Wednesday, May 20, 2020


Moss and ferns growing on the branch of an old dogwood tree in my neighborhood. 
Photo taken yesterday while walking the dogs.

We've entered our tenth week of staying at home/social distancing. While I'm still getting my regular salary, my husband has lost 3/4 of his. Half of that wasn't his choice, since he has a small business setting up and servicing aquariums and several of those are in nursing homes, hospitals, and schools--all places he couldn't go to right now if he wanted to. The other half is income from a pet store job he's had for over 20 years. He's the local aquarium expert and manages that section of the business at the store. He's an hourly paid worker there.

For the past 10 weeks, he's chosen to work very, very few hours at the pet store. The current owner has left it up to him to do as much or as little as he wants to. In fact, the owner, John, has been meeting Gregg up there hours before the store opens three days a week and letting him in so he can work on the tanks and take care of the animals without customers around. Altogether, he's working less than 10 hours a week as opposed to his normal 32.

His (our) dilemma is this: when should he go back to his normal schedule at the store? Our state is opening back up even though cases of Covid-19 are still rising. As some of you know, Gregg only has one lung, the result of cancer almost 10 years ago. That automatically makes him more vulnerable to a respiratory virus, despite the fact that he's reasonably healthy otherwise. But on the other hand, it's been 10 weeks, and while cases in our county and state are still adding up, it's not crazy out of control....not yet, anyway. Probably because of people like us, who are trying hard to do the right thing and stay at home. How long should that continue, though? It's not like the virus is going away anytime soon. In fact, I fear a second wave this fall that may make it crucial to lockdown again. If that's the case, we're going to need income between now and then to prepare. We haven't suffered any financial hardship so far, but we're hardly wealthy and sooner or later we will. Gregg also feels weird about the fact that so many people are resuming their jobs and activities yet we're still staying at home.....are we crazy? Is good hand washing, wearing a mask, and standing at least 6 feet away from others when in public enough to protect ourselves now? Or is going out now riskier than ever because of an unmerited sense of security?

This is the problem we're pondering, when to resume a more normal work schedule. Neither of us know what to think. What do you think? I'd love some outside perspective on this.


  1. I don't think anyone has all the answers. I think we have to follow what our guts and the experts, not the politicians tell us.

  2. You live in South Carolina? Here's a link to daily updated information of numbers of cases and deaths to help you know when it might be safe to start going out (yet still hand washing, mask, social distancing).

  3. So many people are having to make very difficult decisions now. There is no right answer for everyone and there is risk in no matter what you do. Schools reopening in the fall is another hugh question.

  4. That is a difficult choice. When they open he could go back, heavily protected, till he is comfortable, and you can swing it, maybe consider part time hours in the beginning and see how it goes, then build back up to full time and/or the side aquarium business. Although accounts he has in forbidden places might be a while longer yet.

    I absolutely love that opening shot!!!! I love ferns!!!!!!! Very cool picture.

  5. Daughter has the same problem. Right now she comes over twice a week to help me, I am immune comprise, once she goes back to work at Starbucks and has to deal with all the people she is worried about bringing home the virus to me. She enjoys her job and most of the people she meets but if someone is sick, gloves, masks and hand washing will really not helpunless the sick person is doing it. Plus she works with an anti vaccer I mean what the hell.
    What to do is the big question.
    Your photo today was wonderful. Where I live we don't get to see that unless we drive to the mountains. Fabulous.
    All my bst to Gregg and you.

    1. Covid doesn't have a vaccine so the anti vaxxer is really just the same as everyone else.

  6. I think everyone needs to decide for themselves. I had to go to the office today. There are a lot of cars on the road even though we are supposed to be sheltering. The virus is not going away. Cases will continue to fluctuate. So far each state is being left to do things on their own. There is no right or wrong answer.

  7. I understand the difficulty of your question. We both have some health issues and we are over 65 so I am not sure how much we should do or not do. Given Gregg's situation with only one lung I would be extra cautious. I also fear a second wave this fall or winter and that could close things up again. One question I would have is how far does his employer go to keep the store safe? I have seen big differences in what different stores do. Some require masks for example and others do not. Also how busy is the store? Are they slow in the mornings? Maybe he could take extra precautions and go in as early as possible and only work until noon. He is fortunate to have a boss that is understanding of his situation. This has to be a hard question for both of you and you do not want to take any chances. Good luck to you both!

  8. That is a pickle for sure, my vote would be that Gregg stays home with his condition being so at risk. It is just not worth the risk if you can manage the hardship.

  9. I don't think it's riskier if you take the necessary precautions. In fact, living where the infection rate is still rising, take more precautions then necessary. I don't know your state works, but in PA you can get part-time unemployment if you're a full time associate whose hours have been cut. If Greg wants to work more hours and he can, make sure he is super cautious.

  10. Here in Australia there is a lot of emphasis on where infections are coming from. If new infections are related to particular communities, Greg might be at a low risk but if infections are rising in the general population then it's a no from me.
    It's such a tough question, for individuals and employers and government and nobody really knows enough to make informed choices

  11. I would err on the side of caution. Too much sudden liberty could easily cause a second wave, which could be worse than the first.

  12. guess you and gregg have to decide what is best for both of you. {{{{{hugs}}}}}

  13. So far, you and Gregg have done the right thing, what with him only having one lung. It is good that he has been able to do a few hours of work; could he remain on this sort of schedule for another month or so, going to his work places during pre- and after business hours?
    As for the aquariums in nursing homes etc. where he can not go at the moment, I very much hope someone there is at least making sure the fish are fed...

  14. Dave and I were having this very conversation this morning. He's been isolating at home and I've been doing all the shopping and stuff, which I certainly don't mind -- but we're wondering how long it needs to go on. After all, COVID isn't going anywhere. It's going to be with us long-term.

    In Gregg's case, I guess part of the consideration would be how many people he'd likely be in touch with during his normal working hours, and under what circumstances. If it's a small-ish trickle of customers, that's different from hundreds. And if he can maintain distance and wear a mask, that helps even more. Lots of variables. I think I might risk going back to work if it meant engaging with just a few (or even a few dozen) people and with some degree of protection. But it's hardly a call I can make!

  15. What a situation to find yourselves in. I would say that if you can possibly take the financial hit, make staying safe your top priority. My fear is that as lockdown eases, a second wave is inevitable. As a senior I am now on my 67 th day of lockdown and nothing seems to have changed to make me feel any safer about going out other than for the essentials.

  16. The decision I've made for myself, is that when more places of business open, I'm going to wait. I expect an initial spike in cases and deaths. If that doesn't happen, I'll probably run wild. If it does happen, and I think it will, I'll continue to stay at home.


  17. It is indeed a dilemma Jennifer - a bit like the "catch 22" in the novel of that name by Joseph Heller. I wish I could give you some meaningful advice but I am not able to. Given what Gregg has been through and knowing how precious he is to you it would be unbearably tragic to lose him to COVID. Thank God that your job is pretty secure. We saw images on the BBC news last night of unemployed Americans queuing in their cars to access a food bank. The queue was a mile long.

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