Paeans and Peons

I went to the grocery store today. It’s not so much that I needed things, but I wanted to start my car. It’s been so hot, that even with the car being snug in its own little house, I thought it should be exercised. And oh! What a joy! No disconnecting all the buckles that hold on the car cover, no folding up the cover and stowing it before I could even get into the bug. All I had to do was unlock the garage, push a button to open the door and presto! Magic.

When I first found out the old garage would have to come down, I felt silly realizing a new garage would cost more that the car is worth, but then, there really is no price to be put on the freedom having a vehicle gives a person in our wheeled world. Now that the money is spent, I’m glad I had to do it — if the old garage had been fixed, I wouldn’t have my magic door. And I don’t begrudge spending my travel fund on the garage. As great as one last epic trip would have been, it doesn’t compare to the convenience of a garage, especially as I get older and feebler.

But I didn’t come here to write a paean to the garage gods. A sign on the door of the grocery store geared to us peons prompted this post.

According to the sign, by Colorado law, all peons (regular folks, not people engaged in a public safety role such as law enforcement, firefighters, or emergency medical personnel) over the age of ten must wear a mask when in public places. The only exception is if there is a medical reason why a person can’t wear a mask. But no one — not individuals, store workers or “the authorities” are allowed to question those without as mask as to their medical condition, so (again according to the sign) the assumption is that those without a mask have such a condition.

Huh? What sort of law is that? We peons have to wear a mask but if we don’t wear a mask, people are supposed to assume we don’t have to wear one? Which means that despite the law, no one has to wear a mask since no one can question why a person isn’t wearing one. Still, wearing a mask is the law, and even if it weren’t, in these Bob days, it’s the safe and courteous thing to do. Besides, it’s not something I want to fight about.

The other half of this law requiring people to wear masks also requires people to remove the mask if someone needs to verify who they are, because even a half-mask can mask a person. The person behind me in line wasn’t anyone I recognized, but when he said, “Hello, Ms. Pat,” I recognized his voice — he was the builder, a person I’ve seen almost every day for the past few weeks.

I found it interesting that as soon as I got out of the store, I removed the mask and when he left, so did he, though some people didn’t. Luckily, we’re not forced to wear masks outside unless that “outside” is a public place like a bus stop. And, even though people wear masks while driving alone, it’s not required. (Wearing a mask when one is alone seems silly to me because I don’t think you can give yourself The Bob, but what do I know.)

Even if it were required to wear masks out walking, it wouldn’t matter. With a single code enforcer in town, there’d be no one to enforce the law anyway.

Come to think of it, I should have stuck with the paean to my garage. It’s a lot less complicated than trying to make sense of this law, that’s for sure.


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


If People Lived Like Me

I went to the store today, not because I really needed anything, but because I had to drive my car. I did get a few essentials at the store, as well as a few non-essential (but healthy, or rather healthier) snacks, such as dried apricots and coconut chips.

The most difficult part about going shopping nowadays is to figure out what hat goes with a white surgical mask. I finally decided that a simple straw fedora with a black edging around the brim wouldn’t look too silly. I’m sure it wouldn’t matter if I didn’t wear a mask — none of the store employees would say anything, particularly since the check-out clerks are the only ones who wear them. And since a mask is for their protection, not mine — and since I know for a fact I don’t have The Bob (it’s impossible to catch something when you’re not around people) — it’s sort of silly, but then, wearing it for ten minutes a week isn’t going to kill me.

A friend stopped by last night with a gift of beets and he wore a mask, but by the time I opened the door barefaced, it was too late for me to run to get a mask. (Which, now that I think of it, came from him in the first place.)

Other than donning a mask for my infrequent forays out of my hermitage, my life really hasn’t changed much during the past couple of months, and I doubt it will change when everything is open again. I never did buy much more than essentials, anyway. Hardly ever went to a restaurant. Never went to a bar. Seldom went to any sort of gathering. Probably the only thing I’d do different is have someone over for tea.

I used to think the world would be a vastly different place if people lived like me, and now that they are (except for driving newer cars), it doesn’t seem any different. But then, it’s hard to know if things are different since I am among people so seldom.

I have liked driving to the local stores, though, rather than walking or going to a bigger store in a bigger town. (I take a short drive out into the country first because I don’t think it’s good to drive less than a mile, particularly since I only go out every five or six days.) Every time I drive around here, I get to have a conversation about my car, which is nice. And it’s good, I think, for people to associate me with the bug in case of roadside emergencies or some such.

