg# 777-99) or Clorox Fabric Sanitizer (bleach free EPA Reg# 5813-110) on fabrics. I soap and water the car stuff and leave overnight but also use alcohol wipes on streering wheel, door handles and anything that gets touched by a finger. If you have supply problems definitely get food handler gloves just make sure you’re careful not to touch your face etc. If you need info on Disinfectants for use against COVID here’s a CDC link:
        The HP is great stuff bc it’s not poison in that solution (ppl actually clean food with HP don’t know what %) but after it’s inactive it turns into water. I wouldn’t go around drinking it but it’s pretty safe and not as toxic as a lot of stuff. Re milk crates I assure you we will never use a bag again.

        • P J Evans says:

          3% is the usual strength of H2O2. Much stronger than that is considered hazardous – it’s actually fairly nasty at high concentrations. The lower ones break down from warmth (2 H2O2 -> 2 H2O + O2).
          They say that the big hazard from surfaces is touching something contaminated, then touching your eyes or nose – they are safe otherwise. And if you’re using cotton, it can be ironed at a temperature that’s high enough to fry bacteria and viruses. (Cotton – about 200C; linen – about 220C.)

          • e.a.f. says:

            Iron, you mean those things you use after stuff gets wrinkled, SO.O.K. Good to know actually. Some of my friends haven’t had irons for over 30 years. They may have to purchase one. I still have mine. Some irons which quilters use are amazing and very, very hot.

            • P J Evans says:

              Cotton and linen are the hottest settings – quilters mostly use cotton fabrics.
              I have my grandmother’s ancient iron, with the all-metal body, and the requirement for distilled water. (Mine is newer and can use tap water.) They’re essential if you sew.

  19. klynn says:

    Would anyone be willing to read this story link on DT donating his pay to covid19 assistance to HHS? I’m trying to make sure I am reading it correctly.
    Just ignore the whole routing number issue. It said it was his 4th quarter check. That ended Dec 31st. Was his previous donation just to HHS and his latest pay checks would also go to HHS? Was the 4th quarter check to HHS general fund or to HHS for covid?

    • Peterr says:

      It says that this check is the second one he’s donated to HHS, and the first one was for the fourth quarter of 2019.

      • klynn says:

        I read it that way as well. What I could not determine was covid19 as the reason for this most recent donation or was it the reason for the 4th quarter and this one? It’s a timeline concern.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Trumpian theater, but one of the rare times Trump uses his own money for charitable contributions. Usually, he takes credit for others’ donations. But his graft is legendary; he gets the money back by sundown.

      The US taxpayer heavily subsidizes Trump’s golf outings, for example, roughly 250 since taking office. The Secret Service just signed a $100,000 plus deal to rent golf carts – at full retail – at one of Trump’s clubs, to follow him along. It amounted to more than the amount of Trump’s official quarterly “earnings” from the presidency, which he donated to charity.

      • klynn says:

        I will note, if the 4th quarter donation to HHS was a covid19 donation, then Trump was listening to the advice and concerns coming from China and the WHO. That is something to look at in terms of the timeline on Covid and DT’s WHO and China complaints.

    • Rayne says:

      You’re too kind, harpie, so much so that I wonder if you’re laughing. I’m sure you know the rest of the truth is much grottier — like the first week when there was more yelling about KEEP IT DOWN IN THERE while the youngest was gaming LOUDLY as they have been in their university apartment. And now this week when the two of them can interact with each other and they are grumbling about it.

      Dad: I need their help working on the new shed doors and they aren’t finished with their gaming. Just how much can they game?
      Youngest: He wants me to come down and hold a measuring tape or hand him a shop pencil for an hour. Why? He won’t actually let me do anything useful.
      Me: ~sigh~ ~big slug of wine~

      • P J Evans says:

        One year I went to my parents’ house for Memorial Day, partly so I could read the ballot information pamphlet. I didn’t get to that – but I did get drafted to help my father put in a new back door. (I got to brace it straight in the frame.)

  20. Peacerme says:

    The most stressful part of this pandemic for me living in the red state of Nebraska is the divide between right and left politics. Our Governor has everything opening up on June 1st. My colleague, a mental health therapist has to go back to doing groups and sessions in person because her providers will no longer pay out for teleconferencing because the state will be open on June first. (I don’t take insurance so it’s a non issue for me, except she and I do two groups together). That’s the professional front. I’ve lost a few clients who opted out of teleconferencing for sessions because they think I am over reacting. I don’t care, I filled their sessions no problem. I am very lucky to not take insurance. I have clients who pay 5 dollars and even completely free. That’s how I like it. I ask, what can you comfortably afford to pay? But for taxes, I do just fine. But my poor colleague has to go back to seeing clients in person because big business says so.

    At home, the stress comes from sons girl friends family. Trumpers. My son and girl friend got pregnant in February. Baby due Oct 7th. They live in our basement. She wanted a gender reveal party. We suggested zoom or drive by. Her foster mom (her bio mom kicked her out for reporting physical abuse by step dad and has not spoken to her since she was removed from her home Christmas Eve at age 16. Sad story), doesn’t want to do anything that supports the need to quarantine. Foster mom wants a big party with 20-30 people because Nebraska is almost completely open. “It’s fine to gather”, she says. No worries. Except of course, the infection numbers are trending up ever since reopening began but this Governor could care less. Deaths up. Infections up. Hospital space filling up.

