In this time…

I confess that I haven’t read Gabriel García Márquez’s Nobel Prize winning novel, Love in the Time of Cholera. The synopsis I found online said that it is about love, longing, heartbreak, redemption… and cholera. For some reason, the title of this book popped into my head as my husband and I prepare to spend a lot more time at home together.

The good news is that we like each other’s company. Since we both retired several years ago, we’ve balanced time spent together and time spent on our own or with others. While we enjoy many of the same interests and activities, we also are comfortable doing our own thing: reading, gardening, house projects, hobbies, etc. Having separate home offices and respecting each other’s need for “me time” has gone a long way to create a happy, healthy post-work relationship.

Unfortunately, in this time of the coronavirus, several events that we looked forward to attending have been cancelled. Museums and parks have been closed. Going out to lunch together – something we both enjoy – has become worrisome. Plans to get together with friends are being reconsidered. As the medical community and local governments ramp up their warnings, we find ourselves ramping down our interactions with others.

In this time of the coronavirus, we will need to depend on each other more. Lots of people will need support. Small business owners will struggle. Not everyone has the privilege of staying home from work with no negative financial impact. Many don’t have health insurance. Those who live alone will need someone to check in on them. Neighbors, especially those who are high risk, may need someone to get groceries for them.

In this time of the coronavirus, even as we hear more negative news, it’s important to savor the positive. Outside my office window, a gentle rain is falling. The trees are starting to bud and, just yesterday, I saw a bright yellow oriole – my first sighting of our seasonal visitor – perched on a branch. If I must stay home for a while, I have a stack of books that I look forward to reading and there are a few unfinished projects that I might actually get to.

In this time of the coronavirus, while we limit exposure, we can still affirm our love, welcome spring, plant some vegetables, watch a sunset, go for a walk, read a good book, listen to music, write a letter, call a friend, organize a closet, bake cookies, and enjoy the beauty around us.  We may have to practice social distancing, but we don’t have to distance ourselves from much that nourishes us.

Author: Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged.com

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

123 thoughts on “In this time…”

  1. Janis, great comparison. You raise several good points. People in the gig economy or part-time service industry are beginning to suffer more. Hours cut back, gigs reduced, etc. These jobs have no paid time off. The only response might be another PT job or unemployment.

    As for the love part, I see a future in sharing Purell as an ice-breaker. On a serious note, people do tend to hunker down and not help others as much. Yet, hopefully, that will not be the case. Keith

    1. I have been hearten to see people posting offers of help on our local NextDoor Facebook site. Mostly 20-somethings offering to go grocery shopping for older people who don’t feel comfortable going out. I sure would like to believe that there will be more of that and less of “us against them.”

  2. Great post, Janis, and right on-point for everything you mentioned (checking in on older neighbors, etc.). I’m specifically glad that you mentioned those who are uninsured because the Powers have been purposely opaque when it comes to Medicaid payments for COVID-19 testing *and* treatment. Even those who are covered under those new super-inexpensive ACA plans (i.e. “Trumpcare”) haven’t been assured that co-pays for treatment of COVID-19 will be waived (in fairness, most health plans haven’t yet made that determination yet either).

    We’ve been skittish about going to restaurants also. But the other night we went to a favorite, locally-owned Mexican place located near the beach, and we were heartened to see that they ditched their regular menus and printed new papers ones which also acted as placemats. Very smart of them.

    We’ve stopped going to the gym opting to just do aerobic walking in our development each morning. I still have my part-time job on Mondays at three law firms, which I’m also skittish about but will nonetheless continue going to for now. Strange times indeed. – Marty

    1. If something good can come out of this, maybe there will be a national recognition of the great gap between the haves and the have nots. Everyone needs some level of healthcare and no one should lose everything because they can’t work. I’m glad that you went to your local restaurant and that they were doing what they could to make their customers comfortable.

      Stay safe, Marty. I’m surprised that your law firms are still open and haven’t switched to work-from-home.

