STAY AT HOME DIARY: WEEK 4

Are you worried about your children missing a couple months of school?  This week, I downloaded  a great Kindle  book, “Educated.”  The  memoir seems very timely now, with all the school closings due to COVID-19.  Author Tara Westover  never attended elementary school or high school. She wasn’t even home schooled.  And yet, she graduated from Brigham Young University,  and received  a Ph.D from Trinity College in Cambridge, U.K.   Her older brother taught her to read, but she had to teach herself algebra before she could get into college.

Stay At Home diary: week 4 Read Educated
EDUCATED is a book you must read if your child’s school has closed. due to COVID-19.  Stay At Home Diary: Week 4

On Wednesday,  I weeded the flower beds. And tomorrow, if it doesn’t rain, I’m going to transplant some Hosta. It’s great to be out in the fresh air, and digging in the dirt. .

My husband has agreed to let me trim his beard.  I’m letting my own short hair grow longer. I may come out of this with a new hair style.

It’s strange watching TV reporters social distancing and reporting from home.  They look so pale and their features appear distorted without the fancy make up and good lighting.  I bet they hate seeing themselves on TV.  Some of their home environments don’t look very snazzy.   Plain white venetian blinds? A microwave on top of your frig?  If it were me, I think I’d rig up a nicer background.   Some pretty curtains, maybe.  A  plant or two?   Anything but venetian blinds or a microwave oven.

Finally, got out some old cookbooks, looking for  recipes that don’t call for canned soup (Stores are completely out). Made Chicken Tetrazzini using white sauce as a base.  My husband doesn’t like mushrooms, so I substituted green peppers.  It was so good! Also, I didn’t add salt.  You can add salt and pepper to taste.

Now is the time to fix comfort foods like turkey tetrazinni
Stay At Home Diary: Week 4. Made Chicken Tetrazzini without canned soup

CHICKEN TETRAZZINI

1 pound thin spaghetti

½ cup butter or margarine

½ cup  flour

3   cups milk

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

2  cans (4 oz.) mushrooms, drained ( or a diced green pepper)

2 or 3 cups diced  chicken (or turkey)

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

Reheat oven to 350 degrees .  Lightly grease a baking dish.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add spaghetti, and cook for 10 minutes. Drain, and place in baking dish.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour, making a smooth paste. Mix in chicken broth and milk. Cook and stir until mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Mix sauce with spaghetti, cheddar cheese, and chicken. Top with parmesan cheese. Bake about 30 minutes in preheated oven  until temperature reaches 160 degrees or until surface is lightly browned,

It’s easy to cut the recipe in half if you’re  cooking for two.  Or, you can freeze the leftovers to enjoy when everything gets back to normal.  I hope that day is coming soon!

 

OUR NEWSPAPER HAD A GREAT FALL

“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall/ Humpty  Dumpty had a great fall/All the kings horses and all the kings men/Couldn’t put Humpty back together again.” Once upon a time, newspapers had great power.  They could sway elections and make or break someone’s career overnight. That was when small town newspapers published all sorts of personal information.  If Sears Roebuck took you to court over a $400 unpaid bill, they printed it in the paper. Divorces were announced on the inside page.  You were at their mercy.  Any misstep was fair game. But suddenly, that’s over. Like Humpty Dumpty, our local newspaper has had a great fall.

Back in 1912, they  built a four story  building on Main Street.  If you walked in the back door to meet with a reporter  or editor, you could hear the printing presses thrumming.  Everything was there—immediacy, excitement, urgency, and most importantly, power.  Being the publisher or editor on the top floor epitomized prestige and social standing.  It was still that way a scant 14 years ago,  when our local paper built a  new, two and a half million dollar building near their old offices.

Newspapers have lost circulation and have had a great fall
Like Humpty Dumpty, our newspaper had a great fall

But then everything went downhill.  The best reporters were let go, or left.  Quantity, not quality, became the norm.  Hard news, defined as news or investigative journalism that deals with serious topics and events, requires more  journalists.  Soft news is defined as information that is primarily entertaining or personally useful.  It’s easier to produce and can be done at a leisurely pace.  It also  fills more space and is far less interesting.  If you want soft news, you can read a magazine. And yet, the newspaper’s front pages began featuring  more and more“soft news.”

