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Damn it, Gibbs

I’m mad at Gibbs Gardens.

They keep sending me emails about how they’re still open, and what all is blooming now, and how they are in compliance with Gov. Kemp’s shelter-in-place order. Right now there is a lot in bloom, and I really want to go.

BUT I CANNOT.

They say:

PLEASE NOTE:
IN COMPLIANCE / STATE

  • Exercise in our 300 acre Gardens with miles of multilevel walkways.
  • Easy to maintain 6ft. of social distance.
  • All visitors will use outside express gate to enter/exit Gardens. (Members included)
  • Members’ current guest passes not accessible because computer not available at outside gate.
  • Cash currently not accepted in ticketing.
  • NO tram service.
  • Arbor Café – Pre-packaged snack items and drinks ONLY.
  • NO outside food.
  • Restrooms available.

And they link to the governor’s 2020 executive orders, as if to say, see? Everything is fine!

Everything is not fine.

“Easy to maintain 6ft. of social distance” is an irresponsible thing to say. The virus is airborne. If you walk through a spot where someone just walked, even if there is six feet between you, you’re still breathing in air that they just exhaled. In a garden, all you are doing is walking along trails where a bunch of people have walked ahead of you.

The virus can also live on surfaces for hours all the way up to days, depending on the surface material. “Restrooms available” does not tell me what precautions you are taking. I highly doubt that you are only letting one person in at a time and that you are scouring your facilities after each person.

These constant emails telling me that everything is fine and that I should come see the pretty flowers are basically torture, because ever since this began I have wanted to go there SO BADLY. It is KILLING ME that I am missing all the spring blooms. Apparently right now the cherry trees, azaleas, pansies, Spanish bluebells, and snowball viburnum are at peak, and I AM MISSING IT.

I HATE THIS.

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Shelter in Place: Day 26

This is the update for Wednesday, April 8.

I decided I didn’t want to eat yogurt for breakfast, so I made myself eggs and toast instead. The pan was a little too hot, but I didn’t overcook the yolks, so yay. Lunch was a sandwich and chips, and I had apple slices and chocolate chips for a mid-afternoon snack. For dinner I had thawed some ground beef, but instead of making meatloaves I decided to make a casserole. I found a recipe on AllRecipes for a casserole using minute rice, cream of chicken soup, chicken noodle soup, and an onion, so I made that, and it was delicious! We had mixed veggies on the side.

I didn’t go on a walk or anything, and work was too busy for me to even take a real lunch break, but I did have a movie date with Lee after dinner! She streamed TRON: Legacy for us, which I hadn’t seen before, and I really enjoyed it. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack since the movie came out (I love Daft Punk) and I was glad to actually see the movie that incredible music was written for. The story was good and the characters were fun and I loved Quorra! I also didn’t know Bruce Boxleitner was in the film, so that was a pleasant surprise. (I love him.)

After the movie was over it was bedtime. I went to bed feeling very cheerful. I need to do more group watches of TV and movies I think!

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Shelter in Place: Day 25

This is the update for Tuesday, April 7.

It wasn’t a great day. I didn’t go on a walk…I’ve been avoiding it ever since my walk at the river where there were five billion people around me. I also only took two pictures, and they were both of my dinner.

At lunch, I wrote:

I just want this to be over.

This morning I let myself sleep in for 20 minutes. When my timer went off I didn’t get up and I didn’t reset it. Fortunately I was awake enough to finally force myself to get out of bed. It helped that I had to pee.

Today has been the worst in terms of focusing on stuff. I feel like my brain doesn’t work. I’m taking Friday off, but I don’t know how much that will help.

Today’s food:

  • Cottage cheese
  • Boiled egg
  • Chocolate chips
  • Hillshire Snacking Bistro Board
  • Sweet tea

Around mid-afternoon I started to spiral into depression, but I was able to talk myself back out.

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Shelter in Place: Days 22-24

Okay so I missed some daily updates there. Let’s catch up.