    Foster mom is a nurse. But foster mom insists certain family needs to be invited. She needs to invite 20-30 people. I tried to plan party for a shelter in a park out doors. Park shelters are closed till June 1st. Foster mom wants the party next weekend come hell or high water. Can’t post pone for some reason. Sons girl friend wants it at my house. Can’t be at foster moms house because she lives too far away in rural NE.

    Add to the story that my father is dying of end stage copd. He needs some minor surgeries but his health is so fragile he’s afraid of dying in the hospital alone. And afraid of contracting the virus. Everything is so stressful. He’s home, he’s dying, but when his oxygen level bottomed out due to carbon dioxide, he refused to sign the DNR at the hospital, because he didn’t want to die without my mom of 59 years being by his side. He was put in the coved ICU. Scary but probably safest unit because these patients if not positive for virus return to main stream hospital. So much confusion about his care!!! No one has it but the stress of this is so taxing. I can’t host a party with 30 people. I tell her I can’t do it because I need to stay quarantined so I can help with my parents and be there with them when he dies. She was fine but her foster mom was really putting the pressure on. Poor girlfriend felt caught in the middle. Trumper foster mom blames me. A pregnancy with my son in this pandemic. Stress. Plus a pro life doc, who says there is no risk to her or baby. Did I tell you she works in a nursing home?? Doctor also told her a 30 person party was perfectly safe as is her working in the nursing home. So stressful because she’s getting info from one side and my son is a 2nd year apprentice in the IBEW. He ain’t no fan of Trump and is very involved on the political end. He gets his info from “the other side”.

    The divide. The invalidation. The constant risk. The tragedies trying to be avoided and tragedies unavoidable. There is going to be some major PTSD, and I blame this administration for adding the most toxic ingredient of “invalidation”. ‘No, your life is not in danger, come on in, it’s safe, they said.” But you know better. “No you weren’t raped, you wanted it”. “No you weren’t beaten, we love you so much, we had to hit you.” So many invalidation triggers on top of so many major triggers. Slaves aren’t people. Indians aren’t people. Mexican children aren’t people. We didn’t hurt them, genocide is just a tool to help the unfortunate. Dear God. We are making so much insanity, every day. Truth sets us free. This site is my lithium, Prozac, Wellbutrin. We need truth. Maybe even more than to breathe. The biggest stress is trying to live in the truth. Especially when you live in a red state.

    As a therapist, I hear this division constantly within families. It’s heart breaking.

    • Rayne says:

      I’m so sorry, Peacerme. You are in such a difficult position, and you wouldn’t be if a few people you mentioned both thought about somebody but themselves and read more about COVID-19 from reliable sources (and that includes the idiotic pro-life doc because they clearly haven’t read about the virus attacking placentas or heard about miscarriages). Do what you can live with, which is so easy to say/type and difficult to choose let alone enforce as a boundary.

      But you are among the reasons I wrote my post, because we need to have a place to air this out, hear each others’ worries and learn in the process. Feel free to come and vent when needed.

    • Eureka says:

      Wow, Peacerme, I cannot imagine having to go through all of that in the midst of everything else. You and your family are in my thoughts.

      And adding to PJ’s internet hugs.

    • klynn says:

      So very sorry. I’ll keep you in my thoughts. It is extremely upsetting that you are facing so many impacts from outside views about covid that are impacting your professional work.

      Add in the family concerns and stressors and it is so much to juggle.

      Please stay safe. I hope something works out for your groups. I agree on the need for some kind of continuity on safe practices.

  21. Peacerme says:

    I know. I had enough years in alanon to know I can’t fix it all. But it’s crazy stuff. Like, I do 7 groups every week. I rented out the group rooms for specific times to meet for years!! I relinquished the space when Governor prohibited groups of 10 or more. Told the facility. The groups are half my income. Now we are allowed to meet as of June 1. I don’t feel safe because of my dad. That’s 70 some people a week!! But I may lose my group rooms. The stresses never seem to stop. Because we have no consensus on what is safe.

    • posaune says:

      Hugs for you, Peacerme.
      Sending healing comfort to every part of your life!
      We appreciate you sharing — it means so much to have you here with us. We are doing everything by tele-med: my son’s therapist hour, we have a parent 1/2-hour every week; I have my own therapist hour; son has SLP two hours per week. We wouldn’t be coping at all if not for wonderful people like you. You’ve made this do-able for all your clients. So sorry about the opening up. It’s such a scam. We’re in the DC-MD-VA metro area (DC, actually, but I work in MD). DC is beginning to cave to the “business people” and changed the criteria for “readiness” this week. Previously it was 14-days of continuous declines in infections on a 7-day rolling average. On Friday 5/22, they changed to a 3-day rolling average — which I think they did b/c it can be gamed. Not as many people to the ER on the weekend, and a 3-day lower average is easier to come by than a 7-day. Ugh.

      But anyway. we are with you in spirit, sending our best wishes and affection to you and yours.

      • Eureka says:

        Yes, our state health sec’ty did a similar about-face last week re the specifics of our 14-day decline criteria, yet new ones have not been given (so they can be made to fit the desired outcome, one supposes). Felt great to be sold out.

