Social Distancing, Life on the Screen, House Arrest and Oaxaca

Mostly written Saturday, March 21, 2020 — We are all likely in the same circumstances. If we aren’t, well, we should be. Physical isolation is necessary … and difficult. Here, in Southern California, where I’ve been for over a week with my son, I have no real time social contact other than with him, an occasional visit with his girlfriend Shelley (who is clean), and a weekly invitation from her mother Holly to come to dinner. Holly has had no contact with anyone other than Shelley this week. I have to assume she is clean, too. Yes?

Can seasonal allergies be provoked by this?

Governor Gavin Newsome was the first to order Stay at Home. This is why I’m happy to be in California now. There is strong leadership here. When I arrived, my plan was to continue on to Durham, NC, for a while. Life changes fast.

Bolsa Chica Wetlands, Huntington Beach, California

Today, I went for a 10K step walk in the wetlands along the Pacific Ocean. The trails were busier than last weekend. I actually had to stop and ask people to maintain a six-foot distance from me, move into single file. I moved off the trail regularly so others could pass. No one did the same for me. One guy joked that he was only five feet away. I said, Not funny. Next time, earlier and not on weekends!

Self-portrait on a wetlands walk by the Pacific Ocean

Saturday, March 21, 2020, my friend Winn is reporting from Oaxaca:

“Oaxaca grows quieter every day. Yesterday, I strolled my ‘hood’ just to get out of my house for a while, to see who’s still out and about, which restaurants, stores, and coffee spots remain open. Lo and behold, a wedding in the church! The same vendors awaiting the wedding party with tamales and jugos [juice]. The city officials have mandated no gatherings, and police will politely ask any groups to simply go home. I’ll go to the park tomorrow morning, but don’t expect to find my tai chi pals there. I do my 10-second breath test and check my temperature every day, and check in with neighbor and friends also holed up at home. This quiet solitude is both welcome and nerve-wracking. Even if I decided to just go home [to New Mexico], the travel itself is now a big obstacle. Thank goodness for WhatsApp calls, Netflix, and eBooks. Just finished bingeing Money Heist, and started a good book.”

I’m looking for Reporters from Oaxaca to include a personal take on what you observe. Contact me at

Bolsa Chica Wetlands, the Pacific and Catalina Island

We went to the market. That is, Jacob went food shopping and I waited at the far end of the parking lot on a bench, face to the sun waiting for the 10 a.m. pharmacy opening. But, I needed to pick up an Rx transferred from NC, plus, you know: blue shampoo for my platinum hair, Biotin, Tylenol PM, soap-free face wash, toothpaste. Usually I ride in the car where I wait. Like being on House Arrest. He’s protective. He won’t let me go in.

What many of us are doing …
What some of us are doing, and where to get the next pedicure?

At home, I sprayed all this with isopropyl alcohol, along with six wine bottles, two lemonade jugs, three jars of pasta sauce, bags of pretzels and chips, cleaning sponges, olive oil and ground ginger. Everything someone else would have touched. All the fresh fruit and vegetables soaked for 30-minutes in Microdyne colloidal silver. [Read HERE about disinfecting food. It’s not just for Mexico anymore.] There still was no TP. We are getting close to using paper napkins and reverting to disposal Mexican style — in a receptacle by the side of the toilet.

The estate sale out back

Across the back parking lot, the neighbors are on Day Two of a three-day estate sale. There are estates here, just not in this neighborhood. It’s Orange County, which only recently turned Blue, sort of. Lots of Trumpets live here who still believe the world is flat. Looking out the dining room window I see a push lawn mower, discolored upholstery foam, spindly lamps with gold fringed shades a la Marie Antoinette, a lonely black office chair with sunken seat cushion, plastic storage bins that need a good 409 cleaning, a turkey fryer, assorted boxes of used clothes. I didn’t see anyone pull out their hand sanitizer.

The chicken soup is on the stove, simmering. Jacob went to Shelley’s on an overnight. I’m feeding the cat and will figure out the Direct TV wand to either watch a movie or get more news. I’m certain I will hear a regurgitation of the lack of Washington leadership. Did I say it? We still have no toilet paper.

Every time I cough, I wonder. I’m hoping my sniffles and occasional cough are seasonal allergies. There are no thermometers to be had. So far, no fever.

Jacob and I have talked about which hospital to take me to if I get sick. He researched it and sent me a link. We all need an Contingency Plan.

How are we coping? Living online. Using Zoom. A daily ritual with my sister.

Our social connection is the Internet. In addition to Zoom, I’m using FaceTime, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and email (last resort).

What some in my WhatsApp group are doing: Variation on a theme.

Thirty years ago, I started following Sherry Turkle, sociologist and psychologist, when she got her MIT computer science department appointment to study and teach about the human factors of technology.

Here’s a article in Politico about our dystopian world and what all this social isolation translates to how we live our lives next, in which Sherry Turkle is one of the experts quoted.

We are all concerned with how we will feed ourselves

Get out and walk!

Sunday Morning News Flash: Jacob just walked in with a 12-pack of Cottonelle he bought at Target. Gold. Un milagro!

Yes, I sprayed it with isopropyl alcohol.

12 responses to “Social Distancing, Life on the Screen, House Arrest and Oaxaca

  1. Hi Norma,
    Loved the photos from your walk in the wetlands, particularly the one of your shadow. Yes, CA, the “left coast” is showing leadership in defining behaviors to flatten the curve of infection rates.

    Memories of our wonderful time at weaving collectives around Puerto Escondido and Oaxaca City are a great escape from the anxiety of this viral crisis. On warm days, I enjoy wearing my huphils. Planning my next travel after this crisis has pasted is another successful escape behavior within the boundaries of being sequestered. So Chiapas next February is very appealing. I remember you cautioned that the altitude, cobblestone streets, and steep inclines are challenges to seriously consider. I heard you.

    Be healthy and take good care on your pedicure. Self care matters. Fondly…

  2. Thank you for sharing and I agree you’re in one of the best US states for this being in CA. We are from NY and I think they’re handling it well but it’s super scary still. We relocated from Chiapas to the Yucatan for the month in hopes the hotter weather and isolation will be good. But I’m still worried … we could tell the crowds were still gathering at restaurants etc along the way. I hope everyone will stay home soon.

  3. Hi Norma, You mentioned “Thirty years ago, I started following Sherry Turkle”. How are you following her? Does she have a website or blog? The titles of her books sound intriguing–would like to follow her too. Even though I have been a purveyor of folk art for 32 + years, my training is also as a sociologist & I’m still intrigued by everything sociology. And by why people do the things they do—which is another reason to be a fan of folk art, yes?!

  4. Thank you for blogging. Your posts r helping keep me connected

    • Hi, Beverly. Thank you! We are definitely all in this together. I welcome everyone to write and share their own experiences. These are the times we need each other most. Connection is not only in person but also through whatever communication vehicle we have at our disposal. Big hugs to you.

  5. a few days ago my husband asked why I bought a big pack of dining napkins. I told him that was for plan B if no toilet paper remains we move to Mexico’s mode of toilet hygiene. He wasn’t happy.
    Good to here you remain in CA and staying safe away from travel.

  6. Dear Norma,
    NO to dinner at a friend’s house or inviting a friend over. Sorry to be Debbie Downer, but these activities are contrary to the intent of the shelter in place order and exactly how the virus can be spread. Unless you KNOW every person your friends have come in contact with are virus free, and every person THEY have come in contact with are virus free, etc. etc. then you are opening yourself and others to contact. Social distancing can be a drag, but there is a greater societal purpose behind it. As for the neighbors having an estate sale, shame on them.

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