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Chronicles of a Corona Captive – Days 38-42

Chronicles of a Corona Captive – Days 38-42

The Half Century Birthday “In”stravaganza Edition

Before I begin with what has turned into a lengthy update, I need to come clean about something. It has been weighing on me more heavily with each passing week of this lockdown. It’s not easy for me to say this, but it is the right thing to do. It is my fault we are all in this situation. Back in September, Oregano asked me what I wanted to do to celebrate my 50th birthday in April. I told him that I wanted to do something I’ve never done before. I meant spending my birthday with my toes in the sand on a warm beach. To be fair, I have also never been quarantined on my birthday so technically, what I am experiencing qualifies as a bucket list item. I should have been more specific about my birthday wish and now we are all suffering. For this I am deeply sorry.

Phew…. I feel so much better now that I got that off my chest.

The pandemic caused us to cancel all the plans we had made to celebrate my milestone birthday at the beach in the South Carolina Low Country. Because social distancing guidelines prohibit dining in restaurants or having gatherings with more than 5 people, coming up with an alternate local celebration was not an option, or so I thought.

This towel would have looked great on the beach. Instead, it adorned our couch.

Over the past few weeks, Oregano spent an inordinate amount of time holed up in our home office. I figured he was busy with work and when I finally asked him what he was doing, his response was, “I’m working on stuff. People whose birthdays are in the next few weeks shouldn’t ask too many questions.” Apparently, he and my close friends were all scheming to plan a way to make my quarantine birthday an unforgettable day. Boy, did they ever! On one hand I feel incredibly blessed to have a husband and friends who love me so much they went to extreme measures to make sure I felt special. On the other hand, I’m a little concerned about how good they all are at being sneaky.

Oregano started the festivities by telling me that there were a few surprises in store for me and suggested I might enjoy them more while wearing make-up and real clothes. I’m not going to lie. I had quite a bit of trepidation at the thought of wearing pants with a button and a zipper for the first time in 7 weeks. I’m very happy to report that they still fit. It was a birthday miracle!

The first surprise eveeryone had up their collective sleeves was a virtual birthday party and a Vid Hug video message montage.  We got to chat for quite awhile then they sang what was simultaneously the best and worst rendition of Happy Birthday ever.

After the virtual party and lunch, Oregano suggested we take advantage of the fact that it was sunny and warm for the first time all week and sit in the front garden. I managed to sit still for all of 5 minutes before the siren call of the weeds lured me from my relaxation. I popped up, grabbed my weeding fork, gloves and bucket. Oregano looked at me incredulously and asked, “You can’t let that go for one afternoon?” I told him I was still enjoying being outside with him and this would get rid of the weeds. I was killing 2 birds with 1 stone. (No birds were harmed. Don’t worry.)

As I worked my way around the garden, I noticed that I couldn’t see through the slats of our small picket fence. I didn’t know what was blocking my view and started poking a finger at the reflective obstruction. Oregano sat snickering behind me and told me to walk around to the front where a big banner was hanging notifying the entire neighborhood of my age. I laughed at how oblivious I was.

Dandelions eradicated, I sat down to read until my asthma flared up from all the pollen. I went into the house to use my inhaler and just as I stepped onto my front porch, I noticed a line of cars coming down the street while honking their horns. I didn’t pay much attention because this had happened earlier in the day because one of my neighbors was also celebrating a birthday. I figured these were more of her guests, but as the cars kept approaching our house, I realized it was a parade of my friends for a drive by birthday party!

A small smattering of the heaps of birthday love I received.

After 7 weeks of hearing my friends as disembodied voices on the other end of the phone or as talking heads during video calls it was amazing to see them in 3 dimensions.  

It was frustrating to not be able to spend more time with everyone or give them hugs. Then I realized the upside of quarantine birthday parties, I get to see everyone, but I don’t have to share my birthday cake! However, wearing a mask makes it really hard to blow out the birthday candles.

The pandemic has forced people to get creative and improvise with what they have on hand or can find in the few stores that are open. My friends were the embodiment of ingenuity in crisis. One friend decorated her car with a banner made of paper plates, others made signs from boxes supplies ordered online had been shipped in. One friend cranked up her car stereo, got of her car then sang and danced in the street. They managed to create birthday cards or modify whatever cards they could find. They even sanitized the cards and gifts for my protection.

