Update, COVID-19 Edition

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Photo by CDC on Unsplash

I don’t feel like writing.

I don’t feel like doing much of anything.

Don’t worry. I’m not sick. As far as I know, I’m totally healthy. I don’t have any symptoms of COVID-19 and no risk factors other than going to town (The Hot Zone, The Man calls it) last Tuesday to pick up Jerico’s dog food and drop some postcards into the mail slot.

The Man is fine too, as is Jerico. We’re all in good health.

I quit my job a week ago. The hand washing facilities where I worked were inadequate. In the three months I worked there, I never once saw the woman I assisted wash her hands. Another frustrating problem was that she did not believe COVID-19 was a big deal. If they’d quit calling it a pandemic, people wouldn’t be so frantic, she said on more than one occasion. She certainly was not practicing social distancing, so I was exposed–directly or indirectly–to everyone who came over to visit her, everyone she hugged, everyone who touched something in her house. I was also expected to take her to a friend’s home to shower once a week, so I was exposed to her friend, her friend’s husband, the hired hand, and anyone else who happened to be there on a Friday afternoon.

This is from the frequently asked questions from my state’s unemployment website.

The state I work in won’t pay unemployment to anyone who quits a job due to “a medical concern.” In the eyes of the state, I was supposed to keep working until either I got sick or my client did. Hell, I might have been expected to continue to care for my client had she gotten sick even though I had no protective gear or even a place to wash my hands other than a sink that drained into a bucket that I had to dump outside when full.

While I received emails from my credit union, the gas station and supermarket to whose rewards clubs I belong, and every fast food restaurant and craft store with whom I’ve ever shared my email address explaining how each business was working to keep both customers and employees safe in the time of COVID-19 and telling me how to keep myself safe, the company I worked for didn’t so much as text me to remind me to wash my hands. I heard nothing from my employer. Nothing. Not a peep. The silence did not instill confidence in me. In fact, the silence underscored the reality that my employer did not give a damn about me.

At first I was excited about the prospect of not going to work.

I’ll get some writing done, I thought. I’ll work on my blog. I’ll let people know about the postcards I have for sale. I’ll get so much done!

Instead, I’ve been dragging my ass for a week.

The Man and I decided to stay home and take social distancing and flattening the curve seriously. The Man is talking about totally staying home for two months, maybe three. Is he overreacting or saving our lives? I guess we’ll never really know.

The Man and I have enough food for for a month, maybe six weeks, if we eat two conservative meals a day. We started out with about 15 pounds of dried pinto beans, along with a few more pounds of dried black beans, lentils, white beans and Lima beans. We’ve been eating oatmeal for breakfast so we can save the eggs for baking. I’ve been working hard to vary our dinners so we don’t burn out on beans early on. There may come a day when we’re eating all pintos all the time, but I want to delay that day for as long as possible.

Jerico is set with food for now. Last Tuesday we picked up a 35 pound sack of food we’d had shipped from Chewy.com. That much food will last him at least a month, probably six weeks. He’ll be out of medication too, sometime in the next couple of months. We order that online too.

Unlike most people in the United States, we don’t get home delivery of mail. No one in this part of the state does. Folks either get a box at a post office or at a private company like the UPS Store. So while most of you can order online and have groceries or dog food or medicine or craft supplies delivered to your home, we don’t enjoy that convenience. Our mailbox is 20 miles away, in The Hot Zone.

The nearest outgoing mailbox is at least 12 miles from our home, and The Man really doesn’t want me driving there to mail letters and postcards. He fears the virus is going to be concentrated anywhere that people live. He fears I might breathe in the virus and bring it home. Again, is he over cautious or just cautious enough?

What did I decide to do after considering my prospects of neither incoming nor outgoing mail for a month or more? I decided to make postcards, of course. Something about cutting paper and gluing it down in new ways is comforting to me in times of stress. The actions give me a feeling of control, I suppose.

These are some of the 38 postcards I made. I took this photo too.

Two days and 38 postcards later, I ran out of the decoupage glue I like to use for all my collage work. I won’t be getting any more of it any time soon, so I guess my postcard creating is on hiatus.

