Way back in another lifetime, I was in the Brownies for a year or two, but never advanced into the Girl Scouts, and I certainly wasn’t in the Boy Scouts. And yet, somewhere I inherited the “be prepared” idea. Having just watched Hurricane Ian plow through Florida and South Carolina makes me wonder if I am prepared enough.

About 10 years ago, the apartment community in which I lived had a water line break, and we were without water for about 30 hours. Since that event, I have stored away two gallons of potable water, though I would still boil it before consuming it. I also read recently that, in extended times of no water, you can tape a garbage-sized bag under your toilet seat so that anything you excrete goes right into the bag, and it can be removed and disposed of when it is appropriate. While it’s not what we would choose to do, it certainly is an alternative to filling the toilet bowl and then having to somehow scoop it out, I guess!

Because I am a coffeeholic, I also have on hand some of those dunkable single-serving coffee bags (they work like tea bags) in case we lose electric. I have a battery-operated can opener (I actually like it and use it more than my electric one anymore). I’m lucky to have gas radiator heat so that shouldn’t be an issue. But since my stove is electric, there is an issue of how to heat up water to make that dunkable cup of coffee. I remember, many years ago now, that my dad and his wife lost electric to their place in Florida, and his wife was a person like me who needed her morning coffee, so they ended up going out and buying a one-burner gas cooktop for any future needs. I’m thinking about that now, and I can get one plus 4 cans of fuel for under $50 on Amazon. I haven’t bit the bullet on doing so, and my head tells me I will probably never need it, but that level of preparedness has me thinking that way.

Some people would say I’m over-reactive in my need/want to be prepared for my friend, Justin Case, but I am very much a creature of comfort and want at least the bare necessities (and yes, coffee comes into that category). I mean, I have the sleeping bag in my car in case I’m ever stranded somewhere (I’m considering giving that up since 99% of the places I drive to are 1-2 miles from home and the other 1% are less than 10 miles from home). I have a decent first aid kit in my car, also Justin Case. I did recently go through and toss out bottles of things like transmission fluid and oil that I’d had, Justin Case, for longer than I can remember.

My brother continues to encourage me to downsize and simplify my life, and I’m making pretty good strides at that, although it’s ongoing. And I hear my friend, Marnette’s, voice when I remember reading her words that “It’s only stuff”. I can’t decide if getting that single burner gas stove (can be used indoors, but away from flammable objects) is over-the-top. And if it is over-the-top, is it still worth getting it if it gives me an additional layer of peace of mind? I mean, I’ve got plenty of candles and a good flashlight, and I can survive without food (or learn to eat things cold from the can), but not having coffee may be a deal-breaker.

I hate making this kind of decision, and wish someone would tell me that they think it’s a great investment Justin Case, and especially if it calms my anxiety!

Balancing Worry and Preparedness

There is still news now and again about a “second wave” of COVID-19 headed our way this fall. With the general election for President of the United States looming in the near future, it seems that news is taking precedent, with less than 30 days before election day. Once that is over, no matter the outcome, the pandemic is likely to become the forefront of the news again.

Having survived the initial onset of COVID-19, I’m sure I’m not the only one who is still numb to much of the information being presented about it. I do worry about it, not so much for myself but for how it affects the many people living in our country, as well as the world. And yes, sometimes I wonder if I should be stocking up on toilet paper while there is still some available.

It’s the time of year now where I start ‘nesting’, making sure the pantry is full in case of bad winter weather, so I don’t quarrel with myself about whether I’m stock-piling canned goods in case of a second wave. But it is in the back of my mind that I need to be prepared for its possibility nonetheless. My bestie and I are going to do an abbreviated girls’ day out next week. It will be our first one since last fall, and we’ve not been out for our monthly lunches since the one we had in February. I’ve been to her home a couple of times – and the clan will be gathering to order delivery from our favorite Italian place on Saturday in ‘celebration’ of Labor Day. I haven’t been there since July. I tend to see her by meeting her in the parking lot where and when she gets to work, exchanging food goodies and books.

I have friends who are still exhibiting anxiety from the original COVID-19 pandemic. If I’m a little bit worried about a second wave, I can’t help but wonder what they are feeling! One friend in particular is still mourning and bemoaning all of the things her family couldn’t do this summer and even triggered memories of times past on her social media only incites that moaning even more. I struggle dealing with that; a part of me wants to remind her that a.) she’s not the only one and b.) she’s got a lot of wonderful memories of annual vacations and time spent doing what she loved that many of us don’t have. I struggle with the inability to look at any kind of positive and constantly nose-diving into the moans of negativity.

COVID-19 changed the world for all of us! None of us has, and we will never have, that “back to normal” possibility. We need to face that there is only a “new normal” for us in store. When (I refuse to believe “if”) this pandemic has finally left its mark on all of us and our world’s history and has finally released us from being hostages to it, nothing we knew before will be the same again. Most of us will take some of the healthiness about social distancing and shaking hands, etc., with us. As a hugger by nature, this will be difficult for me, especially when seeing someone I haven’t seen in (what seems like) forever due to it.

I start physical therapy for my shoulder/arm next week. Knowing my low tolerance for pain, I’m concerned about how badly it may hurt, and I’ve done my searching online to know what the worst case scenario might be. It’s my nature to expect the worst, knowing that I won’t be disappointed if the worst doesn’t happen. I’m most worried about the recuperation time if I need to have some outpatient surgery done. Research says that could be 4 to 6 months, some time spent in a sling. It’s my right side, and I’m right-handed. There are so many things I can’t do now because of the pain that arises, and I’ve been dealing with this for 4 months. I don’t like feeling helpless!

Anyhow, I digress…. Humanity suffers from many catastrophes. Tornados, hurricanes, flooding, fire, war. Somehow, survivors manage to pick up the pieces and put themselves back together again. And I realize that they don’t get to go “back to normal” either, but must build a “new normal” for the rest of their lives. I am worried – we all should be to some extent – but I am doing my best to be prepared as well. I can choose to moan and focus on the negative, but none of that energy spent will change a single thing. I think it’s okay for me to have some sense of worry, because it keeps me alert. But if I do my best to be prepared and follow the guidelines and focus on what stands ahead in the future, I think I’m gonna be okay…