At the end of the day, Oregano was exhausted. He told me that it is very difficult to plan a surprise party and even harder when the person you are surprising never leaves the house. He managed to pull it off though. I might have to toss the guy a few Thin Mints for his efforts.

Apparently, when you turn 50, even your cake starts to sag.

Chronicles of a Corona Captive – Days 33-37

Left the house for the first time in weeks. As we passed a mechanic, I noticed that they were advertising a free roll of toilet paper with any service. While I applaud their timely marketing technique, they are giving away “a roll” of toilet paper. One measly roll of toilet paper is all I get for bringing my car in for a service which costs considerably more than a case of toilet paper? Come on, guys! I know toilet paper is scarce, but unless I am desperate, offering me a single roll of free toilet paper is not going to entice me to your service center.

Saw a story on the news that the cosmetic company L’Oreal has reported an increase in sales of beauty products and hair dye. I completely understand the uptick in sales of hair dye, but not the beauty products. I haven’t worn make-up since March 13th. During every video conference call I have had for work or with friends, none of us has make-up on. Some of us are brave enough to go au natural to a video call and others just turn off their cameras. Who’s buying all this make-up?

Decided to try to come up with a craft project to keep myself occupied. I spent hours on Etsy, Pintrest and Amazon searching for craft ideas or kits. Nothing was inspiring me. What did come up during my search for mosaic tile kits, stencils and cross-stitch was a penis pinata. I have no idea how that popped into my search on Etsy, but nevertheless there it was. I couldn’t keep an item this unique to myself so I shared the link with a friend. She suggested that a pinata might be a fun way to kill some time. Oregano was uncomfortable with the idea of whacking a stick at a papier-mache penis even if he was guaranteed to get candy afterwards.

We had put it off as long as possible, but we had to do something about Keebler’s claws. We knew we’d need to drug him with a tranquilizer even if we were just taking him to the emergency vet, so we decided that before we committed to a $200 feline pedicure, we’d attempt an at home salon treatment. Saturday morning, we spiked Keebler’s tuna and waited 90 minutes for the calming effects of the tranquilizer to begin to take hold. So much for that plan. Two hours later, Keebler was wide awake and chasing the chipmunks as they scurried past the sliding glass doors to the patio. Not only was he not sleeping, he wasn’t even groggy. Maybe next time we should consider one of those tranquilzer darts they use on tigers. We had no choice but to commence with wrangling procedures to get him into his carrier to go to the vet. After 10 minutes of high-spirited evasion tactics, Keebler relented, got into his carrier and cowered in the corner. As a last-ditch desperation attempt, I decided to try to cut his claws while he was confined. It was either going to work or be a steel cage death match. Oregano scruffed the poor frightened furball and I managed to maneuver the clippers and extract one paw at a time until all of his claws were cut. That is a big win for the humans and their opposable thumbs!

The Mystery of the Missing Thin Mints continues, but this time it is at Linus’s expense. When Linus heard me getting the carrier to take Keebler to the vet, he disappeared. We figured he’d come out eventually when things quieted down, but he didn’t. Oregano and I started hunting all through the house looking for him. As we searched in closets, under beds, behind furniture and in all manner of tight spots, Oregano said, “If I don’t find Linus, maybe I’ll at least come across the Thin Mints.” I am happy to report that Linus was found and the Thin Mints were not!

Chronicles of a Corona Captive – Days 31 & 32

Spent an afternoon cleaning out my digital files for work. Organizing non-tangible files is not nearly as satisfying. There is no clean file cabinet or closet to stand back, look at and admire the results of your effort.

