ELDER MUSIC: Homeward Bound
A TGB READER STORY: The Morning Has Past

A Serious Jones for Ice Cream

Last week here, I headlined one story, Is There Anything Else to Talk About?. And so it is every day now in every news outlet: all about the virus.

It took up the major part of an hour-long telephone conversation on Sunday with a friend in New Jersey. It takes up the most space in email with others. When I'm reading online news, I always gravitate to virus headlines - anything else feels irrelevant to life today.

When I'm not talking, listening or reading about the virus, I'm thinking about it. It intrudes everywhere. When the sun came out yesterday, I developed a serious jones for ice cream. I don't eat it much in winter and this was the first time this year it had come to mind.

I actually picked up a pen to make a list of what else I might pick up at the grocery when I went for the ice cream. Then I remembered. Uh-oh. Lockdown. Plenty of food in the house, except for ice cream.

So I stayed home.

(Please do not send ice cream. The freezer is full to the top with food.)

From the beginning of the virus, I believed in face masks but then I got confused when a variety of so-called experts said they don't work. Now that they have changed their mind, I have made several no-sew masks for myself from old bandanas and wondered if I need one to go to the trash or mailbox.

It is rare that I see anyone when I make one of those runs, but I decided to err on the side caution anyway. The cotton masks are hard for me to breathe through and I was winded when I got home so I have redesigned the no-sew masks with fewer layers for me to breath a little easier.

Reading the virus news online or watching it on television is fraught in its own way. I try to avoid the president altogether, and I am awed again and again by the amazing bravery of the medical professionals who, undoubtedly exhausted, go into the firestorm of potential infection and possible death every single day.

I know the fear I felt last week going to the grocery store. The intensity of it must be so much more for medical professionals. What is that moment like for them, the one when you wake up, maybe a little fuzzy in the head still from sleep, first thinking about getting up and BAM! - you remember what your job is like now. Is today the one when you will catch the virus?

How do they do that, I wonder, keep going to work day after day? I feel so helpless, that there is nothing I can contribute and then I weep for all of us but especially for those on the front lines.

I experienced a small, happy respite from all the mixed-up sad, hopeful and hopeless, fearful, worried feelings on Friday when I made my first pandemic meal delivery order.

Like everything else, it involves thinking about the virus. I arranged online for the delivery person to leave the order on the table on my front porch and knock on the door.

But what about a tip? I fished an envelope out of the desk, wrote “Delivery Person” on the outside and then found I had only $20 bills in my wallet. Recalling the medical professionals, first responders, grocery clerks and all the others who risk their lives for the rest of us, I couldn't see that delivery to people's homes is much different. So $20 it was.

Not long after my lunch arrived, I received a text message from the delivery guy telling me it was his first day on the job, I was his first delivery and that I had helped him start his new job in the best possible way.

That text message was the bright spot in my day too. In this tiny way, it was the first time I have felt useful and actually did something good for someone who is, unlike me, risking his life at his job every day.

It feels self-indulgent to be ruminating on these little incidents in my home-confined life. After all, we're all doing the same thing and I hardly have a unique perspective. But even when I try to read a book or watch a movie, my mind wanders to the world's predicament.

It's not just the virus itself. What is equally fraught is the lack of executive and managerial expertise at the top of the U.S. federal government. Many state governors have stepped into the void as much as they can but by statute, they lack the power of a president who, in this case, has abdicated his sworn duty to the country.

Your turn now, in the comments below.


You are so right about the lack of expertise and guidance from the federal government. Of all times for us to have a person with the temperament of a toddler in charge... maddening. But about ice cream! I don't normally keep it in the house because I would overindulge, and I have lots of access to it in the outside world. Well, not any more. So I did stock up just a tiny bit when it became clear we would be inside for awhile. Now, weeks later, my rations are running low, and local grocery stores are not stocking it at all, in favor of more essential items. But now I see reports that a local ice cream company is offering to deliver a gallon, plus toppings, to homes! Gotta love American ingenuity. I don't have room in the freezer for a gallon right now, but as soon as I've made room, I will both get ice cream and support a struggling local business.

Really?! Two terminal illnesses and you're fretting about this virus? You are my hero!
I've been wearing medical/surgical masks off and on since 1965, and although the reasons haven't changed much, the "standards" for masks have changed a lot! Some of it defies logic, but enough of my shipmates and patients haven't made it to 73 that I take it all with a grain of salt.
Different mask standards for different people against the same virus? Meh.
Personally, when they tell me I should wear a face cover but it doesn't matter what it's made from, I think perhaps they should cover their faces.

