Everyone living under “stay-in-place” orders, formerly known as house arrest, shares in common a sense of isolation, but otherwise, our experiences are unique. While I live alone as the caretaker of my daughter’s four-bedroom home, which we hope to put on the market this spring, you may live with an abundance of relatives or friends. During my house arrest, I have tried to stay upbeat; like some of my friends, you may belong to the doom-and-gloom school. At any rate, here are some lessons I’ve learned and ways I’ve endured the CCP virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.
Singing. I’ve discovered I can still belt out a tune. A house empty of most of its furniture nicely amplifies the voice, and as I putter about, making coffee, washing dishes, or packing up for the inevitable moving day, I sometimes sing. And I mean I sing LOUD! Old show tunes learned as a child from my mother’s record collection, songs from the 1960s and 1970s, the lyrics of some classic American folk songs: they pop into my head, and I roar them out. Andrea Bocelli, step aside.
Solitaire. A bout of solitaire a couple of times of day eases the mind and passes the time. I started two weeks ago with a deck of cards purchased from Dollar General, and that pack is now looking a trifle worn. The minor triumph of winning a game brings a smile.
Contacts and Encounters
Telephone. To break up the silence, I’ve spent more time on the phone, calling my children, my siblings, and a few friends. Though I never took any particular pleasure in talking by phone, it has helped keep me sane and in touch with the outside world.
Meaningful gestures. Yesterday, having grown weary of the house, I drove into town and picked up a few items at the grocery store, where I softly sang or whistled my way through the aisles, hoping to bring some cheer to both masked and unmasked shoppers, though it’s more likely they found me either annoying or gone round the bend. Afterward, I headed to the library to return some books. The library’s closed, of course, but one of the librarians spotted me at the return bin, came outside, and chatted for a few minutes. When you are as alone as I am, such a simple conversation becomes an event.
Laundry. My most detested household chore is doing the laundry. I’m not sure why, but there it is. Since my daughter and her family departed last August, I’ve taken my dirty duds to a local laundromat, where two loads cost me $8. Ten days ago, when I arrived there with my bin of clothing and towels, the employees were restricting the number of customers who could enter their establishment. I then did something I’d only done once before while on an extended stay in Rome; I left the washing to the employees. When I picked up my bin the next day, all my clothes were washed and nicely folded. Total cost: Only $12.
Whoo-hoo! I’m never doing my own laundry again.
With this exception: the laundromat is now closed for two weeks, perhaps longer. So I will probably do laundry after all, only this time in the upstairs bathtub.
Models and a Mother Scorned
Models. Remember all the modeling done by “experts” in regard to climate change? If those folks are as off-base at predicting the future as the ones who first presented models for the CCP virus—one of them told us with authority that the virus would kill 2.2 million Americans—then climate change is bogus. From now on, the only models that interest me are car and airplane kits for my grandkids.
Mother Nature. It’s pleasant in the morning to stand on the back deck, hear wild turkeys far and away, listen to the trumpeting of geese as they fly overhead, and see an occasional deer at the edge of the lawn. It’s less pleasant to find that mice and rats have taken up quarters in the garage, thanks to a missing piece of cushion on the bottom of the garage door. The rodents and I are at war, and I’m confident of victory, but yuck, yuck, yuck.
And given that “Mother Nature” with her microbes is why I’m stuck in this house in the first place, I am hereby stripping her of that maternal title. From now on, it’s Nature pure and simple. Hit the trail, Mom.
Codgers and Flicks
Old guys. Some of the essayists I read online are, like me, nearer the top of life’s ladder than the bottom. And like me, they believe the time has come to get out of the house and back to real life. In “Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are,” the 73-year-old Vanderleun writes that he could “quite well be taken by this CCP monster,” but nevertheless sounds the charge: End The Quarantine.
I’m right beside you, buddy.
Old movies. Though I have written and published a book on films, “Movies Make the Man,” in the last three years, I have watched few movies. I don’t subscribe to any special film services, I can’t remember the last time I was in a movie theater, and my usual source for movies, the public library, is closed.
But just before Easter, I went exploring on YouTube and hit the jackpot. “Good Morning, Miss Dove,” which I have long wanted to see; “Cheers for Miss Bishop,” which was new to me, and “Portrait of Jennie,” which I had seen before and enjoyed just as much on this go-round: watching movies such as these brings a nice end to the day. All are well acted, the stories are real, everyone keeps their clothes on, and no one curses. It’s like time traveling back to my childhood.
Dictators and Demagogues
Communism and dictators. The CCP—the Corrupt and Con Party—brought this pandemic into the world. Anyone anywhere who believes that the CCP merits any sort of respect or who still finds some good in communism should be laughed out of the room.
In our own country, miniature dictators have also leapt to the helm, promising to steer the ship of state while stealing liberties and ruining lives. With the possible exception of Michigan, whose governor has committed numerous outrages, nowhere is this more true than in my own state of Virginia, where Democrat Governor Northam has crowned himself king. In her article, “Is Virginia’s Authoritarian Governor Overstepping His Powers?” Marina Medvin answers that question with a strong affirmative, asserting that Northam ignored data showing that the state might get back to work. Instead, on April 15, he ordered Virginians to continue to stay at home for another three weeks, leaving more businesses to be wrecked, more people to be unemployed, and more lives to be shattered.
Someday, when all of this mess is past us, my grandchildren may ask me, “What did you do in the Great Pandemic of 2020, Grandpa?” I will tell them, “Kids, I fought the good fight by singing, playing solitaire, opposing dictators at home and abroad, and snagging mice.”
A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.
Jeff Minick has four children and a growing platoon of grandchildren. For 20 years, he taught history, literature, and Latin to seminars of homeschooling students in Asheville, N.C. Today, he lives and writes in Front Royal, Va. See JeffMinick.com to follow his blog.