  22. Re entry says:

    I am home more than ‘normal’, doing things and trying to home school (haha) beautiful children, we are working on treehouses, algebra, fishing and small engine vehicles, we are happy to have more of one another but i dread the future for them

    I cannot let them pick up on my pessimism, they are young and innocent
    But reading this straight through, wholly understanding

    On average i need to re read all posts and comments twice over to get it straight but this is life

    Thank you Rayne

    • bmaz says:

      Sounds like you are doing a great job. They are the future, keep that instilled in them and it will be fine.

    • Tom says:

      Remember, the worst doesn’t always happen. Also, don’t let your worries for your children’s future spoil your enjoyment of them today. Children grow up so fast (I have three young adult ones myself) so take a time-out each day to treasure the present moment with them while they’re young.

    • harpie says:

      2] 5/26/20
      Twitter Must Cleanse the Trump Stain
      The president is spreading a vile conspiracy theory on the platform. Maybe Twitter should finally hold him to its rules. Kara Swisher May 26, 2020

      3] 10:01 AM · May 26, 2020
      10:01 AM · May 26, 2020

      Twitter statement re: Trump’s tweets about Lori Klausutis:
      “We are deeply sorry about the pain these statements… are causing the family.” Changes are in the works to “expand existing product features and policies so we can more effectively address things like this going forward”

      • harpie says:

        2b] 8:53AM ET TRUMP TWEETS [Then deletes before 9:00 AM · May 26, 2020]

        The opening of a Cold Case against Psycho Joe Scarborough [screenshot]

        2c] 9:19 AM · May 26, 2020 TRUMP TWEETS
        9:19 AM · May 26, 2020

        The opening of a Cold Case against Psycho Joe Scarborough was not a Donald Trump original thought, this has been going on for years, long before I joined the chorus. [blah,blah,blah]

        • Rayne says:

          That tangerine hellbeast is such a fucking monster, completely disregarding what an attack on media means under the First Amendment and ignoring the pain of deceased’s family. He’s Alex Jones with too much power, possessing no couth and zero empathy. The GOP deserves all it will receive in derision for its spinelessness this past January when they could have removed him and saved their own voters’ lives.

            • Rayne says:

              Yup, and we can see in the makeup of protesters — nearly all white, demanding service businesses re-open — that the strategy is to stress blue states or those that are potential swing states like KY (Democratic gov).

              BUT…blue states have big hospitals in their urban centers and more ICUs. Red states have fewer hospitals and fewer ICU beds. When they go out to their parties in the Ozarks, they will be going home to inadequate levels of care when COVID-19 cases explode over the next month. They’re already killing off their most reliable voters in states with older populations like Florida.

              Team Trump can’t do the math. They can’t model for shit. They’ve encouraged this unmasked-freedom and they’ve done so far too close to the election — 160 days left, a little over 5 months, of which the next two will be eaten by the swell of red state cases they’ve encouraged.

              Meanwhile Detroit area finally had some good news:

              • drouse says:

                Unless the whole point is to simply make things FUBAR. In which case he is doing just dandy.

                • Rayne says:

                  True, Trump has the inverse Midas touch — everything turns to shit on contact with him and his team. But there’s a pattern to his harassment. He’s not complaining about GOP Governor Larry Hogan who’s not doing much differently for his state compared to “that woman in Michigan” Governor Gretchen Whitmer or Governor Gavin Newsom.

                  • ducktree says:

                    Alas, the Governor’s hubs has dropped his fly in the ointment regarding one’s status of being closed/open …


                    Bonus points! I just now saw what I did there . . .

        • harpie says:

          Conspiracy Theorizing in the Time of Covid-19: The Complementary Roles of Social and Hyper-Partisan News Media

          Kate Starbird May 25, 2020

          This post is a “data memo” examining how social media and hyper-partisan online news media play complementary roles in the spread of conspiracy theories. […]
          So, why is this the detail I’m focused on today? It has to do with this tweet, posted yesterday, May 24, 2020 by @realDonaldTrump, the official Twitter account of President Donald Trump. [screenshot of tweet about the conspiracy theory about Scarborough] […]

          The claim has been widely and thoroughly debunked. But my article isn’t about that claim. It’s about the tweet that President Trump has “retweeted” here to support his speculations — a tweet from an account [Thomas Paine] associated with TruePundit’s owner/operator, linking to an article on and promoting this false claim and conspiracy theory about Joe Scarborough. […]

          As a researcher of disinformation and conspiracy theories, this is what has concerned me the most since our research began to show these same kinds of connections in 2015/2016 — how false and in some cases dangerous conspiracy theories move from the margins of the internet into the mouths (and Twitter accounts) of political leaders, where they can affect policy (if those leaders begin to believe them) and infect millions of viewers (whether or not those leaders believe them). […]

        • bmaz says:

          It cannot, and should not, that would be be silly. Vote the guy out, not encourage corporate censorship by being a knee jerk reactionary.

        • Rayne says:

          We need to develop an alternative. There’s an open source microblog platform called Mammoth which was intended to replace Twitter, but it’s as clunky as using Linux for most folks.

          I wish Google hadn’t fucked up their version. At least a second large scale microblog would force Twitter to rethink its business model due to realistic competition.

          • bmaz says:

            No. There is no alternative for such scaled news dissemination and acquisition, nor will there be one anytime soon. The alternative is Facebook, which is light years worse. And clamoring for censorship, even of Trump, is so fucking short sighted and stupid it makes my eyes bleed to read it.

