May 2020 in Review

(Zoom graduation!)

As my long-time followers will already know, May is always a tough month for me between the weather getting insanely hot and my personal PTSD issues. It was particularly tough this month as quarantine stretched into its third month, with all five of us cooped up day in and day out in this house. The kids have been at home daily for longer than the average summer break, and summer break has just begun. Everyone is stepping on each other’s nerves and struggling a bit with the new reality. Thankfully, we got through school okay – a question, as at one point Ambrose was set to fail several classes because he hates online school, and some of those classes were necessary for him to graduate. Whew! Now we just need to make it until August, when hopefully everyone will get to return to school like normal.

Reading and Watching
I’m still majorly in a book slump. I did manage two books this month, both by the same author: The Sun Down Motel and Broken Girls by Simone St James. They hit on the creepy/paranormal streak I’ve been on for months, so they were perfect for me right now. In TV/movies, my family watched Onward (pretty good) and Wendy (interesting with an ending I disliked), and I binged-watched Upload, a show I found fascinating (and ended on a MAJOR cliffhanger!).

Just like in the last few months, these are mostly on hold due to covid and quarantine protocols. We did make some good progress on our financial goals, though. Not only have we been able to make a few extra payments into our consolidation loan (paid it down by almost a quarter of the total), we decided to borrow from our 401K to pay it off completely. This will decrease our bi-weekly paycheck by about the same amount as our minimum payment to the consolidation loan, but it’ll get paid off much quicker and with only a 4% interest rate as compared to an 11% rate. We’re also now looking to refinance our cars, which have insane interest rates that should/could be much lower. And while quarantine is hard on us mentally, it has been really good for finances – less impromptu work lunches out, far less gas costs and mileage on the cars, less eating out generally, less “fun spending” like movies. Jason’s team has been told they’re work-from-home until September minimum, so we plan to make good use of the savings to pay off as much debt as possible.

I also finished Couch to 5K this month, which was a pretty big accomplishment!! I’ll talk about this a bit more in a future post.

As mentioned above, this is the worst time of year for me between PTSD triggers, school ending, and the rising heat. I have not coped the best this May, though I’m proud to say that my insistence on substituting iced coffee for wine over the last six months has paid off, and my triggered anxiety no longer made me long to lull the feeling with alcohol. Yeah, I drink way too much iced coffee, but that’s a far better habit to have.

I didn’t do as much running as I wanted in May, mostly due to insanely hot/humid mornings and the massive amounts of rain/flooding this month. Pre-quarantine, I used to run around my living room on foul-weather days, but with everyone home, I can really only do that in my bedroom, and the small space makes that difficult. I really need to transition to indoor exercise generally for the space of the next few months, and I’m finding that hard. I like walking and running and hiking outdoors.

So things didn’t go quite as well as I’d have liked them to in May. I’d planned to track calories, but only managed to do so about 2/3rds of the time. I only managed 20 days of exercise, for a total of just under 13 hours. My mileage was pitiful – only 24 miles – but that’s what happens when you have to hide from the temps. (I need a treadmill!) I certainly did a lot more strength training this month than in previous months, thanks to reintroducing yoga as well as taking up boxing and some attempts at calisthenics. But generally, I’m just “holding steady” (literally weighed in the same to the ounce from 1st to 1st) and trying to take care of my mental health more than my physical health as quarantine approaches its 100th day in June.

Highlights of May
May is one of those months where it’s often hard to see the positive purely because I’m stuck in my own head. I tend to withdraw from the world more than I should, and see too little around me. I have to make a concerted effort to look at the positives. My daily photo project in 2020 is helping – I’m able to look back on images, and I’m making more effort to notice things on an everyday basis – so here is what I saw as highlights this month.

