Chasing Normal…

Saying that the coronavirus has changed our everyday lives is like saying water is wet. Everyone has been affected in one way or another.

As I navigate through this unprecedented time, I’m learning a great deal about myself as well as others, especially when it comes to having a sense of humor. This pandemic is no laughing matter, but how we look at it and deal with it can make it more manageable.

Here are some things I’ve learned:

Podcast Pointers: As many of you know, I do (or try to do) a weekly podcast. Each week I receive information about podcasting from my host (Buzzsprout) and in this week’s helping hints, I was taken aback. The front-running tip of the week was how to podcast from home. WHAT?

I thought most everyone podcasted from home. (Well, the bigtime professionals with millions of followers might not). As I read on, I began laughing out loud. I mean, these are the times that try men’s souls, and apparently, my method of podcasting isn’t the norm for most.

Here’s a tiny peek into my podcasting studio: it’s my youngest son’s old bedroom, which has been converted into a guest room, and PODCASTING CENTRAL. The day-bed which, is covered in pillows, serves as my seating area, and I’ve placed a small table in front of it for my microphone, computer, water, and notes.

To help soundproof the room, I have a maroon and white afghan that I wedge under the door, to insulate the air space, in an effort to keep outside noises from coming in (my dog barking, the doorbell ringing, cats meowing). I also stack a couple of boxes on top of the afghan to “seal” my redneck insulation.

Every week, as I record the podcast, I feel a little like the Wizard of Oz. Not that what people hear is of any great quality or value, but when I think about where the words and ideas are coming from, it’s a little like opening the curtain, and seeing that the almighty Oz was anything but that.

So, here’s to all the podcasters who are having to “rough it.” Keep on keeping on, because you are a great distraction, and are important during these times of social isolation.

I hope that you will click on the podcast link below, or will find the link on my website. It’s not life-changing, but maybe it will make you smile, especially when you picture me hunkered down in my make-shift studio.


Flying under the radar: For the most part, I’m a rule follower, but as much as I hate to admit it, when someone tells me NOT to do something, there is a part of me that, for lack of a better phrase, thinks, “Hold my beer.” Usually, I end up abiding by the stated rule or suggestion, but honestly, there is a part of me that is a tiny bit rebellious.

When it comes to dealing with this pandemic, I believe EVERYONE should do as our leaders are suggesting. Straying in the least little way, is taking the chance of putting yourself and others at risk.

Last week, we had a decision to make. Our daughter-in-law (who is expecting our first grandchild in April) was supposed to have a baby shower. It was scheduled the same weekend as her sister’s wedding, in an attempt to limit the number of trips my son and DIL would have to make. They live in San Antonio, a good six hours away.

Obviously, the wedding was postponed, and the shower was canceled. It was very disappointing, but again, we understood. The only problem was that we had gifts for the baby that we needed to get to SA. Kaitlyn, (our DIL) was instructed last week that she should no longer travel far distances, so it was up to us to take the baby goods to them.

In many ways, it felt like we were “on the run,” breaking rules and living dangerously.

Looking like the Clampetts rolling into Beverly Hills, we set out for our destination in a truck that was piled down with a bassinet, stroller/car seat, multiple other gifts, and our dog, Lorelai.

Our normal routine for this journey is to make one stop in Madisonville, at Buc-ee’s for a bathroom/snack break. A great thing about Buc-ee’s is there is a large, grassy place to walk dogs, and give them the opportunity to go to the bathroom. Our routine is for Brian to walk Lorelai while I run to the restroom, and get my snack. I come back to the vehicle, and then it’s Brian’s turn. It’s a well-orchestrated relay.

If you know anything about Buc-ee’s, you know it’s a plethora of just about anything you might want or need. It’s always buzzing, and usually filled to capacity. On the day of our trip, it was anything but. By any other standards, it might have seem crowded, but for the land of the Beaver, it was eerily quiet.

When I walked to the sink in the bathroom to wash my hands, there was one other person there. We began the process of washing our hands, as we both hit the soap dispenser at the same time. And then it began. We were soaping, and lathering, and scrubbing, neither one letting up. As I glanced out of the corner of my eye, I saw that she was doing the same, eyeing me in a most judgmental way–making sure I was complying with the proper hand-washing protocol.

As we continued to scrub, I realized this had now become a competition. How long would this continue? Who would stop washing first? It was as if the first person to stop might be breaking the law by not following the guidelines set forth by the CDC. Had I lathered as long as the “Happy Birthday” song? I hadn’t been counting or singing, but I knew that at this point, I was probably on the third verse!

I kid you not! The washing-of-hands race went on for almost a minute. Normally, I am not one who ever wants to be first-runner-up, but I had to stop. It was out of control. I had to let her win. Our trip to San Antonio would now take us six hours and one minute, thanks to the competitive stranger standing next to me. I decided to let her be crowned the Hand Washing Queen, and I exited the bathroom, exhausted from the entire event.

Be vigilant. Do the right thing. But know when to walk away…

The Grocery Store: I sort of enjoy going to the store whenever I have ample time to peruse the aisles, and listen to that “made for grocery store” soundtrack. If I go at the right time, it almost seems therapeutic.

In this day and time, I find the grocery store a most depressing place. Shelves are empty, and people are roaming around with that “lean and hungry look” that Caesar spoke of.

My last venture to the store was ultimately triggered by our need for toilet paper. We have about 14 rolls, but I wanted to buy another pack of tp, as back-up. Please don’t call me a hoarder! I haven’t bought toilet paper since it gained the magic quality of being invisible. However, I honestly think, in a way, if I found a package of Charmin, or any other brand, it would make me feel like things weren’t so bad. That this entire thing wasn’t as real as it is beginning to feel.