Otis is a small, thin cat despite eating more than our other 2 cats. Whenever I pick him up, I scratch his belly and say, “You are too skinny. Eat a cookie!” Last night, I put one of the delicious no bake cookies I made on a plate and began making a cup of tea. I heard a strange noise and turned around. There was Otis sampling my cookie! Once my brain processed the fact that a cat was eating a cookie, I yelled at him to stop. This drew Oregano’s attention who was probably surprised I wasn’t yelling at him for eating a cookie. With a smug grin, Oregano pointed out that this situation was all my fault since I have been telling Otis to eat a cookie for years. I can’t argue with his logic. What surprises me, though, is that I never thought Otis was actually listening or that he knew what a cookie was.

Otis is such a tiny guy. Linus is there for comparison purposes.

Saving lots of money on my grooming budget since I can’t go for a haircut, color or pedicure for the foreseeable future. After calling 5 different vets trying to find someone who would help us trim Keebler’s nails, the emergency vet agreed. The catch is that it will cost 20 times more than usual. After careful contemplation and debate we decided that the money was going to be spent one way or the other. If Keebler scratches himself with his talons, he could wind up needing medical attention. If the nails get too long and grow into his paw pads, he’ll need medical attention. If we attempt to muscle him into submission while trying to clip the nails on squirming, writhing paws, we’ll all wind up needing medical attention. I guess I’ll just divert my grooming funds to him. Easy come easy go.

Picking up our face masks today. A friend’s mom made them for us because I can’t sew and the ones we ordered online have still not arrived. When I took sewing class in middle school, my parents told me that sewing is a life skill. What I didn’t realize is that it would eventually become a life or death skill.

Learned an important lesson. Now that I am teaching remotely, I spend a lot more time with a screen in front of me than usual. My eyes are not happy with this new arrangement, so the eye doctor suggested using lubricating drops. In my desperation to get some relief, I put one drop in each eye then attempted to read the dosing on the bottle to find out if I needed to use a second drop. My vision was too blurry. Next time, I’ll remember to read the instructions before I use the drops.

Chronicles of a Corona Captive – Days 29 & 30

Our governor is talking about prolonging the lockdown for another 30 days. I’ve already written about the hole of my Swiss cheese and the hole of my bagel matching up. Clearly that is a sign that I have hit the bottom of the blogging barrel. What the hell else am I going to write about for at least another 30 days?

Finding it distracting watching TV shows when the hosts are broadcasting from their homes. I’m so fixated on being nosey and checking out what is behind them that I don’t pay any attention to what they are actually saying.

For the first time in my life, I have completely worn out a pair of slippers. To be fair, they were a year old, but they were in great shape when we started this adventure a month ago. Because they have been on my feet so much, I have completely rubbed the fuzzy insides away.

Must not bake…must not bake…must not bake…I did make chocolate oatmeal peanut butter cookies this morning, but they were no bake cookies. It said so right in the title of the recipe. I think I may have found a loophole!

Bonus! These cookies didn’t have any flour in them so technically they were Passover permissible. Although, this would be a much more effective argument if I hadn’t eaten an English muffin right before I started making them.

Keebler has completed his training of Oregano. When Oregano is in the kitchen, Keebler comes in and makes a very specific and very long meow to get his attention. Exploiting the fact that he is adorable, he wiggles his tail and bats his big golden eyes. Oregano stops what he is doing. When Keebler has his full attention, he runs to his favorite chair while Oregano dutifully walks behind him. Once Keebler has lured him to the appropriate destination, Oregano begins scratching him between his ears. If Oregano stops before Keebler is satisfied, he turns, looks at him and meows again until Oregano resumes the scratching. Keebler was able to accomplish all of this training in 30 days. That is a talented kitty!

The Mystery of the Thin Mints remains a mystery. Oregano was on a 2 hour long phone call with the insurance company. I admired his patience and persistence and felt it should be rewarded so I brought him 3 Thin Mints from our hidden stash. He was thrilled to see the cookies, but that feeling was quickly replaced with a distressing realization. He hadn’t heard me get the cookies and had no idea if they were hidden upstairs or downstairs.

Chronicles of a Corona Captive – Days 24 & 25

Acorn collection continues. I had an evil idea while stooping to pick up more of these annoying tree droppings nestled into the leaves of the emerging plants. Easter is this weekend and Easter egg hunts are a fun pastime for children. All of the public Easter egg hunts have been canceled. Kids are bored. Parents are sick of their kids whining about being bored. What if I had an Easter egg hunt in my own garden? I could allow 1 or 2 neighborhood children at a time to come into my yard to hunt for small, brown odd shaped “eggs.” One of my friends pointed out that this might be construed as child labor.  I’d give them all prizes. I’m not a monster.