This past Saturday, I tried to file my taxes online. It turned into a fiasco because I don’t know last year’s Adjusted Gross Income. I had to give up after a couple of hours of struggle until my sibling (whose mail is delivered to the front porch) receives some documentation and calls me with the information.

After I was unable to achieve my big goal for the day, I fell into despair. It was tool cold and windy to go for the walk The Man suggested. I didn’t feel like writing. I didn’t feel like talking or watching a movie. After I cooked dinner and washed the dishes, the rest of my life stretched before me, long and boring.

The Man and I ended up watching some King of the Hill on Hulu. (Thank goodness for free trials from streaming services.) That cheered me up a little, but all I really wanted to do was play the matching game I put on my phone. I don’t have to think too hard about it, so it doesn’t tax my brain, but I have to pay close enough attention to it that unwanted thoughts are kept away. It’s an unproductive activity, but after hours of reading news sources and thinking about COVID-19 and people refusing to isolate and the lack of ventilators and all the horribleness that’s coming down the pike, my brain enjoys being blank.

I don’t know what to do with this blog right now. Should I carry on as if nothing is amiss and our whole world isn’t crumbling? Should I go all COVID-19 all the time? To be honest with you, I don’t have it in me to go all COVID-19 all the time. But if no one cares anymore about a free camping spot in Colorado or stories from my past or photos of my first Little Free Food Pantry, I’m not going to bother. However, if my blog helps you feel a little more normal, I’m all for continuing with it.

Please, let me know what you think. If you’re reading these words, please, please leave a comment (as short or as long as you like) letting me know what you want to see here in the coming days. Your input will help me make some decisions.

In the meantime, please keep yourself safe. Stay home as much as possible. Work from home if you can. Stay away from people outside your immediate family. Wash your hands. Be kind. Above all, please be kind.

About Blaize Sun

My name is Blaize Sun. Maybe that's the name my family gave me; maybe it's not. In any case, that's the name I'm using here and now. I've been a rubber tramp for nearly a decade.I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. For most of my years on the road, my primary residence was my van. For almost half of the time I was a van dweller, I was going it alone. Now my (male) partner and I (a woman) have a travel trailer we can pull with our truck. We have a little piece of property, and when we're not traveling, we park our little camper there. I was a work camper in a remote National Forest recreation area on a mountain for four seasons. I was a camp host and parking lot attendant for two seasons and wrote a book about my experiences called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. During the last two seasons as a work camper on that mountain, I was a clerk in a campground store. I'm also a house and pet sitter, and I pick up odd jobs when I can. I'm primarily a writer, but I also create beautiful little collages; hand make hemp jewelry and warm, colorful winter hats; and use my creative and artistic skills to decorate my life and brighten the lives of others. My goal (for my writing and my life) is to be real. I don't like fake, and I don't want to share fake. I want to share my authentic thoughts and feelings. I want to give others space and permission to share their authentic selves. Sometimes I think the best way to support others is to leave them alone and allow them to be. I am more than just a rubber tramp artist. I'm fat. I'm funny. I'm flawed. I try to be kind. I'm often grouchy. I am awed by the stars in the dark desert night. I hope my writing moves people. If my writing makes someone laugh or cry or feel angry or happy or troubled or comforted, I have done my job. If my writing makes someone think and question and try a little harder, I've done my job. If my writing opens a door for someone, changes a life, I have done my job well. I hope you enjoy my blog posts, my word and pictures, the work I've done to express myself in a way others will understand. I hope you appreciate the time and energy I put into each post. I hope you will click the like button each time you like what you have read. I hope you will share posts with the people in your life. I hope you'll leave a comment and share your authentic self with me and this blog's other readers. Thank you for reading.  A writer without readers is very sad indeed.

