By the grace of God, the five of us are still hanging strong here at Louie Lodge, today being Day 27. Here’s what I know:
The organization genes run strong in my 12 year old daughter. She has taken it upon herself to start cleaning out drawers and cupboards in the kitchen, God bless her. You know those utensil drawers you can’t quite close because it’s overflowing with stuff? Marie Kondo would be proud.
I’m so grateful we all have a small, adorable Maltipoo to keep us company in this craziness. One of our favorite nicknames for her is Pupperton, which sometimes morphs into Snuggleton, and recently after a bath: Flufferton. Just in case someone in the house isn’t feeling all that snuggly, we have our pup to turn to. Seriously, thank God for her.
There’s no getting around it: March was a sobering month but nothing like the prospect of flipping the calendar to April with the frightening thought that some of us won’t live to see the end of the month. April 15 in the US is predicted to be the peak and as we entered the month, April 19 was supposed to be Ohio’s peak.
However, the Ohio models show that our social distancing efforts are working. We might be a week or two out from the peak which has plummeted to 1,600 new cases a day from recent estimates of 9,800 per day.
That’s incredibly good news. We are flattening the curve. To quote Dr. Amy Acton:
School resumed remotely, in some fashion this week. The kids received their assignments from each teacher as of 9 am Monday in an online portal our school district uses, and they have a week to complete them. Teachers are holding “office hours” to answer questions and some have posted videos to explain concepts or lecture. It’s not quite the same thing as the real thing of course but we’ll see how it goes. I doubt they will return to physical classrooms this academic year. Some kids in our school district do not have access to computers but they can get access to district-provided Chromebooks which is wonderful.
Dance classes have resumed, fully online too. Ryun continues to pick up a few more private students for online classes and my work continues online en force.
I really haven’t left the house other than the occasional walk with our dog. What I have done is taken the time I have otherwise spent writing using it instead to connect using Facebook Messenger video calling with a friend in Moscow I haven’t spoken to in over 25 years, and I’ll be doing the same with another friend in London this upcoming weekend. And I probably ought to do the same with another 30-year friend in Japan since they just went into a state of emergency there. It’s amazing that technologies exist to allow us to do these sorts of things.
And as if things weren’t interesting enough, we awoke at midnight to the emergency signal on our cell phones advising us to take immediate shelter in the basement, which we did for 30 minutes while an F1 tornado promptly touched down in our town. We were spared but a few houses a mile from our house did not fare so well.
A few things brought a huge smile to my face this week, as it did for a lot of people. The first Randy Rainbow’s tribute to Andrew Cuomo. If you haven’t seen his parodies, you are missing out on some seriously clever entertainment. The part where he mentions Chris Cuomo made me belly laugh for a full five minutes. Did I ever need that.
And for the record: seriously, Chris has got to pull through.
A local cartoonist whose name I wish I knew so I could give credit created this parody of Governor Mike DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton using the theme song from Laverne and Shirley as the basis.
I strongly recommend John Krasinski’s Some Good News, already on Episode 2, which brought tears of joy to my eyes in that it allowed me to remember when I saw Hamilton on Broadway.
And finally for the pure feel-good vibe of it, is this family lip-synching to Hold My Hand. Watch Dad. I mean, daughter is pretty darn good but the tree that apple fell from is impressive!
Seek out the joy, peeps. Seek out and share the joy in these crazy times.
The home office is set up. I holed myself up in the basement away from the official office inside our home because 1) the kids are less likely to come talk to me here (I said less likely…believe me they have visited more than a few times already today!), and 2) the computer in the kitchen literally ran out of memory the day the WHO declared a pandemic so that leaves the iMac in the office available for the kids to use. I don’t think I’ll be making it to the Apple store anytime soon to remedy the iMac problem.
I bought myself a new barstool from Target, something I had been meaning to do for a while now. I really meant to buy a few of them for this long bar in our basement, part of a bigger effort to spruce up the downstairs after we replaced the carpet but I have been really slow to getting to it. And wouldn’t you know, the seat on this thing isn’t all that comfortable. I may need to come up with another solution here. I mean, I’ve got a lot of cushion on my own tush but sitting on this chair long term isn’t going to cut it.
