Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘Coronavirus

Hold on to Hope, Despite it All…

leave a comment »

It’s been hard for me lately to hold on to hope. I admit that freely.

Why? Well, the world situation — the coronavirus in particular — is depressing. And the situation in the United States is even worse; Covid-19 is running rampant in many states, including my own Wisconsin. Hospitals here are getting overrun in some areas, and because of that some very little-used rural hospitals are getting a plethora of patients sent out to them. Then there’s the presidential election, which bids fair to become “who can throw the most mud and make it stick,” the wretched economy, which hasn’t bounced back to pre-Covid levels, the huge amount of unemployed people, the foreclosures and evictions because people don’t have any money…the list goes on and on.

All of these things contribute to my feeling of overall wretchedness. Because I can’t do much about them.

The thing is, giving in to despair and hopelessness — even if they’re caused by damned good reasons — doesn’t get you anywhere.

So, how can you hold on to hope, when everything you see seems gray, depressing, frustrating, and anxiety-inducing? I don’t have all the answers to this, but I can tell you a few things that have worked for me.

  1. Reading a book for no other reason than it makes you smile
  2. Watching a movie, because it takes your mind off your troubles
  3. Do something for someone else whenever possible, even if no one seems to appreciate it
  4. Take a long drive in the countryside, and sing along to your favorite songs at the top of your lungs
  5. Writing for the pleasure of it
  6. Playing or composing music
  7. Talking to a good friend (or two, or six)
  8. Petting your dog, cat, or anyone else’s friendly dog or cat whenever possible

All of these things remind me that life still has good things, and good people, in it; they remind me that I have more to do, and that I can maybe have a little fun while I do what is needful. And they remind me that hope, indeed, is still possible…and still worthy of pursuit, even during a time where all seems dark, grim, depressing, and awful.

What do you do to remind yourself that hope is still possible? Tell me about it in the comments!

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 1, 2020 at 6:14 am

The Truth and Covid-19

with 14 comments

Folks, lately there has been an assault on the truth the likes I’ve never seen.

First, there are the Covid-19 deniers. The folks who say there is no such thing.

Those are the worst of all. Because they are denying something because it hasn’t happened to them. (That is what narcissism is all about, to my mind, even though that is not its classical definition.) And because it hasn’t happened to them, goodness knows, it couldn’t have happened to anyone else.

Second, there are the Covid-19 minimizers. These folks say it’s not that bad. That most people will live if they get it. (True enough, though incomplete.) That the worst cases are only happening to people with pre-existing medical conditions or those of us who are overweight/obese (or, forgive me for using this offensive term, morbidly obese). And they say this with a casual disdain, as if these folks deserved to die or be severely impaired for the rest of their lives.

They aren’t much better than the first group. Not really. Because most of them haven’t had any relatives, doctors, or even casual acquaintances come down with it. And because it hasn’t happened to anyone they know, they figure it’s not really happening to anyone.

And third and somehow even more deadly group of people are those of the above two groups I’ve already mentioned who happen to be in the United States government right now. These people are making public policy, and yet they don’t have all the facts. Worse, they don’t seem to want all the facts…because that would interfere with their worldview, and goodness gracious, they can’t have that. (/sarcasm)

I am frustrated with these people. They don’t learn unless it happens to them. And sometimes, even if it does, they learn the wrong lessons.

Granted, we are all free to learn anything we want from our mistakes. But Covid-19 is so deadly to a certain percentage of the population that making too many mistakes will kill millions.

That’s a fact, too, whether anyone in those three groups I mentioned will ever admit it.

The truth about Covid-19 is that it’s awful. It has struck down people from all walks of life. It has struck down people of all ages, including the youngest (not many of them so far, but some). And some who’ve lived through it will be profoundly impaired the rest of their lives.

Now, me saying all that doesn’t mean you should panic. Because panic doesn’t get you anywhere.

What I am saying is that you should not deny reality.

Covid-19 exists. Take reasonable precautions. Do what you can to stay safe.