36 Responses »

  1. 3-30-2020 I hear what you are saying. We (my husband, my lil dog, and I ) have been in lockdown for 2 1/2 weeks now. We live in N.C. We have a little house and a pretty good size lot of land. We have plenty to do inside and out. We also have hobbies that we do. So far, our brains are not attrified and we have plenty of imagination. We have to make ourselves do things to keep occupied. Yes, we feel trapped at times, BUT, we have to do things to make our minds get out of that zone fast. We can not change what is happening around us, but we can change the way we think and do things. We are in our 70’s and still pretty much able to do as we please. However one of us is in the very top of the “watch list” as far as health goes-so the other one goes out to shop for essentials only then back home. YOU will make it through this time. The has to be an end to it. Please enjoy the health and companionship you have and try NOT to get too far “down in the dumps”. It is OK to feel down/depressed for a bit-just don’t stay there. YOU will make it through this. E in NC

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment, Elizabeth. I appreciate your thoughts and ideas. Thank you for sharing them. I think you are right that we have to keep our minds in a positive zone and make ourselves to things to stay occupied. I hope you, your husband, and your lil dog stay well.

    • I’m glad you enjoy my observations, Nancy. Thank you for leaving a comment. I appreciate your feedback. And I also believe we will get through this tough time together.

  2. I really enjoy your blog and would gladly read about whatever you want to write. BECAUSE you are very good at describing to me how I feel. In this case, you are right on, and your thoughts are validating to my need to forgive myself for doing very little. You and your family are doing the right things. I would love to hear about how you continue to do whether it is good or bad.

    • Thanks for your feedback, Linda. It makes me smile to know that you would gladly read whatever I want to write about.

      Yes, please forgive yourself for doing little right now. I read an opinion on Facebook that we are going through trauma right now and we have to be easy on ourselves.

      Thank you for reading. I appreciate all of my readers very much.

  3. Oh honey, your actions & feelings are absolutely normal. These are horrid times. I’m doing everything I can to focus on my immediate day to day. I cant change the big picture so am trying not to look at it. How did folks fill their time in rural areas 100 yrs ago? Im so relieved you are in a rural place. Be kind to yourself, I dont think you are over reacting. In short one hour at a time. And summer is coming! Love to all, Auntie M

    • Thanks for the validation, Auntie M! I am glad you are my auntie!

      Folks in rural areas 100 years ago probably filled their time by working until they were about to drop dead. I’m glad those days are over! I have plenty to do, and I’m feeling more motivated now after reading all of these wonderful, positive, uplifting messages from fans of my blog.

      Focusing on the immediate, the present moment, is good advice. Thank you for that.

      I’m relieved to be in a rural place too. I’m relieved to be off the road at this moment. I feel good about where I am.

      Thanks for your comments. I appreciate them, and I appreciate you.

  4. Please continue on as nothing is amiss in this world. I love your blog! We get enough COVID-19 info from everywhere!

    • Well said, Janice! Thank you for this! I will continue to tell you about free places to camp and places I’ve been.

      Thanks for taking a moment to leave a comment. I appreciate it!

  5. Oh, I liked reading Auntie M’s comments……we’re all having trouble. I’m talking/online with my Texas son and family about what we’re putting together for dinner; how we are using what we have and trying not to waste. I made some 3 ingredient peanut butter cookies ( I had 3 jars that needed scraping out) and he used some dark Bananas to make banana bread. One day I cook big and freeze for another day and then I take a break from cooking. I got in a short hike/kept our distance with my sister and her husband yesterday….. can’t go on the beach or in the park but we can wave to others along the road who are out doing the same. I talk with my neighbor from a distance. I’ve tried to write terry every other day but I ran out of stamps. I’m waiting for some in the mail that I ordered online. The only thing about writing is I don’t have much news as I’m not doing anything too news-worthy except trying to be virus free. I make my bed(I read that was a good thing), keep myself and my house clean and I continue organizing things so I use what I have before I think I have to go out into my HOT ZONE. I know the dog and cat can’t figure out why I’m here so much and I keep telling them it’s not treat time. I mow lawn, work on weed control, pay bills, take care of my plants(some need replanting)and I’m at a standstill on cleaning out the garage. The Christmas boxes, my mothers and my grandmothers dishes, my fathers navy uniform etc…and various other stuff I can’t get rid of cause me to just freeze up! I may be getting close though.

    • Jennifer, you would like Auntie M in person too. You are both practical ladies with good advice!

      Thanks for sharing all these things you are doing to make it through these hard times. I can picture you doing each one. I can tell you are staying busy, and that is a good thing for you.

