Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Pandemic Prep.

Posted on | June 11, 2020 | 6 Comments

I suppose I was better prepared than the rest of you. Not because I had a pantry full of food or a gas mask. Just because I spent the last 2 years eating change for breakfast and drama for lunch. Whiskey for dinner as needed.

I’ve had some kids move out and some kids move in; some kids hunting for jobs and some kids almost making as much salary as me; some kids just learning to drive and some kids who have had their driving privileges revoked until I see fit.

I’ve never had less than 2 children in puberty for the last 5 years. Which means we’ve dealt with drugs and alcohol and sex. And because the tobacco industry is the devil incarnate, we’ve dealt with vaping, too. It’s enough to make any parent too nervous to buy Tide pods. While the rest of the world was buying a Smart Doorbell Cam to see if someone was stealing their packages, I was wrestling with whether installing security cameras in every room in the house was a problem because it was too invasive or because I really, really, really didn’t want to know what went on when I wasn’t home. (The result: I decided it wasn’t invasive if I put the camera in plain view. So I put it on a bookshelf next to piles of books. It took them 3 months to realize there was a camera. Because, you know, next to books. On a piece of furniture that only holds books.)

I lived in a 32′ long RV for 14 months, including winter and hurricane season. Loved it and would do it again in an even smaller RV. Might get to do it again if the world continues to careen out of control and we all end up working virtually. We all might have to do it if this stuff progresses to End of Days. Don’t worry I’ll help you dump your waste the first few times. But you’re gonna need a Flush King.

Now I live in a 25 year old double wide and am making excruciatingly slow progress on updating the flooring, replacing popcorn ceilings, and a long list of DIY projects. For which I can’t even summon that much angst. Most days I figure it’ll get done eventually. And on the rough days I just sit on the screened porch because I can’t see a single unfinished project from the screened porch. Sometimes that’s exactly the kind of scenery a person needs.

Of course, I got divorced. Which came with the added bonus of working a second job just to keep me and the kids afloat financially. And the added added bonus of learning that I love to teach EMT class. Not only do I teach with a good friend who taught me to be an EMT, I like meeting the students each semester. I even occasionally teach CPR classes with a sweet and smart paramedic friend who also runs her own training center. Because a third job means we can still eat out. And I like meeting people in the community getting certified in CPR to save others.

Liking strangers.
I told you there was a lot of change.

So I was enjoying Birthday Month at the annual Moms Beach Weekend in March when the world started closing its doors. We sat there watching the news and getting text updates from friends and family as colleges closed the dorms and workplaces shut down and March Madness was canceled and, finally, all the schools closed. It’s true that my birthday/spring solstice party got nixed due to the stay at home order. But God gave me 5 days of good friends, sunshine on my face, sand between my toes, and waves singing me to sleep at night before wrapping my birthday events up early. And I had 2 solid years of toil and strife to find my center and build my sanctuary before the storm hit and I got stuck in the middle of it. In an ambulance. In a paper gown and an N95.

Fair enough.

Probably way more preparation time than most people got.

I don’t envy the parents of littles right now. Although my friends and I have had some chuckles over those of you that only discovered arts and crafts and lima beans wrapped in a wet paper towel and those kids’ woodworking kits with ridiculously teeny tiny finishing nails from Lowes Home Improvement when the daycares closed. Been there, done that, be glad you have high speed Internet.

We had to wait for each individual pixel to load one at a time in order to learn how to hatch a butterfly from a chrysalis or what temperature to bake homemade clay creations. Honestly, it was faster to check out a book from the library or call our moms. And if you’re struggling with any of your projects I just want to let you know what happened the first time we successfully hatched a butterfly. As soon as its wings were dry, it flew into the corner of the old aquarium we were using and got caught in a spiderweb and the spider ate it. Right in front of the kids. Also, in case you need to hear this, I actually like the bottom tree better.

Melted Crayon Tree Art

And for those parents who are now trying to work from home while already working at home with their kids, I have no words. Probably better just to have a moment of silence and a candle.

candle GIF

With teenagers in the house my parenting mainly consists of supplying pop tarts daily, forcing in vegetables a few times a week, and telling them to keep the noise down when I go to bed. We started off with board games and puzzles and family movies. At this point I’m just relieved that we’re still eating off real plates. (Most of the time.) And although they might play 10 hours of video games a day, at least its not porn. (As far as I know.) This is Survival Parenting, not Kumon. Because I still work EMS and teach EMT class online. Because forcing teenagers to participate in Chinese checkers is exhausting. Because eventually they get bored enough to explore the world outside their bedroom and their screen on their own. Because we’re all part of this bizarre pandemic experience together and making up the rules (or lack thereof) as we go along.

And most of all because the sad face in the Kumon logo terrifies me.

I mean, did someone pay for that logo? Is this how we want our kids to feel about learning?? Kumon calls it “thinking face.” Seems more like a “Oh jeez, is it Kumon time again?” face. I think this a cultural disconnect. Or maybe it’s just me. After all when I first saw the “thinking” emoji I thought it meant, “What the hell is up with that guy?” And now you’ll think that for the rest of your life, too.