It was otherwise a decently productive day. I was able to concentrate a bit more than last Friday when, seriously, a 1000 thoughts of every single kind were swirling in my head.
It sounds like we social distancing we are asked to do will last about eight weeks or so, until mid-May, and the tail end of the “curve” could hit in July or August if I’m to believe #45.
I tend to dismiss whatever words come out of the individual who currently occupies the White House. You may have discovered from earlier posts or simply knowing me that I’m not a fan of his before or certainly since this latest crisis. However I won’t dwell on him.
High praise is due to Governor Mike DeWine and his Director of the Ohio Department of Health, Dr. Amy Acton. Believe me, until about four years ago, I wouldn’t call myself political at all. The 2016 election changed that, and now I find myself in the unprecedented position of being more vocal than my husband, the political junkie. I can’t say that I had a lot of gripes with DeWine other than he’s Republican and I tend to vote/lean Democrat – and if I did have them, I am not recalling them at the moment – but he and his team are handling this whole event so very well, down to how he signals actions that he might take in a couple of days before he officially takes action such as closing the day care facilities in the state.
I like that he gets that their decisions will result in saved lives. I like that he is basing his decisions on science, and that he actually listens to the experts. And Acton? She explains things thoroughly, calmly, clearly, with analogies like I tend to do at work. It makes me smile to see Acton in action. (Yes, I went there. I said it!) I hope she is elevated to a role on a national level as we need her.
Part of me is a tiny bit wigged out that she is likely my age and a grandmother, but I won’t dwell on that for the moment. Bigger picture….looking at the bigger picture.
While I worked, the rest of the family did an initial wipe down and sanitizing of surfaces – doorknobs, light switches, handles, pulls, banisters, keyboards, phones, keys, mice, appliances, remotes. The kids are going to understand what is entailed in official spring cleaning at Louie Lodge before it’s all said and done.
If our state officials think that 40% of us Ohioans will get this virus, that means two of the five of us will. Or at the worst end of the statistics, 70% of us will get it, which means possibly four of the five of us. Maybe all of us. Maybe none of us. I explained that to two of our kids today. I also explained that if any one of us ends up hospitalized, chances are good that the rest of us won’t be able to visit, and if it’s one of them, they will need to be brave while there and do what the doctors and nurses say. I warned them they could be given a mask or maybe even a tube to help them breathe. What do you do? Do you tell them or not? I’m worried I won’t have time to explain that to them before they are rushed away. If they get rushed to the hospital, it’s because they can’t breathe, and that’s not the time for them to hear or understand what to expect. I feel like I should warn them. But my youngest is nine, and no lie, he was a bit wigged out. I don’t have time to read how to explain this to kids. I’m doing what I feel is right for our kids, knowing we know about their emotional maturity and intellect to handle these sorts of things.
God, I hate this, but we’ve always tried our best to have age appropriate talks with our kids. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be having THIS conversation, though.
As of today, March 14, 2020, it’s everywhere: coronavirus or COVID-19. I figured I would attempt to post frequently to chronicle what life is like in Ohio dealing with this but with a caveat.
My professional work involves helping my company deal with enterprise risk, and believe me, COVID-19 qualifies as one as it does for so many other companies. As a result, I’m part of a larger team that is handling what our response is as a company to this event.
However I am not an official spokesperson for our company, so you won’t hear me divulge details about what we are doing as a company. Maybe one day I’ll write a book or short story about what that has been like but for now, let me just tell you about life in Medina, Ohio.
Earlier this week, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. That same day, the governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine, held a press conference about the situation in Ohio and he’s held one each day since with Dr. Amy Acton, the Director of the Ohio Department of Health, by his side also delivering remarks in a clear, calm style. One of Gov. DeWine’s directives involved the closing of public schools for a minimum of three weeks and the ban of mass gatherings of 100 people or more.
Several Americans seemed to think the news about the virus was overblown. These sentiments certainly seemed to fall naturally along the massive political divide in our country, but not exclusively. Plenty of Ohioans thought school closings and mass bans were totally uncalled for.
