“The Bob” Commentary

Social distancing might be holding in the over-60 population, at least to an extent, but it does not seem to concern the younger folk. Today I’ve seen more groups walking than I have in the year I’ve been here. I don’t know if that’s been the case all along since I’ve stayed inside babying my knee, but today I thought I should challenge myself, so I went outside for a short walk. (If 300 steps can be considered a walk.) I might have stayed out longer, but in that short time, one single walker and two closely-packed trios passed me. In all cases, I crossed the street to get away from them, but still, there they were.

Making matter worse, one of the guys horked up a wad of mucus in front of my house. Really? Really? I don’t understand people, and they sure as heck don’t understand health safeguards.

Needless to say, I took I wide berth around that mess, and came back inside where I am safe. (Just because I think there’s way too much hype over The Bob  doesn’t mean I don’t take precautions. In fact, I take these same precautions when it comes to any flu or other contagious disease. And I might as well admit it, I always cross the street to avoid people when I’m out walking unless I know them — it’s a leftover safety measure from when I lived in a big city.)

There are many loopholes in this stay-at-home order. Except for the closures — places where people obviously can’t go — they can go anywhere and do anything as long as they say they are taking a walk or getting essential items. Some people — couples and families — are going en masse to the stores that are open more as a recreational thing than because they really need the merchandise. And the early shopping hours for seniors are a joke — so many congregate outside the doors of places like Walmart, waiting to get in, that it seems to create more of a problem than it solves.

So why issue stay-at-home orders when it’s so easy to get around them? Well, I do know one reason — by establishing their locale as a scene of disaster, the local governments are positioning themselves for federal relief funds. But for the rest, who knows. There is much going on that we are not privy to.

Speaking of privy (chuckling at my wit here), I did some research on the toilet paper shortage.

I don’t know why no one is admitting that a percentage of our bathroom tissue is imported from China, but it is. (A Walmart employee told me that’s where their store brand comes from.) According to the Observatory of Economic Complexity: The top exporters of toilet paper are China ($2.84B), Germany ($2.78B), Japan ($1.67B), Poland ($1.4B) and Italy ($1.26B). The top importers are the United States ($2.29B), Germany ($1.79B), China ($1.43B), France ($1.33B) and the United Kingdom ($1.26B). So, as you can see — if you curtail the imports, there is a definite shortage. Even if the shortfall is only 10%, that shortfall soon escalates into a massive shortage as people try to stay ahead of their needs.

I’m shaking my head at myself. I had no intention of ever even mentioning any aspect of this current medical situation in my daily blog posts (190 days in a row as of today), but it is there. And it is hard to ignore.

Of course, if the guys would come and build my garage, I’d have something more exciting to write about. Meantime, there is just me, my computer, and vast numbers of articles and commentaries about The Bob flooding the internet streams. And now, with this blog, there is one more.

In case you’re sick of all this, here’s something to brighten your life: today is National Crayon Day. Happy coloring!


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.


Elderly Knee

Ten years ago when Jeff died, I was in the middle of middle age, and suddenly, according the statistics being bandied about because of this current health crisis, I am “elderly.” I’m not sure how that happened, but the truth is . . . hmmm. I don’t know what the truth is. Maybe that I am older than I think I am. Or maybe I really am old enough to be at risk.

I saw a post on Facebook the other day that said you know you’re old when all your injuries are a result of sleeping weird, and that sure hit home. A few days ago, I went to sleep feeling great with all parts working, and I woke with a knee so out of whack and I could barely walk. Then a wrong step a couple of nights ago made it worse. Though the knee is marginally better today, for which I am grateful, I am using my Pacerpoles as if they were canes to keep the weight off that knee as much as possible.

It makes me feel sad for those poor demoted hiking poles. As recent as eighteen months ago, they helped me to maneuver cliffside trails, trek through overgrown forest paths, descend scree-laden desert tracks.

Now the poles only serve to get me from room to room, and they don’t even do much of that. Mostly, I stay in one room. The daybed seems a bit easier to navigate with a bum knee since it has rails that I can use to pull myself up, and it’s a bit higher than my normal bed, so it puts less strain on my knee when I stand up.

Apparently, not only am I in the “stay at home or else” group, I’m also in the “stay in one room” group. Perhaps even the “stay in bed” group.

Sounds elderly to me.

Luckily, I have books so I don’t need to go anywhere even if I could. I should start my car to keep the gas circulated and the battery active, but the thought of having to uncover the vehicle and try to sidle into the seat without stress on the knee is too much for me to even contemplate.

And I have food. I had a few leftover tea cakes I’d made for the open house to celebrate my one-year anniversary of home ownership. I’ve been doing a good job of staying away from such treats, so I’d forgotten I had them. (Before my knee decided to go wonky on me, I’d given up deserts in an effort to lose weight to protect my knees, but my body seems to be more interested in protecting my weight than my knees.) I decided if I was going to die from a novel disease, I didn’t want to die with cake in my freezer. How sad would that be! So I ate it. And I made a stir fry with odds and ends in my refrigerator. As you can see, I’m doing fine on the food front.

Well, I’ve been sitting long enough. I better go rest my knee.

My poor elderly knee.


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.


It seems weird that at a time like this, when everyone’s life is interrupted, mine goes on as before without any major changes. Or any change, actually. For various reasons, I’d already stopped most of the activities I’d been involved in, and I hadn’t yet decided what new activities to try, so I’d been staying home even before it was recommended we stay at home.

Although there have been no cases of “The Bob” here, this county seems to follow along what Denver is doing, and Denver has issued a stay-at-home order for its residents that will be enforced. They are allowed to go the grocery store (and, I presume, work in those stores if they have a job), visit doctors, and go out to exercise and that’s sort of what I’ve been doing. Except I don’t have a doctor here. And I haven’t been braving the grocery stores. (I didn’t stock up on anything but a bit of tuna, so I’m just nibbling my way through leftovers and what little I do have.)

I have been trying to walk a bit every day, and I’ve been looking at videos on knee exercises because I tweaked my knee while sleeping one night, and it hasn’t yet gone back to normal.

And I have been going to sit with a sick friend occasionally when her husband needs to be away. (Yep. Living dangerously!)

The library is closed, and the latest I heard was that all services were suspended, maybe even the quick exchange of books they’d once promised, but I do have emergency books — a stash of unread paperbacks and a Nook with books I would only read in an emergency.

One thing I have been doing differently is experimenting with something I’d once planned to do but never quite got around to doing— using a pee rag. It’s something I learned when preparing for a backpacking trip, and I don’t see why it wouldn’t work inside, too, especially since there is only me here (and especially since I haven’t seen a package of Charmin in the stores for weeks now).

Other than that, the only change in my life is:

That’s right! A daffodil!!

Such a sweetly ordinary thing to see.

Wishing us all the ordinariness we once took for granted.


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.