I miss ice cream and toilet paper....and I'm not sure which one I miss the most. LOL

In the midst of this pandemic I managed to get an eye infection. How? I never go anywhere, so it seems illogical, but whatever. It's mild so I can't complain, especially when so many people have things so much worse.

The thing that bothers me the most isn't the virus itself but its possible effect on the election in November. I consider this the most important election of my lifetime, and the possibility that it could be disrupted, postponed, not held at all, is terrifying to me. How many people out there think Mr. T has been heroic in this crisis? Have they forgotten about the Democratic nominee in the midst of these daily "briefings" that are a substitute political rally? These past three-plus years have made me incredibly cynical as nothing seems to stick to this guy and his fellow Republicans refuse to call him out. So I ruminate, feeling helpless to do anything.

On a personal level I miss my son, DIL and granddaughter. I miss my friends. Thank God for Zoom, but it's just not the same.

This was such a thoughtful, well written piece that when I finished reading, went back to the top & read it again. Ronni I think you speak for many of us who aren’t able to articulate our feelings as well as you do.

(For the record, I keep a container of Stone Ridge Very Berry Cheesecake ice cream in my freezer but only touch the stuff on the weekends--I used to have a problem keeping it around from lack of self-control, until I learned Burt Baskin of Baskin-Robbins enjoyed eating ice cream every night of the week and died at age 54.)

Well, at least I’m enjoying dinner at my dining table again… I’ve always eaten early, used to have dinner in front of the tv at 5pm during ‘MTP Daily’. But these so-called daily briefings from you-know-who have forced me to turn my tv off from 5-7pm.

It does seem that there is not much else to talk about these days - and yet the day after day counts of how many more people are positive and how many more deaths makes it near impossible to keep listening to it. Or not to. I'm not sure which.

I'm even growing weary of Netflix and the Hallmark Channels - one can only watch SO MANY movies.

I am, though, damned grateful that even though I work in the hotel industry I still have my job for one more day. We've been told that even if our hotel has to close for a short time, the sales team will be maintained to keep on scratching for immediate and future business. I am grateful ... every morning.

The irony of this last week for me was being told on APRIL FOOLS DAY that I very likely have squamous cell HPV cancer in my neck lymph nodes. Either way, it's a mean blow by the universe.

Life goes on - one day at a time! Thank you for sharing your ice cream struggles - I don't ever remember actually preparing 3 meals a day at home every day in an eternity of time - including desserts! My weakness? Brownies and vanilla bean ice cream.

I put lots of ICE, extra greek yogurt in my usual fruits (big banana,
crisp apple slices, blueberries, etc.) smoothie---Not ice cream, but
it helps the crave!

I share the reaction so many of you voice about the Briefer in Chief. When he is on, I turn to Martin Sheen in The West Wing, though I do miss seeing Dr Fauci’s sensible and important comments.

As for the ice cream. YES, I so want something sweet! A young friend gets me groceries, and I worry about her too. But this weekend I asked for small packages of sugar and Crisco— items not usually in supply at my house.

Today, I’m going to make some ginger cookies! I hope I can show some moderation when they’re in the house.

Truly, i feel guilt at such frivolity. I am praying almost constantly for the young nurse who is living in a tent in the yard so that she doesn’t infect her husband or their 10-yr-old son with the virus. My heart wrenches in pain for her sacrifice.

Thanks for sharing your delivery guy experience. How good you must have made him feel and how good for you that your kindness came back to you with its own gift. It's true that we get more back than we give when we do good for others. I applaud the food store workers who are working hard with the public, often placing themselves at risk and receiving very low wages. Great for you lightening this guy's load.

I thought I had made my peace with impending death. I have very serious lung problems and although my pulmonologist declined to give me a timeline, it became clear that the next little cold or flu could put me in real jeopardy of dying. I read lots of good books on the dying process, hospice, what papers I needed to get in order. I even have a DNR order situated prominently in my front hallway for paramedics. I talked to my sons about my arrangements, much to their discomfort. I thought I was ready.

Then came the pandemic. Social distancing became the norm, not just what I did, by myself, to avoid catching anything. Months ago I gave up playing duplicate bridge at the bridge center; now the center has shut down for everybody and games are being scheduled online. It seems the whole world has changed to my mostly solitary way of life.

