Friday, May 1, 2020


Welcome to what I've been staring at for nearly seven weeks now.

Courtesy of Covid-19, I've been spending my days 
not doing all the things I said I'd do if I only had more time.

As it turns out, I've been practicing for a pandemic my whole life.

Life in Mathews is the very definition of social distancing, and we've been engaging in it even before we knew what it was.  Because we're so remote, it's not unusual to have a pantry stocked for an emergency.  You never know when the power may go out, you never know when a storm will surprise you with very little warning, and because we're at least 20-30 or more miles from the nearest Most Anything, you're always strategizing the acquisition and storage of necessary supplies.

I've always said there's no such thing as too much of certain items, including toilet paper and wine (for example).  And as it turns out, I was more right than I ever knew.  What I never anticipated was that toilet paper would become so scarce--in stores and on-line--that sourcing it would become a high-stakes game of risk, strategy and, often, dumb luck.

Toilet paper scarcities aside, though, I'm not just fine, I'm great.  I am also grateful to not have to drive the hour into work every day, and I don't (at the moment) have any financial worries.  Due to underlying health conditions, I'm one of several in my office asked to stay home until it's safe/safer to return.  Due to the nature of my work, I can't do it remotely; yet I am still being paid.  Again, I am eternally grateful for this.

Everyone in the Chesapeake Bay Family is doing OK, all things considered.  First Child is currently in Madrid, on lockdown since March.  He is healthy but bored, a problem he can live with.  Second Child is getting ready to graduate from UVA's Architecture School, something I'd been looking forward to with glee but which will not be happening as a formal event for obvious reasons.  We'll find a way to make the best of it, though.  My parents are doing OK, although my father had some very, very serious health problems in January that led to his now being on dialysis.  He has so many health problems you wouldn't believe it if I listed them all, but he's hanging in there. Middle Sister is hunkered down in her new house across the field from me, working from home and enjoying her newly adopted dog King.  Baby Sister is still in Richmond doing OK.

We're all safe and in reasonably good health-- and really that's all I want and need.

(Except for some good Thai food.)

I've come to a few realizations during this pandemic:
  • The thousand and four things I always said I'd do if I had more time?  Time has nothing to do with it.  I just don't want to do them. Ever.  At all. So, it looks like cleaning the garage, organizing the basement, decluttering the upstairs and organizing cabinets and closets will never happen.  I'm finally OK with this.
  • It is possible to structure an entire month day around the following activities:  coffee, bird watching, walking, jigsaw puzzles, reading, eating, sleeping, watching Netflix.  I've sewn days upon weeks upon now months together into a quilt of these activities.  
  • It's going to be a long time before I can travel like I want to again.  In the mean time I need to enjoy what's in front of me more. 
  • All of this down time makes me question what my purpose is, and I don't have an answer for that yet in spite of days upon weeks upon months of wondering. I've read books that talk about purpose and having goals, and I realize I have no true goals.  (How is this possible?  My life thus far has been about one goal:  surviving each day. So far, I'm winning.  But surely there should be more.)
  • I love the view from my back yard, and I don't think I'll ever get tired of it.
  • I am tired of all the wind and rain and dreary weather though.  My mood seems to be eternally linked to the weather.
  • I'm very grateful for everything, even the things I complain about. Like the weather.  
That's about it for now.  

I hope that all is well in your world.  Stay safe, be smart, and live well.


jwd said...

Welcome back!

Meg McCormick said...

The bit about the goals? I so understand this. In my pre-divorce life, we pretty much existed to keep the children alive and get from one day to the next, one week to the next, one holiday to the next. In my post-divorce life, I realized that one really important thing that was missing before was that we didn't have any goals for the future. We had a lot of "someday" ideas but nothing specific we were working towards. But now? We have some goals. Just a couple, but they are out there and they keep us motivated. We have also realized that the "old rules" - the "playbook" for how life was "supposed to be" turned out to be a bunch of crap. So, we are making up new rules, and it feels good. If I could encourage you to do one thing, it's just that. Set a goal. I know things are overwhelming right now, but that might be the thing that gets you over the hurdle. Someday this will all seem funny! (Too soon?) Sending you love from just up the road a few hours. xo

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Bob Braxton said...

I make it a practice every eight years or so to look your blog up again to see what you are sharing and always delight in your photographs and your writing. Due to lockdown we at age 76 have not recently been down to Mad Calf Lane (most recent early November 2019, the beach cottage is NOT winterized but is under to watchful eye of new caretaker). Most recent news is 7th August of neighbor near and dear Ann, born 1939. Thank you again.

Bob Braxton said...

Our FIRST trip 3 hours from Fairfax, VA, to Mad Calf LN (on Gwynn) happened near early Novemeber. Then less than one week later we returned (again) to celebrate rather sudden death / life of Ann, the farm house very near, who has owned it a been there (first for summer vacations, then in retirement) for around seven decades, the last in her family (none had children) - we will miss Ann sorely.

Bob Braxton said...

In Fairfax county a week from today (Monday) is the first day of the public school year. Short of Labor Day, we are looking forward to ten days or so at Mad Calf LN, Gwynn's Island, a three hour drive to get from Fairfax to there.

mmm said...

Now that the pandemic is, or is about to be declared "over" don't you think it's time for more existential musings? Surely, you've figured out the meaning of life by now...