As I ventured through the store, I decided to buy some staples like rice, and tuna, since I was already there. It seemed that every person I passed, was on a mission. No one was smiling, and everyone was in a hurry. It was most unsettling, and made me sad. I was on the verge of tears. While isolated in my home, I hear about the things going on in the outside, world, but seeing up close and personal how it is affecting every part of our lives, is a reminder of all that is at stake.

Thanks to all grocery store employees for all you’ve done to make things more do-able. For putting yourselves on the front lines, and helping us all navigate our way through this uncharted time.

Cleaning: I have had much more time to clean and organize. The week before our normal lives changed, Brian and I took up our old wood floors, and replaced it with vinyl planks. Having dogs/cats, and with a grandson on the way, we needed something more durable and easier to clean.

I have to say that my favorite part was using the crowbar and pulling up the elderly planks of wood. It was quite therapeutic. We worked at breakneck speed to pull the floor up and replace it before we left for the Southland Conference Basketball Tournament. We had a four day window to get it all done, and we were impressive. We could have starred on a home improvement show.

And then we got the news that the conference tournament was canceled, as well as the NCAA tournament. We were so disappointed, but all was not lost. We had a new floor in our kitchen/dining area.

Earlier this week, I devoted a whole day to cleaning and scrubbing and organizing. I was exhausted, but everything looked so nice, and it made being isolated at home much more enjoyable. Everything seemed fresh, and new….UNTIL our cat decided to shake things up.

At this point I need to clarify, and be more specific. The cat in question was Scout. You see, we now have three cats in our house! I’m about one cat away from being referred to as “an old cat-lady.” We have a cat named Maisie, and just this week, we brought “Sister” back from my son and DIL’s. They are preparing for the baby, and we all agreed that the cat should temporarily relocate.

The first night with Sister was trying, but she has since settled in and made herself at home. The problem is, she eats a different brand of cat food than Scout and Maisie. With all their bowls lined up, and Scout, who is the oldest and definitely the one in charge, decided to eat Sister’s food. It obviously didn’t agree with her, as she began spewing projectile vomit all over our new, and for a moment, very clean floors.

At first I was upset, but then I came to the realization that I will be cooped up in the house for a while. I have nothing but time, and cleaning the house will at least keep me busy.

ZOOM: Yesterday, our faculty had our first faculty meeting via Zoom. It was so great to see everyone in their home environment, and I loved the interaction. This is what it reminded me of:

In preparation for this meeting, I actually washed my hair and put on makeup. I also created a “Zoom Set”, as I moved a chair and ottoman in order to avoid sitting on the couch–I knew if I was on the couch, I would be joined by Lorelai, and the cats.

I was all set up, and when I finally joined in the meeting and waved hello to everyone, Lorelai came flying into the room. I think she heard Brian’s voice (he’s the principal). She jumped in my chair and began licking me! It was so sweet, and fun, and everyone enjoyed seeing her in action, since they’ve heard so many stories about her.

Here’s to all the teachers/administrators/staff who are leading us through these ever-changing times. Teachers are heroes and if parents didn’t realize this before, they definitely do now.

LIFE is like a box of chocolates: 

During these unexpected, unnerving, and unprecedented times, the “life is like a box of chocolates” quote resonates even louder. As each day unfolds, we don’t know what we’re going to get. I thrive on a routine, and this social distancing has thrown me for a loop. I have too much time on my hands, and I’m not sure what to do.

I’m trying to read and write, and clean, and exercise, but I’m not being successful in all these endeavors. When it comes to “flattening my curve,” I’m not doing so well. I’m working on limiting my food intake and it has been my goal to exercise each day, but that hasn’t happened. In my self-home-schooling routine, it looks like I might not get credit for PE.

The sun is out today, so maybe I will go for a walk or a run. Or maybe I’ll stay in my pjs and watch TV. The point is, I’m beginning to see that not having a routine sometimes is a good routine. We’ve all been given this time and we should use it wisely. Some of us need to slow down. Some of us need to change habits or create new ones. Some of us need to be creative, while others need to check items off the never-ending “to do” list.

I hope that you use this time to tend to “unfinished business,” or to start something new. I’ve read several things about how many of the greatest works in science and literature were accomplished during times of isolation. This is your time to shine, whether it’s through the new experience of home-schooling your children, sewing masks for the cause, or taking time to relax, re-group, rethink.

As I wonder what I will prepare for lunch, or supper, and try to stretch food in order to stay at home and isolated, I’ve come to this conclusion: not all nourishment comes from food. My body can definitely survive on fewer calories. During this time, I need to concentrate on filling up and nourishing my heart and my soul. I need to look past my own personal wants, and think of others who are in need.

During this stressful, worrisome time, the word HOPE is one that I will live by. As Alexander Pope said, “Hope springs eternal,” and I believe where there is life, there is also hope. For all those who are enduring extraordinary trials in addition to the pandemic, keep hope alive. You are not alone.

In your quest to capture “NORMAL,” do your part in flattening the curve. Help when and where you can. Try to stay positive. You might not be able to change your situation, but you can change how you look at it.

Again, we’ve been asked to stay home and sit on our couch. Rise to the challenge. Do your part, and do great things. Think, and pray, and write, and speak, and build, and paint, and help, and teach, and hope for a better tomorrow.

Perhaps you were made for times like these…



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