So here we are on Day 2 of the Great Social Isolation, locked in our houses in weather that is just quite not warm enough, worrying about children who live in San Francisco and Seattle, doing our patriotic duty by avoiding contact with others as much as possible. We are almost certainly through the looking glass now.

On Sunday, The Lovely Mrs. Matthews (TLMM) came home from teaching a fitness class at the YMCA to learn that all future classes at the Y were suspended for the foreseeable future. In other words she was laid off. Me? I’m laid off all the time except for when I scribble these weekly ponderings. We heard from both of our children who live in places where the situation is much more dire, and we learned from our daughter-in-law, The Truth, that the medical practice that she manages in Seattle had nine test kits for coronavirus for hundreds of patients. When she became violently ill, even she could not get tested at her own practice. Thankfully she recovered. Our son, The Actor, is the Operations Manager for a theatrical supply company in West Seattle. With a ban on large gatherings, the market for theatrical supply has collapsed. Newly promoted to his position, he found one of his first tasks to be having conversations about who and how many of his co-workers should be laid off.

It was raining Monday, but my need to exercise, to walk my daily mile, was overwhelming. I have a good raincoat, put on a sweater underneath and persuaded TLMM to walk with me downtown to see if we could find a restaurant open for lunch. Jimmy Johns was serving and its dining area was open. As we sat munching, we heard the tall man behind the counter tell a customer that the dining room would be closed Tuesday and only the drive through would be open. We finished our meal and set out for the Mahomet Animal Hospital to refill a prescription for a medicine my cat and I both take. They had eight pills on hand. “There may be some more in the back, but the person who unpacks the boxes is not here.” I fear that this will be a watchword for us in the coming weeks. There is much we will not get done for lack of able bodies. We will have to learn to do without and to be patient with one another. We will get through this.

We ambled over to Ace Hardware, always a family favorite, and found all kinds of interesting things. One that caught my eye was a salt assault rifle for killing flies. I have a long record of assaulting flies with a variety of devices, but this I had never seen before. No batteries required!! The perfect post-Apocalypse weapon! I stood there like the kid in Christmas Story, blowing flies and the coronavirus out of the sky. I don’t have my FOID card for nothing. Sadly, the wondrous salt assault rifle had no price sticker on it. My fantasies in retirement are not strong enough to risk my limited income on unpriced items. TLMM had moved on to look at more practical items.

I found a 50-foot “Bounce Back” garden hose marked down to $11.99 and I was ready to leap on it, but caution prevailed. We can’t eat a hose, and who knows how long our food supply system will hold up. I set the hose back down reluctantly.

We pushed on to CVS where we found 2 for 1 signs hanging on many shelves, sometimes directly underneath other signs warning customers that some items could only be sold one per person. So was that one 2-for-1 per person, or just one item per person? It doesn’t take much to confuse me these days. In any event, whatever items were limited to one per person were invisible. All gone. None left. I’ll never know.

Easter is coming. There seemed to be no shortage of candy at CVS. Good to know.

We walked back to the mansion in the rain. There is something cleansing about rain. On this afternoon it washed away my fears and my discomfort at the unusual circumstances. If all else fails, we can still walk downtown in the rain.

On the way home, the vet called to tell us our eight pills had been approved and we could come back and pick them up. I jumped in the van and headed first for the Animal Hospital and then over to Walgreens at Carle to get my own prescription of the same medicine refilled. I talked with one of the pharmacists about walking in the rain to Jimmy Johns. She had gone to lunch at Arbys up the road. Their dining area was closing on Tuesday as well. We commiserated about finding new ways to entertain ourselves. I said we all have to stay home and work on our relationships. Another pharmacist sitting nearby burst out laughing. Good for her. There is always space to laugh.

As I write I watch a man use a front-end loader to dig out a portion of his back yard and pile dirt in the back corner of his lot where it adjoins ours. I have no idea what he is doing. He seems to. He has found satisfying work in the Great Isolation.