We went grocery shopping this morning. I never thought I would start a story with those words. Grocery shopping is usually a mundane, unremarkable experience. You might meet someone you know or the store stopped carrying your favorite cereal, but usually it is just something you do wedged in between all the other things you do. But things are different now.
All day yesterday Andrea and I worried over whether or not to go. Other than a couple of things, we have enough to last the two weeks we were initially told to stay inside. But it is becoming clear that this isn’t something that is going to be over in two weeks. Or two months, probably. This is the new normal, at least for a while.
So do we go now, before the virus is too wide-spread? Or is it already too late? Will we catch it if we go out? Or do we already have it and are asymptomatic, perhaps in the incubation period, and we would infect others?
I am on blood-thinner, and the dose needs to be adjusted if I change how many greens I eat but I can’t know how to adjust the dose myself. So perhaps we should restock just to keep things on an even keel. Or perhaps it doesn’t make that much difference.
In the end, we decided to go first thing this morning when the store opened. If there were too many cars in the parking lot, we would go back home. But it was in-between — neither empty nor full. We shopped. But we were nervous about being within six feet of anyone else. We love our food co-op in northwest Portland. It is a manageable size and has the best produce around, but it is small, with narrow aisles. It’s hard to avoid being within six feet of anyone. We were all being careful, but it’s against our nature to be wary of all other humans.
Many of the shelves were empty — ramen, canned soup, surface cleaners. One of the workers explained they are having trouble getting resupplied by their main supplier. (There was toilet paper, though. A future sociology PhD dissertation will dissect the mob hoarding instinct that emptied the shelves of that convenient but ultimately non-essential product.)
We brought our groceries home. Now what? Should we wash all the packages? Should we wash the produce with warm water and soap? Should just let everything sit in the cold air on the front porch? Should we being it inside? Some of it needed to go in the freezer and some in the refrigerator. In the end, we just put things away. We’re still discussing whether we should wash the produce.
But that is a big part of the problem: How much is needed? How much is unnecessary? How much is just driving ourselves crazy? Anxiety taxes your immune system, and we need our immune systems to be working as best is they can.
We read yesterday that caffeine and sugar and alcohol lower your immunities, too. Great. Andrea is better than me, but I do enjoy a couple cups of coffee in the morning, a mint or hard candy a couple of times a day, a small glass of wine before bedtime. Do I give those up? (I was thinking yesterday that I’m really grateful I’m not an alcoholic. Toward the end, my wife who died needed wine the way a diabetic needs insulin. Again I realize how fortunate I am.)
Here at Rose Villa, someone comes to clean our place twice a month. Yesterday Andrea decided that since we are home anyway, we might as well clean our home ourselves. When Andrea wrote to housekeeping, they wrote back that they are stopping housekeeping for those of us in independent living so they can concentrate on the 24-hour care area. They are keeping some of their staff at home, as backup in case the on-site cleaners get sick. The amount of planning that needs to be done now is staggering.
Meanwhile, today is another beautiful day here in Portland. It is sunny once again, and there are flowers. But the river is very low. FaceBook reminded me that three years ago I posted a picture of the river above its banks. But this year it is about the level it usually doesn’t drop to until August. Ah, another thing to worry about.
I know this will be uneven. Andrea and I were all ready to do this, stocking up on food and books. Then we had two days of anxiety. And so it will go. We did start cleaning the cupboards in the kitchen, though. We did one yesterday. We don’t want to do more than one a day — we need to pace ourselves. Still haven’t started going through family pictures. Maybe next month.
Wishing all of you love and health and peace,
Throwback Thursday Bonus (Easter picture):