And if you are someone who cannot wear a mask due to any reason, be extra-cautious. Do what you can to stay in your car if you must leave your house. Let others do your grocery shopping, as much as that galls, as well as any other errands you have.

The final, vital thing I need to mention today is that you must prioritize your own life and health right now. No matter what anyone else says, you must do this.

That way, if you disagree with 100% of this blog, you can argue with me later as to how bad Covid-19 really was…rather than insist now it’s not a terrible thing, and end up finding out the hard way later that you were utterly, utterly wrong.

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 29, 2020 at 3:40 pm

Governor Evers Extends Wisconsin’s “Safer-at-home” Order, and I Have Questions…

with 2 comments

I apologize for the long, unwieldy title in advance…

Gov. Tony Evers (D-WI) has extended the Wisconsin “Safer-at-home” provisions until the day after Memorial Day, which is in very late May; they were set to expire on April 24, but we all knew it was likely it would be extended a few more weeks at minimum. However, no one expected that it would be extended until late May.

I, for the most part, support the Safer-at-home order. And I said so in an e-mail I just sent to Governor Evers. (Unfortunately the cut-and-paste I had planned so I could show you exactly what I sent went awry, so I’ll have to describe what I said instead.) I urged the Governor to carve out some exceptions for hair salons/barber shops, car washes (we have a very strange situation going on here in Racine County where if the car wash is attached to a gas station, it’s open even if it has human contact, but the car washes without any human contact and total automation are closed because they don’t have an attachment to a gas station), and emergency situations.

Now, what is an emergency situation? (You may be asking this.) I view it as this: you’ve lost something important to you, whether it’s your home, your vehicle, your stove has gone on the fritz and you can’t cook (or your microwave, or hot pot, or whatever you’re using). Or you have just been granted an emergency foster child, but that child is under three and you need a car seat you don’t have (but can’t buy in many counties in Wisconsin, as unless the store has food in it, it isn’t allowed to stay open under the safer-at-home provisions). Or you have lost weight (or perhaps gained it), and your clothes no longer fit or are so frayed you can’t wear them…but again, unless the store has any food in it, you can’t get any clothes to wear. (And I don’t know about you, but unless you can try on things, it’s hard to find something to fit properly. The only things I’ve managed to buy and wear well online are nightgowns. And a few Brewers t-shirts.)

So, I told Governor Evers that.

I also said that while I agree with him that people’s lives are far more important than any amount of money, extending the Safer-at-home order until the day after Memorial Day is too long. We’re about to go into the summer season. And there are folks like my father who have no air conditioning at all. (He doesn’t want any, either.) If you want relief from the heat, you usually have options such as going to the grocery store, going to the movie theatre, going to the Zoo and walking around by Lake Michigan…but right now, you’re supposed to limit your grocery trips to essentials only, the movie theatres are closed, and the Zoo is also closed. (So is the public library. So are most government buildings.)

I said that I would rather he had extended this for another few weeks and re-assessed in mid-May. If there were still Covid-19 hotspots then, I’d understand extending the order a bit more than I do now. But I would wait until then because no one knows what’s happening now, except that they’re scared and they’re broke.

Here’s what I’ll add, though, for folks who know me and have known me a long time (as I am going to assume you have, if you’ve read my blog; if not, you can catch up in the archives if you’d like.) I think people’s lives are far more important than money. And I do think we have to be wary and prudent right now with regards to Covid-19 because it’s a virus with no cure, no treatment, and no way to alleviate.

That said, people are going stir-crazy at home. We have flattened the curve to some degree already. And if it is flattened more in two weeks, I think a graduated restart of Wisconsin’s economy is in order; if it’s not, then maybe Gov. Evers is right and nothing will be done until Memorial Day anyway.

But I would like to know his rationale for this. Why did he pick that date? Why is it that other states Wisconsin is allied with, such as Ohio, have earlier “opening” dates as of this time? Why is it that New York state, which has the worst amount of cases in the nation, is going to try to re-open faster than we are here?

