Monday, August 24, 2020

Coronavirus Diaries - July

July 3rd

Daniel and Kelsey arrived from California. They flew on Delta. The plane was only 60% full, and all passengers wore masks. They took off their clothes in the garage and and took showers before we even saw them. It’s strange, but it’s what you have to do nowadays. The dogs are had a total fit because PEOPLE ARE HERE! But they were not allowed to greet them  until they had finished their decontamination routine.

July 8th

Daniel and Kelsey have been here since Friday. Its really nice, they are working during the day remotely, and because of Covid no one has any expectations that we are going anywhere or doing much of anything. So we are mainly just living our lives, but I’m doing it with my son and his girlfriend right here. Its great.

On the 4th we took the boat out on Minnetonka for a little while. It was really hot, and busy, but that’s to be expected. We found a quiet spot behind a little island where we could drop an anchor and jump in the water and get wet. It felt great.

Leo had some nap struggles earlier in the month but now he seems to have settled down again. He was a mess on the 4th; fell asleep in the car on the way to our house, then couldn’t fall asleep later until Grampa took pity on him and laid down with him. THEN he had to be woken up and didn’t fall asleep until almost midnight! Poor guy….and poor parents too.

The last two times he’s been over they forgot Elmo. But a nice clean and soft Westie blanket made a pretty good substitution. The trick is to catch him right when he’s tired, not too early, not too late when he’s over-tired either. Right now that’s right around 1:30 PM. Hopefully it will stay like this for awhile, before things change again.

We got Leo a Strider bike for his half birthday. We wanted to get him one for Christmas but he wasn’t tall enough for the littlest Strider then. He’s barely tall enough now, even with the seat at the lowest setting. Its very interesting watching him get the hang of it. He’s very gung ho to learn, but its harder than he thought, or that we thought, to figure it out. Even with two feet on the ground balancing a two-wheeler is a challenge at first. But in just two days he’s getting the hang of it, starting to glide just a bit. He’s not sitting on the seat yet, but they say that will come and he sits on the edge of the seat sometimes. Its kind of fascinating to watch the process.

Its been so hot and humid. I get up crazy early to run but the lows are still in the 70’s with 80% humidity. Well one way or another I’m going to be done with this training cycle in another week. I wonder what I’m going to do at the end? I really have no idea.

July 15

I’ve been really tired the past couple of days. I slept til 6:30 am this morning. I’m not sure I will even bother to do the 3 mile shakeout run tomorrow. It’s more important to carb load, rest, and hydrate.

Leo is doing better on his Strider. He is now sitting on the seat! Lee took him to the playground yesterday. He’s so happy to be able to do that again. We figure it’s safe as long as other kids aren’t there.

Our yard looks so nice this year. I love sitting out on our back porch, listening to the birds. Someday even the rain garden will look nice.

The wildflower garden is amazing. After the primroses were over several different varieties of Susan’s have been blooming. There’s a little monarda, and some milkweed and Joe Pye weed too. And now the old fashioned balloon flowers are coming up in droves. I was wondering when the phlox would start blooming and guess what, it’s just starting. I know that later we’ll see purple asters and goldenrod. And of course the tiger lilies. The roses are still only blooming fitfully but I’ll keep weeding and giving them more space and maybe eventually they’ll come back.

We were going to take the boat over to Wayzata on Lee’s birthday and get carry out brunch from Bellecour, but they’ve had someone test positive for the virus so they are closed while they deep clean. Bummer. If they aren’t open I guess I’ll make him brunch instead. NOTE: Bellecour closed for good shortly after this. Very sad.

July 18

It’s very quiet here today. No Leo, Kelsey and Daniel are over at Sarah and Erik’s. I’m recovering from yesterday, but really I feel pretty good. That was one hell of a challenge. I’m really glad I went ahead and ran my virtual marathon, but I think I’m one and done on that count. It was incredibly hard, mentally and physically. 

July 23

Leo and I went to the Arboretum this morning. They have worked out a method to be open but keep people safe and socially distant. In order to enter you have to buy tickets in advance for a 1/2 hour window in which you are allowed to enter. Once in I believe you can stay as long as you want, but we only stayed an hour.

Once inside they had paths marked with arrows so that you could walk without running into people going the other way. It was easy to stay socially distant and find a walk that was appropriate for a 2 yo.

Once we parked the car, we left the parking lot and walked toward the main building. There was a lady sitting at a table, masked, able to answer any questions and point us in the right direction. Usually Leo is kind of reticent with strangers but not this time.  “Hi! We’re going to see flowers!” The lady was charmed and they proceeded to have a little conversation.