      Please give us your recipe for Three Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies. I don’t have an appropriate cookie sheet, but maybe I could turn it into cookie bars? I’m going to guess the ingredients are flour, sugar, and peanut butter. Am I right? I don’t know that our peanut butter is going to last as long as our isolation, but maybe I could make the cookies (cookie bars) later.

      If you have postcards, send those to Terry. You don’t have to come up with as much to write about, and Terry will get a pretty picture. If you don’t have postcards, make your own.

      I hope you and yours stay well during this health crisis. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I miss you!

      • I’m pretty sure it was 1 1 1 . 1….cup peanut butter…. 1 cup sugar. 1 egg
        I wasn’t able to roll them….I just dropped them by rounded teaspoon

        • Thanks for sharing your recipe, Jennifer. Necessity is the mother of invention and waste not, want not and all of that. I bet those cookies were delicious.

          • Maybe not…

            I made sand tarts last night. The recipe called for a LOT of butter (3/4 cup). The Man ate a lot of the sand tarts and ended up with a bad stomach ache. Now he won’t touch any of the remaining sand tarts. He would not agree that they were better than no cookie at all.

            Also, once I made some pumpkin cookies and mailed them to my sibling in collage. The cookies were so awful, collage students wouldn’t eat them.

            You can see I’ve had some cookie mishaps.

  6. Yes, keep writing. It doesn’t matter what; you’re good at it and I enjoy reading your posts. Keep playing mind numbing games too. Everyone needs to give their brains a break especially now.

    • Thanks for the encouragement. I appreciate it. I’m glad you enjoy reading my post, and thanks for your kind words about my writing. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment.

  7. My husband and I are older, 64 and 74(husb), and we stay at home anyway so this is not a big life-change. I do miss even being able to plan a road trip, a visit to my son in Indiana (we are in WAstate). No grabbing Taco Bell or going to a movie. We live on an island in WA state that is served by ferry so we are pretty cut off from society, 1k residents here, and most keep to themselves and I do not know them. We are self-contained as it were.

    You blog brings you into my life like a sister or daughter and I enjoy hearing from you. Blog about your day to day activities, even if you are doing nothing that stimulates you. Tell us about your successes and failures, just like you would talking to your granny or mom. Go for a walk, take pics and post them.

    I think you were right about quitting your job. Jobs are a dime a dozen even in NM. Your health should be your concern.

    • Mary, thanks for the validation about quitting my job. It is hard to accept that this company had so little concern for my health and safety, and by extension, for the health and safety of the client. I know that’s how capitalism works, but it’s a blow coming from a locally owned company that is supposedly in the business of caring for people. You are right that jobs are a dime a dozen. Especially where I live in New Mexico, basically all you have to do is show up to work and not steal from the company and you’re thought of as an excellent employee. Any company that hires me is lucky to get me.

      Typically The Man and I stay home a lot too, but he, especially, was hoping to get out of the house more with the passing of winter. I’m mostly just bummed out about not being able to send and receive mail.

      I will post more photos here. If you are on Instagram, you can find a lot of my photos there. If you aren’t on Instagram, that’s ok. I will post more here.

      Thanks for saying you enjoy hearing from me. That is a really nice thing to say.

      I appreciate you for taking the time to leave a comment. I hope you and your husband stay well.

  8. Blaize, please keep writing. Your blog is always so well researched and factual it is a joy to read. I think you live in a beautiful part of New Mexico, with those dark night skies maybe a post on stars. Many of us probably live in urban areas where we can’t see the Milky Way and only the brightest of stars. If you have been to the Cosmic Campground just NW of Silver City, NM. that would be a great post. I’ve been wanting to visit it since it was certified a Dark Sky campground. Post about your economy with food and food prep, we could all use that information now. I’m dancing around the kitchen driving my dog crazy, but it really helps! Can’t wait to see what you come up with. 🙂

    • Thank you for all these kind words about my blog. It makes me feel good to hear such things.

      I’ve never been to the Cosmic Campground or to Silver City. Now I have somewhere new to want to visit when I can travel again. The sky where I live is very dark too. Sometimes I see so many starts, it’s unbelievable.

