How do you define ‘stay-at-home?’ What are you doing and not doing?

Sunday's dance recital in my parents' backyard.

Sunday’s dance recital in my parents’ backyard.

What does Henry McMaster’s sorta, kinda stay-at-home order really mean? The P&C has a fairly helpful explainer on that. When I read it, it seems like mostly stuff I thought everyone had quit doing weeks ago.

I have my own interpretations of what I should be doing, of what is socially responsible. I suspect each of you do, too.

So what does that mean in your daily routine? Here are a few glimpses of what it means to me:

  • Early this morning, I went to Lowe’s while my wife went to Aldi. I did so anticipating that when Henry’s order went into effect today, I wouldn’t be able to go to Lowe’s. I was wrong. Anyway, I put on a mask and rubber gloves. Of course, of course, of course I was the only male in the place doing so. Several women had on masks, but none of those contractors did. I kept expecting some of the guys to give me the business (to use the “Leave it to Beaver” expression), but no one did (in my hearing). I just shrugged it off because I’m determined not to give this to my parents. Why did I feel I needed to go there? Well, you know that deck project I’ve been working on for much of the past year? Well, I finally tore down the old wooden steps a couple of weeks back, and I’m anxious to build the new ones. So I got everything I still needed to do that (mostly additional lumber). Then I picked up some seeds and pepper plants for my wife the gardener, since Park Seed was out of what she needed! I also got several bags of raised bed soil for my own okra bed I wrote about earlier. I thought it might be too late to plant by the next time I could go there. This was, to my shock, a $150 trip.alert
  • When I got home, I stripped off everything and left my clothes in front of the washing machine to await the next load, then showered. I do that whenever I go someplace like that.
  • My wife and I still take a long walk in our neighborhood every day. Others are doing the same. We veer away from people we encounter to maintain at least the six feet of distance. We don’t wear masks or gloves. We see WAY more people than we’re used to seeing. Speaking of Leave it to Beaver, in one respect I’m seeing the neighborhood revert to my own childhood. LOTS of kids are riding their bikes all over the neighborhood, and I didn’t realize how relatively rare that is now until they started doing so in numbers that rival the days when Boomers were kids. No really cool bikes like Pee-Wee’s, though. We’re watching spring progress. We’re wondering why the rabbits aren’t out yet. We are seeing LOTS of squished turtles and frogs in the streets. It’s good there are so many, but bad that they’re squished. We did find one live baby turtle a couple of days ago. See below.
  • What are these churches that Henry’s talking about that are having Easter services? Are you kidding me? Our masses have been streamed and we “participate” from home. Our bishop called off all in-person masses weeks ago. And seriously — a First Amendment issue? The freedoms of speech and the press aren’t absolute, and neither is the religion clause. There are considerations that override. This is a political exemption, not a constitutional one.

    We've been doing Mass from home for weeks.

    We’ve been doing Mass from home for weeks.

  • Of course I’m working from home. I think it will have been three weeks on Thursday. I’ve been extremely busy, or I’d blog more. Still expecting that to slow down, but it hasn’t yet. By the way, I like it. I find I’m getting more done. It will be hard to go back to working at the office — if I ever do. If we need to meet, we do Facetime. Seems to me like we’re getting everything done fine.
  • The one hard thing for me is I can’t hug my grandchildren. But we see them, at a distance. On Sunday, the twins went over to my parents’ (their great-grandparents’) house to perform some of the choreography they did during a recent recital my folks had missed (before all such things were canceled). They did so without music, but it was still great. They wore face masks they had made themselves. They are wonderfully smart, talented, capable girls.
  • My other two in-town grandchildren came over yesterday to stand in the front yard and say “hey.” As I say, it’s hard not to hug them. They brought their several-month-old puppy, Lucy. Lucy went straight for my wife, who was sitting on our front steps, and enthusiastically licked her face. This made me worry, and I urged her to wash her face after they left. Don’t know if she did or not. Good thing Lucy’s not a tiger. My granddaughter and grandson were very grownup about keeping their distance while we chatted. Sort of wished they hadn’t been, but I was proud of them.
  • My elder son’s band, The Useful Fiction, was supposed to have had a gig Friday night. So since that was out, he streamed a solo acoustic set from his front porch on Facebook. He did a mix of his own original songs, which I think are great, and some covers — Dylan and such. Everyone who reacted enjoyed it. Hope he’ll do it more.
  • I feel guilty that except for the occasional delivery of groceries or takeout (or to watch the girls dancing), I’m not visiting my parents. But I’d probably feel worse if I thought I was endangering them. I check on them by phone daily, but formerly I used to go every day and do little things around the house, and stand by to be a lifeguard while my Dad took a shower, in case he fell. They’re getting by OK without all that so far, I think.
  • I haven’t seen my in-town son and daughter who don’t have kids in a week or two, although we talk. I miss them, too. And of course, we watch the coronavirus situation closely in Dominica, where my youngest lives.

