Author’s note: I apologize to the late Gabriel García Márquez for blatantly co-opting the title of his masterpiece novel. However, in these times, I felt it was necessary.
I want to devote this installment of Six Things to some of the people who are doing their part to keep us fed, caffeinated, spiritually enriched, physically fit, TP’d, and as warm and fuzzy as possible during this world event. These are not the obvious heroes – your first-responders and healthcare workers. These are the people on the home-front, rather than the front lines, who are trying to maintain some sense of normalcy during these times.
Please note that I wrote this blog installment on March 22, 2020. Arizona is not under a lock-down, but is under social-distancing orders. Schools are closed, and have been since the previous week. Churches are closed. Gatherings of more than 10 people
I have worked at home, remotely, since the late 1990s. Yes, I AM a WFH pioneer. If you have any questions about it, feel free to ask. During my time working from home, I have witnessed many world events, but none were ever quite like this. Perhaps 9/11 might approach this level. I cannot honestly tell you what it was like to WFH during 9/11, because I was in Italy, on vacation, when that happened.
The first obvious thing to say about the events over the last few weeks is that fluidity does not begin to describe the situation. On Monday, I was at the gym. On Tuesday, my trainer said, “we’re hearing that they are going to close the big box gyms.” On Wednesday, the owner put out a video discussing hygiene and sanitation measures they were instituting. On Thursday, after my workout, they told us that the Arizona Governor had ordered all gyms closed, including our fitness studio. On Friday, a few hours after my workout, they turned off the lights at 5:00 P.M., indefinitely. Tim the owner of the gym, graciously allowed people to take home weights and bands to do the e-mail and streaming workouts that they will be putting together for all of the members.
I live in North Scottsdale, AZ; far North Scottsdale, to be precise, or “FNS.” FNS is different from downtown Scottsdale. It’s part of an unofficial FNS/Carefree/Cave Creek “tri-towns,” which has a more small-town, cowboy hangout vibe. I decided to venture out on Saturday to see how people are making the best of this situation in my little corner of the sixth largest city in the U.S.
Number 1: The little coffee shop at my church
There’s not much to say here: It’s closed. I wanted to buy a cup of coffee, and perhaps a treat to bring home to my husband. Our Lady of Joy, in Carefree, AZ, recently completed a remodel of the social hall, and decided to add a coffee shop that anyone could patronize: “Joyful Grounds.” I suppose that since it’s attached to the church building, and all churches are asked to not hold services, they have been shuttered. This made me kind of sad. I was beginning to think that my cheer-me-up outing would be an exercise in futility and sadness.
Number 2: The Queen of Peace adoration chapel
It’s gonna get religious here for a moment. You’ve been warned. You can move on to Number 3 if that bothers you.
I sing in the church choir. It’s coming up on Holy Week. We are probably not going to have Holy Week or Easter liturgies this year. Any music ministry member will tell you that it feels like you’ve finished a marathon once Holy Week is done, since you typically sing at 4 or more liturgies. But not singing the psalm at Easter…that is unsettling for me. It’s the particular timing of all of this that makes me think that the Devil is working overtime right now.
Although the Governor has ordered that large gatherings cannot take place, our Pastor, Father Jess, is keeping outdoor confessions going, is allowing no more than 10 people in the church for silent prayer, and is allowing perpetual adoration of the Holy Eucharist. Again, no more than 10 people are allowed in the adoration chapel at any time.
I walked in to a strong chlorine smell in the church. They are treating the holy water water with chlorine, much like you would a swimming pool. It’s safe to bless yourself! Hand sanitizer is on fancy stands all around the narthex, in the church, and at the entrance to the adoration chapel.
I spent some peaceful time asking Michael the Archangel to defend us in battle, protecting us from the wickedness and snares of the Devil. A woman sitting an appropriate distance away was silently crying. I wanted to hug her, but resisted. These times are trying for us committed huggers.
I enjoyed my quiet time in the adoration chapel. I think that I am going to make this a habit. Silver lining, I guess.
