Archive | March, 2020

The new shopping

21 Mar

A few days ago, I went to the grocery store and kept my gloves on the whole time. I was grateful for the stylus on the card reader, so I could punch in my PIN without baring skin. Once home, after wiping down my bags and containers, I took a shower.

I was unsettled by how unsettled I felt about going out.

Yesterday, I ordered dog food online for the first time. Today, I placed an online delivery order with my local supermarket.

I have used this service before. The first time was when I was on crutches and navigating stores was complicated. I have used it a few times since and it has always been very straightforward. When I sat down to place my order, I considered a couple of meals I might make this week, and selected the “within five hours” option.

My phone pinged just after 9 to let me know that Jessica was shopping my order. And then the texts started.

Yellow onions were out, would organic be OK?

She sent me a photo of the empty been shelf, though she did manage to find cans of cannellini beans. Hooray!

She texted me for substitutions for

  • crushed tomatoes
  • coffee creamer
  • cauliflower
  • yellow onions

By the time the app let me know she was on her way, I felt like I knew Jessica.




Keeping Portland Weird

20 Mar

It was a sunny Thursday and, once more, Lucy was just standing on the sidewalk. There was a time that she ran, but nowadays, she simply likes to stand around, sniff, and watch the world.

This particular Thursday, we emerged from social distancing so she could have a potty break and I could get away from the sofa. The sun was warm and I didn’t mind just standing there with her. At this time of the year the sun feels wonderful, and given the circumstances, healing.

As Lucy and I soaked up the sun, I noticed a sound in the distance. Could that be bagpipes?  I asked myself. It couldn’t be Portland’s Unipiper, could it? I wondered as I turned my eyes in the direction of the music. Sure enough a yellow clad figure was at the end of my block. I knew Lucy couldn’t run fast enough for us to see him and I was content to enjoy from a distance.

But then he turned up my street.

Fortunately, a unicycle is not built for speed and I had enough time to dash into my house and grab my phone. On the way, I passed a neighbor.

“The Unipiper is coming!” I called happily.

“Is that a bad thing? You are running away!” he laughed to me as he descended to see the local celebrity.

“Just grabbing my camera,” I called back, just before dashing into the house. I was back in no time and managed to snap one good photo as The Unipiper pedaled past, playing Scotland the Brave.



Zooming in

19 Mar

A call went out from my twin sister yesterday to my siblings and their children.

Hi everyone. Just checking in that everyone is managing in these interesting times! Is everyone okay? Want to do a group Zoom meeting so we can connect virtually and see each other. 😊

There are five of us and 10 children. We are old enough that most of those children have children. Most of them live within a few hours of each other, but, with the pandemic and all, face-to-face visits aren’t an option. For those living further away, this was a way to see people we see infrequently.

When we met last night, we had six screens open and 12ish people present. I say 12ish because a few people popped in and out. Four of the five siblings were there – the first time we’d had so many of us in one place since Mom’s funeral.

Most had never used Zoom. In some ways, it was a bit of a shambles as we started, people talking at the same time, then no one talking. Eventually we developed a rhythm, the same way we are all developing a rhythm as we all stay at home.

We all checked in on one another, told funny stories, talked more seriously about how this is impacting what we do. As we wrapped up we talked about “Zooming in” again in a week, hopeful that maybe a few others would join us. I’ll let you know if they do.


Quiet in the hood

18 Mar

I had an appointment for a haircut yesterday. I wondered if my hairdresser would cancel, but she didn’t. Her salon is about 4 blocks from my house, in the same block as a small Whole Foods, and in a stretch of NE 28th that is sometimes called Restaurant Row.

The weather was nice, so I decided to walk. Although people were out, it wasn’t as busy as it normally is. I decided to take some shots of the signs that have been put up since the governor declared that restaurants could only serve take out or delivery.

This sign was posted on the telephone pole in front of the Whole Foods.


It’s hard to know what this shut down will mean to all these small businesses. My hairdresser talked about how she was torn between staying open and shutting down. Salons have been shut down in Washington and she might now have to struggle with that decision much longer.


17 Mar

I had a moment of panic yesterday.

Do I have enough books? I don’t think I have enough books and the library is closed.

I decided to do an inventory.

I have some books I need to read for the 2021 YALSA Nonfiction Committee I am chairing. There are three books I have to read and four I could read. Others have signed up for them, so I don’t have to.

I grabbed all the books I haven’t read yet and collected them together. I have lots of audiobooks in my library account. Unless this thing goes on for a really long time, I should be OK.



Too much, not enough, just what I need

16 Mar

For several years now, a friend and I have had season’s tickets to a local vocal group called Cappella Romana.

Our March concert was supposed to happen Saturday. The group was going to perform Tchaikovsky’s Divine Liturgy, with a basso profundo and the 100+ voices of the Pacific Youth Choir. Unfortunately, this was the day after I was supposed to come home from Outdoor School and the day I was supposed to take my team to our OBOB regional meet. When I learned that all of these events were going to collide, I gave my ticket back to my friend, knowing there was no way I’d be able to make it, even though it was the concert I was most excited about.

Earlier in the month, their Seattle concert was cancelled because of the circumstances surrounding the coronavirus. The group did not want to take the young singers of the Pacific Youth Choir – or their own artists – to Seattle. With the Oregon governor’s announcement last week that events of over 250 people would have to be cancelled, it looked as though the Portland concert would suffer the same fate.