  • discovering Rae Carson has another book released in the Girl of Fire and Thorns world
  • my new Everpillow and Baloo weighted blanket
  • a much-needed chiropractor visit
  • xeriscaping the first part of my front yard
  • yard meetups with various friends and family
  • donating blood
  • fire pit nights with the family
  • a lovely Mother’s Day weekend
  • Morrigan got a new iphone SE so he joined Harry Potter Wizards Unite!
  • Ambrose and Laurence finished their AP tests and the rest of school, so school is 100% done until August!
  • all the various Zoom parties for graduations, birthdays, and weddings
  • boxing!!
  • binge-listening to the RLGS Patreon backlog
  • discovering lemonade cold brew
  • finishing C25K with Jason by my side

Coming up in June
My hiking group is reopening hikes in June, limited to five people each with masks and social distancing required. I’m sooooooo grateful for that. Even though it’s a bit of a risk, I need this so much for my mental and physical health. Our libraries will begin to open for curbside pickup in mid-June, which also makes me so happy. This book slump has gone on too long, and I know the libraries can help with this! One day, I’d really like to begin volunteering there again since I was unable to do so as planned re: covid. Other than that, we’re not planning much. Still hunkering down and trying to stay safe as the world goes mad around us!

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Sunday Coffee – Hail the Graduate

Fun little family history: My mom was born in 1957, and she graduated high school in 1975. I was born in 1979, and graduated high school in 1997. My middle son, Ambrose, was born in 2002, and he’s graduating in 2020. Ironically, there’s a good chance that he won’t carry on the tradition. He’s aromantic and uninterested in any kind of relationship, and definitely doesn’t want to have children. But I still think it’s a fun little accidental “tradition” in my family!

Class of 2020, though, eh? What a year to graduate! But all things considered, if one of my three children had to graduate in a year where they didn’t get to see their friends to say goodbye, they had no graduation ceremony, and the last few months of the school year were chaotic, Ambrose is definitely the best option. He has good relationships with his in-person friends online (Discord! Minecraft servers! Tik Tok! Text chat groups!) and doesn’t feel the need to be in personal contact with them. Prom, summa awards, senior awards, etc didn’t matter to him. He was never interested in the graduation ceremony and wanted to skip it anyway. In fact, the only thing that has bothered him about any of this was missing the last few months of the ping pong club he accidentally started** and having to do online school (which he hates).

These last few months of lackadaisical learning and not-really-turning-in-assignments notwithstanding, Ambrose is graduating as a summa student and is planning to go to one of the local community colleges that have a baking associates degree. As parents, Jason and I are trying to adapt to the lack of finality that usually comes with a graduating senior’s various ceremonies. Today we’re hosting a Zoom graduation party for him, where Jason insists we play too-many-repetitions of Pomp and Circumstance while Ambrose is forced to wear the horrid graduation gown for the camera. Ha! Last weekend, we took him down to the school to get a few grad-photos. We let him choose how quirky they would be, so in addition to his cap and gown and summa cord, he’s wearing flip-flops and his gold cloak. Because Ambrose.

It’s been a weird year. But regardless, we’re very proud of Ambrose and all he’s done in his school career – especially outside the traditional academic achievements. He’s saved all his earned and gifted money for years instead of spending it, learning how to budget for the future and items he particularly wants. He started clubs and gathered groups of friends who would be considered unpopular outsiders in most schools, and made them notorious and popular in unconventional ways. He has become a district-wide legend as “that kid who wears the cloaks,” and people spot him and point him out at UIL, sports events, etc. Ambrose has participated in UIL for various math and science categories for most of high school, and he was nominated this last year for homecoming and prom king. He’s kind to his classmates, has kept a sense of individuality that often gets dulled in a public school setting, reports bullies (of him or others) without hesitation, and been part of many clubs/groups from National Art Honor Society to German Club. And of course, he probably knows more about Star Wars than anyone I’ve never known, down to minutia of individual TV series and books, and editing Wookipedia articles. Heh.

Ambrose is an awesome kid. He’s got the best sense of humor of anyone I know, often in subtle ways that take a moment to register. He’s confident, willing to take risks, and ready to be out in the world on his own, in his own weird way. He’s awesome.

Congrats to you, Ambrose. Class of 2020 has a really good one in you.

