The Fever has Broke!

It’s been 12 days of running a fever between 101.2 and 102.6, with no other symptoms. Today, my fever was 97.6! I still have 2 days of quarantine, but now my situation becomes less about protecting others, and more about protecting myself. I didn’t qualify to be tested, so I can just assume I didn’t have it, and therefore, will have zero immunity.

As many of you know, I am immuno-compromised. I had an aggressive type of breast cancer a few years ago, that took aggressive chemotherapy to survive. My immune system still hasn’t recovered. I get injections every two weeks, to keep my white count up. I’ve recorded levels between 1 and 5, when 12, I am told, is perfectly healthy. I became deathly ill last year, with Flu A&B, cellulitis, and pneumonia. I spent several days in the hospital, and it still took me five months to completely recover.

When I was finally well, I took steps to change my life. I got out of a relationship and a house that was more than I could handle. I made a lot of women friends. I started being a lot more careful about things like washing my hands and wearing masks when my counts were at their lowest. I bought my RV. I started travelling, because that brought me peace. As a result, I started feeling much stronger, much healthier.

So you can understand why this pandemic frightens me. Why it drives me to be extra cautious. Why it drives me to research constantly, to see what I can do to protect myself and others. Here’s what I have found out.

In the New York Times, one report suggests that at this point in the pandemic anyone who goes out in public should wear a mask. It won’t have a huge impact, but it will have an impact. Social distancing should still be practiced. Several hospitals are putting out calls for seamstresses to make cotton masks, and providing patterns. I would recommend finding one of these patterns and making some for you and your family. They should also be washed daily, with soap and water, or at least thrown in a very hot dryer.

You should sanitize or wash with soap and water, any groceries that come into your house. If you have a garage, and don’t need the groceries immediately, and they won’t spoil, leave them in the garage for 3 days. When you do bring them in, sanitize durable surfaces, and wash fruits and vegetables just like you do your hands. Leave the bags in the garage. Trash them if you don’t need them for anything.

Take your shoes off before you go inside. If you are one of those people who must wear shoes, have a pair you never wear outside.

Wash your hands. Use sanitizer if you can’t. And keep 6-10 feet away from other people.

Stay Safe,

Oma and Sadie-Dog

Awkward Conversations and Gratitude

So, I just had a really awkward conversation with someone about COVID19, and the need to have a survival plan. It made me realize that currently, even people who are over 75 and in other high-risk groups still aren’t taking this thing seriously. This worries me.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about how lucky I am. I have my RV. If I feel it’s too dangerous where I am, I can move somewhere else. Some are stuck in cities where all hell is breaking loose, and they haven’t the means to change their location.

I have income. If I need to order food, I can do so. I just need to find someone to deliver it to me. I have friends who will collect things from the shops, when they are available. I just need to be able to pick them up. Some people have no friends looking out for them.

I have friends who help me fill up all my little water bottles. Sure, hauling water back and forth from their house to my RV is a pain, but hey, I can stand the exercise. There are probably places that are dealing with this, where there is no safe running water, at all.

I have a CPAP. If I get ill, I have a built-in oxygen system. Some may lose their life because they can’t get a ventilator. I have a shot.

I have health coverage. How many are losing theirs, due to not being able to work?

I got mad at my dog because she stole my last cookie, when I went to take the trash out. But at least I have a loving, loyal companion in this doggo, despite the fact that she never met a carb she didn’t like. Some are facing this entirely alone.

For me, I need to concentrate on that gratitude. That’s what’s most important for me, right now.

Living in the Pandemic

So, this has been an interesting week. As some of you know, I have the RV boondocked on a friend’s land, about 40 miles away from Lubock, Texas, in a small town called Abernathy. It’s convenient, and a little cheap.

However, my water tank is almost empty, due to all the washing that has been going on. As a result, I’m planning to move into Lubbock, to a park where I will have running water, and be able to do laundry, plus be closer to my son.