Saturday, April 4, 2020 (Day 22)

This was a pretty good day. I slept in a bit, then banished Sean from the living room so I could have the TV. I sat at the dining table with a breakfast of a banana and some cottage cheese (in one of my newest cherry blossom pattern rice bowls) and poked around on my writing laptop for a bit, but I felt like was just goofing off. After whining about feeling directionless and unproductive on Twitter a little, I moved to the couch, made the last of the popcorn, and put on Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Wow, that was a good choice. Absolutely gorgeous film. I cried a lot.

After that, I heated up leftovers for lunch (mini meatloaves, Julienne potatoes, mixed veggies) and worked on some writing. I made some progress on several small stories and officially posted two of them. It felt great to actually accomplish something.

When dinnertime rolled around I asked Sean if he wanted to get Shane’s, but he was uninterested. He suggested Thai and I was uninterested. We compromised on Mexican, and we placed an order online and went and picked it up. All safety protocols were followed: we put everything in different containers when we got home and washed our hands and the countertops.

I had beef fajitas. They were delicious. And I have leftovers.

Sunday, April 5, 2020 (Day 23)

I let myself sleep in a lot. I actually woke up for the first time around 5 in the morning, but I just went and gave Sean a hug and then went back to bed. When I got up again a little before 11, I went out for a walk.

I was thinking I wouldn’t go down to the river trail, because it was sure to be crowded, but then the apartment complex turned out to be crowded too, so I said what the hell and hiked down to the river. I saw a ton of pretty flowers, and the river was rushing in a way that felt vibrant and free, and the air temperature was great. Unfortunately, there were about fifty billion people down there. It wasn’t too hard to avoid them to begin with, but once I got near the parking lot at the other end, it was almost like a festival. I ducked off onto a side path for a bit, then gave up and just turned around. I did not come within six feet of anyone, but I did worry about walking behind people who might be breathing out particulate that I was then walking through. I was wearing my balaclava, which I disinfected rigorously when I got home, but I think I will just stop going to the damn river, for real this time.

When I got home I hopped in the shower and scoured myself. Then I spent some time with Sean (there’s that code again, tee hee). He wasn’t feeling real well due to allergies, so he decided to take a long hot shower of his own and try to clear his sinuses. I ordered Shane’s for lunch for myself, since Sean would usually still be asleep at that time, and got curbside pickup. When the server brought it out I rolled down my passenger window so they could set it in the seat without having to get too close. It worked out pretty well. Of course, I shifted it all to a plate when I got home, disinfected the gallon of tea, etc.

I sat at the coffee table/kotatsu and ate my Shane’s and worked on some more writing. Sean stayed up, using the blow dryer to try and dry out his sinuses, and eventually he came and lay down behind me on the couch. After awhile I couldn’t concentrate on writing anymore, so I closed all that down. I was extremely grumpy by this point, so we ordered Jimmy John’s for dinner and had it delivered. (The delivery person sent me a picture by text message of the order sitting by our door and said “Hope that felt like amazon” which cheered me up some, haha.) The food made me feel better, fortunately. Sean was very snuggly around bedtime and I didn’t want to get up from where he was lying in my lap, so I put off going to bed by about 45 minutes, whoops. Fortunately I still slept pretty well.

Monday, April 6, 2020 (Day 24)

I slept in a bit but got started at 8 as usual. Had an egg and cottage cheese for breakfast while working. On my lunch break I ate a turkey sandwich and some cheesy popcorn and got on my writing laptop and worked on stories. I finished out my workday eating apple slices, cheese, and a Slim Jim. (And the rest of my Jimmy John’s sandwich from last night.)

After work I got on my writing computer in bed and worked on stories some more. Around 6:30 I finally started cooking dinner. I had thawed some chicken so I cut it up and stir-fried it with two bags of stir-fry starter. It turned out to be just enough food. Sean and I ate and watched NCIS and had ice cream. Around 9:30 I tried getting back in bed with my laptop to write some more, but I was tired and irritable, so nothing productive happened.

