Sunday, May 24, 2020

Observant in Seattle

Two mornings ago my husband Art and I flew from Tucson to Seattle. I will be here for ten days and Art will be here for 32. We are beginning the remodel of the daylight basement in our home in Brier. We are creating a light and bright studio living area for ourselves, and we plan to live there during the summer months. One of our sons, Jason, has relinquished the basement and now lives only on the main floor upstairs with his family. It will be a win-win, as we will have no stairs to aggravate my arthritic back and they will have a reasonable rent where our grandson Kaleb can continue to go to school with his friends.

It was a big deal for me to get on the airplane. I know that, though Tucson has opened up somewhat, Seattle has not. Washington has a four-phase opening process for counties based on multiple criteria. About half of the counties - mostly rural - are opening up.

But not King County, where our Seattle airbnb is located. And not Snohomish County, where our family home is. One of the required criteria to move to Phase 2 is that a county have fewer than 10 new confirmed coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents across a 14-day span. Right now King County has about 39 and Snohomish County has about 31. So it will be a while before people can emerge from their homes for other than essential business.

The flight itself felt very safe. We were required to wear masks from the time we entered the airport in Tucson to the time we emerged from the terminal in Seattle. We had acquired N95 masks some time ago from a friend. On the plane, everyone had a window seat and an empty aisle seat. Everyone wore masks - both passengers and crew. Only bottled water and a small packaged snack was served. The crew wore gloves and collected trash several times during the three-hour flight. Social distancing was observed by everyone on the shuttle bus and at the car rental checkout. I read that this week marked an uptick in the number of people flying in the US, so I guess we're part of the trendsetting travelers.

We've rented an airbnb in Ravenna, a Seattle neighborhood just north of downtown. It's an older place currently being renovated, with creaking hardwood floors and a steep interior stairway. We're sleeping in the smallest bedroom because it's on the ground floor. It's about a 20-minute drive to Brier.

I'm normally a law-abiding, compliant person. So coming up here for the beginning of the remodel, when all around me people are staying home or wearing masks when they venture out, made me hesitate. I really thought Phase 2 would have begun by now. But we've hired the worker for the remodel - my son James - and Art will be doing the electrical work. So we are being as compliant as we can.

In Tucson, on Thursday, people were out and about, some wearing masks and some not, in the 90-something degree sunshine. In Seattle, on Friday, traffic was light and it was 60 degrees and, in the grocery store, everyone wore a mask. So we are adjusting for our time in Seattle.

It feels odd to not give my sons, daughter-in-law and grandson a hug, and to keep my distance. But Art and I are among the vulnerable "elderlies". I suspect that when I return to Tucson next week I'll quarantine myself to keep my Arizona friends safe.

Our Brier garage is full of our stuff - everything from the upstairs has been put in boxes and stored there, along with miscellaneous things like vacuum cleaners and fans. I'll be selling or giving away most of it. Just this morning someone bought our Bowflex, office desk and office chair. They pick it up tomorrow. I'm more inclined to get the job done than to make a lot of money, so the buyer - she took all three items - got an excellent deal and I cleared a bunch of space. When the remodel is complete - hopefully by the last half of July - we'll drive back up here for a few months, and I'll spend more time clearing the contents of the garage. The goal, as always, will be to have enough space in there to park my car. But maybe not.

Stay safe!

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Lockdown gratitudes

This is an unprecedented and weird time. Still, good things do happen.

1. The heat has arrived early in Tucson; it was over 100 degrees twice last week, and the upcoming week has more of the same. But the A/C in our little place works fine. We set the thermostat at 78 and we are fine. I'm grateful we've agreed on 78 rather than 84.

2. I go for an eight-mile e-bike ride every morning and another one most evenings in our retirement community. I ride with my friend Ellen. We maintain social distance while chatting about the news and whatever else comes up. I'm grateful for the constancy of a good friend.

3. Ellen and I started riding at 10 a.m. until a couple of weeks ago, then changed the start time to 9, then 8:30, then 8:15, then 8:00. We want to be back before it gets hot. I am not a morning person, but I am willing to become one for the next few months so we can take our morning ride.  I'm grateful for the motivation to get out in the cooler morning air.

4. We ride at about 6 in the evening and some days we witness the most magnificent Arizona sunsets. Really, the sky here stretches from horizon to horizon, with few trees or hills to interrupt. Sometimes I have to stop and just watch the sunset. I'm grateful for red and orange fire in the sky.

5. This week Larisa's vet agreed to give her a haircut. Larisa is a Siberian forest cat with a triple coat, and she was moping around, looking like a hedgehog and lying on the laundry room floor to keep cool. Since she got home from the vet, her body shorn and looking more like a rodent, she has spent a lot of time curled up on my lap. Adjusting to these changes in body temperature takes time, I guess. I'm grateful that the vet deemed Larisa's comfort an essential service.

6. My husband Art does the grocery shopping and he always brings me about five pounds of grapes. I take them off their stems and put them in baggies to freeze. They make a wonderful popsicle-like snack. I'm grateful for something I like almost as much as ice cream.

7. No one in my retirement community has gotten the virus, as far as I know - and I'm pretty sure I would, the way "news" travels - and I'd say about 80 percent of us are observing social distancing and about 50 percent of us are wearing masks. We wish the pools were open, and the restaurant, and the pickleball courts, and all the other facilities, but the management decided to keep us safe instead. I can live with that, and I'm grateful that it's fairly easy for me to be a good sport.

8. Last week Ellen and I got in her car and went to a drive-through place for a Sonoran hot dog, which we were both craving. She was in the front seat on the driver's side with her mask on, and I was in the back passenger seat with my mask on. We got our food and found a shady place to eat it, still sitting in the car. Then we went to a take-out place for two scoops of ice cream (she says $17.50 was way to much to pay and we should never go there again, and maybe we won't, but BOY was that ice cream good!). Ellen said she felt like my driver and I said I'd give her a big tip, and she laughed. Ellen is the only person I have been in a car with, except for Art, since this all started. Even when she and I ride our bikes on the Tucson Loop, we take two cars with our bikes on separate racks, and meet at the trailhead. I'm grateful to have a friend who shares my thoughts about keeping safe.

9. I had an MRI last week to look at my lower back. I'm grateful that the experience is much less harrowing than the ones I had nine years ago. The tube was twice as large, I got to choose the music that came through my headphones, the technician told me what was going on the whole time. And I'd worn my mask into the facility. Once I was lying down I just moved it up from my nose and mouth to cover my eyes so I didn't have to look. It was almost - not quite, but almost - a meditative experience! 

10. I don't have the virus, and neither does anyone else I know. I am grateful!