He really enjoyed it, taking a walk, following the arrows on the paths, looking at the flowers, smelling the herbs. He is a child of the coronavirus and has been well taught, at only two and a half, that he has to stay away from people he doesn’t know. When other people would get too close I would have him take my hand, and as we would decide which way to go he would look down a path and if there were people on it he would say, “oh no, people” and we would either wait or choose a different way to go. It was kind of sad and kind of funny. He’s not afraid, and he doesn’t really understand about the virus, but he knows that’s the rule.

We went through the herb garden and smelled the herbs. He said they were “spicy” and started making a game of smelling things and going “yuck!” A person that worked there overheard him and said, “is he saying yuck?” I said, “yes he’s making a joke. He’s playing. He’s 2!” But I think the worker's feeling were hurt, lol.

Leo’s car seat has been turned around so that he is now facing forward. It is seriously a whole new world. We talk about stoplights, what I’m doing as I drive, the bigs trucks. He’s enchanted!

July 29th

It’s Wednesday of week number two of watching Leo full time. Lee has had to work a lot this week so it’s mostly been me doing the watching, although Lee has been free around nap time each day so far.

Monday was a good day, we had fun popping plastic bags, playing, making bagels. I was able to entertain him by letting him help with whatever it was I needed to do. I was tired yesterday and struggled a bit, I didn’t really want to play with bubbles, and it was hot down by the sandbox. 

So today I made sure we had some good activities. We went directly from his house to Freeman Park and spent a good hour at the playground. Another two year old and his mother were there, so I talked to her. They were being careful so we agreed that as long as the two little boys stayed socially distant it would be ok. And it was. All they really wanted to do was say hi and stare at each other anyway.

Leo climbed a ladder (with me right there) and either slid down a slide or a pole (with help) over and over again. He got into the little kid swing and I pushed him for a lonnng time. He went down little slides, big slides, and crawled through tunnels. He picked up rocks and put them in holes, and saved one rock for his “collection”.

Then we came home and filled up the wading pool. And enjoyed the cold water until lunchtime. He’s had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches two days in a row. 

I also sat down with him and picked out some toys and activities to have at our house. Little fire trucks, simple puzzles, refrigerator magnets, blocks, construction paper, washable markers, blunt scissors. He was intrigued by shopping online. At first he thought it was a video and wanted to watch the trucks. Then he didn’t get the concept that this was an AND process and was very fixated on making sure we got the fire trucks above all else. And finally he had a little trouble grasping that none of these things would come until tomorrow. He wrinkled his little brow trying to figure all of this out.

Apparently he had a bad night last night again. Sleep issues...he still needs a nap, but it’s pushing his bedtime pretty late. He’d still be a bear in the evening now without one, but I bet sometime in the next couple of months he’s going to give it up. NOTE: by the end of August his parents have just given in to a later bedtime for now. Whatever works!

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Code Violation! Code Violation!

Yesterday I fumed all afternoon. We received a letter from the Shorewood Planning Dept saying that we are in violation of code because we have “building supplies” that are visible from the road on the west side of our shed. One of our neighbors complained.  First of all, what kind of neighbor reports something like this to the city without at least talking to us first? Oh yeah, a cowardly passive aggressive Minnesotan neighbor, that’s who!

Secondly, the “building materials” they complained about (we think) are the slabs of maple from the giant tree that we saved when we built the house. They are covered by a tarp and are FAR away from the street. But yeah, technically it’s a code violation. I’ve got a call in to the planning technician that sent us the letter to clarify exactly what the violation is, and that putting up a screen will be sufficient.

But I’m pissed, and hurt. Our house and landscaping are BEAUTIFUL, especially for something that was only built a year ago. This violation seems very minor to me, yet it warrants a letter, and a threat of a fine and further action if we don’t fix the problem by August 17th. It’s hardly like all the houses around us are specimens of grace and beauty! 

It makes me feel angry, and suspicious too. Why did they do it? Who was it? Were they jealous? Are they being vindictive and trying to get back at us for the mess we made while building last year? Is it just some crank that likes to drive around and look for violators? Is it someone that noticed the mezuzah on our front door and is racist? We’ll never know.

And it makes me homesick for New Hampshire, where the government pretty much minded it’s own business. I’m reminded that I hate the City of Shorewood for what they put us through when we built the house. And here they are doing it again.

I’m lucky that Lee is so handy. He can throw up a screen so the slabs aren’t visible from the street, and that will be that. But I’m still angry. And sad. Damn Minnesota! This doesn’t help me feel at home here. At all.

