Be Like Agnes, Looking For Clues During a Pandemic
|Image by Enrique Meseguer, Pixabay|
I'm rereading a favorite book of mine called SARUM. It's a novel detailing the history of England. A little past midway of this massive chronicle are a few pages about the Black Death.
In it, one character goes against societal norm and instead relies on folklore, the Bible, and the stories her mother told her. Agnes deduces that the plague now ravaging the continent and soon to arrive in England is carried by unclean animals.
She didn't understand it was a bacterium or that it came from Asia along the Silk Road on the backs of rodents. Unlike Coronavirus, it spread slowly because people traveled slowly.
Agnes thought long and hard and studied what few clues she could grasp with her limited Medieval mind. She decided (on her own) that her family must go to high ground, away from any animals or people. They had to isolate themselves until the plague had passed.
This is a work of fiction, of course, but I couldn't help but feel a connection to Agnes.
Back in January, I was recovering from the worst cold Greg and I had ever had. Each of us were sick in bed for two weeks a piece. Long time for an average cold. But we're old and thought it was just another bonus of age. By the way, Greg caught it first. We're pretty sure he got it from the doctor's office while there for a routine physical.
Was it Coronavirus? Who knows? There are some reports now that it could've been in the US long before we were aware of it.
As I lay recovering at the end of January, I was reading the news and caught a short nondescript article about people in China getting sick and dying. That was clue #1.
A few days later, China shuts down the entire city of Wuhan. Draconian measures were taken and no one was spared. That was clue #2.
Almost immediately following this event, the President restricted travel to China, despite the Chinese government declaring he was overreacting. (Which was rich considering China just locked down 11 million people, then expanded the isolation to nearly 60 million.) That was clue #3.
I didn't know what was going on in China. My initial thought was that it was a new flu strain. But then I started looking at the timeline and tracking the number of deaths. Something didn't feel right, so when Greg offered to do the grocery shopping for me, I asked him to buy extra hand sanitizers and bleach.
After I recovered and realized things weren't getting any better, I made my own trip into town and stocked up on pet food, livestock food, and fresh vegetables.
Four weeks later people started panic buying and shelves went empty.
I'm not a prophetess, but I think I'm a lot like Agnes. I read the signs, even when they perplex me. I had no idea Coronavirus was as bad as it was. I only knew what everyone else was told via the media.
For whatever reason, the rest of America didn't snap to the same things that pricked my radar. I felt a disembodied danger, so I mobilized in the best way I could. To my relief Greg didn't question my sudden urgency to stock up. We've been together long enough that he trusts my intuition.
There were some areas where I did drop the ball, most noticeably, my garden. I had planned on buying seeds at the beginning of the year, but both of us had been brutally sick for the whole month. In February, I spent most of that month taking inventory and trying to figure out what was most important--still not realizing we might have to isolate for weeks at a time.
When I finally caught my breath in March, it was too late to order seeds from my trusted sources. They had sold out. I had enough for a decent garden though, so I am making do.
So what is my radar sensing now? A lot will depend on the local population. People need to stay home. I have friends who are out and about because they cannot stand the monotony. Not smart.
It's the beginning of April, and here's my prediction. If we do not isolate ourselves, two things will happen. The pandemic will linger longer, and a lot more people will die.
How long should you isolate? I say a minimum of six weeks.
China forced its people into lock down. This is why they were able to get a handle on the virus. That's not so easy to do in a democratic country where we get pretty huffy if someone tries to tell us what to do.
But this is exactly what must be done.
Think of it though. Even with a forced lock down, it still took China more than two months before its people could go back to work. It's going to take a long longer for the West because we're so lax about making people stay put.
If you need groceries or meds, get them. Buy enough to keep you indoors for six weeks, then stay put.
This isn't a game. It's Russian roulette. At stake is not only your life, but the lives of people you love.
There are people out there who think it won't touch them. Don't count on it. If you've found empty shelves for things you need, it's already touched you.
If you want to be like me (or Agnes) here's my punch list for living isolated.
- BUY ONLINE It's in caps for a reason. It pains me that it's more expensive to buy groceries this way, but if you must have something, plan ahead and order it now. Amazon has been the most reliable online retailer. Local grocery stores are hit or miss depending on the density of your city. Your mileage may vary.
- Have one designated shopper. In cold percentages, a younger person will have a better ability to shake the virus than an old person. If you must have supplies, see if a younger family member will volunteer. (See Safe Hygiene below)
- Have your meds mailed to you. Many pharmacies are waiving their fees and will mail the meds to you at no charge.
- Buy what you'll need for two months. I generally buy two of everything. One to use and one for backup.
- Work around perishables. Milk can be frozen. (Make sure you remove some of the milk before freezing for expansion.) You can also buy dry milk. Bread can be frozen, as can some fruits and vegetables. You can also bake. Eggs last a very long time.
- Plan your meals. Take a good look at your inventory. Pull out the stuff that's in the back of the freezer. Use that first. Did you find an odd can of beans, potatoes, or Spam in your pantry? Google for a recipe for any one item so you can use it up. Don't be afraid to substitute. It won't change the flavor much, if at all.