      A post about food is a good idea. Maybe something like Eating While in Isolation. Thanks for letting me know you’d be interested in that topic.

      I appreciate you leaving a comment. Thank you for that.

  9. Great post keep it up it’s very intertaining & interesting.I use to live nearby in the San Luis Valley and have driven over “the bridge” many times,. We moved to TN over 15yrs ago…Just keep writing about your day to day life I’m interested.

    • Thanks for letting me know you are interested in what I write about, Charlotte. I’m glad to hear it. I do plan to keep the blog posts coming.

      I appreciate your comment. Thanks for reading!

  10. Thanks for writing and your thoughts are appreciated – so many of us can commiserate with you on one level or another. If you don’t feel like writing the blog, don’t feel guilty if you want to take a break. On the other hand, I think probably writing the blog is another way to distract your mind from some of the troubles out there. (BTW I think you absolutely did the right thing by quitting that job! And I think it’s sweet that The Man is trying to keep you both safe – I feel it’s better if he may be overreacting than if he had been underreacting.) Stay safe in the boonies for a while and check in whenever you’re able. – Germanbini from GVN

    • Hi Sabrina and thanks for your comments. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts.

      I’m so glad I quit that job!!! Those people were obviously not concerned about my health or safety. Why should I want to help them make money when they don’t care enough to give me advice on how to take care of myself?

      I agree that it’s sweet that The Man is trying to keep us safe. He is such a good guy. I think if there was ever a time for overreacting, that time is NOW!

      You are right that the blog helps distract me. As others have said, sometimes it’s important to make oneself work on something rather than just lollygagging around the house and nothing. I know I feel better when I am productive and get something accomplished each day. Of course, balance is always important, so I should work and rest.

      I will continue to write the blog. I hope you will continue to read it

  11. Please keep writing. I love reading your blog ❤️. It brings joy into my day. It doesn’t matter what you are writing about. My family hasn’t left the house or our yard in almost 3 weeks. I understand about mindless games. I think we all do. I would have quit that job too!! I don’t blame you at all. Much love from TN ❤️ #staysafe.

    • Awww, shucks, thanks, Macey. I appreciate your kind words about my blog. I’m glad I can bring you some joy.

      Oh dear, three weeks without leaving the yard! That’s intense. I feel so fortunate that we have so much nature surrounding our trailer. I do want to get out more and appreciate the great outdoors, but we are in the time of spring winds now. One must get out early in the morning to beat the wind. Otherwise, it is so strong (gusts up to 40 miles an hour) and not too much fun to be out in it.

      I’m glad to be done with that job. I wasn’t sure how long I was going to last doing it anyway. COVID-19 was the kick in the pants I needed.

      I hope you and yours are doing well in Tennessee. Y’all stay safe too!

  12. Don’t stop! Please keep going! I think it’s important to keep things as normal as possible, otherwise we’re allll going to start panicking. This too shall pass. Enjoy this little slice of no peopleing and just know it’s not forever. Be kind to yourself (and the Man and Jericho) and play all the phone games you want. Be safe!

    • Thanks for the good advice, Lynda! I appreciate it.

      I think you are right that it’s a good idea to hold on to some normality. I’m trying!

      We got propane today, so we are planning to hunker down at home for the entire month of April. I should have plenty of time to write.

  13. Hi there! I adore your posts and look forward to each and every time you grace my inbox. I really enjoyed the saga of the returned backpack. It gave me a glimpse into the lifestyle of the desert. I would love to hear more about what it’s like there, perhaps mini bio’s of your neighbors. Meanwhile, if you get too bored, try telepathy with animals or teleportation. I have heard that the most amazing things can happen to the truly bored.

    • Chey, I’m glad you enjoyed the backpack sage. It was a good one! I love a good hitchhiker story.

      Thanks for your suggestions for blog posts and activities for beating boredom. Maybe I’ll try telepathy and teleportation and write about the results.

      Thanks so much for your comments. I always appreciate your comments.

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  15. Hey Blaize!
    You were right to move on. You don’t want to be a part of something and then say “i was following orders”.
    I’m rooting for you out here!

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