That’s it for those three days. It’s getting harder and harder to…I don’t know, live? I feel trapped and helpless and worried, and also angry, and I can’t focus on things. I’m just…tired.

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Shelter in Place: Day 21

Yet again I did not want to get out of bed this morning, but somehow I managed it. Since I took a shower last night after my walk I didn’t take another one…my hair is a little ridiculous but eh.

Work went pretty well. I had lots of video conferences as usual; my team has a daily standup meeting, plus I am doing a lot of training. But they were all fine. During one meeting I shared the work I’ve been doing to compile/add to some research for the new tool we’re building, and everyone seemed to be pretty impressed with it, so yay.

Yet again I didn’t really have time for a break, so I stayed sitting at my desks and just turned to the other computer (my personal one) to goof off a bit between my 11-noon and 1-2pm meetings. I actually started eating my lunch at 11, so my coworkers got to see me take a bite of turkey sandwich ^^;;

After work we had a “virtual happy hour,” which was just the larger team chatting casually. There are two managers and one senior manager on my new team, and then people under each manager. Day to day we work with our own manager/team, but we also work together on broader projects. It was nice to just kind of hang out. I already knew everyone in the other branch just from sitting near them; I really haven’t had a hard time fitting in with my team. I think maybe sometimes I am a bit too serious about how pleased I am with our company’s response to coronavirus, but honestly, it is super impressive that we are prioritizing people over profit, unlike certain other companies.

Anyway, it was a fun half-hour chat and I got to see some of my coworkers’ cute kids.

After that was over, I decided to clean up the patio and lounge around outside while cooking dinner. This was some impressive multitasking, but I managed it. First I cleaned the kitchen, then I started the roast, then I peeled and started the potatoes, and then I cleaned the patio (sweeping billowing clouds of pollen off the furniture and concrete slab and washing the tabletops with Formula 409), and then I settled in with my laptop, running back in here and there to turn things down. Once dinner was actually ready, I just stayed out there until Sean was out of the shower, enjoying the perfect temperature and the beautiful green trees around me. (And the sound of my neighbor and her kids through the open deck door right above me ;D)

Breakfast today was a banana, cottage cheese, and a boiled egg. Lunch was a turkey sandwich and Cheetos. Afternoon snack was apple slices, a cheddar cheese stick, and a small Slim Jim. Dinner was a teriyaki pork roast, mashed potatoes, and peas. Yum!

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Shelter in Place: Day 20

Purple azaleas, April 2, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.

Oof.

I did not want to get up this morning. When my alarm went off at 6:30, I set a timer for 20 minutes and went back to sleep, and when that went off, I did it again. I only ended up dragging myself out of bed because I really had to pee.

Green trees, April 2, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.

Work was good. I ate

  • a banana,
  • Greek yogurt, and
  • a boiled egg

as I worked and attended meetings, finishing that breakfast around 11. I meant to take my lunch break from 11:30 to 12:30, but I got super involved editing an Excel spreadsheet (sometimes I just really enjoy doing that sort of thing) and ended up working on it until after noon. Since I had a meeting at 1 and another one at 2, I didn’t take a break until 3, when I finally stepped away from the computer to relax in bed with my writing laptop.

I’ve been doing that all week, and it’s very cozy to be all snuggled up in bed with my new giant pillow. It’s especially nice today, as the temperature dropped precipitously overnight. It was 40° out when I got up this morning. It eventually got up to 68°, but the apartment was chilly the whole day.

I didn’t end up writing anything, but I did a tiny bit of editing on the story I’ve been working on, so that was good.

Me in my balaclava, April 2, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.

After work I took an hour-long walk. This time, I wore a balaclava.

I bought the balaclava way back in November of 2018. I was thinking it would be good to have for walking/jogging in the cold. However, I threw it in my pile of workout clothes and never actually used it.