This can’t happen until payday, of course, so I have to make 7 gallons of water last 6 more days. It’s going to be tough, but I’ve got a case of drinking water for me and the dog, so I’m not worried about that. I can get about 4 liters of water a day, from my friend’s house–I’ve been using that for dish washing. I have an electric tea kettle i use to boil the water first. I have “premium wash cloths” that I use for bathing, rather than taking a full shower. Basically, all I use the water tank for right now is flushing and washing my hands. There will be a day, soon, when I will have to pour some of the water I get from the house down the toilet to flush. I should probably, actually, start doing that now, to conserve running water for hand washing. It’s going to become a bit difficult to wash hands once the water no longer comes out of the tap. I’ve been using sanitizer a bit more, to conserve water, but I have to balance that with the fact that sanitizer is almost impossible to get right now. I have 2 half bottles. It all has to last 7 days. I’ve actually sort of had an inspiration, while writing this. I have one of those drink containers with a spout. I could fill that with water, and use the spout just like a tap for washing hands. Gee, I’m brilliant, lol!

Then, there is the concern, if this gets bad enough, what if the water system shuts down? This would probably be the last thing that would happen, but I should make plans to stock up, somehow, once I move into the city.

I managed to get some groceries on Monday. My son, Cameron, brought them to me. We maintained proper distance, and I wore a make-shift mask I made out of a shirt.

The grocery store in Lubbock lets you do an online order and pick it up curbside, so I did that so Cameron wouldn’t run the risk of actually going into the grocery store.

The grocery store was either out of, or rationing a number of things I ordered. They are rationing all meat to 2 pounds per adult, and you have to physically come into the store to get it, which makes no sense. Fortunately, I have a number of meats in my freezer. They were completely out of rubbing alcohol. They were rationing cereal, and again, you had to come into the store to get it. They were out of gluten free pasta, so they sent along regular pasta, which upsets my stomach, so I have no use for it. There were no tomatoes, but I did manage to get lettuce, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and bananas, so I was very happy about this. They only had certain kinds of diced tomatoes, and I imagine that stock won’t last long. There seems to be plenty of milk, but I only use it on cereal, so that was sort of a bust. They still had cheese, which I adore, so that was good. I ordered dry shanpoo, and they did not even include it, so I imagine they are out of it. That would have been nice to have. It’s hopeless to get eggs if you don’t know someone with chickens.

Following that, I tried to order some sort of staples from Amazon. I had a $30 credit from a return, so it might as well get me some basics. Amazon’s 3rd party sellers are price gouging on everything, and Amazon, itself is combining items so that you have to buy a 3 pack or a 6 pack, and spend more money. That’s unfeasible for me, as I live in a 26 sq. ft. rig and don’t have much storage space. Even Amazon appears to be out of things. Lysol Spray. Rubbing Alcohol. Any sort of bleach spray. It’s ridiculous. I was looking for a can opener. Something, that if I could walk into a store, would be about $4.00. The price on Amazon was jacked up to $13. Amazon should not be allowed to profit off others’ misfortunes like this. Still, I ended up ordering mayonnaise, dry beans, veggie broth, bread and butter pickles, canned salmon, GF bread crumbs and a small amount of cereal.

Fortunately, I know I have a lot of cleaning products in storage. Particularly bleach cleaner and Lysol. I probably even have sanitizer and gloves. I just have to finish this quarantine period before I can go there. Of course the fact that my car is in the shop and I am dependent on others for rides compounds the situation.

Then, I talked to my friends, whose land I am currently staying on. The local (Abernathy) grocery store has things in stock, and they aren’t rationing! However, they do not deliver. So, I have to wait until my quarantine period ends, to go there. They are about a mile walk, so that isn’t bad. I just have to wait until Monday. It’s Friday, now.

Monday, I have a doctors’ appointment. I’m terrified to go. Reports coming out of Italy say that hospitals are absolutely the worst places to go. I need to pick up my injections. They offered to give me six weeks worth, so I would only have to come in once. I asked if they could bring them outside the office so I wouldn’t have to risk infection. They said “No.” I asked if they understood what maniacal position they were putting me in, and all they said was, “Well, sorry.”