            • P J Evans says:

              When he puts out tweets that violate their terms of service, I don’t think it’s censorship. They’ll take down other tweets that violate TOS, as well as some that don’t but get lots of complaints, so they’re giving him more leeway than others get.

            • Rayne says:

              You and I have butted heads before over free speech — you, being an absolutist, and me, seeing that democracy relies on certain limits. One limit we need to address is the nature of bots used for disseminating disinformation and foreign influence operations.

              Do bots have free speech rights? Do they have rights as extensions of corporations which are not humans?

              Do foreign entities have free speech rights if those rights interfere with the expression of Americans’ constitutional rights? Do foreign entities using bots and bots through front organizations have free speech rights for the same aim of interference?

              I’ll also point out that consumers demanding a corporation exercise its own terms of service on a consistent, equitable basis isn’t a violation of First Amendment rights as Congressional’ regulation of speech as censorship would be.

              EDIT: And what if the president was receiving coaching or content via foldering from foreign entities to post to social media, does that have the same free speech rights as individual citizens complaining to a corporation they don’t like their service?

              • bmaz says:

                PJ and Rayne – As infuriating as it is, more speech is better than less and restricted. Because selective restriction is the path fools follow.

                And when the President of the United States is censored, you and I will not even be the random ant on the kitchen floor. And, as you may recall, I have been through this with Twitter before. Twice.

                • P J Evans says:

                  I’m willing to let them put a click-through warning over his, so they’re accessible but not visible without positive action.
                  HOWEVER, violating TOS gets lesser people punished; being president doesn’t put him above the TOS that he agreed to.

                • Molly Pitcher says:

                  bmaz, I am running into the cannon fire that is your legal expertise, knowing full well that I am choosing to be cannon fodder.

                  Letting bots run amok is not free speech. Bots are a foreign government and corporate espionage and political dirty tricks tool. Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg’s position of not patrolling their own companies by claiming that they bear no responsibility is a load of crap.

                  Dorsey KNOWS it is a load of crap because today Twitter started fact checking Trumps tweets. A link was added to Trumps tweet wherein he claimed, without evidence, that mail-in ballots are fraudulent.

                  Yeah, me, running into the maelstrom head first.

                  • bmaz says:

                    Bots are one thing. As vile and horrible as he is, the President of the United States is NOT a bot. Do you really believe in free speech, or only that which is agreeable to your sensibility?

                    These are NOT rhetorical questions. And that is not how the construct of free speech and the First Amendment are deigned to protect. You sure this is the fight you really want?

                    “America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say, “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.” You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms.

                    Then you can stand up and sing about the land of the free.”

                    That is a quote from a movie, but it is very true. Don’t be stupid. Don’t screw up free speech because Trump pisses you off. The stakes are bigger than that, and you should be too.

                    • P J Evans says:

                      Free speech isn’t free of consequences.
                      Twitter is a private platform and *can* block or remove speech it doesn’t like. That’s not censorship under 1A.

                      You know all this. You’ve told us about it.

                    • Rayne says:

                      How do we know Trump’s tweets are his and not a bot’s? What obligation does the president have to tell the truth to the public and not lie, especially when using not a government communication tool but a corporate-owned platform with little to no transparency save for obligatory SEC reporting?

                      And I don’t think Molly is being stupid at all. She’s talking about a corporate-owned media platform and the president’s misuse of it, committing voter suppression by intimidation and other abuses as well as obstruction related to conspiracy to defraud the U.S.

                      BTW Sorkin’s speech is nice but excessively windbaggish restatement of Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s characterization of Voltaire: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

                      I won’t defend to my death Trump’s voter suppression by intimidation, harassment, and threats against others including journalists, all of which abuse the power of the presidency.

                    • Molly Pitcher says:

                      He may not be a bot, but Trump is notorious for repeating/retweeting things, including things from bots. As revolting as it is for me to say this, I can live with his stupidity. It is better when his lies are pointed out right away so that it is harder for the hapless to digest them as the truth.

                      I don’t want him censored, I want the lies disputed.

                      But the bots are another story. I agree completely with Rayne and all of the various permutations she layed out. An algorithm does not get free speech protection.

                      I won’t defend Trump’s right to speak stupidly to the death, maybe just to ‘the pain’ as Westly said.

                    • Eureka says:

                      Trump’s twitter is an intractable problem, his timeline is a sea. Most of us would call it a sea of lies, mis/disinfo. He further shields himself by retweeting journalists quoting him — there are tons from John Solomon & Gregg Jarrett on there now about his pet conspiracies. And he can do that til the cows come home, or add hedge words to his own (if it even gets that far).

                      FWIW, I don’t see the labels/links on any of the tweets from his mail-in ballots thread (or any of his other tweets). If due to ubiquitous adblockers, I am surely not the only one who can’t even see the rare flags.

                      We’ll see how this experiment plays out, but there’s also the issue of implied assent/non-dissent to the factual basis or accuracy of all of his other content when an ‘authority’ (sic) is known to have interceded in information exchange. I’m so far not leaning on the benefits of labeling a drop in the ocean; it seems like a pat reassurance. Keeping a sociopath in check generally requires bars.

                      What a fucking mess.

                      Meanwhile, Kathy Griffin is out More Speeching (as was @TheTweetOfGod) (and no, this is not the initial provocative one, but has an informative ‘label’ on a screenshot):

                      Pulling the bots would help enormously (but then what about things like BigCasesBot, and who decides?), but I don’t see them ever doing that wholesale, just like they won’t enforce their own TOS on POTUS.