**At the beginning of his senior year, Ambrose texted a code to Remind to join one of his classes, but got one number wrong in the code. He accidentally joined a ping pong club at some other school, and he thought it was so funny, he started telling people that he was in the ping pong club. It was a joke at first, but it turned out that his physics teacher loved ping pong. Ambrose, his close friends (known as the “sauce squad”), and this teacher began the club, shoving together science lab tables as ping pong tables. Over the months, the ping pong club grew to have dozens of members, and would often go on until after 7pm on Wednesdays as they had tournaments. By the time spring break came around and quarantine ended, they were talking about having to split tournaments due to too many participants. Ping pong became one of Ambrose’s favorite things in the world, and in typical Ambrose fashion, it didn’t matter how good he was. He just enjoyed it for the fun.

Note: This post was pre-drafted before the current protests began. My heart is so heavy right now, and I know that it’s not even the slightest fraction of what someone without my privileges goes through on a daily basis. Nothing in our country is okay right now. I don’t talk very often about politics on this blog, but I couldn’t not address this. I stand as an ally in every way I can – vocally, financially, and with a determination to learn more so that I can root out any blindness or bias in myself. My heart is heavy for the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the countless others who have been attacked and/or lost their lives due to the color of their skin.

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Quarantine Diaries – Week 11

It has been a whirlwind week, with the end of school, Morrigan applying for summer jobs (in this environment – eek), lots of virtual parties, and tons of insane weather. Summer is here, whether we like it or not (not, in the case of south Texas – 100+ degrees is NOT FUN, and we’ve already had those days earlier than normal). And people are pretending that the virus is gone. We’re about to enter some very dark times. You know this tarot card that says everything is fine? Everything is not fine. Not in the world, not in the country, not with this virus, not at home. Everything is not fine.

Note:  If your mental health is at a point where you cannot bear to hear more about quarantine stuff, skip to the bottom of this post for a list of positives and highlights and Nice Things. We all need some of that right now!

This Week in Numbers
We ended last week with 2371 cases and 64 deaths. This week continued not only with another large jump in our numbers, but a continuation of the steady increase in hospitalizations we’ve had all month. Hospitalization numbers can’t be attributed to more testing or asymptomatic folks, so the steady increase all month is a worrisome sign (one that the city officials also agree is worrisome). By Wednesday, we had the highest number of hospitalized folks we’ve had so far, and that went even higher yesterday. Sigh.

  • Friday, May 22nd: 2392, 66 deaths
  • Saturday, May 23rd: 2418, 66 deaths
  • Sunday, May 24th: 2442, 69 deaths
  • Monday, May 25th: no data – holiday for city officials
  • Tuesday, May 26th: 2480, 69 deaths
  • Wednesday, May 27th: 2525, 70 deaths
  • Thursday, May 28th: 2583, 71 deaths

So that puts us at a total of 212 cases this week, and a total of 7 deaths. It’s a slight drop in case numbers, but a peak in hospital cases, and the largest weekly death total we’ve had except for that first nursing home outbreak.

This Week in San Antonio
In the same trend that’s been happening for all of May, the state governor decided that we don’t need to wait on real data to continue opening things up. He removed all air travel quarantine restrictions that have been in place for months. He also announced reopening of water parks (indoor and outdoor), driver’s ed programs, and food-court dining areas. Some of those reopened businesses – like driver’s ed programs – make social distancing impossible, and there’s still no mask requirement, just a “suggestion.” Basically, there is very little that isn’t openable here in Texas – pretty much arts concert halls and arcades and maybe thrift stores? I’m not even sure about the last one. And this comes amid giant outbreaks in certain parts of Texas (like the meat-packing plants in the panhandle) and the steady rise over the last month of hospitalizations in metro areas across the state, not just San Antonio.

(my meagre attempt to help the economy)

Unfortunately, the situation is being compounded by the high levels of unemployment – reports indicated that we went from 4% in March to 14% in April – and by the state blocking efforts by our local officials to continue to provide housing guarantee to renters (evictions can resume in June, the state says). Things are becoming overtly politicized here, as far as an idiotic county politician announcing this week that COVID19 is a democratic hoax to discredit Trump, and telling people that to be republican is to take off your masks and refuse to use social distancing. Sigh. She’s not the first person to say all this of course, but it still makes me so angry.