It’s obviously meant to help you keep warm, so it was perhaps a poor choice for 70° weather, but it made me feel better to wear it while being outside. There were lots of neighbors out, and only three of them (a family) were wearing masks. For the most part, everyone did decent social distancing, though one woman and her dog walked kind of close to me twice. (I turned my face away.)

Pink azaleas, April 2, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.
Stairs and a Japanese maple, April 2, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.

I didn’t get super uncomfortable in the balaclava. I was able to drink water by pulling the bottom hem out and sticking the straw of my Camelbak inside. At one point either a bug or some sort of plant detritus flew inside the mask and kept tickling my nose. And it did get warm; my ears actually got sweaty. But it wasn’t terrible, and I felt a lot less anxious about being outside. I know the balaclava wouldn’t protect me from someone coughing or sneezing in front of me, but maybe it would help with particles still left in the air from someone who coughed earlier. And at the very least, it made most people want to keep their distance.

There were lots of blooms to take pictures of today: azaleas, dogwood trees, redbud trees, and trees with pink flowers that I’m having trouble identifying.

Large flowering dogwood, April 2, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.

Someday I’ll get back to uploading to my photo site, but for now the blog will do.

When I got back from my walk, I took a quick shower and then started on dinner. I forgot to take meat out to thaw yesterday, so I cooked frozen fish fillets and made Alfredo noodles and mixed veggies to go with. Tomorrow we’ll have one of the Kroger teriyaki pork roasts we love.

The walk cleared my head and made me feel really good. I’m so glad we live in such a beautiful area, and that I’m able to walk through the neighborhood while safely practicing social distancing. If I couldn’t be outside at all, getting through this pandemic would be a lot harder.

Me in my balaclava on a bridge, April 2, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.
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Diary

Shelter in Place: Day 19

I’m starting this update a little earlier today, so hopefully it won’t take a lot of my time to finish this evening.

So far today I have eaten:

  • Greek yogurt
  • a banana
  • a boiled egg
  • a bowl of maple and brown sugar oatmeal
  • a turkey sandwich (on wheat bread, yay!)
  • Cheetos
  • sliced apples

The first three items were the breakfast Sean packed, and then I was still hungry and the apartment was cold so I made the oatmeal. Now I’m on my break, sitting in bed like I did yesterday, and I just finished eating the lunch Sean made.

Had another brain-melting morning of meetings, so I’m just kind of relaxing and recovering from that before jumping back in. I wanted to do some writing during this time, but eh. Maybe after work, or maybe tomorrow.

I have several works-in-progress that I need to get back to, including one with an actual deadline, but I’ve really been enjoying the story I started recently. I hope I can wrap it up pretty quickly and actually post it; it’s been awhile since I posted something.

~

The rest of the workday went well. We had a big meeting to discuss the whole coronavirus situation and what the company is doing, and I got a little teary-eyed. I love where I work, y’all.

It’s just below 60° out. The apartment is chilly. I’m gonna take a walk. I’ll try for an hour since I skipped the walk yesterday. (Unofficially I’ve been thinking it would be best to get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, so that’s where that came from.) I hope something new is blooming!

~

I was out for an hour, but I stopped a lot so it wasn’t like I was walking the whole time. I went down to the river, then out under the bridge to the community walking path, then back up the street and back into the other side of the apartment complex, and finally home. I saw pretty flowering trees and bushes, and I also saw some foxgloves in bloom, which I think I hadn’t seen before. They were right in front of a self-storage sign, but in a tasteful way ;D

Tonight’s dinner will be mini meatloaves, Julienne potatoes from a box, and peas. I made the potatoes first because they had to cook at 450° for 20 minutes, then put the meatloaves in at 350° for 45 minutes. Halfway through that I started the peas. I like timing the meal to all be done at the same time, but given the different oven temperatures and times, this was the best solution I could think of.

