Tuesday, September 29, 2020

covid notes 43

Greetings from Day 11 of 14 days of quarantine. After Tim returned from the Adirondacks on Sunday, and having found out that our friend Amy had had a tent visit with my mother, which is the first we’d heard it was possible, and knowing it was only going to get colder and then there would be no tent visits, and knowing we hadn’t seen my mother or his (who has dementia) and her husband since Christmas, we decided that Tim would not start his quarantine on Monday,  rather on Tuesday we would leave town for a road warrior trip and quarantine together when we got home.


Our quarantine hasn’t been 100% perfect, because we made the decision to leave town too quickly to get all the food in the house and therefore had to go to the grocery store, which technically, we aren’t supposed to do during those two weeks. We also have been exercising outside, alone or alonetogether, mostly on our bikes—this is allowed. We also go to the post office to get our mail, but we tend to go during hours when the window is closed and we are unlikely to run into anybody.


This isolating behavior has been a disappointment to our 80-year-old friend Paul, who rightly wanted to have a screened-in porch sit last weekend, one of the most beautiful of the year, before it turns cold. Luckily, he understood how upset I might be if I happened to give him covid.


If you want to read more about Vermont’s quarantine suggestions, go here.


Check out the travel map Vermont provides, which is pretty fascinating and is finally being updated on Tuesdays instead of Fridays so that people have time to cancel reservations if their destination switches from green to yellow or red. The New York county right next to us recently went yellow—that’s where my closest grocery store is. I’m still allowed to go there because getting food is essential, but of course I’m quarantining now.


As much as one would think that quarantining isn’t much different from what everyone is doing anyway, it does add another layer of inconvenience and loneliness. I’ll be glad when it’s over.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

covid notes 42

Tim left today for a three-night fishing trip in the Adirondacks with ex-coworkers who still have their jobs. It is a trip he had done at least twice before, a tradition he started. They are renting a large place, and everyone is bringing his own food, and they will be fly fishing, which is socially distant anyway. We are both nervous about it, for various reasons, but we hope it will all turn out well.


The reason I’m mentioning it is that this is the first night we’ve been apart since December 4. Between my parents’ health issues and his travel schedule, that kind of togetherness hasn’t happened in years.

covid notes 41

Since March, I have hugged two people besides Tim. One was by mistake. The other was a choice.


The first was on August 25, Tim and my 34th legal anniversary. Our dear friend Paul, now 80 years old, is the only person who annually recognizes it—our families certainly wouldn’t know when it is (we had a wedding October 11). Every year he leaves us a bottle of wine and some goody, cheese or jam or something, with a lovely note. This year, I caught him at it—I was rushing out the back door and nearly ran him over as he was leaving the gift. He had just hosted a jazz concert in his backyard for his friends and clients—that’s another story—three days before. I was so surprised and touched, I just threw my arms around him.




But it was the right thing to do.


Eleven days later, we hosted an outdoor pancake breakfast for a friend, her daughter, and her daughter’s girlfriend. The daughter and girlfriend have been living with our friend this summer as the fate of their college attendance was decided. The girlfriend’s mom and mom’s wife were moving from one part of the country to another, and she (daughter’s girlfriend) decided to take a year off and move out there with them. We had grown very fond of the girlfriend and wanted to say goodbye, so we hosted the breakfast. Tim makes incredible fluffy buttermilk pancakes.


The girlfriend was getting on a plane and leaving the next day, and when she was about to go, she opened her arms for a hug, and I went in.


It was a choice. It was great. And I may never see her again, after all.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

covid notes 40

I just canceled the DVD portion of my Netflix subscription. We hardly have time to watch stuff, and it can take me a month to get around to a DVD. Dropping it saves about $100/year. Still, when I hit “cancel” after multiple opportunities to change my mind, I started to cry.


I don’t think it was really about the DVDs.

Friday, September 4, 2020

covid notes 39

The third person I sent my mom rant to was Amy, an old family friend (readers should review “The Shirt” for information on Amy). When we moved my mother, we couldn’t keep her in our home town anymore—she’s about 40 minutes away, closer to Baltimore, in the town where Amy lives, and it took me awhile to tell Amy. When I did, she wrote back: “OMG! [Facility] is on my street, two blocks from my house! I can’t believe your mom is there. And I’m so sorry to hear all the craziness you are going through. I’m sure it would be difficult anytime. But in the middle of a pandemic. Wow!”


