The Dorothy Syndrome: Disinfecting Our Lives

I grew up in a house that was CLEAN. It was often messy, but always clean. Dorothy, our mom, used Lysol liberally. She would spray my suitcase whenever I came to visit and ordered me to remove my shoes before entering. The shoes were then summarily sprayed, too. I thought she was nuts.

Food received the same clean treatment. Put all the canned goods in the sink. Milk, too. Wash with soap and water before putting away. Soak all the fruit and vegetables in vinegar water. You never know who touched them, she would say. I thought she was nuts.

Amazon selling 2 bottles for $29.95 USD — thievery!

I loved our mom. We all did. We forgave her these idiosyncracies. We played along and did what we were told. As adult visitors entering into the sacrosanct household of CLEAN, we learned to be compliant. We did the treatment outlined above for all food and beverage that we brought in. And, I thought she was nuts.

This morning, Jacob went out to greet the day and be at Sprouts at 7 a.m. when this local SoCal organic market opened. He brought back the remnants and what no one else wanted: cereal, blue corn chips, strawberry jam, organic tomatoes and carrots, the last piece of fresh salmon, one red onion, a bunch of very ripe bananas, roast turkey lunch meat. He reported that the shelves were bare.

I sanitized it all.

There are six bottles of Microdyne in the luggage and one behind the kitchen sink. I brought these from Oaxaca, where we gueros use this religiously to disinfect all fresh fruit and vegetables. Each Microdyne bottle costs about $1 USD. I poured isopropyl alcohol into a small spray bottle.

All sprayed with isopropyl alcohol. Am I nuts?

The vegetables are soaking in 16 drops of Microdyne for 30 minutes. I sprayed all the boxes and containers with alcohol. Who knows who touched them?

Hi, Mom.

Our mom passed at age 99-3/4 on November 15, 2015. This essay is a loving tribute to her. Was she nuts?

PLEASE READ this Facebook post from math nerd/HR expert Jason Warner. It’s important!

More comic relief …. ?

12 responses to “The Dorothy Syndrome: Disinfecting Our Lives

  1. Marines Bengoa Duprey

    Thank you, Norma for this post. Mother knows best for sure. This too shall pass. Stay healthy and safe!

  2. Any ideas on how to handle the exchange of cash? Here in Mexico we cannot buy everything by credit card.

    • I’m glued to MSNBC. Self-isolate. If you are touching pesos and dollars, scrub for 20+ seconds with sudsy soap and water. Otherwise, use hand sanitizer. Then wash when you can. Stay home. Of course you must get food. Follow good sanitation practices.

  3. No not nuts Norma.

    These are strange and interesting times.

    I am well skilled in the practice of hygiene – my family once thought I am nuts (I do things like your mum), and have spent 30+years of my life practising hype- vigilance. I have since learnt to transcend the fear and obsessiveness I once had, mindfully aware is a much better place to operate from, and find it so very surreal to watch the outside world now behave the way that was once normal for me.

    The weird thing is that I have always carried hand-santiser, gloves and masks with me for all occasions, but let my supply run out before all the chaos kicked off.

    Now it is a’ make and do’ period with what we have. I think of my grandmothers who lead hard lives of poverty and were skilled in the art of frugality, passing these teachings onto me. I was taught how to scrape that last bit of batter from the pan (never waste anything), how to make a piece of soap from all the leftover bits and how to cobble together a delicious meal from mother-hubbards cupboard…. And so on. Practices I am grateful for today.

    I must say I admire the doomsday preppers, who have this thing nailed, but I decided long ago that I did not want to live everyday as if in a doomsday situation.

    So, the best advice I can offer anyone today is do what you need to do and find sources of laughter and happiness in every moment, limit our focus on the news feeds, enjoy the company of our family, be grateful for the small treasures in life (for me sunshine, my children/family, my dogs, my home, and strangely the sound of the lawn mower outside my window which harks back to simpler pleasures), and this moment now, where the sun is really, really shining out my window.

    And let’s be kind to ourselves and others, knowing and claiming that we are OK, safe and well, healthy, happy, joyous and free. The opposite of everything we are being told we can be.

    The Planet is going through a massive reboot right now and things as we know it will change, but once we move through this uncertain time, will be birthing into a great new place of peace and clarity.

    • Hi, Kristy, thank you for sharing these thoughts and memories. These are times of self-reflection, introspection and staying connected with the past (our ancestors), the present (where we are now), and the future (being hopeful). I just finished a Zoom call with my sister and brother. We check in every few days. We take a pulse of how we are feeling and if anything is bothering us. Isolation is important to overcome, be aware of, and monitor. I’m walking, lifting weights, engaging on Facebook and writing. It’s wonderful you have your family around you to focus on. And to be innovative when the cupboard starts getting low. Most of our food stores don’t have enough food at the times we show up. So, we are putting meals together based on what is available. I think these are times when we get to stretch our creative juices and see what we can make of the situation. Stay healthy, and thanks for checking in. I love hearing from you. Norma

  4. Actually we are all nuts and maybe more so now in the age of covid 19.
    Your mom was just regular nuts. She sounds like a woman who knew her own mind and loved her children.

    • Love these thoughts, Brenda. Thank you. We are all going nuts, and recalibrating our sense of sanity and sanitization! Here, at my son’s house, we are monitoring how many chlorox wipes we use and for what. Wiping door handles when a delivery man puts a package inside the screen door, for example, or when he goes out to food shop and who knows what he touches. Challenging times. Happy we have this Internet connection to keep us sane and connected. Yes, I think I’m hyper-nuts now, channeling Dorothy. Which is great for honoring where I came from. Big hugs.

  5. I scrubbed unpeeled bananas for the first time in my life.

    • Glad to hear, Claudia. I disinfect everything in Mexico, including the fruit with peels. Nuts? Now, the practice is spilling over to being in the USA. We have no idea what dropped on the supermarket floor or who squeezed what before it ends up in our shopping cart! Hyper-vigilance is in order, I’m afraid! Sending hugs.

  6. I have four bottles of Microdyne…now I know why. Wish I had four cases of toilet paper.
    Stay safe! Sounds like Dorothy taught you well.

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