There are some words being bandied about lately that I am getting tired of hearing. Like “essential.” They tell us that only “essential” businesses are allowed open, but some of those essential businesses are not essential to all of us. Like liquor stores or recreational pot shops.

We’re also told only to go out to do essential errands, and to buy only essential items. Despite these constant warnings, I still pretty much live the way I always do because I always only do essential errands, always only buy essential items. When one lives as austere a life as I do, when everything has been pared down to the basics, everything is essential. For example, today I went out and bought groceries. It is essential that I drive once a week to keep my ancient bug going, and today was the day, so went and got a few dollars’ worth of gas, which was essential so that I could get to the store where I bought such essential items as fruits, vegetables, as well as a bit of meat and cheese.


Some things are essential for good mental health, such as being with friends (even for those of us with hermit tendencies), but oh, no — that sort of essential thing is not allowed.

So, apparently, some essential things are not essential, and some non-essentials are essential. What a fiasco.

Another term I’m getting tired of is “social distancing.” It’s not the act that bothers me, but the term. In fact, I always prefer strangers — and sometimes even non-strangers — to keep their distance.

Today, when I entered the store, a young woman and her small daughter were nearing the entrance about the same time I was. Since she wasn’t stopping her forward rush, I paused six feet way from them so she could go on, but then she stopped and told me to go ahead. So I did. But instead of waiting until I was inside, both she and her daughter crowded me and went through at the same time. What was the point of that? Even if we weren’t dealing with the current regulations, it would have been rude.

Luckily, I won’t have to deal with such things for another week when it is again time to drive and get my “essential” errands done.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.


Today, I made a few drop biscuits. They aren’t on my diet, but it does seem that stay-in-place orders and a damaged knee are restrictive enough without adding food limitations to the equation.

For the most part, though, I’m okay despite these constraints. I’m not even very restless, perhaps because I’d be staying at home anyway to take care of my knee. Oddly — or not so oddly, actually — today my knee doesn’t pain me so much (though it still isn’t acting quite right) but the muscles above and below the knee as well as the uninjured knee all ache. Makes sense, of course. Because I’ve been walking abnormally, when I walk at all, other muscles have taken up the load and are being stretched beyond normal usage.

So many things that are a normal part of people’s lives, like eating out, don’t matter to me when they’re gone because I seldom visit such places anymore. (When I moved here, I left behind my lunch companion and haven’t reinstituted the practice with anyone else.) Nor am I craving Mexican food or pizza or other restaurant fare like so many are. I’m still using up the food around the house. Hence the biscuits.

It’s been interesting seeing how different people react to the various orders we’ve been given. Some people follow through, while others refuse to even acknowledge the directives, either because they’re young enough to feel invincible or are simply reckless.

Me? I’m the opposite of reckless. In fact, I’d be considered reckful, if there were such a word. I know there are many folks who would disagree — after all, I did take that cross-country trip in my ancient bug all my myself, and I did meet up with all sorts of people I knew only by their online presence. But that wasn’t reckless. I’d thought about all contingencies, reckoned on things going wrong and planned for them though of course I’d hoped for things to go right, and mostly, they did.

I’m especially reckful when it comes to my health, which is why I’m hunkered down at home rather than going to the doctor as so many have recommended I do. Health providers are taking people’s temperatures before letting them in the building, but that seems a bit reckless to me. Or else we aren’t being told everything we need to know about this current medical crisis. If people don’t show symptoms until perhaps two weeks after being exposed, then obviously, taking their temperature wouldn’t prove they aren’t infected. It only means the infection hasn’t shown up yet. And I’m supposed to trust that? I don’t think so.

This situation with the stay-at-home orders seems like an interesting sociological experiment, seeing what businesses are shut down and what aren’t. For example, doctors’ offices aren’t closed down, but chiropractors are. Huh? What about the people with bad backs who can’t function without these treatments? This stricture reminds me of the early years of chiropractic when one couldn’t speak of such “pseudo-doctors” without the hush of sacrilege touching people’s voices.

It also seems strange that churches are closed down, but recreational marijuana shops and liquor stores aren’t. I get the whole dissociating from other people thing, but still, the situation speaks ill of us as a people and what we consider necessary. I suppose, since I’m too reckful to get caught by either alcohol or pot usage, I’m also too naïve to understand why they are on the “essential” list. (To be fair, I don’t go to church, either, but I know a lot of people who do and who count on the weekly services.)

None of this affects me personally. I’ve always lived a stringent life, so such harsh measures don’t mean much to me.

Still, in my own reckful way, I’m being reckless. After all, the proof is in the biscuits.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.