      1. Funny, a few days ago, I purposely went to the Library to stock up on a pile of books…even swabbed them down with a wipe after bringing them home…for some reason I didn’t think in terms of the place closing at some future date, just that I wanted to get a stash and hunker down as things got more cloistered.
        FYI: One of my selections was a re-read of Pearl Buck’s ‘The Good Earth”.
        Let us know how you fare with the Marquez book.

        1. I have a vague memory of starting it too (I was very attracted to the tropical-looking cover… speaking of “don’t judge a book by…”) and having a hard time getting into it. I probably stopped reading it and donated it to the library. Now, I want it back and our libraries are closed. Ironies abound 🙂

  3. All excellent points. I also really feel for the part-time and gig-employed. We are retired and, like you, have enough room for our individual me time. After a small gathering this evening, it seems that socializing will be very minimal for a while.

  4. We are retired too and enjoy each other’s company. We are mostly isolating ourselves but can find plenty to do. Lots of offers from people on our local FB page as well.
    Museums and libraries closed here too. All social activities in our building have been cancelled.
    Smart about the menus.

  5. We don’t have plans but are attempting to keep our limited routine going. I walk at the mall (very solitary mostly) and have visited the gym (which they assure me they are cleaning). No crowds, groups, etc. Oddly we went to one of our favorite restaurants this week and I swear I got a stomach virus. Interesting 24 hours! Checking in on my bro who at 90 and with asthma is at super high risk. He’s laid back about it. He told me if he dies, it’s not the end of the world. He’s had a great life. Gawd! I admire him.

    1. I’d probably give up the gym if I went to one, but no reason not to continue to exercise. My three-mile walking route is almost totally people-free :). Sorry about your stomach flu but it underlines how easy it is to pass bugs along to each other. I hope your brother and his wife are taking good care of themselves and limiting their exposure. Yes, he’s had a great life, and it would be nice to have it continue on a good while longer.

  6. In this time of the Coronavirus, you will have time to read that book, “Love in the time of Cholera”! 🙂

    If I would have a house right now, I’d happily stay inside for a couple of weeks to tackle projects that otherwise end up at the bottom of the list. It sounds like you have plenty to do and I love that you each have your own office to allow enough me-time. With the weather getting better – after all the rains – it will be nice to get into nature for a walk as well.

    I have to say, in times of “disaster”, living on a boat or an RV is not a bad thing. Not much has changed for us. As long as the National Parks and free campgrounds don’t close, we’ll be just fine. 🙂

    Of course, I haven’t gone shopping yet and we are out of food, so it remains to be seen tomorrow, what the state of the fruit stands and grocery stores are in central Florida. Luckily, we don’t need more toilet paper.

    1. Around here, someone will post that one grocery store is out of everything, and someone else reports that another is fully stocked… with no lines. Good luck shopping tomorrow! National Parks could close if they don’t have staff but I’d imagine your free campgrounds will stay open. I hope the two of you stay healthy (Maya probably won’t be able to take care of you if you get sick).

      Yes, we have plenty to do around here and, yes, I’m going to read that book!

  7. Snap regarding your thoughts on our crazy world at the moment. Luckily for us, we are very self-contained, and big crowds are not our thing. I am training for a half marathon and fortunately, I can do that in the fresh air and wouldn’t think of going to a gym at the moment. Though it is still a niggling worry for Les, who has a compromised immune system. Such as life!

      1. Les is happily putting a new computer together, all the bits and bobs are fitting in nicely as I haven’t heard a boo out of him 🙂 Yes, I am about to go for a bike ride. Both my brothers travel plans have been cancelled. NZ has put in a 2 week self isolation for any travellers to NZ, though how they can police that is beyond me. There goes our tourism for a while and a few small companies won’t survive.

      1. Our son heard the news today that the governor of NC has closed all schools for two weeks. We probably should plan some activities for our neighbor Logan (9) if he is going to be at loose ends for weeks. His parents will need some relief!

  8. I was thinking of writing a post or perhaps even a short story using this title but it looks like my idea wasn’t as original as I though 😀
    FYI they made a pretty decent movie based on the novel, about a dozen years ago, with Javier Bardem. Something to do together while hunkered down waiting out the apocalypse?