Can I just take a moment here to address the rational side of human beings, regardless of your political leanings? Please, stop listening to politicians of all parties. Please, stop listening to the media regardless of whether you lean left or right. Find someone you know and trust who works in the medical industry: a doctor, a nurse, a janitor, a secretary in a clinic, a security guard in a nursing home; it doesn’t matter – just a person in close contact to medical facilities that are dealing with COVID19 on a daily basis. Talk to that person, talk to several people, and learn the truth of the seriousness of this virus. Get their recommendations and follow them, NOT politicians or media pundits. Let’s take the politics out of this discussion. Please.

Other noteworthy news from this week: We’re starting to see MIS-C show up in kids who have been exposed to COVID19, regardless of whether or not they actually contracted COVID19. // There have been reports of changes in rat behavior in urban areas due to limitations on the amount of garbage restaurants can throw out – the rats have taken to cannibalism and eating their young, as well as aggressive behavior toward humans, in their search for food. // Local restaurants have begun putting meat surcharges on meals due to virus-related meat shortages, and the cost of beef has tripled in stores.

On a personal note, I wanted to have a little rant against our country judge, who participates in the daily news briefs regarding COVID. The man is old and a bit out of date with modern data, and keeps saying stupid stuff like we don’t know how asymptomatic folks spread the virus (we do!). At least once a week he goes on a rant where he fat-shames people and blames those with underlying metabolic health conditions for their situation. He genuinely believes that overweight and obese people are just lazy and negligent of their health, and says this virus – and the fact that it’s worse for people with underlying conditions – should be a wake-up call for those of us who “refuse” to take care of our health. It makes me want to punch someone (aka him), especially when he also discusses where he eats out every single day as his contribution to the economy. How is THAT taking care of his health? The man is lucky enough to have good genes, while some of us work our butts off at eating right and exercising a lot and STILL suffer from obesity and metabolic disorders. Ugh.

This Week at Home
School officially ended yesterday, though my boys finished last week with the last of their AP tests. Thankfully, neither of them had items at the school to get from lockers and such. They did have to do a book drop-off for textbooks and library books, and Laurence needed to pick up his yearbook. Some other student who clearly wasn’t paying attention got in line right behind us at the school, not observing the six-foot rule. Laurence turned around, surprised to see her right behind him, and stared at her until she realized and backed away. He wasn’t intending this, he was just surprised, but it made me laugh. We also took solo graduation photos of Ambrose this week, and will be having a Zoom grad party for him on Sunday.

Speaking of Zoom parties, we had quite a few of them this week. My sister-in-law’s boyfriend just got his bachelor’s degree, and we had a Zoom party for him. On the weekend, Jason and I attended a live-streamed wedding for one of his co-workers. In a couple days, we’ll have a Zoom birthday party for my nephew’s first birthday.

Not all has been virtual, though – I got to meet up with my dad, stepmom, and sister this week at their house (yard!) over the weekend, and then my mom and stepdad came over on Wednesday to have a yard hangout here. It’s the first time I’ve seen my mom since January! I’m glad there were enough breaks in the storms we had this week (hail, tornado over our house…) that we could arrange that meetup!

(my awful attempt to get a pic of all of us at once!)

Sadly, my mom did relay a bit of news that I find disturbing. First: My aunt is re-opening her private daycare/school in June, and even though the state has mandated that school employees wear masks, she’s already told the parents enrolling their kids that she and my mom (her other teacher) will not be wearing them under any circumstances. OMFG I want to scream. Second, my mom declared this week that she and my stepdad would not be getting a COVID vaccine for a few years. They’ll let “other people” be guinea pigs for it. Shouldn’t surprise me – she’s anti flu vaccine too. Oh, my family…

Positives and Highlights and Nice Things
Many of my happy things this week were already discussed above (Zoom parties, yard hang-outs, grad photos, etc). Here are some other nice things from the week:

  • given that my hiking group is setting up tiny hikes again in June, I ordered two more Buff face masks because they are so much better than traditional masks for exercise!
  • making fun sketch/drawn goals for the summer break
  • awesome deals at Torrid! (Even better, discovering that the dress I bought has POCKETS!!)
  • getting my boxing area set up (thank you Jason!) and feeling like a badass when I throw punches
  • having safe spaces to shelter –> when the tornado rolled over us, plus not getting any damage to the house/yard during the tornado or hail storms
  • playing Scattergories with the boys using all-new-made-up categories
  • live-streamed yoga practice (Yoga With Adriene)
  • uptick in Wowbrary items through the library system

How are the rest of y’all holding up? It’s been a bad week throughout the US (both with the virus and beyond it), and I hope people are okay. Sending y’all love and hugs.

