What week is this?
What day is this?
What day of the week is it?
What time is it?
Yes, we’ve all lost track of these kinds of things now because our days blend one into the next with no delineators like going to work on weekdays and doing other activities on weekends. Even if you don’t work in a different location, most of us have some sort of routine that has been disrupted by social isolating.
I hope you ARE isolating, because the sooner everyone actually does this, the sooner this pandemic will be over, the fewer people will die, and we can all resume our pre-Covid lives again.
I must say, these once-in-a-lifetime measures have wrought some quite unexpected challenges and in some cases, despite the circumstances, we just have to laugh.
A group of us crazy genealogists cooked up something quite unique and fun, so read on😊
But first, let’s get the deadly serious stuff out of the way. Trying to find a silver lining by no means suggests that the situation we find ourselves in isn’t the most serious threat to our lives in this generation, and probably in the past century.
First is Not Good
My Mom used to say that being first wasn’t always a good thing. I always had images of the road runner tricking the coyote into running off the edge of the cliff. We’ve sort of done just that.
On the website Worldometers, cases of Covid-19 are tracked, and a few days ago, the US became #1 in the world. You can see the breakdown here by country worldwide and by state here.
On March 26th, the US outpaced all of the other countries in the world with a record number of Covid-19 cases, and that’s just the confirmed positives. We haven’t tested nearly the number of people, or the percentage of the population that either China or Italy have.
The deaths are still somewhat comparatively low, thankfully, but we are no where near the peak while China and Italy are beyond that point. The numbers won’t be apples and apples until after we are beyond the peak as a country too. Let’s hope they stay low, but I’m not optimistic.
I never, ever wanted the US to be #1 in quite this way. Like everyone else, I’m deeply concerned and anxiety is running at an all-time high for many people.
It’s important, after we take care of life-sustaining tasks to find something to take the edge off – preferably other than eating or drinking or we’ll emerge pickled and unable to get through the door when this is all over.
Have you done something quite unusual since this isolating began, other than inventorying your pantry and planning “blizzard meals” out of whatever ingredients you find?
Here are four things I never thought I’d do.
Signing My Will in a Drive Through
My husband and I had been working on creating wills and trusts since last fall. It’s a challenge with a blended family and we are trying to do our best to provide for each other as well as fairly to descendants.
We had intended to get this sewn up and signed before we left for down under at Christmas time, but our attorney was traveling. Then we were traveling. Upon our return, we were having back and forth discussions when the virus hit, quickly followed by social distancing and shutdowns. It became apparent that this situation was worse than anticipated and that we might need those documents sooner than later.
We are in the high-risk category, and here we sat with no wills or trusts. This meant that we would have no control over what happens to each other or how our assets would be distributed to our heirs. That’s clearly not what we want, which is why we were working on those documents in the first place.
Plus, you know how Murphy works – that’s like an invitation for disaster. Our best insurance of staying alive? Get those documents signed, somehow.
But how on earth could we get our wills and trust documents signed and notarized with two witnesses? That’s 5 people, one with a specialized skill, the notary, all of whom need to be in the same place at the same time when we are all supposed to be social distancing? Our attorney is in an office building that is closed, so that won’t work. Finding an online notary, although they do exist, was unsuccessful.
None of my friends are notaries and neither are the grocery stores which are open. I messaged a well-connected friend. He found a local bank branch that is notarizing documents through the drive-through window and they agreed to notarize our wills, so long as they did not have to attest that we were of sound mind, cause we obviously are not.😊
Having not been out of the house in a couple of weeks, the drive to the bank was lovely although we stopped no place and talked to no one. Here we are in the drive though, signing as they watch, passing documents back and forth to the notary and witnesses, one by one, for half an hour, complete with hand sanitizer and wipes.
I know this is a somber time, and signing one’s will isn’t exactly joyful either – but the other-worldly irony of a couple signing wills and related documents in a bank drive-through during a pandemic stuck us as quite humorous. It struck the bank employees the same way, and dare I say, we had fun. They probably had a fun story to tell their family and we do too.
Of course, the (sealed) bag of chocolate we took them as a thank you for going way above and beyond didn’t hurt anything.
Afterwards, to celebrate, we pulled into the parking lot behind the bank branch and enjoyed a picnic in the sunshine in our car.
We are livin’ large, I’m telling you!
The next day, when the US became #1 in the world in terms of positive Covid-19 cases, we were greatly relieved to have this task behind us, just in case.
Now we can focus on living, and keeping everyone else living too.
Making Face Masks
Over the years, we’ve done some really unusual things as a family, but making face masks is something I never even pondered.
Of course, the biggest problem is that the only family we can see right now is the other person who lives here, and the cats.
Normally, if I were making masks or other charity items, it would be with my quilt sisters, but you can’t really socially isolate and sew at the same table. Plus, there’s no reason to take a chance.
My husband has done something HE never thought he’s be doing either – ironing the ties for face masks. Before that, he was so bored he was cleaning…so ironing was actually a welcome break, well, up until the iron broke and drained water all over the ironing board and floor.