I didn’t say that in my letter to him, but I should’ve.

I do support that we have to stay home more than go out right now. But we also have to realize that businesses will close up shop if they don’t get help. And some of ’em, like beauty salons/barbers, can re-open with limitations (I said in my letter that if five people were getting their hair cut at a time and no more, that would work. That would limit the gathering to ten people or less. And you could maintain social distancing in the salons, too.) Getting a haircut gives you an emotional lift. We need that right now, too.

Rest assured that I did point that out to Gov. Evers.

And the thing with the car washes: Yeah, they’re not essential. But they do give you an emotional lift of sorts for not too much money. Cleaning the car in the late spring and early summertime — and remember, we are about to go into the hotter season, much though it doesn’t feel like it right now — is extremely helpful in many senses, too; it gets the last of the winter sand/salt off the car, which is good for the life of the car. And it helps you spend less money on car maintenance, which we all are going to need because we all are going to have a whole lot less money due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Anyway, if you, too, live in Wisconsin and want to contact Governor Evers, go to this page and make your comment. (Please be civil, as life is too short for incivility.)

And if you live in other states or countries, write to your public officials about whatever it is that makes no sense to you. Because that’s needed right now — public opinion is vital, especially if it’s reasonably stated.

That’s the only way we’re going to be able to figure out how to go forward with the least amount of stress and heartache.

Easter Musings: The Resurrection of Hope

with 3 comments

Folks, I woke up this morning — or afternoon, as the case may be (being the inveterate night owl that I’ve always been) — thinking about the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This is not surprising. It is Easter, much though it doesn’t feel like it with a pandemic ravaging the world. And around Easter, we usually as a people talk about redemption, hope, faith, and of course the resurrection of Jesus.

But Jesus’s resurrection wasn’t just about being raised from the dead. It was about the hope that something good would come from Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross. It was also about the belief that three women had, mourning outside Jesus’s burial site, for three days. And it was about the astonishment they had, along with the embodiment of their hopes, when Jesus rose again on the third day.

Other ancient religions had talked about resurrection, too. But they hadn’t been so much about hope, it seems to me. And they certainly didn’t talk about the folks who were left behind quite so much as early Christianity did, and has to this day.

We need hope right now, as I’ve said before. But we also have to believe firmly in resurrection, too. Those of you who aren’t Christian (some days I don’t identify with it, other days I do; I’m more like G.K. Chesterton, who once said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”) can still appreciate the idea of resurrection in this sense, as explicated by the Cambridge English Dictionary: the act of bringing something that had disappeared or ended back into use or existence.

Right now, what we’ve viewed as the normal comings and goings of society has disappeared. Ended. And we’re mostly at home, wondering whether the virus known as Covid-19 will ever stop ravaging the Earth. Doctors and nurses and other medical personnel are struggling, as they’re the only ones who have the tools and training to help the rest of us deal with this. And as yet, there is no cure; there is no vaccine to temper the virus, either; there is no therapy; there is nothing.

It is a humbling thing, to know that you can’t stop Covid-19.

Yes, everything we’re doing right now — the vast majority of us in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, etc. — helps to mitigate the damage. Staying at home lessens the reach of the virus and allows the amount of people sickened at any one time to flatten out, so hospitals and clinics don’t get overwhelmed. (Or at least not as overwhelmed as they could be.)

Some of you are probably saying, “But Barb. That is not nothing. We are being proactive. We’re staying home, even though we hate it. And we’re doing everything we can to let this virus die out.” (New Zealand, in particular, has been particularly good at squashing this virus flat.)

That’s all true.

But it’s not enough. People are still dying. And the world outside is radically transformed. Economies have crashed, and will continue to do so, until some sort of medical mitigation occurs. Our way of living has suffered; our way of belief, that we can come together as people, and enjoy each other’s company, and lessen each other’s sorrows in person as well as online, has been shown to be, at best, incomplete.

