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••• The International Writers Magazine - 22 Years on-line - California Observations

Observations on Things Learned During the Pandemic
• Martin Green

As I mentioned in last month’s “Observations,” Beverly and I have received the vaccine and so have been taking tentative steps into the outside world after a year of almost completely sheltering in place. I’m hoping this marks a new phase in the era of the pandemic and thought I might put down some of the things that we learned during the old phase of staying home.

porch life

One of the first things we seniors had to contend with was how to get essential items, such as food, say, without going out to stores.  We found that we could have deliveries from our local supermarkets but it was not exactly the same as shopping in them ourselves.  With each delivery there was bound to be a few items deemed unavailable and a few items that were not exactly what we expected to get. The most notable is when I thought I’d ordered a regular bag of potato chips and instead got about 100 of those little bags.  These lasted me almost six months.  On the opposite end, I recently order what I thought would be a regular pint size of ice cream and instead got a Dixie cup.  So, we learned that every delivery would contain a surprise.

There were other items we couldn’t get from the supermarket and so we turned, like many readers, I suspect,  to Amazon.  We’d begun using Amazon before the pandemic and now we learned you could get a surprising number of things from it, including food items and medications.  Some of the other items included masks to wear during the pandemic and, during the great toilet paper buying panic, some kind of toilet paper.  Regarding this last, we had an experience similar to those with the supermarket; we thought we’d ordered four rolls but instead got a dozen.  I might have been able to sell these for an exorbitant price during the panic but refrained from doing so.  You could also get stamps through Amazon but I discovered you could get them at a lower cost directly from a Post Office site.

While not going anywhere we’d take out our cars for a weekly spin to keep their batteries charged and to make sure we hadn’t forgotten how to drive.  On one of these spins my car’s warning light came on.  I referred to the manual and it was either a brake or tire problem, I couldn’t make out which.  I wanted to do something so discovered there are mobile auto repair shops that would come to your house.  One of them did so and it was just one low tire so I could have borrowed a device a neighbor had to pump it up and saved some money.  On the other hand, I now knew I could get a mobile service that could do just about anything a regular garage could do and this knowledge might come in handy for the future.

Other than getting in the necessities of life without going anywhere there was the matter of what do during all that time you were staying at home.  I never completely solved this problem but did uncover a few things I could do on my iPad.   One was that there were sites offering virtual museum tours so I could re-visit New York’s Museum of Natural History and Metropolitan Museum of Art, places I’d gone to while growing up in that city.  I could also re-visit museums like the Louvre in Paris and the Prado in Madrid, places Beverly and I had been to on our travels.

I had the GoogleEarth app on my iPad and I used that to re-visit various places, some we’d been to while visiting our son in Ireland, like Shop Street in Galway and the Prom in nearby Salthill.  I could also walk up and down Central Park West and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.  With my aging knees I couldn’t do this in person any more and it was nice to be able to do so virtually while sitting comfortably in my Lazy-Boy chair.

Another thing I discovered, or re-discovered, was our house’s front porch, which our model has but which we’d never really used much while living there for about 25 years.  We had a couple of chairs and a porch swing out there and it was a nice change to do some porch-sitting instead of being inside the house.  I came across a newspaper article that across the country people were now using their front porches so I wasn’t the only one.

I haven’t mentioned reading or writing because these activities, reading anyway, are common-place things to do to pass the time and many people do so, maybe more so during the pandemic.   I’ve also read recommendations for homebound people to write and came across an article saying that many have been writing their memoirs, so many that publishing houses have been swamped by them.   As readers know, I too have been guilty of writing a memoir (which I’ll try to put on Amazon) and I think it’s a good thing to do, if only because it’s interesting to look back at things happening during the pandemic, things such as the toilet paper buying panic mentioned above.   Were we really so worried that we’d run out of this basic necessity of life?   I supposed we were.

Finally, and on a more serious note, we found out, as many did, that it was important to maintain social contacts during a time when you couldn’t get together in person.  We had weekly or almost weekly phone calls with our sons.  Beverly talked to her brother frequently and I started calling my sister every week.  Then there were phone calls and e-mails to friends in Sun City and elsewhere.  A couple of online magazine editors I regularly e-mailed with informed me of how things were going in England.   Other e-mail correspondents informed me about Seattle, North Carolina, Oregon and New Zealand.   All of this has helped me weather the pandemic to date.   So now, as noted above, here’s to a newer and better phase of the pandemic, one that will be closer to “normal.”

© Martin Green May 2021
 mgreensuncity at

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