He magnanimously volunteered to go to the store for groceries AND a new iron. He’s rather shop then either clean or iron, so that worked out well.
There are several steps to making these masks that appear to be quite simple and shouldn’t take much time at all. The masks are deceptive taking roughly an hour each when you combine all the steps. I sure hope these get washed and reused, but regardless, they are saving lives and that’s all that matters.
Let me share with you the construction crew.
First, you have to cut the mask face panel and sew the two sides together, supervised by Kitters, of course.
Mom, I think you forgot this pile over here. I’ll hold these others down for you.
This work is EXHAUSTING. Time for a nap.
Chai needed to call in the reserves. Kitters, can you take over supervising mother, please?
Next, the masks must be pressed, either by an iron or in a pinch, a cat taking a bath sitting on the pile will do.
A pile of masks on the ironing board also makes a wonderful pillow.
Next, the ties are cut and stacked on the ironing board for pressing.
The ties must be held down or they will jump off of the ironing board. Of course, the ties might be assisted in jumping off the ironing board by one of the other cats batting the ends of the ties, just saying’.
It’s amazing with all this “help” that I’ve gotten any masks at all finished. These 7 and more are being contributed to workers at the hospital where my daughter, her husband and another family member go to work every day regardless of the personal risk involved. The very least I can do is to try to keep them as safe as possible.
Later in the day, I got a very bad case of cabin fever though.
I’ve stayed inside this house as long as I can, nearly a month with only two outings. Going to the grocery never looked so good.
It’s still cold in the north where I live, so being outside in the yard isn’t terribly attractive either.
For my mental health, and in the interest of marital harmony, I really need to go outside at least once a day, even if it is just walking around my yard looking for any hint of green. Yes, I’m literally watching the plants grow – an indication that spring, color and warmth will be here soon. I can’t wait until it’s warm enough to open the windows.
Come along, take a walk with me. There are hints of green now that the snow from a few days ago has melted. Maybe a few other goodies have surfaced too.
Look here…I think this might have just grown an eighth of an inch in the past hour or so. Maybe if I just walk around the house once more, new growth will appear. What do you think? Let’s take a lap and see what else we can find.
Wait!! What’s this? OMG! Why, I think this might be important. A hint perhaps? A “green leaf” of sorts – kind of like a chocolate trail, maybe. This is intense alright. What is this and where does this lead?
Hmmm, let’s keep walking.
Wow, this plant is trying to bloom. The very first one, and look what’s tucked in right alongside – Toblerone. Someone obviously didn’t want me to miss this. We must be in Switzerland now – the Swiss Alps perhaps?
Wow, this is a great journey!
Indeed, some creature must be trying to tell me something or lure me someplace with chocolate? That’s not very difficult, actually. I already very nearly met my Maker once already thanks to chocolate.
Next, we find Ghirardelli milk chocolate staking out a beautiful green plant, waking up and yawning. This looks just succulent to me.
On to the northlands we find chocolate in Iceland as well. Mmm, volcanic and rich – my favorite.
Where to next? Crossing the sea, of course, with sea salt carmel. Yum…
How far will we sail until we hit land again?
Oh, oh, now we’ve gone “down under.” Indeed, Kia Ora to my New Zealand peeps.
Now we’re obviously in the mountains someplace. Hidden in the crags is a truffle, probably discovered by one of those truffle-loving pigs. Good thing it wasn’t a chocolate-loving pig. I’d be wrestling with that pig for sure.
What’s this? My eagle has brought me something magical called dark chocolate “Hokey-Pokey.” Makes me feel like dancing, “Put your left foot in, put your left foot out…“
It too came from “down under” as you can see in the background. I’ll take this magic any day!
Dark chocolate in English Ivy. We must be in the British Isles now. Wow. This is some amazing chocolate trail!
Uh oh! Oh no. You know what that is don’t you?
The dreaded rabbit hole.
Or shouldn’t I?
I’m a genealogist, I should know better than to go down a rabbit hole. Right?
But…but…there might be another clue down there…..or chocolate.
Where does it go?
What should I do?
What would you do?
Ok, let’s see what’s down that hole.
Hey look, we found the rabbit along with a lovely basket of goodies. Sometimes it pays to go down those rabbit holes.
Maybe watching the plants grow isn’t such a bad idea after all, and it just might be entertaining. Plus, there’s chocolate and “that’s what it’s all about.”
Speaking of entertaining, there’s one more thing I never thought I’d be doing, but here I am. “Performing,” in a variety type of entertainment show.
Saturday Night Virtual Entertainment Show
This last Saturday night, a group of obviously incredibly bored genealogists joined forces for 2 hours – virtually – to entertain each other and the members of the VGA who were available to tune in last minute.
Courtesy of Thomas MacEntee and coordinated by Katherine Wilson of the Virtual Genealogy Association (which you might be interested in joining), our “Virtual Entertainment Show” was performed live from around the world.
Indeed, this is what happens when genealogists are placed into isolation. We might be physically distant, but we’re not exactly isolated.
We’re not star-studded in the traditional sense, but everyone showed something we enjoy, generally not something genealogy related although some were, because genealogy weaves itself into the very fiber of our lives.