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Wellness Wednesday – Processing Stored Trauma

Last week, I posted this on Instagram and Facebook. It’s long, so I’ve just included a screenshot. I know that might be difficult to read, but I’ve linked out to the public post on Instagram if you wanted to see the original. I apologize for the length, but this post leads me in to the discussion I wanted to have today about trauma stored in the body.

Last year, I read Burnout by Emily and Amelia Nagoski. It changed my understanding of trauma response, specifically in terms of fight, flight, or freeze. In the past, I’ve considered these all as stress responses. Jason, for instance, has an unconscious fight response when confronted by extreme stress. (Example: Once my former brother-in-law thought it would be a funny joke to sneak up on us at a mall and grab Ambrose – then aged 9 – and run, as if he were a kidnapper. Before Jason even registered what was happening, he’d turned and nearly punched him, despite Jason being the most passive, non-fighting kind of person around.) Others have a flight response. When Ambrose sees a spider, for instance, he immediately runs regardless of whether “fight” is a more rational instinct. My stress response has been “freeze” ever since I can remember (maybe aged seven? eight?) and that has only gotten worse over time.

In Burnout, the Nagoski sisters explain that “freeze” isn’t a trauma response, an action, but is instead the opposite, a helpless lack-of-response. If an animal is confronted by a predator, they either run or fight that predator, but if neither fighting nor fleeing is an option, you play dead. This is “freeze.” As an animal, if the ruse works and you don’t end up as a meal, you can later run away safe and essentially complete the trauma cycle. All kinds of trauma can get stuck in your body if the cycle isn’t completed, and a freeze response to stress that could warrant a flight/flight reaction is an indication of deeply- and long-held trauma in your body.

As I said in the post above and in previous blog entries, I have an automatic freeze response and a lot of stored trauma (something I knew even before I learned that “freeze” wasn’t the same physical process as fight/flight). And I want to get rid of it. I don’t like having years-old trauma haunting me with random feelings of grief and anxiety and fear that don’t match my current-day situation. Burnout talked about different ways to complete the trauma cycle and release old stored emotions. The one that struck me at the time of reading was running. (Hence my screenshot post above.) It makes sense – an animal confronted by a predator will run. It’s a physical reaction, and when you complete a run, your body goes through a whole series of physical and hormonal changes. When I took up running again, I didn’t know if it really would help excise old trauma stored in my body, but I also knew it wouldn’t hurt.

I’ve gone out running roughly 25-30 times in 2020 (I’ve never been terribly consistent!). Additionally, I’ve gone on a lot of walks and hikes (especially pre-quarantine), as well as other exercise (yoga, dancing, strength training, whatever – I’m kind of an eclectic exerciser). What I’ve found is that during/after certain workouts, I’m flooded afterwards with rolling waves of some kind of hormone (I won’t pretend to have a clue which kind) that makes me feel lighter and happier, as if I’ve sloughed something off. This has always happened after some workouts, but I’ve become more in tune with the reaction since reading Burnout, and I hope that this is helping me to release stored trauma.

And I wonder if perhaps now is the time to get out my boxing gloves and add a fight-based exercise to the mix, too. It couldn’t hurt, right?

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Summer Break Quarantine Goals

I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t take any excuse to make goals, would I? Ha!

Well, the boys are out for the summer, even though officially the school year doesn’t end until Thursday afternoon. Their AP tests are done, their finals – if they even had finals – are over, and all graded work had to be in last week. Everyone is out for the summer! Not that it makes much difference, given that they’ve all been home since mid-March, but we’re officially into summer break now, and that means GOALS.