My view is, today should be not just about Jesus Christ, though his life and teachings are well worthy of study.

I think today — the Easter of 2020 — we need to believe in the resurrection of hope. The resurrection that our society will someday get back to some semblance of what we’ve seen before: openness. Being able to give hugs to loved ones. Concerts. Ball games. Being able to go outside, in public, unmasked and without fear…being able to go anywhere you want, at any time you want, without being hassled (or at least being worried you might be), and without risking your life either. And our first responders — our medical personnel, police, fire, rescue, etc. — not to have to risk their lives every day in every way because they have no idea who’s carrying Covid-19, no idea who’s had it, and no idea whether or not their protection is good enough to keep them from getting it.

I think Jesus would appreciate us believing in all of these things, in addition to believing in Him today. (Or at least believing in what he showed us can be possible.)

And that is all I can say today, prayerfully, because I know it to be true.

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 12, 2020 at 2:36 pm

Homebound Ramblings

with 2 comments

Today, I just wanted to write here so you’d know two things about me that are still relevant to the discussion:

1) I’m alive.

2) I’m keeping as busy as I can. I’m writing music. I’m doing some editing. And I have some ideas for stories about Bruno and Sarah, but they need to get out of the gestation stage so I can write ’em down. (Still, I’m thinking and I’m whipping up plots. It’s not all bad.)

Now, the reason for doing this is, of course, Covid-19. It is rampaging its way through Wisconsin, and the numbers we have are far lower than the actual ones because of the difficulty in getting tests.

So, I stay home and do all of the above I mentioned in #2.

What’s strangest of all about my experiences thus far with Wisconsin’s shelter-in-place order (excepting the above reasons) is how dislocated I feel from everything. It’s the end of March. Baseball season would normally be underway, but because of Covid-19, it’s not. When I drive anywhere, the roads are much less crowded than usual, which is both a blessing and a curse; when I go into any place besides the grocery store, the sense of quietude is almost overwhelming.

Of course, I’ve been abiding by the Wisconsin shelter-in-place order as much as I possibly can. I have gone out to shop, to see my mother (I shop for her, too), to go to the doctor, to visit the lake (I see that as an almost spiritual exercise), and I’ve done a little walking here and there, too. I’ve also visited a friend, sitting six feet away from her, and chatted; this has helped me feel a bit better, even though maybe it’s not as strict of a social distancing as some would wish. (I have limited myself to just this, though. Everything else, and I do mean everything, has been done over the phone or the computer.)

All of this feels wrong, though. It sounds wrong, too. It’s like I went to bed one night, and woke up in another universe. It’s one I hardly know, and can barely understand.

And I can’t stand it.

I didn’t expect to feel this way. I am an introvert. (Granted, I’m an introvert who enjoys people and likes to talk to them, one-on-one.) The jobs I do in music and writing and editing are ones you have to be solitary-minded to appreciate. (Or, in the case of playing in a band with others, you have to be able to fit in with how the rest of the group is playing the music or your own music won’t make any sense.) And I’m used to being at home, because I work from home.

Still. I do not like being cooped up in the house. It is very frustrating to not have the opportunities to go out and do things, even though at this particularly stressful time I realize social distancing and flattening the curve means I need to stay home as much as possible.

I realize that if you’re a parent of young children, you’ve got it way worse than I do. (Most especially if they were in a traditional school, but now have to be de facto homeschooled for the rest of the semester with only the teacher’s guiding prompts.) And I have great sympathy for you, as I do for anyone who is frustrated with the Covid-19 pandemic and wonders when, if ever, it will end.

As I’ve said before, I think we all need to do whatever we can to help others. But I also think we need, somehow, to keep our spirits as high as possible. Read books that make us think, or laugh, or better yet, both; watch movies and shows that enlighten us, entertain us, or at least amuse us; listen to music that makes us think, makes us feel, makes us care, and makes us understand that we’re all human and we’ll all get through this.