  9. Wonderful way to think about this situation. I want to believe that we the people can come together and overcome our fears about this virus, but only time will tell. As an introvert the whole idea of staying at home, not engaging with people appeals to me, EZPZ, but for the extroverts I suspect this must be a level of hell for which they’re not prepared.

      1. I’m usually optimistic, but I don’t have great hope for a broad change through society. I do think people will study the situation and perhaps governments and institutions will be better prepared in the future.

  10. Thanks for this thoughtful post Janis!…I guess this whole episode, for those of us that can stay holed-up at home or in our neighbourhoods, could be like a sort-of enforced mindfulness…(unless we sit staring at the news/our computers…). I’m piling up all the funniest DVDs /unread books/DIY projects I can find. There is a perceptible pall of gloom here in London…but aside from the panic buying, I don’t sense abject fear, thank goodness. Absolutely agree that a lot of good could come out of this…fingers crossed. jx

    1. I really am grateful that we are able to stay home and not worry about losing our source of income (that is, assuming the stock market doesn’t go to zero 🙂 ). There was, according to my neighborhood social media site, a lot of panic buying yesterday and today. Hopefully that will die down as the week goes on.

      1. Re panic-buying – I’m hoping the same…it’s largely unnecessary…people are trying to cover themselves for a 2-3 week period when they might be confined to the house…we will not run out of food…but choices may become more limited. I’m not worried. People losing income is a great concern…if our Mr. Johnson was sensible he would make sure there is funding to cover people’s mortgage and rent payments; just not sure he will feel so generous. I’m an optimist …I feel that this pandemic may go on for longer than we think…but some really good things may come of it…not least that people will get used to walking/flexible working. Like you..we are very lucky re our income…nevertheless we may be impacted if this goes on for a long time….but pretty much everyone will be in the same boat. We just have to wait and see…altho, I have a funny feeling they may conclude that it is more sensible to foster a controlled increase in the number of cases, because it seems most of us will get this mild flu anyway…so we might as well get on with it. Oops… sorry this is so rambling.

  11. Indeed, these are exactly my sentiments which you expressed so well in today’s post. In these turbulent times let us focus on the positive aspects of life, which still are abundant if we only care to open hearts and eyes. Best wishes and warm greetings from Canada! Peter

  12. Hi, Janis – As always, I admire (and am inspired by) your thinking here. You have also made me want to read ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’. I’m not sure if our local library is closed, but like elsewhere, closures and cancellations are becoming more and more frequent. Richard and I are trying to be sensible, not panic and not be foolhardy. Today, instead of going to the gym, we took an 11 km walk. We did go to a favourite coffee shop. As Vancouver Island has reported only one suspected case so far, we currently felt comfortable doing so. Next week could be a completely different story.
    As you so articulately have written, we all have to find our balance, stay aware of the facts, and not forget the importance of community. Great post!

    1. Things are changing pretty fast here. Last week, I felt comfortable having lunch out. This week: not so much. I am determined to read the book now also. Our libraries are closed, but there is a online source we can use to borrow eBooks. I’m glad that you and Richard are doing well and finding the balance that works for you. Hugs.

      1. Hi, Janis – This post immediately made me want to read ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’. I dropped into our used bookstore today (it was deserted other than the owner). Score: They had seven copies. (If you lived closer by, I would have picked up one for you.) I’ll let you know what I think.

  13. Hi Janis,
    Great post. How quickly things change. Last week we were gearing up for our son’s wedding; this week we are thinking of how to dismantle all the plans over the past year. We are trying to be prudent, but it is so disheartening – especially for my son and his fiance. Dan and I are maxing out social distancing here in Florida. We have ample food, meds, and toilet paper so feel good about being at home. We walk, talk, read, write, and today had cocktails with our next door neighbors on the lawn outside, with plenty of space between us!
    You are not the first one I’ve noticed today mentioning that book…time to check it out.

    1. I’m so sorry that the virus has impacted your son’s wedding plans! Even knowing that this will pass and the wedding will happen at some point, it’s disheartening to postpone something so important. I love the image of you having cocktails with your neighbors… at a distance. Even though we have to maintain a reasonable separation for each other, we can still connect.

