Coronavirus vs. Fire Evacuation

Last October, we were under mandatory evacuation orders due to the Kincade Fire.  Despite this, we decided to stay put as the fire was (and remained) miles away.

The current Coronavirus “shelter in place” order again has us “hunkering down.”  In many ways, it feels similar – life is suspended, things are definitely not normal and it feels like we’re all sitting around, waiting for something to happen.

However, at the moment, I can tell you that I far prefer this “stay put” order over hunkering down because of a raging fire.  Here’s why:

1. We have electricity.  At our house, since we’re on a well, that means we also have water.  Or, conversely, no electricity means no water.  Let me tell you, when you’re cooped up at home with your family, hot water and showers, or really. . . just water at all, means a whole lot.

2. The horses are at home.  While we chose to not evacuate during the Kincade Fire, we did, out of an abundance of caution, evacuate the horses to the fairgrounds. IMG_20191028_184504_199

The above picture is the herd, safe at the fairgrounds.  Having them at home gives us something to do and lends some structure to the day (they have to be fed twice a day, turned out, etc.).  The barn gives me a place to “escape” to and spending time with the horses gives my 14 year old daughter something to do.

3.  We can leave the property, even if it is just for “essentials”.  During the Kincade Fire, there were manned police barricades everywhere.  We were slightly concerned that if we left home, we wouldn’t be allowed back.  So, we didn’t leave our property.

4.  During the Kincade Fire, not only did we not leave the property, we didn’t really go outside.  Why?  Because the sky looked like this. 20191027_154541

So no walking the dog, no enjoying lunch outside . . . we were really stuck inside the house, again, without electricity or water.  So. Much. Fun.

5.  We’re not packed to leave at a moment’s notice.  During the Kincade Fire, everything we deemed “important” was packed into three of our cars (our 17 year old drives – 3 drivers; 3 cars).  Every night we’d get our suitcases out of the car, unpack our toothbrushes, etc.  Every morning, we’d zip those up and put them back in the car.  Kind of exhausting and a daily reminder that we might have to leave.  And that leaving might be for good.

6.  Coronavirus is an emergency but not quite in the same way.  We aren’t huddled around the scanner, listening to the police and fire traffic.  My husband and I aren’t up every two hours (the first night of the Kincade Fire we didn’t really sleep at all), listening to the wind, going outside to see if anything changed, monitoring our local radio station.  Fire has a whole different level of stress.

Our Shelter in Place order was issued on March 18.  So, we’re 13 days in.  I’m not sure there’s an end in sight.  That’s another difference . . . we knew the fire was eventually going to be put out; it wasn’t going to drag on for months and months.  When this ends is anyone’s guess.

I’m grateful that our lives have not been upended as much as some.  My husband’s work is considered “essential” so he’s still working, although it has slowed down a bit.  I am concerned about our long term financial picture but I’m not concerned about how we’re going to put food on the table.  And, again, there’s a whole lot to be said for electricity and water!

Shelter In Place, Day 1

I’m sure a ton of people are writing these posts as the country shuts down, but I thought I’d might as well join in.

Here in Sonoma County, our “shelter in place” order took effect at midnight.  They put out a list of “essential services” that can remain open.  Of course, banks, grocery stores, doctors’ offices and vets can all stay open.  So can therapists – mental health is apparently essential.  That’s good.

Restaurants and coffee places can remain open for take-out only.  That makes sense.

But some of the businesses listed as “essential” struck me as a little ridiculous, particularly dry cleaners.  Is it really essential that you pick up or drop off your dry cleaning?  Laundromats can stay open.  So can hardware stores (I guess in case you  need a part for an emergency plumbing repair or something?) and auto repair shops / auto parts stores.

The one that really gets me is day cares.  Schools are closed but day cares can remain open.  What???

And I got a text from my Pilates lady this morning (we’re friends) . . . she’s pissed because she had to close (exercise facilities / gyms are on the “must close” list) but the smoke shop next door to her is open.  I suggested that if she took in people’s laundry, and just taught some Pilates on the side, maybe she could stay open then too.

I don’t mean to make light of this.  I know its serious.  And I understand taking precautions.  I just wish I felt like the rules made sense and that they were the same everywhere.

We’re also being encouraged to go outside, walk the dog, go on a bike ride!

So, here in my house, things haven’t changed a whole lot.  The kids are on spring break so they’d be home anyways.  I don’t really work so I’m usually home anyway.  We’re well set to hang out at home for the next few weeks.  Most importantly, we bought a 5 gallon tub of ice cream.