Consequently, circulation dropped, and   the newspaper’s  advertising revenues began to dwindle. At the same time,   Television  and  the  internet have replaced many of the newspaper’s functions.  Younger generations no longer subscribe to newspapers.   And so, the big expensive building was no longer sustainable.  This year,  the entire newspaper staff moved their offices to the basement of  a  neighborhood  mall that’s struggling for occupancy. Today, they  announced the paper will only be published five days a week, rather than seven.

Newspapers have lost the ability  to influence public opinion.  No one  cares who they endorse for office or what they think about plans for a new jail.  Yes, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.  And no one can put Humpty back together again.

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FREE BOOK: CHASING THEIR LOSSES

 It may be April Fool’s Day, but this is no joke! Since  libraries are closed during the coronavirus epidemic,  I’m offering a free copy of my Kindle book, “Chasing Their Losses.” for your enjoyment. If you’ve been following my blog, I think you will love this book. And I hope it will take your mind off all the craziness in the world today.

This free offer is good through Friday, April 3.  Download load it at  http://amzn.to/2cLBl0Y

Free Kindle Book, available on April Fool's Day
For your enjoyment during the coronavirus outbreak, I’m offering a free book: Chasing Their Losses

Why did I write Chasing Their Losses? If you’ve read my bio, you know that I was the Director of Nutrition Services at an acute care hospital in Indiana for many years.  Hospitals are full of drama.  There’s love, hate, sex, ambition,   and just about every human emotion thrumming in the air.  I always knew I wanted to write a novel set in a small town hospital, but it wasn’t until  after retirement that I  could distance myself from all that intensity.

Here’s a brief synopsis.

Will the haunting power of first love lead to Cara Mackenzie’s destruction? At 31, she’s back home from Miami, starting a new career as nutrition director of Sycamore Hospital.   While in a blossoming romance with Dr. John Drakos, she runs into her former lover, the suave and sexy Tony Cabella. Soon,  she’s drawn into a dangerous web of dirty secrets and lies.

When Tony’s stepson vanishes under her watch, Cara must fight for her life, her reputation, and her career.

The police think Dr. Drakos’ jealousy could have provided a motive for the kidnapping.   But unanswered questions suggest a conspiracy.  Who shot Tony when he and Cara met in secret, and why won’t he call the police?

At the heart of this novel are four damaged people: John and Cara, whose intense relationship is clouded by painful memories and fear of commitment; Tony and his second wife, Gail, who gave up everything for passion and desire,  only to find disillusion and heartbreak.

As the tragic events spin out of control, the heart thumping suspense builds, with twists and turns that take you from the verdant farmland and sparkling waterfalls of Indiana to the vast, lawless sand dunes and nude beaches of Texas.

CHASING THEIR LOSSES : Free Kindle Book available on Amazon today through Friday @ http://amzn.to/2cLBl0Y

STAY-AT-HOME DIARY: WEEK 3

Recovering news junkie here.  I’ve always been a person who loves the news:  two newspapers every morning, 3 different TV stations for evening news .   That’s over.  There is absolutely nothing to read, see, or hear about except  the coronavirus.  I wake up in the morning, and my iphone has numerous updates which are repeated all day long and everywhere on the internet.  By the time 6 o’clock rolls around, I’ve reached the saturation point.   What will the media do when COVID-19 is over?  Surely, there are other things going on in the world.   Stay-At- Home Diary: Week 3

Looked in the basement for a jigsaw puzzle.   Threw them away during our de cluttering project last year.  Why would we keep something that hasn’t been used for decades?  But now, we were sorry.  Asked our son to pick one up at Walmart, but they didn’t have much left.  The puzzle has 750 teensy, tiny,  flimsy pieces.  The puzzles  I remember were much more substantial. Anyway, our living room is now filled with two card tables covered with puzzle pieces.  I helped my husband find the “straight” pieces for the border, but that’s as far as it goes.  He’s on his own now, and from the looks of it, he’ll be lucky if it’s finished by Memorial Day..

Washed all the curtains downstairs.  We’re talking  10 windows here.  When were they last washed?  Not sure. It may have been a couple of years.  They’re sheer and pale blue, so they don’t show the dirt.  But I knew that they were full of dust. Started sneezing as soon as I began.  Taking down, washing, drying and re hanging took about 4 hours.  At least  we’ll remember when we washed them last.  How could you forget the coronavirus activities?

