Sunday, April 19, 2020

Lessons in sheltering

It's been over a month and both of us are still healthy in our little place in Tucson. Here's what I'm learning:

1. I'm content indoors most of the time, since I spend a lot of time reading and on the computer. I have to have Alexa set the timer for half an hour or I would remain in my recliner for hours. I've set up a daily plan alternating "in the recliner" and "not in the recliner" activities.

2. I mostly like not having places to go. Usually I'm out and about, with activities and meetings, driving for half an hour to gathering places. Since we began sheltering in place, we've only needed one of our two cars.

3. I haven't volunteered at a shelter in over six weeks. The combination of a locked-up border and the risk of gathering during the time of coronavirus has shut down the shelter. I thought I would miss it, but I don't.

4. The idea of contact tracing sounds interesting, so I've filled out an application to help with that - either paid or as a volunteer - for Pima County, where Tucson is located. I would help at the food bank, but my age makes me part of the vulnerable population. I would help make masks, but I lent my sewing machine to a friend nearly 20 years ago and have not missed it once. I remember a line from a sonnet by John Milton, "They also serve who only stand and wait." Mostly I'm sitting and waiting, but I am willing.

5. There is no way I can persuade people in my community to do social distancing if they're not doing it now. I can just keep them off my porch. I have heard people say, "Well, this whole thing of sheltering in place is overkill. There isn't any virus in our little community." I want to say, "That's because MOST OF US ARE DOING IT." It doesn't seem to be related to a person's politics. They just want to be able to use the pools, or the pickleball courts, or the golf course, and they don't think it should be such a big deal.

6. On Friday I rode 30 miles on my e-bike. The bike rides are exercise but they are also a relief from the current restrictions. I don't mind wearing a mask. I ride with my good friend Ellen. Neither of us have been around anyone else for the last six weeks, and we observe social distancing with each other.

7. It's nice to have distractions: cancellation and rebooking of our bike-and-barge trip in the Netherlands and Belgium from May 2020 to June 2021; planning for a May trip to Washington to begin the basement remodel of our Brier house, set to be done this summer but dependent on the limitations of the virus.

8. My right hip would be bothering me whether I were sheltering in place or not. But it, too, sometimes keeps my mind off the limitations of sheltering.

9. I'm surprised at how normal it feels already to wear a mask, to stay six feet apart from people I meet on the street, to run Clorox wipes over surfaces anyone else has touched.

10. I'm grateful we have the resources to get through this without hardship.

One day at a time. This too shall pass. And all the other things we say.

Saturday, April 4, 2020


So, here we are, staying home in our 620-square-foot park model trailer in Tucson. Not returning to our place in Seattle for some undetermined number of weeks or months. Going nowhere except for acquiring food or medication. And riding bikes for exercise.

I have been in a couple of 12-step programs for over 20 years. I know I am powerless over the current situation, and that what we're going through now is truly one day at a time.

Very fortunately, I have a laptop. So I can
  • Connect with friends and family
  • Make purchases online
  • Keep up with the news
  • Work on the taxes when I get motivated enough
I have a six-inch stack of magazines to read. And half a dozen books.

I am getting reacquainted with my inner introvert.

I know that we are all in this together, and that we are all the same. I actually knew it four years ago, when I first started volunteering with refugees and asylum seekers. I suspect that many millions of people are learning it now, and I think that is a good thing.

I hope with all my heart that we learn from this global tragedy and that, once we're up and running again, we leave behind some of our useless or destructive ways and institute new practices for the good of all of us.