I sensed something different. Maybe it’s because of the nature of my work, or my natural inclination to take things more seriously than most people. I already knew the reasons why the infection numbers in the US were so low in March is because we didn’t have enough test kits in the US to confirm presence of the virus.
For the governor to ban mass gatherings of so few people meant they already had reason to believe it was far more prevalent in our state than they were officially able to say. After all, Ohio was one of the last six states to begin testing for the virus. As of today, 26 Ohioans are confirmed with the virus, with over 10 times that many under testing.
Immediately people wondered how to handle daycare for their children, especially the young school-age kids. Several large companies in Northeast Ohio are prepared enough to send their white collar/ knowledge workers home to work for the same period of time, but there are plenty of jobs that simply do not allow for that luxury. Ohioans were simply plunged into emergency mode in short order. Grocery stores sold out of toilet paper, Clorox wipes, and hand sanitizer immediately.
So all three of my kids are now home for three weeks, one of which was our already scheduled “spring break”. It doesn’t sound like the school districts will be mandating any form of education during that period of time, unlike blizzards where some packets are sent as homework.
Our kids were initially quite happy about that. It initially felt like an extended Christmas vacation to them. My daughter gleefully announced that she and her friends had already planned a bunch of sleepovers until I burst her bubble, explaining that we are being asked to engage in social distancing and our family is taking that very seriously. I mean, she had a fever earlier this week, and my youngest had glassy eyes, sniffles, and a dry cough that developed literally overnight. Sure, it could be seasonal allergies, but who really knows.
Ohio, or maybe even the US altogether, is trying to avoid being in Italy’s situation today, a week from now. Our daughter is pretty angry with us for cramping her social style. Maybe her friends don’t seem to understand the situation. Maybe their parents haven’t chatted with them, gotten through to them, or believe themselves the gravitas of what’s being asked of us all. I’m chalking her reaction up to preteen attitude for the time being but it doesn’t make it easier to deal with.
I am working from home for that same period of time. And let’s be clear: I’m an introvert. In a very weird way, this is an introvert’s dream! I don’t have to physically interact with large groups of people for a while. Cool with me. I need a serious recharge as it is. I was really looking forward to spring break for that very reason but perhaps this season will give us a chance to change a lot of things about how we live our lives.
Our official spring break vacation and planned family trip is cancelled. We had planned to take my oldest on some college visits to see what universities he might be interested in attending when he graduates public school, but it seems as though most colleges have cancelled extracurricular events and released their students for an extended period of time, so we’re not traveling to these colleges, not in the near term. You could see the look of disappointment on my son’s face but it was mixed with a solemn, growing awareness of just how serious the whole situation is for life to come to a grinding halt.
The way Governor DeWine put it, which was so incredibly wise, is “Is it necessary? And is it necessary now?”
So we’ll stay put. With very few exceptions, most of us are not leaving the house for three weeks. My husband will head out to get groceries. My oldest has joined him to do it but maybe that isn’t the best idea. It’s a good life lesson to see empty shelves in the stores and execute Plan B, but I’m worried about the exposure each is getting by being out and about.
And this is where it gets interesting: my husband is president of our church. Churches are exempt from the ban inasmuch as they are encouraged to hold services online, and many of them are. However, we’re Orthodox Christian, unchanged (i.e., “old school”) in our administration of communion that we share a chalice and a spoon with everyone in church.
Our priest reminds us that the church over millennia has made it through pandemics before. We’re told to have faith that receiving communion is life-giving, it cannot harm us in anyway as it truly is the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Our church is overwhelmingly populated by people over 60 with all the underlying medical conditions that make them high risk individuals to a novel coronavirus. Like many churches, we struggle to pay the bills inasmuch as we are one of the better off Orthodox parishes, so a drop off in attendance is likely to result in massive deficits.
Money isn’t the biggest concern, nor is it the only one. Our bishop is visiting from Detroit this Sunday compelling many of us to attend to greet him. We were supposed to also welcome a second bishop from Kenya as our church raised money for an orphanage there, and he flew to the US to thank us tomorrow. However, he had to return to Kenya while the US and its rapid changes in travel policy this week allowed for him to do so.