A few years ago, I bought a sketchbook and began a new way of doing things. I drew out a title page – Cultivate a Life I Love – and began to draw out mini-sketches of things I wanted to do or experience in life. It was like a sketchbook bucket list and planner wrapped into one, and included everything from places I wanted to travel, to short-term plans, to house renovations and loose sketches of my happy place. See the link above for pictures of many of my little sketches.

Life has changed a lot over the last two years. Some of the short-term goals I made in May 2018 are no longer applicable (like “I want to do these by my cruise in September 2018”), and of course I’ve moved houses so all the renovation stuff has changed. I’ve also entered a very different place mentally, which is a really huge step forward. This weekend, I decided to revamp the sketchbook, as a rolling “new start.” Instead of “Cultivate a Life I Love,” I called this “The Impossible Dream,” as a tribute to What Alice Forgot, which helped me so much through my ghost-trauma last year in May.

Many of my goals are the same, and instead of re-sketching, I simply referred back to the old pages and left blank space for new sketched goals in the same categories. And because I tend to get really excited about things like “new starts” and “new goals” and “new plans,” I made myself a sketch-page for goals over this summer break through quarantine. Because of course.

Goals for this summer break (5/23 through 8/17) include:

  • Finish the Real Life Ghost Stories Patreon backlog
  • Finish Couch to 5K (three runs to go!)
  • Finish my Yoga With Adriene backlog (~45 sessions, going back to April 2019 eek!)
  • Complete at 100% my 20-20 in 2020 Goals in June and July
  • Finish the next phase of xeriscaping the front yard (which includes digging, leveling, and paving a path and seating area)
  • Build a cat wall (for scratching!)
  • Print photos for frames and birthday coasters
  • Apply to SNHU for the fall semester
  • Go on four (or more!) dates with Jason
  • Go swimming (if possible – this can be nixed depending on covid)
  • Finish my running board (for bibs, medals, motivation, etc)
  • Play Just Dance with the boys
  • Go to a new-to-me location
  • Try a new-to-me fitness or workout
  • Support a local small business (or more than one!)
  • Throw a virtual graduation party for Ambrose
  • Start learning Spanish again
  • Crochet a bag for my Modern Witch Tarot Deck (not pictured)

These include a bit of everything – some fun, some career-oriented, some fitness-related, some creative, some for mental health. They may not all get finished, and I might add more sketches to the blank space at the bottom, but I’ll check in after August 17th (the supposed start date for next semester) to let y’all know how I did (or if I completely forget to pay attention to this at all…)

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Sunday Coffee – Life Without the Library

Every Saturday, I log into my feed-reader to find hundreds of new entries. My library system uses Wowbrary, an RSS feed for newly-ordered books, which updates weekly. I don’t subscribe to the whole of the SAPL system’s new books – that would be thousands and thousands, and I’m not insane! Instead, I subscribe to specific subcategories: Fiction, Audiobooks, DVDs, Young Adult, and Science Fiction/Fantasy. With Wowbrary, I discover when the library has ordered books I’ve been looking forward to, and get myself on the Hold list ASAP. I also discover books I’ve never heard of before, regardless of whether or not I’m interested in reading them. The first year I spent away from San Antonio, I removed my SAPL Wowbrary feeds, and the local library system didn’t use Wowbrary. A few months after the move, I was in a book store and didn’t recognize most of the books on the shelves. That’s when I realized just how valuable the SAPL Wowbrary feed was for me, even if I couldn’t take advantage of the particular library system.

(library landscape)

Y’all know I’m a HUGE fan of libraries and the library system here in San Antonio. I’ve talked about it for years. I don’t buy books I haven’t read except in very special circumstances, and the library is how I fill that gap. Library first is my book motto. Which means the last few months have been hard! In more ways than I anticipated.