Walked in the park a couple of times, weather permitting.  Sat outside  on sunny days for a short time. .  A little ultraviolet light is good for the immune system and raises your spirits.

Gained two pounds.    We’ve tried to eat healthy; and watch our calories.  But the lack of exercise combined with nervous/bored snacking is taking its toll.  Supposedly, it’s good to be a little overweight at our age.  It helps get you through sickness.  If that’s the case, I’m well prepared.

Consuming plenty of probiotics to boost my immune system:   fruit smoothies made with kefir and yogurt.   A hearty German meal of Bratwurst and sauerkraut.   Did you know  sauerkraut is a powerful probiotic?

A bar of fragrance free Ivory Soap would help: Stay-at-home Diary Week 3
Stay-At-Home Diary: Week 3. I’d give anything for a bar of fragrance free ivory soap for all the hand washing..

Hands getting red and itchy from all the hand washing.  I’ve tried different lotions, but nothing can help when you’re washing your hands about every fifteen minutes. Scented, tinted soaps don’t help.  I’d give anything for a bar of Ivory.

Spent two hours trying to revive my husband’s kindle.  The books wouldn’t download, and I couldn’t figure out why..  Turned out he hasn’t used it for years, and it wasn’t connected to wireless.  GRR.

The novelty of staying home is wearing off for parents. The first week, everyone said it was nice to sleep late and not push themselves.  But now, they’re missing the office and their old routine.  Working from home while taking care of children is a struggle.  I hope everyone stays safe and sane.  God willing, it will soon be over.

WHY WEAR A FACE MASK?

A couple of weeks ago, the the CDC advised us not to bother wearing surgical  face masks in public. They said it wouldn’t protect us at all from the coronavirus, and might even make things worse. Because if we touched our face while fiddling around with the mask, we would  be spreading the virus near  the mucous membranes in our mouth and nose.   I believed that.    But guess what?  I’ve changed my mind.   Why do I  wear a face mask when going to the store?

The idea began when I noticed cashiers seemed  apprehensive as I  approached the checkout.   They were unfriendly and didn’t smile.   It occurred to me that they were afraid of my standing so close and breathing on them.  It turns out that stores like Target and Kroger are addressing that fear by installing Plexiglas barriers between the customer and the cash register clerks.

Wearing a fase mask in public relieves fear of others near you
Even though a face mask doesn’t offer protection against the virus, it makes nearby people feel assured that you’re not breathing on them. . That’s why I wear a face mask.

Last Saturday was the first time I went to the drug store wearing a mask.  I was afraid I would stand out, and look kind of freakish.  But  half of the few people in that pharmacy were also wearing face masks.  I was one of the crowd!  By now, I’ve begun wearing a surgical mask to the store simply because I don’t want to spread my germs around.  I have no symptoms, but that doesn’t mean I’m not coming down with the virus.   I’m not wearing the mask to protect myself, so much as to put others at ease.  And this time, the cashier at the checkout was friendly.

Another reason to wear the face mask:  Last night’s weatherman announced we have a high pollen count. People with spring allergies might start sneezing,  but he  cautioned them not to panic. Unless they develop a fever or more serious symptoms they shouldn’t conclude that they have the coronavirus.   I am one of those people allergic to pollen.  My nose drips off and on all spring, depending on what tress are blossoming. If I go to the store with a dripping nose, it’s going to scare people to death.  Wearing the mask filters the pollen so that I don’t sneeze. Also,  no one has to worry that I’m sending droplets into the air.

I’m sure some people are laughing at my face mask.  But that’s the nice part about being over eighty.  I really don’t care.

PATIENT PRIVACY VS. NEED TO KNOW

Having been a hospital department manager for over 25 years, I know the importance of patient privacy. It was strictly enforced when my father was in for a stroke.  I was banned from reading his chart, due to privacy laws.  This meant that people working for me could read his chart, if they were authorized, but I could not. Therefore,  they could not share any information about his condition with me.  I understood that.  However, during this coronavirus epidemic, I think we should make a distinction between patient privacy vs. need to know.