So that was my day. How was yours?

PS: If you have a good recipe for fresh beets, let me know. Thank you!


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.


Quarantine Chronicles

The restrictions under which we are living, at least for those of us old enough to still be kept at home most of the time, are hard enough without adding dietary restrictions to the equation.

I’ve been doing well eating what I have on hand, using up all the things that have been in the refrigerator or freezer for a while, and buying mostly fruits and vegetables to round out the meals, but today I decided enough was enough. Although I usually don’t take my car out to do my few errands until Friday, today I grabbed my mask, fired up my bug and went to the grocery store. Except for employees, there were only a couple of other people in the store, so I was able to roam the aisles at my leisure looking for enticements.

I threw a small package of flour in the cart — well, I laid it softly in the cart so as not to break the package, but that doesn’t have the drama of throwing. The small package cost the same as the five-pounder, but I figure there was no sense in tormenting myself. I’ll make the biscuits and pierogi, as I planned, and then maybe I can go back to a more wholesome diet, though to be honest, the flour was the least of my splurges. I haven’t had ice cream in ages, but when I saw that a premium ice cream was on sale for less than half price, I figured that was a sign, so that, too ended up in my cart.

On the healthy side, I treated myself to a package of blueberries. I was thinking berries would be a sop to my healthy inclinations, but a small voice in the back of my head is chanting, “blueberry pancakes!”

Of course, considering how lazy I’m getting and how much work it takes to prepare anything, I might not get around to making any of those things. Maybe it will be enough to know that I could.

One thing I bought that I’m not sure I will use right away is yeast. It wasn’t on my list, but there has been a shortage of yeast on the grocery story shelves for so long that it seemed almost a sacrilege not to get it when it was offered. Depending on how disciplined I am and in which direction (ie: disciplined enough to stick to healthy foods or disciplined enough to cook what I bought) I might get ground beef and cabbage next week to make hamburger rolls (aka bierocks, runzas, or berokes).

Meantime, I still have leftovers to use up.

And thus ends this particular episode of my quarantine chronicles.


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.

There’s Always Something

The ornamental pear trees are in full bloom; consequently, so are my allergies. And oh, this is so not the time to have to deal with allergies. Even though there is zero chance that I have The Bob, I have to be especially careful to stay away from people because they don’t know my dry cough and difficulty breathing are from stuffed sinuses and not a virus.

Even worse from my standpoint is that the Colorado governor has asked everyone to wear masks, and anything covering my nose and mouth makes it even that much more difficult to breathe. Yep — so not the time to have to deal with allergies! If it becomes mandatory to wear a mask, I’ll use it for the few minutes I’m inside a store or around people, but other than that, it’s not feasible.

A list of what one can and cannot do during this time is circulating around the internet, and it says you’re not supposed to let anyone in your house — not parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, best friends. No one. And yet, that’s patently absurd. My toilet quit working, and since I can’t fix it myself, I had to have someone come into my house, which was a good thing. It turned out that the wax ring wasn’t the problem as we had surmised; instead, the whole flange was corroded, so much so that it was difficult for the bolts to be removed. It was also a job for two people. Certainly not a job for one woman who hadn’t a clue what she was doing.

Since these same two fellows were the very last people I’d seen, it didn’t worry me. If they had infected me, then I would be merely returning the favor.

But, as I said, there is zero chance of my having The Bob. Unless the conspiracy theorists are correct that the virus isn’t a virus but the body’s reaction to the new 5G network, there is no way for me to get it. No one in the county has it, and I haven’t been to any counties that do. And even if people here had it, I am hermitting, and haven’t seen anyone. Except for the people who fixed my toilet, of course.

I see photos of empty streets because of people being in lockdown, but that isn’t true here. Since people are allowed out to exercise, I frequently see small groups of people out walking their dogs or simply just walking. In fact, I see more people now out walking than I did before all this started. So, while other people are hoping this is all over soon so that they can be less alone, I am hoping it’s over soon so I can be more alone!

Still, whether people want to be around folks again or to see less of them, we’re all getting a little antsy. In my case, it’s still the knee more than anything else. I’m healed enough to walk now; I just can’t walk very far yet. But that will come.

Meantime, I have allergies to deal with.

There’s always something, isn’t there? I hope your “somethings” is as minor as mine are.


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.