And, in the spirit of “Be Prepared” (I am a Scoutmaster, after all), I did fill my barn with hay, grain and other horse / chicken / bunny / duck  necessities.20200316_175559           20200316_175612

I made sure I have enough anti-seizure meds for Sam the dog and Cushing’s meds for Stormy the old horse.

We did not buy cases of toilet paper, water, or top ramen.

I won’t lie . . . I’m a little concerned about how this is all going to turn out.  I worry about the devastating effects on the economy.  I worry about all the small businesses (and am super glad I didn’t buy an ice cream store a few months ago).

My kids are supposed to start virtual school in a week.  I’ve got no idea how that’s going to turn out!  A Facebook meme noted “All these common core students are ’bout to learn ‘carry the one’.”  Totally true!  Gov. Newsome warned that school may be out for the rest of the year!  Really??  That’s worrisome.  What does that do to summer vacation plans?

So much is unknown.  I think that’s the real struggle.  So, I’m going to try not to worry.  Don’t worry.  Be prepared.  And try to not eat too many cookies.  That’s my motto on Day 1.

Virus Whining

Hi and sorry, I have to virus complain for a minute.  Or, maybe its just complaining and not necessarily virus-related.  Its kinda hard to tell these days, right?

The past couple of weeks have had a few disappointments come my way.  When I started posting again, I promised myself I wasn’t going to whine and I haven’t.  I’m proud of that. So let’s just leave it at the fact that the last week or so has been tough.

And now, Corona-geddon (stole from a friend).  Our county is waiting to hear if we’re going to be put under shelter in place orders.  Unfortunately, our county health officer seems to be only able to issue vague and confusing statements.  So, like many, many others, we’re just hanging out in limbo.

For me, for some reason, limbo today has made it hard to accomplish much of anything.  Really all I want to do is sit around and eat junk food.

We’re definitely ready (without hoarding) to hunker down for a few weeks.  I wasn’t really worried about the whole thing until I read this CNN article:  It says that something like 1 million people in the US could die.  Really?  1 million??  That’s a lot.  That makes it seem much more likely that someone I know will succumb to coronavirus.  Huh.  That kind of puts it in perspective.

O.k., but I still just want to eat junk food.

Shelter in place won’t change our life much – kids are on spring  break and I don’t work.  But I’d sure better put some sort of schedule or something in place for my life so I don’t gain 20 pounds.

I’ll do that tomorrow.  At the moment, I think there’s still some peanut brittle.  Enough whining.

What Have I Done Today??

Its almost 10:00 in the morning here in Northern California.  I have a lot of things that need to get done today . . . clean the kids’ bathrooms, laundry, sweep and mop floors, go to the grocery store, etc.

I’ve been up since 6:30 and none of those things have been started.  So, I’m wondering, “just what exactly have I done so far today?”

Without the structure of working, I seem to be struggling to get “enough” accomplished.  “Enough” is in quotes because “enough” is a concept that exists only in my head.  And, my friends frequently point out that I’m far too hard on myself.

So, what have I done?

Got kids to school (which really doesn’t mean much since they’re teenagers now and my son drives both of them.)

Went on a half-hour walk with husband and dog.

Ate breakfast and read the paper.

Checked email, Facebook.  Commented on a few Facebook posts, messaged with a couple of people, one of which was necessary because I need a new horse-sitter and this was a follow-up to that problem.

Sent texts to my daily text friends.

Looked for a job on Craigslist and Indeed.  No new job leads.

Turned ponies out, made horse dinner, brought in trash cans from the street.

Changed the laundry.

So, some of those are “necessary”; some are “necessary” for my mental health, like communicating with friends.  I think that’s a valid way to spend time.

Funny, how we decide what’s a good use of time and what’s not, right?  My husband puts very little value on time with friends; he sees far more value in cleaning the kids’ bathrooms.

I keep thinking I need some sort of schedule.  Like, Mondays are Mopping Mondays where all the floors get mopped.  Tuesday could be a different housecleaning task.  I keep thinking that but I haven’t quite been able to implement that yet.  A schedule for working horses, exercise and lots of other things would probably be useful as well.

This is hard.  Not having a job is hard.  Keeping up one’s self-esteem is hard.

I’d better go clean bathrooms.  Wait, no, first I’d better see if there are bills that need to be paid.  And, need to decide if I have to go to the grocery store today or if that can wait until tomorrow.  And, what am I going to make for dinner . . . . ugh . . .