I was shocked that someone we know—someone my mother has known since Amy was a baby—lives two blocks away.


Alison wanted to send Mom’s caretakers some baked goods, both as a thank you (in general, and because my mother can be difficult) and as a way to let them know that we aren’t ignoring my mother, we are not negligent, no matter how it appears on the ground. We have awareness! My sister practically has a second full-time job working on this! (Ooops, ranting again.) So we asked for the name of a bakery in the neighborhood that might deliver, and Amy eventually wrote back: “I picked up a bunch of baked goods at a delicious local place, and Greg and I went down to [facility] to drop them off, along with a card for the staff, which I signed from you two. I also dropped off some sunflowers and a card for your mom, which I signed from me and Greg. They were very sweet! The woman who answered the door knows your mom. And as we were talking, your mom’s aid was on her way out for the day, so we stopped and talked to her and gave her some of the baked goods. She was delightful and really seems to care about your mom.”


This, as you can imagine, has been a godsend. I mean, what an angel Amy is.


(But have we been able to reach Mom since? No.)

covid notes 38

I haven’t been talking about my mother, because I just can’t. Thank goodness my parents had a second child. Alison (who has power of attorney) has had a work and personal life that means that she understands the systems, knows the questions to ask, and understands the answers. Still, everything is so complicated and hard for people with a background like hers—how does the normal person navigate this stuff? I simply shut down.


My mother went was hospitalized July 2, was there about 10 days, maybe, then went to rehab, where she’s been since. I can’t go into everything, but here is a frantic e-mail I sent to a friend on July 30, then cut and paste it to another on August 6, another on August 17, and now I am posting it here:


Briefly (because OMG, I could go on and it exhausts me) we had to move her from independent living to assisted living against her will (and other things that didn’t go well), then there was a bait and switch and we couldn’t afford it there anymore so we had to move her to another assisted living place, but she went into the hospital, so the move happened while she was in the hospital, and things were very **** up with that because she is a hoarder [Bloggers: see June: Whining/Negativity] and because the old place [facility name] dumped some of their shit in with the movers [what I’m saying here is that they dumped things into her apartment that weren’t hers], there had to be a second move of things out of the new apartment to her hoarder’s house, and luckily she went to rehab after the hospital and is still there because there was no room for her in her room in the new place, but there is now, but she has yet to set foot in it (and neither have we). All this from afar and with covid. We can’t really enter any facility anyway. My sister is in charge, thank god. And mom’s health is really questionable. And that is the very short version.


Today my mother is having an in-office vascular procedure meant to help her avoid amputation. If things do not go well, she’ll be admitted to a hospital. And of course, at 89, things may not go well at all.


We can almost never reach her to talk with her, which is another whole thing maybe I’ve discussed and maybe not. No cell phone. Doesn’t pick up the phone by her bed.


She still has never been to the new place and may never be.


And Tim’s brother is having his prostate biopsied this morning. It’s just one big party today.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

covid notes 37

It is already September, and I haven’t addressed July or August in any real way, so I will say that in July we participated in small socially distanced gatherings with friends, because we had to, but maybe there were too many, and that thought freaks me out, and my back went out after I opened the garage door, which brought on weeks of issues, and one day I drove 40 minutes each way to get Thai takeout, and Tim made his first tomato galette (he subsequently made four more), and one day I had canoe date with Tim at Glen Lake after not having taken the boat out at all last summer, and there was another blog zoom date with all the bloggers (even Helen!), and we went biking on our rail trail, which suddenly has become complicated (stay tuned!), and we looked for more birds, and there have been Mom complications, and a family friend died; and in August my sciatica saga continued, and I was a judge for the final round of a writing competition, which added significantly to my work load, and we pulled back from socializing a bit, which was good but led to some serious feelings of isolation, and I had to take my car in for maintenance and wait for it, only for an hour, and the few other people in the waiting room were masked too so I assume I was OK, and one day Tim and I went to an exhibit of paintings at the museum (the one I work for), which really was delightful and civilized and we had the place to ourselves, and then there was a day when we went to two small outdoor concerts (more on that later, perhaps), and we had a quiet 34th legal anniversary (but duck risotto and a good bottle of wine!), and then I got news of the sudden death of a dear college friend (Saturday), and I’m reeling a bit from that and still hoping for more detail.