๐Ÿค” Thinking Face Emoji

Having older kids isn’t the only thing making my life easier during this pandemic. When I was living in the RV I decided to go naturally curly using the Curly Girl method. For years I have used hot rollers on my hair because it was too frizzy in some sections or too flat in some sections. Yes, I curled over curly hair. Which sounds like something a reasonable person would have given up a long time ago. But it wasn’t easy to give up.

First I had to figure out which type of curls I had, for which there is a chart.

r/curlyhair - Whats your curl type?

Too bad I have a combination of everything from 2A to 3B, depending on heat, humidity, how much hair product I put in, how I slept the night before, if it’s the first day after conditioning or the third, if I pinned it up or wore it down for the day, if Mercury is in retrograde, if the groundhog sees its shadow, etc. There are chunks of 2A right next 3b and sections of 2C with a few random 3c corkscrews interspersed. It’s like the Lithuanians and the Puerto Ricans from my lineage are fighting it out hair by hair. On my head.

Having determined that curl definition wasn’t helpful I moved onto using the right product and learned to “condish” and “squish” and “plop.” I don’t use hair products with sulfates, I don’t dry with towels, I don’t use heat on it ever, and it only gets washed every 2-3 days. In lieu of styling I lightly spritz it with some water in the morning and let the curls “refresh” for 5-10 minutes before heading out the door. After 2 years of this I still have a variety of curl types all over my head and I have no idea what my hair will look like from day to day. Even in the space of one day it can go from bad perm to corkscrew curls to beachy waves. And back again. I don’t think I’ve succeeded at the Curly Girl Method as much as I’ve succeeded at “letting go.” Maybe even “giving up.” But to keep from pissing off my hair I’ll call it “Letting my curls live their best life.” Regardless, it’s not as time consuming as hot rollers whenever I want to go out.

But, in the end, it was time that prepared me the best. I turned 47 years old a week or so before the stay at home order went into effect. I am now around 50 (AF) years old. And I’m surrounded by a community of friends around 50 years old–some below, some above. We all have families–whether it’s a household of kids, a patchwork of extended relatives, or friends we’ve collected as family over 20 years. We’ve all had a variety of jobs–from self employment to micromanaging bosses to close knit co-workers. We’ve leaned in and we’ve walked away. We’ve started over and over and over again–whether it was a life plan, a relationship, or a diet. It’s not that we don’t get scared AF. We just get on with it.

We are experienced AF, strong AF, connected AF. Indigo Girls released a new album which is musical AF. What better preparation for a pandemic? (In case you think I’m using AF wrong, I really don’t think I am.๐Ÿ˜‰) 20 years ago I wouldn’t have been ready for all this. Another 20 years and I’d be one of those people strolling around the stores without a mask or hand sanitizer saying, “If it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go.”

Instead I’ve landed a contact at a commercial paper company who hooks me up with 98 rolls of toilet paper at a time. I’ve trekked my 300′ driveway for hours when they closed the state park trail.

We’ve even started fostering puppies for a local rescue. Because if you have a safe shelter shouldn’t you help someone else find theirs?

To top it off, my workplace (with just a little push) got us respirators. AKA gas masks.

Hang in there, people. I can’t stop Covid-19. But now that I don’t have to do my hair I’ve got a lot more free time. So I got you. And your toilet paper.

Dedicated to Jane. Who kept asking me where I was and when I was going to write again.


6 Responses to “Pandemic Prep.”

  1. Tanya Lam
    June 12th, 2020 @ 4:58 am

    I appreciate the shout out to Kumon! Kumon is saving my ass during Covid. No worrying about if my kids are learning math and reading during remote learning. Weโ€™ve been learning remotely for years. Boom! And, if there was anyone in the planet that I would like to be with when the President declares a national emergency over a worldwide pandemic, itโ€™s you baby!

  2. Lisa Treat
    June 14th, 2020 @ 10:04 pm

    Good to see your post. I always enjoy what/how you share. Such a talent you have! Best of all to you going forward.

  3. Jane
    June 20th, 2020 @ 8:10 am


  4. Jane
    June 20th, 2020 @ 10:16 am

    And By “Yay” was meant, “Oh good you’re back and you’re ok!” I have 20 years on you. I too have raised kids, done the divorce as I approached 50 thing, and loved teaching. Not the EMS thing though. I did middle school for going on 30 years, which has it’s similarities. Chickens, cows, horses, cats, veggies, but not ducks or sheep. Just FYI, those kids did grow up into caring, mature, very cool adults. It is hard to believe they will when they are between the teens and twenties, but they do! And the fifties are better than the 40s and so on…Glad to hear from you and thanks for the dedication. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. carolyn christman
    June 25th, 2020 @ 3:13 pm

    Time prepared me the best — damn yes! what I love about being our age is that I’m better at learning just what I need and right on time. Today I get the lesson for tomorrow. I feel the most efficient at staying onto the big picture (which does change day to day) and letting other things go, including whatever bothered me yesterday. Loved the pictures, loved the stories, love you! xoxo carolyn

  6. Jane
    November 13th, 2020 @ 5:33 am

    Time again!

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