Living The Dream Of A Quarantined Retirement

Two articles in Popular Science in 2012 predicted a pandemic on the order of the Spanish flu, which killed millions, and how it could be handled. I remember reading them.

A search of the internet brought me to them. They are eerily very foretelling. One was titled “Where Will the Next Pandemic Come From?” It eerily predicted what we are encountering today. There are millions of viruses, an entire “virosphere” of them. Luckily, only a small subset of them affect humans. But those that study them warned about the Next Big One. Would we be ready? How many would be affected? How many would die? What would be the cost to the world economy?

The other article, “How to Stop a Pandemic”, included a world map that showed how a virus could travel. Just a hypothesis based on airline flight paths, the map showed it starting in China and spreading around the world. In the US, the hot spots included New York, San Francisco, LA, New Orleans, Chicago and Detroit.

Sound familiar? It’s scary and fascinating stuff. Well, then. Guess I’ll follow the governor’s stay-at-home order as much as I can stand it. After all, it isn’t much different than the retirement I’m already trying to enjoy.

But now everything seems different. Is it because it was sort of Minnesota-forced? You know. Like “do ya s’pose you could just do yer part and stay home for a coupla weeks like the rest of us are?” Who could say no to that?

Even though I feel OK, I feel out of balance. Maybe it’s the silence. No traffic. The few kids playing are closely watched by their parents. A few delivery trucks. The mail. A few walkers. The only sirens I hear are on TV.

Oh, come on. Spring is here. The days are getting longer, brighter and warmer. The birds are singing. You can smell dirt again. Enjoy!

We’re getting some 60-degree days now. It feels good and gives us hope. It’s tough to be just coming out of winter and then told to stay inside. Lots of folks are out anyhow. In the parks. Motorcycles are out again. The river is packed with fishing boats. Suddenly, they’re finding moments of enjoyment as if this is their last chance before the motorcycle or boat gets repossessed.

The worst may still be on the way, though, and with a severe shortage of supplies in many states, health care workers are losing both patients and patience. Gas has dropped to less than a dollar a gallon. Too bad a lot of us have cars still full of two dollar gas, a bargain a week or so earlier. But we have nowhere to go. We have to stay home. My car now gets three weeks to the gallon.

Fashion is out of style. I wore the same shirt and pants for a whole week and I don’t remember where I left my shoes since I wear slippers all the time now. The only time you need to clean up is when you’re part of a Zoom meeting or posting a selfie and you don’t even need to wear pants for that.

Catherine visited her mother over the phone the other day through her assisted living bedroom window. Fortunately, she’s on the first floor.

Our church held its Palm Sunday service on Zoom. My job was to play YouTube videos at specific times – a presentation on the Passion of Christ and three videos of hymns being played. I wore a clean shirt. Catherine was in her bathrobe.

It’s been mentally taxing to try to read the tiny print on the dozens of charts and graphs about the virus being shown on TV for about two seconds each. At least I haven’t heard the Window World song for awhile or the Minnesota Rusco jingle. Sadly, Hero Plumbing (I need a hero) and Liberty Mutual (Liberty, Liberty, Liberty . . . Liberty) ads seem to have increased, if that’s even possible. Some companies that have overcharged us for years appear soberly philanthropic. COVID-19 specials abound. There’s an ad for a hospice service now.

Doing almost anything to keep busy is acceptable. I was getting too much information about the virus on TV and the internet so I decided to do something useful. I put the screens back on the windows. It was snowing. Fortunately, my screens go on the inside.

I’m not despondent over the pandemic yet but if I see someone running naked down the street raging against the world, I might get concerned.

Taking walks and hikes is acceptable as long as you stay six feet away from people you meet. So I went for a hike through a bluff top woods. And promptly got lost. I was walking through dense brush on deer paths that just suddenly disappeared. The app on my phone to track my hike graphically showed that I was walking in circles. I found my way out and two days later tried it again. I found a much better path that, a one point, was only about 10 feet from where I was lost earlier.

As with my hike, we’re moving through unfamiliar territory right now. We feel lost but remaining focused and using the right tools, we’ll find our way out.

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