Consequently, I have been able to attend meetings on Zoom without fear of infection, order food and groceries with ease, get more phone calls and texts from family and friends, and feel I can contribute to others by contacting and encouraging them. I had already learned the preciousness of the purple martins singing in the morning; now their sounds are exquisite. I had already expressed my love to my children; now I'm making it a point to tell each of them my specific gratitudes for them being a part of my life.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not happy we are having a pandemic. And I still plan to refuse a respirator for someone younger. I'm just saying I thought I was ready to die. That I was all done. But I keep having experiences like the one yesterday, where I attend a special Zoom meeting with an old friend across the country who is dying of lung cancer. Now I want to see it all through, see what happens, see how we will all change. I feel part of the world again, not apart from the world.

I just want to thank you for your work in keeping this blog comming. Your posts help me keep things in perspective because I am experienceing many of the same things.

In the past I would not keep ice cream in the freezer because I would simply finish it. Over the past year the grocery store has taken to stocking little "mini" pops. They are perfect! Portion control and pleasure rolled into one.

At times when I open TGB each day you succinctly address the whirling thoughts in my own mind, Ronni. I am reminded of a 70's album by Dan Fogelberg and Tim Weisberg.... paraphrasing here, "Twin Sisters-Different Mothers". Makes me smile.

My son lives a few blocks away and is my emotional support and only visitor (ever) here in Portland. He wears a mask when getting groceries and prescription pickups for us.  His reasoning is, he won't bring something home to his wife with her broken ankle or his own aging Mom.  Because I need a walker I have not left this house in over a month.  I don't want to have to give my best friend, the walker, a bath when getting home. :-)

He has noticed that folks in the store back away when they notice the mask....homemade by his housebound wife.  She sews, thus is able to make them for friends working in medical jobs that need them. There are dozens of patterns offered online if one can sew.
Hers are well done and having one "if" I must go out for any reason feels like a bit of security to me.  Is it only a placebo? Maybe. We really don't know, yet it feels correct to make any efforts we are able.

I feel very fortunate to have them both in my life.  A secondary gain for me...the willing seamstress likes to mine my currently underused sewing room for supplies.  I love finding good homes for these *treasures*.

First off, Ronni, you are doing a big service to many with this blog. BIG. I feel like I've turned a corner, at least for today. Today I'm singing, "Baby don't worry, 'bout a thing, cause every little thing's gonna be alright." And it will be, it is. Maybe because I didn't watch the news over the weekend, maybe because the sun's shining and the peas are up. Maybe it's because I went out to my studio for the first time in two weeks with a cup of tea, and even in the mess I felt happy. A friend called long distance yesterday because I'd sent her a little nothing of a postcard I'd made, said it lifted her spirits. So, while I was in the studio, I started another, still not done, much more involved, who's it for, I don't know. But finally, duh, something I can DO in this whole mess. It's not much, very small, but if it lifts my spirits and one other's, that's a start. I'm not going to live for the corona virus any more...........don't get me wrong, I'm doing all the right distancing, home sequestered, you know. But to live for it, no, it doesn't get that from me. We're all dying every day, and it may be sooner than I'd choose. So be it. I'll do that when I get there. (it may be fabulous!) For now, I'll shed tears and prayers for all the suffering, including my own, I'll be more vigilant than ever before, but let it completely rule me, no, enough, done.

I never used to be an ice cream fan, but in the last year I've become addicted to Bourbon Praline Pecan. I used to buy a pint occasionally, rarely. Now I buy 3 pints every time I go to the store! But that hasn't happened for a month now (and I'm down to my last ½ pint). In that time I've gotten maybe half a dozen different deliveries of groceries and miscellaneous and I tip generously. Those delivery people are my heroes these days because, frankly, I'm afraid to go out, and most of them look young enough to perhaps not have any other income. I appreciate the risk they are taking.

I have several bandannas lying around but so far haven't dug up any rubber bands to fashion a no-sew mask. I may go "outlaw" style if I have to.

Stay well, everybody!

My husband and I practiced with some homemade masks on Saturday and I realized I cannot wear a mask that covers nose and mouth. I feel like I'm going to suffocate. It is too claustrophobic.