Began using our stash from the case of toilet paper we managed to procure. While I am grateful that we are well stocked for the duration, I am sad to report that this toilet paper is not nearly as soft and luxurious as our usual brand. I guess we must all make sacrifices during this unusual moment in history.

Passover started this week. Since I have already given up leaving my house, going to work, seeing my friends and soft toilet paper, I have decided I am not also giving up bread and baked goods.

The hole in the center of my bagel (see above for why I am eating a bagel on Passover) and the hole of my slice of Swiss cheese matched up perfectly. How serendipitous! The fact that I even noticed that shows me how small my world has become.

After the failure of Linus’s nail clipping experiment last weekend, I called the vet to see if I could bring the 2 scaredy cats to the office. They are only seeing patients with emergencies. We are on our own.  Maybe I need to rethink this process and give myself the tranquilizer instead of the cats.

Cleaned out my spam folder again. What a rich source of entertainment those emails are from the subject lines alone. In a single day I had the opportunity to have overstock wines or cannabis gummies delivered to my house. I could take a 6 question test to earn the right to carry a concealed weapon, buy life insurance and purchase glasses. This is wise marketing. If I am going to start shooting at things, I am definitely going to need better eyesight and life insurance, especially after drinking the wine and eating the cannabis gummies.

Chronicles of a Corona Captive – Days 22 and 23

The stay at home order is even affecting routine cat maintenance. Normally, when the cats’ claws get sharp, I wrangle them into their carriers and take them to the vet for their “peticures.” While herding cats is a challenge in and of itself, trying to clip 54 claws without blood being shed is virtually impossible. Nevertheless, we must all make sacrifices in times like these so we attempted DIY nail clipping. We started with Linus who has the most docile personality and who also happened to have a few dagger-like claws.  A friend, who is a vet technician, recommended giving him a tranquilizer. I’m not above drugging any of the boys if it means less stress for them so we slipped a little something into Linus’s dinner. He was groggy and slower, but not so groggy that he didn’t realize what I was doing. It took 5 attempts and I was only able to cut 2 of his claws. The good news is that I got the 2 sharpest claws, the bad news is that at this rate, we’ll probably be out of lockdown before we can cut everyone’s nails.

Watched all 78 episodes of Reign in 2 weeks. I enjoyed the show, but when I was done, I felt the same way I do after eating Cheez Doodles. I like it when I’m in the midst of it, but afterwards I regret my decision.

Must not bake…must not bake…must not bake… I had a philosophical dilemma yesterday. What makes a baked good a baked good? Is it considered baking if you don’t use the oven? I found a recipe to make a single large chocolate chip cookie using the crock pot. I’ve never considered making something sweet in the crock pot so the concept piqued my curiosity.  After much contemplation, I decided that it wasn’t really baking even though the end result would be a cookie. I loosened the grip on my self-discipline and scrolled through the recipe to gather the ingredients. That was when I noticed that the measurements were in metric. I don’t have metric measuring tools so I would have had to Google everything or do quite a bit of math to convert the recipe. Now I had a second conundrum to deal with…is my hatred of math stronger than my desire to bake? As it turns out, it is. I took the metric measurements as a sign from the universe and deleted the recipe from my email. Phew! That was a close one!

There is a company that is making chocolate Easter bunnies with surgical masks. Too bad the doctors and nurses can’t get chocolate face masks. That might solve the supply problem the hospitals have been having.

A tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for the virus. Aside from the fact that a tiger can get tested and receive results faster than a human, there was concern that this means that pet parents can transmit the virus to their cats. The news story recommended social distancing yourself from your pet.  Later that day our vet posted information stating that as long as you aren’t exhibiting symptoms, you can continue to care for and snuggle your cat. We were relieved. Neither one of us wanted to have to break the news to Linus that he would have to get off our laps and sit on the couch – like an animal.