Those are sort of random, but I suppose they kind of give the flavor.

How about y’all? What are you doing and not doing?

My wife holds up the one live baby turtle we encountered.

My wife holds up the one live baby turtle we encountered.

23 thoughts on “How do you define ‘stay-at-home?’ What are you doing and not doing?

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    By the way, our trips to Lowe’s and Aldi were the first time either of us had been to a store since a 7 a.m. foray to Walmart one day last week.

    We DID get some takeout food Saturday night, though.

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    Oh, and that thing about all the kids riding bikes — I hadn’t known so many kids HAD bikes these days. It was like 1959 or something.

    In our last two days of walking, I saw no fewer that three boys riding bikes while carrying fishing poles. (There are two man-made lakes in our neighborhood, which is also on the Saluda River. Now THAT took me back. I got to thinking about when I used to catch catfish in the Mississippi when I lived in New Orleans, 1965-67. All very Huck Finn…

  3. Ken

    I try to keep major grocery shopping trips to once every 2 weeks, with a quick pick-up or two on the alternate weekends – on the way back from a weekly extended walk at a nearby rail trail. Otherwise, we stick to home.
    I have to say, stripping and immediately washing everything every time you go to a store is taking things to an extreme. No virologist I’ve heard says that’s necessary for anyone but medical personnel and others in direct contact with corona patients. Keeping at a distance from others and thoroughly washing your hands after returning from shopping (or using hand sanitizer as soon as you get back to your car) is sufficient.
    No reason to be surprised that Lowes and other hardware stores are still open. A week ago I needed roof sealant for a leak around the chimney, which isn’t something that should be put off. Where am I supposed to get that if all the hardware stores are closed? I don’t want to have a repairman in the house if I don’t have to.

    1. Pat

      I know stripping and showering after an outing sounds extreme for most but some probably need to be extra cautious like Brad.

      1. Ken

        Need? Why? As I pointed out, virologists (i.e. people who know stuff) say that, except for medical personnel dealing directly with coronavirus patients, that sort of regime is superfluous.

        1. Ken

          I should add that I take care of an elderly parent, too. In doing so, I take reasonable precautions based on current scientific findings, not an excess of fear.

      2. Barry

        My sister is an RN at a hospital. Their medical director has advised them to do the same thing with their clothing when they arrive home.

        So you are in good company. My sister also helps my parents,

  4. Bryan Caskey

    I’ve only been going into my law practice when I actually have a client who needs to sign something that needs a witness and/or notary (a deed, a will, affidavit, etc.). Today, I didn’t have a need for that, so I did all of my work from home via phone and computer. i can still draft letters, motions, pleadings, and communicate with my clients and opposing counsel, so there’s no big difference in where i am physically located.

    In between sending emails and taking calls, I helped my kids (K-5 and 2nd Grade) with their work. I made lunch, and we all ate outside on the deck. After lunch my son and I tossed the baseball in the backyard. He’s going into kid-pitch next year, so we’re working on his basic pitching mechanics.

    Probably the thing I miss the most is not going to his little league baseball games. His team is 7-8 year olds, and I’m one of the coaches.

    I haven’t had any court hearings in weeks, but the SC Supreme Court is doing a great job managing the court system and keeping things moving as much as possible by allowing things to get done without in-person hearings.

    I’ve set up my paralegal to work from home. She can do 100% of her job working remotely, which is great. Accordingly, she hasn’t come into the office in weeks and she’s doing her job just as well as before. Luckily, we invested in our technology infrastructure when we started our firm, and I have an outstanding paralegal with a great work ethic.

    My wife had to go into the office today (she’s a lawyer, too) so she also hit a grocery store to replenish supplies while she was out. Other than going to the grocery store or the hardware store, that’s it.

    I’ve done a little home improvement since this all started. I’ve ripped all the old screen off my screened in porch and re-screened it. I’ve tweaked some electrical stuff around the house, and my next project is to remove and replace the silicone caulk around the tub in my kids’ bathroom.

    Oh, and we also got a puppy. Figured with all the time home and the kids out of school, it was the perfect time. We went over to Newberry two weeks ago and picked up a 16 week old German Shepherd. His name is Rocky, and he’s really liking all the attention.