                      I think it’s really difficult to figure out what’s efficacious and fair, and which doesn’t get into “Who owns the truth” problems, or others — like they throw up their hands and require authenticated users or de-anonymize. Then POTUS and his ilk still get to keep doing what they are doing, and regular folks, especially vulnerable ones, get pushed out.

                    • Molly Pitcher says:


                      “A protest action is planned for Tuesday evening that will bring projected messages onto 181 Fremont Street, the tower that is home to Facebook and Instagram’s SF offices. Protesters are looking to call attention to ongoing disinformation campaigns, hate speech, and falsehoods spreading on the platform during this election season…The action is aimed at rallying support for company policy changes among shareholders, ahead of a scheduled shareholder meeting on Wednesday….Zuckerberg holds over 50 percent of voting shares in the company, giving him total veto power over shareholder proposals…”

                    • Chetnolian says:

                      And there is another reason to agree with Bmaz that free speech must be tampered with only very carefully. Twitter though of course American is an internet phenomenon. The world does not have a 1st Amendment. Users in many places need it. Sorry to sound like a Trumper, I really am not but ask the residents of Hong Kong whether they value free speech.

    • harpie says:

      TWITTER writes LETTER to GOD:
      10:09 AM · May 27, 2020

      We have received a complaint regarding your account @TheTweetOfGod, for the following content.

      Tweet ID:
      2:22 PM · May 26, 2020

      Tweet Text: Donald Trump killed his personal assistant, Carolyn Gombell, in October 2000. He strangled her because he’d gotten her pregnant and was threatening to tell the press. Then he bribed NYPD Police Chief Bernie Kierik to cover it up. IT’S TIME TO INVESTIGATE. #JusticeForCarolyn

      We have investigated the reported content and could not identify any violations of the Twitter Rules [link] or German law. Accordingly, we have not taken any action at this time.


  23. e.a.f. says:

    Being a childless aging baby boomer your article sent me into peels of laughter. sorry about that, but your life right now as all the makings of a good sit com. Modern Family has wrapped up, your house hold could be the new one. O.K. I’ll shut up now………….

    Room service, omg, and you know how to cook. nice gig your “spawn” have. with snacks also. Might be a new business model there.

    In Canada those arriving without a “plan” or inadequate plan are put into hotels for their two weeks. I’d rather go to your house…….you know how to cook.

    the issues you raise regarding the future are things we all need to think about, but especially in countries which don’t have an adequate social system, such as the U.S.A. In Canada, most who don’t qualify for U.I. are receiving $2K a month for their families from the federal government and the first 500K cheques went out in a matter of days. Europe ditto.

    Negotiations would be a good idea. We could be in this situation for some time. Many of us who travel regularly to see friends in other parts of our province country and stay with them, will have to figure something else out this year.

    Friends who are celebrating birthdays do it on the front lawn, social distancing with food “untouched” by human hands from resturants, caterers, etc. One friend cooked Easter dinner and then advised the adult children they could pick it up at her front door.

    On the upside of all of this, the children did not bring home their children and a spousal unit. If the American economy tanks, that might be an item for negotiating also.

    People need to negotiate because although your article is written with humour, there is a very serious side to this. In Canada we have seen a substantial increase in cases of domestic violence. its not good for the adults but is even worse for the children who are observing it. Fortunately our federal government has increased funding for mental health, but we really need more.

    Ya, the “dinner date” could be just too much information.

    In Greater Vancouver, many of the homes have two ,kitchens. One for cooking western food and another for cooking Asian food–that one is smaller with a huge exhaust fan in a closed off room. A thought perhaps. Oh, the children are going to leave at some time. O.K.
    Rayne, good luck.

  24. harpie says:

    A third of Americans now show signs of clinical anxiety or depression, Census Bureau finds
    May 26 at 3:39 PM

    […] The troubling statistics were released last week in a tranche of data from the Census Bureau. The agency launched an emergency weekly survey of U.S. households at the end of April to measure the pandemic’s effects on employment, housing, finances, education and health. In the most recent data release, 1 million households were contacted between May 7 and 12, and more than 42,000 responded.

    Buried within that 20-minute survey, U.S. officials included four questions taken nearly word-for-word from a form used by doctors to screen patients for depression and anxiety. Those answers provide a real-time window into the country’s collective mental health after three months of fear, isolation, soaring unemployment and continuing uncertainty. […]

    Some groups have been hit harder than others. Rates of anxiety and depression were far higher among younger adults, women and the poor. The worse scores in young adults were especially notable, given that the virus has been more likely to kill the elderly or leave them critically ill. […]

    • harpie says:

      wrt: young adults, I’m not surprised….their entire futures have been put unexpectedly on hold and the beginning of careers, and earning and personal life suddenly looks quite different than they expected.

    • P J Evans says:

      I already had clinical depression. Lockdown doesn’t help. I generally do better on days when I can get out, even for an hour. (Today: getting the car smog-checked and mailing the registration.)

        • P J Evans says:

          I’m on an antidepressant that keeps me swimming, though I’ll admit there are times when I’d like to take two so I’m a bit higher up. (It’s familial.)

          • Eureka says:

            I notice the fucked-up social structure (on top of the ones we’d already been dealing with) is getting to nearly all, whether their preexistings are more or less compatible. By happenstance I can tolerate the social isolation pretty well, but am definitely not ‘right.’ I find it easier to deal with rona than 45 et al. (or 44+1, or 46-1, as some have taken to calling him, to my amusement).