We have had beautiful spring weather the past few days so Oregano and I have been taking our walks through the neighborhood. Last night, as we stepped out the door, Oregano let one rip. I turned around and gave him the look and told him that was one way to make sure people, including me, stay away. He smiled and said, “I fart to do my part for social distancing.” What a humanitarian he is.

Chronicles of a Corona Captive – Days 19-21

Spring break is finally here! I can’t wait to turn off my alarm clock and sleep late. Oh, wait…nevermind.

As the weather has warmed and the sun is shining more brightly, I have learned some valuable lessons. For example, I now know the optimal TV viewing positions to avoid sun glare as I binge watch Netflix.

Must not bake…must not bake…REALLY must not bake. Passover begins this week. It is a religious obligation not to eat baked goods. We are already living through a plague; how much worse would things get if I baked?

On our walk Friday night, Oregano sneezed. He followed appropriate pandemic etiquette by covering his mouth and nose with his upper arm. No one was close to us, but Oregano is a loud sneezer. So loud, in fact, that before we were married, he sneezed in my parents’ house and set off the security alarm while everyone else was asleep. So when Oregano sneezed, heads all around the park turned. I felt compelled to yell, “It’s okay. It’s only allergies.”

The mystery of the missing Thin Mints continues. They are still safely hidden. I’ve noticed a flaw in my plan though. While hiding them will prevent Oregano from eating the cookies, I can’t eat them either. We’re both home ALL the time. What if he has me under surveillance?  If I get a cookie for myself, he may see where I got it from and the cookie’s hiding place would be revealed.

A package with 2 new pairs of yoga pants arrived. Oregano wondered why I had purchased more yoga pants. I told him I needed a new spring wardrobe for work.

Chronicles of a Corona Captive – Days 17 and 18

I’m starting to feel like one of the castaways from Gilligan’s Island. They thought they were going on 3 hour tour and ended up indefinitely stranded on an island. I thought we’d be home for three weeks, but now we have an indefinite stay at home order. On the bright side, I have more to eat than just coconuts.

Sitting in my “office” all day, I can enjoy a lovely view of the garden. I noticed a squirrel hopping all around the yard digging for acorns. Now he’s hungry?!  Where the hell was he all winter?

Toilet paper reinforcements have arrived! We had about a month’s worth of toilet paper when we began this stay at home adventure. Oregano went to buy our usual 12 roll package and the shelves were completely bare. He tried numerous stores over 2 weeks only to come home empty-handed. Every night I scoured the internet checking store inventories, but that lead to a dead end, too. Out of desperation, I went to the Staples website and was excited to find toilet paper. There was just one catch; it was sold by the case. We now have 80 rolls! Maybe we can use it to build a fort.

After so much time together in the house, we thought we’d change things up a bit. Sadly, the change I am talking about is filters. We had Filter Friday! We celebrated by changing filters on the HVAC unit, the air purifier and the water purifier. We’re exhausted from all the exciting festivities.

Today was my first foray into the world in 20 days. Spring has arrived and so too have my seasonal allergies. I went with Oregano to the pharmacy. With both of us there, we could score twice as much pseudoephedrine and that would be enough to get me to the end of the month. I was all dolled up for my big outing.  It was raining, so my hood was up. My nose and mouth were covered with a scarf. I wasn’t wearing makeup and my itchy, runny eyes were red and puffy. I looked like the lovechild of a bandit and a zombie.

The Mystery of the Missing Thin Mints continues. After reading my post, Oregano saw the box of Thin Mints right where it had been all along. He told me he knew I hadn’t really hidden them. Then he picked up the box. It was empty. He looked at me with a stunned expression on his face and told me I was evil. I just cackled like a witch and said, “This isn’t my first day here.”

Chronicles of a Corona Captive – Days 15 & 16

Several times a year at school, we have spirit week. I decided to bring some of that spirit to our work from home environment.

Monday will be pajama day.

Tuesday will be clash day.

Wednesday will be crazy hair day.

Thursday will be hat day.

Friday will be career day.

Hmmm… now that I look at the list, it would seem we’ve had spirit week going on for 3 weeks and we weren’t even trying.