    I talk to my parents on the phone, and I get groceries for them when I happen to be out in order to minimize their need to go out.

    Just taking it one day at a time.

  5. Pat

    I’ve stayed at home for the most part. Hubs has done most of the picking up. It’s been hard for him to not go out. We’ve tried to support the restaurants by getting take out several times. I did go to the grocery Friday and on Tuesday the week before. My intention was to go every two weeks as recommended, but grocery was out of so much the first trip, I needed the second trip. We did go out one afternoon to several garden centers and bought some plants and stone edging for plant beds; we’ve worked on that. We’ve FaceTimed with our children and their families. We’ve streamed church. Exercising at home instead of gym, reading, walking the dogs, doing projects… not too bad really although a lot of plans were cancelled.

  6. Barry

    I’ve worked from home and usually try to wrap that up by mid afternoon. My wife is a teacher and she has numerous video calls all day long with students and coworkers.

    I’ve been working in the backyard landscaping around my pool and downing some work on my deck.

    My son and I cut our neighbor’s grass. Her husband can’t do it anymore and she’s having cancer treatments,

    My oldest is home from college. My high schooler is on spring break this week which only means no online learning this week. My middle school daughter is apparently an executive chef in training. She’s prepared a new dessert for the family nearly every day. She’s a good cook. Today I put in a request and she did a great job,

  7. Realist

    The New England Journal of Medicine published a new chart regarding the lifespan of COVID-19 Virus on surfaces.

    Paper and tissue paper…………….3 Hours @ 71F and 65% Relative Humidity
    Copper……………………………………..4 Hours @ 69.8 to 73.4F and 40% Relative Humidity
    Cardboard………………………………..24 Hours @ the same as copper
    Wood………………………………………..2 Days @ the same as Paper & tissue paper
    Cloth…………………………………………2 Days @ the same as paper & tissue paper
    Stainless Steel…………………………..2-3 Days @ the same as Cardboard
    Polypropylene Plastic………………..3 Days @ the same as Copper
    Glass………………………………………….4 Days @ the same as Paper and tissue paper
    Paper money……………………………..4 days @ the same as Paper and tissue paper
    Outside of Surgical Mask……………7 Days @ the same as paper and tissue paper

    Apologize for the typed version, didn’t keep the link.

    Another story to be aware of from the LA Times that should be read by all.

    Some of you may have read it already.

    1. Pat

      I did read that about the choir. I know someone living in that community in Mt. Vernon, Washington. It was so sad, but the interesting point was the idea of deep breathing may have contributed to the numbers infected.
      I also read about a funeral in Albany Georgia that sparked the large numbers infected there.

      1. Realist

        Posted directly from an article from the New England Journal of Medicine referenced in Business Insider. I double checked my typing to be sure I didn’t make an error. If you want to check my source, please do so.

        Here is a link to a New England Journal article with basically the same information if you are interested. It does not have the chart I found but does support the time period for some of the items I listed from the chart.

        1. Mark Stewart

          It was a dead link now but I found this in an article in the journal:

          “Both viruses had an exponential decay in virus titer across all experimental conditions, as indicated by a linear decrease in the log10TCID50 per liter of air or milliliter of medium over time (Figure 1B). The half-lives of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-1 were similar in aerosols, with median estimates of approximately 1.1 to 1.2 hours and 95% credible intervals of 0.64 to 2.64 for SARS-CoV-2 and 0.78 to 2.43 for SARS-CoV-1 (Figure 1C, and Table S1 in the Supplementary Appendix). The half-lives of the two viruses were also similar on copper. On cardboard, the half-life of SARS-CoV-2 was longer than that of SARS-CoV-1. The longest viability of both viruses was on stainless steel and plastic; the estimated median half-life of SARS-CoV-2 was approximately 5.6 hours on stainless steel and 6.8 hours on plastic (Figure 1C). Estimated differences in the half-lives of the two viruses were small except for those on cardboard (Figure 1C). Individual replicate data were noticeably “noisier” (i.e., there was more variation in the experiment, resulting in a larger standard error) for cardboard than for other surfaces (Fig. S1 through S5), so we advise caution in interpreting this result.”

          SARS CoV-2 is what the authors call Covid 19.

          With the viral decay on a surface being exponential, the half-life likely reflects the edge of practical transmissibility. But I am no medical anything, let alone expert. I would personally feel comfortable assuming that pretty much any surface is “clean” after half a day. As someone else noted, I am much more concerned about aeresol transmission of this virus – either way. Keeping a six foot distance and proactively washing hands seems appropriate. And doing anything to avoid sneezes or coughs – mine or anyone else’s…

    2. Ken

      A study by pathogen dynamics expert Christophe Fraser indicated that, if at all, no more than 10% of viral transmissions might possibly occur via surfaces of any kind. Many others, such as one of the world’s leading experts on coronaviruses, Christian Drosten, hold the view that the virus is not transmitted via surfaces. According to them, measures to avoid transmission should be focused on air and especially droplet transmission.