I did find out some good news. Some hospitals are using CPAP machines in place of ventilators, when they can get them. I have one of these. If I catch this, this one thing may increase my chances of survival. I don’t say this often, but thank goodness for the VA hospital, and all those sleep studies I went through!

Then, my son’s girlfriend, Jenny, had to be tested. She smokes, so that doesn’t help the situation. They said there would be results, “sometime next week.” If she and my son get this, it is going to make it much harder for me, until my car comes out of the shop, regardless of whether I move into the city, or not. I need to have a conversation with Jenny’s mother, about what we should do if they become too ill to take care of themselves and the kids. She is also immuno-compromised, like me. We need to have a plan.

Then, there is something else that bothers me. Due to the lack of tests available, even if someone self-quarantined, they don’t know if they actually had COVID19 or not. Immunity seems to only come through getting the disease at this point. What if you think you had it? You got really sick, but it turned out to just be a bad case of bronchitis. You finish your quarantine period, and now you think you have immunity, but you don’t. Because you couldn’t get tested. Now, your immune system is shot from fighting bronchitis, but you are out pretending you are A-OK, because you think you already had it. But, you didn’t. This is precisely why I think there is not a chance in hell this will be over by Easter, like our (well, don’t let me put any adjectives here–use your own) President predicts. I feel very concerned right now.

I’m going to continue to self-quarantine after Monday. Some basic things I need to do. My doctors’ appointment. The grocer. Storage. Moving my rig. Laundry. I’m going to try to get this all done in as few trips as possible. Wish me luck.

Tales from the Quarantine Zone

Our town has been officially declared a disaster area. We have 15 cases in a city with 253,888. Several of them were related to a university student who tested positive, was ordered to self-quarantine, and broke the quarantine order.

All businesses are ordered closed except grocery stores, pharmacies, package liquor stores, pet supply stores and veterinary clinics, healthcare providers, vehicle fuel stations, banks and financial institutions, day care centers, and critical infrastructure businesses. Explain to me how package liquor stores are critical to survival?

Non-compliance yields a $1,000 fine + 100 days in jail. Our city is taking this seriously, even if it may be a tad too late.

My son’s shop has been categorized as critical, because they work on ambulances and police cars. This is worrisome to me, but fortunately, his shop is large and he’s currently having no direct contact with customers. They also cut their hours from 11 a day to 9. Several days prior to that, my daughters’ job was shut down as non-essential, in Alabama. Her employer has agreed to provide a $500/week stipend to each employee, for now. Who knows what will happen if this drags on. I haven’t seen my grandkids since mid-January.

However, I just spent a half-hour on the phone trying to reschedule an elective medical procedure. It was scheduled for Thursday, and I have been quarantined since last Monday. I travelled out of state and out of country, (the Bahamas), and have had a fever since last Monday, though no other symptoms. They were telling me I had no reason not to make the appointment! What the heck? I could potentially infect someone or if I am not infected, (which as of last Monday, our University Medical Center still had zero tests), get infected myself. I’m 52 years old. I’ve read the “ethical practices” the hospitals will use if they start running out of ventilators. Health care workers get the first ones, then younger people. I won’t stand a chance. Maybe I could enroll online to medical school?

Besides all this, the information we are getting is changing on a daily basis. I woke up Thursday morning with a scratchy throat. It was usual allergy symptoms, but that very day, the CDC added a sore throat to the list of symptoms. On top of that, they said anyone quarantined should avoid their pets. I have a senior dog who will not leave my side, and I live in a 26 foot recreational vehicle. It’s basically two rooms. The bathroom, and everything else! Avoiding my dog is both absolutely impossible, but also a major stressor. I am incredibly attached to the little beastie. I was in tears until a friend found an article from the World Health Organization that said avoiding ones pets was not necessary. The WHO has dealt with more epidemics than the CDC, so I am going to take their word for it. And take a walk. With the Beastie. It clears all the negative brain gunk. At least, I can still do that.