Number 3: The butcher shop
I haven’t had much luck finding meat at the big box grocery stores. We have a lovely little butcher shop in Carefree, run by a young couple. They have at least one employee that I know of. They’ve been so busy lately, they have enlisted her Mom to work the register, while Dad does coffee and iced tea runs for the employees.
When I saw the line of people, I almost bailed. I was about number 12 in line. They are only allowing 2-3 people in the shop at one time. I stayed on line. I’m glad I did.
We stood about six feet from one another. I talked to a fellow with a Trump hat. He has cancer, and uses a walker. He has nephropathy in his legs from his chemo treatments. He was making jokes and talking about his time as a firefighter. It was quite sunny and warm, and the two ladies behind him told him to sit down and that they would hold his place. He said that his wife is a vegan, and that she doesn’t like to visit the butcher shop, so he has to do that errand himself. He said that he swears by the fresh proteins to keep up his strength between treatments.
A young mom stood behind me with her toddler. The young woman was seven months pregnant, and was waiting to buy her daughter some fresh eggs and organic all-beef hot dogs. We stood in line for about 30 minutes, when her daughter began to get restless. Who could blame her? I asked her if she wanted to go in front of me. She gladly accepted the offer. I guess toddlers are very particular about how long they can go between episodes of PJ Mask.
They were already out of chicken, but they had lots of other things. Although pricey compared to a regular grocery store, I felt great about how busy they were. They work directly with several Arizona ranches and farms. So, that’s good too: those people are still working.
Mom wore rubber gloves and sanitized the touch-screen between each transaction. She also pointed out that each transaction would include totally optional tip. The shopkeepers are collecting tips for the Cave Creek restaurant workers who are not working during this business closure.
When I had my order and was exiting the shop, I said, “Thanks. You guys rock.” They responded, “No, YOU rock!”
Number 4: The burrito food truck
I did not patronize the food truck, as it would not be open for another half-hour. I learned from the butcher shop folks that the proprietors would be giving away one roll of toilet paper with every burrito purchased.
They guy in line behind me, seeing an opening, said, “Well you probably do need a roll of toilet paper for every burrito purchased.”
Number 5: Let’s try another coffee shop
I was really looking forward to an iced latte after my time in line at the butcher shop. I walked down the hill behind the shop to the small shopping center below. The [local] coffee shop was open (yay!). The inside tables had their chairs turned on top of them to discourage people from milling about inside the shop. There were two tables outside, a respectable distance apart, for sitting and sipping. Some of the patrons were standing in the parking lot, chatting and drinking their beverages. It was quite nice.
The owners were cheery and said that they’d been busy. They ware getting calls for take-away lunches. Apparently their tuna salad is famous…good to know.
They said that they hadn’t had to let anyone go, and that the community has been supportive of them. That was so heartening to hear. This shop uses coffee that is roasted in Cave Creek, so the roasters can keep working as long as there is demand for their product. The roasters do not have a retail shop, so they depend upon the small establishments in town, and some of the markets that sell their coffee by the pound, to keep them afloat.
Number 6: The pet adoption event
Just outside of the coffee shop was an adoption even sponsored by one of the local animal rescues. There are still puppies and kittens to adopt, and they make make social-distancing more bearable (and fun).
With all of the social-distance and quarantining going on, local rescues suggest that fostering a dog, cat, or exotic animal during this time has many benefits. With the kids at home, a foster can give kids focus, teach a new kind of caring and responsibility, and possibly lead to an adoption of that foster pet. One of the larger rescues here, with multiple campuses, is opening only one of those campuses – by appointment only – during this time. This means that the pets are not being visited and viewed as much as they normally would be. Some of the pets really respond to visitors and to having people around in general. Fostering can be a mutually rewarding situation.
I, for one, feel so fortunate to have my little dog to help me get through all this weirdness. It’s something to think about.
It was a productive morning, on many levels. Although I was not able to get everything on my list. I was able to see my little community chugging along, trying to keep things mostly normal.
The news these days is sad, mostly overwhelming, and borderline defeating. But my outing gives me little threads of hope to hang on to. We can do this, I think. Please, to the extent that you can, support your local shops. They need you and we need them…especially now.