Today we’ve received some clarification from the city. If we put up something to hide the maple slabs and some latticework in front of the stacked wood that will suffice. They also gave us a few more days to fix it, since we didn’t get the letter until yesterday and we’re supposed to have 10 days. I’m still not happy, and neither is Lee but we’ll just suck it up and take care of it. No way are we going to bother arguing about it.

But to whatever “neighbor” complained, go to hell. You’re a petty little busybody. I love my house and I love my family and friends and the rest of you can go suck eggs! I guess this is just another example of “Minnesota Nice”. Yeah, nice.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

A Virtual Marathon

A Virtual Marathon

When the San Francisco Marathon was cancelled, at first I was pretty ok about it, because it was not a big surprise. I chose to defer to 2022 and decided I would run a virtual marathon on my own. I decided to run it the week before, because that worked better with our schedule. Then I decided to run it on Saturday, July 18th, because the 19th was my husband’s birthday. And then I looked at the weather. There was a heat advisory for Saturday, so I moved it to Friday instead.

It was still going to be hot, however, so I decided to get up early, at 2 am! That gave me plenty of time to eat and get ready and still get out the door by 4.

The most challenging thing about a virtual race is that there’s no race day magic.  And because I couldn’t psych myself into feeling nervous, I couldn’t poop before the start and I ended up having to go during the race, something that has never happened to me before. I did plan a course that had plenty of porto potties, so I didn’t need to worry about THAT!

I decided to do a loop course because otherwise there was no way to carry all the water I would need, not to mention gels and snacks and changing from a headlamp and a visibility vest to a hat and sunglasses. I put a box and a cooler at the end of our front walk and that was my start and finish line. But each time I stopped to refill my water bottle, grab a gel, take off my headlamp, etc etc, I lost time. The one advantage I had was that I used the time on my Garmin and didn’t worry about GPS creep, so for once when my watch said 26.2 I was done.

My loop was 5.16 miles long, so I did it 5 times, and then did a little half mile out and back to finish it off. There was a very pretty pond along my route and I decided I would take a picture each time I passed it. The first time it was pitch black, with a sliver of moon and Venus shining beside it. 

The next time the horizon was turning faintly red. 

The next time the sun was up and the shadows were beautiful. That was the best picture I think. 

Then one with glaring sunlight and a clear blue sky, 

and finally the last one with interesting clouds scattered across the sky. That was fun. 

I always use run/walk intervals so I decided to use 45 seconds of running and 30 seconds of walking. I stuck to these intervals except occasionally when I needed to walk a little bit more. There were some hills but I avoided anything too challenging. I would slow down a little in the hilly part but make up time on the shady rail trail and on the downhill parts. 

The last two miles were pretty awful. I was so very tired. I walked if I needed to but I actually felt better if I ran a little even at this late stage. It’s because running and walking use different muscles so it spreads out the effort a little.

I watched my wrist based heart rate on my Garmin, even though I knew it wasn’t that accurate. If it started climbing into the 160-170 bpm range I walked a little more until it came back down. Strangely sometimes I felt like I was breathing hard, but my hr was only 140 or so.

The second to last time I passed the house everyone came outside and cheered for me. My husband found some marathon crowd noise  on YouTube and played it, haha. But when I finished they had all left to go out on the boat for awhile.

I was so tired at the end I could barely walk. I kept having to sit down while making a smoothie, and even in the shower. But once I started doing some serious rehydration I felt a lot better. I did get a little dehydrated; I lost 5 pounds during the race. But of course I gained it all back by the next day!

When I came inside my son had bought me a medal! It said I was #1, and of course in this particular race I was first AND last!

I laid down and took a nap when my grandson took his but I was woken up twice by a terrible calf cramp. Ow ow ow I’ve never felt anything so painful! I took some Motrin and someone said to drink pickle juice so I drank a small glass of it. Yuck! Very vinegary and salty, but the cramps stopped so I guess it worked.

That was one hell of a challenge. I’m really glad I went ahead and ran my virtual marathon, but I think I’m one and done on that count. It was incredibly hard, mentally and physically. Part of it of course was the weather. I just can’t race in the heat. But it’s funny. This weather was worse than Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth in 2016 but I feel much better about this race. I didn’t have unrealistic expectations because I’ve been struggling in the heat for weeks. And I already knew I would need to walk more at the end.

I spent the rest of the day hanging out with family and feeling happy that was finally over. No running at all for a week, then not much for the next month. I don’t expect there to be much in the way of real races for the next year, or even two. At my age its going to take a lot for me to start racing with a lot of people again, as much as I love it. I’ll do some more virtual races, just not a virtual marathon!


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