If the masks become mandatory, then I will be going no where. When I heard the president said to wear them, I took that advice like I take everything he says, as an outright lie.

and now Oregon we are supposed to pump our own gas! Soooo, if you drive, or know someone who does, I urge you to carry a plastic grocery bag in the car so you can put your hand in it when pumping that gas.

Of course, if you are handicapped, they will pump it for you if you have the sign in your car. But you would need to hand them the credit card. So, rubber gloves?

Such a strange world we are living in!

I got a grocery order two days ago with 2 good dark chocolate bars which I planned to parse out. I ate them the first day. Guess I will only ask for one next time.

Usually I read 2-3 books a week and watch streamed films and drama but I am so distracted with the news that its making it hard for me to do that. Instead I'm calling and writing people, a good thing. I have a niece who lost her job in Colorado at a school and is delivering takeout. Pays the bills but she has asthma. My eldest son is still at work doing QC at a frozen food plant and one of my grandgirls is still working in a grocery. It makes me a little crazy.

Margo--When I must hand over a credit card, I wipe it with an antiseptic wipe and hold onto it through the wipe when extending to another person.

Nina--I'm with you. Ice cream, no matter how much, would not stay in my freezer. It's impossible for me to stockpile it.

Masks: The first mask I made, per an online video, did not work at all. It was so thick that air went around it instead of through it. Fortunately, I discovered that before making a large number for the nurses in our family who had asked that I make some. As to effectivity: I've read (on the Internet, so it must be correct) that home sewn masks may screen out as little as 3% of germs and as little as 0% of viruses. They are a little more effective in catching droplets from sneezes and coughs.

A couple of years ago when we were reading about the importance of handwashing by employees in hospitals I read (again...Internet) a study that showed that disease transfer was cut by 2% when the hospitals went to extreme lengths to get employees to wash, wash, wash.

Ronni I think it was so nice of you to over tip that delivery person. It must have made his day so much brighter. Sometimes it is not easy to know how to thank people who are on the front line. My son-in-law is a physician anesthesiologist in the hospital ICU now. He is very exposed since placing tubes in diseased lungs. I talked to him several days ago and he told me he had been given 4 masks and was still using them (those that you are only supposed to use once.) I don’t want to call him to tell him of my support as it could be at the time he has a couple of hours of rest. So I just worry.

There are a couple of boxes of ice cream in my freezer that I bought last fall – I had forgotten them until I read your post. So many boxes of chocolate were given to me for the holidays that I eat a couple pieces each day as my stress relief (almost finished my See's candies.)

As for the TV president, he just likes to parade on TV to hear himself talk; this serves in lieu of his rallies. Unfortunately many of his base believed his pronouncements that the virus was a hoax from the liberals and are now infected and contagious. I think that all trumpists should be required to wear their maga hats so that the rest of us can stay at least 15 to 20 ft away from them when we see them.

It was chocolate for me. Something I can only taste now if it is a good chocolate.

I found this week I have to drive to the local military hospital to pick up two of my husbands prescriptions, delivered to the car, and put one of mine in. This is scary for me as I am unfamiliar with that hospital. I found only one mask for painting and dug out a scarf. Since their personnel will be masked and gloved I probably don't have to use anything. But I'll have it. I imagine a long line and only have between 10 and 3. It's enough to give me stomach cramps that occur enough on their own.

I'm still blessed, I can still drive.

Doug M -- I have no idea what may have led to Burt Baskin's death at age 54, but it may have had no connection to ice cream. My FIL ate a bowl of ice cream every night before bed for as long as I knew him, and I had been married to his son for 40 years by the time he died. He was one of the healthiest people I've ever known and rarely missed a day of work in more than 40 years in the workforce. He died at 90 from a head injury after he'd been having falls for a couple of years. He was mild-mannered and one of the kindest people I've ever known. In his last few weeks of life, my husband and repeatedly asked him to use his caller for help in the assisted living facility where he and his wife had lived for a few months, rather than trying to do so much himself. The last time we broached that subject, he raised his voice, which I had never heard him do, and said, "I'm 90 years old and I'm not going to live forever!" A couple of weeks later he had another fall (from his wheelchair) and suffered head trauma from which he did not recover. I know how much he enjoyed every single bowl of ice cream in those last years and I am very thankful he was able to.