When the crisis first started,  we were told the names of some of the patients– where they worshiped, and where they lived.  Often, we heard  that they had recently been to China or some out of state convention.    Many people were  willing to self report  ( actors Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson) But now, we aren’t being told much about the patients, except their general age group. Different states are willing to share more  information than others.  The state of Washington freely reported the number of nursing home patients with the coronavirus.

My county currently has 3 active corona cases, which isn’t too bad, yet.  We’re a relatively small town (pop 60,000).  But I want to know a bit more. In such a small community, I think we have that right.

This is what I believe  the people in this county should know:  Where  were the patients  before coming down with the virus?  Did they go to the  grocery store where I shop before they  were  diagnosed?  Or to the church I attended?  Were they  college students?  If so, which college?  A snowbird returning to Indiana from another state? What state?  A  nursing home resident?  If so, which nursing home?   Did they smoke, making them more susceptible to complications?

It's important to know if we've been in the same places as COVID-19 patients.
We have to weigh the importance of Patient Privacy vs. Need to Know. You should know if you’ve recently been in the vicinity of someone with COVID-19.

I suppose the response would be that it doesn’t really make any difference.  If we’re washing hands, maintaining social distance, etc. , it’s not important whether or not we’ve been near that person or know when or where he might have contracted the disease.   But psychologically, I think it does make a difference.  If I have shopped at a different supermarket in another end of town, or haven’t attended their  Church, or visited anyone in that nursing home, I can have a little peace of mind, knowing my risk is lower.  However,  if I have been in the vicinity of the sick person, I’ll need to be extra vigilant regarding any new symptoms.  If I get a cough or cold, I  have to face the reality  that I could have contracted the virus.  And  get tested if I start feeling worse.

There’s a difference between patient privacy and the need to know. Right now, we’re being given Too Little Information as to where COVID-19 might have been swirling in the air around us.

That being said,  I think Indiana’s Governor Holcomb has done a fantastic job of managing the crisis and providing statistics.  And I’m proud of my fellow Hoosiers who have social distanced without complaint.

SOCIAL DISTANCE DIARY: WEEK 2

Drove to the Dollar Store for a few things, simply because I’m getting cabin fever.  Only three or four  customers–unsmiling, looking tired and worried. Had the feeling the cash register clerk couldn’t wait to get me out the door. But it sure felt good to be out in the real world again.  Social distance diary: Week 2

My grandpa's outhouse was often out of toilet paper. They used Sears catalog, instead
When my grandpa ran out of toilet paper on the farm, they used Sears Catalog. Social Distance Diary: Week 2

Of course, they were out of toilet paper at the Dollar Store. We have plenty, but I was going to pick up some extra. It got me wondering about what people did without tp. There are alternatives. My grandfathers farm lacked modern plumbing.  Sometimes, there was a Sears  catalog next to the wooden seat in the outhouse.  As a child, I took it in stride, even though we had modern plumbing and toilet paper in our city home.

Found an old Tai Chi CD. Now, I practice with it every day. It’s not the same without my wonderful teacher and fellow classmates, but at least I’m not getting rusty, and it’s helping to calm me down. And, it does give me a bit of exercise.

Finally located a cousin who lives in LA. She’s like a sister to my husband, and he was really upset. She wasn’t answering her phone, and her mailbox was full. We were afraid she had contracted covid-19, and maybe even died. But yesterday we got a call from Mount Cedar, Sinai hospital. She’s recovering from pneumonia—not corona. We’re feeling much relieved, and moods have improved.

Talked to all of my children this weekend. Yes, actual conversations, not texting. Their lives in this modern world are much more complicated than when I was parenting. Living in big cities, they’re always on the run, juggling jobs, driving kids here and there. They have very little time to spend on the telephone. But this weekend, they had nothing urgent, and it was nice having a relaxing conversation.  So far, they’re healthy and safe.  Hope no one gets sick.

No mass shootings this week. Empty malls, churches, schools and restaurants mean that  evil people have no targets. I hope they can’t buy more guns during the crisis.

Sunday brunch at home, since all the restaurants are closed. Tried frozen waffles for the first time. They’re amazingly easy and good. Especially combined with sausage patties. And,  sugar free syrup is only 10 calories per serving.

I’m beginning to adjust to the slower pace. The introverted part of me enjoys the solitude.  At least for a little while.