What People Are Looking Forward To After The Lockdown’s Over—And What They’ve Learned To Love About It
Gov. Andy Beshear has discussed reopening the state in phases at his daily briefings. However, self-distancing and being “healthy at home” are both still realities that will remain in place for the time being.
In the meantime, Kentuckians will still continue to gather only with those in their households. Schools have already been canceled for the remainder of the year and high school milestones such as proms and graduations will not be held in the traditional sense. Most are anxious to see (and hug) family and friends and to be able to attend in-person church services. Each day, as the governor offers his update on the effects of COVID-19 in Kentucky, he reminds us, “We can’t be doing that.” Still that does not keep residents from dreaming of things they hope to do again soon.
A brief poll of Mercer Countians reveals some “guilty pleasures” that many patiently await to do again and some of the activities that they and/or their families are doing during isolation at home. And at least one woman has found the peace and solitude to be comforting in this all-to-busy world.
“I miss traveling,” admits Mandy Dean. “It has to be my guilty pleasure. We love to travel, even when it’s within Kentucky. A day trip to Mammoth Caves or Carter Caves sounds like so much fun right now.”
Travel has not been on the agenda for Dean, her husband Ted, and their son Will. But they are staying busy as a family. “We have been watching a lot of movies, playing board games and video games, and doing some spring cleaning,” she explained. “We have just tried to enjoy all the extra time together as a family.”
Like so many others, Jan Peyton cannot wait to resume her once normal routine. “When I retired I said I was going to go to Lexington every week to shop and just do whatever,” she said. “I have not missed very many weeks doing that until this pandemic hit. So I am really looking forward to the mall opening back up. I will be waiting for the doors to open. I already have a lengthy list. Online shopping just does not give me the same thrill.”
What have Peyton and her husband been doing since the state shutdown? “Larry has watched TV, but that’s what he does anyway. He is probably the most unaffected by the virus than anyone,” admits Peyton. “Me? I cook, bake and repeat. I make a dessert almost every day. I have given a lot away and have some things in the freezer. Tomorrow I am making a pineapple cake and also this week I plan to make a butterscotch pie. I have worked on my quilt, cleaned closets and drawers, and read. I only go outside if the weather is nice! I am an inside person.”
Lori Sheehan expresses a desire felt by many others. “I can’t wait to go see my hairstylist. Everything shut down the weekend before my appointment on a Tuesday. Ugh,” she said good-naturedly. “But really, I’m a big talker, I’ll talk to strangers or anyone. I can’t wait until I can feel comfortable just conversing with others—without wearing a mask.”
Sheehan said her husband Tim has been planting trees at their home. “Some we bought at a nursery while ‘social distancing.’ Some we got from a forest my stepdad owns. I’m his sidekick, even if I’m not much help,” she explained. “My son, Nathan, and his girlfriend, Lexi, are staying with us so they can work from home. (Our internet connection is better.) The four of us have watched one Harry Potter movie each night, to watch the whole series. It’s funny, seeing them from the beginning was like going to a reunion. It made me so happy to see my ‘old friends’ Harry, Hermione and Ron. We’ve done little chores too, like painting a bathroom and working on flower beds in front of the house. We’ve been boring, but not bored. We’ve enjoyed spending time with each other.”
Abi Camic Patton also misses friends. “My guilty pleasure is going out to eat with family/friends. I miss that,” she said. “One fun thing we did a few weeks ago was Andrew and I played ‘Cards against Humanity’ through Facebook with four of our friends. Other than that, we’ve done a lot of calls and FaceTime. I am blessed to be able to work by telecommunication with the state and I have an awesome boss and coworkers.”
Kyle Butler is among those considered to be “essential” and has continued to work during the shutdown. “I have been fortunate that my job was an essential one and have been able to keep working,” he said. “However with schools and daycares closed it has been a blessing that my wife who works in the school system has been able to work from home and take care of the kids. We do enjoy now nightly movie nights with the kids with blanket forts and pallets to sleep on. We play family Uno and when the sun is out we enjoy being outside playing in the yard or teaching the kids landscaping and gardening skills.”
Though the family has found new activities and enjoyed bonding, Butler still misses parts of his former life. “We have a son that is on a travel soccer team and when this is lifted, we are hoping to have his games resume and get back to the fields with him and the other two little ones we have,” he said. “We are excited for T-ball to start up since this would be our youngest sons first year. We love taking family day trips to Lexington to take the kids out for fun events or out to eat at sit down restaurants. We usually take a week trip to the beach that we are hoping will still happen.”
Trish Darland Claunch is also still working, but from home. She said she is blessed to have a job that is flexible and that most of her work can be done remotely. She does her job from home three to four days a week and goes into the office the other days. “My work pretty much continues no matter where I’m at so other than not having a commute my days are about the same,” she said, adding that she does prefer working in the office. However, the change has allowed her more time to cook, which she says humorously has derailed her diet. “Truly I’d like to be able to go shopping and dine in at a restaurant. I’d like to stop by the store anytime I remember something I need. I’ve been trying to consolidate our grocery trips to once a week. Previously, I would be at Kroger three times a week and Walmart at least once.”