  8. Norm Ivey

    Except for work, I’m staying home. I haven’t been into a retail store for a couple of weeks. One of the highlights of my week is usually grocery shopping with my bride, but she’s been handling that once a week. She works with medically fragile students daily, and she’s habitual about protecting herself and her kids. She walks every day, and I walk sometimes. The neighborhood closed off the island and the dam yesterday, so those options are out. I haven’t yet, but I know I’m going to hop in the car one day and take a drive without a destination just to get out. We had a reservation at Edisto a couple weekends ago, but cancelled it.

    I’ve not been to my own school in a while, but I was assisting at an elementary school for a few days. They were distributing devices to students who do not normally take them home. The woman who would have normally done that job had a child with a possible exposure, so she was self-isolating. I started wearing a mask after Dr. Fauci told me I should. I had a couple of N95 masks that have been in the garage for years. From home, I am answering questions for teachers, administrators, parents and students, and making quick training videos for some of the tools the teachers will be using. I’m kinda the interface between district planning and teacher execution of the plans. I’m really enjoying that role.

    I’m cooking a lot, and a lot of new things (ceviche, portobello-stuffed pork loin, pseudo-Snickers candy bars). I had a turkey that I picked up after Thanksgiving in the freezer ($7.00 for a 15-pound bird), and we did the whole Thanksgiving thing this weekend. Froze a ton of food. We don’t eat out much anyway, so it’s pretty easy to avoid takeout. Brewing beer every few days. I’ve got a few projects lined up.

    I’ve been getting my live music fix by watching live streams on Facebook and YouTube and a couple of other places. Please share next time your son is live. I love local music. Watching a lot of cooking shows and TCM.

    My mother-in-law is one of those in denial about all of this. We worry about her. She’s still meeting friends for take-out lunch. She’s a little peeved abut not being able to see her youngest grandchild during her “vacation.” My father passed in January, and I’m thankful he doesn’t have to deal with this. He absolutely would not have stayed put. Our in-town daughter is pregnant, but she’s working from home now. The Nashville daughter was laid off a month ago, but finally started getting her unemployment checks, so she’ll be alright.

    Probably the worst thing about all this right now is that I sometimes feel like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop…

  9. Randle

    It’s a beautiful day, and I should be swimming laps while the sun streams through the windows at the Drew. Normally, I swim a little over a mile every day, which takes care of a multitude of sins — heart problems, allergies, sinuses, whatever else is ailing me physically or mentally. The crew and the swimmers there are a friendly, happy bunch, and I miss seeing them.
    Instead, I am doing a lot of stress baking and sharing my efforts with my neighbors so we don’t die from an overload of butter and sugar. They have four teen-age-to-young adult kids, who appreciate my efforts and can handle those calories. I am also doing some gardening to get some needed exercise. This house, which is relatively new to us, was built on a riverbed, and the ground is 4- to 5-feet deep in river rocks in some places and everywhere has inhospitable coarse, sandy soil. So lots of excavating, hauling and amending soil with every foot of ground I prep. It’s slow going, but I’ve got the time.
    Now, that allergy season is winding down, I’ll probably start running. I don’t think we’ll get to see my daughter get married in Greece this summer, the way things are going. Her fiancé is from Rhodes, and we were looking forward to her big, fat Greek wedding. Rhodes, by the way, imposed restrictions early on, and they had 2 cases of coronavirus and no deaths out of a population of 56,000 when I checked the other day.
    With all the unimaginable misery around us, our inconveniences and disappointments are minor, but I still feel them. I have to recalibrate each day, remind myself how deadly serious this is and count my blessings. And, of course, stay home.

  10. Bob Amundson

    I like listening to new music, so I gave your son’s band a shot. Have they recorded anything more recently? I know Troy because of my involvement with the Boys and Girls Club of the Midlands. How long have Troy and your son been making music together?

    Wife Joan and I had planned to be in the Allegheny Mountains of southwestern New York State to see my new toy, an RV Park (called Misty Mountains Park), open April 1. We are staying in South Carolina until the all clear sounds; that “social distancing” is about 775 miles. We are ready to continue our adventure in Harvey the RV, traveling from South Carolina to New York to Utah (we own a small horse farm there) and all the places in between.


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