  14. Your head is making all the best connections! One of the most romantic quotes ever (methinks) comes from this book “All that was needed was shrewd questioning … to conclude once again that the symptoms of love were the same as those of cholera.”

  15. Your entire introduction to this post is a stand-alone statement. While hubby and I get in each other’s way at times, we function much like you two – you articulated it well!
    As for COVD-19? You helped show some of the positives that might arise from this our emerging ‘new normal’.
    Thanks!

    1. Living well together in retirement is a dance whose steps can be awkward at first and difficult to learn. But, as time goes on, we find our rhythm and begin to move well together (although occasionally we still step on each other’s toes). I’m glad the two of you have found your rhythm too (but, I would expect nothing less from two accomplished musicians 🙂 ).

  16. Great advice, Janis! We are all in the difficult position of trying to stay safe (for ourselves and others) and at the same time attend to our responsibilities. Not everyone can stay home, obviously, but we can use good sense when we do go out, and we can remember to check on our neighbors and families. It’s important to stay connected and stay positive, and this post helps, a lot!!!

  17. All I can do is echo what everyone else has been saying … great post, Janis.

    You hit on each thing I’ve been simmering over the past 3 days as the closures, cancellations, and suspensions have been falling like dominos. We are the lucky ones. I’m worried about everyone else.

  18. Beautiful thoughts, Janis and a testament for these times. Our pastor reminded us today (yes, we had church and were not allowed to touch each other, LOL) in his series on Kindness, to check on our elderly neighbors and continue to be kind to people. It is hard for me to be kind when I see shoppers hoarding random items, leaving nothing for others. With university classes all online at countless universities and colleges, I worry about the young students who need to be with each other during these chaotic times.

    1. I sure hope that those who hoard and price gouge will look back on their actions and feel shame. I do think that more will practice kindness than will display selfishness. It sure will take a lot of personal adjustments as we enter this new (hopefully temporary) period of uncertainty. Stay healthy, Terri!

  19. We came home early from SC because of the situation. I’m headed out to see what I can find at the grocery in hopes that I can find a few things because the frig and pantry are fairly bare after being gone. I won’t have trouble keeping busy, but I’m not seeing quite as much sharing and good deeds as you are so consider yourself lucky. Now, let us all stay safe and move on towards our more regular lives.

  20. You said it perfectly Janis … calm and cool and if you could preach that message to the masses, we would have a calmer society. I turned off the news today because the saturation of warnings, “breaking news” and updating the tally of Coronavirus cases here in Michigan (it went from 2 on Thursday to 45 Sunday afternoon) was just becoming more worrisome by the minute.

    1. The news is leaving many of us worried and unsure. I try to limit my exposure to “breaking news” by either turning media off, or only listening to reliable sources like NPR. The news is still worrisome, but it isn’t delivered in hysterics. Are you able to do all your work from home?

      1. Yes, this is an all-news station, but between “breaking news” and bulletins and breathless delivery, it is more worrisome by the moment. For me, it is not bad as I live alone, so no worries re: people bringing in germs and I have worked from home since 2011, so my boss and I have been at this for awhile. I work for a sole practitioner labor lawyer (for management), so I have liked this gig for a while, even more now. I did work on site from 2003 to 2009 then was laid off due to the recession. We’ve slowed down a bit this last week, so I hope we are not headed that way again. My boss turned 73 last week and does not intend to retire for two more years – wants to have 50 years in the legal biz. I get all my work e-mailed to me as PDFs and occasionally I get a tape mailed or dropped off … I’ve not seen my boss since 2012. We e-mail/talk on the phone all the time though. They closed down all our restaurants/bars at 3:00 p.m. today so takeout only. I’ve not been out to eat in years – we have a Hepatitis outbreak here in our state with 32 deaths the past few years (poor food handling practices). Scary times indeed … stay safe Janis.