Took extreme measures to protect the remaining Thin Mints.  Each sleeve has been moved to a secret location. I hoped splitting them up would help me preserve at least one sleeve. Once Oregano reads this, he’ll have hours of fun searching the house for them. Stay tuned to find out if the Mystery of the Missing Thin Mints is solved.

Singing Itsy Bitsy Spider while washing my hands has gotten boring so I jazz it up a bit by singing different renditions of the song. I sing a rap version, a Broadway version and a reggae version. I’m fairly certain Oregano is ready to gag me. I’ll have to start thinking of a new handwashing song.

Our development has started a road paving project. Great timing! The only thing better than being trapped inside my home during the pandemic is being trapped inside my home while they jackhammer outside.

Watched the show Fleabag on Amazon. It is a British show. We loved the show, but thankfully, there were only 12 episodes. Oregano has difficulty understanding anyone who speaks with an accent. There have been many times while we were traveling or watching television when I have had to translate for him. During one episode of the show, he rewound a scene 3 times before he finally asked me what it was the character said. Exasperated, I looked over at him and told him the word was “Pam” and that he should let one go once in a while.

I’ve noticed that people are on conference calls conducting business while they walk their dogs through the neighborhood. I guess they are doing business while the dog does its business. Let’s just hope they aren’t video conferencing.

Must not bake…must not bake…must not bake… Normally when I bake, I bring the treats into school spreading the calories over multiple bodies. I had a brilliant idea that would allow me to scratch my baking itch, share the calories and show my appreciation. I planned to bake cookies and leave them for all the delivery people as a thank you. When I mentioned this to a friend, she pointed out that during a pandemic, strangers might not want to eat my homemade baked goods.  

Garbage night has become our date night. Under a moonlit sky, we walk down the driveway pushing the garbage can to the curb. It rained on date night this week, so Oregano had to go on the date by himself.

Second week of laundry without a button, snap or zipper. It’s like I have opened a laundromat for Amish people.

Chronicles of a Corona Captive – Days 12-14

Collected more acorns. Squirrels and chipmunks just sat idly by as I crawled around picking up the acorns. I could feel them mocking me with their eyes. I might be losing it a bit.

Had a new experience in my marriage. Oregano wanted his hair cut and requested I do this for him. I feared that this would not end well and explained my trepidations, but he insisted. After a quick tutorial on how to use his razor with the hair clipper attachment, we went outside into the garden and he set me to work. I didn’t leave any bald spots, but I think we’re both glad that we have nowhere to go for the next month.

Only one box of Thin Mints remains. In an effort to protect the last of these precious rations, I think I have developed superpower hearing. Oregano was out of sight and I heard cellophane opening, I yelled, “Drop ‘em!” Turns out he was opening a package of crackers.

Went for a walk. The kids in the neighborhood left positive messages and drawings on all the sidewalks. It was heartwarming to read them and it made the walk much more fun. Everyone was talking about them. As a teacher, I was impressed not only to see the children’s desire to bring cheer to a difficult time, but also to see so many words spelled correctly. However, on the last leg of the walk, we came across one message with the word awesome spelled incorrectly. One of the e’s was missing from the word. A few feet farther along the path, we came across a chalk nubbin left behind by the authors of the messages. Oregano suggested that I use the piece of chalk to go back and correct the spelling of awesome. I looked at him like he was crazy. I don’t know who touched that chalk. What if they were infected?  I spent my career teaching students how to spell and corrected their errors. Wouldn’t it be ironic if I picked up a potentially life-threatening virus from a discarded piece of chalk I used to correct a spelling error?

Must not bake…must not bake…must not bake… Why are comfort foods always foods that aren’t good for you? When I am anxious or in a bad mood, I want brownies or peanut butter squares. I never crave a carrot or piece of celery. It seems like a cruel trick of nature.

Cleaned out my spam folder. There was a very accommodating email with the subject line, “Where do you want to have f**k?” The offer did not intrigue me, but the grammatical mistake did. This led to a 10 minute conversation with Oregano about how the word f**k could be used as different parts of speech. Twelve days in and I think we have officially run out of topics of conversation.

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