That said, I wish I could do more. Say more. Be more. Listen more. Help more. And again, do more…because people are hurting right now, and I hate it that I can’t fix what is broken. (Only the epidemiologists, scientists, and other medical personnel can do that right now.)

But I’m here to listen. And if you want to talk, chime in and let me know…the floor is open. (Or at least, the blog’s comment section is.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 30, 2020 at 4:31 am

Staying Healthy in the Age of Covid-19

with 4 comments

Folks, I have been thinking about this all week. How can we stay sane during this onset of the illness known as Covid-19? (Otherwise known as either the “coronavirus” or the “Wuhan flu.”)

This is a serious question, mind you. Even folks who haven’t had Covid-19 have been affected due to aggressive measures of social distancing, quarantine, and stay-at-home measures. These things, I believe, will help to lessen the amount of deaths we’d have otherwise seen…but it’s hard to prove a negative like that. And it’s even harder to alter our lives, day after day, in so many small ways.

Consider this: Before Covid-19, you didn’t worry about going to get gas. That there might be germs on the pump that could kill you. (I know this sounds alarmist, but I’m talking “worst-case scenario” here. Yes, you can wash your hands often, and you should.) You didn’t worry about going to the grocery store, either. Nor were there YouTube videos out there showing clueless teens and others touching or licking food in the store, as if Covid-19 isn’t a serious issue. (Those who do this need to be stopped and punished. If they’re under a certain age — say, twelve — their parents need to take care of it, and if the parents can’t, then it may be up to the courts.) And you didn’t worry that anyone you might come into contact with could get infected by you, even if you show no symptoms…because in the U.S., there’s a shortage of tests, and only the highest-priority (or, perhaps, the very wealthy who can jump the line) are able to get tested.

All of this promotes a heightened state of anxiety. It can’t help but do this. And nearly everyone feels it, whether they say so or not; if they aren’t sick, that’s great, but they’re still cooped up in the house, unable to perform any part of their normal routine, and that in and of itself is wearying. (Not to say anything about those who are in unsafe, unstable situations who are now sheltering-in-place with abusers. Which is scary as Hell, too. The shelters are still open and can still help you, if you are in such a situation, but how many people are going to be able to think past their fears to go when it’s hard to leave an abusive situation in the first place?)

I have pondered what my characters Bruno, Sarah, and Lady Keisha (from the Elfy series) would do in such a time. Lady Keisha is a healer/priest, so she’d certainly be ministering to the sick. Maybe she’d be much less at risk because of her magic; maybe not. But she’d be out ministering anyway. And Sarah, who’s more or less a de facto apprentice healer due to her strong skills of empathy even at an early age, would be right there with her.

But what about Bruno, you ask? I’m not sure what Bruno would do. He’d probably make masks, as there’s a shortage of them. (With his magic, and being able to make something out of nothing, he’d be able to make them a lot faster than the rest of us.) He’d probably go and sterilize equipment as fast as he could. He’d probably ready all the available mages in the area, and get them into positions to do the same things at whatever levels they could…in other words, I can’t see him being silent, or sitting on the sidelines, or accepting this passively.

As for Allen and Elaine of Changing Faces, who have no magic? I think they’d be making YouTube videos of their music to comfort people. Maybe playing duets, as they liked to do that anyway…they’d be sheltering-in-place at home, and they’d be telling people in every situation to enjoy life as much as possible, because time and health are not expendable.

I think we need to be like Allen, Elaine, and Bruno, even if we can’t be like Lady Keisha and Sarah at this time because we don’t have the proper training.

What that means is, we have to do what we can, even if it’s small. If we can make masks, we should. If we can’t, we should try to find a way to donate materials to those who can. We should lobby our legislators to get more ventilators for the hospitals and clinics that need them. We should do everything in our power to keep states from having to bid against each other, much less against FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency), and get a national clearinghouse to get and send out the ventilators to the critically affected areas first and everyone else after — an effective national clearinghouse — in place, stat, so this never happens again.