        1. Wow, I can’t imagine not seeing the person you work for since 2012 (although that would have been the preferred relationship with a few of my past bosses 🙂 ). It sounds like you have things well under control, Linda. As long as you can continue your walks and feed your furry friends, I think you’ll do just fine. It is unnerving right now. I’m not a natural worrier, but I do find myself letting my mind travel to the dark side now and then with “what-ifs.” Let’s all stay healthy!

          1. It is different for sure Janis … but it works and that was out last face-to-face visit, October of 2012. It is unnerving – most everything in Michigan is shut down as I write this … it’s a real eerie feeling. My dentist posted on Facebook that the Michigan Dental Association forbids any dental office to perform routine visits, just emergencies until April 1st. I have a May 5th appointment for a teeth cleaning and will probably cancel it to a later date.

  21. Thanks for the thoughtful blog Janis. Positive with lots of good ideas for passing the time. I’m still planning on attempting that orange cheese cake for Mark’s birthday.

  22. Hi Janice! So nice to hear that you and Paul are doing well and finding the ‘good’ in all that is occurring. I also believe that we are extremely fortunate to live where we live so we can get outside and get fresh air…and so far everyone is being very kind and consider to each other. Even though there has been some panic buying at the grocery stores, I can’t help but believe it is just a temporary situation and that as stores are able to restock everyone will be able to find and buy what they need. And as you know we had a trip planned in May but it now is looking unlikely. The plan will be to reschedule in the fall. Disappointing? of course, but in light of all that some people are facing it is just a blip. It might be a while but i do believe, “Everything will be okay.” Stay healthy and keep washing your hands! ~Kathy

    1. Hi Kathy! I’m not surprised that your trip was cancelled. So sad but I’m sure you’ll be able to reschedule it when all this craziness dies down. I bet those countries are beautiful in the fall! Hopefully our September get together is still on?

      So far, so good for us. I can’t say that much has changed in our lives (other than the drumbeat of bad news). A few events have been cancelled but we enjoy hanging around at home, gardening, and taking walks in the neighborhood. We are the lucky ones, for sure.

  23. You are so right, Janis. In a time like this, it helps if you enjoy your family or roommates (as the case may be). I’m guessing there will be a baby boom nine months from now! 🙂 I miss many of the things you mentioned and especially my gym class. That’s one thing I’ve always counted on to beat stress. A workout at home just isn’t the same. I do enjoy a good book, though, and I have a couple left over from my recent vacation. I also should be able to find plenty of time for blogging.

  24. Hi Janis, I agree on how “the good news is that we like each other’s company.” And Chuck and I also appreciate each other’s need for “me time.” We are with you on events cancelled, friend’s dates cancelled and so on. Yes, on savor the positive. Your last paragraph is a wonderful guide on spending time with activities that nourish us. Thank you for sharing this beautiful, positive post!

    1. Hi Erica! I imagine you aren’t able to see your kids and grandkids and that must be hard for everyone. It’s fortunate that technology has given us ways to connect when we can’t be there is person, but it just isn’t the same. Just think how wonderful real hugs will feel when we can freely interact again. Take care and stay healthy!

      1. Janis, Last Sunday, Chuck and I and our daughters and their families made a decision to completely social isolate from each other and the rest of the community. I want to look brave and positive when we FaceTime, although, inside I am choked up. I am still very grateful we live here and we have access to technology. It is important to keep everyone as healthy as possible. Hugs to you and Paul and stay healthy!

        1. We’ve done the same thing with our daughter and grandchildren. We can’t visit them (even though they’re just 10 minutes away). But we Facetime and talk every day, and I write fill-in-the-blank stores for each grandkid. Kinda keeping the creativity going. 🙂

          1. I LOVE your idea, Pam! I just wrote this down and I will compose something. I did Math puzzles today for the 6 and 4 year old. They didn’t want to stop. I have always liked Math…..especially Grade 1 Math 🙂 I am not sure whether you received a notification from Annika’s site. I left a specific comment for you, Pam, on the part you played there. Serendipity. I appreciate the sharing. 🙂

          2. Thanks for telling me about your comment on Annika’s post – I raced over. We all teach each other so much through our blogosphere. I love our friendships. xoxo

  25. Actually, “Love in the Time of Cholera” is one of my favorite books. If you need something to do during this time of social distancing, it’s worth a read! 🙂 I recently told my hubby “It’s a good thing we like each other.” We spend almost all of our waking moments together now that we are both retired.