So, yes, the library is closed. This means the regular stuff you’d imagine: I can’t pick up my holds that have been there since mid-March. None of the books I ordered before then are moving up in the Hold queue, since no one else can pick up and read their books, either. I have a book on my desk that has been sitting here for months even though I decided it’s not for me, because the drop boxes are closed. I’ve had to order more ebooks, which I’m not generally a fan of reading. I miss the librarians and the folks at the checkout counter of my local branch, who all know me by name. There are no walking events, no Harry Potter Wizards Unite community gatherings, no book clubs, no teen game time, no picking up local newsletters or resources, etc. Just the simple act of walking through rows of books to browse, or checking out the Express shelf for recent items, is highly missed!

But there was one thing I hadn’t really anticipated, though I should have. There’s been almost no Wowbrary activity in months.

It makes sense. I’ve recently found out that many book release dates are being delayed for multiple reasons. Plus, the library isn’t open to receive purchases, so they aren’t ordering very much. I don’t know all the ins and outs of what employees are doing right now – how many are working from home or furloughed etc. Either way, most weeks there’s been maybe five to ten books come through Wowbrary, sometimes only in a single category, and there hasn’t been a single week where books have come through in all five categories that I follow. It’s been a little sad and makes me feel a bit like I’m in a book desert. (Actually, it reminds me of the year I lived in rural Wisconsin, when it took weeks to get books from the library once requested, and when I was so happy and grateful that my library’s branch manager here in San Antonio updated my account so that I could still get ebooks and e-audiobooks from SAPL while I lived there!! They’re the best librarians ever!!)

Yesterday, about a hundred books came through Wowbrary in three of my five RSS feeds. Several were releases from April that I’d been looking forward to, that my library was finally able to order. It’s a good sign! But a better sign is that some of the books weren’t new at all. I saw orders for ebook copies of Germinal, and The World According to Garp, and Cold Comfort Farm. The San Antonio library system is preparing to begin reopening sometime in the near future, and the upswing in orders indicates to me that the action is underway. More orders – and more ebook orders – speak to changes and adaptation.

(my book club at the library, 2012)

I’m excited. The world isn’t as wonderful without libraries. Don’t misunderstand – I want the employees to be safe and I don’t want to open up rashly or too soon. I’m perfectly happy to have digital books or curbside service or whatever we have to do to keep folks safe. But I’m also not going to lie and say that walking into my local branch of the library isn’t going to be similar to moving back to San Antonio after our year in Boston or Wisconsin. The library is my second home, and I’ve missed it.

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Quarantine Diaries – Week 10

I’m changing around the format of this as we’ve passed the two-month mark under quarantine and less is changing on a day-by-day basis. It’s still important to me to track all this, especially as the state government forces us all to open everything up and (I predict) then cause a major spike in illnesses, but I’m going to split it up into categories rather than days.

Same caveat applies, though: If your mental health is at a point where you cannot bear to hear more about quarantine stuff, skip to the bottom of this post for a list of positives and highlights and Nice Things. We all need some of that right now!

This Week in Numbers
Our local health team took a much needed break over the weekend – literally their first break since mid-March – so there was a bit of catch-up in the numbers on Monday and beyond. The city also changed its website, supposedly to make it more user-friendly, but really they just succeeded in putting all the info onto multiple pages instead of one. Ah well. It just means I have a few “no data” days. Also, with asymptomatic testing happening now, there’s been no recovery data since the 15th. It makes sense, as it would be really difficult to count “recoveries” for people who never had any symptoms.

  • Friday, May 15th: 2120, 62 deaths, 1071 recoveries
  • Saturday, May 16th: No data
  • Sunday, May 17th: No data
  • Monday, May 18th: 2213, 62 deaths
  • Tuesday, May 19th: 2278, 62 deaths
  • Wednesday, May 20th: 2322, 63 deaths
  • Thursday, May 21st: 2371, 64 deaths

Totals for the week unfortunately are quite high – 330 new cases and another 5 deaths. I don’t know how much of this can be attributed to asymptomatic testing and how much is due to the early reopening and willful ignorance of people refusing to use masks.