- Stay busy and keep to a routine. The biggest reason people feel they need to get out is because they're bored. Not going to work makes people rudderless. (Greg and I went through that when we first retired.) That's why you need to create a routine. Fix what's broken. Read. Make freezer meals. Trim your hedges. Teach your kids some household fundamentals. Walk the dog, but touch nothing and stay away from everyone. Be a hero and do it for the good of the kingdom.
- Practice safe hygiene. If you do go out, always remove your shoes outside the home and spray them with Lysol. Strip, put the clothes in the wash, and take a shower.
- If you've been sick, but don't know if it's contagious yet: Do not handle food. Do not pet your pets. Isolate yourself from the rest of the family. Whether it's Coronavirus or a cold, you don't want to compromise anyone else in the house.
- Stay Connected. Every day, choose one person to call, text, or email to see how they are.
Remember too, scientists think this could become a seasonal virus so don't let your guard down even when it's deemed safe.
Be like Agnes and read the clues wherever they show up.
Strangely enough, I'm not anxious over all these unknowns. I've done all I can and that's all anyone can ask of me.
How are you holding up? Are you normally a social butterfly, or can you manage isolation like a pro?
How's your pantry holding up? Check it now. Keep a running list of items you will need so you can place one big order at a time.
First Aid Supplies
Meals and Side Dishes
Feminine Hygiene Products
I am bummed that our June vacation (16-day cruise to London, 14-day tour of Europe) has been cancelled. I'd been so looking forward to that trip. We're getting credit back on the cruise and tour. Don't know if we'll get anything from the airlines. It sucks.
I was using up my food stock to save asking my son to buy so much for us, until I realized the time to empty the larder is NOT when we could be facing disruptions in the food supply chain. So I switched gears and I'm laying in more staples that could see us through a dry spell, if needed.
Just a side note... our main landline phone died and I went to order a replacement on Amazon. Picked one marked available for Prime delivery and found out it would take three weeks because of how Amazon is prioritizing deliveries now. (Found the same phone on Best Buys' website and got it in a day.)
We have wonderful neighbors who continually offer to shop for us. I haven't accepted until now. Apparently, I am running out of cat kibble.
And why am I running out of cat kibble? Because a certain border collie steals a few bites when I'm not looking. I haven't caught her yet, but all the evidence points to her.
Amazon is currently running a program where supplies go to hospitals and health care workers first. I don't mind.
Best Buy and Costco have been exceptional in filling in the void.
We're self-isolating to the extreme here in Western Australia. Our state borders are shut and travel is limited between our regions, as well. The hope is we can internally relax some of our social distancing measures faster if we remain our own little (huge!) pseudo-island.
I am nearly out of lettuce. I have a little spinach and chard in the garden but no lettuce. I'm also perilously low on cat kibble. I've been forced to ration Jammy's kibble so Nana won't steal it.
Life is rough on all of us. LOL!
re: self-isolating to the extreme
I think it's for the best, but I can see how hard it would be for people who live in a big city in apartments. That's like being in jail. At least where I live I can go out and do stuff outdoors without ever seeing a soul.
Take care on that HUGE island!
Shelves empty of TP, hand sanitizer, and hand soap gave me the heebee-jeebees...so weird since Central Texas is pretty landlocked and we don't experience some of the seasonal panic shopping due to catastrophic weather. Also found it intriguing that people seemed, originally, so focused on specific products that they didn't think outside the box on how to make use of comparable products, like how everyone bought out all the bleach bottles but left the shelves full of Clorox bleach toilet cleaner, the same cleaner that could be used on other bathroom items to get that bleached clean impact.
Then seeing Amazon, ebay and other sites crop up with many "panic" products at exorbitant prices was just...so disheartening as more and more information became available about what was happening.
My shopping since getting stocked up has been for things like fresh fruits and veggies. I'm glad those things are getting stocked back up.
I consider myself blessed in that my kiddo was homeschooled in the eighth grade so when her school "extended" spring break into distance learning, she already knew what to do, how to do what she needed to take care of her assignments and everything. She even came up with her own "schedule" for school that she does pretty good sticking to.
I'm a bit of a hermit so what is a lockdown to some is just another day for me. The only other thing is that I have been more aware of eating out with a purpose to support businesses now instead of eating out because I don't want to cook :-)
PS our daughter's partner is recovering from the Chinese virus - fingers are crossed for the daughter :)
re: Clorox bleach toilet cleaner
Clever girl! That's using your head.
I finally ran out of lettuce and was dangerously low on cat kibble. Fortunately, a neighbor picked them up for us. I sweetened the pot by including eggs and fresh asparagus with my money. :)
I haven't been in a store in weeks. I miss shopping the sales, but that's a thing of the past.
I know my brother is doing online classes with his kids, but I wonder if there are kids out there who are playing "hooky" and doing no school work at all. Surely it'll come back and bite them.
Sorry your friend had to frag your calm. You're a good friend to shop her through it.
You have a point about living somewhere nice. We haven't struggled one bit other than the annoyance of not being able to eat out.
We love our home and our property. We work until we're tired and then we rest. There's always plenty to do when you have acreage.
You're quite right though about people in apartments. I imagine they can't wait for this to be over.