  26. I hate being late here, but on the other hand, I really enjoy reading the comments of others. Like you, I’m so fortunate to have my guy for company – and we love each other’s company. But several of my friends and acquaintances (through my writing classes) live alone and are ….lonely. I make sure I e-mail or call those I know are alone to add some diversion to their day. I also realize how fortunate we bloggers are – we have a roomful of friends right on our computer screen to entertain and teach us about all sorts of things. Stay safe!

    1. Even though I HATE talking on the phone, I have several friends and family members who love it. I’ve been trying to put aside my aversion to that mode of communication and reach out more often. I am so grateful that I don’t live alone. Not only do I have someone to talk to but we are able to help each other put this craziness into perspective. You stay safe also!

      1. I’m exactly the same way. I have an aversion to phone calls. Give me a keyboard and I’ll “talk” away for long minutes. But on the phone, can’t wait to get off. B U T, right now, I’m on the phone with 2-3 friends a day, for 20 minutes at least a call. They need it. I understand. ❤

  27. Hi, I am also lucky to enjoy the company of my roommate, husband of 40 years. Life in the time of Corona can be a challenge though – on Wednesday we had a 5.7 earthquake to top everything else off. I know for Californians that’s not a big deal, but we sure felt it. Trying to stay positive. Thanks for a fun post.

  28. This are ‘interesting’ times. Being cooped up at home is not the best of things, especially if the end is unknown. Learning or improving one’s skills will help with coping with cabin fever. I have started doing a craft that I had set aside. Hopefully, I will get better since I am still learning. Stay safe and as healthy as can be.

  29. Lovely ideas, Janis. It is beautiful to see nature continue, even flourish, as if nothing is wrong with the world. You are wise to recommend that we all get out and enjoy a good nature walk and appreciate how fortunately we really are. I think we will be doing a lot of the same things for the next few weeks (e.g., reading, organizing, etc.). Since we just returned home from South America on 19 March, we are still in self-quarantine, hoping that we were not exposed to the virus during our return trip. It is a good thing that Esther and I also get along so well. Take good care, my friend.

    1. Hi Joe! I’m glad that you got home safely. So many of my traveling friends had to scramble as their options started to close. I hope you get a chance to write about your experience (wait… what am I saying? Of course you’ll have a chance 🙂). I hope your quarantine is successful and that you’ll be able to merely hunker down like the rest of us.

  30. Janis – thank you for sharing your words of wisdom, they give me rays of hope during this time. My husband and I have/do work from home for the last 5 years, we’re like you and your husband – we have our groove, thankfully. But it does, as you say, make us pause when we consider going out to get groceries, etc. Or missing a lunch or dinner date out in public. We’re hoping right along with the rest of the world that we’re contributing to the flattening of the curve! Take care and stay safe!!!

    1. I think most people are doing the right thing and staying sheltered in their homes. Some, unfortunately, haven’t quite accepted the reality of the situation. We are so used to being able to do what we want, when we want (even if we decide not to) that it’s hard to let go of that sense of freedom. I’m glad to know that you and your husband are doing well and staying safe.

      1. I agree with you, Janis. I hope (since I’m 6 days late in replying) that by this time more people have ‘gotten’ the idea that we need to do social distancing to help. I’m glad you and your husband are well too – I hope you stay well and safe!

  31. A lovely post! We retirees probably have it easier than most. Husband and I have separate offices and go about our own way during the day but it is to have someone to share the stay-at-home. Others don’t have that love to share. Stay well. Let me know what you thought of the book. It has been years since I read it.

    1. Although not being able to go out makes me want to do it more, most of our day-to-day really isn’t that different. I do feel bad for those who live alone (or, maybe even worse, those who don’t like who they live with) or those that crave a bunch of social stimulation. I’m pretty happy reading a book and doing some gardening. Stay safe and healthy!

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