            • P J Evans says:

              OH yeah.
              (I’m to the point where I can’t even stand seeing his face, or most of his staff, either. I’m also old enough to remember the world he thinks we should go back to, and nope nopity nope.
              I’d rather see “paid avoidance areas” (a la Brunner) where people who want to live in the past can, and get tax breaks for doing without…but if you choose to live in the 50s, no smart phones, no microwave ovens, no color TV, no Twitter or FB, no cable or wireless connections, and restricted medical choices.

              • Eureka says:

                LOL, if only…

                All we can do is imagine our way out of this; even the implausible ideas provide at least some mental freshening.

                OMG- just looked up, and Sarah Cooper is on Lawrence (have to keep TV muted because 45 clips…). Missed it…

              • e.a.f. says:

                they want to go back to the 1950s, have at er. No heart transplants. No safe houses for battered women. No polio vaccines. No government health care in Canada. Racism was rampant. In Canada we still had the death penalty. Women did not have the right to control their own bodies. No birth control pills. Domestic violence was considered a family matter. women couldn’t get credit cards without their husband’s signature.
                about the only thing I can recall being good about the 1950s were the cars and trucks.

  25. posaune says:

    Sigh** We are struggling with our teenager, our 15-yo son with PTSD from severe early childhood trauma in his birthhome. Being home-bound has triggered or re-triggered the early trauma. His birth mom would lock him in the apartment all day alone while working, partying, dating, etc. All that triggered by being home-bound. The past week has been very trying. Just trying to deep breathe.

    The saving grace has been his school. We sacrificed enormously this year by going with private school — a tiny, tiny high school with 38 kids, 8 in his class. Incredibly devoted teachers and sustained attention and nurturing. In two days, they put the whole curriculum on line (March 14-15); went to remote school on 3/16. Each class is held in normal sequence via google classroom, and there google lunch groups in the school mini-kitchens for kids to hangout and talk with their friends. Classes end at 2pm. Every teacher available from 2-4pm for individual office hours by signup. It’s saved our sanity . . . that plus empty wheel. (Emptywheel is the first place I go in the morning and last place at night). But our poor kid is losing it thinking about the summer. He had secured a paying summer job as TA at a music camp here in DC; now that’s gone. Both of us parents are telecommuting full time (and we are incredibly grateful for that!). It’s hard to cover up my own anxiety and tend to my son’s rocket level escalations these days. Still, we are so fortunate to have what we have. I wish to god we had Ardern here.

    • Rayne says:

      Very sorry, posaune, wish we didn’t have to be cooped up so. Hadn’t even thought about quarantine being problematic for some persons with PTSD. I have friends who live alone and are social butterflies who are really having a hard time; no idea how to coax them into staying closer to home, can’t begin to imagine what it’s like to manage a high school student who is likewise challenged because of PTSD.

      If I could make a suggestion about employment for your teen: they should check county/city parks to see if they have any outdoor jobs for teens; if there’s a local zoo it may need interns/volunteers (our small zoo has openings for teens who’ll clean pens and feed the animals). Also check golf courses to see if they need bag/cart personnel (which is what my youngest has done for several years, good tips). All of these kinds of jobs are outside, won’t be cooped up with aerosolized exhalation.

      And perhaps adding some different outdoor activities for the family which are done in remote locations might help — like asking your teen to map a nature walk for early Sunday mornings wherever the few number of people might be, or mapping darkest skies in the area and planning an evening of stargazing if the weather is good. Or finding places to collect ambient sound recordings like bird song and wind, create an audio journal of this summer. Activities which qualify as outdoor exercise but are both away from people and wholly different from what your household has been doing up to now will keep things from being stultifyingly tedious. Hang in there!

      • vvv says:

        Re the caddying idea – here in IL and I believe elsewhere there are scholarships available for caddies known as the Chick Evans scholars. My best friend was one, full tuition ride plus housing and meals to U of IL 40 years ago, and his older and two younger brothers bring it up to 30 years ago, but they still exist.
        ht tps://

      • posaune says:

        Thank you, Rayne for this post and your reply & ideas. I’m going to try to look for some outdoor things for him to do. I’m even going to beg the local politicians!

  26. Peacerme says:

    Posaune, this is so hard. I am seeing this all over the place. My heart goes out to you and your child. There are so many triggers in these situations.

    So my dad has decided not to get his machine calibrated by the doctor. Too afraid of dying without his family or catching the virus. So many ways that the pressure is building.

    One more word about NE. Charts keep including NE as a state where infections are going down. They are manipulating the testing. Docs tell me UNMC is nearly full. We all know our numbers are going up. But charts keep saying we are going down. None of the info printed on our state site is current. (new cases and deaths) You get last weeks numbers. It’s really hard to tell what is going on. It’s like a night mare to know one thing and see another. (Bryant Jennings had a chart tonight saying our cases are decreasing). Our governor won’t count prison, meat packing plants and nursing homes. There is still a cap on tests. My son got strep last week. He could not get a test. They did an antibody test. They should be tracking those numbers too.