My life recently has been largely marked by my weekly forays to the grocery store. The first indicator that something was seriously awry was on a weeknight when I stopped in to my favorite store, on the other side of town from me because my neighborhood is now a food desert, for just a few items. I knew something was terribly wrong when I pulled in to what should have been a nearly empty parking lot at 7:00p.m. on a weeknight, to find almost no available spots. The people with carts heaped with water and toilet paper were the next give-away. There were signs on the entrance doors limiting shoppers to 2 cases of toilet paper and 4 cases of water. I picked up none of either, since I had no need for them at the time, and quickly grabbed the few items I had stopped for, and waited nearly half an hour in line to pay and get out of Dodge.

A week later, the changes were that there was no toilet paper, water was way down and both were limited to one purchase per shopper. There were no bread items and other things were clearly disappearing from the shelves too, and I had to make some changes in meal plans on the fly that visit. The next week, the first one since our state had issued a sheltering-in-place directive, some things were actually a bit more available, although there was only one brand of toilet paper was even available. Signs were now up limiting the purchase of practically everything on the shelves and again I had to make substitutes for some things on my list.

Yesterday when I made my weekly trek, I, along with practically everyone else I saw, sported a mask and many of us wore nitrile gloves. The good news was that my favorite toilet paper was back on the shelf, so I picked up a pack even though I had enough at home for at least a couple of weeks. And other brands and items that had been missing last week were back. I'm hoping the restocked shelves is a good sign -- if it at least means that people are responding to requests to not hoard, if nothing else.

May we all remain physically and mentally sound throughout these strange and historical times!

Vagabonde.....Oh My!! I laughed out loud with your final sentence. Thank you. If we are lucky enough to have that happen!! I want a hat that says " Thanks For The Warning!"

My son is volunteering as photographer for Portland's beautiful Hoyt Arboretum . (Nearly 200 acres of hundreds of varieties of trees and trails.) He was given a hat that said "MAY THE FOREST BE WITH YOU". Perhaps one would have to seen the Star Wars movie to love it like he did. Either way it is a lovely thought.

It is a gorgeous day here today, sunny blue skies, birds chirping. And of course the city is Quiet. I am on the west side of the city — not too close to any hospitals — but a couple of blocks in from the river, roughly halfway between the Javits Center and the pier where the USS Comfort is docked. The former has now been designated for Covid patients and this morning Cuomo said he would ask You-Know-Who to have the latter be similarly designated. (Until now the idea was that it would be for non-Covid patients, but with crime down, traffic and other accidents down, there isn't such a great need for that). So while it is quiet here now, perhaps that will change ... reports from friends in other parts of the city say they hear constant ambulances. That must surely increase stress.

And some key numbers are down for the city for the second day, causing us to speculate...Are we near the Apex? Are we on a plateau? We all know that going down a rugged mountain can be just as hard as going up, so my hope is that this gorgeous weather doesn’t tempt people to relax their social distancing.

As for me, when this is over I want a giant ice cold Root Beer Float!!!

Go for it Ronnie! Having fun enjoying this sunny day in rural Clackamas County.
My teacher is asking everyone to send out love 6 PM PST after listening to the song "Stand By Me" then rest for 30 minutes and soak up the love. Yes! Thanks for your posts. Keep them coming.

I’m with dkzody. I had worn a mask once at a cooking class in Asia and I thought I would suffocate. For no reason I can think of, I've always had a fear of suffocating, and therefore I now stay away from people more than the average person.

I’m doing well, know this will pass, but, oh, that mask fear.

I like your story of tipping the delivery person. I'm donating money when I can to people who are struggling a lot more than I am: single mothers, people who lost their jobs and have no savings, people who are being evicted, and the homeless. I do this through various non-profit groups.

Another thing that brightens my day is walking on the trails around my neighborhood and making eye contact or just smiling at someone. Sometimes we have conversations about what a beautiful day it is or what birds we just saw. We've all been trained now to see the other person as an enemy, a possible source of contamination. So it feels good to break through that barrier and acknowledge others as human beings.

"From the beginning of the virus, I believed in face masks but then I got confused when a variety of so-called experts said they don't work. Now that they have changed their mind, I ..."

The "variety of so called experts" didn't capriciously change their minds as you imply. Dr. Fauci, the CDC, and other reputable investigators from many countries revised their advisory on wearing face masks after new and convincing data indicated the virus was more easily transmitted than previously believed.

Revised recommendations from the top epidemiologists about the novel virus result from new information from ongoing study, not from idle conjecture.

Happy Birthday, Ronni!

The comments to this entry are closed.