Carolyn Royalty said she leads a full life that includes her family and friends and she looks forward to resuming her once normal activities. “I have really missed the freedom to just ‘go,’” she explained. “I’m looking forward to going to the movie and shopping with friends. I’m looking forward to another off Broadway play/musical or concert. I’m imagining going to the Fudge for a meal with friends. I’m in two Bunco groups and have truly missed those evenings with fun-loving women of all ages.
“My grands are in my home a lot and their ages are in the single digits,” Royalty added. “We’ve been having story time and playing games to foster reading and math skills. I’ve taught them two games, War and Concentration, from my childhood that they really love using a deck of cards. The children have taken household items to make music (mainly noise) and sung ‘Baby Shark,’ ‘Jingle Bells,’ ‘Row Your Boat’ and other familiar childhood songs. ‘Hide and Go Seek’ and ‘Scary Granny’ are their favorite indoors game on rainy days. But outside we blow bubbles, use water pistols, play kick ball and play tag.”
Hair stylists are not considered essential workers, but many look forward to sitting down in that chair to have done a luxury that only their hairdresser knows for sure.
“I know that I am not alone—I cannot wait to see my amazing hairdresser,” admits Susan Flora. “Also, with Mother’s Day fast approaching, I hope to take my mom for a pedicure and manicure soon. (And of course, I will have to join in on the fun—definitely a splurge and guilty pleasure). Duane and I are also very ready to take a trip to Connecticut to see our youngest daughter. We would like to include a bit of sightseeing along the way.”
On a serious note, Flora said, “Each day, my husband and I try to be mindful of and in prayer for all those people and families directly affected by the virus, health workers, government workers and (other) work force. We feel very fortunate to be able to get out and do some yard work and walk. One of our favorite things to do is visit with my 82-year-old mother on her porch – social distancing though. I have finished a book (and) highly recommend it, ‘Everybody Always’ by Bob Goff. Also have enjoyed making some new recipes, birdwatching (saw a hummingbird last week), doing ‘Words’ game with my husband, joining a Zoom group for Sunday school lessons (thanks Kenny Baskin) and watching Brother JJ (Pastor Jonathan Jones of Salvisa Baptist Church) on Facebook Live. Bikes and fishing poles are coming out today. Duane and I have only tackled a few small house projects and have cleaned out some clutter.”
Linda Murray has found quiet time to be therapeutic. “At first, I was working a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle that I bought at a little business that I used to visit quite often,” she explained. “The six birds and numerous roses in it provided me with quite a challenge. I finally moved the puzzle to my dining room table as I realized that completing it might take me more time than I ever thought. In order to move it, I took my largest cookie sheet and I slid the completed part on it. I still had about 400 tiny, mismatched pieces to find places to put. My slow-witted thinking ability came up with a plan to move them. I assembled several small bowls. I began putting the red pieces in one and the purple pieces into another. I finally collected them each color by color. I noticed that I had begun to pay attention to tiny details like varied shapes. I also noticed patterns of color. I also began to pick out eyes and beaks. All these were details that had bored me before. I finally realized that I stopped every once in a while every day to stare at these tiny pieces, giving my mind a chance to forget about this pandemic. I don’t like to do crossword puzzles as my brain feels attacked, but I found a pleasant fascination as I stared at this picture before me. I found that my mind could rest while my eyes searched the pieces. Every once in a while I would find a piece to slip into its place. Then another. I still don’t have it completed, even as my sister encourages me to throw all of the pieces back into its box. She even brought me another one as she and one of her little grandsons have worked several.
“My unfinished puzzle of many pieces and varied colors is a challenge to me,” admitted Murray. “The peace and quiet of my solitude gave me a way to combine the stress of living alone yet pulling together something as satisfying as a 500-piece of a jigsaw puzzle.”
She said she has used her coronavirus self-distancing time to enjoy her life. “I know that this sounds silly as some people are so stressed out over isolation and money and food and protests and Face Book ranting and screaming,” she explained. “Every once in a while I find myself involved in some of these activities. I stop and reel myself back in to myself.
“Aside from the serious side of this pandemic and the pains and cries of my fellow humans, I have enjoyed revisiting the slow paced life that I enjoyed with my parents and siblings on the family farm,” Murray said. “Unintentionally, I didn’t realize how busy I was, stressing out myself and watching my family stress out themselves. Ballgames, traveling ball teams, fast food, filling up my gas tank sometimes two or three times a week, shopping to entertain are just a few of the things that I spent my time doing. Now I am still running my car on the same tank of gas that I bought at the beginning of this experience. Now, I go outside and sit on my steps and watch the various species of birds that fly around my backyard. I look for the family of deer that grazes around my yard. I finally realized that I didn’t hear airplanes flying over my head as my house sits under every plane that circles Bluegrass Field for landing. I don’t hear the helicopters taking off to fly to local hospitals to maybe save a life. My house doesn’t vibrate when a lower flying huge plane flies over in the night.”
The pandemic has allowed Murray to realize what is important in life and has changed how she plans to live it. “So what I plan to do is continue enjoying my time at home. I do want to picnic some. I do want to visit with family and friends. I do look at life in a more peaceful, calm sense that it’s not so bad to listen to the birds sing or watch the butterflies and hummingbirds visit the colorful flowers around my yard.
“I know many people couldn’t handle all this slow, quiet life, but I appreciate it,” explained Murray. “I was getting older too fast. I’m going to enjoy the rest of my life.”