Editor’s note: We understand the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic, but we know everyone could also use a laugh in these challenging times. With that in mind, here is a lighter take from our columnist that we hope gives you a brief break from the current serious news cycle.
Almost every year, I take a vacation during the last week of March.
It usually follows the grueling two weeks of covering the BNP Paribas Open and always includes my parents, who visit the desert from Michigan around that time every spring. We might go to Vegas, watch college basketball, go to the movies, hit my favorite desert restaurants, and shuffle through valley casinos during their trip.
This year I still had the week off, and thanks to the conronavirus, the only things missing from my usual routine were the tennis tournament, my parents, Vegas, college basketball, movies, restaurants and casinos.
So I had to get creative. I still traveled a lot. I went to my living room, my backyard, the kitchen, my bedroom, and for something a little more exotic, the guest bedroom.
I did the usual stuff, jigsaw puzzle, sudoku, read a book. I can’t lie to you guys, I would never read a book, especially with my phone so close to my hand and Netflix available on the TV.
But it wasn’t all puzzles and TV, here are the other highlights of my week-long staycation quarantine. Some of this may seem familiar as we all are trying to figure out how to pass the time while staying at home. Once you finish that jigsaw puzzle it can get a little rough.
Coronavirus in Coachella Valley: Cases so far
Staying in touch: Coronavirus Diaries: Zooming to cope
Stay at home: These Palm Springs area restaurants offer delivery, take-out
‘You try to make it line up then!’
A natural instinct is to do some household improvements you’ve been saving for a rainy day. (Which is a good loophole I use to get out of doing stuff because it never rains here.)
But my wife, perhaps feeling that our relationship was going too well, had a fun idea. Let’s put up some wallpaper. Yikes. I think one of the rings of hell is just a non-stop wallpapering project.
Undaunted, she chose a cool pattern and had it delivered. It was the kind of pattern that required the neighboring strip of wallpaper to line up perfectly with the previous strip. Double yikes.
It took us three days to do a wall that required eight strips of wallpaper. It didn’t come together perfectly. We only fought about 82% of the time. “Hold this corner!” “No, hold it strong but give me some slack.” “Why did you let it bubble up?” “I didn’t let it bubble, you did!” “It’s not lining up!” “I know it’s not lining up, that’s because of the bubble.” “You try to make it line up then.” “It never lines up, that’s what makes it wallpaper!”
So in other words, it went better than I expected.
I have to admit the end result does look pretty great, and we’re still married, so I’ll call it a win-win.
This the end result of the three-day wallpaper adventure with my wife. It was a relationship-tester to be sure, but it looks great and we’re still married. (Photo: Shad Powers/The Desert Sun)
‘Cool, bonus coleslaw!’
Playing it safe and smart, we decided to avoid even essential trips like going to the grocery store, so we tried a delivery service for the first time ever.
Our Ralphs delivers so we went to the website and picked our items. We tried to stock up for about two weeks so we chose 52 items. When it came time to set up the delivery, though, it wasn’t giving us a delivery window option.
As first-timers we weren’t sure what was happening. Maybe they don’t allow alcohol. So we took away the wine and the beer. That left us with six items. Just kidding, of course, that left us with 48 items, but it still wasn’t working. So we cut out a few more non-essential items. Away went the ice cream sandwiches. Good-bye to the creamy peanut butter I needed to replace the crunchy peanut butter I accidentally bought the last time I ventured out. Eventually we were down to 41 items, and voila! It said they could begin shopping right away.
Specifically, a text said Elaine L was doing our shopping. She would send automated texts throughout telling us they didn’t have certain things: eggs, Clorox wipes, Kleenex. And another text that she had to substitute a few things from the brands we picked, mayo, creamer, tuna, etc.
And in less than an hour, she was on her way to our house. She arrived, carried the six grocery bags to the door. We asked her to leave them there on the ground. She said “no problem,” we said “thanks” and away she went. Not too shabby.
Wearing gloves, I grabbed the bags and brought them just inside the door. I took out each item individually and gave it to my wife who wiped them down. It was kind of exciting to see what our replacement options were, and as I unloaded each item there was a big 48-ounce tub of coleslaw in there. Something we didn’t order, and didn’t pay for. Bonus!
If you’re reading this and you ordered delivery from Ralphs on Saturday and were missing your big-old coleslaw when you got your groceries, I just want you to know it tasted great. Good choice.
‘Oh my gosh, are you OK?’
It seems like a lot of my friends on social media are reporting that they are gaining weight during quarantine because they keep eating out of boredom and can’t go to the gym.
I’m actually trending in the opposite direction. I’m losing weight and I never went to the gym to begin with, so that’s not hurting me. I’m realizing most of my unhealthy transgressions are of the outside-the-house variety: Fast-food stops, candy bar at the gas station, work donuts. I’m also drinking a ton more water than I used to, and most importantly, I’m talking an hour-long walk every morning for some fresh air.
These daily walks have been transformative. Seeing the mountains, the sun, dogs and other people has been energizing. But it did lead to one awkward interaction.
On my Friday walk, I was heading toward a woman, I would guess in her twenties, walking her dog. We were approaching each other and I was at a driveway so I stepped aside creating our proper 6 feet of physical distance.
She was on her phone, but she turned toward me and said “He won’t bite.” I don’t think she was joking, so I started to explain that it wasn’t the dog I was avoiding, but her. Before I could finish, she stepped awkwardly on the side of the curb and took a spill.
Every fiber in my being wanted to reach down and extend my hand to help her up and see if she was OK, but it’s a social dilemma these days. Right? I basically just stayed 6 feet, 1 inch away from her and asked her if she was OK. She was more embarrassed than hurt, and as she sort of tried to figure out a way to get up while still holding her phone and her dog, all I could do was stare and smile politely. Which to her, I have to assume, came off creepy.
‘Check your plant app’
We have this bush/tree in our backyard that is growing bigger and bigger, as plants do. I’m hoping one of these days some beautiful flowers were burst from its leaves, but nothing so far. During my week off, though, I was inspecting it and there were new little berries on it. Cool! That’s something.
When my wife got home, I excitedly gave her the good news about the bush/tree showing some signs of life. Oh, I know, honey, you should look it up on that tree app you have where you take a picture of a tree and it tells you what kind.
She did, and we had our answer: The African sumac tree.
Cool, let’s learn more about it. African sumac, is a dense shade tree, rather graceful with its arching branches and weeping foliage. Excellent. It is tough and reliable in dry conditions. Perfect. It’s in the same genus as poison oak, and is considered poisonous. Less excellent. Avoid planting it where puppies might be tempted to nibble on the foliage or berries it produces. … So I spent half of that day cutting down our African sumac tree.
More: My epic toilet paper quest: Laughter, guilt, hostility, emojis and in the end success
Gang, let’s face it, these are tricky times. It’s not going to be easy to fill the next month or two at home with out going stir crazy. But it’s doable.
That’s why we’ve got to take time to enjoy the little things as we stay at home and fill our days. If we try to remain sane, be safe and do NOT put up wallpaper, we can all get through this.
Here’s hoping your personal quarantine includes a little laughter, a lot of hope and whole bunch of free coleslaw.
Shad Powers is a columnist for The Desert Sun. Reach him at email@example.com.