This Week in San Antonio
On Monday, the governor announced his next phase of opening the state, which included specific opening dates and limitations on child care facilities, gyms, massage parlors, bars, bowling alleys, zoos, youth sports, etc. Pretty much the only businesses that can’t open in some capacity now are amusement parks and concert halls (the latter of which has pointed out that they fit fewer patrons than megachurches, so should qualify for opening under these same terms). I still think this is all too soon, especially as the state is up to record numbers of daily cases and deaths. At least the state is still prohibiting gatherings outside of members of your household. That’s one thing to hold on to. Not that most people are paying attention, sigh.

Locally, we’re trying to figure out how things are going to move forward. School districts are starting to make plans for potential hybrid models of learning. There’s legal action in both state and federal courts regarding mail-in ballots for our elections, which have already been moved back several months. Our jail system is becoming massively overcrowded because the state prison system and mental health system haven’t been taking the inmates they’re supposed to for the last few months (not a great thing, given our COVID19 outbreak at the jail). Our libraries, which were originally set to open up again after the 19th, have extended their closure for the foreseeable future, though they’ve announced that a reopening plan is in process. San Antonio extended our shelter-at-home order through June 4th.

Other noteworthy happenings this week:

  • A legal firm here will be offering free wills and estate planning for 600 hospital workers, which is really kind.
  • Vaccine testing is apparently going faster than expected/normal and there’s a possibility that a vaccine will be approved and available by the end of 2020. I hope that’s not just wishful thinking!
  • Carbon emissions worldwide have dropped majorly during quarantine with the shelter-in-place orders.

This Week at Home
I finished the first stage of xeriscaping the yard this week, buying the rest of our plants (mostly mediterranean herbs that will thrive over our insane summers) and planting them. Jason got the mulch down, and it feels great to have one little part of the yard DONE. It only took a few days and cost less than expected, plus I’m really excited to see how all the baby plants are already thriving. I always expect plants to freak out and wither a bit before their roots recover from transplanting, but every single one out there – a total of ~35 – has not only weathered the transplant, but is fuller and putting off new growth already. Some that we didn’t even know should flower have done so! I love this so much. Our little herb garden is going to be such a beautiful jumbled mix! Can’t wait to get to the next phase.

It’s lovely to get the yard prettier, because I’m starting to have more lawn visits. We finally met the neighbors – it’s funny how people view you more kindly if you do something nice to your yard, I’ve noticed – who came to talk about our gardening. We’ve also seen our former neighbors out walking a couple more times. And my friend Stephanie came over to hang out on Sunday. We sat in the shade about eight feet apart; drank coffee and chatted and pointed out all the lizards and mini-dragonflies around us. I forgot to get a picture, sadly!

(ready for covid-safe visits!)

I’ve been struggling a lot this week with mental health issues. May is my heavy PTSD-triggered month, and between that, the heat, the isolation, and the inability to get outside to exercise as often as I’d like, I’m really not doing all that well. But I’m trying, and I’m really looking forward to next month when my hiking group will start having some small (5-person-max) gatherings!

Other notable happenings this week: I donated blood! So happy I was able to do so this time. Jason found hand sanitizer at the store for the first time since quarantine began. Heh. My brother-in-law has been sick for a few weeks and while all the symptoms have been GI, he’s now getting free COVID19 testing through his employer. Fingers crossed! My sister tells us that he still leaves the house far more often than he should.

Positives and Highlights and Nice Things
It was a tough week, so I don’t have a lot to share here, but a few positive things happened (sorry for the repeats from above):

  • finishing the first phase of our xeriscaped garden and the lovely unexpected flowers
  • I was actually able to donate blood! And while Jason still couldn’t donate, he found out that the restrictions barring him should be lifted by August!
  • that awesome video of the Scottish woman who tried to make a mask from socks
  • more pictures and videos of my sister’s foster kittens, who are now six weeks old
  • videos of my mom’s new baby chickens!
  • safe yard meetup with my friend Stephanie
  • Laurence finished his AP test and Ambrose finished his third of four (last one to be done today)
  • my sister (not the same one from above) sent me a digital copy of her wedding video from eight years ago (it was their anniversary this week), which made me very happy because I love that video and it was removed from youtube sometime in the last year

I’ve watched a few very sad things happen for some of you this week and I’m sending all my love. I hope the rest of you are well. Please stay safe as our country tries to John Wayne its way through this virus.

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