But most of all, we need to be kind to each other. Be especially kind to those who are still out there working, like the grocery store clerks, and the pharmacists, and the medical personnel. Thank them for what they do as often as you can. Try not to be short with them no matter what your stress level.

Why? They’re the ones who are going to get us through this. And we need to help them as much as we can in any way we can, even if it’s just by appreciating what they do at this especially difficult time. (Appreciation and kindness matter. Especially now.)

Finally, if you’re in an area that as yet is unaffected by Covid-19 in a major way, don’t think you’re immune to this. It’s just slower to get to you, that’s all.

Don’t be tempted to do what the stupid kids did in Florida by going to the beach for Spring Break as usual; many of them got sick, and not all from Covid-19 either, because of their stupidity. (All of ’em should be up for Darwin Awards for that, in my not-so-humble opinion.)

Don’t be tempted to resume your normal routine too soon, either.

Those of you in small communities in mountainous areas are probably safer than many at this time, because fewer people congregate around you in the first place. But all it takes is one person who doesn’t know they are infected to bring it to your community. And this was out in the United States for a good two to three weeks before we took any notice of it; that’s just the facts.

We have no immunity to this. It’s worse than the flu. The death rates are higher than the flu. And we as yet have no vaccine for it, and likely won’t for at least eighteen months no matter how fast the medical researchers work (and I’m sure they’re working feverishly).

So please. Be kind. Be cautious. Be safe. Wash your hands, and often.

Live through this. (Please?)

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 27, 2020 at 4:51 pm

Mass Hysteria and the Coronavirus

with 4 comments

Folks, I have read any number of articles and seen any number of TV programs (and internet programs, for that matter) regarding the coronavirus. It is an infectious disease with no cure; it is a virus; the only way to deal with it is by living through it and taking palliative measures that you’d take if you were dealing with any illness at all.

This is all true.

But the hysteria around the coronavirus — the “we’re all gonna die” feeling — is not helpful. It scares people for no reason. It worries them to the point they go out and buy all the toilet paper in the store, all the bottled water, all the Lysol and disinfecting bleach…and they do this because it’s the only thing they can control.

Illness isn’t fun. I know this, as I’m battling Ye Olde Mystery Illness.

But you can deal with it. You can make sure you have Tylenol on hand. You can get extra rest. You can make sure you have some soup in the house, or something easy to eat, if you are too ill to make something. And you can make sure that you stay mentally healthy, refusing to give in to the hysteria, while you take these preventive measures.

Yes, get more bleach, if it makes you feel better. (I know I’ve bought some extra for both my Mom and myself. But it’s just one bottle with the groceries, not the whole section.) Get Lysol, as you should have that on hand anyway. Get cleaning products (which you should also have on hand). Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly with hot water (by preference; cold water beats nothing). And remember that washing your hands is by far preferable to hand sanitizer, but if all you have is hand sanitizer for some reason, use it as it’s better than nothing at all. (The good ones have alcohol in them. The not-so-good ones that don’t do much at all don’t.)

Now, all of this is just common-sensical stuff. This is what most of us can do about anything when it comes to our health.  And when we think about it that way, there’s no reason to panic.

But the reason people are panicking is very simple: Coronavirus is new. People don’t know what’ll happen to them. It is infectious. It is dangerous to people who are dealing with respiratory issues or are older adults (I don’t like the word “elderly,” so I’ll just say “older adults,” OK?).

And “new viral illness” that’s killed people, and shut down most of the country of Italy, is scary. The progression of the disease, how fast it moves, and how it can kill people — that, too, is scary.

So I’m not saying to take it lightly.

All I’m saying is, don’t give in to the hysteria. That gets you nowhere. It wastes your energy to no purpose.

Instead, be prepared — moderately so (don’t buy all the toilet paper on the shelves, OK?) — and do whatever your doctor tells you to do if you get it.

That’s all you can do with these unknown illnesses. (Or really, anything unknown at all.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 10, 2020 at 8:47 am