Having not been out of the house, except for short, solitary walks around the neighborhood, since last Sunday, I was glad to be able to go to church again this week without violating any rules. With most of our congregation watching the service on Facebook, it was easy to keep a respectable distance from others. We come in the back entrance just before the service, wear gloves, and leave right afterwards. It's weird, but better than not being there at all.
In contrast with last week, today's church service was more uplifting than not. It had its moments of grief, such as saying goodbye to a good friend who is moving far away, and not being able to give her a hug. But this time I was prepared for a service stripped of much of its music, and it even seemed fitting, somehow, for Lent.
Last week we grieved. Today we moved on.
After the (diminished) procession, Father Trey set the tone of the service with this pronouncement:
When the church finds itself in a time of great need, we typically break out the strongest thing we have in our arsenal, and that is the Great Litany.
I love the Great Litany, so even though I would have preferred to sing it, it was a powerful way to begin. We also continued our COVID-19 Concert Series, which simultaneously fills in for a greatly reduced choir and provides employment in a time of great need for local musicians. This time we were joined by a violinist.
It was a good service.
On the way home we stopped at Publix; Porter stayed in the car and I shopped, having donned a new pair of gloves. There were plenty of cars in the parking lot, but the store was not particularly crowded, and it was not hard to keep a decent distance, except during checkout. The cashiers have been promised Plexiglas shields, but there are not yet in place.
We could have managed a while longer without shopping, but I decided it was better to go sooner rather than later. Our most urgent need was milk, and I had planned on getting some extra gallons to put in the freezer so that we would not have to shop again for at least two or three weeks. That plan was foiled, however, because milk purchases were limited to one gallon. That was odd, and frustrating, because the milk section was chock full of gallon jugs. I did mange to pick up several other things for which our supplies were low. Even if I spend this quarantine time baking, we will not run out of sugar for a while, as it was only available in 10-pound bags. Except for toilet paper, sugar, and eggs, I noticed no particular shortages. I couldn't find my favorite whole wheat hamburger buns, but bread was available and will do the job in a pinch.
Unpacking at home was interesting, to say the least. Someone had sent me a video by a doctor in Michigan showing "sterile technique" for bringing food from the store into your home. When I watched it, my reaction was "that's not happening." But I decided to try it. It's doable, if you are a small household. I pretty much guarantee it will not happen in our daughters' households, with their large families.
One piece of his advice I took to heart was the one-touch rule when shopping, That is not me at all: I typically look at my groceries carefully, to make sure they are not out of date, that the package hasn't been slashed by a box cutter, etc. But that often involves touching several packages and leaving my fingerprints behind, so this time I practiced grab-and-go.
The advice I did not take from this doctor is that which revealed that he really was talking from Michigan: Keep your groceries outside for three days before bringing them into the house. Maybe in Michigan, or Minnesota, or New Hampshire. But in Florida, pretty much anything other than canned goods would in three days be rotten, moldy, or eaten by creatures.
So I worked with his second best practices. One of his good points was that many items have both and outer and an inner wrapper, so that, for example, I could open and discard the graham cracker box, and put away the clean inner packages. Bread I took out of its wrapper and put into smaller zip-lock bags to freeze. Plastic and glass I wiped down with a disinfecting solution. The only thing that stumped me was the bunch of bananas. The commercial disinfectant said only to use on surfaces that didn't touch food, so I figured that using it on a banana would not be a good idea. The doctor's solution for fruit was to wash it all in a sink full of soapy water. I didn't think that would work for bananas, either. I know, you peel the banana and the fruit inside is clean—but you really don't want to peel bananas until you're ready to eat them. My final solution was a gentle rubdown with an alcohol solution, figuring the alcohol would have evaporated long before we touched the bananas again.
Of course, in and around and between, over and under all this process, I washed my hands a gazillion times.
In the end, I concluded that this is an excellent protocol if one wants to encourage shoppers to buy as little as possible.
And that—plus writing this post—pretty much took up the whole day. Now I'm violating a clear health rule: staying up long past bedtime. Adequate sleep is as important as clean hands. Good night, all!