Buckle Up for a Rant

Once again, bureaucracy is kicking my butt.

I misplaced my military ID sometime last year when I was downsizing from my house to the RV. When I went to the VA in Texas, the guy kinda blew me off and said, “we can’t help you get a copy of your DD-214, because it was one that was lost in the Minneapolis fire. I will make some inquiries, and call you.” I called him weekly for three months.

January came, and the rules changed for getting onto a military base. Now if you are 100% service connected, and have a VHIC card, you don’t need the additional military ID. So, I’m in Shreveport, at Barksdale Air Force base, and I try to get on to go to the PX, and go talk to a military travel specialist.

“Sorry, ma’am, you can’t get on base with this card…”

Dang E-3, doesn’t he appreciate the fact that he’s going to be in my shoes, someday? I was just going to drop it at that, but my friend, who was with me, has a brother who works for the DAV. She was like, “go talk to Jay.” I’m like, whatever, I’m getting a little hangry at this point, it was after 1300. So, we drove back over the bridge, across town to the VA.

Immediately, Jay was like, “You need to talk to the Business Office.” I went and talked to the Business Office. They showed me, and printed out an e-mail from Barksdale, with pictures, that showed that my ID card was precisely all I needed to get on base. So, I went back to Jay, to see what he had to say about the DD-214 issue. Again, he sent me to someone else, who was the wrong person. When she asked him why he sent me to her, he said, “well, at least I got out of doing the work.”

Turns out, despite decent efforts from the 2nd person, I am no closer to getting my military ID because a 3rd person is required to print a form, and he is taking personal time right now, because his kids are sick. AND IT TOOK 2 HOURS OF MY AFTERNOON FOR THE VA TO FIGURE OUT WHERE THIS GUY WAS.

I’m heading back to Texas tomorrow. I wasted a whole day and didn’t get anything done. My friend didn’t even want to go back on base so I could confront the E-3 with my printed-out e-mail. I think she was afraid they might call security.

What irritates me about the VA system is how willing every administrative person there, is willing to pass the buck, at the expense of the veteran’s time and patience. And apparently, the personnel at the military bases are no more accommodating. Another annoying issue is how many times I have needed something at the VA, and only one person can provide that thing, and in my case, they are ALWAYS on leave. Why do they not cross-train people?

At least the day ended with strawberry pie.

Art Onboard the Carnival Vista

So, I took a lot of photos. Ha Ha! At least I am getting a little bit better at taking photos! The Vista was so different from the Conquest, that I had sailed on, in November. Some of the differences were good; some, not so much so. I think I was more aware of the art on this ship–but there was also more of it. I learned to go to the last auction of the cruise, because you can pick up good deals, if you have about $500. It was also interesting to watch people plonk down $50,000. for a painting. I had never been to an art auction before, so it was an experience.

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Part 2: Carnival Vista art #carnivalvistaartship

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Just some of the art onboard the Carnival Vista

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A Tour Through The Marjorie Merriweather Post Art Collection at South Plains College, Levelland, TX

In celebration of my 100th blog post, I thought I might re-visit my most popular blog post in the past seven years. Enjoy, again!

Cruisin' by Air, Land & Sea!

To begin this post about the Post Art Exhibition, I must tell you I have absolutely no idea why every picture I have ever taken, in my entire life, slants towards the floor on the right. I must also apologize for any dreadfully blurry photos, and I will try to find a better image online to share, for those pictures. The day I visited, the lighting was kept low, to preserve the paintings, and it made getting good shots of them difficult. Most of the information about the paintings was gleaned from South Plains Colleges’ website about the permanent exhibit.

Before we begin, I would like to take a few minutes to say a special thanks to Ms. Latha Tucker, who was my guide to the exhibit that day. She was wonderful! She gave me a bit of back history about each picture or portrait, and even showed me a…

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