While cooking I did a little housekeeping on my social media accounts, and now I’m about ready to settle in and eat. I’m gonna sign off here and enjoy the rest of my evening.

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Shelter in Place: Day 18

Here’s the update for today, March 31.

Rainy and green spring afternoon, March 31, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.

I was already pretty much awake when my alarm went off, but that didn’t mean I wanted to get up, lol. I did anyway, since I needed to take a shower today. Shaved in the shower which took up most of my time; I went to boot up my work computer before I was done getting ready so all my programs would be loaded for my 8 am start.

Today was filled with meetings. Some of them were just for my edification and not anything I needed to contribute to. One was for me to explain a marketing process that I am intimately familiar with due to my previous role. All of them were fun; I really like my new team and I feel like we get along well.

At lunch I went into the bedroom and sat under the covers leaning back against the big pillow Mom sent me, which is now all fluffed up and very comfortable. I ended up writing a nice big update to that story I’ve been working on. It felt great to get some creative writing done! I also folded some laundry I had started that morning.

A nice place for lunch, March 31, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.
Me and my new pillow, March 31, 2020.
Refrigerator calendar, March 31, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.

I ended up working a little late. When I was finally done I put the laundry away, then debated going for a walk. Another package had arrived, but it was rainy and cold, so I decided not to walk over to get it. I drove over instead, and it turned out to be my new blank magnetic whiteboard for the fridge (I had decided I wanted more room to write notes) plus a bunch of markers in different colors. This was a nice surprise, as I had expected this non-urgent order to arrive on April 19.

Refrigerator whiteboard, March 31, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.

I took some time to put the blank whiteboard up and to rewrite some notes on the whiteboard calendar in color instead of black marker. Then I started the rice cooker. While that was going I changed into night clothes and sat down at the dining table to work on yesterday’s update. When the rice cooker beeped, I stir-fried some more of that pre-seasoned turkey along with some veggies, then made a plate and sat back down at my little laptop to finish the update. Sean got out of the shower a little later, and he’s been sitting on the couch eating dinner while I’ve been in the dining room. (I drew a heart with “H+S” in it on the fridge which he liked a lot.)

Today was productive and good. I’m going to try not to stay up too late so I can keep this momentum tomorrow!

Stir-fry turkey and veggies with rice, March 31, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.

(As a side note, I love WordPress’ new 2020 theme, and how the blocks work and everything. It’s so easy to make a post look nice!)

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Shelter in Place: Day 17

Pink azaleas, March 30, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.

Ugh.

I was up too late and I’m tired today.

…and the above was all I wrote yesterday, so here’s the update for March 30.

As yesterday-morning-me mentioned, I was up too late due to the whole grocery situation. Since I’ve been working from home, I’ve set my alarm a half-hour later than usual, so it went off at 6:30. I don’t remember if I snoozed or not but it’s very possible, especially since I didn’t shower that day. (I shower every other day, typically. More if I have been out in coronavirus.)

Flowering tree, March 30, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.

I was a bit early when I got to my desk, so I swiveled over to the photo-editing laptop and tried to start this blog post. I didn’t make it very far, and I ended up switching to playing games on my phone (Words with Friends with Mom and The Arcana). Then it was 8 o’clock and time to start work.

It was my first official day at my new job. I have transitioned from a copywriter to a marketing analyst. I’d done a little bit of training already and attended several meetings, but this was my first real day on the job. I had two morning meetings, after which my brain was basically Velveeta. I have so much to learn! I tried to switch gears and write on that story at lunch, but I apparently needed time to mentally recover, so no writing occurred. I also tried to think about what I would need to do for dinner that night and what I needed in order to go for a walk after work, but I simply could not seem to figure anything out, lol.

Deer amid green leaves, March 30, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.

After lunch I had a one-on-one with my new boss, and we talked about what resources I need to get caught up. She told me it would take awhile and that nobody on the team knows absolutely everything, so I shouldn’t stress about it. That was nice to hear.

