The world changed very quickly in the past few weeks for many of us. I am now working from home until at least April 7th and along with a number of other counties here in Northern California, I have been under orders from local law to ‘shelter in place’. This means that we join the ranks of Italy, Spain, France and other countries. Hunkered down does not even begin to cover it.
Ironically, this is not my first rodeo when it comes to sheltering in place or even being quarantined. When I was a child, I was very fortunate to have amazingly adventuresome parents and a extremely successful father who took a management position in Hong Kong making us as a family, ex-pats for a few years. The downside to this is that even with shots, I somehow contracted full-fledged typhoid fever and spent months in a hospital recovering while under strict quarantine. To say that I have this well in hand is ironic to say the least. Even my 91-year-old father, currently under a literal lock down at his assisted care facility, drily observed that this was something I could do while standing on my head. He even reminded me that on top of the months I spent in the hospital, we endured a few local epidemics and were under apartment building confinement for weeks at time. Hong Kong, back in the day, was the wild west of Asia and while it all sounds alarming, it was actually the best time my family ever had, bar none. I would not trade it for all those lonely scary days in the hospital or the countless needle sticks I had as a child while recovering for the amazing experience that living in Hong Kong as an American child truly was.
So, while I am grateful for my unicorn experience in all things quarantine as well as my ability to do my job from home, I’ve had to come up with some pretty creative coping mechanisms for being cooped up all the time:
- Anger Bake. This is my own term for baking something really complex and annoying. Normally I would have to have a specific mindset to tackle a complex baking project but now that I am home full time, I don’t hesitate to research a tough recipe and take it on. The quantity of colorful language I am using has increased a great deal but the result is some pretty spectacular baked goods. Real French baguettes took me just over eight hours the other day but the results were impressive. Up next? Macaroons. I hate making them but they are wonderful to eat. Please France, get well soon.
- Family Connections. I can’t just get in the car and drive an hour to see my grandkids right now so I have devised a way to keep in contact and at the same time, help them while they are being home schooled. I’ve introduce several colorful characters who are Facetiming daily with new lessons. Goofy Professor Nerdbottom has brought fun new and age appropriate science experiments. And gung ho, Betty ‘Boom Boom’ Baker has introduced new simple baking projects while Professor Polly Poetry even read them a rousing rendition of Lewis B. Carrols’s The Jabberwocky and gave them homework to boot. I even sent my daughter lesson plans so she can document what they have learned and help them earn extra credit once they return to public school full time.
- Friends. My friends are not being entertained by fun characters (that I know of) but we are meeting via skype and zoom and other virtual meeting tools in order to remain in contact. Before the order to shelter in place, I was actually meeting friends for lunch but as of now, we are on line but communicating and thus far, I’ve been able to use free meeting tools so it has cost me nothing which is a frugal person’s favorite price.
- Healthy habits. The gyms are all closed right now so we are tracking our power walks. As long as we practice social distancing, we are allowed to exercise outdoors and we’ve taken advantage of that. Again, cost is free.
- Outside influences. Hiring vendors is currently out of the question so everything I need doing, I have to improvise and do myself. The jungle that grew in my backyard is currently being cleared by yours truly. Cost is zero and since I waited for the rains, pulling weeds is easy manual labor. It is just taking time to complete. We had a lot of rain this past winter which translated into a lot of weeds. Bonus, gardening is also free exercise.
- Grow, baby Grow. Speaking of gardening, how that the backyard is nearly clear, I will be planting seeds early this year. The weather permits it so why not get plants started early? Again, free, the cost is free.
- Beauty Upkeep. Horror of horrors, no salon or nail appointments. I am still grappling with that but I do have a root touch up kit and I can manage myself, I don’t like it, I prefer to support the wonderful creative artists who do my hair and nails, but the law says otherwise right now so I am DYI-ing all beauty rituals.
- Money Matters. This is tax time folks and while I can’t meet with my CPA as we normally would, I’ve taken pictures of all of my receipts and records, assembled them into a pdf and sent them to him. He’s sheltering in place too and this way, once the smoke clears and people start doing their taxes (we have all been given a 90-day extension) I will have my taxes over and done with, all electronically.
- Use it or lose it. I’ve made a game out of using up leftovers. Every day at lunch, I create something from the leftovers in the fridge thus saving money and keeping lunches interesting. Bonus, I get to sit down for a few minutes and have lunch with my partner which is another unforeseen and unexpected benefit of sheltering in place.