Need a Summer Re-Start

My kids have been out of school for less than a week.  Wait, is that really possible??  (Consulting calendar)  Yes . . . the youngest “graduated” from 8th grade a week ago today and the oldest finished up 10th grade last Thursday.  So we’re just one week into summer break.

And it hasn’t been an easy week.  I’d like to re-wind and start over.

The first weekend of summer (last weekend), we scheduled to have a few of my Scouts “camp” here so they could knock out a bunch of their cooking requirements.  By Saturday afternoon everyone was tired, crabby, hot, and definitely didn’t want to do their required cooking.  By 9:30 Saturday night, we had slogged through the cooking and a few other requirements and kids went home early.  But not before we had tears and me swearing I was done with Scoutmaster-ing.

However, it wound up being a great thing that kids went home early because Sunday morning, we were awoken by our beloved 6 year old, yellow Lab having a full-blown grand mal seizure.  It was terrible.  Absolutely awful and terrifying.  We were all hysterical.  Then, it got worse.  When he stopped seizing, he was completely disoriented, didn’t recognize any of us and became extremely aggressive.  He was snarling, growling, barking and definitely would have bitten.  We finally got him outside without anyone being bitten.  But having their best friend lunge at them sent my kids over the edge.  And left me wondering how on earth I was going to get my snarling dog in a crate and to the vet.

Thankfully, he returned to himself within about 15 minutes, let me put a leash on him, got in a crate (which he never, ever goes in) and off to the emergency vet we went.  Since then, he hasn’t had any more seizures.  We followed up with our regular vet yesterday and started medication, which he’ll have to have twice a day for the rest of his life.

The vet said that, should he have another seizure, the extreme aggressiveness will likely be his pattern.  So  now we have a “dog seizure protocol”.  Its been traumatic.

And finally, my oldest has decided to change Scout troops.  This decision has been building for a few weeks and it hasn’t been easy.  We’ve had a lot of conversations about it and last night, there were a lot of tears over it.

So, that’s been our first week of summer.  Fabulous, right?  I suppose it can only get better from here!

Trying to Get My Week Together

Yep, its Friday and I’m still feeling like I’m just trying to get my week together.  Its been a week with a lot of interruptions . . . Mom-type things like orthodontic wires stabbing cheeks, sore teeth from braces tightening, “Mom, can my friend spend the night?”,  “Wait, no, I don’t want her to spend the night.”,  teenager studying for finals, blow-ups in my son’s Scout troop (for which I, happily, am not the Scoutmaster), and so on and so on.

On top of all this, we have our (last) annual swim party tomorrow, daughter’s 8th grade “promotion”, friend’s son’s high school graduation, Scout events at my house . . . it just seems to go on.

Sound familiar?

I’ve tried my best to get a few things done.  I signed up a new Scout for my troop of girls (Yay!!!).  I’ve written a few blog posts.  Mostly, I’m being gentle with  myself.  Not beating myself up for not getting more done.  Focusing on what I have accomplished versus what I have not.  Because, realistically, its all stuff that can be done next week (not that I’m advocating procrastination).  Everyone is healthy, clothed, fed, and gets to where they need to be mostly on time.  And that’s what’s important.

Its ok for me to take the time to write blog posts, sit here with my coffee and watch birds out the window and spend a few minutes too long scrolling through Facebook and looking for a horse to buy my daughter.

Yep, its ok.


Holiday Happiness . . . ???

I love the holidays.  I love the lights and the sparkle and the smells and the trees and the songs and well, just everything about the season.


On one hand, I can’t wait for December.  On the other hand, I’m pretty much dreading it.

We have Christmas at our house with my Mom and my sister’s family, which is now her husband and 2 year old little boy.  It feels like its turned into obligatory gift-giving and I’m kind of tired of it.

My Mom is depressed, anxious, and worries endlessly.  No joy there.

My sister, her husband, and my nephew are all o.k., but we’re not close (that’s putting it mildly).  We live about 30 minutes apart and we see each other maybe 3 or 4 times a year . . . Christmas, my nephew’s birthday (which is this weekend), over the summer when we watch their dog while they go on an annual camping trip, and maybe another few times if my kids go to summer camp at the theater where my sister works.  Other than that, we really don’t even talk on the phone.

I’ve suggested skipping gifts and doing something together.  That idea has been met with nothing but resistance (except from my Husband, who is a huge grinch.)  We’ve tried opening gifts, having breakfast and then doing something for the day, but, let’s face it, none of us get along that well.


So . . . what to do??  I might have to turn to baking something.  And maybe I’ll find a craft fair to go to.  Or something.  I love the holidays.