Our priest will never tell people to stay away; he simply cannot. My husband also, as president, cannot tell people to stay away either. All he and the board of trustees can do is communicate with parishioners that they’re doing everything they can to sanitize the facility properly. Nevertheless, some parishioners are very nearly hysterical over the health implications that could devastate our long-time parishioners, our family and friends by gathering for liturgy during this holy season of Lent.
It’s a very tough situation to be in. I will readily admit that my faith is weak. I believe what the scientists are telling me. And all Ohioans, all Americans actually, have a very real opportunity to take all necessary measures to “flatten the pandemic curve” as we are guided to do so we don’t overwhelm our healthcare system. In this regard, Ohio’s governmental response is sound even if it is possibly too late to really help.
God bless the doctors, nurses, laboratory/testing team, other medical staff, EMT, police, firefighters, government officials, and anybody else I am missing who are on the front lines dealing with this issue. These people are not getting all the rest they need and they are at risk of becoming ill themselves. They need our prayers.
In other news, my husband teaches percussion on contract at a few of our local school districts and teaches private students in our home music studio. At first we thought we’d continue lessons as the studio is physically large enough to keep adequate distance between the people present, as it’s usually two or three persons at a time at most. We sent a message out to the parents and students saying as much.
But literally in the span of a few minutes of him, as studio owner, having sent that message, I felt incredibly uneasy about promoting an environment where we were not adhering to the social distancing concept. Even though we are sanitizing the studio and planned to do so throughout these days, I couldn’t bear the thought that we might be a source of the virus or a transmitter of some kind.
Within 90 minutes of telling our students and their parents that we would remain open, we notified them that we would go on physical hiatus for three weeks, to match the governor’s orders. We explained that my husband would be available to teach online, but I doubt anyone will take us up on it.
Between the studio closing and the schools closing, we just lost 1/3 of our monthly income. Now mind you, we are among the very fortunate that this situation simply means we adjust some of our financial habits, hopefully temporarily. I literally logged into our bank online and changed some of the bill paying and investing for the next few months. We’ll get by. But we had to explain to the kids that we’re taking a financial hit and our normal habits will need to change.
It makes me think of all the people impacted by this: the restaurants, hairdressers, small business people, therapists, librarians, etc., who are out of work or likely to experience a significant drop in business. I hope we can weather the storm but so many Americans live paycheck to paycheck. I don’t know how this will work without massive social, educational, financial, and business disruption not to mention the health kind. We will need to look out for one another. I contacted some of my neighbors, a few who are elderly and may not have family close by to help them, to offer our assistance should they need a grocery run or a pharmacy pickup.
I hope to God that this crisis makes America wake up and realize we have got to fix the way healthcare works in this country. There are easier and far less expensive ways of providing outstanding health care than the crazy system we’ve allowed to grow here unchecked, like tangled weeds in a garden.
The pantry and freezer are stocked, the finances are adjusted. The laundry is caught up, deep house cleaning is next, and then I am setting up my office away from the office in a separate room of the house to ramp up for the next three weeks and be as productive and helpful as possible. Work priorities will have to be shifted as this is not business as usual.
I even called the first of my two sisters to coach her to be serious about that “if you’re over 60, don’t leave the house” thing. I don’t think even she quite got it until I called her. And she, of all people, is a retired former hospital laboratory worker in charge of safety practices at her hospital. And the virus is present in her county. It didn’t click with her until I called, and maybe it still really hasn’t.
My oldest, a teenager, has already informed me that COVID-19 is already being called “The Boomer Remover”. That made for a groan-worthy laugh but it hits hard since so many of my extended family are boomers. And then there is the Coronavirus Barometer Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. If he dies, we’re all gonna die, because that dude could likely survive a nuclear holocaust along with the cockroaches.
Really bad jokes aside, our kids have had a talking to and have been challenged to do something to enrich their minds and hearts during this unprecedented time. We told them we want them to be able one day to tell their grandkids, with pride, what they did with their precious, unprecedented gift of time.
In the meantime, this experiment with the five of us at home full time for three weeks and probably more, is on. Stay tuned.