The rest of the day went pretty well, but I was thoroughly exhausted by the time I finished work. I went for a short walk, around the apartment complex a bit and then over to the parcel lockers to pick up a package that had arrived. (It was The Rise of Skywalker, which…deserves its own post.) On my way there I saw a deer! I heard all this rustling in the forest below the bridge I was walking over. Thinking it was too loud to be a squirrel, I wondered if a dog was down there, but when I looked it was a pretty doe! She didn’t run away even when I stupidly said “Well, hi there!” to her. I managed to get a digital-zoom picture of her looking up at me. Can you see her?

COVID-19 social distancing sign from the US Postal Service, March 30, 2020. Copyright Heather Meadows.

When I got home I opened the package and threw it away, then washed up like crazy in the bathtub. Then I made dinner, which last night was butterfly shrimp (from frozen), creamy garlic shells, and peas. Someone on Twitter had mentioned a show on YouTube called The Great Pottery Throw-Down, so we watched an episode of that before switching to NCIS. It was really nice; I enjoyed it a lot! The format is very similar to Great British Bake Off, and I learned a lot about ceramics. Someday (when coronavirus is over, I guess) I want to take a pottery class.

At around 9:40 or so started getting super emotional, apparently due to exhaustion. I stayed up a little longer for no good reason, then finally went to bed and slept like the dead. All in all, not a bad day, but I probably should have gone to bed a little earlier.

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Shelter in Place: Day 16

This is the update for March 29.

I got up sometime after 8. I was about to just plunk down at a computer, but instead I decided to take a walk. I got dressed in workout clothes and grabbed some water and my camera and was out the door at 9.

I walked out of the apartment complex and down the street to see the cherry blossoms. Some of them were in full bloom and some of them were losing petals (just like the end of the school year in anime). It was really pretty.

When I got up to the big construction area north of our apartment complex, I walked in front of it and then alongside it to try and get a good view. It looks like dirt has been piled super high in some spots and cleared in others, so maybe something multi-level is going on? I know there will be something residential there, and one of Sean and my favorite restaurants, which closed for this new construction. Right now, though, the only thing built is a parking structure.

I decided to keep going down that side road, which was a great choice—I got to see beautiful flowering trees and pushes and a drainage feature that was actually quite picturesque. Eventually I passed through an area of new condo construction and came out at a large office building housing a handful of businesses; there was a giant fountain out front, and the cool breeze there was refreshing.

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Shelter in Place: Days 0–15

I’m not sure I’m more likely to get COVID-19 than anyone else—I’m not immunocompromised or over 65—but I really, really don’t want to get it, just like I really don’t want to get regular flu. I’ve had heart failure twice (2007 and 2016). I’m not interested in putting my heart through stress like that.

The American Heart Association currently says:

The virus could affect heart disease patients in several ways, said Orly Vardeny, associate professor of medicine at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System and University of Minnesota. 

The virus’s main target is the lungs. But that could affect the heart, especially a diseased heart, which has to work harder to get oxygenated blood throughout the body, said Vardeny, an adviser on the ACC bulletin. “In general, you can think of it as something that is taxing the system as a whole.”

That could exacerbate problems for someone with heart failure, where the heart is already having problems pumping efficiently.

What Heart Patients Should Know About Coronavirus, March 24, 2020; retrieved March 28

So yeah…I’m taking this very seriously. Not going anywhere is super difficult for me, but it’s better than getting coronavirus (or helping spread it to others). I have been doing my best to strictly “shelter in place” since March 14, not leaving the apartment at all if I can help it.

The second time I had heart failure, I did daily update posts. While I’m not actually sick right now, being stuck in the apartment all the time is wearing on me, so I think daily updates might be helpful. I’ll have something to do (during the times when I’m not working or doing chores) and I’ll end up with a record of the experience. So here we go! I’m starting a bit late; following is a recap of what’s gone on so far, from March 13 until now.