June 15, 2020
It’s now been three months plus a few days since the last time I left my home county. I’ve put gas in my car once in that whole time rather than filling up a few times a month on my trips to Spokane to see friends as I was doing in the Before Time. One of the other things I’d do on those trips was stop by the Fred Meyer and buy a favorite breakfast cereal (Kashi Dark Cocoa Karma) that the stores up here don’t stock anymore. Last week I accepted it will probably still be quite a while before I go down there again and ordered five boxes of it from Target (I might have ordered more but the quantity dropdown on the website only went up to five). I have never ordered cereal online before. Chalk up another first for the time of pandemic.
While I couldn’t get that cereal at the store, I was recently able to buy my preferred toilet paper for the first time since the pandemic started, which feels like an important milestone. I almost missed the opportunity, though â€¦ only because I messed up and failed to notice that a bag with non-food items didn’t make it into my cart the day before was I even in the store the day they restocked. When I went back to the store to replace the missing items, I reflexively went down the TP aisle because that’s what I do now, check for TP even if it’s not on the list. And there it was, Charmin Ultra Strong. In six pack rolls, even. Hello, gorgeous, you are coming home with me.
It will be a while before I get to use that lovely Charmin, as the cupboard is stocked with the rag tag variety of off brands we’ve collected, a couple of single paper-wrapped rolls here, a four-pack of a brand I’ve never heard of there (several what I assume are Mexican brands have been showing up in stores here, with all Spanish on the labels â€¦ I’m sort of surprised there hasn’t been a letter to the editor about the immigrant TP given the xenophobes who dot the landscape here), some environmentally conscious bamboo stuff I almost literally stumbled upon sitting on a pallet in a random aisle of one of the grocery stores (this was early on, and the pallet was being minded by two store employees enforcing the one package per family limit). It’ll be even longer than it would have been in the Before Time, as one of my pandemic purchases was a peri bottle, which I’ve been using at home to reduce my TP consumption. I pee, I squirt, I blot dry with a washcloth I keep in that bathroom just for that purpose, I feel virtuous. I still use TP, of course â€¦ when I poop or forget about the bottle or am in the half bath downstairs. It’s definitely helped reduce my bouts of TP-related pandemic panic.
I haven’t gotten any use out of some of my other pandemic purchases, namely the rubbing alcohol and aloe vera gel I bought several bottles of over a few weeks early on. I thought hand sanitizer was going to be a bigger part of my life during this crisis, and didn’t have much of it around when stay at home started. Since it was impossible to buy then, I figured I could make my own if I just had the supplies, so I snagged them when I saw them until I had a quantity I felt was somewhat below what would mark me as a selfish hoarder (I think it ended up being two or three bottles of each). I haven’t touched them yet. The hand sanitizer we started with is not yet gone, which makes sense because we have been not going many places that would require us to use it. Ah well, I guess now I’m all set for the next crisis that requires hand sanitizer.
This past Saturday, Idaho moved into Stage 4 of reopening, the last stage on the plan, barely meeting the criteria established to do that (per this Idaho Statesmen article). Under Stage 4, as during previous stages, we’re still supposed to be practicing precautionary measures in public, but based on my observations during my grocery shopping, a lot of people aren’t doing that. Too many folks around who value their personal freedom more than they value the community. Like the group of super conservatives who took it upon themselves to mount a 4th of July celebration in town after the Lions Club announced they were not holding their traditional events this year due to the virus. This group claims their celebration is non-political and for the whole community, but they’re using a photo from one of the protests against the stay at home order as the header image for their Facebook group and event. One of the organizers had a hissy fit online when the local weekly quoted him joking about the liberals in town â€¦ apparently he wanted that to be off the record, though I don’t know why he thought that would make a difference given he regularly calls people who don’t agree with him “commies” in the comments of local Facebook groups. Mr. K and I may watch the fireworks from up on the mountain, but I’m staying the heck out of town, especially since the local “milita” has been emboldened lately, showing up with their black rifles to BLM protests in town, claiming they were protecting the community from antifa looters and rioters (of which there were none).
I’m not sure when I’ll feel comfortable being in large (or even not so large) groups of peole again. When there’s a vaccine? When the treatments are better? For now, I’m going to be keeping to the stay at home routine. One on one meetups with friends before I return to group stuff seems prudent but details are key. I’d rather not find out if I’m one of the people who struggle with COVID-19 for weeks or months and are left with long term effects.