And then I got a message saying that, rather than cancelling, Cappella Romana would livestream the concert from St Mary’s Cathedral in Portland – without a live audience.

And so I spent Saturday night, watching a performance I had expected to miss. The music was glorious and just the sort of thing my soul needed in these trying times.





A good night’s sleep

15 Mar

Like most people, I sleep better at home than away. When I took my 6th graders to Outdoor School for the first time last year, I had an epic bed fail.

I had no idea what to expect, and having no sleeping bag, I brought a flat bottom sheet, a blanket, and a small sofa pillow. It was a total disaster. I hadn’t anticipated that the mattress wold have a hard, vinyl covering.


The mattress itself wasn’t uncomfortable. Because I brought a flat sheep, it slipped off as I tossed and turned through the night. That left me laying on the vinyl, which was surprisingly noisy. My small pillow slipped through head rail and my blanket wasn’t enough. I slept terribly all three nights we were away.

This year, when I learned we’d be attending the same camp, I started planning for a better sleep experience. I considered purchasing a sleeping bag, but decided against it because  hate having my feet contained in that way. I decided to bring a full sized pillow, a fitted flannel sheet, and a comforter cover. As I made my bed on Tuesday afternoon, I knew my sleep would be better.


I had a great sleep the first night and the fitted sheet worked perfectly, even though it was for a full-sized mattress, not a twin. The second night, my sleep was more fitful. the bedding still worked perfectly. The problem was that my mind wouldn’t shut down after learning we’d have to leave early due to Oregon’s decision to cancel all extra-curricular activities.

Before we left, we joked with the camp director that last year was fire (you can read about that here), this year was pestilence, who knew what we’d bring to Trickle Creek next year. Regardless of where we are or what disaster awaits us, I have a solid plan for a good night’s sleep while I am away.


14 Mar

Five chinchillas
Short-haired chinchillas
Chillin’ with the lights out
Chillin’ with the lights out
Chillin’ with the lights out
Chillin’ with the lights out

We were at campfire Wednesday night and the kids were singing their hearts out. Just as we made it to 2 chinchillas, the phone in my back pocket rang.

Who would call me here, now? I wondered as I fumbled to retrieve it and turn off the ringer. When I saw the caller was my principal, I knew I had to take the call.

“Hey, Adrienne. Are there kids around?” she asked.

“We are at campfire,” I replied. “Can you hear them? Give me a moment to walk away.”

And that’s when she broke the bad news. They were sending buses to pick us up the next morning. Outdoor School (ODS) was being cancelled because Oregon was limiting extra-curricular activities  to protect people from COVID-19. And ODS was on that list.

Her final admonition to me was tough. “Don’t tell the other teachers until you get a text from me.”

So, I had to sit through the rest of campfire, holding this sad news in my mind and heart. As soon as it was over and we were walking back to our cabin, I turned to my two teaching partners and blurted, “Veronica called. I have to tell you something.”

There was no way I couldn’t tell them. Back in our cabin we ranted and vented. Maybe we ate more snacks than we should have. We all wished we had some adult beverages. After talking it out we went to to bed, only to be awakened an hour later by camp staff knocking on our door. They had just found out.

The next morning, after breakfast, we told the kids. Their gasp was audible. We spent the remainder of the morning giving the kids the best last few hours of Outdoor School ever.


Just when I think I’ve got it all figured out

13 Mar

Some mornings there is a lot to do and you end up running late. Other mornings, things flow and you end up a few minutes early. On a day like that last week, feeling a bit ahead of the game, I decided to get gas.

I meandered through the neighborhood streets and pulled up to the pump at my local gas station. This is Oregon, one of the last places on the planet where people are not allowed to pump their own gas, so I sat on my car, looking through my rearview mirror,  as the attendant recycled some cardboard before walking towards my car.

“It’s on the other side,” he called to me as he neared the car.

I blushed, though no one could see me, and apologized. “There’s an arrow telling me which side and I just totally forgot!”

“It’s early,” he said, reassuringly.

The funny thing is, just a few days earlier, walking to my car, I had marveled at how much I had learned about my year-and-a-half old new car. I can open doors and start the car without a key. I can use seat warmers and X-mode for icy days. And yet, here I was failing at this most basic task: knowing which side of the car the gas cap hatch was on.






Library Confidential

12 Mar

I am an obedient person most of the time, but I often bend the rules of my local public library system. I have a few confessions to make.

Although they have eliminated fines for all children’s and YA books, I do like to return my books on time. If I haven’t finished with a book and it has no holds, I just hit the renew button. Unfortunately, you can’t renew books that have holds. But a few years back I have discovered a work around. When it says a book is due on Sunday, I can return it Monday morning on my way to work and it won’t be considered overdue. And not having overdue books is important to me.

If I were a superhero, my library card would be my superhero gadget. In fact, I have two library cards. I have my everyday, regular person card. My superhero library card is an Educator Card. It allows me to place more holds, and keep things twice as long as my regular card allows. I use my Educator card for print and audiobooks. I use my regular card for print books only because I have given my password to my twin sister. She uses my library card to access audiobooks.

I live in a large urban area with a great public library system. In fact, the Multnomah County library always scores high on “best of ” lists. My sister lives in a small town with a perfectly adequate library system. But her access to audiobooks is more limited, so I share.

As bibliocrimes go, these are pretty minor. Maybe that’s why I feel more proud than embarrassed about them.




Randy Ribay

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