Several people showed skills and hobbies from the rest of their lives. You didn’t know genealogists had any “rest of their life” did you😊. Me either, but getting to know people better was one of the benefits of this show.
Dreamed up only a day in advance, this pop-up event was quite literally a variety show. There was origami from Germany, traditional Irish storytelling from Ireland, of course (where else), sign language, piano from England, the most amazing textile art created from discarded constitutional law books, amazing papercrafts, art jewelry in a number of formats, including turning old watches into small photo frames sporting family pictures that you can wear, wire molding, quilting, instrumental music, singing, comedy, dollhouse miniature making, rowing instruction and more, much more.
Each “performer” had 5 minutes and the participants thoroughly enjoyed themselves. I hope the attendees did too.
Here’s Marcel from Germany instructing us how to make an origami frog.
For my part, I showed a few quilts and useful quilted items like my quilted vest, purse and laptop sleeve. I had a great deal of help as I prepared the “studio” in advance. In fact, several of the performers had assistance, which made the event even that much more enjoyable.
Thanks to Katherine, the VGA, Thomas and the rest of my genealogy peeps for pitching in to do something none of us ever imagined we’d be doing and providing a couple hours of blessed distraction.
That does it for this edition of the Pandemic Journal. What have you done recently that you never thought you’d ever do?
I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.
Thank you so much.
DNA Purchases and Free Transfers
- FamilyTreeDNA – Y, mitochondrial and autosomal DNA testing
- MyHeritage DNA – ancestry autosomal DNA only, not health
- MyHeritage DNA plus Health
- MyHeritage FREE DNA file upload – transfer your results from other vendors free
- AncestryDNA – autosomal DNA only
- 23andMe Ancestry – autosomal DNA only, no Health
- 23andMe Ancestry Plus Health
Genealogy Products and Services
- MyHeritage FREE Tree Builder – genealogy software for your computer
- MyHeritage Subscription with Free Trial
- Legacy Family Tree Webinars – genealogy and DNA classes, subscription based, some free
- Legacy Family Tree Software – genealogy software for your computer
- Charting Companion – Charts and Reports to use with your genealogy software or FamilySearch
- Legacy Tree Genealogists – professional genealogy research
Fun DNA Stuff
- Celebrate DNA – customized DNA themed t-shirts, bags and other items
As someone who loves cats but is allergic, I do hope those masks get washed! But what a lovely gesture.
Yes, they are all washed first in case the maker has something.
Hi, Roberta. Enjoying your work very much. Regarding a Will; verily, IF one is signed with your ordinary signature, nothing much else is needed! Yes, someone could contest ir, but that is part of a worse case scenario. Even a scrap of paper hand-written is routinely accepted as a will. As it in itself is evidence of last intentions and testament. But congratulations on getting Wills signed in the Time of Plague.
Really amazing chocolate story!
Thought it might brighten the day.
Roberta, please instruct us again how to make a mask, and the ties, with patterns. And a pic of you wearing one, to show how it should be fitted. There is a shortage in other countries too. Thanks for being amusing and serious, as usual, your virtual friend of many years, in UK, Pat
I will post a link in a minute.
Hi Pat. This link is to the pattern that includes instructions and visuals as well. https://files.constantcontact.com/7ebc1329001/f4f419d5-8b2a-48ca-b90f-e642ba6ed9b6.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2idvbsBQVFLMAoiUKaW4588rtMzIQ7UwR2OZl7VjzqtKkZVlYsW1NnSj8
Very enjoyable, Roberta – and our kitty, Mocha Muff, particularly enjoyed those pictures. Wonderful gift and sorely needed. I bake gifts but can’t even do that right now.
Hubby and I volunteer at the Museum of Science in Boston, MA and our colleagues recently “tested” new chocolate bar varieties we brought in, purely for science of course. These are milk chocolate bars that have anywhere from the standard 31% cocoa solids up to the newer 48% solids. We asked 1) can you detect a difference and 2) which do you like best. Everyone could tell the difference and most liked the 45-48% best. The idea is that milk chocolate is creamier but the increased cocoa solids make it much more “chocolate-y.” Worked like a charm. Many were hard to find (internet helped) but the favorite was Endangered Species. Hope to see more of these soon.
Nuts – now I’m going to look for some chocolate.
That sounds like so much fun. I think I need an experiment too.
what have I done that I never thought I would do??? STAY HOME
have to laugh as I was reading about chocolate I was eating Ghirardelli dark chocolate…. looks like you had a bag of the dark chocolate squares….
I did. But not anymore. 😁
Very clever and entertaining all around!
Love your helpers and you fantastic chocolate story. We all need a break any chance we can get now. I plan on going to the store in the morning to pick up a few things. I miss being able to get together with all my friends but I have been trying to go through so many genealogy papers that are laying around so that is a help
The numbers tested in USA have changed dramatically in the last week. The USA now has about 897 thousand people tested. That’s about double Italy. China’s numbers are not credible. They threw out western journalists a couple of weeks ago for a reason.