3/22/2020- COVID-19 Journal

I’ve missed more than a few days of entries here.  My schedule…and my whole pacing for my week…and really my whole system of how I do lessons…has gone off the rails for a bit there. I’m getting students (and even some other teachers) migrated over to the online format. Hours and hours of screen time teaching and getting people set up.  It went well, but I hit a moment where I could not deal with the sheer quantity of screen time anymore. Headaches from screens, backaches from sitting in office chairs for hours without getting up, earaches from headphones.

Because of this, I stayed off the computer as much as I could from Saturday afternoon all the way to an 8 PM Sunday night Skype lesson. Thought for next week – pace myself. This is a marathon that has to sustain, most likely at minimum, four to six weeks. Maybe longer.

In my 24 hours “off” from screen time, I was very driven to clean the house.  There were a few in-person students at the studio a week ago…on Monday…those few final in-person lessons before we made the transition to online the next day. At first, it was liberating to have all the time back from the daily cleaning routine at the home studio; a vacation, if you will. Now it was time to spring clean.

I ran 4 or 5 loads of laundry…taking down curtains, door hangings, pulling instrument covers, getting throw blankets off sofas…anything cloth that can go through a washer near where students worked. I vacuumed cleaned surfaces and ran the rug shampoo machine.  I line-dried all the clothing and linens in the sun…as per my usual habit…but now extra grateful for that eco-friendly mindset that made line drying clothing a habit.  I cleaned out the fridge and noted the fresh produce that needed to be used soon.  Apple curry over udon noodles and fresh salads will be on the menu this week.  

I looked over my mountain bike, added some air to the tires, and returned it the Cycle-Ops stand. The home gym had not had a visit in about a week since everything upended. Now, these will be my breaks between Skype lessons. 

Made some tweaks to the Skype office. Added more lights, and elevated the amp onto a table at ear level for my headphone mic. Ordered an iRig Stream. 

It was a very low-key, “Better Homes and Gardens” style day. That is, if residental music store is the look you are going for. That being said, it’s nice to be able to walk barefoot through the house on freshly cleaned rugs after this early spring cleaning. 

Work on the steampunk bass build will ramp up again shortly. I waited to talk to the student who had been wiring it up during her lessons.  I felt badly about COVID-19 stealing away her chance to wrap up work on the bass and…most importantly…see it come to life in person.  She gave me her blessing to proceed with it on my own from here, but I will try to do a “firsts” video so she can share in some of the delights of hearing it speak for the first time. 

The gig schedule, oddly enough, presented a slow first quarter for me this year. Other than noting it, the break was a relief.  I knew the gigs were coming in April, May, June.  It was giving me a season to rest and grow my skills further. The house also needed some TLC. Plus the student load was sufficient to pay the bills, and the group class on Wednesday night always takes up a good chunk of time. I figured the slow gig period was honestly working out for the best, somehow (at the time anyway). With Virginia is just entering the rising part of the COVID-19 infection curve, it now seems logical that the April, May and June shows aren’t looking likely. My income will be primarily from online lessons, sales in the Etsy store, and the like.

This is telling; Mary Washington Hospital is converting their multi-level parking garage into a COVID-19 field hospital, complete with HVAC system. In 10 days. Well, at least I’m only 10 minutes away.  Freddy is getting ready.


The new normal has it’s own rituals and routines. I wake up, weigh myself and take my temperature daily.  A make a short stack of pancakes for breakfast, hydrate with juices and water, take all the vitamins, feed the fur babies.  I love pancakes but they were rarely made due to time constraints in my schedule.  The apocalypse apparently permits a few comforts to buffer the stress of this change. 

In the garden, I’ve planted one batch of tomato starts and repurposed the salad containers used to sprout them. Now they are small outdoor greenhouses being used over each plant to help them shelter and establish faster. 40 to 50 days until fresh fruit. I’ll plant some more of the starts in pots and leave them indoors until the weather finally breaks into a warm pattern.  

Childhood knowledge came back online from days reading Euell Gibbons and Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. I note where the dandelions and plantains are around my house, as they may be desirable to save me trips to the store for salad greens.  Obviously this is the new normal, but this is another reason why chemically treating one’s yard is a terrible idea.

I have a swath of yard at the end of my driveway that is bare earth…no grass has taken there for years. I spread a 20-pound bag of birdseed or grain each week for the wildlife.  A lot of new wildlife has turned up in my yard ever since developers tore up a wooded plot across from the Battlefield Park last year to build another housing development. The birds feast on the spread of grains, but during their digging and eating activities they always manage to plant some of the millet seed in the yard. They also manage to fertilize it. After a good rain, the grasses appear and reclaim another 6 to 10 inches of yard. My highly trained staff of gardeners is helping green the backyard.

It’s going to be a colder week than usual so I put out my last 20-pound bag of birdseed. A few apples for the apple curry might be shared with the residents in my backyard to help them have an easier time of things. I’ve previously dropped tired apples in the grain field for a woodchuck and the squirrels who come to graze the grain field. The gesture has been reciprocated in the past by the critters leaving my gardens largely intact. 

I’m starting to get an initial feel for how things could play out now, even with online teaching being well received and having good success. However, there are folks who just weren’t able to make the migration with me.  I am grateful as I am still working quite a bit, but it is something to be mindful of. And I am aware things can and most likely will get worse.  I’ll be researching and applying for low interest small business micro loans this week to keep the studio running. I might also be able to get back to practicing with some regularity this week, and making some musical progress on various fronts.

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