    It’s crazy making. Gas lighting invalidating and triggering. I can’t imagine how tough it is being a teen going through this with a trauma history. Sending love. ❤️

    • posaune says:

      Thank you Peacerme. I know you get this!
      You are right about the gas lighting. It is almost scarier than the virus! Who’s lying and by how much? DC Mayor (complete slime ball sell out) “changed” the criteria today. City was supposed to be in full shut down until June 8. Well, they decided to eliminate the two substantial spikes in infections from last week, “not statistically significant” they said, and lo and behold, the city is opening Friday 5/29. Even Hogan (MD gov) is caving to business pressure now leaving it up to the counties. If they’d got it right in the first place, it would be so much better now. None of them really care. And that WH hack, Hassett, saying, “Human Capital Stock” is ready to work!
      Chattel we all are!

      Love to you and yours, thinking of you every day.

  27. madwand says:

    My brother’s wife has suffered the second of so far two strokes and is in a rehab facility. He is not allowed to visit and calls her when he can. Because of the stroke the conversations don’t last more than 5 minutes. He calls me every night and we talk for about two hours, he says he needs to and I have accommodated. I have to get the dog walked and supper taken care of so I can devote that time to him. We always catch up about his wife but spend the majority of the time BSing which mostly is a lot of reminiscing Because he is also a Trumper and listens only to Fox news his perspective is confined to that and that is difficult for me as we are on different planets about Trump. I fight him off nightly when he gets political and repeats the same old shit of Fox news. Its hard to see if I am denting him in the slightest, but at least we agree on covid, take no chances. We are both veterans, as was our Dad, and we have commonality in that, and a lot of the talk goes back to military service and we both amuse ourselves as armchair strategists.

    I try to remind him that Trump opted out when he opted in, but like all Trumpers, that is forgiven. As to the current crisis I remind him that Benghazi had four dead, covid 100,000 and if I say it with the comparison, we go onto the next topic. The 100,000 is also forgiven, but I remind him it wouldn’t have been under Hilary. Thanks to EW I am a lot better prepared to argue facts such as Flynn, Judge Sullivan, the flame thrower etc and he normally shuts up after asserting Flynn’s innocence. I maintain the calls every night, I feel its my obligation to do so, but I am not going to accommodate his BS.

    • John Lehman says:

      Heartening and humbling.
      Brothers are brothers in spite of it all.
      Still hope for humanity.

    • Eureka says:

      I was going to ask, “What does he say about the Kurds/ handing ME over to Putin-cabal’? I’ve met no Trumper who abides this (and I’d last expect any (former) mil. person to do so).

      But the more I hear stories like yours, madwand, and Peacerme’s above, the more I think these Trumper battles are some people just using Trump (or what he endorses) as a topline wedge to reenact family dynamics or other power struggles. It’s like they dig in and won’t concede just because they wont give in to the other side being right. One supposed Trumper told me that this is exactly why they defend him, because everyone else ‘hates’ on him.

      Anyway, they also agree he is out for himself, etc.

      I bet your brother would be beside himself if you dropped the rope (on these topics) and he had nothing to tug on. Maybe I’m reading it wrong. But am reverse-engineering how I’ve had very normal conversations, where they were relieved to be relieved of their Trumpisms, that started sort of outside this frame.

      I think they are as exhausted from being Trumpers as we are from this whole shitshow, at least those who don’t rely on his antics for their daily high.

      I hope things go well for your SIL.

      • Eureka says:

        ^ I think they are as exhausted from being Trumpers as we are from this whole shitshow, at least those who don’t rely on his antics for their daily high.

        Rayne & bmaz: FYI aside to you guys, I am having a novel issue in the event I do get an edit button. I add/fix text whatever, save it, it appears on the screen like normal/ as if the change took. As soon as the page is refreshed, the change is gone.

        OMG that is SO WEIRD– now that I made this comment, the change I made to the prior one, which had vanished, is now there! ?!? (I’m not tipping it back or anything, either, lol — this has happened multiple times.)

        • Eureka says:

          LOL, this is too funny. When I made the 2nd comment with the note to mods, the edit I had made to the first one *magically reappeared*. I tried to edit _that_ comment to note same (and also that I am not on anything, this has happened before), and that update edit wouldn’t take (meaning it appeared, then vanished).

          So, shit– now that I am commenting again, I am in a matroyshka doll of nonsense, and perhaps my addition will show up in the second comment, too…

          OK BYEEEE ;)

          • Rayne says:

            Hm. ~scratching head~

            I got nothin’. Could be related to network burps between you and the website’s hosting but I can’t be certain. I suggest clearing cache but I can’t be certain that will help.

            Sorry, Eureka, wish I had a more definitive answer.

            • Eureka says:

              Thanks Rayne & bmaz. Head scratcher indeed; after the live-learning above, I went back to Jim’s page, where I’d added a word to a comment and it had vanished, and it, too, “came back.”. So I will pay closer attention to other variables if it happens again.

              (Still puzzling…maybe this is cache-ing thing…but…)

              ETA: **rubs hands** let’s see what happens this time

              2nd add: didn’t happen this time (meaning refreshed page and “ETA” is still there).

              3rd: so will set my thinking cap aside for now, which is a good thing because it may need a wash…

      • madwand says:

        I think you are right in some respects. My theory is when you start getting up in years many people want to validate their lives, their choices, they want to believe rightly or wrongly that their lives mattered, that they achieved what they wanted to. That they’re respected. It’s especially important to have family members acknowledge that.

        Trumpers, many like my brother who believed Trump was the last chance to save the country, have the additional burden of trying to validate the choice of voting for Trump and f**king up the country and trying to rationalize, twist, squirm squeeze through the eye of a needle to justify that vote. They don’t want to be wrong. They don’t want to admit they screwed it up. Moreover they don’t have solutions to unf**k it. It’s a lot easier to drink the kool aid.

        With my brother, he lives a thousand miles from where I live, I send him books and articles and sometimes I think I am making that dent. The problem is Trumpers have been drinking the kool aid for far too long. It’s institutionalized and propagandized. They talk Benghazi, 4 deaths and write off covid 100,000 deaths in US. There is no logic. Trump is never responsible, even when he obviously is to almost any sentient being and even if a Trumper believes Trump did something wrong they give him a pass, as in covid.

        I haven’t asked my brother specifically about the Kurds, my bet would be he supports Trumps actions. He would support something like that because Trump supports it. A little bit of cognitive dissonance when considering his military background.


  28. Tom says:

    Compared to some of the other commenters above, I’ve had a relatively easy time of it so far during this pandemic. I retired two years ago, live on my own, and have been able to keep in touch with my three adult children, who are all still working one way or another. One thing I’ve noticed, however, is that I am often waking up in the middle of the night and then not being able to get back to sleep. I figure this is due to some increased level of anxiety that I haven’t been fully aware of.

    As well, the coming of summer always increases my concerns about climate change and extreme weather events. Here in the Kingston, Ontario region, it was only about two weeks ago that I drove home through snow squalls one afternoon and woke up the next morning to find snow on the ground that didn’t fully melt until early afternoon. It’s not unusual in these parts to see a few flakes of snow in early May, but I can’t recall ever having so much snow so late in May. And now this week, only a fortnight later, we have had our first heat warning of the year as temperatures reached the low 90s. I realize that’s pretty small potatoes compared to the extreme highs being reported in large areas of the U.S., but again, I can’t recall ever having such high temperatures at this time of the year when summer hasn’t even officially arrived yet.

    Finally, a little vignette from a recent trip to the grocery store. I had a carton of milk that had gone sour so figured I’d use it to make pancakes. But at the store, the shelves of flour had all been cleaned out. A young woman stood there fuming, turned to me and said: “Rich people stuck at home are taking up baking as a hobby. They don’t realize poor people have to bake their own bread because they can’t afford to buy it!”

    • bmaz says:

      Tom, I live in one of those heat areas. We are used to heat here, but wow, it is kind of early for it. 109º today is expected and 111º tomorrow. That’s a lot for May.

    • Rayne says:

      You’re not alone with pandemic insomnia, Tom. So many people I know are reporting this as well as much more intense dreams. I guess we can’t process this in our normal waking hours, just too much for a regular day shift, that we end up processing it at night through dreams or sleeplessness.

      And yeah, what the heck with the snow in May?? I’m within a couple degrees of your latitude but to the west in Michigan — I remember looking out my window at the grill on my deck a couple weeks ago and thinking, Damn, I guess we’re not having burgers tonight! But yesterday I had to turn the AC on for the first time in the season. This volatility is crazy making.

      Thanks for the reminder about the problem of bread making during the pandemic. I really should think about writing something about that. I’ve changed my regular habit of making a 2-pound loaf requiring 2-1/2 teaspoons of yeast to a no-knead recipe which only uses 1/2 teaspoon because continued spotty shortages of supplies like yeast will be the norm going forward.

      Thanks for dropping in and sharing.

      • P J Evans says:

        I was able to get a 2-lb bag of flour so I can keep my sourdough starter fed. (I also have yeast packets, but they’re years old.)

        • Rayne says:

          Good. I don’t like messing with sourdough starter, have enough other fermented products I’m juggling already like kimchi, kombucha, vinegar, and yogurt. If things get really desperate I’ll try it but I’d rather not.

          • Jenny says:

            Sunday Morning had an interesting piece on Baking Bread during a pandemic.

            Baking bread
            If you’re like many people holed up at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, you are spending more time in the kitchen. And with yeast sales up more than 600 percent compared to a year ago, it’s a good bet what’s coming out of more and more ovens is freshly-baked bread. Correspondent Martha Teichner talks with bread expert Jim Lahey, of New York’s Sullivan Street Bakery, and with budding bread bakers who are finding nourishment not just for the body, but for the soul. MAY 24, 2020

          • P J Evans says:

            It’s in the fridge, where it stays asleep for two or three months at a time. (It should be used occasionally, but my kitchen isn’t built for it. I need a folding table, like a gate-leg table.)

      • Eureka says:

        Rayne, if you want to take us to bread school I am all ears; please go easy ;) my ambition level is *low.*

        Last time I went to the store the spices were almost all gone, too (only expensive/small sizes remained here and there). And the rice (had to get instant). As for beans, esp. canned, the whole while only the more expensive organic ones, and then only of certain varieties, have been available. I also got canned potatoes. I wonder what kind of potato salad they might make? (I’m not sure I dare find out.)

    • Eureka says:

      Tom, may I thank you for *bringing up the wacko weather.* We’ve been oddly cold, late frosts/ windchills in 20s/nearby snow. Our late spring/summers+ are psycho humid and hot; while we are apparently delayed in our high temps, esp. vs other parts of the country, *the dew point has arrived* and it is now gross.

      Had to run the furnace and the AC within nearly 24 hours of each other earlier this month.

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